Seven Stones to Stand or Fall is a 500ish page collection of (mostly) novellas set in Gabaldon’s Outlander universe. All but two of the novellas were previously published in short story anthologies. The remaining two are new. I do not recommend picking up this collection if you aren’t already a fan of the books. Most of the stories would be entertaining enough to read, but you’re not going to get optimal enjoyment out of them without the context of the main series (or the Lord John books, which you should also read, because Lord John is the best).
Here is a breakdown of my thoughts on all seven novellas:
“The Custom of the Army” — A Lord John Grey novella. LJG novellas have been hit or miss for me. This one was more hit than miss, but just barely. It only really works if you’ve read all the other LJG books and novellas. Mostly it feels scattered. LJG travels to Canada ostensibly as a witness in a court-martial, but ends up at the Battle of Quebec instead. Among other happenings. He also gets sexy with a native–off screen :( 3.5/5 stars
“The Space Between” — Set in Paris after book seven, follows Joan (who is becoming a nun) and the newly widowed Michael Murray (Ian and Jenny’s son). Oooh, I loved this! Reading it reminded me of how much I loved the first three books in this series. Of course, it helps that we revisit Paris and some of our old friends there . . . but really the whole atmosphere, and the characters, just work here. I loved Joan, and Michael, and even the Comte was fascinating. I want more from them! She also realllly ups the weird here. 4.5/5 stars
“A Plague of Zombies” — Lord John visits Jamaica and helps quell an uprising. Hmmm, not a huge fan of this. Not even a glimpse of good old Geillis could elevate it. The emotional stakes were missing for me, much as I love spending time with Lord John. Also, I think I prefer Lord John stories by audio. 3.5/5 stars
“A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” — What really happened to Roger’s parents, inspired by some dialogue in book seven. Gabaldon is really good at dialogue, and I quite liked Roger’s dad. He reminded me strongly of his ancestor, Dougal. Fitting that he flew a plane called a “Spitfire”. Not sure there was really a point to it, though. 4/5 stars
“Virgins” — Prequel to the original book, set about three years before. Follows Ian and Jamie as they gallivant around the continent, getting into trouble as mercenaries. Jamie is fresh off the death of his father and exiled from Scotland, and Ian goes with him. I’ve read this one before when it was published in GRRM’s Dangerous Women anthology, so I didn’t bother reading it again. 4/5 stars
“A Fugitive Green” — The first of the new novellas. I’m very happy that the longest story in here is also my favorite. This takes place during the time-frame of the second book, and details how Hal (Lord John Grey’s brother) met his second wife, Minnie. We got a little bit of the story in the LJG books, but it was so fun to have the whole thing here. 4.5/5 stars
“Besieged” — The second new novella. A sort of sequel to “A Plague of Zombies.” LJG has to rescue his mom from Havana before a British naval siege begins. It was okay, but didn’t light my pants on fire. 3.5/5 stars
All in all, a worthy collection, and super handy to have all these concentrated in one book.