Monday, May 22, 2017


Here's a quick update on Diana Gabaldon's upcoming story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, which will be published on June 27, 2017.

First of all, notice the new cover art (pictured above).  I like it better than the previous version.

The audio version of SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, containing all seven stories, is available for pre-order at  It will be released on June 27, 2017.

For more information about SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, see my FAQ page here.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Happy Birthday, Jem!

Happy Birthday to Jeremiah Alexander Ian Fraser MacKenzie!


If you haven't read all eight of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.









Roger and Brianna's son Jem was born in mid-May, 1770.  The exact date of his birth is not mentioned in the books, but fans have unofficially adopted May 15 as his birthday, so that's what I'm going with.  He's a Taurus, like his grandda. <g>

Depending on how you count his age, he's either 247 years old, or 45.  Either way, it's pretty mind-boggling!

Here are some of my favorite quotes about Jem:

1) Roger meets his newborn son for the first time:
To my surprise, Roger didn’t look at Brianna, or reach for her hand. Instead, he swiped his thumb across his bleeding wrist, and stepped close to her, eyes on the baby. She pulled back instinctively, but Jamie’s hand came down on her shoulder.

She stilled at once under its weight, at once a promise of restraint and protection, but she held the child tight, cradled against her breast. Roger knelt in front of her, and reaching out, pushed the shawl aside and smeared a broad red cross upon the downy curve of the baby’s forehead.

“You are blood of my blood,” he said softly, “and bone of my bone. I claim thee as my son before all men, from this day forever."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 66, "Child of My Blood". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) Trying to make love in the same room with a young toddler is an exercise in (sexual) frustration, as Roger knows all too well:
[Brianna] made a small noise deep in her throat and stretched luxuriously. She arched her back, pushing her backside up in a way that convinced Roger that the course of wisdom was to fling back the quilt, roll on top of her, and achieve his goal in the ten seconds flat it was likely to take.

He got as far as flinging back the quilt. As he raised his head from the pillow, a round, pale object rose slowly into view over the rim of the cradle, like one of the moons of Jupiter. A pair of blue eyes regarded him with clinical dispassion.

“Oh, shit!” he said.

“Oh, chit!” Jemmy said, in happy mimicry. He clambered to his feet and stood, bouncing up and down as he gripped the edge of the cradle he was rapidly outgrowing, chanting, “Chit-chit-chit-chit” in what he evidently thought was a song.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 89, "The Moons of Jupiter". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) By the age of 2 1/2, Jemmy was already showing signs of growing up to be what Claire calls "a bloody man":
A shrill cry from behind made Roger whirl on his haunches. Jemmy, his grandfather’s dirk held over his head with both hands and wobbling precariously, was staggering toward the boar, his face beet-red with ferocious intent.

“Jem!” he shouted. “Get back!"

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 108, "Tulach Ard". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) And then there was the time when Jemmy, not quite three, got drunk on cherry bounce. This scene always makes me laugh.
"Your son is a drunkard,” [Bree] informed him. Then she caught a whiff of Roger’s breath. “Following in his father’s footsteps, I see,” she added coldly.

Disregarding this, Roger sat down beside her and gathered Jemmy up into his lap. Holding the little boy propped against his knees, he patted Jemmy’s cheek, gently but insistently.

“Hallo there, Mej,” he said softly. “Hallo, then. Ye’re all right, are ye?”

Like magic, Jemmy’s eyelids floated up. He smiled dreamily at Roger.

“Hallo, Daddy.” Still smiling beatifically, his eyes closed and he relaxed into utter limpness, cheek flattened against his father’s knee.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Ambush". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Jem at four, noticing the scars on Jamie's back for the first time. This is such a sweet moment!
Jemmy sighed in exhausted bliss, legs wrapped round Jamie’s middle, arms about his neck, and leaned his sun-reddened cheek against the scarred back. Then he thought  of something, for he raised his head and kissed his grandfather with a loud smacking noise, between the shoulder blades.

Her father jerked, nearly dropping Jem, and made a high-pitched noise that made her laugh.

“Is that make it better?” Jem inquired seriously, pulling himself up and trying to look over Jamie’s shoulder into his face.

“Oh. Aye, lad,” his grandfather assured him, face twitching. “Much better."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 49, "The Venom of the North Wind". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) I always have to laugh at the idea of six-year-old Jem teaching himself to read by spelling out words from an infamous 18th-century erotic novel:
He was retrieved from Jamie's study, where he had been spelling out words in--

"Jesus Christ on a piece of toast!" his grandmother blurted, snatching the book from him. "Jamie! How could you?"

Jamie felt a deep blush rise over him. How could he, indeed? He'd taken the battered copy of Fanny Hill in trade, part of a parcel of used books bought from a tinker. He hadn't looked at the books before buying them, and when he did come to look them over ... Well, it was quite against his instincts to throw away a book--any book.

"What's P-H-A-L-L-U-S?" Jemmy was asking his father.

"Another word for prick," Roger said briefly. "Don't bloody use it."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 114, "Amanda". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) Jem in the tunnel in AN ECHO IN THE BONE. He's a logical thinker, like his mother and his grandda. I like the way he fights down his fear and tries to think calmly and analyze the situation.
He found the opening, and felt his way in on his hands and knees, and cracked his head on the thing where the controls were, standing up. That made him see colored stars and he said “Ifrinn!” out loud. It sounded funny, not so echoey now he was inside the train, and he giggled. He felt around over the controls. They were like Mam said, just a switch and a little lever, and he pushed the switch. A red light popped into life, and made him jump.

It made him feel lots better, though, just to see it. He could feel the electricity coming through the train, and that made him feel better, too. He pushed the lever, just a little, and was thrilled to feel the train move.

