Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jamie, BJR, and what happened at Culloden



As we wait for Season 3, here's something I have been thinking about recently:

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read VOYAGER (Book 3 of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER series), there are spoilers below! This post also contains spoilers about the first episode of OUTLANDER Season 3. Read at your own risk.

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If you've read the OUTLANDER books, you know that Jamie Fraser woke on the battlefield at Culloden with Black Jack Randall's corpse lying on top of him.
The body of a man lay across his own. Its dead weight crushed his left leg, explaining he absence of feeling. The head, heavy as a spent cannonball, pressed facedown into his abdomen, the damp-matted hair a dark spill on the wet linen of his shirt. He jerked upward in sudden panic; the head rolled sideways into his lap and a half-open eye stared sightlessly up behind the sheltering strands of hair.

It was Jack Randall, his fine red captain’s coat so dark with the wet it looked almost black. Jamie made a fumbling effort to push the body away, but found himself amazingly weak; his hand splayed feebly against Randall’s shoulder, and the elbow of his other arm buckled suddenly as he tried to support himself. He found himself lying once more flat on his back, the sleeting sky pale gray and whirling dizzily overhead. Jack Randall’s head moved obscenely up and down on his stomach with each gasping breath.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, "The Corbies' Feast". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
So Black Jack Randall died at Culloden.  That much, we know for certain.  But what we don't know is exactly how it happened.  As Diana Gabaldon put it in a post on Compuserve in 2008:
Jamie knows Black Jack Randall is dead--but not how.  Did he kill him?  If so--how, in what frame of mind?  In the grip of the Red Thing, as he might kill any enemy in battle?  Specifically, coldly, knowing who it was he killed?  In vengeance?  From mercy?  From simple necessity?  He doesn't know, and thus has only his own forgiveness as a shield.  But he both wants the truth and fears it--and his memory is coming back.
Fans have speculated about this for more than twenty years.  What exactly happened on the battlefield that day?  It's one of the great unresolved questions of the OUTLANDER series.

Here's where it gets interesting:
  • With OUTLANDER Season 3 premiering in September, we're going to see a version of these events play out on screen.  We know that they filmed the Battle of Culloden, and according to multiple people involved with the show, we will see that battle in the opening episode of Season 3.

  • Diana Gabaldon has said that she has written a scene for Book 9 (GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE) in which we find out What Really Happened at Culloden. She shared that scene with Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis prior to the filming of that episode.
Here's what Diana said about that on Compuserve on September 25, 2016:
So, is the film version identical with the 'real' version?  No.  It's been adjusted for television <g>, in terms of visual drama--it's not nearly as messy and violent and grunting and confused as the real thing, but neither is it a sell-out or betrayal of What Really Happened.  It just does what the show always does--separates the elements of the original, plays some up and some down (occasionally omits things for time or dramatic flow--that wasn't done here), and gives you a reasonably good visual account of the original, though somewhat condensed and refracted.

[....]

I do want to put it on record though, that I wrote What Happened _before_ the show executed their version of it.
This poses a real dilemma for fans of the books, including me.  Will you watch the TV version of events, knowing that we won't get to read Diana Gabaldon's version until BEES comes out, possibly in 2018 or 2019?  Will you skip the battle scenes in Episode 301, and wait for the Definitive Version of Events as told in BEES?  Or do you fall somewhere in between?

How do you feel about the fact that the answer to a question that has fueled speculation among OUTLANDER fans for decades will be revealed first on the TV show, rather than in the books?  (Personally, I don't like that at all.)

Here's my take on it.  The version of What Happened at Culloden that we see on TV will be (like everything else in the show so far) the writer's/director's/actors' interpretation of events, not necessarily exactly the same as what actually happened. In my opinion, the only definitive version of what happened will be in the book -- in Diana's words, told exactly the way she wants to tell it.

I'm sure the battle as seen on TV will be visually exciting, very dramatic, well-acted, and riveting to watch. <g>  But I would be willing to bet that seeing it on TV won't have nearly the same emotional impact as reading about those events from Jamie's POV in the book, overlaid with his 30-plus years of remembering only fragments, wanting to know more, but fearing those memories at the same time.

