• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor


You have Barbara Schnell, my delightful and talented German translator, to thank for this: she asked whether I was going to post an Easter excerpt, in the style of our Advent Candles (which were her idea, too). Those of you who are German speakers will find the German translation of this (and a number of other things) on the German version of the website at http://www.dgabaldon.de/ (or simply click on the German flag icon at the top left of the home page here).

Do be warned: There is a Major Spoiler (not that it will help you in the slightest [g]) in this.

Copyright 2013 Diana Gabaldon

Roger hauled his way laboriously toward the summit of the mountain pass, muttering under his breath (as he had been doing for the last several miles),

“_If you had seen this road before it was made,
You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade_.”

The Irish General Wade had spent twelve years building barracks, bridges and roads all over Scotland, and if that bit of admiring verse was not in fact carved into a stone on one of the General’s roads, it ought to have been, Roger thought. He had picked up one of the General’s roads near Craig na Dun, and it had carried him as swiftly as he could walk, to within a few miles of Lallybroch.

These last few miles, though, had not had the benefit of Wade’s attention. A rocky trail, pitted with small mud-bogs and thickly overgrown with heather and gorse, led up through the steep pass that overlooked—and protected—Lallybroch. The lower slopes were forested with beeches, alders [ck.] and stout Caledonian pines, but up this high there was neither shade nor shelter, and a strong, cold wind battered him as he climbed.

Could Jem have come this far, by himself, if he’d escaped? Roger and Buck had cast round in the vicinity of Craig na Dun, hoping that perhaps Cameron had stopped to rest after the strain of the passage, but there had been no sign—not so much as the print of a size-4 trainer in a muddy patch of ground. Roger had come on then by himself, as fast as he could, pausing to knock at the door of any croft he came to—and there weren’t many along this way—but he’d made good time.

His heart was pounding, and not only from the exertion of the climb. Cameron had maybe a day’s lead, at the most. If Jem hadn’t got away and run for home, though…Cameron wouldn’t come to Lallybroch, surely. But where would he go? Follow the good road, left now ten miles behind, and head west, maybe, into the MacKenzies’ territory—but why?

“Jem!” He shouted now and then as he went, though moors and mountains were empty save for the rustling of rabbits and stoats, and silent but for the calling of ravens and the occasional shriek of a seagull winging high overhead, evidence of the distant sea.

“_Jem_!” He called as though he could compel an answer by sheer need, and in that need, imagined sometimes that he heard a faint cry in response. But when he stopped to listen, it was the wind. Only the wind, whining in his ears, numbing him. He could walk within ten feet of Jem and never see him, and he knew that.

His 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 wooly 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 hardboiled egg with a white crayon, then frowning over the array of dye-cups, trying to decide whether blue or purple was more Dad-like.

“Lord, let him be here!” he muttered under his breath, and hurried down the rutted trail, half-sliding on loose rocks.

The dooryard was tidy, the big yellow rose brier trimmed back for the winter, and the step swept clean. He had the sudden notion that if he were simply to open the door and walk in, he would find himself in his own lobby, Mandy’s tiny red galoshes flung helter-skelter under the hall-tree where Brianna’s disreputable duffel-coat hung, crusty with dried mud and smelling of its wearer, soap and musk and the faint smell of her motherhood: sour milk, fresh bread, and peanut butter.

“Bloody hell,” he muttered, “be weeping on the step, next thing.” He hammered at the door, and a huge dog came galloping round the corner of the house, baying like the bloody hound of the Baskervilles. It slid to a stop in front of him but went on barking, weaving its huge head to and fro like a snake, ears cocked in case he might make a false move that would let it devour him with a clear conscience.

He wasn’t risking any moves; he’d plastered himself against the door when the dog appeared, and now shouted, “Help! Come call your beast!”

He heard footsteps within, and an instant later, the door opened, nearly decanting him into the hall.

“Hauld your wheesht, dog,” a tall, dark man said, in a tolerant tone. “Come ben, sir, and dinna be minding him. He wouldna eat you; he’s had his dinner.”

“I’m pleased to hear it, sir, and thank ye kindly.” Roger pulled off his hat and followed the man into the shadows of the hall. It was his own familiar hall, the slates of the floor just the same, though not nearly as worn, the dark wood paneling shining with beeswax and polishing. There _was_ a halltree in the corner, though of course different to his; this one was a sturdy affair of wrought iron, and a good thing, too, as it was supporting a massive burden of jackets, shawls, cloaks and hats that would have crumpled a flimsier piece of furniture.