Where did it go? He pushed the lever a little more, and air moved past his face. He sniffed at it, but it didn’t tell him anything. He was going away from the big doors, though—away from Mr. Cameron.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 96, "Firefly". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
8) I love this bit because it shows so clearly how much Jem loves his little sister and wants to protect her:
There was a lot of screaming and crying going on inside the Buchans’ house, and he felt his chest go so tight he couldn’t breathe.

“Mandy!” He tried to call, but her name came out in a whisper. The front door was hanging open. Inside, there were girls everywhere, but he picked Mandy out of the muddle in the lounge instantly and ran to grab her. She wasn’t crying, but she latched on to him like a leech, burying her black curly head in his stomach.

“It’s okay,” he told her, squeezing the stuffing out of her in relief. “It’s okay, Man. I gotcha. I gotcha.” 

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 38, "The Number of the Beast". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
9) No doubt about it, young Jeremiah MacKenzie has a Fraser temper! But I think he was more than entitled to blow off some steam after all he'd been through.
"I want Daddeeeee!"

Jem's face was bright red with fury. At this, it went white.

"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" he shrieked at Mandy, who yelped in terror and screamed louder, trying to scramble up Brianna's body.


"Jem!" Lionel Menzies was on his feet, reaching for the boy, but Jem was absolutely beside himself, literally hopping up and down with rage. The entire restaurant was gaping at them.

"Go AWAY!" Jem roared at Menzies. "DAMMIT! Don't you touch me! Don't touch my mam!" And, in an excess of passion, he kicked Menzies hard on the shin.


"Jem!" Bree had a grip on the struggling, bawling Mandy but couldn't reach Jem before he picked up his dish of ice cream, flung it at the wall, and then ran out of the café, crashing the door open so hard that a man and woman on the verge of entering were forced to leap aside to avoid being knocked over as he rocketed past.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "In Which Things Converge". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Poor Jem has had a hard time of it in recent years. I sincerely hope that happier times lie ahead for him, now that he's back home on Fraser's Ridge and reunited with his grandparents, and his friends Germain and Aidan.

Happy Birthday, Jem!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Here are a few of my favorite quotes about motherhood from Diana Gabaldon's books. Hope you enjoy them!


If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

1) Marsali, in an advanced state of pregnancy, and five-year-old Germain:
She leaned back a little and pushed a hand firmly into the side of her mound. Then she seized Germain's hand and put it on the spot. Even from where I stood, I could see the surge of flesh as the baby kicked vigorously in response to being poked.

Germain jerked his hand away, startled, then put it back, looking fascinated, and pushed.

"Hello!" he said loudly, putting his face close to his mother's belly. "Comment ça va in there, Monsieur L'Oeuf?"

"He's fine," his mother assured him. "Or she. But babies dinna talk right at first. Ye ken that much. Félicité doesna say anything but 'Mama' yet."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "The Malting Floor". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) I like the realistic depictions of breastfeeding in these books, even though I've never had kids of my own. Here's Claire with Brianna, age three months:
Brianna burrowed into the front of my red chenille dressing gown making small voracious grunting noises.

"You can't be hungry again," I said to the top of her head. "I fed you not two hours ago." My breasts were beginning to leak in response to her rooting, though, and I was already sitting down and loosening the front of my gown.

"Mrs. Hinchcliffe said that a baby shouldn't be fed every time it cries," Frank observed. "They get spoilt if they aren't kept to a schedule."

It wasn't the first time I had heard Mrs. Hinchcliffe's opinions on child-rearing.

"Then she'll be spoilt, won't she?" I said coldly, not looking at him. The small pink mouth clamped down fiercely, and Brianna began to suck with mindless appetite. I was aware that Mrs. Hinchcliffe also thought breast-feeding both vulgar and insanitary. I, who had seen any number of eighteenth-century babies nursing contentedly at their mothers' breasts, didn't.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "Frank and Full Disclosure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Jamie lost his mother at a very young age, but he hasn't forgotten her:
I had heard what he said to the plover he released. Though I had only a few words of Gaelic, I had heard the old salutation often enough to be familiar with it. “God go with ye, Mother," he had said.

A young mother, dead in childbirth. And a child left behind. I touched his arm and he looked down at me.

“How old were you?” I asked.

He gave me a half-smile. “Eight,” he answered. “Weaned, at least."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) Bree's reaction on the night before Claire goes back through the stones, when she thinks she'll never see her mother again:
"It's like--there are all these things I don't even know!" she said, pacing with quick, angry steps. "Do you think I remember what I looked like, learning to walk, or what the first word I said was? No, but Mama does! And that's so stupid, because what difference does it make, it doesn't make any difference at all, but it's important, it matters because she thought it was, and ... oh, Roger, if she's gone, there won't be a soul left in the world who cares what I'm like, or thinks I'm special not because of anything, but just because I'm me! She's the only person in the world who really, really cares I was born, and if she's gone..." She stood still on the hearthrug, hands clenched at her sides, and mouth twisted with the effort to control herself, tears wet on her cheeks. Then her shoulders slumped and the tension went out of her tall figure.

"And that's just really dumb and selfish," she said, in a quietly reasonable tone. "And you don't understand, and you think I'm awful."

"No," Roger said quietly. "I think maybe not." He stood and came behind her, putting his arms around her waist, urging her to lean back against him. She resisted at first, stiff in his arms, but then yielded to the need for physical comfort and relaxed, his chin propped on her shoulder, head tilted to touch her own.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Mother Hildegarde is very perceptive:
"I have noticed,” she said slowly, “that time does not really exist for mothers, with regard to their children. It does not matter greatly how old the child is--in the blink of an eye, the mother can see the child again as it was when it was born, when it learned to walk, as it was at any age--at any time, even when the child is fully grown and a parent itself.”

“Especially when they’re asleep,” I said, looking down again at the little white stone. “You can always see the baby then.”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "I Shall Go Down to the Sea". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Claire, in her farewell letter to Bree:
You are my baby, and always will be. You won’t know what that means until you have a child of your own, but I tell you now, anyway--you’ll always be as much a part of me as when you shared my body and I felt you move inside. Always.

