Read and listened to in 2017 on 4/18 to the end. I liked it and if you’re an Outlander fan this short story of trivial fill towards the end of the Outlander series will be a fun read. If you’re still not an Outlander fan, you’ve strayed into the wrong review. Thanks for coming, keep coming back.
Diana Gabaldon knows her characters. I presume she has a master sheet somewhere, or an Outlander “Bible” if you like, and over the years has added to it like a collage and resume workbook. It was probably intended to remind her to keep the character’s eye color consistent, so in one novel they aren’t purple and the next novel bright orange. But if she’s like most series authors, she has ventured down the “backstory” side-roads at various times, spending far too long writing a very interesting “history” of some seemingly minor character. Who was his mother? His father? What’s the story? Why is he like he is? What if he’s actually… hey it is a time travel series, this could go anywhere…
Well, as I see it, this particular story doesn’t need to be told unless Mrs. Gabaldon is going to stretch the series another generation or two. Roger Wakefield. YES, YES, he’s a significant character and he’s provided more entertainment (and anguish) than any one should expect from a character. In fact, I personally suspect him as the likely victim to much grievous pain due to the next misunderstanding that he is oblivious about but destined to blunder into. Emotional, physical, or both kinds of pain, Diana will have to decide.
Possible Spoilers Ahead
This short story isn’t about such a troublesome affliction of pain landing on Roger’s head (Unless I napped too long listening to the audiobook, possibly). In “Drums of Autumn“, Roger tells his wife, Brianna, the moving story of his mother’s death in the collapse of a Tube station during the bombing of London. I recall this well enough which means it should be vivid in most people’s memories. Yes… tragic. Reach for the Kleenex brand facial tissues and dab as required.
In another book, “An Echo in the Bone“, there is a poignant conversation in the moonlight between Claire and Roger Wakefield aka MacKenzie, during which we encounter this little zinger:
Her hands wrapped his, small and hard and smelling of medicine.
‘I don’t know what happened to your father,’ she said. ‘But it wasn’t what they told you […]
‘Of course things happen,’ she said, as though able to read his thoughts. ‘Accounts get garbled, too, over time and distance. Whoever told your mother might have been mistaken; she might have said something that the reverend misconstrued. All those things are possible. But during the War, I had letters from Frank—he wrote as often as he could, up until they recruited him into MI6. After that, I often wouldn’t hear anything for months. But just before that, he wrote to me, and mentioned—just as casual chat, you know—that he’d run into something strange in the reports he was handling. A Spitfire had gone down, crashed—not shot down; they thought it must have been an engine failure—in Northumbria, and while it hadn’t burned, for a wonder, there was no sign of the pilot. None. And he did mention the name of the pilot, because he thought Jeremiah rather an appropriately doomed sort of name.’
‘Jerry,’ Roger said, his lips feeling numb. ‘My mother always called him Jerry.’
‘Yes,’ she said softly. ‘And there are circles of standing stones scattered all over Northumbria.’
So what really happened to Jerry MacKenzie and his wife, Marjorie (known to her husband as Dolly)? Read on.
A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows
Our “average Joe” (aka Jeremiah “Jerry” MacKenzie) character in this WWII short story is a cog in a very big wheel and he’s about to be shoved into the hands of a member of a historic family of fate manipulators. He’s just doing routine missions then he’s handed over to this MI6 intelligence officer. Captain Randall he is assigned to is none other than the husband of Claire Beauchamp Randall Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser…. (if I have most the naming etiquette on the right Continent and proper era.)
Now we are deep into the worst kind of spoiler country so leave now or forever love your hate of my gossip.
Realize that THIS Captain Frank Randall is NOT the sick perverted sodomizer of our most beloved heroic Scottish protagonist of the Outlander series proper, rather this is the loving non-sperm-donating-stand-in-father of Brianna Randall.
In my original review draft, at this point, I excoriated some Goodread trolls and Gabaldon critics but it was only interesting because I used words they wouldn’t understand.
If you’re like me, reading this series, you picked up the hint in “Drums of Autumn” and didn’t care much until the hint in “An Echo in the Bone” and, then you said… OH wait… Ok… the proverbial big rifle on the fireplace mantle in “Drums of Autumn” seems to be in “An Echo in the Bone” as well. WE will be hearing more about this. I’ve actually been curious as this became one of those dangling loose plot strings hanging around…
Clair’s (old life ex husband or current life husband of the first marriage) Captain Randall is MI6 and is sending Jerry MacKenzie (Father to Roger Mac who marries Brianna Randall before Jerry is born) flying into Dunbarton where those wretched stones are lying around by the dozen. Ol’ Jerry Mac is a loyal old soul and a soldier from shoelace to flight goggles so he’s going to obey. For the record, if you’re sketching a family tree around this short story it may end up looking like a jigsaw puzzle.
It is a short story. I’ve spoiled as much as any decent soul should dare to spoil. Now for the truth of it. I fell asleep during the last 20 minutes of the audiobook, so I’m going to have to go back… just like you, to see what happened. Oh… I want this to be so cool… the “what if’s” from this short story could ping the entire series off in any unexpected way…
For the record, sleeping during an audiobook is not an indicator of boredom. The world still insists on spinning around the sun only once every 24 hours and life usually demands 30+ hours of functioning. It just doesn’t add up. So sleep happens. Sometime appropriately, usually not.
Goodreads. Sad News. There’s no way to preview my posts. Always “ERROR”, so what you so you get. My last review of this book was My Goodread Review.