Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Del Rey
I decided to add some graphic novel/comic book content this month, and this is the first I will cover. I love Scotland, Karen Gillan, Stephen Moffat and all that. My own novel Saurus is set there. I'll also be reviewing two other - and new! - comics up next right after this one. The Exile is written by Diana Gabaldon, better known for her non-graphic novel output, but this one, part of the Outlander series, is really well illustrated by Hoang Nguyen and is apparently being picked up by Starz TV as a series.
Jamie Fraser is the main character, and his is hardly an original Scots name, but Gabaldon essentially took the character from Jamie McCrimmon, a fictional character in the longest running Sci-Fi series on TV, Britain's Doctor Who. McCrimmon was played by a man born in Yorkshire (the same county both my parents were born in!): Frazer Hines! It's not much of a stretch to get to that name, is it?! So note that Gabaldon hatched this whole series from an episode of Doctor Who. No problem so far, but stay tuned for a comment on this in my conclusion.
Gabaldon's character returns to the highlands after a stint of mercenary work in France, so we have the text, which is written in English, being peppered with the occasional phrase in French and also, Gaelic. Honestly? I see nothing but pretentiousness in this in the context of this specific story. Anyway, Jamie returns and is met by his godfather, although how his godfather knew he would be there at that time on that night is a mystery. Jamie tells his godfather that he has no idea what he wants to do with his life, but he doesn't want to kill anyone any more after the horrible death of a woman he had the hots for. She died (perhaps at his own hand) as he tried to shoot the guys who were trying to rape her. Of course after this, Jamie totally rejects his pacifistic stance and blithely enters upon a humongous killing spree. Jamie's a jerk.
But don't worry, his "love" for this irreplaceable woman of his past is soon to be completely annihilated by the new woman in his life - a married nurse who was somehow deposited back in time, apparently by faeries (at least we don't have to gag over the term 'fae' here, but look at that spelling!). Rest assured that being happily married and pining frequently for "Frank! Frank! Oh Frank!" is in no way a hindrance to Claire Beauchamp's glomming onto Jamie without a second thought. Along with Claire's trip through time, some evil fairy king type dude was unleashed simultaneously, and he's a very naughty boy, so hike up yer kilt, we're off and running o'er the bonnie hielands!
Not that the fairy king really does diddly in this story. Unfortunately, the story itself shamefully lets down the classic artwork. This story completely sucks, makes no sense, and seems intent upon conveying only two messages: firstly, any time you're away from your spouse, the best way to handle it is to start having sex with a complete stranger whose sexual history you have zero knowledge of and secondly, if you're ever heartbroken because you think you killed the partner of your dreams, just get your leg over the nearest available flesh and everything will be fine and dandy.
Oh, and the Brits are to be worshiped out of one side of your mouth and portrayed as the most dastardly villains out of the other, because all that any British officer ever had a mind to do in Scotland back in the 17th century was to brutally rape English women who were lost in the highlands. This novel is WARTY!
Now you will recall that I said I had a little comment to make on Gabaldon's source material for this series, and how she had no problem taking her inspiration from the BBC's long-running Doctor Who Sci-Fi TV show?? So now read this taken from her web site: "You know, I’m very flattered that some of you enjoy the books so much that you feel inspired to engage with the writing in a more personal way than most readers do. Both for legal and personal reasons, though, I’m not comfortable with fan-fiction based on any of my work, and request that you do not write it, do not send it to me, and do not publish it, whether in print or on the web. Thank you very much for your consideration." That's Gabaldon's fan fiction policy!
I guess Gabaldon is a big "Do as I say, not as I do" artist, huh? I'm not going to be reading any more of her material.