I can look at you, asleep, and think of all the nights I tucked you in, coming in the dark to listen to your breathing, lay my hand on you and feel your chest rise and fall, knowing that no matter what happens, everything is right with the world because you are alive.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rightsreserved.)
7) Roger's mother saved his life in the moments before she died in the Bethnal Green tube station collapse in March, 1943.
"She let go my hand,” he said. The words came more easily now; the tightness in his throat and chest was gone. “She let go my hand ... and then she picked me up. That small woman--she picked me up, and threw me over the wall. Down into the crowd of people on the platform below. I was knocked mostly out by the fall, I think--but I remember the roar as the roof went. No one on the stair survived."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 98, "Clever Lad". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
8) This is my favorite quote about motherhood from the whole series:
“Did I ever think to thank ye, Sassenach?" he said, his voice a little husky.

“For what?" I said, puzzled. He took my hand, and drew me gently toward him. He smelled of ale and damp wool, and very faintly of the brandied sweetness of fruitcake.

“For my bairns," he said softly. "For the children that ye bore me."

"Oh," I said. I leaned slowly forward, and rested my forehead against the solid warmth of his chest. I cupped my hands at the small of his back beneath his coat, and sighed. "It was ... my pleasure."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, “Beans and Barbecue". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I hope you enjoyed these quotes. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

OUTLANDER on "Jeopardy!"

This was on "Jeopardy!" last night.  I think it's very cool! <g>

It's not the first time OUTLANDER-related topics have appeared on the show:

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD was featured on "Jeopardy!" in December 2014.

DRUMS OF AUTUMN got a mention in November 2016.

There may have been other examples over the years; these are just the ones I know about.

I think it's great publicity for both the books and the TV series.  Congratulations, Diana!

Monday, May 1, 2017

OUTLANDER Casting: Rollo!

Here's our first bit of Season 4 casting news: These adorable Northern Inuit puppies will play Rollo!

Details here.

For those of you who don't know who Rollo is, or may be wondering why a pair of puppies are important enough to rate their own casting announcement:  You'll either have to wait until Season 4 to find out, or read DRUMS OF AUTUMN (book 4 of the OUTLANDER series).  But trust me, Rollo is an integral part of the Fraser family!  He steals nearly every scene in which he appears in the books, and I'm sure he'll be a hit with the TV viewers, too.

Happy Birthday, Jamie Fraser!

Wishing a very happy birthday to our favorite red-heided Scot, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, who turns 296 years old today! He was born on May 1, 1721. (And yes, his birthday is the day after Sam Heughan's, which is either an amazing coincidence, or karma, depending on how you look at it. <g>)

If you're on Twitter, please join OUTLANDER fans worldwide in celebrating Jamie's birthday with the hashtag #HappyBdayJAMMF. We've done this every year since 2010, and it's always a lot of fun.

In honor of Jamie's birthday, here's a selection of some of my favorite quotes by and about him from the OUTLANDER books. I tried to pick quotes that illustrate as many different aspects of Jamie's personality as possible.  I hope you enjoy them!


If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, you will find SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.


This is the point where, on my first reading of OUTLANDER, I fell in love with Jamie Fraser.
A Highlander in full regalia is an impressive sight--any Highlander, no matter how old, ill-favored, or crabbed in appearance. A tall, straight-bodied, and by no means ill-favored young Highlander at close range is breath-taking.

The thick red-gold hair had been brushed to a smooth gleam that swept the collar of a fine lawn shirt with tucked front, belled sleeves, and lace-trimmed wrist frills that matched the cascade of the starched jabot at the throat, decorated with a ruby stickpin.

His tartan was a brilliant crimson and black that blazed among the more sedate MacKenzies in their green and white. The flaming wool, fastened by a circular silver brooch, fell from his right shoulder in a graceful drape, caught by a silver-studded sword belt before continuing its sweep past neat calves clothed in woolen hose and stopping just short of the silver-buckled black leather boots. Sword, dirk, and badger-skin sporran completed the ensemble.

Well over six feet tall, broad in proportion, and striking of feature, he was a far cry from the grubby horse-handler I was accustomed to--and he knew it. Making a leg in courtly fashion, he swept me a bow of impeccable grace, murmuring “Your servant, Ma’am,” eyes glinting with mischief.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 14, "A Marriage Takes Place". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Just heartbreaking. But the idea of a love that outlasts even death itself is one of the most powerful themes of the entire series.
"I will find you,” he whispered in my ear. “I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you—then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest.”

His voice dropped, nearly to a whisper, and his arms tightened around me.

“Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Jamie is a born leader, as we saw during his years in Ardsmuir Prison.
He had come from the bosom of family and tenants, from a strength that had sustained him for seven years, to find a lack of hope and a loneliness that would kill a man faster than the damp and the filth and the quaking ague of the prison.

And so, quite simply, he had taken the ragtag and remnants, the castoff survivors of the field of Culloden, and made them his own, that they and he might survive the stones of Ardsmuir as well. Reasoning, charming, and cajoling where he could, fighting where he must, he had forced them to band together, to face their captors as one, to put aside ancient clan rivalries and allegiances, and take him as their chieftain.

“They were mine,” he said softly. “And the having of them kept me alive."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 33, "Buried Treasure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Other people may see Jamie as a hero, or "King of Men", but Jamie himself would disagree. He's all too aware of his own faults.
“Do ye really think me a good man?” he said at last. There was a queer note in his voice, that I couldn’t quite decipher.

“Yes,” I said, with no hesitation. Then added, half jokingly, “Don’t you?”

After a long pause, he said, quite seriously, “No, I shouldna think so.”

I looked at him, speechless, no doubt with my mouth hanging open.

