In 1992 Diana Gabaldon wrote Outlander, a rich historical fiction set in 18th century Scotland, which revolves around the life of Jamie Fraser. The author threw in Claire Randall (a post World War II army nurse who, from 1945, accidentally travels back in time to meet Jamie–surprise, they fall in love!) and series of novels was born. With a dedicated cult following, Gabaldonâ€™s books have inspired countless blogs, chats and forums as well as official â€śClaire and Jamieâ€ť tours of the Scottish Highlands.
Now almost twenty years after Outlanderâ€™s release, Diana is hard at work writing the eighth installment of this continent sweeping, time bending saga. Having just finished devouring the seventh book and basically foaming at the mouth over what will happen next in this epic series, I find myself plotting my own trek to Scotland in search of the Outlander trail. Will I find my own bad ass, kilted Jamie Fraser? Unfortunately not. Will I be in awe of the beauty and history of Scotland? Most indubitably!
I will start my Fraser pilgrimage in Inverness, as thatâ€™s where Claire starts her journey in 1945. The nearby Clava Cairns stone circle poses flawlessly as the fictional Craigh na Dun, the standing stone circle that whisks Claire back to the 1700s. Castle Leod, just northwest of Inverness is the next stop. This is where the Clan Mackenzie’s youngest generations still reside to this day! In the story, this is setting for Jamie and Claireâ€™s budding friendship. The old section of this castle dates back to the 12th century and is considered the oldest (intact) castle in Britain. It wonâ€™t be hard to imagine regal Colum and powerful Dougal Mackenzie holding Hall in this authentic fortification.
Next, I’ll make my way to Fort William to see for myself where Jamie was so brutally flogged by Black Jack Randall, Claireâ€™s great great grandfather in-law. Though the real â€śfortâ€ť is in ruins aside the Loch, Inverlochy Castle is much more impressive, albeit run down. It will be more than a little upsetting to imagine the conflicts between lobsterback and highlander within these walls.
Edinburgh will be the next hotbed of Outlandish landmarks, from the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace, Jamie and Claire made their way thoroughly through the city. You wonâ€™t find A. Malcolm Printer, but the castle still looms majestically over the same city streets where Claire explores the apothecary and Jamie readies himself for battle.
Battle, which unfortunately brings us back to Inverness to visit Culloden. Culloden battlefield is a hauntingly beautiful moor that honors the memory of the thousands of Scots who were killed in 1746, (just as Claire is sent back through the stones of Craigh na Dun to the future). The last effort of the Jacobites in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie, this is where Jamie expects to die at the end of Dragonfly in Amber.
If you havenâ€™t read the further than the first few books in the series, Iâ€™ll refrain from further spoilers. Just know that the story only gets more epic from here! The third book in Dianaâ€™s highly acclaimed sub-series chronicling Lord John Greyâ€™s adventures (youâ€™ll meet him in Voyager), The Scottish Prisoner comes out next week, so the die-hard fans will have something to tide them over before book eight is published (tentatively Written in My Heartâ€™s Own Blood), hopefully in early 2013. Hurry Ms. Gabaldon, hurry! Find out for yourself whatâ€™s keeping readers up all night, voraciously flipping page after page!
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