I'm not going to avoid watching the TV version of events, but for me, the version in Diana Gabaldon's own words is the one I'm far more interested in.  And I'm positive it will be worth waiting for. <g>

What about the rest of you?

Monday, April 17, 2017

First official Season 3 trailer!

STARZ has released the first official trailer for OUTLANDER Season 3!



I think it looks terrific! What about the rest of you?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Culloden anniversary



Today is the 271st anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on April 16, 1746.



I like this video very much. (The song is "The Ghosts of Culloden", performed by Isla Grant.)



*** SPOILER WARNING! ***

If you haven't read VOYAGER (Book 3 of the OUTLANDER series), there is a Major Spoiler below. Read at your own risk!

Diana Gabaldon noted in her blog post about her 2008 visit to Culloden that she saw the place where Jamie woke after the battle, thinking he was dead.  When I asked her on Compuserve if she recalled where that was, exactly, she said,
Jamie made it almost to the second government line.  He woke in a little swale or dip (you recall he was lying in water), about forty feet off the path that leads from the Visitors Centre--maybe a couple of hundred yards beyond the VC itself.
The photo below shows the area where the government lines were, marked with a red flag.



I was lucky enough to be able to visit Culloden in 2012, and again last July.  It's an amazing place, and the Visitors Centre is very well done.

Happy Easter!

Here are a couple of Easter-related quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books, just in time for the holiday.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! *** 

If you haven't read all eight of the OUTLANDER books, there are spoilers below. Read at your own risk.

Easter Eggs

I like Roger's memories of Easter with his kids:
[Roger's] heart rose, in spite of his anxiety, when he came to the top of the pass and saw Lallybroch below him, its white-harled buildings glowing in the fading light. Everything lay peaceful before him: late cabbages and turnips in orderly rows within the kailyard walls, safe from grazing sheep--there was a small flock in the far meadow, already bedding for the night, like so many woolly eggs in a nest of green grass, like a kid’s Easter basket.

The thought caught at his throat, with memories of the horrible cellophane grass that got everywhere, Mandy with her face—and everything else within six feet of her—smeared with chocolate, Jem carefully writing Dad on a hard-boiled egg with a white crayon, then frowning over the array of dye cups, trying to decide whether blue or purple was more Dad-like.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Return to Lallybroch". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I'm Jewish, so I don't celebrate Easter, but we did occasionally dye eggs when I was little, just for fun, and this bit makes me smile, remembering that.



The photo above shows the Easter vigil at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.  It looks very much as Jamie remembers:
"The church was all dark,” Jamie continued, “but the folk coming for the service would buy small tapers from the crones at the doors. It was something like this”--I felt, rather than saw, his motion at the sky above--“a great space above, all ringing wi’ the silence, and folk packed in on every side.” Hot as it was, I gave an involuntary shiver at these words, which conjured up a vision of the dead around us, crowding silently side by side, in anticipation of an imminent resurrection.

“And then, just when I thought I couldna bear the silence and the crowd, there came the priest’s voice from the door. ‘Lumen Christi!’ he called out, and the acolytes lit the great candle that he carried. Then from it they took the flame to their own tapers, and scampered up and down the aisles, passing the fire to the candles o’ the faithful.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 2, "In Which We Meet a Ghost". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Easter to all of you who are celebrating today!

Friday, April 14, 2017

New Season 3 photos, and a trailer coming soon!

STARZ released two new photos from Season 3 yesterday! Click on the photos to enlarge them.





STARZ also announced that the first official Season 3 trailer will be shown on Sunday night (April 16) before the premiere of WHITE PRINCESS at 8pm ET/PT. I'll post the video as soon as it becomes available. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Season 3 Preview: VOYAGER PopToons!

As we continue to wait for OUTLANDER Season 3, I thought many of you would enjoy this series of "PopToons", telling the story of VOYAGER. I think they're hilarious, and very creative!

Credit (and many thanks!!) goes to @SummerPic and @purpleiris13 on Twitter.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read Diana Gabaldon's VOYAGER (Book 3 of the OUTLANDER series), there are Major Spoilers below! Continue at your own risk, and don't say I didn't warn you!

