Outlander is based on a series of books by Diana Gabaldon packed to the brim with action-packed human interactions that combine traditional themes with more sci-fi based concepts like time travel. There are numerous differences between the books and the TV adaptation.
Many fans of the books have criticized Starz's adaptation. Other times, this prior knowledge allows for a more informed comprehension of the character's actions and sequences. Book readers may understand the narrative with greater clarity than first-time audiences, who are only familiar with the TV series.
These are just 10 things readers of the Outlander books will understand better than other viewers of the series, especially in Season 1.
10 Clans rule
The prominence of clans in 18th Century Scotland and those nitty-gritty details from history that add so much fascinating depth to the story may not be obvious to fans who have only viewed the TV version of Outlander.
It takes a thorough study of Gabaldon’s texts to fully appreciate the Scottish heritage of her story’s characters. The books’ narratives are guaranteed to stir the dormant Scot in every historic adventurer! Readers know back stories of the clans and understand their interactions and 'pride and prejudice' attitudes far better than TV audiences.
9 Claire Choosing Jamie
Fans of the TV series who haven’t yet read the books might make the mistake of thinking Frank is equally as charming as Jamie. It takes a reader of the books to fully understand why Claire prefers Jamie. This is because the books’ accounts of Frank are anything but flattering.
In print, he is a lot shrewder, harder, and meaner, while also being far more of a womanizer. The screen version of Frank shows him falling in love with just one woman. It takes a fan of the books to understand why Claire would choose to be with Jamie.
8 'Goodbye' is not forever
It takes a reader of the books, well-versed in Gabaldon’s time travel theories, to understand that ‘goodbye’ does not necessarily mean goodbye forever.
Those who have watched just the TV version of Outlander will probably be somewhat more tearful than those who have read the books. They might believe goodbyes are final, while those familiar with the books will feel reassured knowing nothing is set in stone. Readers of the books will know characters have an uncanny way of resurfacing throughout the narrative. This is thanks to time travel.
7 Deep-seated love
Book readers will understand the unshakeable and profound love connecting Claire and Jamie. Fans of Gabaldon's books would have read that Jamie and Claire literally have the first letter of each other’s names engraved into each other’s hands.
The swooning couple found a special way to celebrate their togetherness through physically etching the other's initials into their hands. A bit extreme but then, what isn’t extreme about Claire and Jamie? The TV show has struggled to find the perfect opportunity to incorporate this moment.
6 The pearl necklace
Book readers will have a better understanding of the significance of the pearl necklace given to Claire by Jamie in the wedding scene. On screen, the necklace, which originally belonged to Jamie’s mother, is given to Claire after the couple exchange wedding vows.
In the books, Claire is given the necklace before she walks down the aisle. Readers have more background on the necklace and fully grasp the significance of the moment when Jamie fastens the clasp of the necklace around Claire’s neck.
5 The coveted wedding ring
Once again returning to "The Wedding" episode, Season 1 handles the ring exchange in a relatively simple way. In an act of blatant symbolism, the ring is made out of the key to Jamie’s Lallybroch home.
Readers will know the wedding ring given to Claire was anything but simple. The books describe it as: "A Highland interlace patterns, the links engraved with tiny, stylized thistle blooms." It takes a book reader to understand why the TV show opted for a simpler option. One can hardly imagine the book's ring, not to mention reproduce it as an actual ring for a TV series! At least, until Season 4, when Outlander decided to make amends.
4 Less steam
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the intimacy scene between Jamie and Claire is toned down considerably in the "The Wedding" episode of Season 1. However commendable the wedding night scene is in the TV series version of Outlander, it’s a fact that the steamy scenes between Jamie and Claire are subdued – a lot – on screen.
The books are epic in their portrayal of the intimacy between the couple. It’s recommended watching the books and the screen version to best understand Jamie and Claire’s great love for each other.
3 A world of time travel
It takes a reader of the books to know just how intimately time travel is woven into the series and how much prominence it is given in the series’ narratives. Sci-fi nerds will love the dynamics of the books’ text, and marvel at the complexity of Gabaldon’s narratives.
The books highlight that Claire and some of her friends and enemies are ardent time travelers. The books explain this concept of time travel further, with the author going into greater detail on the mechanics behind the story device.
2 History comes alive
Outlander is full of historical nods. Gabaldon's universe is one of trivia, fun, and adventure. Historic facts give life and credibility to the magnificent parallel world created by the author. She does a superb job of bringing 18th century Scotland to life.
This fact might be overlooked by fans who have only watched the screen version of Outlander. With Outlander, as with everything else, the true magnificence of the work is better showcased in the subtleties and nuances of print.
1 Love is complicated
Love might seem pretty simple…until you read the Outlander books. There is space in one’s heart for more than one person. According to Gabaldon’s complex narratives, the human heart is capable of great feats of love.
Claire’s story is so much more complicated than the TV series would like to suggest and it takes a reader of the novels to know and understand this. The same is true for each of the characters in the Outlander series. The complexity of the Outlander characters’ hearts is best captured in print.