The Outlander series is a historical fiction series that follows Claire Randall, beginning in 1945, working as a military nurse in France. Soon, she is transported back to Scotland in 1743, where the Jacobite rebellion is bubbling and two years later, would come into full force.
Not only is Claire swept into a world completely unlike her own but her new Scottish life is filled to the brim with political turmoil, her agency as a woman is restricted significantly, and the societal expectations that dictate her life are suddenly flipped upside down.
Outlander is her most well-known series but she has also written a plethora of other works including the spin-off Lord John Grey series that hones in on one of Outlander’s minor characters.
But before we dive into all of her works in more detail, let’s take a closer look at the author.
About the Author
Diana Gabaldon was born on January 11th, 1952 in Arizona. She grew up in Flagstaff with a particular interest in animals, leading her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Northern Arizona University.
Following her graduation, Gabaldon continued higher education, earning a master’s degree in marine biology from the University of California in San Diego. After this, she attended Northern Arizona University to complete a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology.
Her science-based education led her to a job at Arizona State University working in the Center for Environmental Studies. While there, she began editing the Science Software Quarterly. This is where she began her writing career but not via novels. Instead, she wrote technical articles, software reviews, and even comics for Disney.
She then worked as a professor for 12 years, specializing in scientific computation, before sacrificing science to pursue a career as a novelist full-time. She wrote her first historical novel just to practice, not intending to show it to anyone else – she didn’t realize her work would become so popular and high in demand.
She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and she has three children, one of which is also a fantasy author.
About the Outlander Series
The inspiration for Gabaldon’s Outlander male protagonist, James Fraser, came from the popular TV show Doctor Who. One of the Doctor’s companions was a Scotsman called Jamie McCrimmon, who originated in the 18th century. Gabaldon was intrigued by the character and saw the potential to center an entire series around a very similar character.
Diana Gabaldon claimed that her characters, especially her female lead, began to tell the story for her. This character is witty and has a quick attitude. In order to explain this character’s behavior, which is very out of place considering 18th-century female expectations, she decided to utilize time travel. As a result, the series places a huge amount of emphasis on the female character’s adjustment to her new society.
The series remains very character-led and it’s often the characters and their relationships that capture the attention of the reader first. While Gabaldon’s plot lines are equally as enthralling, her intricately-created, witty, and lovable characters are what give her books their edge.
But what really sets Gabaldon’s work apart from the rest is her informative and accurate style. When you read these excellent books, you know she’s done her research, which not only makes the story more immersive and realistic (ignoring the time travel and fantasy elements) but also much more enjoyable because you feel like you’re reading something with historical and cultural significance.
The Outlander series has a spin-off Lord John Grey series and a few graphic novels and short stories in addition to originals. It is one of the most well-rated historical fiction/fantasy novel series ever written and not only does it have a huge, wide-ranging fan base but also authors have labeled Gabaldon’s work as inspiration for their own.
The first novel in the series won the Romance Writers of America RITA Award in 1991 for Best Romance. Many of the books in this series, and the spin-off series that followed, have made it to the top of New York Times bestseller lists and Gabaldon has been praised for maintaining the quality of her work as books continued to be published.
Unlike many series that often string the plot lines along as much as possible until the quality declines completely, Gabaldon’s new books keep hitting the mark and as a result, she has earned a great reputation as a gripping and innovative writer.
These books have been translated into 19 different languages and have been sold in 24 different countries. Gabaldon continues to have a vast fanbase that spans the globe and millions of fans eagerly anticipate her next publication, whenever that may be.
The Outlander Series In Order
The following list is the Outlander series, including the add-on short stories and graphic novels in order so you can understand the series in full.
- Virgins (novella)
- The Exile (graphic novel)
- Dragonfly in Amber
- A Fugitive Green (novella)
- Drums of Autumn
- The Fiery Cross
- A Breadth of Snow and Ashes
- An Echo in the Bone
- The Space Between (a novella)
- Written in My Own Heart’s Blood
- A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows (set within Written in My Own Heart’s Blood)
- Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone
If you want to read the spin-off Lord John Grey series, this should fit at number 7, in between Voyager and Drums of Autumn.
However, if you’re not interested in the additional works and only want to read the original novels, here is a list of the 9 books in order.
- Dragonfly in Amber
- Drums of Autumn
- The Fiery Cross
- A Breadth of Snow and Ashes
- An Echo in the Bone
- Written in My Own Heart’s Blood
- Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone
Now that you can read the Outlander series and the Lord John Grey series in chronological order, here’s a ranked list of all Diana Gabaldon’s work, so you can decide whether or not the books are worth it.
