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HomeEditorialOutlander - Books vs TV show: Claire 's Kidnapping!

Outlander – Books vs TV show: Claire ‘s Kidnapping!

As most Outlander fans know (or should know) the Outlander TV series and its books are not exactly the same. In this brand new section, we will be comparing some elements between the STARZ historical-fantasty drama, Outlander, and Diana Gabaldon’s book series on which it’s based: let’s take a closer look at the case of the circumstances of Claire ‘s kidnapping!

OUTLANDER books vs tv show wedding ring
Outlander – Books vs TV show: Claire ‘s Kidnapping!

Claire ‘s kidnapping by the hand of Lionel Brown and his men on Outlander

As many people will know, and just as many will not, the dynamics around Claire ‘s kidnapping in the season 5 finale is an element of notable divergence between the television series and the Outlander books.

In fact, unlike Diana Gabaldon’s books, where Claire and Marsali are taken hostage by virtually unknown men, among whom was Lionel Brown, during a visit to the malt shed, the Frasers’ den of gold, in the TV series the medical element comes into play and the pride with which Claire prostrates herself in aid of her neighbor and injustice. What’s more, the attack will be led by a personality well known to the Frasers, namely Lionel Brown. The whole thing will see a series of events even more brutal than it already was in the book, which, however, shows us an all too rational version of Jamie following that experience.

Book version

This bout of self-criticism was cut short by the sound of voices and movement outside. I stepped to the door of the shed, squinting against the dazzle of the late afternoon sun.

I couldn’t see their faces, nor even tell for sure how many there might be. Some were on horseback, some on foot,black silhouettes with the sinking sun behind them. I caught a movement in the corner of my eye; Marsali was on her feet, backing toward the shed.

“Who are ye, sirs?” she said, chin high.

“Thirsty travelers, mistress,” said one of the black forms, edging his horse ahead of the others. “In search of hospitality.”

The words were courteous enough; the voice wasn’t. I stepped out of the shed, still gripping the shovel. “Welcome,” I said, making no effort to sound welcoming. “Stay where you are, gentlemen; we’ll be pleased to bring you a drink. Marsali, will you fetch the keg?”

There was a small keg of raw whisky kept nearby for just such occasions. My heartbeat was loud in my ears, and I was clutching the wooden handle of the shovel so tightly that I could feel the grain of the wood.

It was more than unusual to see so many strangers in the mountains at one time. Now and then, we would see a hunting party of Cherokee—but these men were not Indians.

“No bother, mistress,” said another of the men,swinging down off his horse. “I’ll help her fetch it. I do think we shall be needing more than one keg, though.”

The voice was English, and oddly familiar. Not a cultivated accent, but with a careful diction.

“We have only one keg ready,” I said, slowly moving sideways and keeping my eyes on the man who had spoken. He was short and very slender, and moved with a stiff, jerky gait, like a marionette.

He was moving toward me; so were the others. Marsali had reached the woodpile, and was fumbling behind the chunks of oak and hickory. I could hear her breath, harsh in her throat. The keg was hidden in the woodpile. There was an ax lying next to the wood, too, I knew.

“Marsali,” I said. “Stay there. I’ll come and help you.”

An ax was a better weapon than a shovel—but two women against . . . how many men? Ten . . . a dozen . . . more? I blinked, eyes watering against the sun, and saw several more walk out of the wood. I could see these clearly; one grinned at me and I had to steel myself not to look away. His grin broadened.

The short man was coming closer, too. I glanced at him, and a brief itch of recognition tickled me. Who the hell was he? I knew him; I’d seen him before—and yet I hadn’t any name to attach to the lantern jaws and narrow brow.

He stank of long-dried sweat, dirt ground into the skin, and the tang of dribbled urine; they all did and the odor of them floated on the wind, feral as the stink of weasels.

He saw me recognize him; thin lips pulled in for a moment, then relaxed.

“Mrs. Fraser,” he said, and the feeling of apprehension deepened sharply as I saw the look in his small, clever eyes.

“I think you have the advantage of me, sir,” I said,putting as bold a face on it as I might. “Have we met?”

He didn’t answer that. One side of his mouth turned up a little, but his attention was distracted by the two men who had lunged forward to take the keg as Marsali rolled it out of its hiding place. One had already seized the ax I had my eye on, and was about to stave in the top of the cask, when the thin man shouted at him.

“Leave it!”

The man looked up at him, mouth open in heavy incomprehension.