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First, a brief look at Jamie and Claire in their years apart:





OK, enough of that, on to the REUNION!!






There's more, but I'm skipping ahead to....








If you like these, check out @purpleiris13 and @SummerPic on Twitter for more!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Happy Tartan Day!

In celebration of Tartan Day, I'm reposting this collection of pictures related to men in kilts.  Hope you enjoy them!

MEN IN KILTS PLAYING THE BAGPIPES















The very tall man on the right in the photo below is Simon Fraser, clan chief of the Frasers of Lovat. Diana Gabaldon met him in Scotland a few years ago.



Here's Richard Rankin, who plays Roger Wakefield on the OUTLANDER TV series!



And last but definitely NOT least....



Here's the deleted scene from Episode 114 ("The Search") where Jamie demonstrates how he puts on his kilt.



Happy Tartan Day, everyone!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Diana Gabaldon's visit to the OUTLANDER set in South Africa



Diana Gabaldon is in South Africa this week, visiting the set of the OUTLANDER TV series! (For those of you who don't know, the production has relocated to South Africa to film the final episodes, including the seagoing scenes, for Season 3.)

Here's Part 1 of Diana's account of her trip.
And here is Part 2.

I'm sure she'll post more as time permits!

The photo above was taken by Matt Roberts, one of the OUTLANDER writers. (Click on the photo for a bigger view.) Isn't it beautiful?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Have you tried to get other people to read or watch OUTLANDER?



Diana Gabaldon often says that these are "word-of-mouth books, because they're too weird to describe to anybody."   This month's poll asks the question, "Have you tried to get other people to read the OUTLANDER books or watch the TV series?" Please take a moment to vote.

I got my sister addicted to the books a few years ago, and I certainly have done my bit as an "OUTLANDER ambassador", helping to spread the word about the series in all its various forms. Here I am in 2010, on my first visit to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in NC, with a handmade OUTLANDER sign.



What about the rest of you? If you've had some success with getting people hooked on OUTLANDER (books, TV show, or both), please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page, and tell us about it.

March poll results

Here are the results of the March poll, which asked the question, "What are you doing to pass the time until the OUTLANDER TV series resumes?"
  • 35.53% - All of the above.
  • 17.76% - Reading (or re-reading) Diana Gabaldon's books.
  • 7.46% - Listening to the OUTLANDER audiobooks.
  • 7.46% - Reading books by other authors.
  • 6.36% - Watching Seasons 1 and 2 again.
  • 5.48% - Following various OUTLANDER fan-sites, including Outlandish Observations.
  • 4.82% - Devouring any information I can find (trailers, photos, interviews, etc.) about the TV series.
  • 3.51% - Pursuing other hobbies or interests not related to OUTLANDER.
  • 3.07% - Focusing on family, work, or other commitments.
  • 2.41% - Hanging out on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page or Compuserve.
  • 1.54% - Trying to get other people to read the books or watch the TV series.
  • 0.88% - I'm not interested in the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 3.73% - Other
Here are the results for "Other":
  • Special Outlander project!
  • Do my Taxes ????
  • Spending time with friends met through Outlander groups
  • watching, re-reading, listening, following websites, buying book one for others.
  • #'s 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, above
  • Re-reading the books verrrrry sloooowly!
  • This is my hobby, my very first ever.
  • Watching Mercy St. (With Geneva)+ Victoria(with Laoghaire)
  • Most of the above!
  • Podcasts
  • I just finished re-reading all the books, and watched all the episodes again!
  • Not all, but many of the above.
  • All of the above except Devouring all, & Facebook
  • Rewatching seasons 1 and 2 as well as rereading the books.
  • Writing blog posts for "Scotch & Scones"
  • Following sites AND listening to Davina Porter while doing MPC
  • Going to Scotland
There were 456 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the April poll, which asks the question, "Have you tried to get other people to read the OUTLANDER books, or watch the TV series?" Thanks!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A message from Sam Heughan on Twitter

Sam Heughan tweeted this yesterday, and I just can't resist sharing it!

