Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Fun Facts - 3/30/2012

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.

1) I have never seen a possum in real life <g>, but I think this picture must be very similar to what Jamie and Claire saw in DRUMS:
"Christ! That's the biggest rat I've ever seen!"

I laughed.

"It's not a rat; it's a possum. See the babies on her back?"

Jamie and Rollo regarded the possum with identical looks of calculation, assessing its plumpness and possible speed. Four small possums stared solemnly back, pointed noses twitching over their mother's humped, indifferent back. Obviously thinking the boat no threat, the mother possum finished lapping water, turned, and trundled slowly into the brush, the tip of her naked thick pink tail disappearing as the lantern light faded.

The two hunters let out identical sighs, and relaxed again.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN, chapter 9 ("Two-Thirds of a Ghost"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) Here's Claire's description of her first kiss:
"And what of you, my bonny Sassenach?" he asked, grinning. "Did ye have the wee laddies panting at your heels, or were ye shy and maidenly?"

"A bit less than you," I said circumspectly. "I was eight."

"Jezebel. Who was the lucky lad?"

"The dragoman's son. That was in Egypt. He was nine."

"Och, well, you're no to blame then. Led astray by an older man. And a bloody heathen, no less."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28 ("Kisses and Drawers"). Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
What exactly is a dragoman?  According to Wikipedia,
A dragoman was an interpreter, translator and official guide between Turkish, Arabic, and Persian-speaking countries and polities of the Middle East and European embassies, consulates, vice-consulates and trading posts. A dragoman had to have a knowledge of Arabic, Turkish, and European languages.

The position took particular prominence in the Ottoman Empire, where demand for the mediation provided by dragomans is said to have been created by the resistance on the part of the Muslim Ottomans to learn the languages of non-Muslim nations.

3) Here's a video about fish falling from the sky, just as Lawrence Stern described to Claire in VOYAGER: 
"I have seen a great many things which might be described as peculiar.  Fish-falls, for instance, where a great many fish--all of the same species, mind you, all the same size--fall suddenly from a clear sky, over dry land. There would appear to be no rational cause for this--and yet, is it therefore suitable to attribute the phenomenon to supernatural interference? On the face of it, does it seem more likely that some celestial intelligence should amuse itself by flinging shoals of fish at us from the sky, or that there is some meteorological phenomenon--a waterspout, a tornado, something of the kind?--that while not visible to us, is still in operation?"

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 62 ("Abandawe"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I think the phenomenon is fascinating.

4) Remember the "deasil charm" that Jocasta recited as protection for baby Jemmy in THE FIERY CROSS? "Deasil" is the English spelling of the Scottish Gaelic word "deiseil", meaning "sunwise", i.e., in a circle from east, to south, and so on. And according to this site, it's pronounced djay-shel.
A very common practise is the circling three times deiseil, or sunwise, of a certain place, house etc., to bring good luck and fortune. This is clearly a pagan custom of drawing down the power of the sun, associated with blessings, good health and fortune. For example, fire is carried three times around an infant; boats are rowed three times sunwise before a journey; the sick circle three times around a holy well for health.
So Jocasta is following a very old Celtic tradition in asking Brianna to perform this ritual.
Jocasta stooped to the kindling basket and groped among the bits of debris, coming up with a long pine twig in her hand, the bark still on it.

"Take that," she commanded, holding it out toward Brianna. "Light the end of it from the hearth, and walk ye round the bairn three times. Sunwise, mind!"

Mystified, Brianna took the stick and thrust it into the fire, then did as she was bid, holding the flaming twig well away from both the makeshift cradle and her blue wool skirts. Jocasta tapped her foot rhythmically on the floor, and chanted, half under her breath.

She spoke in Gaelic, but slowly enough that Brianna could make out most of the words.

"Wisdom of serpent be thine,
Wisdom of raven be thine,
Wisdom of valiant eagle.

Voice of swan be thine,
Voice of honey be thine,
Voice of the Son of the stars.

Sain of the fairy-woman be thine,
Sain of the elf-dart be thine,
Sain of the red dog be thine.

Bounty of sea be thine,
Bounty of land be thine,
Bounty of the Father of Heaven.

Be each day glad for thee,
No day ill for thee,
A life joyful, satisfied."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42 ("The Deasil Charm"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I have liked that bit ever since I first read it in the book. You can see a version of it in Gaelic in the Carmina Gadelica, Volume 3.

5) And finally, here's a barrel-type butter churn similar to the one Jamie described in FIERY CROSS.  (Click on the picture to see a bigger version.)
"Oh, no, Father; it was a barrel churn. The sort that lies on its side, aye, with a wee handle to turn it? Well, it's only that she was workin' the churn with great vigor, and the laces of her bodice undone, so that her breasts wobbled to and fro, and the cloth clinging to her with the sweat of her work. Now, the churn was just the right height--and curved, aye?--so as to make me think of bendin' her across it and lifting her skirts, and--"

My mouth opened involuntarily in shock. That was my bodice he was describing, my breasts, and my butter churn!

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13 ("Beans and Barbecue"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
This has always been one of my favorite scenes in FIERY CROSS, and I think it helps a lot to see what the churn might actually have looked like.

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please stop by next week for more!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New cover art for the Lord John books!

Great news for Lord John fans today!

Random House (Diana Gabaldon's US publisher) has just released a new cover for the paperback of LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE

I love the look of this cover. It's SO much better than the "eyes" on the old Lord John covers. And there's Lord John's smiling half-moon signet ring, which is a very appropriate symbol for this book. It's also quite obvious that this cover art is intended to coordinate with the SCOTTISH PRISONER cover.

I knew that Diana was soliciting ideas for new cover art for the Lord John books on Compuserve a few months ago, but quite honestly I had forgotten all about that, until I saw the picture just now.

It looks great, and now I'm really curious to see what the other covers will look like!

Diana said on Compuserve today,
I'm _really_ pleased with the new cover art for the Lord John books. The others--PRIVATE MATTER (a couple of antique medicine bottles) and HAND OF DEVILS (an antique compass <g>)--are done in a similar style, with a pale granular background and scrolled corners. Really nice!
If you want to tell Diana what you think about the new cover art, there's a thread on Compuserve here.