“I said leave it!” the thin man snapped, as the other glanced from the cask to the ax and back in confusion. “We’ll take it with us; I’ll not have you all befuddled with drink now!”

Turning to me, as though continuing a conversation, he said, “Where’s the rest of it?”

“That’s all there is,” Marsali said, before I could answer. She was frowning at him, wary of him, but also angry. “Take it, then, and ye must.”

The thin man’s attention shifted to her for the first time, but he gave her no more than a casual glance before turning back to me.

“Don’t trouble lying to me, Mrs. Fraser. I know well enough there’s more, and I’ll have it.”

“There is not. Give me that, ye great oaf!” Marsali snatched the ax neatly from the man holding it, and scowled at the thin man. “This is how ye repay proper welcome, is it—by thieving? Well, take what ye came for and leave, then!”

Without the slightest change of expression, he took a quick step forward and slapped me hard across the face.

The blow wasn’t hard enough to knock me down, but it snapped my head back and left my eyes watering. I was more shocked than hurt, though there was a sharp taste of blood in my mouth, and I could already feel my lip beginning to puff.

Marsali uttered a sharp cry of shock and outrage, and I heard some of the men murmur in interested surprise. They had drawn in, surrounding us.

I put the back of my hand to my bleeding mouth, noticing in a detached sort of way that it was trembling. My brain, though, had withdrawn to a safe distance and was making and discarding suppositions so quickly that they fluttered past, fast as shuffling cards.

Who were these men? How dangerous were they? What were they prepared to do? The sun was setting—how long before Marsali or I was missed and someone came looking for us? Would it be Fergus, or Jamie? Even Jamie, if he came alone . . .

I had no doubt that these men were the same who had burned Tige O’Brian’s house, and were likely responsible for the attacks inside the Treaty Line, as well. Vicious, then—but with theft as their major purpose.

There was a copper taste in my mouth; the metal tang of blood and fear. No more than a second had passed in these calculations, but as I lowered my hand, I had concluded that it would be best to give them what they wanted, and hope that they left with the whisky at once.

I had no chance to say so, though. The thin man seized my wrist and twisted viciously. I felt the bones shift and crack with a tearing pain, and sank to my knees in the leaves, unable to make more than a small, breathless sound.

Marsali made a louder sound and moved like a striking snake. She swung the ax from the shoulder with all the power of her bulk behind it, and the blade sank deep in the shoulder of the man beside her. hShe wrenched it free and blood sprayed warm across my face, pattering like rain upon the leaves.

She screamed, high and thin, and the man screamed, too, and then the whole clearing was in motion, men surging inward with a roar like collapsing surf. I lunged forward and seized the thin man’s knees, butted my head hard upward into his crotch. He made a choking wheeze and fell on top of me, flattening me to the ground.

I squirmed out from under his knotted body, knowing only that I had to get to Marsali, get between her and the men—but they were upon her. A scream cut in half by the sound of fists on flesh, and a dull boom as bodies fell hard against the wall of the malting shed. The clay firepot was in reach. I seized it, heedless of its searing heat, and flung it straight into the group of men. It struck one hard in the back and shattered, hot coals spraying. Men yelled and jumped back, and I saw Marsali slumped against the shed, neck canted over on one shoulder and her eyes rolled back white in her head, legs splayed wide and the shift torn down from her neck, leaving her heavy breasts bare on the bulge of her belly.

Then someone struck me in the side of the head and I flew sideways, skidding through the leaves and ending boneless, flat on the ground, unable to rise or move or think or speak.

A great calm came over me and my vision narrowed—it seemed very slowly—the closing of some great iris, spiraling shut. Before me, I saw the nest on the ground, inches from my nose, its interwoven sticks slender, clever, the four greenish eggs round and fragile, perfect in its cup. Then a heel smashed down on the eggs and the iris closed.

Claire and Marsali get kidnapped

I could still smell burning. I sniffed, once, twice, again, hoping that I was imagining it. But above the dust and sweat of horse, the tang of stirrup leather, and the whiff of crushed plants, I could distinctly smell the reek of smoke. The clearing, the shed—or both—were well and truly alight now. Someone would see the smoke, and come. But in time? […]

“Kill her,” urged one of the others. “She’s no good to us, and if Fraser finds her with us—”

“Shut your face!” Hodge rounded on the speaker with such violence that the man, much larger, stepped back involuntarily. That threat disposed of, Hodge ignored him and seized me by the arm.