It makes me laugh out loud, even though he's not referring to me specifically.  Of course I'm picturing him saying that in character as Jamie! I think this is the perfect response:

Yes, I'm a Karen, too, for those of you who don't know. <g> You can follow me on Twitter at @karenh3a.

The weapons of OUTLANDER



ET Online has an exclusive video looking at some of the swords and other weapons used in the TV series.

(There's a tiny bit of video footage from Season 3 in this, but nothing I would consider really spoilerish.)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Past Prologue", a new story by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry



Diana Gabaldon announced recently that she has a new story called "Past Prologue", featuring Jamie Fraser, coming out on June 13, 2017. This story was co-written by Diana and Steve Berry, and it will be published in an anthology called MATCHUP, edited by Lee Child.

According to Diana's announcement on Facebook:
MATCH-UP is an anthology of mystery/crime/thriller/etc. (mine is sort of etc....) stories, each one written by a pair of writers: one male, one female. Steve Berry and I teamed up to write a story called PAST PROLOGUE (he thought up the title; I did the plot and the first draft, he did the rewrite and we both proof-read it. The rest is up to you, I'm afraid...), which pairs Steve's main series character, Cotton Malone, with...Jamie Fraser.
For more information about the other stories in this anthology, look here.

You can pre-order MATCHUP from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and it's also available from Amazon UK for those of you who live outside the US.

There is a brief excerpt from this story on Diana's Facebook page here.

And no, in case you're wondering, the fact that Diana Gabaldon has a story in this anthology is not slowing down her progress on GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series! Diana often says that she likes to work on multiple projects at once, to keep from getting writer's block.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

25th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER



A special hardcover 25th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER will be published on November 28, 2017!

Diana Gabaldon says this book will have the same type of faux-leather binding as the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Edition.

You can pre-order from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I'm sure signed copies will also be available through the Poisoned Pen bookstore.

Please help spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested. Thanks!

American Revolution Museum in Yorktown

Today, March 23, is the Grand Opening of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, VA!

From the museum's website:
The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown tells anew the story of the nation’s founding, from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond. Exciting new indoor galleries feature period artifacts, immersive environments, interactive exhibits and films, including "The Siege of Yorktown," with a 180-degree surround screen and dramatic special effects.
This museum used to be called the Yorktown Victory Center.  When I visited there with my parents in 2013 (we had a wonderful time; see the detailed account here, with lots of photos), they were just beginning construction on the expanded museum that would one day become the American Revolution Museum, and my mom and I decided then that we would go back when the new museum opened.

I'm delighted to hear that it's opening at last, and I'm sure we will visit sometime soon, maybe later this spring.

If you like All Things 18th Century, as I know many of you do <g>, it's well worth a visit. The "living history" parts of the museum we saw in 2013 were excellent, very informative and fun, and I'm sure the new museum will have tons of interesting info about the Revolution and 18th century life.

It's located only a few miles from Williamsburg and Jamestown. (If you haven't visited Colonial Williamsburg, it's definitely worth seeing.)

On a related note, for those of you in the Philadelphia area, there is a new Museum of the American Revolution opening in Philly on April 19th.  I don't know much about it, but check out their website for more information.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Droughtlander Re-Watch: EP105 ("Rent")

Droughtlander Re-Watch, Week 5:  Episode 105 ("Rent")

*** SPOILER WARNING! ***

If you haven't watched all of OUTLANDER Seasons 1 and 2, there are SPOILERS in this post.  Read at your own risk.


This is a very entertaining episode that stands up well to repeated viewings.

What a gorgeous location for the opening scene! Just breathtaking.  I like Claire's hair worn loose over her shoulders like that.  It's a much more flattering look for her than we've seen through most of this season so far.

Bill Patterson is terrific as Ned Gowan. I can't watch the scene where Claire treats Ned's asthma without recalling how she treated the Duke of Pardloe in WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.  But I liked the fact that she was able to help Ned.  This is also foreshadowing of the way Claire treats Alex Randall's breathing difficulties in Episode 212.

The song the men are singing on the road is "The Maid Gaed to the Mill".  Of course the lyrics about a young woman "getting her corn ground" remind me of Dougal's line near the end of Episode 106, when he tells Claire, "The thought of grinding your corn does tickle me." (For more about the song, look here.)

