Outlander Book Club: Lord John and the Succubus Chapter 1 breakdown

We start Lord John and the Succubus. Chapter 1 quickly jumps into the story of the succubus.
Outlander Season 4 -- Courtesy of Aimee Spinks/STARZ
Outlander Season 4 -- Courtesy of Aimee Spinks/STARZ /

Lord John and the Succubus is the next book in our Outlander Book Club. This is a short story, so it’s not surprising that we quickly get into the details of the main elements to it.

This first chapter picks up with Lord John now in Prussia. It’s during the Seven Years’ War, and Lord John is the English liaison. He is surrounded by boring paperwork, the need to navigate disputes, and now another murder investigation.

Yes, John is tasked with another murder investigation. This is a little different to the first two, as it also includes a lot of superstition and mythological lore.

Breaking down Lord John and the Succubus Chapter 1

We start the story finding out where Lord John Grey now is. At the end of Lord John and the Private Matter, Stephan von Namtzen shared that he wanted John to become a liaison to his regiment. Well, that’s exactly what has happened. John is now the English liaison to a Hanoverian regiment, where he deals with a lot of paperwork while staying at the house of Princess Louisa von Lowenstein.

The chapter starts with Lord John having to settle a dispute between an English private, a Prussian tavern owner, and a Gypsy prostitute. He manages to do that, but it’s to all that easy. He is then able to write a letter to Hal to share details about where he is and how he doesn’t expect trouble unless the French decide to attack before the winter.

Of course, it’s best not to tempt fate. There is trouble. Namtzen arrives with the town Burgermeister, Herr Blomberg. They need to borrow John’s horse as they specifically need a white stallion.

There have been attacks on sleeping men in Gundwitz. Those attacks have led to deaths, and many believe that the attacks are at the hand of a succubus. Legend says that a white horse will walk through a graveyard and stop at the grave of the woman possessed by the succubus. They can then dig up the grave and stab an iron rod through her heart.

John doesn’t believe in this legend, but he and Tom Byrd (who is now working for John after such a great job in The Private Matter) head out to the graveyard. Karolus, the horse, doesn’t want to go inside, so John decides to mount the house and ride him through. However, Karolus becomes spooked and goes off in a mad run.

When John manages to get him under control, it’s at an open grave. Tom Byrd fell in, but he’s okay. The same can’t be said for the dead English soldier leaning up against the tombstone. That body is of the English private, Bodger, from earlier.

By this point, John has dismounted Karolus, who has wandered off. He found a grave with the name Blomberg. Is this the succubus?

Could the chapter be used in a TV series adaptation?

I would love to see this book turned into an episode in a Lord John Grey series. It is a great look at superstitions of the time, and I would love to see how different people react. It makes sense that John wouldn’t believe in the superstitions considering how much he has seen, but the local people may never have traveled, so they are going to believe those stories.

If the short story was used for an adaptation, we would need this chapter. It sets up the whole story. I would love to see every bit of it used, even John writing the letter. We need to see that he is close to his family and they write often to get to know more of John as a lead character.

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