Aye, it's a braw listen. These two unlikely compatriots take you on a journey around Scotland, exploring the history, heritage, and culture of the clans with humour, reverence, and more than the occasional dram.
It’s no secret that I love Scotland’s scenery and wildlife, but since moving north of the wall 4ish years ago, I’ve found an increasing interest in wanting to educate myself on it’s history too. This thirst was initially satiated by information boards as we came across them while exploring. But, once you scratch the surface Scotland’s story makes Game of Thrones look like an episode of Sylvanian Families. There’s scandal, scheming, treachery, back-stabbing, front-stabbing, political gamesmanship, and tragedy in every clan.
Clanlands is authored by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, stars of the award winning TV drama, Outlander. As someone who has only caught the odd episode on the tele-box, usually by accident, I was intrigued to learn the protagonist, Mr Heughan, and his svelte, fully bearded and bald-headed ambassador, Mr McTavish, were writing and narrating a book.
The first thing that strikes you is the excellent rapport the pair have, underpinned by a shared dry sense of humour. This especially comes across in the audiobook, which the pair narrate. They are clearly BFF’s. At times I felt I was sat in the van or on location with them enjoying the craic. In Graham I found a kindred spirit, not only because of my increasingly receding hairline (enjoy it while you can, Sam!), but also through his apropos description of the fear and anxiety elicited through Sam’s driving skills; you see, I myself, have sat shotgun in a campervan, in the Scottish Highlands, next to a pilot who ‘avoids road signs by mere inches’, slips from fifth down into second (instead of fourth) at 45mph and, drives with the handbrake on – the hairline recedes a few follicles on every trip. It was nice to hear I was not alone in these experiences.
The pride the two of them have in the history of their homeland shines through the pages. It’s clear as they complete their journey, they feel a connection and really enjoyed hearing their often emotive experience through the audiobook too.
I came away knowing more about them both; Sam’s infuriating ability to get mad wae it in the evenings only to rise fresh faced the next day, Graham’s undying love for latte’s… and his need to know where the next meal is coming from (something we share in common).
Written in-between lockdowns earlier in the year, the book and audiobook were released on 3rd November 2020. Writing this a few days after the launch date, we are back in lockdown and unable to travel. However, listening to Clanlands allowed me to escape the one-bed flat in Edinburgh and embark on a journey across Scotland, laughing and learning about the history of this awesome country.
Haste Ye Back with Volume 2 lads! But, if you need something to tide you over, their accompanying TV show, Men in Kilts, will be hitting our screens early 2021.