“Don’t play coy with me, woman. You’ll tell me what I want to know.” He didn’t bother with the “or else”—something cold passed across the top of my breast, and the hot sting of the cut followed a second later, as blood began to bloom from it.

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!” I said, more from surprise than pain. I jerked my arm out of his grasp. “I told you, I don’t even know where we are, you idiot! How do you expect me to tell you where anything else is?”

He blinked, startled, and brought the knife up by reflex, wary, as though he thought I might attack him. Realizing that I wasn’t about to, he scowled at me. […] It was a very shallow cut; I wasn’t bleeding badly at all. My face and hands were ice-cold, though, and small flashing lights came and went at the edges of my vision. Nothing was keeping me upright save a vague conviction that if it came to that, I preferred to die on my feet. […]

Not that they appeared to be of one mind just at present. While Hodgepile might be the self-proclaimed leader of this gang at the moment, it was plain to see that he hadn’t held the position for long. He wasn’t accustomed to command, didn’t know how to manage men, save by threat. I’d seen many
military commanders in my time, good and bad, and recognized the difference.

I could hear Hodgepile even now, voice raised in distant argument with someone. I’d seen his sort before, vicious men who could temporarily cow those near them by outbursts of unpredictable violence. They seldom lasted long—and I doubted that Hodgepile was going to last much longer. […]

In an instant, Tebbe and two more men surged forward, hands on knives and pistol grips.

Hodgepile’s thin face was pinched with fury, but the moment of incipient violence had passed. He lowered his own knife, the menace receding.

I opened my mouth to say something that might help defuse the situation further, but was forestalled by a panicked cry from Brown’s nephew.

“Don’t let her talk! She’ll curse us all!”

“Oh, bleedin’ ‘ell,” said Hodgepile, fury transmuted to mere crossness.

I had used several neckcloths to bind Brown’s splint. Hodgepile stooped and snatched one from the ground, wadded it into a ball, and stepped forward.

“Open your mouth,” he said tersely, and seizing my jaw with one hand, he forced open my mouth and crammed the wadded fabric into it. He glared at Tebbe, who had made a jerky move forward.

“I shan’t kill her. But she says not a word more. Not to ‘im”—he nodded at Brown, then Tebbe—”not to you. Nor me.” He glanced back at me, and to my surprise, I saw a lurking uneasiness in his eyes. “Not to anyone.”

Tebbe looked uncertain, but Hodgepile was already tying his own neckcloth round my head, effectively gagging me.

“Not a word,” Hodgepile repeated, glaring round at the company. “Now, let’s go!”

I jerked my feet back to scramble up— only to be brought up short by the noose around my neck. It felt like an iron bar across my windpipe, and I fell back, seeing blood-red blotches at the corners of my eyes.

I shook my head and gulped air, trying to shake off the dizziness, adrenaline racing through my blood. I felt a hand on my ankle, and kicked out sharply.

“Hey!” he said out loud, sounding surprised. He took his hand off my ankle and sat back a little. My vision was clearing; I could see him now, but the firelight was behind him; it was one of the young lads, but no more than a faceless, hunched silhouette in front of me.
“Shh,” he said, and giggled nervously, reaching out a hand toward me. I made a deep growling noise behind my gag, and he stopped, frozen in midreach.

There was a rustling in the brush behind him. This seemed to remind him that his friend—or friends—were watching, and he reached out with renewed resolution, patting me on the thigh.

“Don’t you worry, ma’am,” he whispered, duck-walking closer on his heels, “I don’t mean you no harm.”
I snorted, and he hesitated again—but then another rustle from the bush seemed to stiffen his resolve, and he grasped me by the shoulders, trying to make me lie down. I struggled hard, kicking and kneeing at him, and he lost his grip, lost his balance, and fell on his backside.

A muffled explosion of sniggering from the bush brought him up on his feet like a jack-in-the-box. He reached down with decision, seized my ankles, and yanked, jerking me flat. Then he flung himself on top of me, pinning me with his weight.

“Hush!” he said urgently into my ear. His hands were grappling for my throat, and I squirmed and thrashed under his weight, trying to buck him off.

His hands closed tight on my neck, though, and I stopped, my vision going black and bloody once again.

“Hush, now,” he said more quietly.

“You just hush, ma’am, all right?”

