218 of 222 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 1999
I absolutely loved The Outlandish Companion. I think it deserves one star for the Gaelic pronunciations and explanations, a second star for the sketches and pictures (loved seeing Claire's rings!), a third star for the character list, a fourth star for Diana taking the time to answer all of those questions from everyone, and the fifth star for her explanation of where characters come from. I would give her a sixth star for her wit and humor if Amazon gave me that option. I was a little surprised to see how closely the horoscopes matched Jamie and Claire's personalities. Diana didn't write the horoscopes anyway, they were sent to her and she liked them so she included them for anyone who was interested. Who cares that they are fictional characters? Not me. The fact that Diana has made Jamie, Claire & Co. 'real' to so many people is an amazing accomplishment itself. I enjoyed the Companion for the reasons I listed above. Will I read the book cover to cover repeatedly? No. Will I go through it fairly often? Yes. Why? Because it's interesting information and I participate in Outlandish Trivia Games and I could use all the help I can get. My book was worth every penny I spent on it and I hope to someday have it signed along with the rest of my books. Great job Diana and I look forward to books 5 & 6 as well as the next Companion!
170 of 176 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 1999
I didn't read the Outlander series. I devoured it.
Normally, I'd rather be strung up and dunked head first into a vat of cold parritch than be forced to read "romance" novels, but Ms. Gabaldon's books went straight to my Celtic heart. I bought used copies in paperback to share with friends and hard cover editions for my library--that's a wee bit of change, but well worth it.
Before ordering the Companion, I spent time flipping through a copy at the bookstore--and that might be a good idea if some of you aren't sure you want to spend the money on this--personally, I was laughing out loud and one lady even asked me "Is it good? What are you reading?" Grinning, I stuck a copy of Outlander in her hands...and yep, she bought it.
I keep running into Outlandish people everywhere, and it's great. Diana--thank you so much for the many, many hours spent in the pleasurable company of the Fraser clan.
Okay, put up your swords and stop hagglin' over the book.<g> Check it out first and buy it or not. Mine is on order right now....
(PS: I KNEW she had to be a Doctor Who fan! I mean "Fraser Hines/Jamie McCrimmon"? Had to be!)
131 of 135 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2005
I borrowed this book to read while awaiting the sixth book in the Outlander series (a day without Jamie and Claire is like a day without sunshine!)
The Outlandish Companion gives synopses of the first four books in the series, and does so quite well. Had I known of the existence of this book, I'd have likely skipped over a good deal of Dragonfly in Amber, settling for the synopsis to get to the meaty Voyager. (Sorry, Dragonfly fans...everyone's entitled to their preferences...)
Diana Gabaldon explains many things here (including the pronunciation of her own last name, which I'd been mangling). I was particularly impressed with her willingness to outline her writing methodology, admit her copy errors (people actually picked on her because her cherry trees were out of season, LOL), and go to great lengths to create an understandable translation of her Gaelic, French, and European English references. She also very neatly addresses some of the most controversial portions of the Outlander series without apology.
Since some of her characters disappear only to recur two or three books later, Gabaldon gives us a comprehensive character listing, up to and including Leroi.
There is some "Work In Progress" material too, which is spoiler-ish to those who haven't yet read The Fiery Cross.
If you love this series and plan to own it in hardcover, by all means buy the Companion. You'll do fine without it, but it's still an enjoyable read.
117 of 122 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2000
I was introduced to the Outlander series by my husband. I had never read this type of fiction before. I must say that I am now hooked and am probably now ruined for any less talented writer's of this genre. I was instantly transported to another time, I could smell and see and hear right along with the main characters. Gabaldon's ability for fine detail is unmatched! As a writer myself, her books have motivated me, impressed and awed me. At 1st I wasn't sure if I wanted to commit myself to the time it would take to read four 800+ page novels, knowing there wasn't an end to them. Now I am happy to have been introduced to Claire and Jamie Fraser and will never forget these 2 characters. I know Gabaldon can't rush her books, which is why I say, she can't write fast enough for me. I eagerly await her continuation of this series.
About the actual book: it's fascinatingly full of little known facts about herbs, medical knowledge through time, pretty much most of the author's research is in this companion, anything you ever wanted to know & a few things you didn't know you were missing or wanted to know. For true fans of this series, you'll want this book for the behind the scenes details that the 800+ page books didn't include (her original manuscripts were often 1500 pages & broken up into 2 instead). While you're waiting for the next book to come out, or if you need a refresher on the last title before reading the next, this is a great read either way. The book is an oversized hardcover of sturdy construction, meant to last through many, many thumb through's.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 1999
This book is wonderful for the simple fact that Diana gave the readers of her amazing time travel series what they asked for. Sure, there were certain things in it that I too, glossed over without much interest (i.e. character horoscopes, bibliography) and felt, though interesting and informative, the Gaelic glossery would have made much more sense being alphabetical (very difficult to use like it is) and would much rather have seen the family trees including the TRUE genealogy (showing illegitimate births, adoptions, birth/death dates, etc.....this info would help tremendously......it's a little deceiving like it is!.....hint, hint....maybe in the next companion book? Hee hee.), but the fact is is that I can't complain in the least because I never took the time to request any of this info. I am extremely thankful, however, to those readers who did and who's questions resulted in this richly detailed, all-inclusive companion book. For, despite those few things I mentioned above that personally didn't do much for me, the book overall was well worth it: the summaries of the previous books will be a Godsend when the next book comes out; I found the author's explanation on how she began these books and her writing process itself to be facinating; the controversies over certain topics in the books to be quite appalling (in a humorous way); the FAQ section very enlightening (even if it is on the website, I like having a hard copy in such a lovely format!). I truly did enjoy this book for what it was: a companion book with a little of everything for all fans of Jamie and Claire. Certainly a nice addition to my library. Anybody who is greatly disappointed in this book does not appreciate it for the "companion" that it is, and are probably not very big fans of the series!
