- Outlander -Diana Gabaldon On The Return Of Ulysses In 'Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone'
Major spoilers ahead for Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.
Jamie and Claire are quite accustomed to getting blasts from their pasts in the form of people they were once acquainted with. But even they were shocked when Ulysses returned in Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone... not only because he hadn't been around since A Breath of Snow and Ashes but because he was now threatening to take Fraser's Ridge from them. Diana Gabaldon, on the other hand, knew about Ulysses's antagonistic turn for some time.
The author of the Outlander series famously doesn't plan her books before she writes them. But she knew ahead of time that Ulysses was going to come back and that he'd take this rather villainous turn. "That's one of the things that I knew was going to happen in this book," Gabaldon tells The Dipp. "I hadn't planned out the mechanics, but I knew he was going to show up and threaten their tenancy."
With a little more than 100 pages left in the ninth novel, Ulysses shows up at the New House in 1780 to kick Jamie and Claire off Fraser's Ridge. Going by Captain Joseph Stevens (as Jocasta told Claire in Book 6, Joseph was his real name), Ulysses comes with a letter from Lord George Germain. It orders Jamie to vacate the North Carolina land and turn it over to the Redcoat Captain Stevens, who is acting as an Agent to the Crown, because Jamie had lied about not being a Catholic to secure the land.
Ulysses in the book series has always been a bit calculating (more so than his Outlander TV show counterpart played by Colin McFarlane), so no doubt he provided the information about Jamie and Claire's religious status to the British for his own advancement. "He knows where their personal bodies are buried, you might say, owing to his very close relationship with Jocasta," Gabaldon says of Jocasta's former butler and lover of two decades. But for Captain Stevens, this move seems to be less about any personal issues he may have with Jamie and more a matter of opportunity. Although he had received manumission papers from Jocasta, he may want to secure a safe position and land for himself as a free Black man after the American Revolution.
Plus, Ulysses isn't wrong that Jamie lied about his religion back in 1767. "Jamie did have to swear that he was not a Catholic at the time, which he did. One of his few lapses from straight-out honesty... not that he's always honest, but he walks the line," Gabaldon says.
Now in Bees, that pledge Jamie made to Governor Tryon in Drums of Autumn has come back to haunt him five books and 13 years later. "That's the thing about skating through your past," Gabaldon says. "You're going to run into something sooner or later."
Jamie is able to run Captain Joseph Stevens and his soldiers off the Ridge. But he's still a concern for the Frasers since Jamie believes that Ulysses will try to kill him ("Dinna fash, Sassenach, I dinna mean to let him"). Yet, Claire treating Corporal Sipio Jackson of His Majesty's Company of Black Pioneers seemed to solve the Stevens problem for them. Toward the end of Bees, Jackson sends Jamie and Claire the original copy of the land grant from Governor Tryon attached to the letter from Lord George Germain. Does that mean that Ulysses is no longer a danger to their lives at Fraser's Ridge?
"I don't know, I honestly don't know," Gabaldon says. "Someone recently was speculating online that it must mean that Ulysses is dead because they can't figure how else Sipio would have gotten the land grant, but let's say that's not too difficult."
So just because Sipio Jackson got his hands on some paperwork doesn't mean Ulysses couldn't return in the tenth book. But, for what it's worth, Gabaldon says the threat of Jamie and Claire getting kicked off their land "certainly isn't as exigent as it was, anyway." Well, that's a relief... however temporary.