Outlander – Books vs TV show: The Scottish King Prophecy!

outlander prophecy

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 Brahan Seer’s prophecy about the rise of a new Scottish king!

OUTLANDER books vs tv show wedding ring

Brahan Seer’s prophecy about the rise of a new Scottish King

As many will know, and just as many will not, the prophecy of the Scottish ruler on the throne represents an element of divergence between the TV series and the Outlander books. In fact, unlike Diana Gabaldon’s books, where the prophecy recites that at the end of the Stuart dynasty a new Scottish ruler will ascend the throne and these will belong to the Lovat dynasty – precisely in the third book, Voyager – the TV series has decided to modify the text of the prophecy, adding some details that lead us to think that Brianna Fraser is the object of the prediction.

Book version

“Perhaps you share our hostess’s—and my own—interest in Scottish history and scholarship?”

His gaze had sharpened, and with a sinking heart I recognized the fanatical gleam of the passionate researcher in his eyes. I knew it well.

“Well, it’s very interesting, I’m sure,” I said, edging toward the door, “but I must say, I really don’t know very much about—” I caught sight of the top sheet on his pile of documents, and stopped dead.

It was a genealogy chart. I had seen plenty of those, living with Frank, but I recognized this particular one. It was a chart of the Fraser family—the bloody thing was even headed “Fraser of Lovat”—beginning somewhere around the 1400s, so far as I could see, and running down to the present. I could see Simon, the late—and not so lamented, in some quarters—Jacobite lord, who had been executed for his part in Charles Stuart’s Rising, and his descendants, whose names I recognized. And down in one corner, with the sort of notation indicating illegitimacy, was Brian Fraser—Jamie’s father. And beneath him, written in a precise black hand, James A. Fraser.

I felt a chill ripple up my back. The Reverend had noticed my reaction, and was watching with a sort of dry amusement.

“Yes, it is interesting that it should be the Frasers, isn’t it?”

“That … what should be the Frasers?” I said. Despite myself, I moved slowly toward the desk.

“The subject of the prophecy, of course,” he said, looking faintly surprised. “Do ye not know of it? But perhaps, your husband being an illegitimate descendant …”

“I don’t know of it, no.”

“Ah.” The Reverend was beginning to enjoy himself, seizing the opportunity to inform me. “I thought perhaps Mrs. Abernathy had spoken of it to you; she being so interested as to have written to me in Edinburgh regarding the matter.” He thumbed through the stack, extracting one paper that appeared to be written in Gaelic.

“This is the original language of the prophecy,” he said, shoving Exhibit A under my nose. “By the Brahan Seer; you’ll have heard of the Brahan Seer, surely?” His tone held out little hope, but in fact, I had heard of the Brahan Seer, a sixteenth-century prophet along the lines of a Scottish Nostradamus.

“I have. It’s a prophecy concerning the Frasers?”

“The Frasers of Lovat, aye. The language is poetic, as I pointed out to Mistress Abernathy, but the meaning is clear enough.” He was gathering enthusiasm as he went along, notwithstanding his suspicions of me. “The prophecy states that a new ruler of Scotland will spring from Lovat’s lineage. This is to come to pass following the eclipse of ‘the kings of the white rose’—a clear reference to the Papist Stuarts, of course.” He nodded at the white roses woven into the carpet. “There are somewhat more cryptic references included in the prophecy, of course; the time in which this ruler will appear, and whether it is to be a king or a queen—there is some difficulty in interpretation, owing to mishandling of the original …”

He went on, but I wasn’t listening. If I had had any doubt about where Geilie had gone, it was fast disappearing. Obsessed with the rulers of Scotland, she had spent the better part of ten years in working for the restoration of a Stuart Throne. That attempt had failed most definitively at Culloden, and she had then expressed nothing but contempt for all extant Stuarts. And little wonder, if she thought she knew what was coming next.

But where would she go? Back to Scotland, perhaps, to involve herself with Lovat’s heir? No, she was thinking of making the leap through time again; that much was clear from her conversation with me. She was preparing herself, gathering her resources—retrieving the treasure from the silkies’ isle—and completing her researches.

I stared at the paper in a kind of fascinated horror. The genealogy, of course, was only recorded to the present. Did Geilie know who Lovat’s descendants would be, in the future?

Voyager, Chapter 61

TV version

In the TV series the text of Brahan Seer’s prophecy changes in an important detail. Introduced by Reverend Campbell at a meeting in the Caribbean, the prophecy leads us to believe that it’s Brianna Fraser who is the direct object. And the reason why Geillis Duncan, or Mrs. Abernathy, wants to travel to the future at all costs to kill her.

In The Bakra, Episode 12 of Outlander Season 3, Geillis and the Reverend Campbell discuss a prophecy by the Brahan Seer which states that a seer must hold three sapphires at once, in order to learn “when the new Scottish king will rise.” At the Governor’s ball, Margaret Campbell holds the three sapphires and makes a prophecy:

When twice twelve hundred moons have coursed
‘Tween man’s attack and woman’s curse
And when the issue is cut down
Then will a Scotsman wear a crown

Archie Campbell interprets the words as meaning, “A new king will rise in Scotland upon the death of the child that is two hundred years old on the day of its birth.”

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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  1. If, as in the book, Jamie MIGHT be the target, why would Geillis want to go to the 20th century? Jamie can’t travel, so why would she think he’s there????

    • Geillis thought the target of the prophecy was Brianna, that’s why she wanted to travel back to the future and kill her. But the way the prophecy is told in the show makes everyone think Brianna is the target, but the way it is told in the books does not.


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