I was making small choking noises, which he must have taken for assent, for his grip slackened

“I ain’t gonna hurt you, ma’am, I really ain’t,” he whispered, trying to hold me down with one hand while fumbling about between us with the other.

“Would you just be still, please?”

I wouldn’t, and he finally put a forearm across my throat and leaned on it.

Not hard enough to make me black out again, but hard enough to take some of the fight out of me. He was thin and wiry, but very strong, and by dint of simple determination, succeeded in pushing up my shift and wedging his knee between my thighs.

He was breathing nearly as hard as I was, and I could smell the goaty reek of his excitement. His hands had left my throat, and were feverishly grasping at my breasts, in a manner that made it reasonably clear that the only other breast he’d ever touched was likely his mother’s.

“Hush, now, don’t you be scared, ma’am, it’s all right, I ain’t … oh. Oh, my. I … uh … oh.” His hand was poking about between my thighs, then left off momentarily as he raised himself briefly and wriggled down his breeches.

He collapsed heavily on top of me, hips pumping frantically as he thrust madly away—making no contact save that of friction, as he very obviously had no idea of the way in which female anatomy was constructed. I lay still, astonished into immobility, then felt a warm pulse of liquid under my thighs as he lost himself in panting ecstasy.

All the wiry tension went out of him in a rush, and he subsided on my chest like a limp balloon. I could feel his young heart pounding like a steam hammer, and his temple was pressed against my cheek, damp with sweat.

I found the intimacy of this contact quite as objectionable as the softening presence wedged between my thighs, and rolled abruptly to the side, dumping him off. He came to life suddenly, and scrambled to his knees, yanking at his drooping breeches.

He swayed to and fro for a moment, then dropped to his hands and knees and crawled up close beside me.

The violence

“I cannot bear it. The sight of ye tears my heart. And it fills me with such rage I think I must kill someone or burst. But by the God who made ye, Sassenach, I’ll not lie with ye and be unable to look ye in the face.”

“Lie with me?” I said blankly. “What … you mean now?”

His hand dropped from my chin, but he looked steadily at me, not blinking.

“Well … aye. I do.”

Had my jaw not been so swollen, my mouth would have dropped open in pure astonishment.

“Ah … why?”

“Why?” he repeated. He dropped his gaze then, and made the odd shrugging motion that he made when embarrassed or discomposed. “I—well —it seems … necessary.”

I had a thoroughly unsuitable urge to laugh.

“Necessary? Do you think it’s like being thrown by a horse? I ought to get straight back on?”
His head jerked up and he shot me an angry glance.

“No,” he said, between clenched teeth. He swallowed hard and visibly, obviously reining in strong feelings. “Are ye—are ye badly damaged, then?”

I stared at him as best I could, through my swollen lids.

“Is that a joke of some—oh,” I said, it finally dawning on me what he meant. I felt heat rise in my face, and my bruises throbbed. I took a deep breath, to be sure of being able to speak steadily.

“I have been beaten to a bloody pulp, Jamie, and abused in several nasty ways. But only one … there was only the one who actually … He—he wasn’t … rough.”

I swallowed, but the hard knot in my throat didn’t budge perceptibly. Tears made the candlelight blur so that I couldn’t see his face, and I looked away, blinking.

“No!” I said, my voice sounding rather louder than I intended. “I’m not … damaged.”

He said something in Gaelic under his breath, short and explosive, and shoved himself away from the table. His stool fell over with a loud crash, and he kicked it. Then he kicked it again, and again, and stamped on it with such violence that bits of wood flew across the kitchen and struck the pie safe with
little pinging sounds.

I sat completely still, too shocked and numb to feel distress. Should I not have told him? I wondered vaguely. But he knew, surely. He had asked, when he found me.

“How many?” he had demanded. And then had said, “Kill them all.”

But then … to know something was one thing, and to be told the details another. I did know that, and watched with a dim sense of guilty sorrow as he kicked away the splinters of the stool and flung himself at the window. It was shuttered, but he stood, hands braced on the sill and his back turned to me, shoulders heaving. I couldn’t tell if he was crying.

The wind was rising; there was a squall coming in from the west. The shutters rattled, and the night-smoored fire spouted puffs of soot as the wind came down the chimney. Then the gust passed, and there was no sound but the small sudden crack! of an ember in the hearth.

“I’m sorry,” I said at last, in a small voice.

Jamie swiveled on his heel at once and glared at me. He wasn’t crying, but he had been; his cheeks were wet.

