- Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other, by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish. Adventure. Hachette. $32.99.
Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other, a new book by Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, was originally meant to be a podcast. And it will, eventually, be a TV show.
But for now, Clanlands is a very much a trade paperback-sized book, albeit one that opens with a scene heading: INT./EXT. CAMPER VAN. CAR PARK. GLENCOE VALLEY. SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS - DAY
The action kicks off in Glencoe, the Highland village about two hours north of Glasgow. Heughan and McTavish, barely a day into their adventure, are pulling pints behind the bar of the Clachaig Inn when a stout Glaswegian lassie barges through the door and barks, "I think you know why we are here, Jamie Fraser".
He has a fair idea. This isn't the first time that Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser in the hit TV series, has laid eyes on the groupie he nicknamed Glenn (after Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction.)
"I'd seen her before in Prague. And Glasgow. And Edinburgh. And now she is here, offering her daughter," he deadpans.
Without missing a beat, Heughan engages the Bermuda Bathroom strategy and makes a beeline for the Fiat campervan parked outside. He's soon joined by McTavish and two members of their crew who race to the van, "as if through a battlefield of invisible bullets". The four of them pile in just in time to give the groupies the slip.
"Glenn and Delilah [the daughter] rush out of the pub as we disappear in a cloud of dust," writes Heughan.
Scotland is a great place for a quick getaway, or a drive across a misty moor. In the three years I lived in the land that gave us bagpipes, Irn Bru and blood-soaked breakfasts, I put thousands of miles on my wee Peugeot, criss-crossing a country that is, as Heughan puts it, "quite literally soaked in blood." Strangely, Clanlands doesn't remind me of those drives. For a book about a road trip, it features surprisingly few roads.
To be fair, Clanlands traverses some fascinating territory. Heughan and McTavish cover the centuries-long feud between the Camerons and the Mackintoshes, recap the Massacre of Glencoe, and stumble upon a second edition of Shakespeare's folio of plays.
But these highlights are outnumbered by ceaseless gags about Sam's driving and Graham's age, as well as some jarring bits of personal history. It's a curious approach and one that seems better suited to TV, or headphones, than it does to print. But I shouldn't be too critical. The last thing I want is to offend a couple of Glaswegian gals who get around in "These Puppies Love Outlander" T-shirts.