“I am a violent man, and I ken it well,” he said quietly. He spread his hands out on his knees; big hands, which could wield sword and dagger with ease, or choke the life from a man. “So do you--or ye should."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I love the fact that Jamie has a sentimental side, and the "poison ivy bouquet" always makes me laugh.
"Welcome home,” he said, and held out the small bouquet of leaves and twigs.

“Oh,” she said. She looked at the bits of leaf and stick again, and then at him, and the corners of her mouth trembled, as though she might laugh or cry, but wasn’t sure which. She reached then, and took the plants from him, her fingers small and cold as they brushed his hand.

“Oh, Jamie--they’re wonderful.” She came up on her toes and kissed him, warm and salty, and he wanted more, but she was hurrying away into the house, the silly wee things clasped to her breast as though they were gold.

He felt pleasantly foolish, and foolishly pleased with himself. The taste of her was still on his mouth.

Sorcha,” he whispered, and realized that he had called her so a moment before. Now, that was odd; no wonder she had been surprised. It was her name in the Gaelic, but he never called her by it. He liked the strangeness of her, the Englishness. She was his Claire, his Sassenach.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 18, "No Place Like Home". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

We tend to think of the abduction/rape mostly in terms of what happened to Claire, but Jamie was very deeply shaken by what happened, too. I love the way he pushes his own feelings aside in the face of Claire's need, waiting until she is asleep before he will let himself cry.
He held her, both arms wrapped around her as though to save her from drowning, but felt her sink away all the same. He wished to call out to her not to go, not to leave him alone. She vanished into the depths of sleep, and he yearned after her, wishing her healed, fearing her flight, and bent his head, burying his face in her hair and her scent.


Then he cried, soundless, muscles strained to aching that he might not shake with it, that she might not wake to know it. He wept to emptiness and ragged breath, the pillow wet beneath his face. Then lay exhausted beyond the thought of tiredness, too far from sleep even to recall what it was like. His only comfort was the small, so fragile weight that lay warm upon his heart, breathing. 

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Jamie has just offered young William his hat, in exchange for the one he shot off the young man's head by accident in the wheat field. It's the first time he has spoken to his son in many years.
"Are you all right? What on earth is the matter?" I sat beside him and put a hand on his back, beginning to be worried.

"I dinna ken whether to laugh or to weep, Sassenach," he said. He took his hand away from his face, and I saw that, in fact, he appeared to be doing both. His lashes were wet, but the corners of his mouth were twitching.

"I've lost a kinsman and found one, all in the same moment--and a moment later realize that for the second time in his life, I've come within an inch of shooting my son." He looked at me and shook his head, quite helpless between laughter and dismay.

"I shouldna have done it, I ken that. It's only--I thought all at once, What if I dinna miss, a third time? And--and I thought I must just ... speak to him. As a man. In case it should be the only time, aye?"

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 66, "Deathbed". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Jamie's relationship with Lord John Grey is complex and multilayered. I hope some day they can resume their friendship.
"When Geneva died and it was my fault, it was a knife in my heart--and then William ..." His mouth softened. "The bairn cut me wide open, Sassenach. He spilled my guts out into my hands."

I put my hand on his, and he turned it, his fingers curling over mine.

"And that bloody English sodomite bandaged me," he said, so low I could scarcely hear him above the sound of the river. "With his friendship."

He drew breath again and let it out explosively. "No, I didna kill him. I dinna ken if I'm glad of it or not--but I didn't."

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Welcome Coolness in the Heat, Comfort in the Midst of Woe". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Birthday, Jamie! MANY thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an amazing character, and to Sam Heughan for bringing him to life on TV!

And finally, please note, it's Beltane today, which means the portals are open. <g> Be careful if you go near any standing stones, and be sure to carry a wee gemstone with you, just in case!

April poll results

Here are the results of the April poll, which asked the question, "Have you tried to get other people to read the OUTLANDER books, or watch the TV series?"
  • 24.02% - Many times!
  • 24.02% - All of the above.
  • 20.53% - I got one or more of my close friends or family members addicted.
  • 9.45% - I've tried, but so far without success.
  • 6.16% - I've given copies of OUTLANDER to my friends or coworkers.
  • 5.34% - Of course! I enjoy being an OUTLANDER ambassador.
  • 3.08% - I've been spreading the word about the TV series and trying to get people to watch.
  • 2.87% - No, I haven't tried.
  • 2.46% - I've recommended OUTLANDER to strangers in the bookstore or library.
  • 0.41% - I got my book club to read OUTLANDER.
  • 0.41% - I've recommended the books on Facebook, Goodreads, or other online sites.
  • 1.23% - Other
Here are the results for "Other":
  • Some of the above! :)
  • Most of the above
  • most of the above with some success
  • recommended it to fellow book club members
  • they are already reading the series!!!
  • # 1, 2, 3, 5, 7
There were 487 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the May poll, which asks the question, "How did you discover the OUTLANDER books?" Thanks!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jamie, BJR, and what happened at Culloden

As we wait for Season 3, here's something I have been thinking about recently:

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read VOYAGER (Book 3 of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER series), there are spoilers below! This post also contains spoilers about the first episode of OUTLANDER Season 3. Read at your own risk.









If you've read the OUTLANDER books, you know that Jamie Fraser woke on the battlefield at Culloden with Black Jack Randall's corpse lying on top of him.
The body of a man lay across his own. Its dead weight crushed his left leg, explaining he absence of feeling. The head, heavy as a spent cannonball, pressed facedown into his abdomen, the damp-matted hair a dark spill on the wet linen of his shirt. He jerked upward in sudden panic; the head rolled sideways into his lap and a half-open eye stared sightlessly up behind the sheltering strands of hair.