A quick disclaimer – this list is created based on opinion and shouldn’t be taken as gospel. The books ranked low in this article may be one of your favorites, so be sure to read them all in order so you can decide for yourself!
All Diana Gabaldon Books Ranked Best to Worst
This list will incorporate all of Diana Gabaldon’s novels in her Outlander and Lord John Grey series. It will not feature any of the short stories, graphic novels, or novellas but if you take a look at ratings and reviews you can see which of the add-on stories are ranked highly and which haven’t received as much praise.
Without further ado, here’s a ranked list of all Diana Gabaldon’s novels.
Outlander (Outlander #1)
Gabaldon’s first Outlander book comes at the top. Her series is interesting and engaging the whole way through but there’s nothing like the start of a new series and getting to know these brilliant characters for the first time.
Outlander not only sets the scene and introduces the characters but it holds the transportation scene, Claire’s initial adjustment to 18th-century Scottish life, and her primary thoughts. This is a very extreme transition for Claire and the novel closely follows her thoughts and interactions which makes for very interesting reading.
This excellent book is intricately written and immersive, telling a heart-wrenching and gripping story of love, agency, and passion. Claire must adapt to her new surroundings and fight for her life in a new world that strips her of all the freedoms she enjoyed in the mid-20th century.
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8)
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood follows true events such as the British evacuation of Philadelphia and the Battle of Monmouth. As a result, this is a fast-paced, jam-packed book that’s guaranteed to keep you entertained.
This book is ranked so highly because of its multidimensional approach. Gabaldon has the ability to interweave so many plots, subplots, character developments, relationship changes, and scandals into one book without making it seem too busy or overwhelming and this book really highlights that.
This book zooms into the carefully constructed relationships between characters and dives into their mindsets but also follows a complex plot on an international level. France has declared war on Britain, throwing the country into turmoil. Split between America and Britain, this book has a plethora of revelations, unexpected twists, and shocking new events.
An Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7)
This excellent novel ties the 20th and 18th centuries together through letters. Brianna, Roger, Mandy, and Jem are reading letters from Claire and Jamie detailing the past. One of the letters gives insight into the exact location of a hidden treasure, a location that could only be determined by Jem. He must set out on a treacherous journey and looking at the dates on the family’s record, it looks like he may not make it back.
An Echo in the Bone ties Claire’s original era with her 18th-century self, which, through immersive and vivid descriptions, creates the impression of whizzing between centuries. She experiments with the epistolary form, using letters to link worlds and reveal crucial information.
With scenes of battle, unpredictable deaths, and new scandals, this seventh novel is every bit as indulgent as the first.
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6)
Claire is now subject to the stringent regulations that come with being an 18th-century wife. As well as navigating the societal expectations of married womanhood, Claire and her fellow protagonists are facing new challenges every day. Their everyday lives are dictated by political unrest and the upcoming American Revolution creeps closer by the hour.
A Breath of Snow and Ashes is many people’s favorite, often because it toys with national conflict and puts Jamie, our male lead, in a tricky position, making him question his loyalties and experiment with his freedom.
This is a turbulent and often violent story that will keep you hooked until the very end.
Lord John and the Private Matter (Lord John Grey #1)
As the first novel in the spin-off series, Lord John and the Private Matter feels like a breath of fresh air. Gabaldon transports the reader away from 18th-century Scotland and instead delves into Georgian London which is an equally enjoyable setting and provides a plethora of new vivid images.
This is ranked so highly because it’s so different but in the best way. It provides a new main character which is very different from our usual loved-up Claire and Jamie, it’s set in a new area, and its plot lines differ significantly, too.
The new center of attention, Lord John Grey, is a homosexual officer in the Army who tries his best to save his family from scandal. This is a story of betrayal, trust, love, and colonialism, and it really brings the period to life!
These books can be pretty graphic, especially when it comes to sex scenes, but this also helps to increase the immersive feeling you get when reading Gabaldon’s work, so we think it works in her favor.
Voyager (Outlander #3)
This installment could easily have been ranked higher – they’re just all too good!
If you’re looking for passion, romance, and scandal, this one may be your favorite. A huge revelation has put Claire in a tricky position. The man she assumed dead is still alive and now, she longs to travel back in time again to be with him and raise a family.
But it’s not that easy, by going back, Claire will have to leave crucial parts of herself behind. There’s just one question she must face – is their love worth risking everything?
Voyager is heart-wrenching, romantic, and utterly captivating. If you pick this one up, you’ll struggle to put it down!
Dragonfly in the Amber (Outlander #2)
This brilliant sequel will take you through the emotional ringer. Now you’ve got to know these fascinating characters and their unusual and unlikely relationship, you can indulge in this fantastic story of war, secrecy, and sacrifice.