UPDATE 3/30/2012 2:35 pm:  Here is the new cover art for LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS.  Diana has posted the new cover for LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER on Compuserve, but it should be up soon on Amazon and elsewhere.

The compass for HAND OF DEVILS was my suggestion (because I love the compass needle imagery, with "you are true North", at the end of  "Haunted Soldier"), and I'm thrilled to see that Diana chose that as the symbol for this book.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

FIERY CROSS in Audible's Tournament, Round 2

Diana Gabaldon's THE FIERY CROSS won the first round of's Tournament of Audiobooks, 59%-41% over THE NIGHT CIRCUS, with well over 7,000 votes cast.

Second round voting in the tournament has now started.  Round 2 pits THE FIERY CROSS against THE WISE MAN'S FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss.

The organizers of the tournament seem to have been a little taken aback by our get-out-the-vote campaign last week <g>, judging from the comments on the page listing the matchup between FIERY CROSS and THE WISE MAN'S FEAR.
We were taught at a young age that numbers don’t lie. Then we became older, and learned that statistics can be used to prove anything. Especially in the realm of fantasy, where these books live. Fear shows up with an overall rating equal to Cross and with way more overall pre-tourney votes, which should make it easy for Rothfuss and Podehl. Problem is, Gabaldon has a massive following. I learned from last week not to underestimate them as I watched them paint the court with Morgenstern’s impressive young squad.

Prediction: It is wise to fear Gabaldon; Diana 57-43.
Everybody please take a moment to vote! Second round voting ends April 2nd.  Thanks!

If you're having trouble voting, try the HTML version instead. Be sure to scroll down until you see the listing for Round 2.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Videos from Jemmy Mac

Young Jeremiah MacKenzie is a very resourceful lad, who keeps finding ways to entertain both himself and us while he's stuck down in that tunnel.  Here are a couple of videos uploaded by his alter ego.  (Some of you on Facebook may have seen the first one, but the second is brand new.)

Will Jemmy ever make it out of the tunnel?

The 1st Ever Outlander Fever Awards

I enjoyed both of these and I think you will, too!

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Virgins" is done!

Diana Gabaldon announced this morning that she's finished writing "Virgins", the story about Jamie and Ian as young mercenaries that will be published in the DANGEROUS WOMEN anthology.

When I asked on Compuserve how long the story is, Diana said, "Came in at 27,523 words, all told--so it's a novella, rather than a short story (surprise, surprise...)."

I think that's about the same length as "Lord John and the Succubus", but I could be wrong.

We still have no information about a possible publication date for the anthology, but I'll post here as soon as I find out anything.  Diana keeps saying that she thinks it will be out this fall, but that's not definite yet.

Congratulations, Diana! <g>

(And yes, in case you're wondering, now that "Virgins" is done, Diana says she will go back to focusing "full-time" on WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Friday Fun Facts - 3/23/2012

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.

1) The picture above shows a silver quaich, similar to the one used at the oath-taking at Castle Leoch in OUTLANDER:
"We are honored by your offer of friendship and goodwill," said Colum clearly. "We accept your obedience and hold you in good faith as an ally of the clan MacKenzie."

There was a lessening of the tension over the hall, and almost an audible sigh of relief in the gallery as Colum drank from the quaich and offered it to Jamie. The young man accepted it with a smile. Instead of the customary ceremonial sip, however, he carefully raised the nearly full vessel, tilted it and drank. And kept on drinking. There was a gasp of mingled respect and amusement from the spectators, as the powerful throat muscles kept moving. Surely he'd have to breathe soon, I thought, but no. He drained the heavy cup to the last drop, lowered it with an explosive gasp for air, and handed it back to Colum.

"The honor is mine," he said, a little hoarsely, "to be allied with a clan whose taste in whisky is so fine."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 10, "The Oath-Taking". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's some interesting trivia about quaichs.  I've never actually seen a quaich in real life, but I think they're beautiful. Maybe I'll pick one up when I'm in Scotland this summer? <g>

2) The picture above is called "The Great Wave off Kanagawa", a wood-block engraving by a 19th-century Japanese artist named Hokusai.  (Click on the picture to see a bigger view.) 

What does a Japanese artist's rendering of a tidal wave have to do with OUTLANDER?  All of Diana's books have a "shape".  Here's how Diana described the shape of  A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, in a post on Compuserve, in November, 2005, shortly after that book was published:
A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES isn't a tempest, though--it's a double tidal wave. <g>  If you look at the Japanese wood-block print I mentioned in describing it (Google "The Great Wave Off Kanagawa"), you see the enormous cresting wave, spilling bits of water from the crest (these would be the various plot elements), towering over several small boats full of people--and in the background, Mount Fuji stands unmoved.  That--Mt. Fuji--would be Jamie and Claire's relationship, if you want to get symbolic, while the "crest" of the first wave is reached with Claire's rescue and Grannie Wilson's resurrection (which is the symbolic spiritual resolution of that particular episode).  The second wave then begins to build from a much lower point of tension, rising to (we hope) an even higher peak as it threatens all the characters in their frail little boats.  And at the end, Mount Fuji is still standing. <g>
I like this image because it fits very well with my experience while re-reading ABOSAA. That book always leaves me emotionally drained, exhausted, by the end.  I think the idea that the readers, as well as the characters in the story, have been tossed onto the shore at the very end of the book by some gigantic wave is not hard to imagine at all. <g>  I always need a bit of time to recover after I finish a re-read (or "re-listen") of ABOSAA, and this picture helps to explain why.

3) The picture above shows a 1960 Morris Minor, similar to Roger's car. (Although I imagine Roger's car as looking much more beat-up.) Click on the picture to see a bigger view.
Brianna drove the little car slowly up the slope of the quilt over Roger's leg, across his stomach, and into the center of his chest, where he captured both the car and her hand, giving her a wry grin.

"That's a really good car," she said, pulling her hand loose and rolling comfortably onto her side beside him. "All four wheels turn. What kind is it? A Morris Minor, like that little orange thing you had in Scotland? That was the cutest thing I ever saw, but I never understood how you managed to squeeze into it."

