The Exile by Diana Gabaldon and Hoang Nguyen

7517343Fiction — print. Del Ray, 2010. 224 pgs. Library copy.

This graphic novel covers the first third of Gabaldon’s Outlander novel from the point of view of her male protagonist, Jamie Fraser. Jamie returns from France with a bounty hanging over his head, and he plans to hide out from both the British Redcoats and his uncles from the Clan Mackenzie, particularly his Uncle Dougal who worries Jamie will be named his brother and laird’s heir. Meeting Claire Beauchump usurps these plans, and Jamie is determined to protect Claire even if she puts him directly in the murderous path of the British or his uncles.

Rather confusingly, Gabaldon’s preface says the graphic novel is from Jamie’s godfather Murtagh’s point of view, but it quickly become evident that this is not the case. In fact, there isn’t much new information or perspectives be to gleaned from reading this adaption. The complex and rich tale introduced in the original novel is flattened out, and important details — such as why Geillis and Claire are arrested — are left out entirely.

Gabaladon adds a new character to the story (or, at least, one that is new to me given that I have read only two of the eight books in the series) — Geillis’ second boyfriend, who travels from the 1960s to the present with Geillis and plots against Geillis’ other boyfriend with her. Except how would Jamie know about this? How would anyone other than Geillis know about this character’s existence?

As for the graphics, I expected Nguyen’s vision of Jamie would be unlikely to match my own, but the presentation of Claire really felt like an attempt to grab male readers. Claire’s breasts spill out of her dresses whether or not the fabric is torn, and they heave more in this graphic novel than any other romance novel I’ve ever read.

There lack of distinction between the male characters made it difficult to discern who was talking, and the blurry backgrounds did nothing to convey the beauty of the Scottish countryside that Galabadon was so clearly fond of in her original novel. The panels felt like quick sketches done during novel development rather than the final product. Most disappointingly, though, there was nothing about the panels to discover or examine in greater detail, which is often my favorite part of reading comics.

If I knew someone struggling to follow the events of Gabaldon’s original novel and in need of a primer, then I might recommend this book to them. But a lovely television adaption exists that is truer to the events of the novel, far more tasteful in its depiction of Claire’s body, and includes pieces of Jamie’s perspective, and I would advise starting with that over the graphic novel.

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4 thoughts on “The Exile by Diana Gabaldon and Hoang Nguyen

    1. I’m afraid that was the case! Gabaldon wrote extensively in her preface that she has a great affinity for comics and graphic novels so it was particularly disappointing to turn the pages and see this.

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  1. I flipped through this one a few years ago in the library and just couldn’t. Too much male gaze going on here. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE the TV series, though. 🙂 So nice to have Jamie and Claire come to life and I especially love the casting choice for Claire. 🙂

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