hepick

labyrinthmr  asked:

Hi this questions goes way forward in the books. #spoilers It has to do with the article that Roger and Bree find about the fire at Fraser's Ridge and the notice that the Fraser family has perished. I recall the date was wrong because the printer ran out of letters. In a later book we find out that Mr. Christie (?) placed the notice. I just haven't been able to pull all the pieces together to understand why, and the implication of this notice... other than it sent Bree then Roger to America.

Brianna (and Roger) find the death notice, in Drums of Autumn:

A small notice from a newspaper, printed on February 13, 1776, in the American
Colony of North Carolina, in the town of Wilmington.

It is with grief that the news is received of the deaths by fire of James MacKenzie Fraser and his wife, Claire Fraser, in a conflagration that destroyed their house in the settlement of Fraser’s Ridge, on the night of January 21 last. Mr. Fraser, a nephew of the late Hector Cameron of River Run plantation, was born at Broch Tuarach in Scotland. He was widely known in the colony and deeply respected; he leaves no surviving children.

Except (as we know) the fire (which destroys the Big House at the end of A Breath of Snow and Ashes) takes place in December, not January.

At the end of that book, we find out why the fire was reported as occurring in January, rather than December:

The press sprang up again, the letters wet and black on the paper, and he
picked the sheet off with nimble fingertips, hanging it up to dry. “’Twas December, by the notice. But I’d set the page in Baskerville twelve-point, and the slugs for November and December are missing in that font. Not room to do it in separate letters, and not worth the labor to reset the whole page.”

“To be sure,” said Amos, losing interest in the matter, as he perused the last paragraphs of Washington’s speech. “Scarcely signifies, anyway. After all, they’re all dead, aren’t they?”

And then, in An Echo in the Bone, Tom Christie tells Claire that he was the person who placed the notice - out of respect for Jamie and Claire:

“I placed it,” Christie said. Now it was my turn to blink.

“You what? When?” I took a good-sized mouthful of whisky, feeling that I needed it more than ever.

“Directly I heard of it. Or—well, no,” he corrected. “A few days thereafter. I … was very much distressed at the news,” he added, lowering his eyes and looking away from me for the first time since we‘d sat down.

“Ah. I‘m sorry,” I said, lowering my own voice, and feeling rather apologetic—though why I should feel apologetic for not having been burnt up …

He cleared his throat.

“Yes. Well. It, er, seemed to me that some … something should be done. Some formal observance of your—your passing.” He looked up then, gray eyes direct. “I could not abide the thought that you—all of you,”he added, but it was clearly an afterthought, “should simply vanish from the earth, with no formal marking of the—the event.”

The direct plot implication for the notice is that it sent Brianna (and Roger) through the stones to warn Jamie and Claire.

The indirect plot implication is that - as Jamie and Claire painfully learned in Dragonfly in Amber - no matter how hard someone may try to change history, due to factors beyond your control (e.g., lazy printers), historical events really can’t be changed. And/or, the true reasons for why an event occurred may not be the full story. And/or, history does not always correctly record facts.