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The Outlandish Companion: Volume Two    by Diana Gabaldon order for
Outlandish Companion
by Diana Gabaldon
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

While I'm a long-time fan of Diana Gabaldon's highly entertaining Outlander series, I have to admit that I never opened The Outlandish Companion: Volume One. But Volume Two just arrived in my review pile so I decided to have a look. It's billed as 'The Companion to The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart's Blood.'

So what's in a companion book? This one has something for everyone - from chronologies, synopses, historical context, cast of characters and maps from both the main Outlander and Lord John novels, to a Scottish language glossary and pronunciation guide, and recipes (for Enchiladas, Drunk Chicken Pasta Salad and New Year's Green Chili)!

I was intrigued by a rational discussion of Sex and Violence in the books (and TV show), in which the author digs into reader protests about the spanking scene, and talks about rape and sadism in her works. She tells us that her view is 'that it's appropriate to use both sex and violence in art if there is a clear and specific reason for doing so - but not just to draw in eyeballs. I hope I've done it right.' Fans certainly think she has.

Another fascinating chapter, Mind Games, talks about the writing process - by both linear and non-linear thinkers (Gabaldon claims to be the latter). It's well worth reading by anyone who writes or wants to. I also enjoyed the section, Medicine or Magic?, on medieval folk remedies in the Highlands, and one on Ancient Biotics.

The Outlandish Companion: Volume Two is quite a tome and it makes a perfect holiday present for fans of the Outlander and/or Lord John books, the TV series or both. I know who my copy will be gift wrapped for, and know it will be appreciated.

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