I love watching Dougal in this episode. He's just riveting, a bigger presence (at this point in the series) even than Jamie.  And Graham McTavish appears to be really enjoying himself in this episode.

"Well, maybe Angus hates you. He hates everyone." I love the way Jamie smiles at Claire when he says this.

I'm impressed by the amount of detail in the villages they pass through on the road, not just the costumes, but the props, the livestock, the cottages with their thatched roofs, even the careworn faces of the crofters. The production team did a great job in this episode, recreating the feel of 18th-century village life in the Highlands.

They filmed parts of this episode at the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore, Scotland. I didn't get to see it on my visit to Scotland last July (there just wasn't time), but it sounds like a fascinating place.

The wool-waulking scene is terrific, very entertaining. I liked the fact that the lyrics included "mo nighean donn" (my brown-haired lass), which will of course become one of Jamie's favorite endearments for Claire. You have to give Claire credit for being willing to participate in the whole experience, even pissing in a bucket in full view of the other women, and taking it all in stride. ("Geronimo!")

I loved Angus's entrance. He's really not at all a sympathetic character at this point in the series, and it's interesting to watch the way his attitude toward Claire changes over the course of this episode in particular.

Watching Claire struggling with Rupert over the goat, the thought occurred to me that she really does tend to get herself in a lot of trouble, without Jamie looking out for her.  Though Jamie is there, watching, he stays in the background, not interfering.

"Madam, is everything all right?" And here's our first look at Lt. Jeremy Foster. The first time I watched this episode, in 2014, I didn't immediately understand the reason for the clansmen's hostility toward him. Now, of course, it's obvious: they know he's a British soldier.  I liked Angus's reaction to him, in particular.

The next scene, with Dougal's first speech to the villagers, is very well done. Even though I don't understand more than a word or two of the Gaidhlig, Dougal manages to convey a great deal through his tone of voice and body language alone. Riveting, as I said earlier. And the moment when he rips Jamie's shirt, exposing his scarred back to the horrified onlookers, is just as shocking as it was in the book. Very well done!

Poor Jamie looks so miserable, humiliated, sitting there without saying a word.

I liked Dougal's line, "I'm not bloody doing it. The lad can wear rags from now on."  Here, in this scene, we see Dougal's cold-blooded ruthlessness on full display for the first time. Jamie's reaction, "I'll mend my own shirt", and the way he stalks out of the cottage, is just as I imagined from the book.

The mention of black pudding is a reminder of the scene in ABOSAA, of course.  The scenery here, by the water, is really beautiful.

"It's a pity they don't allow women to practice law."
"Not yet."
"Well, we have a few centuries before that happens."
"Only two."

I had forgotten about this exchange. LOL!

"Would I have to reconcile myself to spend the rest of my life among strangers, two hundred years in the past?"  I couldn't help thinking, "Oh, come on, Claire, it's not that bad, really!  You'll see."

The scene where they see the Watch burning crofts is not in the book, but I think it's a good addition. Notice the way Jamie takes off without a word as soon as he sees the men of the Watch.  Having seen some of those men at close range in Episode 113, "The Watch", I know they're not necessarily evil, but I had forgotten that they were as likely to terrorize the local citizens as to provide protection for them. Very dangerous!

"I don't sit with thieves!" This reminds me of Jamie, in ABOSAA, saying, "Ye were always bolder than was safe."  Here, it's only Jamie's intervention that saves her.  (Perhaps he learned something from the earlier scene?)  I like the way Jamie defuses the situation through his sheer physical presence -- "She doesn't want it." -- towering over Angus, and making the other man back down without so much as putting a hand on his dirk.

"You're not to judge things you don't understand." But of course, she does, constantly; she can't help it.  For that matter, so does everyone else -- Dougal and Angus in this episode in particular, but also the clansmen in general, who don't trust her, don't understand her motives, and therefore tend to view all her actions in the worst possible light, just as she is now doing.

The rent-collecting scene at the next village is a somber affair, especially compared to the earlier scenes. I liked the scene with Torcall and Dougal very much.

