West Virginia Book Festival

“The Exile” is a graphic novel for which Outlander series fans should rejoice.  If you’ve never read the series, tear your eyes away from the pictures of Jamie’s butt and read the book by Diana Gabaldon first — you only have to read the first one to get “The Exile.”

So.  “Outlander.” Epic Scottish time travel romance adventure with a healthy smattering of historical medical detail.  And: so good.

Claire is a nurse in WWII, and after the war is over, she and her husband, Frank, reunite for a second honeymoon in Scotland.  She goes a-wandering and touches some standing stones – which zip her back in time two hundred years, and into the arms of a young warrior named Jamie Fraser.

It’s more complicated than that!  And so worth reading.  But the wonderful complicatedness of the story is precisely the reason you should read “Outlanderbefore you attempt “The Exile.”

“The Exile” is the above story, more or less, from Murtagh’s point of view.  (The cover says it’s “Jamie’s side of the story,” which is not really the case, although probably easier to market since people love Jamie and probably don’t remember Murtagh.  Sorry, man.)  Murtagh is Jamie’s godfather, and a warrior, and one of the people who finds Claire and thinks she’s a witch.

So if you already know the story, why would you read this graphic novel?  First of all, if you had read “Outlander” like I told you to, you would instantly become obsessed and need to read everything you can about it.  Second, it is beautifully drawn in full color by Hoang Nguyen.  Every page is like a Scottish time travel painting.  Third, yes, it is the same story, but as we all know from life, when you hear a different perspective, you get different details.  Murtagh was privy to different information than Jamie was – we get that here.  Murtagh was in love with Jamie’s mother – we get a little of that, too.

And, did you know the Scottish invented the mullet?

If you haven’t read “Outlander,” you will be lost when you read this graphic novel.  Still, it is pretty to look at.  For me, reading it made me want to read “Outlander” again to get a new insight into some of the things brought up in “The Exile.”  It is a credit to Diana Gabaldon’s world-building that there is room for such depth.

So read “Outlander,” then read “The Exile,” then come to the Book Festival on Sunday to hear Diana Gabaldon talk about her work.