Friday, July 24, 2015

What Should I Read After I Finish the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon?

The Outlander series is a unique series of books by Diana Gabaldon that are filled with great characters, adventure, fantasy, and the romance of a lifetime.  While no books are quite like Gabaldon’s, there are some great books in similar veins that can fill your reading desires as you wait for the next book in the saga.  The following are my top picks.

1.       Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati.  I picked this novel up at a used book store at an airport while on a work related trip ten or so years ago.  I liked the premise, Elizabeth Middleton is an Englishwoman moving to the wilds of 18th century New England to be with her family.  While there, she meets Nathanial Booner, the son of Hawkeye and Cora from Last of the Mohicans.  Elizabeth and Nathanial fall in love and work through the prejudices of the times.  Much to my surprise – Jamie and Claire Fraser make an appearance in this novel!  I had no idea when I was reading it that Claire and Jamie would be in the book until they were there.  Diana Gabaldon herself approves of this book.  I only made it to book three of this series and need to pick it back up one of these days!

2.       A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley (or anything by Susanna Kearsley).  Susanna Kearsley writes great novels that often contain a time slip or other mechanism to the past.  A
Desperate Fortune involves a codebreaker in the present day that is cracking the historical diary of Mary Dundas.  Mary is used by the Jacobites in France to help a mysterious man with an even more mysterious body guard to remain out of harm’s way.  Hugh Macpherson, the mysterious bodyguard, is a Scotsman with a deep soul.  The entire novel is a slow build to the reveal of one of the best romantic heroes I’ve read in a while.  I’ve also read Kearsley novels The Splendour Falls, The Firebird, The Shadowy Horses, Mariana, and The Rose Garden and have enjoyed them all.  I’ve read wonderful reviews of The Winter Sea, but it’s still on my wish list of books.

3.      The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick.  There is not time travel in Elizabeth Chadwick’s
novels, unless you consider that Chadwick’s novels make you feel like you are experiencing the Middle Ages.  William Marshal is a young knight with drive, passion, and a deep loyalty.  He uses his skills to climb up the ranks at court, and meets his match when he meets young Isabelle de Claire in The Scarlet Lion.  William and Isabelle’s love faces many trials, but their love grows stronger over time.  Elizabeth Chadwick is one of the best historical fiction writers of all time, and William Marshal is one of the best romantic heroes in literature.

4.      Discovery of Witches Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.  Diana is an avid historian of alchemy
and also a witch without powers.  Matthew is a vampire.  When the two meet in London over the mysterious manuscript Ashmole 782, sparks fly.  Although vampires and witches typically don’t get along, the two find themselves drawn to each other as they continue the search for the manuscript and its hidden meaning.  In the second book of the series, Diana and Matthew time travel back to Tudor England in their quest. The three novels in this trilogy are A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life.

The Green Darkness by Anya Seton.  I discovered Anya
Seton as a teenager around the same time I discovered Outlander.  Anya Seton did not write series, but she did write stand-alone novels that are great historical fiction, but at times contain a bit of fantasy.  Richard Marsdon marries a young American, Celia, and moves her back to his estate in England.  While there, Celia has a breakdown and a doctor forces her to relieve her past life in Tudor England with her doomed romance with Stephan the Monk.  My favorite Anya Seton novel is Katherine, a young woman who has a passionate love affair with the son of a King, John of Gaunt, whom she is not allowed to marry. Devil Water is the story of staunch Jacobites that descended from the illegitimate line of Charles II.  I sadly read these books before my blog, so the only Anya Seton review I have on here is for Smouldering Fires.

Irish Lady byJeannette Baker.  Diana Gabaldon gave her approval to this novel calling it,
“Wonderful . . . it grips from the first page to the very last.”  Irish Lady is a gripping tale with intrigue, romance, historical fiction ghosts, time slips, mystery, and grand passion and is set in both the 1590’s and the 1990’s in Ireland.  I also loved the Scottish setting and time travel in Jeannette Baker’s novel, Legacy. 

The Poldark Series by Winston Graham.  I am only on book two of this
series, but the entire series by Winston Graham goes through the turbulent and passionate lifetimes of the main characters, Ross and Demelza.  A TV series based on the first two books is currently airing on Masterpiece Theatre and is excellent.  Set in Cornwall after the American Revolution, Ross has discovered the woman that he loves is engaged to his cousin, but he decides to bring his estate back to life and to help the common people along the way.  Ross Poldark is another greatest romantic hero in literature.

