Review of Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish with Charlotte Reather

Clanlands is a hilarious and informative romp through Scottish history with two guides whose camaraderie is both good-naturedly competitive and endearing. As the only woman in America who has NOT watched Outlander (where Sam and Graham met as actors), I had initial concerns that the book would be lost on me, but I soon found my fears were unfounded. While Outlander fans will definitely enjoy the references to episodes and locations, Clanlands is not a mere guidebook for the history buffs of the television show; it brings Scottish history to life for a 21st century audience, and has fun doing it!

One of my favorite aspects of the book was Sam and Graham’s back-and-forth banter, even during sections that were supposed to be written by only one of them. Sometimes reflective and serious, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, the book is an enjoyable ride (literally, and on various modes of transport) through the nation of their birth. I was excited to discover that my own family line can boast descent from two different Highland clans (Boyd and Mackay), and I hope to someday visit, with Clanlands in hand, some of the places described.

As a writer, I’ve seen my share of celebrity “authors” who put their name on the cover and attend a directional meeting or two, only to have the book primarily authored by a ghost writer. I was pleasantly surprised to find that these boys can actually write! It thrills my little indie-author heart to know that Clanlands is the fulfillment of Graham’s childhood dream.  Having also read an article written by Mr. Heughan (an ode to the Lyceum Theatre), I can say with confidence that if for some reason he grows weary of being a handsome leading man, he has a career as a writer to fall back on. I do have to acknowledge the efforts of their co-writer, Charlotte Reather, who wove the musings of two men seamlessly together. I especially loved the use of interruptions and asides.

I highly recommend Clanlands to Outlander fans and non-fans alike. Those familiar with the show will find it a great companion guide to the historical events and places depicted. Those unfamiliar with Outlander will enjoy an amusing and contemplative journey through the Scottish Highlands and its unusual and rocky historical terrain. Whichever category you fall into, this book is for you!

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