Saturday, September 25, 2010
The Exile by Diana Gabaldon - First Impressions
"Diana Gabaldon's brilliant storytelling has captivated millions of readers in her bestselling and award-winning Outlander saga. Now, in her first-ever graphic novel, Gabaldon gives readers a fresh look at the events of the original Outlander: Jamie Frasier's side of the story, gorgeously rendered by artist Hoang Nguyen."
First of all, let me begin by saying how exciting it is as a fan of Diana Gabaldon to experience a new facet of her Outlander story! Although a graphic novel is by no means the best way to truly enjoy Gabaldon's writing talent, her creative spin on the original plot was an interesting and unexpected treat.
In the original , the story is told from Claire's point of view, and the reader "sees" and "experiences" the events through Claire's eyes and thoughts. In The Exile, the reader now gets the opportunity to learn about new events through the POV of Jamie and Murtagh.
The key to The Exile surprise is that Claire was observed arriving through the stones....and since I read the original Outlander story countless times, a passage from the original book jumped out at me:
from Outlander, Chapter 11, p. 155 (Claire's thoughts)
"What would have happened, I wondered, had anyone been present on the hill of
Craigh na Dun when I made my abrupt appearance? I supposed it might depend on
the time one enetered. Here, had a cottar encountered me under such
cirumstances, I would doubtless have been thought a witch or a fairy. More
likely fairy, popping into existence on that particular hill, with its
Leave it to Diana to pick up a thread that she wrote years ago and bring new life to a passage!
There were enough surprises in the graphic novel that made me go, "Hmmmmmmmm" (sometimes in surprise, and sometimes out of confusion). As I was cruising though The Exile on the first reading, I found myself scratching my head over Kenneth.....Kenneth? Did I miss something in one of the books? Am I supposed to know who Kenneth is? It took me a bit, but I eventually figured out a little about who/what he is, but he DID throw me for a loop.
The artwork by Hoang Nguyen was quite lovely, though a bit inconsistent, and I think it's safe to say that everyone is going to say, "That's not my Jamie and Claire!" Of course not, as we each have our own vision that is uniquely ours. It is interesting, however, to at last get a glimpse of Diana's vision of the characters as this was a collaborative effort between the author and the artist. It's not meant to be an exact representation, but merely an artistic approximation. It could just be that I was whipping through paying more attention to the content rather than the artwork, but I did at times have trouble telling apart some of the male characters as the story progressed.
My favorite images (besides the glorious rear view of Jamie as he arrives back in Scotland!) are the frame with Jamie in all his Highland finery on his wedding day (where Claire thinks, "Oh. My. God.") and the full page wedding kiss.(awwwwww) Lovely.
I also enjoyed the insights into Murtagh's thoughts and feelings....totally shocked by Murtagh's *almost* violent actions at Claire's bedside, and softened toward him as the last frame in the graphic novel is particularly poignant regarding Murtagh's love of Ellen.
This is not the complete Outlander story, unfortunately. This graphic novel only covers about one-third of the original plot, so fans must wait for future graphic novels to pick up the storyline when Claire and Jamie arrive at Lallybroch.
Although I enjoyed this addition to the Outlander world (there were some really funny moments), I think it is necessary to have an understanding of the books in order to fully appreciate and comprehend most of the graphic novel....this is not the best way for a newcomer to Outlander to experience the story. Start with the novel, and then add the graphic novel as an interesting twist to the plot, and that would be the perfect combination.
I definitely need to go back and read through it again to absorb the details I missed on the first quick reading....and give more thoughtful attention to the artwork. Thanks again, Diana, for another Outlander treasure!
What are your impressions?
Title: The Exile
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Del Rey Books