• “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

“Frog-legs … and a lot of beer.”

2024-01-04-Leon-by-Sam-SykesHappy New Year! Good wishes in abundance toward everyone, all the time, everywhere. <g>

And here is a small New Year’s treat:

EXCERPT FROM BOOK TEN (UNTITLED), Copyright © 2024 Diana Gabaldon

[NB to readers unfamiliar with copyright notices; your material is copyrighted by you the moment you put it into a concrete form (i.e., words on page or screen), and unless you’re quoting from an already-published book (in which case, it has a fixed copyright; the year of publication), the copyright notice bears the current year. Some people in the past have leapt to the conclusion that the year date in the copyright notice is the year of publication, and then get very bent when they see the year change when I post a new excerpt and go around Chicken-Littling about “OMG the book’s been DELAYED!!”. I assure y’all, it hasn’t.]

[YES, THERE ARE SPOILERS IN HERE!! If you wish to proceed anyway, scroll down to read…]

They reached Savannah mid-morning, having ridden through swales of greening rice paddies and patches of sprouting farmland, dotted with men and women working, now and then with the assistance of a mule. The horses were eager, sensing the imminence of food, and Jamie felt much the same. There was urgent work to be done, of course, but they’d finished what food they had the day before yesterday.

“What d’you want to eat first?” William asked. The boy was almost standing in his stirrups with anticipation. “Shrimp and grits? Redfish fried in cornmeal?”

“Frog-legs,” Jamie said, smiling. “And fried oysters. Though I wouldna mind a good thick Brunswick stew to go along. And beer. A lot of beer.”

Conversation devolved into a desultory argument over the merits of alligator as an ingredient of stew, but the boom of a nearby cannon both interrupted the talk and made the horses curvet and dance.

“[steh – Gaelic]!” Jamie said, jerking his horse’s head right round until it was almost in his lap. “Settle, ye gomerel. Surely ye’ve heard guns before?”

“Possibly not cannon,” William observed, having brought Trajan—who had heard cannon before—to a proper sense of his duty with little difficulty. “That’s the noon gun, though,” he said, leaning forward to speak into the horse’s pricked ears. “It won’t happen again. Until tonight, at least,” he added, straightening in the saddle. “Commander Archibald decided to use a single gun at sunset, rather than have drummers marching through the streets to sound the evening retreat; perhaps they may still be doing it.”

William spoke casually, but Jamie saw the lad’s shoulders tighten under his coat.

“D’ye ken whether Archibald is still here?” he asked, keeping his voice as neutral as he could. The day was warm, but a sudden chill raised the hairs on his neck, with the memory of a lovely girl dead by her own hand in the middle of the night, in a dark room reeking of her blood and spilt beer—because of Commander Archibald.

William shot him a quick glance.

“No,” he said. “But I hope he is.”

The lad’s color was high, and his hands clenched on the reins. Jamie leaned over and took hold of Trajan’s bridle, drawing them both to a momentary halt.

“I ken what ye mean,” he said evenly, “and I’ll help ye do it. But we canna risk drawing that kind o’ notice until we’ve done what we came to do. We were too late for Frances’s sister; we willna be too late for Lord John.”

William gave him back a level look, but he saw the lad’s pulse, hammering at the side of his throat.

“We will not,” William said, and drawing up his reins, nudged Trajan into motion.

[end section]

[Many thanks to my younger grandson, León (he has an accent mark over the “o”, but Facebook doesn’t do such things), for the use of the art for his first album cover—and to my son, Sam Sykes, León’s uncle, who took the photo as a symbol of New Year cheer.]

Visit my Book Ten webpage for more excerpts from—and information about—this new book.

This excerpt (“Daily Lines”) was also released on my official Facebook page on January 4, 2024.

If you like, please share your thoughts about this excerpt and Book Ten by submitting a public web comment in the “Leave a Response” form below. Note that due to ever-present robotic web spam clogging up the works, my Webmistress or I have to go through and approve each comment individually to make sure it’s written by a human being. Spam filters don’t catch everything. So it will take time, sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a few days, for your comment to appear, unlike social media.

9 Responses »

  1. Looks good! You’ve whet my appetite! When will itt be out?

  2. Don’t wanna read! Im too excited. wish it wouldn’t have to end

  3. “swales of green..” and horses “curvet” i love how you use the language of hte time and immediately place me back there without jarring–also love the description of emotions though physical sight of the characters of one another–keeps the dialogue moving and conveys important info–cant wait for more

  4. Love it and excited for the outcome. Wishing you an early Happy Birthday!!

  5. Hi Diana – wishing you a very happy birthday on the 11th. We share the same date – and year.!!

  6. Hello Diana, Wishing you a very Happy Birthday! All the health and happiness to you. Thank you for writing all those wonderful books. Have a great day!

    • Hi. I am curious why Col. Archibald Campbell is referred to in this passage as Commander Archibald, when in the earlier books he’s just Colonel Campbell or Colonel Archibald Campbell. Does he have a new role of command that changes his common title? Is it like LJG being Lord John instead of Lord Gray? Love the passage, always curious about the details!

      • Hi,

        Book Ten hasn’t been published yet (or finished yet by Diana) so no doubt there are details that look a bit different in excerpts from it. Best to wait and read the book to see what is revealed within.



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