Book Breakdown: Inside Outlander

A breakdown of the first chapter of Dragonfly in Amber, the second novel in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Includes characters, themes, history, vocabulary, and silly asides. Also, an astute analysis answering serious questions like, ‘Where the hell is Jamie?’ and ‘Aren’t Druids from Planet Druidia??’

New Characters

Brianna Randall: daughter of James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp/Randall/Fraser. However, Brianna believes she is the daughter of Claire and Frank Randall

Roger Wakefield: Ok, so technically he was in the first book of the series, but I’ll recap. He is an orphan taken in by the Reverend Reginald Wakefield. Now a historian and young professor at the University of Oxford in England, he appears as a love interest for Brianna Randall. As a historian, he may also be a helpful aid to Claire in finding details about the deaths at Culloden.



The first chapter describes the physical space of Reverend Wakefield’s home as overflowing with relics and documents of the past. Shelves, tables, even the garage, overflow with history, including information on Roger’s parents. As Claire begins the daunting task of searching for details of Jamie’s death, Roger starts the similarly overwhelming task of clearing out and organizing the Reverend’s collection. Both characters must sift through the chaotic clutter of the past to discover the fate of their deceased loved ones. Not a literal time-travel this time, but a journey into the past all the same.


Battle of Culloden: a battle between the Jacobite rebel army and the British army (many of whom were Scottish). The British side was led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of the current king, King George II. The battle itself lasted a little over an hour, but over 1,000 Jacobites were killed during the battle and its aftermath. Charles Stuart, for whom the Jacobites fought, fled the scene when he realized he was defeated. While the men who fought for him were left for slaughter, the “Bonnie Prince” managed to escape and lived out the rest of his days in France.

Education Scotland- Battle of Culloden (highly recommended for historical documents like the one below)



(picture courtesy of UK National Archives at

The Blitz: an eight-month series of bombings over London (and other cities) by Germany during WWII. The name comes from the German word for “lightning,” a title popularized by the British press during the war.

Wikipedia- The Blitz

Jacobite Risings: So, very long story short- the dethroned, catholic House of Stuart wanted to regain their power and depose the German House of Hanover currently on the throne of Britain. The risings started with James Stuart (aka “The Great Pretender”) in 1715 and continued with his son, Charles Stuart (aka “Bonnie Prince Charlie”) in 1745. The rising ended after the Stuart defeat at the Battle of Culloden.

For the long story, visit UK National Archives- Jacobite Risings.


Bronzino:  (description of Brianna and Claire in comparison toBronzino “Bronzino paintings.”) An Italian painter of the 16th century famous for his extraordinarily realistic portraits of the Medici family of Florence.

Charles Stuart: aka “Bonnie Prince Charlie” the son of James Stuart. the son of deposed King James Stuart II of England (VII of Scotland).

James Stuart: aka “the Old Pretender,” son of the deposed King James Stuart II of England (VII of Scotland).

The Druids: an educated or professional member of the Celtic people, often religious leaders, the group is now associated with Pagan rituals and stone circles like Stonehenge.


Fort William– a small town near Inverness, Scotland home to the famous fort. The Jacobites attempted to capture the fort in a siege from March 20th to April 3 of 1746.

Wikipedia-Fort William- Highland History

Inverness: a city in the Scottish highlands, considered to be the capital of
the highland area.

Wikipedia- Inverness

Loch Ness: a 20-mile long lake near Inverness, Scotland. Famous for the mythical “Loch Ness Monster” said to hide within its depths.

Loch Ness


Thoughts and questions while reading:


“Why is Roger whining about the Reverend’s house? It. Sounds… AWESOME.”



“Ok, seriously, I’m 4 pages in. Where is Jamie??”

Jamie Fraser 1



Aren’t Druids from the planet Druidia?




Antimacassar: “a cover to protect the back or arms of furniture.”

Merriam Webster Dictionary



Chignon: “is a popular type of hairstyle. The word ‘chignon’ comes from the French phrase ‘chignon du cou,’ which means nape of the neck…Chignons are generally achieved by pinning the hair into a knot at the nape of the neck or at the back of the head, but there are many different variations of the style.”

Wikipedia- Chignon










Flatbed Lorry: fancy British speak for a truck with a flatbed in back to carry large, heavy objects.

flatbed lorry

Gaberlunzie: “a medieval Scots words for a licensed beggar.”

Wikipedia- Gaberlunzie

Manse: “a clergy house inhabited by, or formerly inhabited by, a minister, usually used in the context of Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church, and other traditions.”

Wikipedia- Manse


Morris Minor:  (Roger’s car) “The Morris Minor is a British car that debuted at the Earls Court Motor Show, London, on 20 September 1948.”

Wikipedia- Morris Minor

Morris Minor

Oxfam: UK version of Goodwill.

Oxfam- About Page

Plimsoll Shoe: “a type of athletic shoe with a canvas upper and rubber sole developed as beachwear in the 1830s.”

Wikipedia- Plimsoll Shoe

Snuff Mull: “a snuff box used to hold pulverized tobacco, it consists of a small container with a hinged metal lid… From a Scottish dialect word for ‘mill,’ where the snuff would have been ground to a powder, mulls came in a variety of shapes, the most common being fashioned from a ram’s horn.”

Snuff Mill-

Snuff Mull


*All pictures from

“Antimacassar.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 July 2016.

“Chignon.” Wikipedia. Accessed July 31, 2016.

“Flatbed Lorry.” Wiktionary. Accessed August 2, 2016.

“Fort William.” Wikipedia. Accessed August 2, 2016.,_Highland#History.

“Gaberlunzie.” Wikipedia. Accessed July 31, 2016.

“History of Oxfam | Oxfam GB.” Oxfam GB. Accessed July 31, 2016.

“Inverness.” Wikipedia. Accessed August 2, 2016.

“Jacobite Rising of 1945.” The National Archives. Accessed August 02, 2016.

“Manse.” Wikipedia. Accessed July 31, 2016.
“Morris Minor.” Wikipedia. Accessed July 31, 2016.
“SNUFF MULL.” SNUFF MULL. Accessed July 31, 2016.
“The Blitz.” Wikipedia. Accessed August 2, 2016.

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