"With talcum powder," he assured her. He lifted the toy and set a front wheel spinning with a flick of his thumb.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 74, "So Romantic". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And it is indeed hard to imagine how a 6'3" man would fold himself into the driver's seat of a car that tiny.

4) Those of you who have read AN ECHO IN THE BONE will remember William's adventure in the swamp (chapter 36, "The Great Dismal").  Here's a video that I found a couple of years ago on the website of the Raleigh News and Observer, my local newspaper. 

This is probably not the same swamp that William got lost in, in ECHO (I think he was closer to the NC-Virginia border, whereas this video was taken in a swamp in present-day Bladen County, NC, in the southern part of the state), but the video makes it easy to imagine what it must have been like.  I especially like hearing what the swamp sounds like. <g> When I posted this on Compuserve back in 2010, Diana's comment was:
Many thanks!  Very beautiful, and very much like the Great Dismal!  (Imagine walking through knee-deep water through there, in the grip of a high fever.)

5) A white piglet.  I like to think that this may have been what the White Sow looked like, when Jamie and Claire first acquired her.  At this stage it looks pretty cute and harmless, but appearances can be deceiving!
At the moment, our total stock consisted of a small white piglet, which Jamie had obtained from a Moravian settlement thirty miles away, exchanging for it a bag of sweet yams I had gathered and a bundle of willow-twig brooms I had made. Rather too small for the penfold, it had so far been living in the shed with us, where it had become fast friends with Rollo.  I wasn't quite so fond of it myself.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19, "Hearth Blessing". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Considering how much trouble that White Sow was going to cause in the next few years, I'm not sure whether they got a bargain or not. <g> I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please stop by next week for more!

Diana Gabaldon iPhone app

Check out the new Diana Gabaldon iPhone app!

I just downloaded it and checked it out briefly.  It works fine on my iPod Touch, so it's not just for iPhone users! (You can also find it by searching on "gabaldon" in the App Store.  It's free.) 

The "News" page has links to Diana's blog posts, tweets, and articles mentioning Diana or her books. The recent Ottawa Citizen article about the Gaelic in SCOTTISH PRISONER is prominently listed in the "Buzz" section at the moment.

One neat feature: There is a sort of "crawl" at the bottom of the main screen, with various interesting things to look at, including Diana's latest tweets, links to YouTube videos, etc.

The bio page says "Another Lord John book, LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, will probably be published in 2011".  Obviously that's obsolete information, as the book was published in November. I mentioned this to Diana, and I hope she can get them to update her bio with current info.

The only other issue I found is that the FIERY CROSS excerpt is actually the opening scene from DRUMS.  Diana is aware of the issue, and I hope they can get it fixed soon.

Overall, I think it looks good.  I wish they had one for Android, too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Diana and my Friday Fun Facts

I was delighted to see the following tweet from Diana Gabaldon yesterday:

I'm really glad that she's enjoying the Friday Fun Facts, and it's very gratifying to know that she takes the time to read my blog posts.  (Some of them, anyway.  I sincerely doubt that she has the time or the desire to read everything I post here, and that's probably a good thing.)

Considering the overwhelmingly positive response to the FFF so far -- not just from Diana, but also from many of you who've posted on Facebook or Twitter or commented here on my blog -- I wanted to assure everybody that I won't stop posting these Friday Fun Facts, as long as I can think of new little bits of trivia to post each week.  I've been doing these FFF blog posts for eight weeks now, and I'm not in danger of running out of new material any time soon! <g>

If any of you have ideas or suggestions for things you'd like to see included in a future FFF post, please let me know.  You can email me if you don't want to post your suggestion in public.  Thanks!

To see all of the previous Friday Fun Facts posts, look here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

FIERY CROSS in Audible's Tournament of Audiobooks

Diana Gabaldon's THE FIERY CROSS (the unabridged version, read by Davina Porter) is in's 2012 Tournament of Audiobooks!

The first round pits THE FIERY CROSS against Erin Morgenstern's THE NIGHT CIRCUS.  Now, THE NIGHT CIRCUS was a very enjoyable book (I reviewed it last year), but considering how long Diana's fans waited for FIERY CROSS to be made available on Audible, I think we can get a lot of people mobilized to vote.

Here's the description of the first-round matchup, from Audible's tournament page:
The Fiery Cross was finally made available in unabridged digital audio and added to our store last year, and author Diana Gabaldon and narrator Davina Porter, whose fans are numerous and loyal, have thrilled us in tournaments past. But the newbie Morgenstern has aligned herself with veteran narrator Jim Dale to turn out a tour de force. Cross has a higher overall rating, sure, but it doesn’t have the momentum of the Circus.

Prediction: Close, but the fire goes out at night; Morgenstern 53-47.
I strongly disagree with that last sentence, and with Audible's prediction, and I think we can prove it.  To cast your vote, go here, click on "Customer Favorites" at the top, find the picture of THE FIERY CROSS, and click the "View Matchup" button to vote.

UPDATE 3/19/2012 11:41 am:  If you're having trouble voting, try the HTML version.  (Thanks to Rita on Compuserve for the tip!)

Apparently you don't have to live in the US in order to vote.  And I don't think you have to have an account in order to vote, either, because I wasn't logged in to my audible account when I voted yesterday.

Please help us spread the word about this!  Voting ends Monday, March 26.  Thanks!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Here's an update on THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.  The book has only been out in hardcover for 3 1/2 months, but the paperback edition is coming soon.

Trade Paperback Available for Pre-order in the US and Canada

Diana Gabaldon's latest novel, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, will be published in trade-paperback format (that's the large size paperback) in the US and Canada on May 29, 2012.  It's available for pre-order now.  Click on the image below to go to the pre-order page on  (The Canadian equivalent is here.)

I'm entertained to discover that my own review of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, which I posted in December, 2011, is listed as the "most helpful positive review" on  That's very gratifying.

UK Paperback Release Date Confusion

There seems to be conflicting information about the paperback release date for THE SCOTTISH PRISONER in the UK.  The Orion Books site (Diana Gabaldon's UK publisher) says May 2012, but it's listed on and Waterstones with a publication date of 11 October 2012.  Very confusing!  Fans in the UK who want the paperback edition sooner than October might be better off ordering from The Book Depository or some similar site that ships worldwide.

