Starz historical fantasy series Outlander, starring Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, has captured the imagination of countless viewers – and provided a huge tourism boost to the wild climbs of the Scottish Highlands.
However, while many viewers may never have heard of time traveller Claire Randall (Balfe) or her Jacobite husband Jamie Fraser (Heughan), others will be more than familiar with the characters, having read the books series upon which the TV adaptation is based.
Written by Diana Gabaldon (who has also penned some episodes for the TV series), the first book – titled Outlander – was published in 1991, and has gone on to sell millions of copies.
Whether you want to read the books before seeing the show – or if you’re already a huge Outlander fan and fancy reading ahead during #Droughtlander – here’s everything you need to know about Diana Gabaldon’s acclaimed book series and how to read them in order.
1. Outlander (1991)
Originally published in the UK, New Zealand and Australia under the title “Cross Stitch”, the first book in the Outlander series follows 20th century nurse Claire Randall, who accidentally travels back in time to the 18th century while holidaying in Scotland – and eventually marries a Scottish Highlander warrior, Jamie Fraser.
Their marriage is initially one of convenience, ensuring that Claire is protected from red coat English soldiers – but the star-crossed couple soon fall for one another. Season one of the televised adaptation is based on Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, and follows the couple on their adventures.
Fancy reading the books behind the Outlander series? You can buy the first book Outlander on Amazon.
Fancy watching Outlander season one after reading the book? Sign up for Amazon Prime for £7.99 a month with a 30-day free trial.
2. Dragonfly in Amber (1992)
The Outlander show’s second season is based on Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series by author Diana Gabaldon, and published in 1992.
The book jumps back and forth between two timelines – firstly in the 1960s, after Claire has returned to the present and emigrated to the US with her present-day husband, Frank Randall, where they both raise Brianna, Claire’s daughter by Jamie.
The second timeline is set in Paris in 1744, where Claire and Jamie seek out Charles Stuart (“Bonnie Prince Charlie”).
You can buy Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon on Amazon here.
3. Voyager (1993)
Having failed to prevent the battle of Culloden, and anticipating Jamie’s death on the battlefield, Claire returned to her own time to raise their child – but as we learn at the beginning of the third Outlander book, Voyager, “Red Jamie” survived that battle.
The third season of the Outlander television series is based on the book. You can buy Voyager by Diana Gabaldon on Amazon here.
4. Drums of Autumn (1996)
The fourth book in the Outlander book series, Drums of Autumn, sees an older Claire reunited with her Scottish warrior husband Jamie Fraser, as they set a course for their new life together in North Carolina.
However, back in the 1960s, their daughter Brianna stumbles across an artefact that may impact her beloved mother, and the father she never met, in their own time.
You can buy Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon here.
5. The Fiery Cross (2001)
In Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross, Brianna and her betrothed, Roger Mackenzie, finally marry and settle at Fraser’s Ridge in the 1770s, alongside Brianna’s mother, Claire, and her birth father, Jamie Fraser.
However, Claire, Brianna, and Roger can all foresee the American Revolution – and the longer they stay in the past, the greater the rebellions around them grow.
You can buy The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon on Amazon here.
6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)
The sixth book in the Outlander series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, sees Claire and her Scottish Highlander husband attempt to protect Fraser’s Ridge from unrest beyond their control – while Jamie is torn between the love for his men and for freedom, and his former oath to the British crown.
You can buy A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon on Amazon here.
7. An Echo in the Bone (2009)
Diana Gabaldon’s seventh Outlander book An Echo in the Bone, published in 2009, returns us back to the 20th century, where Brianna, Roger, and their son Jem are living at the ancestral seat of the Frasers: Lallybroch.
However, their tranquility is soon interrupted by an unexpected time traveller – and news that could threaten young Jem.
In the past, we also become better acquainted with Lord William Ellesmere – raised by beloved character Lord John Grey, but in reality the illegitimate son of “Red Jamie”.
You can buy An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon on Amazon here.
8. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (2014)
The latest instalment in the Outlander novel series, Diana Gabaldon’s Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, takes a dramatic turn as Jamie is presumed lost at sea.
Claire is forced to marry Lord John Grey for protection – and in the meantime, events are leading up to the historic battle of the American Revolutionary War: the Battle of Monmouth in 1778.
You can buy Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon on Amazon here.