He smiled at it, nonetheless, and then stopped dead, feeling as though he’d been punched in the chest.

The wood paneling behind the halltree shone serene, unblemished. No sign of the saber-slashes left by frustrated redcoat soldiers, searching for the outlawed laird of Lallybroch after Culloden. Those slashes had been carefully preserved for centuries, were still there, darkened by age but still distinct, when he had owned—would own, he corrected mechanically—this place.

“_We keep it so for the children_,” Bree had quoted her uncle Ian as saying. “_We tell them, ‘This is what the English are_.’”

He had no time to deal with the shock; the dark man had shut the door with a firm Gaelic adjuration to the dog, and now turned to him, smiling.

“Welcome, sir. Ye’ll sup wi’ us? The lass has it nearly ready.”

“Aye, I will, and thanks to ye,” Roger bowed slightly, groping for his 18th-century manners. “I—my name is Roger MacKenzie. Of Kyle of Lochalsh,” he added, for no respectable man would omit to note his origins, and Lochalsh was far enough away that the chances of this man—who was he? He hadn’t the bearing of a servant—knowing its inhabitants in any detail was remote.

He’d hoped that the immediate response would be, “MacKenzie? Why, you must be the father of wee Jem!” It wasn’t, though; the man returned his bow and offered his hand.

“Brian Fraser of Lallybroch, your servant, sir.”

[end section]

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58 Responses »

  1. Happy Easter Diana …thank you once again for sharing a tid-bit of your wonderful work.

  2. Of course!, it all makes sense now. The time travel year with a “Leaf in the wind…” My mind was trying to get around that. Thank you Diana.

  3. Wow …. I truly can’t wait for your book .. my sister lent me her copies – yes I am buying my own!!!- and have fallen in love with Jamie and Claire’s story. Just like everyone else I was hoping for the new release BUT after reading through the series I know this one is more than worth waiting for. Thankyou for being so wonderful in all that you do. Happy Easter

  4. And just like that I am immersed back with the characters I love so well and am transported by the magic of you words. Thank you! I have reread the entire Outlander series several times over the years, usually over the winter month. It always brings the feeling of home and hearth sharing the love of Jamie and Clairel. So looking forward to the next installment.

  5. Tantalizing!! Thanks so much for the excerpt! I just finished re-reading all 7 books and am now chomping at the bit for the glorious number 8!!! Bright blessings to you, Diana!

  6. Brightest of Blessings, Diana and thanks for the “major spoiler”, although somehow (I may have dreamed it of course), I thought the intro to Brian seems slightly familiar? As if it has been posted somewhere before?

    At any rate–this is a massive turn of events for us…thank you so very much for giving us a glimpse of the man that I am assuming to be Jamie’s beloved Da. It gives me hope we will meet Jamie as a boy/young man since again I assume the lass that is mentioned is young Jenny…

    The only troubling bit my brain is trying to work out is that the time frame of (in general) 200 years of travel seems wonky. So you’ve now provided even more endless speculation (and endless fun for us).

    I can hardly wait for MOBY–hopefully this fall sometime, right? LOL

    • Diana did post this once before and then removed it from the excerpts. I remember because at the time, there was a line from Brian about “the lass having dinner almost ready,” and I recall wondering if he was referring to Ellen or Jenny. So you are not crazy, Linda!

  7. just finished book # 7, can’t wait for # 8, the best. Love the story of Jamie and Claire;hope they live forever in your books. Best book’s i have ever read.

  8. It never was exactly 200 years :)

    print the timeline (that I helped to create): http://www.dgabaldon.de/html/timeline_1e.html and draw arrows to get an impression.

    I declined to draw such arrows in the online version, as it would make the thing too confusing.


    • Michael, the timeline is great! I will print it and keep it in whichever DG book I am currently reading. It feels like a “map” to help fix the events in proper order. Thanks!

    • I’m a little late to the party, but Michael – this is brilliant! I totally bookmarked for easy reference, especially as I’ve started re-reading the series. :) Thank you for sharing this!

    • I note in your time line the entre in 1739 the book ref was “Virgins”
      I thought I had read all the related everything.
      What is the full name of this ref and where can I find it?

      • Dear Greg–

        Should really be 1740. “Virgins” is a novella, written for an anthology called DANGEROUS WOMEN (edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois). The anthology was published this past December (2013), and I’ll get the reprint rights to the novella back in December of 2014–at which point, I’ll likely released it as a stand-alone ebook, and/or publish it with other stories in print form.

        The story deals with Jamie Fraser, age 19, and his best friend, Ian Murray, aged 20, and their adventures as Young Mercenaries in France, following the misadventure that drove Jamie Fraser from his home at Lallybroch.

