• “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. Whoa!! WTH!?! That’s awesome!!!!

  2. I just love your books and can hardly wait until this one is published. I’m sure your publisher and devoted fans can make the pressure hard to bear, but continue on at your own pace, please. We’ll all wait. The thought of Roger going to far back in time … Wow!

  3. A very interesting twist to the story. You are so clever.I have re-bought all the books, plus Lord John bulges as e-books. Now I can re-read them anytime, even late at night – when they do not help me sleep. Too exciting!

  4. What a treat! Hoping the “end” of 2013 doesn’t mean December.

  5. hello have read all the series so far and am going to read them over again im so glad i was at the flee market and saw the first book in paperback and thats all it took have all now waiting for the 8th (patiently) thank you for good reading diana

  6. Diana,
    I am seventy-eight and know nothing about any copyright laws where I’m going to find my wife again after all these years and do so want to be able to tell her of Jamie, Clare and the rest of them with all their latest exploits. It would be cruel to have to say “I have missed an instalment” and doubt we’ll be able to walk through the Stones to come back for WIMOHB So please bloody please burn the midnight oil and don’t tease me any longer.

    • John — I agree with you. My mother has read all of the books multiple times, as have I. She is 74 and I sure do hope she knows how it all ends. Maybe Diana can have an offline or secret online synopsis for those who may not be in this world (or time?) for the final installment?

      Or, as I believe, maybe heaven is a place where you’re with the people of your life that you truly love. And you are able to enjoy the things you love. Like the continuing story of Jamie and Claire. It’s a bit like time travel after all, yes?

  7. How can Roger be seeing Jamie’s Da. I thought you could only go back approximately 200 years, give or take a year or two.

  8. Hi Diana,
    Love the Outlander Series. Anxiously awaiting MOBY, and like everyone else, I truly appreciate your talent and hard work in researching the material. I do so enjoy the sweet love story of Jamie and Claire, but moreover, I really appreciate the reminder of the history of struggle, endurance, and undying fight of the Scottish people, over centuries, to gain and keep their freedom! Not really different from our own American Indians of whom I also have great empathy and respect for all they too have endured!

    Will the audio version of MOBY be available on the same release date of the book?

    Thank you!

  9. Ah, thank ye kindly. Brian was a dark man. I’d ne’erd have guessed.

  10. By re-reading all the Outlander books, I think (but am not sure) I have picked up most clues developed in the future books; the boy studying Claire when she rescues Jamie in Echo in the Bone is certain to reappear later. I think. Love the idea of time lines getting mixed up; Roger is probably the one most likely to able to handle this experience. I, too, have wondered about Jamie’s ghost watching Claire before she goes through the stones the first time; it seems an almost perfect foreshadowing of an ending; a completed circle. Amazing how real all these characters seem, despite their varied historical periods.

    I have a confession: I read Outlander when it first came out and didn’t really like it. I have no idea why, except my life was somewhat confused at that time. Despite that feeling, I bought Dragonfly, but didn’t read it; it sat quite patiently on my bookshelf waiting for me to wake up. I had some sort of epiphany about six years or so ago. and re-read Outlander. I finished it (wondering what the hell was wrong with me) picked up Dragonfly and continued reading. As I was forced to the grocery store, I went to Barnes & Noble and purchased all the other books up to and including Snow and Ashes, which had just come out. Waiting for Echo, I re-read everything, including all of Lord John which I updated as the books became available.

    I suggested my 40-year old daughter, a high school English and drama teacher, read Outlander; she didn’t like it. I will wait for her epiphany.

  11. Hey Diana,
    My friends and I were wondering if you would consider writing the novels leaving out the aspects of Christianity. We love your style, but it makes it very hard to follow when this is in there. Just a thought, carry on :)

    • “leave out the aspects of Christianity”??? That’s kinda like leaving out the aspects of Jamie!
      When I read something that I may not believe in (such as the boogeyman, or the IRS), or understand (such as Mandarin), I gloss over it to get to the next part; but to exclude something so basic to character development would be a shame. The characters would not be who they are. Just my thoughts.

      • Jamie and Claire’s Christianity (and the conceptual struggles, discussions of other characters) are SO EXTREMELY CENTRAL to the story. You cannot possibly think about taking this out of the story.

      • Dear Linda–

        Well, no, I never would. Just thought it Extremely Odd that someone would suggest such a thing.


  12. Opinions are like arseholes sweet Wendy lass, and we’ve all got em.

  13. Oh dear,
    Your books, over the years, have taken -me- from my prime to my dotage.
    What a wonderful journey!

  14. Well, this blog is certainly comforting….When I finished Book VII I felt totally alone in my sadness in not having the next book to go to – no one I know who is reading these has gotten this far yet….So I went searching, never had been on the website until the other day, and now I’ve found all these ‘friends’ who are feeling the same way….So I feel a whole lot better, knowing that many people can’t wait for the next book! I have ordered The Outlandish Companion from my local book store (in Cambridge, MA.) – and will entertain myself with that until the next book arrives….You are going to keep going with this series for the next several years, right??? :) Alexandra

  15. Someone suggested this series to me. It is not what I would normally read so I ignored her suggestion. She brought it up again. I wrote down the name & told her I would “check into them”. I am glad she didn’t give up on me. In about the past year, I have read all 7 books. I just finished #7 two days ago and I”m going through withdrawals not having another one to read. I have a couple of Lord John books that I found at a used book store. I’m debating reading those or starting the series over. Please hurry with #8!
    P.S. I never save the books I read. I pass them to someone else or trade them in. These I’m keeping!

  16. I’m so glad to know that there are others who are as obsessed as I am. A suggestion for those who can’t get enough, get the audio versions. I listen to them in the car (there is NOTHING to listen to on the radio any more but commercials) at work etc. Right now I’m relistening the series to refresh for MOBY and am up to Breath of Snow and Ashes. Davina Porter is the reader and she is fabulous, her accents and voices are the best I’ve heard yet. BRIAN? Never saw that coming and by the way Diana please no more cliff hangers with so many drop offs. I’ve been going nuts for how long now?

  17. Доброе утро!
    Я так рада,что я не одна в своей любви к этой серии книг!

    Только один вопрос может кто-нибудь подскажет-есть ли официальный русскоязычный сайт этой серии?

    Google translation:

    Good morning!

    I am so glad that I am not alone in my love for this series of books!

    Only one question can someone tell me, is there an official Russian-language site in this series?

  18. I am so excited to meet Brian and Ellen! I have read and re-read the Outlander series. Each addition enhances the experience. Thank you, Diana, for this taste of what is to come.

  19. WOW! What a treat!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Hey there! Do you սse Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that
    would bе ok. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog
    and llook forward to new updates.

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