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.  I love the show, but haven’t read the series yet.  My husband has read this series and Outlander and he says I would be remiss if I didn’t put it on a list of good books to read if you like Outlander.

What have I missed?  What are your favorite books with great characters, romance, and or time travel that you read when you aren’t reading Outlander?

Other suggestions that I've received on this blog, Goodreads, and Facebook are as follows (I've been adding them to my "want to read" list).  Items in BOLD were mentioned by many people:
1.  The Bronze Horseman by Simmons
2.   The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
3.  Follow the River by James Alexander Thom
4.  Comanche Moon by Catherine Anderson
5.  Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
6.  Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
7.  Dragonblade by Kathryn Le Veque
8.  The Graham Saga by Anna Belfridge
9.  Fall of the Giants by Ken Follet
10.  The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
11.  A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland
12.  Daphne Du Maurier Novels (My Favorite is Rebecca)
13.  The Innocent by Posie Graeme Evanss
14.  Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen (I love this book!)
15.  Before Versailles by Karleen Koen
16.  Edward Rutherford Novels
17. Exit Unicorns by Cindy Brandner
18.  A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley
19.  The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett
20.  The Nicholas Series by Dorothy Dunnett
21.  The King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett
22.  Highland Destiny by Hannah Howell
23.  Lady Julia Series by Deanna Raybourn
24.  The Welsh Trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman
25.  Awaken the Highland Warrior by Anita White Clenney
26.  The Lord John Series by Diana Gabaldon
27.  Jane Austen Novels
28.  Dalraida Series by Jules Watson
29.  The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
30.  The Spymaster Series by Joanna Bourne
31.  The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
32.  The Tea Rose Trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly
33.  Gracelyn O'Malley Trilogy by Anne Moore
34.  The Templar Knights Series by Mary Reed McCall
35.  Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
36.  The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
37.  The Angelique Series by Anne and Serge Golan
38.  Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (I love this book also!)
39.  Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
40.  North and South Trilogy by John Jakes
41.  Swan Trilogy by Celeste De Blasis
42  The Plantagenet Series by Sharon Kay Penman


  1. Laura, I have only read the first book in the Outlander series. I loved it, but have not (made the time to) read the others. I am not sure what you should read next, but I think that you have some excellent options on your list, and much wonderful reading in store. Enjoy!

  2. The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning!

  3. Have you ever read the Angelique books? I don't really like romance books qua romance books, but I agree with Ms Gabaldon that her books are not romance novels. In my teens and twenties, though, I did read romance, and I can remember just loving the Angelique books; judging from the books you list, you may as well.

    1. I need to read this series. My mom named me after Angelique

  4. I have never read the Angelique books. I just added them and The Fever Series to my "Want to Read" list on Goodreads. Thanks for the suggestions and keep them coming!

  5. That's a great list! I have read most of those books, apart from Irish Lady and Game of Thrones, and loved them all. Outlander was my favourite historical series until I discovered the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett.

  6. I agree with Helen. Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are brilliant.

  7. I keep reading comments on how the Lymond Chronicles and The Bronze Horseman are great. I need to check them out sooner rather than later!

  8. Ditto on Pillars of the Earth and Mists of Avalon. I have not been able to get into Exit Unicorns though. I'm loving the Poldark series on Masterpiece - waiting for the second half of Outlander to be available on itunes or amazon...

  9. Lots of wonderful reads on this list. I've read the Game of Thrones books and love them.

  10. I first learned of this post through goodreads, and must agree with some of the authors listed such as Sara Donati, Anya Seton, Dorothy Dunnett, and Sharon Kay Penman. These are authors I have read, or am currently reading, and I think they all do a very good job with characterization and history. Penman also has a series of five books called the Plantagenet Series which begins with When Christ and his Saints Slept, and her standalone book on Richard III called The Sunne in Splendour comes highly recommended. If you can get these, I also recommend the Swan Trilogy by Celeste De Blasis which includes Wild Swan, Swan's Chance, and a Season of Swans. It covers a family who leaves England for America and owns a successful horse farm. I particularly liked that many of the characters were healers. I also recommend Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and the North and South series by John Jakes, each of which gave me insights into the American Civil War. Author Eugenia Price also wrote good historical fiction covering the era before the Civil War most of which is set in Georgia.