German edition coming in June!

The German edition of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, called DIE FACKELN DER FREIHEIT ("The Torches of Freedom"), will be published on 25 June 2012.

You can find out more about the German edition, translated by Barbara Schnell, on Diana Gabaldon's German website here.  Please pass this information on to any German readers you may know.

Need more information?

For more information about THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, see my SCOTTISH PRISONER FAQ page.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I don't have a drop of Irish blood myself, but I'm reliably informed that everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day!  So, in celebration of the day, here are a few of the Irish characters who have appeared in Diana Gabaldon's books.  (I posted a version of this list last year, but I've updated it to include a couple of memorable Irishmen from THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.)

1) Aloysius O'Shaughnessy Murphy.  Ship's cook aboard the Artemis, in VOYAGER. He makes a truly memorable (or should we say infamous?) turtle soup! <g>

2) Stephen Bonnet. One of Diana's most memorable villains.  I think Brianna gave him a more merciful death than he deserved.

3) Jeffries, the Dunsanys' coachman in VOYAGER.  Besides Jamie, and Lord and Lady Dunsany, he's the only other eyewitness to the death of the Eighth Earl of Ellesmere.  I wonder if we'll see him again in a future book?

4) Seamus Hanlon.  One of the musicians who played at Jocasta and Duncan's wedding in FIERY CROSS.  Despite his very brief appearance in the story (chapter 41, "Music Hath Charms"), he seemed to have a genuine appreciation for Roger's musical talents.

5) The O'Higgins brothers, Rafe and Mick, who helped to smuggle Percy Wainwright out of prison near the end of LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE.  They played only a relatively minor role in that book, but I thought they were pretty entertaining.

6) Father Donahue, the priest who baptizes Germain, Jemmy, and Joan in FIERY CROSS.  He seemed a very pragmatic, adaptable sort of person, perfectly willing to baptize the children with whisky instead of water if that was the only option available.  (And IMHO he gets extra points for managing to keep a straight face while listening to Jamie's confession involving Claire and the butter churn. <g>)

7) Tobias Quinn
.  He was certainly a memorable character in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, although I found him somewhat annoying and a nuisance more than anything else.

8) Father Michael FitzGibbons, abbot of Inchcleraun monastery, Ireland.  The abbot is a decent man (despite his desire to get Jamie involved in the Jacobite scheme), with a curiosity about the natural world that I was surprised to see in a priest.  I love this description of him:
Michael FitzGibbons was a leprechaun. Jamie recognized him at once from Quinn’s description of the race.

The man came up perhaps to Jamie’s elbow but stood straight as a sawn-off arrow, a stiff white beard bristling pugnaciously from the edges of his jaw and with a pair of green eyes, bright with curiosity.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19 ("Quagmire"). Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day, everybody!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Fun Facts 3/16/2012

Here's this week's collection of Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books. I hope you enjoy them!

1) The picture above (from Wikipedia) shows a mammoth skeleton, like the one Ian took Brianna to see in ABOSAA.
The raked arches of ribs rose huge from the dirt, and she had the impression of a scatter of things half-buried in the rubble at the foot of the bank: enormous things, knobbed and twisted. They might be bones or simply boulders--but it was the tusk that caught her eye, jutting from the bank in a massive curve, intensely familiar, and the more startling for its very familiarity.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 70 ("Emily"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Speaking as someone who has lived in North Carolina for more than 25 years, I find it hard to believe that mammoths once lived within a few hundred miles of my suburban Raleigh neighborhood. <g>  But when I made a comment like that on Compuserve a few years ago, Diana's response was,
Now, surely you don't think I'd be making _up_ something like a mammoth, do you? <g>   Nope, no less an authority than the NC Museum of Natural History in Raleigh says they were there.
2) Here is an example of a British army officer's gorget.  (Click on the picture for a better view.)

You may remember Jamie's confrontation with Governor Tryon, shortly after Roger's hanging in THE FIERY CROSS:
The lamplight from the tent-flap gleamed off Tryon's gorget, a crescent of silver that hung round his throat. Jamie's hand rose slowly--so slowly that Tryon plainly perceived no threat--and very gently fitted itself around the Governor's throat, just above the gorget.

"Leave us, Claire," he said. There was no particular threat in his voice; he sounded merely matter-of-fact. A flash of panic lit Tryon's eyes, and he jerked backward, gorget flashing in the light.

"You dare to lay hands on me, sir!" The panic subsided at once, replaced by fury.

"Oh, I do, aye. As ye laid hands on my son."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 72 ("Tinder and Char"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
This example of a gorget comes from the 31st Regiment of Foot.  As the accompanying article explains,
In 1777 elements of the 31st Regiment participated in Major General John Burgoyne's Hudson River campaign, seeing action at the Battles of Hubbardton (Vermont, July 7) and Freeman's Farm (New York, September 19). When Burgoyne's campaign ended in encirclement and surrender, the 31st Regiment's light infantry and grenadier companies were captured by colonial forces.
So this particular gorget might have been worn by the officers of William's regiment?   Of course we don't know for sure that it was the same regiment, but it's fun to speculate.

3) Here's an example of a "jugum penis", mentioned in AN ECHO IN THE BONE.

The picture above seems very similar to the description in the book. (Although the one shown above dates from the 19th century, not the 18th, the concept seems very much the same.)
“What on earth is it for?” I asked, more amused than offended by his reaction. “Given the name, obviously--”

“It prevents” His face by this time was a dark, unhealthy sort of red, and he wouldn’t meet my eye.

“Yes, I imagine it would do that.” The object in question consisted of two concentric circles of metal, the outer one flexible, with overlapping ends, and a sort of key mechanism that enabled it to be tightened. The inner one was sawtoothed--much like a bear trap, as I’d said. Rather obviously, it was meant to be fastened round a limp penis--which would stay in that condition, if it knew what was good for it.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 67 ("Greasier Than Grease"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
It looks to me like a cross between a medieval torture device and some sort of modern-day S&M paraphernalia. <g>

4) Those of you who have read Diana Gabaldon's Lord John story, "The Custom of the Army", will recall the description of the "fire-ships" in the harbor at Quebec.

