There are two ways to read through Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books. One of those is chronologically in the universe timeline so the stories make sense.
When fans pick up the Outlander books for the first time, it’s extremely common to start with the book that was first published. That’s probably the way most of us started reading, whether it’s because it was the first book that we were introduced to because of the series or it just seemed to make sense starting with the first published book.
However, the Outlander books haven’t been written in the universe’s timeline order. At least, that’s the case when you add in the novellas and side stories. Diana Gabaldon has fleshed out the stories of Ian Murray and Lord John Grey, for example, in novellas that fit at various points in the timeline.
To ensure the Outlander timeline makes sense, here’s the chronological order to read all the books.
Starting with the first three books
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The good news is if you started with Outlander, you’ve started with the first book in chronological order in terms of the longer books. Gabaldon’s first three novels are the first three you want to read: “Outlander,” “Dragonfly in Amber,” and “Voyager.”
However, “Virgins” is a short story you may want to start with. Set in the 1740s, this story takes you through Jamie and Ian’s time together as brothers-in-arms. A 19-year-old Jamie and 20-year-old Ian are in France to become mercenaries, where you get to learn a lot more about those encounters with certain women we met in “Dragonfly in Amber.”
You may also want to start with “A Leaf of the Winds of All Hallows,” which is set in 1941-1943, so just before “Outlander” starts. This very short story tells the tale of Roger Wakefield MacKenzie’s parents and what really happened to them.
So, it technically runs:
- “A Leaf of the Winds of All Hallows”
- “Dragonfly in Amber”
It’s after this that you’ll need to start picking up the shorter novels before you move onto “Drums of Autumn.”
The Lord John Grey novellas
The next novellas take place during “Voyager,” so will be the next novels that you’ll want to read. Three of them are part of a collection of stories called “The Hand of the Devils” collection, while the others are standalone shorter novellas to fill in a few gaps. They go into Lord John Grey’s life between Culloden and Ardsmuir prison for the most part, although a couple run after that. They run:
- “Lord John and the Hellfire Club” (Lord John and the Hand of the Devils)
- “Lord John and the Private Matter”
- “Lord John and the Succubus” (Lord John and the Hand of the Devils)
- “Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade”
- “Lord John and the Haunted Soldier” (Lord John and the Hand of the Devils)
- “The Custom of the Army”
- “The Scottish Prisoner”
- “A Plague of Zombies”
Continuing the main storyline
Now it’s time to move onto the main storyline again. Pick this up with “Drums of Autumn,” which picks up where “Voyager” left off. You’ll be taken through Claire and Jamie’s life in the Colonies while seeing Brianna and Roger in the 1960s as they navigate their future together.
Run your way through all the longer stories, so you’ll go through:
- “Drums of Autumn”
- “The Fiery Cross”
- “A Breath of Snow and Ashes”
- “An Echo in the Bone”
- “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood”
After that, you can move onto the novella “The Space Between.” This takes place in 1778 in Paris, so somewhere within the timeline of the end of “An Echo in the Bone” and within the timing of “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.” Young Ian’s older brother Michael and Marsali’s younger sister Joan are in Paris with a few familiar (and some believed dead) faces from Outlander Season 2.
Once the ninth book, “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone,” is finished, it will sit after “The Space Between.” There is a 10th book in the works, but it remains untitled at this time.
Read the novellas whenever you like
One thing Diana Gabaldon does say is that the smaller novels can be enjoyed whenever you like. The Outlander books are in chronological order for the timeline above, but the novellas are supplementary reading. Just make sure you read the larger books in order so you don’t miss important details!
Which order do you like reading the Outlander books in? Which is your favorite big book and novella? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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