It was Jack Randall, his fine red captain’s coat so dark with the wet it looked almost black. Jamie made a fumbling effort to push the body away, but found himself amazingly weak; his hand splayed feebly against Randall’s shoulder, and the elbow of his other arm buckled suddenly as he tried to support himself. He found himself lying once more flat on his back, the sleeting sky pale gray and whirling dizzily overhead. Jack Randall’s head moved obscenely up and down on his stomach with each gasping breath.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, "The Corbies' Feast". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
So Black Jack Randall died at Culloden.  That much, we know for certain.  But what we don't know is exactly how it happened.  As Diana Gabaldon put it in a post on Compuserve in 2008:
Jamie knows Black Jack Randall is dead--but not how.  Did he kill him?  If so--how, in what frame of mind?  In the grip of the Red Thing, as he might kill any enemy in battle?  Specifically, coldly, knowing who it was he killed?  In vengeance?  From mercy?  From simple necessity?  He doesn't know, and thus has only his own forgiveness as a shield.  But he both wants the truth and fears it--and his memory is coming back.
Fans have speculated about this for more than twenty years.  What exactly happened on the battlefield that day?  It's one of the great unresolved questions of the OUTLANDER series.

Here's where it gets interesting:
  • With OUTLANDER Season 3 premiering in September, we're going to see a version of these events play out on screen.  We know that they filmed the Battle of Culloden, and according to multiple people involved with the show, we will see that battle in the opening episode of Season 3.

  • Diana Gabaldon has said that she has written a scene for Book 9 (GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE) in which we find out What Really Happened at Culloden. She shared that scene with Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis prior to the filming of that episode.
Here's what Diana said about that on Compuserve on September 25, 2016:
So, is the film version identical with the 'real' version?  No.  It's been adjusted for television <g>, in terms of visual drama--it's not nearly as messy and violent and grunting and confused as the real thing, but neither is it a sell-out or betrayal of What Really Happened.  It just does what the show always does--separates the elements of the original, plays some up and some down (occasionally omits things for time or dramatic flow--that wasn't done here), and gives you a reasonably good visual account of the original, though somewhat condensed and refracted.


I do want to put it on record though, that I wrote What Happened _before_ the show executed their version of it.
This poses a real dilemma for fans of the books, including me.  Will you watch the TV version of events, knowing that we won't get to read Diana Gabaldon's version until BEES comes out, possibly in 2018 or 2019?  Will you skip the battle scenes in Episode 301, and wait for the Definitive Version of Events as told in BEES?  Or do you fall somewhere in between?

How do you feel about the fact that the answer to a question that has fueled speculation among OUTLANDER fans for decades will be revealed first on the TV show, rather than in the books?  (Personally, I don't like that at all.)

Here's my take on it.  The version of What Happened at Culloden that we see on TV will be (like everything else in the show so far) the writer's/director's/actors' interpretation of events, not necessarily exactly the same as what actually happened. In my opinion, the only definitive version of what happened will be in the book -- in Diana's words, told exactly the way she wants to tell it.

I'm sure the battle as seen on TV will be visually exciting, very dramatic, well-acted, and riveting to watch. <g>  But I would be willing to bet that seeing it on TV won't have nearly the same emotional impact as reading about those events from Jamie's POV in the book, overlaid with his 30-plus years of remembering only fragments, wanting to know more, but fearing those memories at the same time.

I'm not going to avoid watching the TV version of events, but for me, the version in Diana Gabaldon's own words is the one I'm far more interested in.  And I'm positive it will be worth waiting for. <g>

What about the rest of you?

Monday, April 17, 2017

First official Season 3 trailer!

STARZ has released the first official trailer for OUTLANDER Season 3!

I think it looks terrific! What about the rest of you?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Culloden anniversary

Today is the 271st anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on April 16, 1746.

I like this video very much. (The song is "The Ghosts of Culloden", performed by Isla Grant.)


If you haven't read VOYAGER (Book 3 of the OUTLANDER series), there is a Major Spoiler below. Read at your own risk!

Diana Gabaldon noted in her blog post about her 2008 visit to Culloden that she saw the place where Jamie woke after the battle, thinking he was dead.  When I asked her on Compuserve if she recalled where that was, exactly, she said,
Jamie made it almost to the second government line.  He woke in a little swale or dip (you recall he was lying in water), about forty feet off the path that leads from the Visitors Centre--maybe a couple of hundred yards beyond the VC itself.
The photo below shows the area where the government lines were, marked with a red flag.

I was lucky enough to be able to visit Culloden in 2012, and again last July.  It's an amazing place, and the Visitors Centre is very well done.

Happy Easter!

Here are a couple of Easter-related quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books, just in time for the holiday.


If you haven't read all eight of the OUTLANDER books, there are spoilers below. Read at your own risk.

Easter Eggs

I like Roger's memories of Easter with his kids:
[Roger's] heart rose, in spite of his anxiety, when he came to the top of the pass and saw Lallybroch below him, its white-harled buildings glowing in the fading light. Everything lay peaceful before him: late cabbages and turnips in orderly rows within the kailyard walls, safe from grazing sheep--there was a small flock in the far meadow, already bedding for the night, like so many woolly eggs in a nest of green grass, like a kid’s Easter basket.

The thought caught at his throat, with memories of the horrible cellophane grass that got everywhere, Mandy with her face—and everything else within six feet of her—smeared with chocolate, Jem carefully writing Dad on a hard-boiled egg with a white crayon, then frowning over the array of dye cups, trying to decide whether blue or purple was more Dad-like.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Return to Lallybroch". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I'm Jewish, so I don't celebrate Easter, but we did occasionally dye eggs when I was little, just for fun, and this bit makes me smile, remembering that.

The photo above shows the Easter vigil at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.  It looks very much as Jamie remembers:
"The church was all dark,” Jamie continued, “but the folk coming for the service would buy small tapers from the crones at the doors. It was something like this”--I felt, rather than saw, his motion at the sky above--“a great space above, all ringing wi’ the silence, and folk packed in on every side.” Hot as it was, I gave an involuntary shiver at these words, which conjured up a vision of the dead around us, crowding silently side by side, in anticipation of an imminent resurrection.