The painting shown above, by Dominic Serres the Elder (1767), illustrates the attack by French fireships on the British fleet at Quebec in 1759. (Click on the picture for a bigger view.)
"Fire-ships!" someone shouted.  Grey shoved his feet into his shoes and joined the throng of men now rushing toward the water.

Out in the center of the broad dark river stood the bulk of the Harwood, at anchor.  And coming slowly down upon her were one, two, and then three blazing vessels--a raft, stacked with flammable waste, doused with oil and set afire.  A small boat, its mast and sail flaming bright against the night.   Something else--an Indian canoe, with a heap of burning grass and leaves?  Too far to see, but it was coming closer.

He glanced at the ship and saw movement on deck--too far to make out individual men, but things were happening.   The ship couldn't raise anchor and sail away, not in time--but she was lowering her boats, sailors setting out to try to deflect the fire-ships, keep them away from the Harwood.

(From "The Custom of the Army" by Diana Gabaldon, in WARRIORS 3, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Copyright© 2010 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I think it would be terrifying to be caught in the middle of that, trying to escape one of those burning ships.

The term "fireship" also appears in ECHO, in the chapter of that name, as a slang word describing a poxed whore.

5) And finally, here is one of my favorite bits connecting parts of the books together.

Claire in VOYAGER, examining the skull from the Pict-Sweet box:
The skull felt light in my hands, the bone fragile. I stroked her brow and my hand ran upward, and down behind the occiput, my fingers seeking the dark hole at the base, the foramen magnum, where all the messages of the nervous system pass to and from the busy brain.

Then I held it close against my stomach, eyes closed, and felt the shifting sadness, filling the cavity of the skull like running water. And an odd faint sense--of surprise?

"Someone killed her," I said. "She didn't want to die."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20 ("Diagnosis"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Compare this to Claire's reaction much later, in the middle of the hurricane near the end of VOYAGER:
Another clap of thunder and I screamed, not at the sound, but at the lightning bolt of memory. A skull in my hands, with empty eyes that had once been the green of the hurricane sky.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 63 ("Out of the Depths"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
No wonder that makes her scream, when she realizes all at once that a) she's actually held Geillie's skull in her hands (!) and b) it wasn't some unknown stranger 200 years ago who'd caused the woman's death, as she had assumed when she looked at the bones, but Claire herself.  I think I'd scream, too, in her position. <g>

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please stop by next week for more!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Article about the Gaelic in SCOTTISH PRISONER

Here's a fascinating article in the Ottawa Citizen (a Canadian paper) about the use of Scottish and Irish Gaelic in Diana Gabaldon's novel, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, and specifically focusing on the contributions of Cathy-Ann MacPhee (for the Scottish Gaelic), Kevin Dooley (for the Irish Gaelic), and my friend Cathy MacGregor, who helped bring them all together.

Kudos to Cathy, Cathy-Ann, and Kevin!  And thanks to Anne-Marie (aka @phoeniciana) for posting the link on Twitter, otherwise I'm sure I would never have seen it. <g>

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A meme for OUTLANDER fans!

Some of you may have seen the meme going around Facebook that consists of a series of pictures with captions like  "What my friends think I do", "What my mom thinks I do", "What I really do", etc.  There are dozens of them, for a wide range of different occupations and interests.

So yesterday I mentioned to Carol of My Outlander Purgatory that I thought we could use one of those for OUTLANDER fans.  Carol came up with this:

Click on the picture to see a larger view.  I think it's hilarious.

And thanks, Carol!

The Author's Road interviews Diana Gabaldon

Here's a very interesting interview with Diana Gabaldon from The Author's Road.

It's about 30 minutes long, but definitely worth watching!  Diana talks in detail about her writing process, as well as many other topics.

If you want to tell Diana what you think about this interview, there's a thread on Compuserve here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thank you all!

My open letter on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page appears to have had the intended effect.  The casting calls have stopped (at least temporarily), and Diana's page appears to be going back to its normal rhythm.

Many, many thanks to all of you who offered your support on Facebook and elsewhere while this brouhaha was going on last week.  Especially the lasses from My Outlander Purgatory -- Carol and Lara, in particular.  As I said last week, y'all are awesome, and I really couldn't ask for better friends!  Moran taing to all of you!

UPDATE 3/14/2012 4:35 pm:  From what I understand, the casting calls might resume next week.  I won't object if that happens.  I'm just grateful that they gave us a little bit of a break.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More OUTLANDER fan art

Have you seen these pictures by Cindy, aka Captivated2, posted on DeviantArt?  Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

So many of the fan-made drawings I've seen fail to capture Jamie's sense of humor.  I think this one shows Jamie pretty much as I see him.

This is not quite my mental image of Claire -- I picture her hair as lighter brown, and the curls much wilder -- but I like it quite a lot.  It could be Claire on her wedding day, or at the French court of Louis XV. The gown is just gorgeous!

This one is just lovely.  It's apparently based on a scene in the movie ROB ROY.

A poignant tribute to the farewell scenes in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, and twenty long years of separation.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Fun Facts - 3/9/2012

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.

1) There really are white deer, just as Lord John described them in AN ECHO IN THE BONE:

“In the evenings, quite often, deer come out of the forest to feed at the edges of the lawn. Now and then, though, I see a particular deer. It’s white, I suppose, but it looks as though it’s made of silver. I don’t know whether it comes only in the moonlight or whether it’s only that I cannot see it save by moonlight--but it is a sight of rare beauty.”

His eyes had softened, and I could see that he wasn’t looking at the plaster ceiling overhead but at the white deer, coat shining in the moonlight.

“It comes for two nights, three--rarely, four--and then it’s gone, and I don’t see it again for weeks, sometimes months. And then it comes again, and I am enchanted once more.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 95 ("Numbness"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I didn't realize that white deer actually existed, until I saw this video, which shows several white deer in Wisconsin. They're really quite beautiful, mysterious and exotic-looking creatures.

