- Outlander -Diana Gabaldon's New Book 9 Excerpt Has Jamie Thinking About His Death
A stroll in a garden with beehives sounds rather pastoral and relaxing (if you're not allergic). But in a Daily Line (excerpt) shared by Diana Gabaldon in honor of World Bee Day on May 20, such a day out features thoughts on Jamie's death in the Outlander series. In the new excerpt from the forthcoming Book 9, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (Bees), Jamie is rather ominously contemplating his death. Although the author has previously confirmed Jamie won't die in Bees, the excerpt still had book readers buzzing. Spoilers ahead.
Here's how the passage goes down: After reading a letter, Jamie goes to Claire's garden seeking his wife's comfort — though he mentions he doesn't want to tell her about the letter. Instead of finding Claire, he's greeted by her nine beehives. It makes him think of a poem from the future that Claire shared with him and the fact that a fortune-teller once told him he has nine lives. "Claire had tried, now and then, to reckon the times he should have died, but hadn't. He never did, having a superstitious fear about attracting misfortune by dwelling on it," the excerpt says. He then asks the bees to take care of Claire "if she comes to you and says I'm gone."
Although the author tweeted that the excerpt "doesn't necessarily -mean- anything. At the moment...," it brings up some distressing questions. What's in the letter that Jamie doesn't want to tell Claire? Why does Jamie think he's going to die? Will Claire have to tell the bees that Jamie has gone? It is the title after all!
Again, a friendly reminder that Gabaldon has said Jamie won't die in Book 9. But his thoughts on his nine lives aren't exactly comforting. In A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Jamie revealed that, like Claire in the beginning of Outlander, he had his palm read by a fortune-teller when he was a young man living in France. As Outlander Season 6 is based on A Breath of Snow and Ashes, TV viewers may learn about this encounter if the show decides to include it. But for those unfamiliar, a Parisian fortune-teller told Jamie that he was "a little red cat" and that "You'll die nine times before you rest in your grave."
Jamie thought about the fortune-teller's prophecy again in An Echo in the Bone when he was sailing back to America from Scotland. (In America, Claire believes that Jamie had already died in a shipwreck.) "He thought he'd used only five of the deaths the fortune-teller in Paris had promised him," Gabaldon writes in the book. "Did it take so many tries to get it right? he wondered."
As for how many lives he has in Bees, Gabaldon wrote on TheLitForum that, by her count, Jamie has used up six lives ahead of Book 9. Gabaldon also wrote on TheLitForum that in Bees, "Jamie and Claire are trying to remember how many of Jamie's (theoretical) nine lives he has left at this point," so the topic is most likely going to carry on from Jamie's garden musings. When it comes to this excerpt, is it possible he could have already lost another life? Or does the letter have something in it that makes him know he'll be facing multiple deadly encounters soon?
On Reddit, fans wondered about the contents of the letter and theorized that he's being summoned to fight in the Revolutionary War again and for some reason, Claire can't go with him. Another idea was that the letter could be about William. In a Daily Line shared in 2019, Claire sees Jamie read a letter from Lord John that makes his lips tighten up — an act he does most likely because the letter contains "unwelcome news of the war, of William, or of some incipient action on the part of the British government that might be about to result in Jamie's imminent arrest or some other domestic inconvenience." Claire's around for the reading of that particular letter, so it may not be the same one as in the World Bee Day post. But at some point, as highlighted in this excerpt called "Houses," Claire and Fanny are all alone in the house, waiting for the others to return. So it seems Jamie and Claire will be separated from one another... yet again.
When it comes to what prompted Jamie's morbid thoughts, other Daily Lines released by Gabaldon reveal that John Quincy Myers is the one who gives Claire the swarm of bees and tells her to bless them. And the poem Jamie is recollecting is "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats. As one fan pointed out on Twitter, it's actually Bree that told Jamie about the poem featuring "nine bean-rows" and "a hive for the honey-bee" in Drums of Autumn. (Claire recites it to herself in An Echo in the Bone right before saying farewell to Adso the cat.)
On the show, the poem was referenced by the Season 4, Episode 10 title, "The Deep Heart's Core." But as writer Toni Graphia explained in the Inside the World of Outlander video for the episode, the poem was cut despite episode writer Luke Schelhaas wanting it to be included. So even if the show features the fortune-teller telling Jamie of his nine lives, this poem — and how it triggers thoughts of his death — may not come up in the adaptation.
Jamie Fraser will eventually die and readers know that because 1. he's mortal, 2. his ghost, and 3. the fact that, as Gabaldon has written on her website, he's dead for at least part of every book (when the characters are in the future). But that doesn't mean it still won't be incredibly sad when he does go. Regarding her latest excerpt, Gabaldon tweeted that readers may need "several" boxes of tissues to get through Bees. So how many will fans need by the time his death (probably) comes in the tenth and final book?
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