Monday, November 22, 2010

"Leaf" speculations

We have been having a very interesting, in-depth discussion on Compuserve about Diana Gabaldon's latest story, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", and I thought I'd share a few of the more interesting speculations, as well as point out a few hints that Diana has dropped in the course of that discussion.

* * * SPOILER WARNING * * *

Don't read below unless you have finished "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows"! Major spoilers below!


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1) What year is it, when Jerry arrives in the past?

We don't know precisely, but we can make some educated guesses. Pay close attention to the "Author's Note" at the end of the story, about the calendar change! Diana says (here):
Well, it's a) for people who notice that it's Samhain when Jerry goes back--and Samhain again when he goes _back_ , and b) it's a Clue as to when he traveled to--i.e., it has to be sometime before the calender changed, i.e., prior to 1752.
By the way, if you want to find out more about the calendar change Diana refers to in that Author's Note, look here. It's a real historical event.

So, what does this mean for the characters in the story?

We know from Roger's experience in DRUMS (when the portal spat him out on his first attempt) that a time-traveler can't cross his own life-line. William Buccleigh MacKenzie was born in December 1743 or January 1744 -- the dates are a little uncertain -- and therefore he was conceived sometime in the spring of 1743. So they had to travel back to a time prior to that, before "Buck" existed.

My theory is that October 1739 would make a certain amount of sense, being 202 years prior to the time Jerry left, in October 1941. But I could certainly be wrong about this! They might have ended up even earlier than that. The only thing we know for certain is that they traveled to a year before 1752.

2) Why did Roger and Buck end up in the same time as Jerry, when they traveled from 1980 and he traveled from 1941?

Diana said (here):
Well....they went into the stones _looking_ for Jeremiah MacKenzie, didn't they? But the one they were looking for wasn't in the past. Might they have found Jem's nearest genetic equivalent, instead? <g>

[Edited to add that Jerry is the same genetic "distance" from Roger that Jem is--and he's actually _closer_ genetically to Buck than Jem is.]
I think this is a really intriguing thought, that they might have been pulled toward Jerry accidentally, so to speak.

3) How and why did Roger and Buck end up in Northumbria in the first place?

Northumbria is 250 miles or more from Craigh na Dun, and it would take a while to travel that distance on foot or horseback. Is it possible that they entered the "time vortex" at Craigh na Dun, but emerged at the other end in the stone circle in Northumbria?

I'm speculating here, of course, but if this sort of portal-to-portal traveling is indeed possible, it seems to me that it opens up a great deal of scope for additional time-travel storylines in the future. Very intriguing! (We should note, however, that Diana has not actually commented on this idea, in the discussion so far on Compuserve. So don't take this as set in stone! It's just a theory.)

4) Where did Roger get the gemstone he gives to Jerry?

We have no idea. It can't have been a "spare" gemstone that Roger brought with him, though. Diana said, when someone suggested this on Compuserve, "So far, all gemstones that have gone into a vortex have been consumed, regardless of type or size." So it's not possible (apparently) for a traveler to bring extras with him (or her) to be used on the return trip.

Therefore, Roger must have found that gemstone after he arrived in the past. I hope we'll find out more about that in Book 8.

5) Where have we heard about Jerry's story before? Or Roger's version of what happened when his mother was killed?

I would highly recommend re-reading the following relevant bits from the OUTLANDER books:

FIERY CROSS chapter 98 ("Clever Lad"), starting p. 859 in the hardcover - this is the scene where Roger tells Bree the story of what happened when his mother was killed.

ECHO chapter 21 ("The Minister's Cat"), starting on p. 227 - this is Claire's story about what happened to Jerry.

Feel free to come and join us in the discussion about "Leaf" on Compuserve. We're always happy to welcome new people there, and Diana likes to hear from her readers. Don't be intimidated by the size of the thread (discussion); if you don't have time to read the whole thing from the beginning, just jump in and comment whenever you want. <g> Hope to see some of you there!

1 comment:

Jane said...

Karen, thank you for posting this info. Compuserv is daunting for me, so I am one fan of the series that is very grateful you have "cut to the chase" so to speak with the interesting bits that come out of one of Diana's stories.