2) Remember the reference in LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER to malaria as a cure for syphilis?
"'Tis a thing I learned from the surgeon, sir--the man as saved me life. He told it me while I lay sick, and I saw it work several times after."

"Saw what, for God's sake?"

"The malaria. If a man suffering from pox happened to contract malaria, once he'd recovered from the fever--if he did--the pox was cured, as well."

(From LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "Nemesis". Copyright© 2003 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
It seems Scanlon the apothecary was way ahead of his time, to be using this cure in 1757.  According to Wikipedia, Julius Wagner-Jauregg of Austria was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1927 for his study of this same phenomenon.  (This is possibly the only good thing that can be said of him, as he later turned out to be an ardent Nazi.)

3) Here is a sketch showing what the interior of a Mohawk longhouse looked like.

It looks exactly like what Diana described in DRUMS OF AUTUMN, don't you think?
Five hearths burned, down the length of the house, each with its own smokehole, and the far wall was divided into cubicles, one for each couple or family, with a low, wide shelf for sleeping and space beneath for storage.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 53 ("Blame"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Looking at this picture, it's easy to imagine Ian and Emily (and Rollo) living in a similar longhouse.

4) Remember the scene in DRAGONFLY where Jamie and Fergus are playing with a ball-and-cup toy called a bilboquet?
Placing the hand over his eye, [Jamie] fixed the other piercingly on the bilboquet and gave the ivory cup a toss. The tethered ball leaped from its socket into an arc, and dropped as though guided by radar, landing back in its cup with a snug little plop.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 12 ("L'Hopital des Anges"). Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I saw this in a gift shop in Colonial Williamsburg in 2008.

Naturally, the moment I saw it, I decided I had to have one. It's not nearly as easy as it looks! <g> This may not look exactly like the French version mentioned in DRAGONFLY, but the basic idea is the same.

5) There was a famous pirate named Stede Bonnet in the early 18th century.  A relative of "our Stephen", perhaps?

Diana has been asked about him on Compuserve, and she says Stede Bonnet may have been Stephen's father (or maybe grandfather, given that Stede Bonnet died in 1718, almost 50 years before we met Stephen Bonnet).  Certainly it's plausible that a man like Stede Bonnet would have left any number of bastard children behind.  You can see more discussion (including Diana's comments) on Compuserve here.

I always enjoy finding connections between Diana's fictional characters and real historical figures.  The Stede Bonnet-Stephen Bonnet connection is one of my favorite examples.  There's more about Stede Bonnet here.

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please stop by next week for more!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

OUTLANDER Around the World

Here's something special that I have been working on for the last several weeks: OUTLANDER Around the World

Click on the image below to display an interactive map showing all of the countries where Diana Gabaldon's books are currently published. (There are at least 30 of them!)

You can click on the arrows or the + and - to move around the map and zoom in and out.

Notice the red dots. As you hover your mouse over one of those red dots, it will display a small picture of the OUTLANDER (or CROSS STITCH) cover for that country.

[UPDATE 3/8/2012 9:14 am:  If you're having trouble viewing the covers, or if only the country name is displayed and no picture, please leave a comment here and let me know a) which countries are not displaying properly, and b) what web browser you are using. This is still a "work in progress" and there are a few bugs still to be worked out.  Thanks for helping me test it!]

I created this map using iMapBuilder. You need a Flash player in order to view the map, but it should work in most browsers.

Many thanks to:
  • Susan Leidy (aka "Sooz") for suggesting this idea
  • Diana Gabaldon for her permission to use the covers
  • Susan Butler ("Herself's Elf"), Diana's assistant, who sent me a list of all the countries where the books are currently published
  • Carmen Theiler, creator of the Outlandish Cover Gallery, who allowed me to link to the cover images on her site.
If you enjoy looking at the OUTLANDER covers shown on the map, please take some time to explore Carmen's cover gallery. She has a very comprehensive collection of Gabaldon book covers from all over the world -- not just the OUTLANDER series, but the Lord John books as well. I find it very interesting to browse through her collection.

I hope you enjoy this!  The direct link to the map is here.  Please feel free to pass it around to anyone who might be interested.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An open letter to the admins of Diana's Facebook page

I posted the following on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page this morning, and also put a copy of it on Compuserve where Diana will see it.

1) Many of Diana Gabaldon's fans have little or no interest in the Endless Movie-Casting Debate. The "casting calls" have been going on for six weeks now. Are they EVER going to stop?

2) While the "casting calls" are going on, it's almost impossible for people who visit that page to talk about anything else. Any attempts to discuss topics related to the books (other than movie-casting) get drowned almost instantly in the flood of movie-casting comments. (I and others have tried, repeatedly, with little success, to introduce new topics for discussion.) This only adds to the frustration of fans who want to talk about THE BOOKS and THE CHARACTERS, rather than movie-casting.

3) Diana's Facebook page used to be a place where fans could come together to discuss the books, to ask questions, and to leave comments for Diana. (And occasionally to get answers directly from Diana, which is a thrill for many fans.) In the last six weeks, since the admins have turned it into "All Movie-Casting All The Time", the page seems less and less welcoming to fans who want to discuss anything else. That's really a shame, and I'm certainly not the only one who feels that way!

4) There are other ways of generating interest in the page and discussion among Diana's fans. What about posting a "Question of the Week (or Month)", on some topic of general interest? For example:

- How did you find the series?
- What's the most interesting, amusing, or unusual experience you've had as a result of reading the books?
- What are some of your favorite scenes?
- How many times have you read the books?
- Have you tried to get other people to read the books?
- What do you like best about the OUTLANDER fan community?
- Which book is your favorite, and why?
- Which of the cliffhangers in ECHO would you like to see resolved first?
- Do you read excerpts/#DailyLines or not, and if not, why not?

We hope the admins recognize that many of Diana's fans are interested in topics other than movie-casting, and we sincerely hope that the "casting calls" will come to an end in the near future!

Thank you.

Maybe this won't make any difference.  But I hope it will.  And I posted it because the people who are not interested in movie-casting deserve to have their opinions heard, too, even if they are (vastly) outnumbered.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A travelogue from Diana

Diana Gabaldon has a new blog post up, all about her (very eventful!) trip to Lithuania.