Dragonfly in the Amber dives back in time as Claire retells some of the intriguing stories of her husband. But of course, with Gabaldon, there’s always a twist. Claire makes some life-changing revelations and she soon finds herself traveling back in time with a dangerous secret in tow.
This is expressive, immersive, and jam-packed full of interesting plot twists and turns. It’s ranked further down because the reading experience doesn’t quite match the first installment in the series. Although it’s a fantastic and enjoyable story, Gabaldon’s Outlander debut set the bar far too high, so when reading this one straight after, some readers have been slightly disappointed.
Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4)
This one is very different, hence its position lower down the scale. Don’t get me wrong – Drums of Autumn still maintains the historic, romantic, and action-packed plot that the others entertain but this story feels very different, some say out of place.
Claire has set off to find Jamie Fraser, the man who has her heart, leaving their daughter Brianna behind. After sacrificing so much for her, Brianna insisted that Claire goes to find Jamie and bring him back safely.
Brianna delves into the past for herself, eager to learn about the father she’s never met and the mother she feels distanced from. But soon she finds herself wedged between eras, conflicted as to where she belongs.
The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5)
The Fiery Cross has sparked some conflicting reviews. Some readers absolutely love it, others hate it – so this one is evidently hard to place for many. The novel is interesting and maintains the same beloved themes of love, war, and conflict throughout, but it’s perhaps a little too long for its own good.
This book places a lot more emphasis on colonial life and is detail heavy when it comes to depicting pre-revolutionary America, which speaks volumes about her fantastic research but can be a little more dull to read in comparison with the preceding books.
This book begins with a prediction – Claire’s prophecy indicates that there’s a war coming and no matter how much they’d like to ignore it, she’s right. Despite all they’ve been through, Claire and Jamie must now face another threat.
The Scottish Prisoner (Lord John Grey #3)
Although the Lord John Grey series is a spin-off and focuses more on the secondary character, the series maintains many of the same qualities as the original Outlander stories and features many of the same familiar faces.
The Scottish Prisoner is the last in the series of novels (disregarding the short stories and novellas also included) and according to reviews, it has often been read as a standalone.
If you’ve finished the Outlander series and you’re looking for a dose of your favorite characters these books are the perfect way to do that. However, this book does not include Claire, as it is set before her return.
Gabaldon uses the Lord John Grey series to continue, if not expand, her brilliant use of Scottish lore references, which creates such a magical and unmatched feel to the novels.
Go Tell the Bees That I’m Gone (Outlander #9)
Go Tell the Bees That I’m Gone is Gabaldon’s latest book in the series. After nearly 7 long years of anticipating a new release, fans finally got their hands on the new publication, and for many, it didn’t disappoint!
Many readers have claimed that Gabaldon’s 9th book is every bit as enjoyable as the last 8. However, some inconsistencies have been identified throughout this one, which makes it awkward if you’re reading them one after the other.
Unlike many of the other action-packed, scandalous books in this series, Go Tell the Bees That I’m Gone is much more slow-paced and can feel quite repetitive.
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (Lord John Grey #2)
The Grey family is being taunted from beyond the grave. Hidden secrets are revealed, mysteries are unleashed, and a new scandal is born.
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade is overflowing with witty remarks, interesting insights into 18th-century London life, and scandalous confrontations. These books contain some pretty graphic homosexual sex scenes and many have praised Gabaldon’s ability to maintain sexual tension so subtly throughout this book.
If you enjoyed the John Grey character in the Outlander series, you’ll love these books. It isn’t ranked as highly as the Outlander books because these books aren’t as all-encompassing as the others and this book in particular felt quite easy to put down.
If you’re looking for something a little more gripping, start with the Outlander series, and then if you get hooked on John Grey’s character use these as follow-up reading but we wouldn’t recommend starting with these ones.
Diana Gabaldon has written some of the most well-read historical and fantasy fiction books. Regardless of whether you agree with this ranking or not, there’s no doubt that Gabaldon’s work is worth reading. Her vivid descriptions, intriguing characters, political contexts, and scandalous relationships will have you hooked from the very beginning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Diana Gabaldon English?
Despite her heroine having English heritage and ties to Scotland and France, Diana is American, with Mexican-American and English ancestry.
How is Gabaldon pronounced?
It is pronounced Gab-uhl-dohn.
Is Outlander worth reading?
As well as having fantastic ratings across a variety of different sites and readers, the Outlander series is genre-bending, exciting, and unlike many other similar historical books.
Is there an Outlander TV show?
As well as many other core themes, such as historical and political drama, romance runs consistently through the story and has become a fan favorite part of the series.