Monday, October 17, 2011
Lord John and the Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon
Lord John and the Plague of Zombies is a novella by Diana Gabaldon; it is included in the anthology, Down These Strange Streets, a collection of urban fantasy/paranormal stories (editor George R. R. Martin).
I have to be honest.....I've been a long-time Outlander fan and eagerly anticipated all of the books in the series since first discovering them over ten years ago. However, when the Lord John books began appearing as an adjunct to the series, I didn't run out to get them for several reasons. One, I just wasn't that enthralled with Lord John as a character. While he certainly plays an important role in the overall storyline (his attraction and friendship with Jamie and his eventual role as father to Willie is key), I just wasn't interested in Lord John's life when he wasn't "on stage" in the Outlander books. I thought I would just keep these books somewhere in the background, and if and when the Outlander series eventually came to an end, I'd still have some Gabaldon books left to read. After all, they were supposed to be "stand alone" novels and stories, so I wouldn't be missing out on any important events. Or so I thought....
Fast forward to today.....more and more stories and novellas have been written by Diana about characters from the Outlander series that DO in fact shed more light on the puzzle pieces that fans have been trying to fit together for years. I'm beginning to feel completely out of the loop, and I hate being in the dark about anything related to the Outlander series! After reading An Echo in the Bone and then reading "A Leaf On the Wind of All Hallows," (a short story featuring Roger's father that I'll discuss in a future post), there is a definite connection and we learn an astounding piece of information regarding what we "thought" was Roger's parents' fate. I'm now convinced that I have to start reading the Lord John series and all the short stories just to make sure I'm completely up-to-date. I'm not thrilled to have to purchase an entire anthology just for the Gabaldon selection, but at some time in the future I intend to read some of the other selections -- there are some interesting authors in the anthologies. Gabaldon discusses that the reading order does not have to be strictly chronological, but those interested in starting at the beginning of her Lord John books can click here to see her suggested chronological order.
In the spirit of the month of October and Halloween when I enjoy reading things that have spooky overtones, I started with "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies." Lord John has been called to assist the Royal Governor of Jamaica as the threat of a slave rebellion has the island inhabitants fearing the worst. Arriving with a battalion of soldiers for protection, Lord John's first encounter with the Governor at his home indicates that there are quite a bit of strange and eerie forces at work on the island...in addition to the threat of a slave rebellion, there is the fear of zombies and supernatural magic here in this remote post. This installment reinforces Lord John's character as one of intelligence, integrity, and a deep sense of duty. It also reveals his inner thoughts about his longing for someone with "reddish whiskers" as well as his attraction to a well-formed male house servant. Nothing terribly new or different, just reinforcing what is already known about his character. However, it was exciting to learn that he has an encounter at Rose Hall that adds to the overall sense of danger to Lord John while he is on the island. Literal and figurative snakes play an important role in "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies," and I believe that anyone who enjoyed the latter part of Voyager will certainly enjoy Lord John's adventure with zombies, snakes, a green-eyed witch, and things that go bump (and reek of decay) in the night.