    1. And if you've seen the Great Series otherthan Outlander section in the Outlander group, that section has a very large thread of reading recommendations.

    2. I just realized that when I first commented here I mentioned Eugenia Price but didn't mention her books. To rectify that, the books from her I liked were part of the Savannah Quartet and the Georgia Trilogy. She has others, but I've never read them. These are all historical fiction in the pre-Civil War south.

  11. Thanks Stefanie - I'll add your recommendations to the list also. I was ironically just talking to my husband about the North and South trilogy this weekend. We both enjoyed the series as well as the 1980's TV mini-series. I have the trilogy in mass market paperback and want to replace it with hard copy, similar to what I want to do with some of the first books in the Outlander series that I have in mass market paperback. Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite books of all time. I think it's a classic that everyone should read at least once. Thank-you for your comments! I've missed that link in the Outlander group on goodreads, I'll have to check it out.

    1. This recommendation isn't coming from me directly, but it does come from a member of the Outlander group on Goodreads. She recommended the two series by
      Pamela Belle on the English civil war called the Wintercombe Series and the Heron Series. She compared them to Anya Seton, which must mean that they are rich in history. I haven't read these books yet, but they are on my to be read list and they are being rereleased.

    2. Now for a recommendation which I have read, The Proud Breed by Celeste De Blasis covers a long time married couple fromtheir younger days until their deaths at old ages, so the ending is bitter sweet. The marriage portrayed reminded me very much of the Outlander Series though. I also have recommended it in the group.

  12. You might like Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor. :)

  13. I love Forever Amber! I unfortunately read it just before starting this blog so I don't have a review on here.

  14. Anything written by Phillipa Gregory! My first was Wideacre. Then read everything she has written. All of her historical king/ queen etc. You won't be able to put any of them down. I have also read most of what you have on your list.

  15. Anything written by Phillipa Gregory! My first was Wideacre. Then read everything she has written. All of her historical king/ queen etc. You won't be able to put any of them down. I have also read most of what you have on your list.

  16. Shadow of the Savernake - Perfect blend of Fantasy, Time Travel and Romance - with some History thrown in for good measure!

    I'll put the blurb here as it explains what it's about way better then i can:

    Aborologist Florence Brock, steps into the hollow of an ancient tree, and awakes transported several hundred years into England's past. Thrust into a land at war, where her skills count for nothing and her life even less, Florence has to forget everything she once knew and become something more.

    Her fate is entwined with Nat Haslet, a savvy and resourceful soldier marooned beyond his own time, desperate to get back home. Nat has learned what it is to survive in this broken land, doing what he must to stay alive.

    Their incursion in the time-line alerts both friend and foe. There are those who would help them - The Taxanes - a secretive order as ancient as the trees themselves, who protect the time-line from ripples that were never meant to be. And there are those who would seek to use Florence's knowledge for a far darker purpose, twisting history to their own malevolent ends.

    Now, Florence and Nat must forge an understanding if they are to navigate the treachery of England's lost and brutal past, before time itself runs out.

  17. The Bronze Horseman is a series. It's billed as a trilogy, but there are two books that come before. They are exquisite!

  18. I have another recommendation, and I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned in the Goodreads group. Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher. It covers a young woman's age from before World War II to post World War II, and I loved it. It takes place in England, and mainly in Cornwall during that time, and there are some great characters, and a really good sense of place. I'm trying to get my aunt to read it, since she likes World War II historical fiction, but at 40 hours of audio book, and almost 1000 pages of regular book, she's hesitant. Pilcher is most famous for having authored the Shell Seekers which I have not read yet.

  19. O. And I will add a note with Gone with the Wind, that the book was written long enough ago and in a way that the racism displayed in the narrative viewpoint may very well be offputting to readers, which is totally a valid viewpoint. Having said that, I did find the book compelling when I read it, enough that I wanted to read the sequel Scarlett written by Alexandra Ripley, which I would recommend for those who want to see Scarlett and Rhett get a happy ending. They famously don't in the original book or movie. There's also a prequel/sequel called Rhett Butler's People, by Donald McCaig, , which a friend of mine liked.