This is "Part 1", and I expect that means we'll see the rest of the story over the next few days.

The link is here if you're interested.

On this day in history

Today, March 5th, is the 242nd anniversary of the Boston Massacre.

Here is Paul Revere's famous engraving depicting the massacre.  Click on the picture to see a larger view.

Here is Lord John's account of the events, from A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES:
Boston is by all Accounts a perfect Hellhole of republican Sentiment, with so-called "Marching Societies" at large in the Streets in every Weather, these being no more than an Excuse for the Assembly of Mobs, whose chief Sport is the tormenting of the Troops quartered there.

Higgins tells me that no Man would dare go out alone in Uniform, for fear of these Mobs, and that even when in greater Numbers, harassment from the public soon drove them back to their Quarters, save when compelled by Duty to persist.

A Patrol of five Soldiers was so beset one Evening, pursued not only by insults of the grossest Nature, but by hurled Stones, Clods of Earth and Dung, and other such Rubbish. Such was the Press of the Mob around them that the Men feared for their Safety, and thus presented their Weapons, in hopes of discouraging the raucous Attentions rained upon them. So far from accomplishing this Aim, the Action provoked still greater Outrages from the Crowd, and at some Point, a Gun was fired. No one can say for sure whether the Shot was discharged from the Crowd, or from one of the Soldier's Weapons, let alone whether it were by Accident or in Deliberation, but the Effect of it...well, you will have sufficient Knowledge of such Matters to imagine the Confusion of subsequent Events.

In the End, five of the Mob were killed, and while the Soldiers were buffeted and badly handled, they escaped alive, only to be made Scapegoats by the malicious Rantings of the mob's Leaders in the Press, these so styled as to make it seem a wanton and unprovoked Slaughter of Innocents, rather than a Matter of Self-defense against a Mob inflamed by Drink and Sloganeering.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 8, "Victim of a Massacre". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
It seems only natural that Lord John, a career soldier and former Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army, would be outraged at the ill-treatment of British soldiers in Boston, and sympathetic to the plight of Bobby Higgins, who was convicted of manslaughter and branded as punishment.  I have always been quite entertained by the notion that Bobby Higgins would have met John Adams, who defended the British soldiers at their trial.

You can learn more about the Boston Massacre at the official site of the Boston Massacre Historical Society.

UPDATE 3/5/2012 6:51 am:  When I mentioned this blog post to Diana on Twitter, she replied, "Very cool! Thank you--had no idea today was the anniversary. <g>"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

BRAVE movie trailers

The new Pixar movie BRAVE comes out on June 22 in the US, just one week before I leave for Scotland.  I definitely have to see this movie!  What a perfect way to get in the mood, don't you think?

Here are three brief clips from BRAVE.

BRAVE teaser

BRAVE trailer

BRAVE "The Prize" Trailer

It looks like this movie is going to be a real treat for OUTLANDER fans.  Worth seeing for the Scottish accents, the scenery, and the "kilt factor" (as Diana Gabaldon puts it), certainly, but it also looks like a good story.

What do the rest of you think?  Are you planning to see BRAVE when it comes out this summer?  (With or without the kids? <g>)

FIERY CROSS unabridged audiobook in the UK

Here's some good news for OUTLANDER fans in the UK:

The unabridged audiobook of Diana Gabaldon's THE FIERY CROSS is finally available on!

If you haven't yet had a chance to listen to the UNABRIDGED version of FIERY CROSS, I highly recommend it!  Davina Porter does a wonderful job in that book, particularly in the way she handles the change in Roger's voice after the hanging.

Thanks very much to Lesley (aka blissfullseven) on Compuserve for letting me know about this.  Please spread the word to anyone you know in the UK who may be interested.

By the way, for those of you in the US, you can find the UNABRIDGED version of FIERY CROSS here.  It's been available on in the US since November, 2011.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Fun Facts - 3/2/2012

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.

1) The picture above shows a groundhog kiln from the Seagrove, NC, area (where traditional methods of pottery-making are still in use in many of the small local potteries). If you have any interest in this sort of thing, the Seagrove potteries are definitely worth a visit!
Roger scrambled up out of the deep part of the pit into the shallower end of the kiln.  Jamie stood in the part where the fire would go, according to Brianna, with a chimney to be raised over it.  Items to be fired would sit in the longer, relatively shallow part of the pit and be covered over. After a week of shoveling, Roger was less inclined to think the distant possiblity of plumbing was worth all the labor involved, but Bree wanted it--and like her father, Bree was difficult to resist, though their methods varied.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "Bird-Spring". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I don't know if Brianna ever finished her project to make clay pipes for running water before going back to the 20th century, but the kiln she built sounds very similar to the one shown above.

2) Claire's spirit animal is the White Raven, pictured above.  I like the story Nayawenne tells in DRUMS about the white raven:
"My husband's grandmother says that when she dreamed of you, it was here." Gabrielle gestured over the pool, and looked back at me with great seriousness.

"She met you here, at night.  The moon was in the water. You became a white raven; you flew over the water and swallowed the moon."

"Oh?" I hoped this wasn't a sinister thing for me to have done.

"The white raven flew back, and laid an egg in the palm of her hand. The egg split open, and there was a shining stone inside. My husband's grandmother knew this was great magic, that the stone could heal sickness."

Nayawenne nodded her head several times, and taking the amulet bag from her neck, reached into it.

"On the day after the dream, my husband's grandmother went to dig kinnea root, and on the way, she saw something blue, sticking in the clay of the riverbank."

Nayawenne drew out a small, lumpy object, and dropped it into my hand. It was a pebble, rough, but undeniably a gemstone. Bits of stony matrix clung to it, but the heart of the rock was a deep, soft blue.

"My goodness--it's a sapphire, isn't it?"