“And then, just when I thought I couldna bear the silence and the crowd, there came the priest’s voice from the door. ‘Lumen Christi!’ he called out, and the acolytes lit the great candle that he carried. Then from it they took the flame to their own tapers, and scampered up and down the aisles, passing the fire to the candles o’ the faithful.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 2, "In Which We Meet a Ghost". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Easter to all of you who are celebrating today!

Friday, April 14, 2017

New Season 3 photos, and a trailer coming soon!

STARZ released two new photos from Season 3 yesterday! Click on the photos to enlarge them.

STARZ also announced that the first official Season 3 trailer will be shown on Sunday night (April 16) before the premiere of WHITE PRINCESS at 8pm ET/PT. I'll post the video as soon as it becomes available. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Season 3 Preview: VOYAGER PopToons!

As we continue to wait for OUTLANDER Season 3, I thought many of you would enjoy this series of "PopToons", telling the story of VOYAGER. I think they're hilarious, and very creative!

Credit (and many thanks!!) goes to @SummerPic and @purpleiris13 on Twitter.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read Diana Gabaldon's VOYAGER (Book 3 of the OUTLANDER series), there are Major Spoilers below! Continue at your own risk, and don't say I didn't warn you!









First, a brief look at Jamie and Claire in their years apart:

OK, enough of that, on to the REUNION!!

There's more, but I'm skipping ahead to....

If you like these, check out @purpleiris13 and @SummerPic on Twitter for more!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Happy Tartan Day!

In celebration of Tartan Day, I'm reposting this collection of pictures related to men in kilts.  Hope you enjoy them!


The very tall man on the right in the photo below is Simon Fraser, clan chief of the Frasers of Lovat. Diana Gabaldon met him in Scotland a few years ago.

Here's Richard Rankin, who plays Roger Wakefield on the OUTLANDER TV series!

And last but definitely NOT least....

Here's the deleted scene from Episode 114 ("The Search") where Jamie demonstrates how he puts on his kilt.

Happy Tartan Day, everyone!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Diana Gabaldon's visit to the OUTLANDER set in South Africa

Diana Gabaldon is in South Africa this week, visiting the set of the OUTLANDER TV series! (For those of you who don't know, the production has relocated to South Africa to film the final episodes, including the seagoing scenes, for Season 3.)

Here's Part 1 of Diana's account of her trip.
And here is Part 2.

I'm sure she'll post more as time permits!

The photo above was taken by Matt Roberts, one of the OUTLANDER writers. (Click on the photo for a bigger view.) Isn't it beautiful?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Have you tried to get other people to read or watch OUTLANDER?

Diana Gabaldon often says that these are "word-of-mouth books, because they're too weird to describe to anybody."   This month's poll asks the question, "Have you tried to get other people to read the OUTLANDER books or watch the TV series?" Please take a moment to vote.

I got my sister addicted to the books a few years ago, and I certainly have done my bit as an "OUTLANDER ambassador", helping to spread the word about the series in all its various forms. Here I am in 2010, on my first visit to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in NC, with a handmade OUTLANDER sign.

What about the rest of you? If you've had some success with getting people hooked on OUTLANDER (books, TV show, or both), please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page, and tell us about it.

April poll results

Here are the results of the March poll, which asked the question, "What are you doing to pass the time until the OUTLANDER TV series resumes?"
  • 35.53% - All of the above.
  • 17.76% - Reading (or re-reading) Diana Gabaldon's books.
  • 7.46% - Listening to the OUTLANDER audiobooks.
  • 7.46% - Reading books by other authors.
  • 6.36% - Watching Seasons 1 and 2 again.
  • 5.48% - Following various OUTLANDER fan-sites, including Outlandish Observations.
  • 4.82% - Devouring any information I can find (trailers, photos, interviews, etc.) about the TV series.
  • 3.51% - Pursuing other hobbies or interests not related to OUTLANDER.
  • 3.07% - Focusing on family, work, or other commitments.
  • 2.41% - Hanging out on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page or Compuserve.
  • 1.54% - Trying to get other people to read the books or watch the TV series.
  • 0.88% - I'm not interested in the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 3.73% - Other
Here are the results for "Other":
  • Special Outlander project!
  • Do my Taxes ????
  • Spending time with friends met through Outlander groups
  • watching, re-reading, listening, following websites, buying book one for others.
  • #'s 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, above
  • Re-reading the books verrrrry sloooowly!
  • This is my hobby, my very first ever.
  • Watching Mercy St. (With Geneva)+ Victoria(with Laoghaire)
  • Most of the above!
  • Podcasts
  • I just finished re-reading all the books, and watched all the episodes again!
  • Not all, but many of the above.
  • All of the above except Devouring all, & Facebook
  • Rewatching seasons 1 and 2 as well as rereading the books.
  • Writing blog posts for "Scotch & Scones"
  • Following sites AND listening to Davina Porter while doing MPC
  • Going to Scotland
There were 456 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the April poll, which asks the question, "Have you tried to get other people to read the OUTLANDER books, or watch the TV series?" Thanks!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A message from Sam Heughan on Twitter

Sam Heughan tweeted this yesterday, and I just can't resist sharing it!

It makes me laugh out loud, even though he's not referring to me specifically.  Of course I'm picturing him saying that in character as Jamie! I think this is the perfect response:

Yes, I'm a Karen, too, for those of you who don't know. <g> You can follow me on Twitter at @karenh3a.

The weapons of OUTLANDER

ET Online has an exclusive video looking at some of the swords and other weapons used in the TV series.