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2000
I have to thank Diana for the wonderful stories she has written. I started reading the series with book number 2 - Dragonfly in Amber while on vacation in Scotland and Ireland. At the time I didn't know it was a series, I just wanted a location book. So when I was finished I read #3, then #4 and then #1 Outlander. I feel like it was a neat way to read because it was like a flashback. I received the Companion for Mother's Day from my Sister - she knows that this series has spoiled my taste for other books because of the people, writing and just Ms. Gabaldon's gift in general. I often recommend her books, although many run the other way when they see the length of them. I like the fact that her books are very long - and wish they were longer. I feel like I belong to the Fraser Clan, and that I know the entire group of family and friends. Can't wait for the Fiery Cross....
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2003
I really felt like I was sitting across the table having a warm and friendly conversation with an old friend, Diana Gabaldon! Because her 1000+ page books in the OUTLANDER series were written over the course of several years, people tend to forget some of the lesser characters or events. THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION makes it easy to look up a person or even a Gaelic phrase to become familiar with past events. Having recently discovered this series, I've been fortunate to read these books straight through (at great expense to my personal life and sleep, I might add). Frankly, I can't imagine the torture of having to wait years for each book, especially between DRAGONFLY and VOYAGER!
Subsequently, I read this book in chronological order (5th) because I absolutely didn't want to miss a thing (even though the plot and characters remained familiar to me). I did turn to it twice before to look up a forgotten name and wish I hadn't because I learned something about an individual that took place in a future book. I do know people who like to read ahead but I won't even read a review of a book until I have finished it; I like to be surprised!
The great part of this book is all the information gleaned from Gabaldon's personal life. We are introduced to her husband and three children. We learn that besides the fact that she is a genius (she didn't state this--it's just a given considering the epic tales she weaves) and best selling author (not to mention going without sleep), she has quite a normal life as a wife and mother. Diana tells us the unorthodox way she spins her tales--not in sequential order, but in bits and pieces. The result is not only a tremendous insight into the author, but background information of characters (even horoscopes and genealogy-which did not interest me) and events in her delightful novels.
50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2003
After reading the first four Outlander books, I was very excited to read The Outlandish Companion. I absolutely love the way Gabaldon writes just as if she is talking to you, telling you the story of how and why and where the books came from. I felt like we were hanging out together as I read through this book.
I won't give this book five stars, because I do think there were several things that could have been improved (i.e. the dictionary!), and I did find some areas a little boring (the
horoscope isn't my thing and I felt she rambled on about a few subjects that didn't matter, plus I think she spent far too much time trying to explain the computer). However, I loved the FAQ and other Q&A sections. I really enjoyed reading HER answers to some of the questions I had. I still didn't always agree with her on some of the points made in the section on things people complain about, but that's what makes the world go 'round! <G> I thought it was such a neat idea to put in the book, and she did change my thoughts on some issues (and I was with her from the beginning on the rest!). I absolutely loved reading where all her ideas came from and how she wrote the books.
I hope that there will be a final companion to the whole series and that she will take into account some of the criticism she got on this one and make it excellent. I think this is a must have addition to any Outlander Collection. Full of tidbits I'd never considered myself, full of wit and love and fun. Just a wonderful wonderful companion to the series!
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2005
While I agree that this book may come as a disappointment for those looking for a "Jamie and Claire" story, it is a priceless addition to the shelves of an aspiring writer. It is nearly impossible to find another resource out there that yields such a matter-of-fact look at writing in general. All information, of course, is seasoned with Diana's unique and unmistakable sense of humor. I am a detail oriented person, and as such, loved the depth to which she knows her characters. Consequently, I loved the depth to which this book goes in explaining the "who, what, when, where, how." Others, who have no deep-seated urges to pronounce "mo cridh" correctly, may find that their coin is better spent on her other books.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 1999
I wasn't going to buy this book, because it isn't a novel, and that's what I mostly like to read. I love all the OUTLANDER novels, and can't wait for the next one!
One of my male co-workers bought this book, though, and brought it to work to read on his lunch-hour because he couldn't stop reading it. I thought that was a good recommendation, so I borrowed the book while he was working and browsed through it.
Wow! I couldn't believe how the whole OUTLANDER world just reached out of the pages and grabbed me again, just from the synopses and characters. I went home and put the COMPANION on my Christmas list!