"Christ, I'd die in my blood before I'd let that whey-faced Sassenach use me so."  And finally, we're back to the book. <g>

Effective use of flashback here, to fill in a little of the historical background for the benefit of viewers who aren't familiar with the Jacobites.  And I liked the bit of the "Skye Boat Song" playing in the background there. It's not just the OUTLANDER theme song; the original lyrics tell the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie fleeing into exile after the '45. Very appropriate!

The confrontation between Jamie and Dougal was well done, and the dialogue is almost word-for-word from the book, but I really wish we'd been able to hear it better! Their voices are so low in the first part of the scene that it's almost impossible to make out what they're saying unless you turn the volume way up, and I found that really disappointing, for such an important scene.

I liked Jamie's line, "My neck is my own concern! And so is my back."

The scene between Jamie and Claire is very good, except that in the book, the scene takes place right after the first time Jamie was forced to show his scars in public.  Not so in the TV version. "He'll use you like that again," Claire says, but of course the TV viewers already know that, having seen it a few times already.  Oh, well.

"A man has to choose what's worth fightin' for."  And before too much longer, Jamie will decide that Claire herself is worth fighting for. <g>

More gorgeous scenery. Matt Roberts called this episode "a love letter to Scotland", and it's really true.

The scene with the executed men is horrifying, but I found myself wondering if such things actually happened in Scotland at that time.

Dougal's speech that evening is just mesmerizing, no matter that I don't understand a word of it. Terrific performance from Graham McTavish!  It can't be easy to perform a scene that dramatic in a language you don't speak, and he did an amazing job.

The scene where Claire discovers Jamie outside her door is wonderful, just as I'd imagined it from the book -- except that I wonder why she went to sleep fully clothed, stays and all?  (But that's a minor point.)

I like this exchange between Claire and Ned:

"Outmanned we might be, but I would match our fighting hearts against the best army in the world."
"Fighting hearts don't stand a chance against cannons."

Ned's "History be damned" is also a great line.

The fight was very entertaining, and it's certainly an effective way to show that Angus will fight to defend Claire. But the way it's presented in the TV show, Jamie isn't even present for the fight, and he never gets a chance to show that he's had enough of Dougal's humiliation of him. So that conflict between Jamie and Dougal is left unresolved, and I didn't like that.

I like the way Claire finally relaxes enough to joke with the men a little bit.

The sight of Culloden Moor is very sobering, but I always have to smile a little at the sight of the (totally fictitious) Clan MacKenzie stone. When I visited Culloden for the first time in 2012, I asked our guide about the MacKenzies, and he said no, there is no stone for them there.

By the end of the episode, relations between Claire and the MacKenzies may have improved somewhat, but Dougal is still as suspicious as ever.

And here's Lt. Foster again.  "Are you here by your own choice?"  Wow, that's quite a cliffhanger, and one that took me completely by surprise on the first viewing.  Great way to end the episode!
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Please come back next week for my reactions to Episode 106, "The Garrison Commander".

Friday, March 17, 2017

Memorable Irish characters in Diana Gabaldon's books



Happy St. Patrick's Day! I don't have a drop of Irish blood myself, but I'm reliably informed that everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day! So, in celebration of the day, here are my top 10 most memorable Irish characters from Diana Gabaldon's books, in alphabetical order.

* * * SPOILER WARNING! * * *

If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER and Lord John books, you will find SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.

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1) Bernard Adams. You may remember that Lord John gouged his eye out at the end of LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE. He later confessed to the murder of Lord John's father, the Duke of Pardloe.

2) Stephen Bonnet. One of Diana's most memorable villains. I think Brianna gave him a more merciful death than he deserved.

3) Father Donahue, the priest who baptizes Germain, Jemmy, and Joan in FIERY CROSS. He seemed a very pragmatic, adaptable sort of person, perfectly willing to baptize the children with whisky instead of water if that was the only option available. (And IMHO he gets extra points for managing to keep a straight face while listening to Jamie's confession involving Claire and the butter churn. <g>)

4) Father Michael FitzGibbons, abbot of Inchcleraun monastery, Ireland. The abbot is a decent man (despite his desire to get Jamie involved in the Jacobite scheme), with a curiosity about the natural world that I was surprised to see in a priest.