(There's a tiny bit of video footage from Season 3 in this, but nothing I would consider really spoilerish.)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Past Prologue", a new story by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry

Diana Gabaldon announced recently that she has a new story called "Past Prologue", featuring Jamie Fraser, coming out on June 13, 2017. This story was co-written by Diana and Steve Berry, and it will be published in an anthology called MATCHUP, edited by Lee Child.

According to Diana's announcement on Facebook:
MATCH-UP is an anthology of mystery/crime/thriller/etc. (mine is sort of etc....) stories, each one written by a pair of writers: one male, one female. Steve Berry and I teamed up to write a story called PAST PROLOGUE (he thought up the title; I did the plot and the first draft, he did the rewrite and we both proof-read it. The rest is up to you, I'm afraid...), which pairs Steve's main series character, Cotton Malone, with...Jamie Fraser.
For more information about the other stories in this anthology, look here.

You can pre-order MATCHUP from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and it's also available from Amazon UK for those of you who live outside the US.

There is a brief excerpt from this story on Diana's Facebook page here.

And no, in case you're wondering, the fact that Diana Gabaldon has a story in this anthology is not slowing down her progress on GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series! Diana often says that she likes to work on multiple projects at once, to keep from getting writer's block.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

25th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER

A special hardcover 25th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER will be published on November 28, 2017!

Diana Gabaldon says this book will have the same type of faux-leather binding as the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Edition.

You can pre-order from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I'm sure signed copies will also be available through the Poisoned Pen bookstore.

Please help spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested. Thanks!

American Revolution Museum in Yorktown

Today, March 23, is the Grand Opening of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, VA!

From the museum's website:
The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown tells anew the story of the nation’s founding, from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond. Exciting new indoor galleries feature period artifacts, immersive environments, interactive exhibits and films, including "The Siege of Yorktown," with a 180-degree surround screen and dramatic special effects.
This museum used to be called the Yorktown Victory Center.  When I visited there with my parents in 2013 (we had a wonderful time; see the detailed account here, with lots of photos), they were just beginning construction on the expanded museum that would one day become the American Revolution Museum, and my mom and I decided then that we would go back when the new museum opened.

I'm delighted to hear that it's opening at last, and I'm sure we will visit sometime soon, maybe later this spring.

If you like All Things 18th Century, as I know many of you do <g>, it's well worth a visit. The "living history" parts of the museum we saw in 2013 were excellent, very informative and fun, and I'm sure the new museum will have tons of interesting info about the Revolution and 18th century life.

It's located only a few miles from Williamsburg and Jamestown. (If you haven't visited Colonial Williamsburg, it's definitely worth seeing.)

On a related note, for those of you in the Philadelphia area, there is a new Museum of the American Revolution opening in Philly on April 19th.  I don't know much about it, but check out their website for more information.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Droughtlander Re-Watch: EP105 ("Rent")

Droughtlander Re-Watch, Week 5:  Episode 105 ("Rent")


If you haven't watched all of OUTLANDER Seasons 1 and 2, there are SPOILERS in this post.  Read at your own risk.

This is a very entertaining episode that stands up well to repeated viewings.

What a gorgeous location for the opening scene! Just breathtaking.  I like Claire's hair worn loose over her shoulders like that.  It's a much more flattering look for her than we've seen through most of this season so far.

Bill Patterson is terrific as Ned Gowan. I can't watch the scene where Claire treats Ned's asthma without recalling how she treated the Duke of Pardloe in WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.  But I liked the fact that she was able to help Ned.  This is also foreshadowing of the way Claire treats Alex Randall's breathing difficulties in Episode 212.

The song the men are singing on the road is "The Maid Gaed to the Mill".  Of course the lyrics about a young woman "getting her corn ground" remind me of Dougal's line near the end of Episode 106, when he tells Claire, "The thought of grinding your corn does tickle me." (For more about the song, look here.)

I love watching Dougal in this episode. He's just riveting, a bigger presence (at this point in the series) even than Jamie.  And Graham McTavish appears to be really enjoying himself in this episode.

"Well, maybe Angus hates you. He hates everyone." I love the way Jamie smiles at Claire when he says this.

I'm impressed by the amount of detail in the villages they pass through on the road, not just the costumes, but the props, the livestock, the cottages with their thatched roofs, even the careworn faces of the crofters. The production team did a great job in this episode, recreating the feel of 18th-century village life in the Highlands.

They filmed parts of this episode at the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore, Scotland. I didn't get to see it on my visit to Scotland last July (there just wasn't time), but it sounds like a fascinating place.

The wool-waulking scene is terrific, very entertaining. I liked the fact that the lyrics included "mo nighean donn" (my brown-haired lass), which will of course become one of Jamie's favorite endearments for Claire. You have to give Claire credit for being willing to participate in the whole experience, even pissing in a bucket in full view of the other women, and taking it all in stride. ("Geronimo!")

I loved Angus's entrance. He's really not at all a sympathetic character at this point in the series, and it's interesting to watch the way his attitude toward Claire changes over the course of this episode in particular.

Watching Claire struggling with Rupert over the goat, the thought occurred to me that she really does tend to get herself in a lot of trouble, without Jamie looking out for her.  Though Jamie is there, watching, he stays in the background, not interfering.

"Madam, is everything all right?" And here's our first look at Lt. Jeremy Foster. The first time I watched this episode, in 2014, I didn't immediately understand the reason for the clansmen's hostility toward him. Now, of course, it's obvious: they know he's a British soldier.  I liked Angus's reaction to him, in particular.

The next scene, with Dougal's first speech to the villagers, is very well done. Even though I don't understand more than a word or two of the Gaidhlig, Dougal manages to convey a great deal through his tone of voice and body language alone. Riveting, as I said earlier. And the moment when he rips Jamie's shirt, exposing his scarred back to the horrified onlookers, is just as shocking as it was in the book. Very well done!

Poor Jamie looks so miserable, humiliated, sitting there without saying a word.

