Diana Gabaldon’s debut novel is a romance epic, a time-hopping fantasy and a war story. The first in a planned 10-book series—with five seasons and counting of a hit TV show to match—Outlander traces the journey of WWII British combat nurse Claire Randall, who accidentally transports herself into the 18th-century Scottish highlands one morning. Forced to marry a young, virile Scotsman for protection from a sadistic military leader, Claire discovers the joys of romantic passion and 1740s-era adventure. But this is also a book about pain, torture and pure evil. While the world Claire inhabits is real enough, her skill as a healer and the beliefs of the time—defined by folklore and creatures like fairies and witches—turns it into a more mythical version of the past, where villains seem invincible and time travel is a given. —Raisa Bruner

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