5) Jeffries, the Dunsanys' coachman in VOYAGER. Besides Jamie, and Lord and Lady Dunsany, he's the only other eyewitness to the death of the Eighth Earl of Ellesmere.

6) Aloysius O'Shaughnessy Murphy. Ship's cook aboard the Artemis, in VOYAGER. He makes a truly memorable (or should we say infamous?) turtle soup! <g>

7) The O'Higgins brothers, Rafe and Mick, who helped to smuggle Percy Wainwright out of prison near the end of BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE. They played only a relatively minor role in that book, but I thought they were pretty entertaining.

8) Tobias Quinn. He was certainly a memorable character in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, although I found him somewhat irritating and a nuisance most of the time. I liked his sense of humor.

9) Finbar Scanlon. The apothecary in LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER. Among other things, he cured Maria Mayrhofer of syphilis by deliberately infecting her with malaria.

10) Gerald Siverly. He saved Lord John's life in "The Custom of the Army", but that's his only redeeming quality, as far as I'm concerned. He was a very memorable villain in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER!

And last but definitely NOT least, here's to our favorite Irish actress, the amazing Caitriona Balfe!!



Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day, everybody!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Droughlander Re-Watch: EP104 ("The Gathering")

Droughtlander Re-Watch, Week 4:  Episode 104 ("The Gathering")

*** SPOILER WARNING! ***

If you haven't watched all of OUTLANDER Seasons 1 and 2, there are SPOILERS in this post.  Read at your own risk.


This is one of my favorite episodes of the whole series so far.  What a pleasure to have an excuse to watch it again!

I like the opening scene very much. It's suspenseful, and I liked the way the dramatic tension is broken by the sound of children's laughter. Angus's sudden appearance ("Somethin' catch your eye there, lass?") made me laugh.

Rupert's accent is more difficult to understand in this episode than it will be later.

Claire is a pleasure to watch in this episode: intelligent and resourceful, and with a wry sense of humor that we haven't really seen in her before. I loved the fact that she spent much of this episode making detailed plans for her escape, and doing her best to carry them out.

The chemistry between Rupert and Angus is really starting to shine through in this episode, and they're very entertaining.

I had forgotten about the 1940's music, in the stable scene and especially during Claire's walk through the castle afterwards.  I understnd that it's meant to show that she's still thinking like a 20th century person, but I found it really distracting, and much too loud -- to the point where it's almost impossible to hear what Geillis says to Claire as she enters the surgery.  When I commented on this on Compuserve after the episode was first broadcast in 2014, Diana Gabaldon said, "I think you're right about the volume."

"With bairn" is a very awkward phrasing, and I found it jarring.

Notice that they're talking about valerian root. This is the same medicinal plant that Master Raymond recommends, in Season 2, to help Jamie sleep when he's troubled by nightmares.

"The Highlands are no place for a woman to be alone. You'd do well to remember that."  Good line from Geillis.  I also liked her line, "A promise is a serious thing in this country", with its foreshadowing of future events, like Claire's promise to stay put while Jamie goes off in search of Horrocks.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I like the way Mrs. Fitz startles Claire in the midst of her preparations for escape, making her jump.

Ron Moore looks very handsome indeed in 18th century costume! <g>

Diana Gabaldon's brief cameo is very entertaining, and fun to watch, no matter how many times I've seen it before. She did a great job!  The part where she shushes Murtagh always makes me laugh.  ("Hey! I wrote this. Be quiet and listen!" <g>)

The oath-taking is just magnificent, very close to the way I've always imagined it from the book (especially the scene where Dougal swears his oath to Colum).  The costumes are gorgeous.  I think it works well to have Murtagh up in the gallery, translating for Claire.  He's not a MacKenzie, after all, and it's probably safer for him to be well away from the rest of the clansmen.

I love the scene with Claire and Angus. "It's a sedative."  "Is that Spanish?"  Hilarious!

It's hard to watch the scene with Claire and Laoghaire now, without thinking about what will come later.  Laoghaire is actually being polite and friendly to Claire, and what does she get in return?  A "potion" of dried horse-dung. LOL!  Unfortunately, Laoghaire won't forget that anytime soon.