I liked Dougal's line, "I'm not bloody doing it. The lad can wear rags from now on."  Here, in this scene, we see Dougal's cold-blooded ruthlessness on full display for the first time. Jamie's reaction, "I'll mend my own shirt", and the way he stalks out of the cottage, is just as I imagined from the book.

The mention of black pudding is a reminder of the scene in ABOSAA, of course.  The scenery here, by the water, is really beautiful.

"It's a pity they don't allow women to practice law."
"Not yet."
"Well, we have a few centuries before that happens."
"Only two."

I had forgotten about this exchange. LOL!

"Would I have to reconcile myself to spend the rest of my life among strangers, two hundred years in the past?"  I couldn't help thinking, "Oh, come on, Claire, it's not that bad, really!  You'll see."

The scene where they see the Watch burning crofts is not in the book, but I think it's a good addition. Notice the way Jamie takes off without a word as soon as he sees the men of the Watch.  Having seen some of those men at close range in Episode 113, "The Watch", I know they're not necessarily evil, but I had forgotten that they were as likely to terrorize the local citizens as to provide protection for them. Very dangerous!

"I don't sit with thieves!" This reminds me of Jamie, in ABOSAA, saying, "Ye were always bolder than was safe."  Here, it's only Jamie's intervention that saves her.  (Perhaps he learned something from the earlier scene?)  I like the way Jamie defuses the situation through his sheer physical presence -- "She doesn't want it." -- towering over Angus, and making the other man back down without so much as putting a hand on his dirk.

"You're not to judge things you don't understand." But of course, she does, constantly; she can't help it.  For that matter, so does everyone else -- Dougal and Angus in this episode in particular, but also the clansmen in general, who don't trust her, don't understand her motives, and therefore tend to view all her actions in the worst possible light, just as she is now doing.

The rent-collecting scene at the next village is a somber affair, especially compared to the earlier scenes. I liked the scene with Torcall and Dougal very much.

"Christ, I'd die in my blood before I'd let that whey-faced Sassenach use me so."  And finally, we're back to the book. <g>

Effective use of flashback here, to fill in a little of the historical background for the benefit of viewers who aren't familiar with the Jacobites.  And I liked the bit of the "Skye Boat Song" playing in the background there. It's not just the OUTLANDER theme song; the original lyrics tell the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie fleeing into exile after the '45. Very appropriate!

The confrontation between Jamie and Dougal was well done, and the dialogue is almost word-for-word from the book, but I really wish we'd been able to hear it better! Their voices are so low in the first part of the scene that it's almost impossible to make out what they're saying unless you turn the volume way up, and I found that really disappointing, for such an important scene.

I liked Jamie's line, "My neck is my own concern! And so is my back."

The scene between Jamie and Claire is very good, except that in the book, the scene takes place right after the first time Jamie was forced to show his scars in public.  Not so in the TV version. "He'll use you like that again," Claire says, but of course the TV viewers already know that, having seen it a few times already.  Oh, well.

"A man has to choose what's worth fightin' for."  And before too much longer, Jamie will decide that Claire herself is worth fighting for. <g>

More gorgeous scenery. Matt Roberts called this episode "a love letter to Scotland", and it's really true.

The scene with the executed men is horrifying, but I found myself wondering if such things actually happened in Scotland at that time.

Dougal's speech that evening is just mesmerizing, no matter that I don't understand a word of it. Terrific performance from Graham McTavish!  It can't be easy to perform a scene that dramatic in a language you don't speak, and he did an amazing job.

The scene where Claire discovers Jamie outside her door is wonderful, just as I'd imagined it from the book -- except that I wonder why she went to sleep fully clothed, stays and all?  (But that's a minor point.)

I like this exchange between Claire and Ned:

"Outmanned we might be, but I would match our fighting hearts against the best army in the world."
"Fighting hearts don't stand a chance against cannons."

Ned's "History be damned" is also a great line.

The fight was very entertaining, and it's certainly an effective way to show that Angus will fight to defend Claire. But the way it's presented in the TV show, Jamie isn't even present for the fight, and he never gets a chance to show that he's had enough of Dougal's humiliation of him. So that conflict between Jamie and Dougal is left unresolved, and I didn't like that.

I like the way Claire finally relaxes enough to joke with the men a little bit.

The sight of Culloden Moor is very sobering, but I always have to smile a little at the sight of the (totally fictitious) Clan MacKenzie stone. When I visited Culloden for the first time in 2012, I asked our guide about the MacKenzies, and he said no, there is no stone for them there.

By the end of the episode, relations between Claire and the MacKenzies may have improved somewhat, but Dougal is still as suspicious as ever.

And here's Lt. Foster again.  "Are you here by your own choice?"  Wow, that's quite a cliffhanger, and one that took me completely by surprise on the first viewing.  Great way to end the episode!

Please come back next week for my reactions to Episode 106, "The Garrison Commander".

Friday, March 17, 2017

Memorable Irish characters in Diana Gabaldon's books

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 my top 10 most memorable Irish characters from Diana Gabaldon's books, in alphabetical order.

* * * SPOILER WARNING! * * *

If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER and Lord John books, you will find SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.









1) Bernard Adams. You may remember that Lord John gouged his eye out at the end of LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE. He later confessed to the murder of Lord John's father, the Duke of Pardloe.

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

3) 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>)

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) 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>

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

8) Tobias Quinn. He was certainly a memorable character in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, although I found him somewhat irritating and a nuisance most of the time. I liked his sense of humor.

9) Finbar Scanlon. The apothecary in LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER. Among other things, he cured Maria Mayrhofer of syphilis by deliberately infecting her with malaria.

10) Gerald Siverly. He saved Lord John's life in "The Custom of the Army", but that's his only redeeming quality, as far as I'm concerned. He was a very memorable villain in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER!

And last but definitely NOT least, here's to our favorite Irish actress, the amazing Caitriona Balfe!!

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