How To Read the Outlander Books In Order – TownandCountrymag.com

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Your definitive guide to Diana Gabaldon’s novels, novellas and short stories.
Everybody’s favorite sexy time-traveling romance, Outlander, is finally returning for its sixth season early in 2022. But fans of Diana Gabaldon’s original book series don’t have to wait that long for new content, because after a seven-year gap, Gabaldon’s ninth Outlander novel, Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone, will be published on November 23rd. The author also recently revealed that she’s started work on the tenth (and potentially final) novel in the series, so there’s never been a better time to get caught up.
If you’re a fan of the show who’s only just crossing over into the bookverse, you might feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material. But fear not—we (and Gabaldon herself) are here to guide you through the canon. For starters, you should know that the Outlander series contains both major novels, shorter novels, and novellas, in addition to the occasional short story. The major novels focus on Jamie and Claire Fraser, while the shorter novels and novellas follow Lord John Grey. Gabaldon has some specific guidance for how to approach your reading journey, which we’ll be following in our guide.
On her website, Gabaldon advises fans to read the major novels (that is, the nine official Outlander books) in order. But she notes that “the shorter novels and novellas are all designed suchly that they may be read alone, without reference either to each other or to the [major novels]—should you be in the mood for a light literary snack instead of the nine‐course meal with wine‐pairings and dessert trolley.”
So if you want a prescribed order, you can follow our guide below to the letter. If you feel like improvising, feel free to switch up the order of everything but the major novels. With that said, here’s how to read the Outlander series in chronological order.
If you want to go in true chronological order, this prequel novella is the place to start. The story introduces a 19-year-old Jamie Fraser in 18th century France, where he and his best friend Ian Murray become mercenaries, and learn what it really means to be a man.
The epic that started it all. In 1945, former combat nurse Claire Randall goes on a Scottish honeymoon with her new husband, Frank, only to find herself unexpectedly thrust two centuries into the past. She arrives in 18th century Scotland at a tense moment, just before the Jacobite Risings, and must navigate the harsh realities of the past—along with her feelings for strapping Scot Jamie Fraser. 
The second Outlander novel bounces between present and past, picking up with Claire back in her own time, before flashing back to her adventures with Jamie in 18th century Paris, and their efforts to stop the impending Jacobite rising.
The first in a series of novellas focusing on Lord John Grey, this story follows his older brother, Hal, a rare books dealer whose less-legal side hustles take him all over Europe. 

The third Outlander novel finds Claire desperately searching for a way back to Jamie, after discovering that he didn’t die in the battle she’d always believed he did. After hurtling back through time once more, she’s reunited with Jamie—but it’s not too long before their bliss is shattered by pirates. With Jamie’s nephew kidnapped, they set out on a journey across the Atlantic to save him.
This is the first in a trio of novellas in a collection called Lord John and the Hand of Devils, but can also be purchased as a standalone story. It takes place in 18th century London, and follows Grey’s search for answers after he witnesses a murder. 
Just to make things nice and confusing, Lord John Grey is not just the subject of most of Gabaldon’s novellas, but also a couple of novels (but not, crucially, the major novels). This novel takes place shortly after Hellfire Club, and per Gabaldon herself, it’s “a historical mystery steeped in blood and even less savory substances.”
If you’re keeping track, this is the second novella in the Lord John and the Hand of Devils trilogy. It picks up with Lord John Grey out of his element in 18th century Germany, where, per Gabaldon, he has “unsettling dreams about Jamie Fraser, unsettling encounters with Saxon princesses, night‐hags, and a really disturbing encounter with a big, blond Hanoverian graf.”
This is the second novel focusing on Lord John Grey, and delves deep into the Grey family history, bringing Lord John and his brother Harold into conflict on the eve of their mother’s remarriage. 
The third novella in the Lord John and the Hand of Devils trilogy follows on directly from the events of Brotherhood of the Blade, and finds Lord John dealing with the fallout from an exploding battlefield cannon.
Lord John’s next adventure, per Gabaldon, sees him attending “an electric‐eel party in London and [ending] up at the Battle of Quebec. He’s just the sort of person things like that happen to.”
This novel takes place in various parts of the UK, between London, Ireland, and the Lake District, and alternates between Jamie Fraser and Lord John Grey’s different perspectives on the same events.  
This spooky novella finds Lord John Grey journeying across the sea to Jamaica, to put a stop to a slave rebellion. Once there, though, he soon has more pressing matters to deal with—multiple murders, an infestation of snakes, and possibly a zombie invasion.  
Lord John is still in Jamaica, and just as he’s about to leave, he leaves that his mother is in Havana, Cuba—which is about to be invaded by the British Navy. So begins a race against time.  
The fourth Outlander novel picks up with Jamie and Claire building a life for themselves in the New World, aka the mountains of North Carolina. Meanwhile their daughter, Brianna, searches for ways to travel into the past to reunite with her parents.  
The fifth Outlander novel takes place against the backdrop of the  War of the Regulation in North Carolina, which Gabaldon has called “more or less a dress rehearsal for the oncoming Revolution”. As violence looms, Jamie and Claire fight to hold onto the sanctuary they’ve built for themselves at Fraser’s Ridge. 
The sixth Outlander novel continues on from the ominous conclusion of the fifth, which saw political unrest in the colonies starting to simmer over. In A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Claire’s medical knowledge continues to put her in danger, as rumors begin to spread that she’s a witch. Meanwhile, Jamie’s loyalties are torn as the Revolutionary War approaches.
This is an epic even by Outlander standards, jumping between America, England, Scotland and Canada to track the stories of Jamie and Claire, Roger and Bree, Lord John, and Young Ian, in the midst of the American Revolution. 

Following immediately on from the harrowing events of the seventh book, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood continues to track the impact of the Revolutionary War on all our beloved characters. It incorporates a number of historical events, including the Battle of Monmouth.
Set in the 20th century, this short story recounts the truth about what happened to Roger MacKenzie’s parents. Orphaned during World War II, Roger grew up believing that his mother died in the Blitz, and his father’s plane was shot down in combat—but neither may be true. 

This Paris-set novella focuses on Young Ian’s older brother, Michael Murray, and on Joan MacKimmie, Marsali’s younger sister, who arrives in France to become a nun. 
The ninth Outlander novel will be published this month, and since plot details have been kept under tight wraps, we’ll quote Gabaldon’s own synopsis here: “The past may seem the safest place to be… But it is the most dangerous time to be alive… Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising in 1743, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same.”

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