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "The White Raven". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) Did you know that goats have long purple tongues?  I didn't, until I happened to notice this reference in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES just a few days ago:
The goat had stopped making noise, having recognized me, but was now stretching her neck through the railing of her pen, blueberry-colored tongue extended like an anteater's, in an effort to reach an apple core that had rolled near the pen.  I picked it up and handed it to her, trying to think where to start, and what to say when I did.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 37, "Le Maitre des Champignons". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

4) The objects shown above are gaberlunzie badges, like the ones carried by Jamie's friend Hugh Munro. The one on the left is from Huntly Parish, Scotland, and the one on the right comes from Old Aberdeen. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)
At one point, Jamie jabbed a thumb at the rectangular bits of lead that adorned Munro's strap.

"Gone official, have ye?" he asked. "Or is that just for when the game is scarce?" Munro bobbed his head and nodded like a jack-in-the-box.

"What are they?" I asked curiously.


"Oh, to be sure," I said. "Pardon my asking."

"A gaberlunzie is a license to beg, Sassenach," Jamie explained. "It's good within the borders of the parish, and only on the one day a week when begging's allowed. Each parish has its own, so the beggars from one parish canna take overmuch advantage of the charity of the next."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Remember the scene in THE FIERY CROSS where Roger is trying to write down the words to a ballad called "Jamie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead", while Bree is dealing with a middle-of-the-night potty emergency involving wee Jemmy?
"No, no!" she said, taking a fresh grip. "Wake up, honey! Wake up and go potty!"

The insidious term had somehow taken up residence in Roger's mind, and was merrily replacing half the fading words of the verse he had been trying to recapture.

Willie sat upon his pot/the sword to potty gane...

He shook his head, as though to dislodge it, but it was too late--the real words had fled.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 98, "Clever Lad". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Just out of curiosity, I looked up the words to this ballad.  Here is the bit Roger was trying to remember.  The spelling is a little different in this version than the way it appears in FIERY CROSS, but it's clearly the same ballad:
190A.31 ‘O will ye let Tefler’s kye [cattle] gae back?
Or will ye do aught for regard o me?
Or, by the faith of my body,’ quo Willie Scott,
‘I’se ware my dame’s cauf’s skin [calfskin] on thee.’

190A.32 ‘I winna let the kye gae back,
Neither for thy love nor yet thy fear;
But I will drive Jamie Telfer’s kye
In spite of every Scott that’s here.’

190A.33 ‘Set on them, lads!’ quo Willie than;
‘Fye, lads, set on them cruellie!
For ere they win to the Ritterford,
Mony a toom [empty] saddle there sall be!’

190A.34 Then till’t they gaed, wi heart and hand;
The blows fell thick as bickering hail;
And mony a horse ran masterless,
And mony a comely cheek was pale.

190A.35 But Willie was stricken ower the head,
And through the knapscap the sword has gane;
And Harden grat [wept] for very rage,
Whan Willie on the grund lay slane.
Look here to see the whole ballad.  And here is a summary of the story in modern English, in case you find the archaic spelling and the Scots dialect too difficult to follow.

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please stop by next week for more!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?

The topic for the March poll is, "Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?"

What do I mean by "favorite" villain?  That's really a matter of interpretation.  It could be the person you most love to hate, or one who grabs your attention from the moment he or she comes into a scene.  That's totally up to you. It certainly doesn't mean you have to like their either personality or their actions.

I tried to list most of the major antagonists, but if I've left out one of your favorites, just vote "Other", and you can add his or her name to the list.

This poll will run through the end of March.  Have fun! <g>  And if you want to explain your choice, feel free to leave a comment here.

February poll results

Here are the results of the February poll:

What did you think of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER?
  • 40.55% - I loved it! (Option 1)
  • 14.44% - I enjoyed seeing half the story from Jamie's point of view. (Option 3)
  • 11.98% - It was interesting to see how Jamie and Lord John finally became friends. (Option 8)
  • 9.52% - I haven't read it yet, but I'm planning to. (Option 5)
  • 8.29% - I liked it but I wish it had been longer. (Option 2)
  • 3.23% - I was disappointed that it wasn't Book 8. (Option 7)
  • 2.61% - I'm still reading it. (Option 10)
  • 2.15% - I liked it better than I thought I would. (Option 9)
  • 2.00% - I'm not interested in reading about Lord John. (Option 6)
  • 1.38% - I didn't like it. (Option 4)
  • 3.84% - Other.
There were 651 responses to this poll, which is the highest number of votes I've ever seen in one of these polls.  Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I would have gone with "I loved it!"  If you haven't seen my detailed review of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, look here.  (Warning, that post contains spoilers!)

Several people asked me to post the results from the Other category.  There were 25 in all.  Please note: where specific numbers are referenced in these comments, they are talking about the options in the order they were listed on the poll.
  • 1,2 & 8. Have read it several times
  • I loved it, very big piece of the puzzle came together
  • I loved it but wanted to add that it was the best of the LJ series
  • I liked it but thought the plot line not strong enough to hold my attention
  • I loved it! AND enjoyed seeing half the story from Jamie's POV.
  • a combination of #1 and #8
  • I loved it but wished it had gone on to John's Marriage to Isobel
  • I loved the book and I particulary enjoyed the parts with Jamie and William
  • I can't just pick one.
  • More Lord John, less Jamie please. I realize I'm probably on my own here, lol.
  • I've started it just can't get into it. I'll try again.
  • loved it, loved seeing jamie with wee william, very heart warming.
  • Somewhat disjointed and incomplete. Needs a more complete ending.
  • wished for more info about Lord John marrying and adopting Willie
  • I bought the book and the CDs. How AWESOME to hear the accented voices!
  • I have been trying to listen to it, I need to read it first I think.
  • I love Lord John, but haven't read the LJG books & want to read them order
  • It was okay but I have a problem with Lord Johns choices.
  • I dont like the espionage Lord John and Jamie
  • I enjoyed rounding out more of their stories, and Minnie and Hal!
  • due at library so did not finsih and did not like enough to buy
  • loved spending time w/ JF & LJG, but doesn't work well as a novel
  • It was great, but I miss Claire!
  • I don't think it was necessary to start the story like it was. #3
  • impatiently waiting for the german translation, appearing in june 2012!
If you haven't yet read THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, see my SCOTTISH PRISONER FAQ page for more information.

Thanks again, and I hope you'll take a moment to vote in the March poll.