Who caused the fire at the Big House in the Outlander books?

Outlander Season 7 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ
Outlander Season 7 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ /

There are always questions about how the writers change storylines in the Outlander books. The person who lit the match changed in the show.

Caution: This post contains some spoilers from Outlander Season 7 and A Breath of Snow and Ashes

At the end of A Breath of Snow and Ashes, the Big House burns down. We knew this was coming in the show. The obituary that detailed the fire was the reason Bree and then Roger went back in time in the first place back in Outlander Season 4. This had to happen or Bree wouldn’t have gone back.

In the series, we got to find out how the fire happened in Outlander Season 7, Episode 2. Donner turned up looking for gemstones to get back home. He ended up lighting a match after some ether spilled and the place went up in flames.

The books handled things a little differently. This change in the show is nothing that takes away from the overall storyline, so I don’t think a lot of people are going to be all that concerned.

Who lights the match in the Outlander books?

In the books, it’s Young Ian who lights the match. This is a mistake that leads to the ether catching fire and the whole house burning down. Same outcome, just a different person “responsible.” Of course, had Donner not turned up looking for gemstones (that was the same in both), then the match would have never been lit.

Why would the show change the person lighting the match? I think there are a couple of reasons for this choice.

The first is that Donner immediately went up in flames. I was surprised that Young Ian survived considering he lit the match with ether around him. Surviving was a miracle. By having Donner do it, there is no question over the fact that he’s definitely dead.

The other reason could be to avoid Ian getting the blame or feeling guilty that the house burned down. He would hold a lot of guilt for his actions, even though he didn’t do it on purpose. Sometimes, our mistakes are what we feel the most weight from, and Ian certainly feels that. He’s going to be feeling the weight of an action in Outlander Season 7, Episode 3, so I get a sense that switching the match was to help unburden Ian a little.

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