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A Complete Guide To Reading the ‘Outlander’ Book Series

There's A LOT to go through.

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall Fraser in 'Outlander'

Even if you’ve never watched a single episode of Starz’s Outlander, I’m willing to bet you at least know of it—ex-World War II spitfire English nurse gets transported back in time to 18th century Scotland where she meets tall, red-headed, and handsome Scottish rebel? They get married out of convenience but end up falling in love? Lots of steamy scenes ensue?

The show’s sixth season aired in May 2022, and we know that a seventh one is definitely coming our way to continue the story of Claire and Jaime. Starz has also announced that there’s a prequel in the works: Outlander: Blood of my Blood, which will revolve around Jamie’s parents and the events that preceded Outlander.

And we mustn’t forget the original canon for this story, which comes from a series of books written by American author Diana Gabaldon. The first book in the series, Outlander (of course), came out in the 1980s, and the last book has yet to be published.

So if you’re looking for something to do while waiting for the new season of Outlander, you have plenty of adventures to catch up with as you follow the literary version of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser gallivanting through time and space.

Claire (Caitriona Balfe) stands among a circle of stones in 'Outlander'
(Starz)

As per Gabaldon’s website, the entirety of the Outlander series can be divided into three main categories, which she calls “the Big, Enormous Books,” “the Shorter, Less Indescribable Novels,” and “the Bulges.”

The first category includes, of course, the main Outlander novels that act as the true backbone of the series. They are numbered with Roman numerals and start when Claire Beauchamp stumbles through a circle of stones and travels from 1945 England to 1743 Scotland in Outlander. We follow her adventures back and forth across time, all the way until Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, which was released as recently as November 2021, and finds our characters drifting toward the start of the American Revolution. In order, the main novels are Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, and Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone—with a 10th, yet unnamed novel still in the works.

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in 'Outlander'
(Starz)

Then there are the short stories (the “Shorter, Less Indescribable Novels”), which are all along the lines of historical mysteries and focus on one of the characters from the main series, Lord John Grey—though other major characters make an appearance once or twice. You can find three of them—Lord John and the Hellfire Club, Lord John and the Succubus, and Lord John and the Haunted Soldiers—collected in the Lord John and the Hand of Devils collection, while the longer novels—Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and The Scottish Prisoners—stand on their own. There are also three shorter novellas that focus on Lord John: The Custom of the Army, A Plague of Zombies, and Besieged.

Finally, the novellas and other remaining works are prequels or missing scenes from the main canon that were usually first published in various anthologies of short stories. They include Virgins, A Fugitive Green, A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows, and The Space Between. While it’s best to read the nine major novels in order, all the other stories are standalone tales that can be read whenever you most fancy.

If you want to stick to the narrative timeline, here’s the complete Outlander book series in its in-universe chronological order:

  1. Virgins (novella)
  2. Outlander (major novel, number I)
  3. Dragonfly in Amber (major novel, number II)
  4. A Fugitive Green (novella)
  5. Voyager (major novel, number III)
  6. Lord John and the Hellfire Club (short story)
  7. Lord John and the Private Matter (novel)
  8. Lord John and the Succubus (novella)
  9. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (novel)
  10. Lord John and the Haunted Soldier (novella)
  11. The Custom of the Army (novella)
  12. The Scottish Prisoner (novel)
  13. A Plague of Zombies (novella)
  14. Besieged (novella)
  15. Drums of Autumn (major novel, number IV)
  16. The Fiery Cross (major novel, number V)
  17. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (major novel, number VI)
  18. An Echo in the Bone (major novel, number VII)
  19. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (major novel, number VIII)
  20. A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows (short story)
  21. The Space Between (novella)
  22. Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (major novel, number IX)

And here are all the Outlander books in their publication order:

  1. Outlander, published also under the title Cross Stitch (1991)
  2. Dragonfly in Amber (1992)
  3. Voyager (1993)
  4. Drums of Autumn (1996)
  5. Lord John and the Hellfire Club (1998)
  6. The Fiery Cross (2001)
  7. Lord John and the Private Matter (2003)
  8. Lord John and the Succubus (2003)
  9. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)
  10. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007)
  11. Lord John and the Haunted Soldier (2007)
  12. An Echo in the Bone (2009)
  13. The Custom of the Army (2010)
  14. A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows (2010)
  15. The Scottish Prisoner (2011)
  16. A Plague of Zombies (2011)
  17. Virgins (2012)
  18. The Space Between (2013)
  19. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (2014)
  20. A Fugitive Green (2017)
  21. Besieged (2017)
  22. Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (2021)

(featured image: Starz)

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Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely still reading. She loves dragons, complex magic systems, stories about the intrinsic goodness of humanity, queer representation, women who could crush her and Mr Darcy type men. Her blood runs purple.