“Don’t you dare be sorry!” he roared.

“I willna have it, d’ye hear?” He took a giant step toward the table and crashed his fist down on it, hard enough to make the saltcellar jump and fall over. “Don’t be sorry!”

I had closed my eyes in reflex, but forced myself to open them again.

“All right,” I said. I felt terribly, terribly tired again, and very much like crying myself. “I won’t.”

There was a charged silence. I could hear chestnuts falling in the grove behind the house, dislodged by the wind. One, and then another, and another, a rain of muffled tiny thumps. Then Jamie drew a deep, shuddering breath, and wiped a sleeve across his face.

I put my elbows on the table and leaned my head on my hands; it seemed much too heavy to hold up anymore.

“Necessary,” I said, more or less calmly to the tabletop. “What did you mean, necessary?”

“Does it not occur to you that ye might be with child?”

He’d got himself back under control, and said this as calmly as he might have asked whether I planned to serve bacon with the breakfast porridge.
Startled, I looked up at him.

“I’m not.” But my hands had gone by reflex to my belly.

“I’m not,” I repeated more strongly. “I can’t be.” I could, though—just possibly. The chance was a remote one, but it existed. I normally used some form of contraception, just to be certain—but obviously …

“I am not,” I said. “I’d know.”

He merely stared at me, eyebrows raised. I wouldn’t; not so soon. So soon —soon enough that if it were so, and if there were more than one man … there would be doubt. The benefit of the doubt; that’s what he offered me— and himself.

A deep shudder started in the depths of my womb and spread instantly through my body, making goose bumps break out on my skin, despite the warmth of the room.

“Martha,” the man had whispered, the weight of him pressing me into the leaves.

“Bloody, bloody hell,” I said very quietly. I spread my hands out flat on the table, trying to think.

“Martha.” And the stale smell of him, the meaty press of damp bare thighs, rasping with hair— “No!” My legs and buttocks pressed together so tightly in revulsion that I rose an inch or two on the bench.

“You might—” Jamie began stubbornly.

“I’m not,” I repeated, just as stubbornly. “But even if—you can’t, Jamie.”

He looked at me, and I caught the flicker of fear in his eyes. That, I realized with a jolt, was exactly what he was afraid of. Or one of the things.

“I mean we can’t,” I said quickly. “I’m almost sure that I’m not pregnant— but I’m not at all sure that I haven’t been exposed to some disgusting disease.” That was something else I hadn’t thought of until now, and the goose bumps were back in full force. Pregnancy was unlikely; gonorrhea or syphilis weren’t. “We—we can’t. Not until I’ve had a course of penicillin.”

I was rising from the bench even as I spoke.

“Where are ye going?” he asked, startled.

“The surgery!”

The hallway was dark, and the fire out in my surgery, but that didn’t stop me. I flung open the door of the cupboard, and began groping hastily about. A light fell over my shoulder, illuminating the shimmering row of bottles. Jamie had lit a taper and come after me.

“What in the name of God are ye doing, Sassenach?”

“Penicillin,” I said, seizing one of the bottles and the leather pouch in which I kept my snake-fang syringes.

Jamie and Claire evaluating the possibility of her being pregnant

TV version

As anticipated earlier, in the Outlander TV series Claire ‘s kidnapping is rendered even more brutally than it already is in the books. But at the same time, so is a more sympathetic Jamie toward the trauma experienced by his wife.

Between a break-in at Fraser’s Ridge that generates damage and chaos, violence, and a gang rape, TV’s Claire faces a living hell. Brown’s men break into the clinic while Claire was seeing patients, without asking permission and throwing up every obstacle in their path. Considered a danger because of the “witchcraft” she practices and her long tongue, Lionel Brown planned to take Claire to the ends of the earth. Even he does not know where. In the course of the journey, however, the woman will be used as only an object can be used. Even to the point of being sexually assaulted by more than one man.

Following this, upon her rescue, she is enveloped in a wave of love and understanding from Jamie and their extended family. As if in danger of breaking at any moment.

What do you think of this small but important difference between the Outlander series and books? Let us know your opinion in the comments!

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Chiara Lombatti
Chiara Lombatti
When Cristina Yang’s mankind hate, and Sherlock Holmes’ deductive skills meet Randall Pearson’s anxiety and Jamie Fraser’s multilingualism (featuring Claire Fraser’s curls and Kate Pearson’s voice). Translator and feature article with a great love for cinema, TV series and books.


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