Maybe you've fallen in love with the Starz series and want to check out the novels that inspired it. Maybe you’re a Diana Gabaldon fanatic and wondering whether the TV adaptation is faithful to the books. Or maybe you're just curious about how the Outlander books are different from the show Outlander, and which is better. Regardless, this guide to all things Outlander has you covered.

Outlander is a novel written by Diana Gabaldon and originally published in 1991. It mixes several genres, including historical fiction, romance, adventure, and fantasy. Outlander was an instant hit, selling millions of copies and winning the Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Romance Novel. The book became the first in what is now one of the best-selling book series of all time. Outlander has been adapted into a graphic novel, a musical, and notably, the highly popular Outlander television series, which debuted on Starz in 2013.

Like the novels it's based on, the Outlander television series also has many fans, and millions of viewers tune in every week to watch the show. Five seasons of the show have already aired, and it has since been renewed for a sixth and seventh season. So it’s safe to say that Outlander isn't going anywhere any time soon.

Both the novels and the television series focus on the story of Claire Randall, a 20th-century British nurse who travels back in time to 18th-century Scotland. There, she meets Highland warrior Jamie Fraser, nurses him back to health, and so begins their passionate romance. It's a compelling story filled with drama, twists, plenty of sexy moments, and even a bit of humor. But which version tells the story better: the books or the show?

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. In many ways, both the TV series and the book series tell the same story and introduce fans to the same characters. Still, there are plenty of differences and unique elements that make each version distinct. The Outlander saga is well worth both a listen and a binge watch.

Is Outlander true to the books?

There are plenty of differences between the Outlander books and the Starz television show based on the books. Since the eight novels in the series add up to thousands of pages—and the audiobooks run hundreds of hours over the course of the series—it's impossible for the show to cover all of the original material. Some things have been left out, and others have been condensed. The following are the most significant changes from the Outlander books to the Outlander television series.

What are some of the major differences between the Outlander books and the show?

Jamie and Claire's appearance

If you listen to the Outlander books and then watch the show, Jamie and Claire might look a little different from what you were picturing in your head. For Jamie, Diana Gabaldon wrote a man who had a large, muscular figure, red hair, and dark blue eyes. While actor Sam Heughan has red hair, some viewers initially felt that Heughan's hair wasn't red enough and that the actor just wasn't as muscular as what they pictured. As for the actress playing Claire, Caitriona Balfe is older than Claire is in the first novel. And while Claire's eyes are meant to be brown, Balfe's eyes are very, very blue. But as with any good actors, Heughan and Balfe have embodied their roles, and now most viewers couldn't imagine Claire or Jamie being played by anyone else.

Frank's character

Claire's first husband Frank Randall is quite different in the novels compared to the show. In the books, Frank is very unlikable, and so when Claire falls in love with Jamie, her decision is clear and understandable. The series makes Frank a more sympathetic character, however, which makes audiences question Claire's choice to fall into a new relationship with Jamie.

Murtagh's story

This is a big one. In the book series, Murtagh dies in battle early—in the very first novel. Not so in the TV series. In fact, Murtagh is still very much alive in the Outlander show, at least through the fifth season, which means plenty of storylines (and romance) that were not a part of the novels. This makes for a fun little surprise for fans of the books, as no one is quite sure what will happen with Murtagh's story.

The perspective

The Outlander novels are told exclusively from Claire's point of view. So we see everything that happens through her eyes. In the show, we get much more from other characters. At times, it even includes narration from Jamie's point of view.

What characters from the Outlander books were cut from the show?

So many. While a few storylines were added (like Murtagh's), many other characters and stories had to be streamlined to make room for the more essential characters in the series. Some of the most significant characters who don't make it into the show at all include: Nacognaweto, the village chief of the Tuscarora people; Jewish natural scientist Lawrence Stern; Jamie's cousin Alexander Fraser; Austrian musician Johannes Gerstmann; Mr. Bainbridge, an Inverness solicitor Frank Randall meets with to discuss history; Lady Annabelle MacRannoch, the wife of Marcus MacRannoch; and many more.

Why does Claire marry John Grey?

There are many reasons why the marriage between Claire and John Grey has Outlander fans perplexed. First of all, Claire is clearly in love with Jamie, and everyone knows Jamie is who Claire is supposed to be with. Secondly, well, John Grey is also in love with Jamie. So why does Claire marry John Grey? In April of 1778, John receives news that Jamie's ship has sunk, he rushes to inform Claire, and he and Claire both assume Jamie is dead. John then runs into Captain Richardson, who tells John that he intends to arrest Claire for espionage. So John tells Claire that they must marry for her protection. Because he loves Jamie so deeply, John sees this act as the one last act of love he can do for his deceased friend Jamie.

Do Claire and Jamie die in the Outlander books?

While both Claire and Jamie have had their share of brushes with death throughout the series, both characters are still very much alive. Jamie was presumed dead after his ship sunk, but even though both John and Claire mourned his death, they later discover that he's still alive, and of course there is some drama and fallout surrounding that.

Is each season of Outlander one book?

Yes, each season of Outlander follows one book in the series, although of course there are some changes made in the adaptation process. The first season of Outlander is adapted from the first novel in the series, also entitled Outlander. The second season is based on Dragonfly in Amber, the third on Voyager, the fourth on Drums of Autumn, the fifth on The Fiery Cross, and the upcoming sixth season of the show will be based on the sixth book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Outlander has also already been renewed for a seventh season, which will be based on An Echo in the Bone.

How many books will be in the Outlander series?

Diana Gabaldon is planning for ten volumes in the Outlander series. The first eight have already been published, including Written in My Heart's Own Blood, and the ninth novel, , is set to publish on November 23, 2021. There is also a spinoff series called the Lord John Series that focuses on the story of Lord John Grey.

How do the Outlander books end?

While little is known about the tenth and final book in the series, Gabaldon has hinted that Outlander will ultimately have a happy ending. For more speculation on what's to come, check out this article that looks at how the books end and what to expect from season six of the show.