        Hope you enjoy it!


      • Diana
        Thank you!
        Keep up the intriguing work!
        I’m hooked and can’t wait for the next anything.

  9. I wonder if Roger will meet Jamie and be able to stop himself whispering in his ear to go easy on him when they next meet in USA?

    There again I think Jaimie has probably not been born yet as he would remember seeing Roger at Lallybroch when they meet at the Ridge.

    A very tantalising Easter story -Thankyou!

    • Lordy, you must be right, Alison…And I had forgotten the leap from “Leaf” in the time frame for travel (Michael, I’m headed to your link now–thanks for sharing it)

      Now I not only want MOBY but Part II of COMPANION as well (a girl can always hope, can’t she? LOL)

    • Since we don’t know the time period yet, this must be prior to 1739, since Brian Fraser died when Jamie was ~19 years old. I think that Jamie HAS been born, but may be at Castle Leooch, his MacKenzie uncles place – remember, he lived there for some time when he was younger.

  10. I am also ready for the next book and have reread them so I can know where I am.. Then I got Scottish Prisnor and had to then get the rest of the Lord John books. so Yeah Bring it on! And thanks for sharing the pages!

  11. Hmm….seems I’ve seen it before too. Drat! Wish I could remember where. Maybe we’re all dreaming the same after all the stories……..

  12. Oh man, I just can’t wait! Thank you so much for this Easter treat. I just finished reading the entire series, including the sneak peak at the upcoming book, this morning. I was already going through Outlander withdrawal (hee hee). This was just the fix I needed. Now what to do until “Written In My Own Heart’s Blood” is released???????????

  13. I’ve often wondered about what Brian and Ellen Fraser would have been like, aside from what Jamie and Jenny said of them. Just another reason to look forward to the new book!

  14. this was a wonderful tidbit, however, after having been a fan for waaayyy over a decade now, and having read the series innumerable times, my greatest hope is this: before i die, i want to know how frank was able to see jamie outside the window of the B&B, looking in at claire……….and this in the first part of outlander!!!!!!!!!!!!! i MUST know and understand……..beyond that, the last line of breath of snow and ashes causes me to sob uncontrollably (i think it is a mother thing), and i have loved this series from the first moment i opened it………..

    • I have often wondered the same thing, about Frank seeing the “Big Scot” image. Is it possible that it isn’t Jamie at all? Perhaps it is Jem all grown up, he is referred to looking much like his infamous Grandfather as a young man, and he can travel through the stones unlike Jamie. Maybe Jem was looking for Grannie?? Just a thought.

    • I second that! That scene of Frank seeing the Scot outside the manse that night just keeps me wondering. I’m glad to know that I didn’t just miss a detail and should’ve had it figured out already. Diana, we need a hint! Or perhaps you’ve not created that bit of the story yet… Who knows?! Love, love, love these stories.

      • If you remember right ladies, Jamie mentions having a dream or a thought of seeing Claire through a window and he knew it was in her time as she was surrounded by a different light. I believe this was mentioned in #6 or #7 around the time he was also having dreams and thoughts of Jem and Mandy in the future.

  15. You are amazing. I have never been so drawn into a story until yours. My heart aches as I wait for more, I miss the characters as I do long lost friends. And this was such a tease!!!! (But a wonderful one at that)
    What a huge shock that Roger has gone “back” too far!!!!! I am beyond excited for the next book!
    Thank you for sharing your amazing talent with us.

  16. WOW! I wasn’t expecting that! I absolutely cannot WAIT for MOBY – This is my 3rd time through the series – rereadin The Fiery Cross now – I can’t get enough of these characters! I just keep rereading them until the newest book gets released. I was constantly checking them out from the library but I just decided recently to buy them all since I read them so often. I suggest this series to anyone who asks “know any good books?” :)

    Thank you for creating this wonderful tale that I can’t get enough of!

  17. Wonderful! I am so, so anxious for MOBY to be published. Thank you for this.

  18. A very exciting excerpt! I’m always eager to read anything related to Brian and Ellen. I also hope that someday there may be another Lord John book with more fascinating interaction between LJ and Jamie. Clearly there is much more to the story of their developing friendship from where we left off in Scottish Prisoner to where it picks up again in Voyager. So much to look forward to!

  19. Oh, now, didn’t he go back a wee bit far? To meet Black Brian means it’s a good bit before Jamie meets Claire, to say the least.

  20. Ooh…I am dying here, for a new book. <3 :) I hope it won't be too much longer.

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