Once again, Claire is waylaid before she can make her escape.  The use of Gaelic in the scene in the corridor is very effective as a means of escalating the tension. Bad enough to be accosted by several drunken clansmen, but the fact that Claire doesn't speak their language makes it even more frightening.

The bit where Claire hits Dougal over the head with a stool is not in the book, but I think it's a great addition -- a reminder that Claire is not a woman to be messed with, ever.

It's rather startling to realize that half the episode has gone by before we see Jamie.  The scene in the stable with the two of them is very good.

"I may have walloped him over the head with a chair or something."  Great line, and I believe it's the first time we've seen Jamie laugh in the series so far.

"It's me should be thanking you, for all your healing of my scratches."  I like the way Jamie said that.

The scene where Jamie appears before Colum at the oath-taking is really good: well-written (the dialogue comes almost word-for-word from the book <g>), well-acted, and suspenseful. It's even better in the extended version of this scene on the Season 1 Blu-ray.

When Murtagh says to Jamie, "I'm gettin' too old for this," I thought, "You ain't seen nothing yet!"

The boar-hunt is dramatic and suspenseful. I love watching Claire in her role as medic, and I think Cait did an amazing job in the scene where she finds herself all alone in the woods with a dead boar landing literally right at her feet. She's practically gibbering, so frightened that she can't even catch her breath -- and then she hears the wounded man cry out, and you can almost see her nurse's training kicking in, as she pulls herself together and readies herself to face the latest emergency.

The scene with Geordie, the man fatally wounded in the tynchal, is very good, and I appreciated very much the use of Diana's exact words from OUTLANDER chapter 10, "The Oath-Taking":
A better death, perhaps, was what Dougal was giving him--to die cleanly under the sky, his heart’s blood staining the same leaves, dyed by the blood of the beast that killed him.
Dougal is really good in this scene. Quite a refreshing contrast with the Dougal we saw toward the end of Season 2, that's for sure. I had forgotten that he also has a gentle and compassionate side, and it's heartbreaking to watch him tending his dying friend.

The shinty game was fun to watch, but it went on much too long for my taste.

I liked the final scene between Claire and Dougal quite a bit, and it leads very smoothly into next week's episode.
------------------

Please come back next week for my reactions to Episode 105, "Rent".

Monday, March 13, 2017

ABC's of Brianna



ABC's of Brianna

I borrowed this idea from a writer's exercise that was posted on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community a few years ago. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation. Here's my alphabet for Brianna.

All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright © Diana Gabaldon, of course.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will find Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

A for Artistic. I like Bree's artistic side very much, especially because it's something that she did not inherit from either of her parents.

B for Boston, where Brianna was born and raised.

C for Catholicism.  Bree attended parochial schools as a child, and her Catholic faith is important to her, but she's not bothered by the fact that Roger is a Presbyterian.

D for the Dreambook, in which Bree records her dreams and her most private thoughts. She can be a hard person to get to know, and I think the Dreambook helps, by giving us a glimpse into a part of herself that she won't talk about, even to Roger.

E for her Engineering skills:
Before being forcibly returned to the surgery, Jamie had estimated the buffalo’s weight at something between eighteen hundred and two thousand pounds. Brianna had nodded at this, handed Jemmy to Lizzie, then walked slowly around the carcass, squinting in deep thought.

“Right,” she’d said, and as soon as the men began to appear from their homesteads, half-dressed, unshaven, and wild-eyed with excitement, had issued cool directions for the cutting of logs and the building of a pulley-frame capable of hoisting and supporting a ton of meat.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 92, "I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
F for Frank Randall, the man who was "Daddy" to her all her life. He may not have been her biological father, but there's no doubt that he loved her very much.

G for the Gathering at Mt. Helicon, where Bree and Roger were married.

H for Hunting.  Bree is a surprisingly good shot with a musket.
She swung around, sighted on it as it left the ground, caught the black blob outlined for a split second against the brilliant sky, and blasted it in the tail feathers. It dropped like a sack of coal, and hit the ground forty yards away with an audible thud.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "Shooting Lessons". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I for Ingenuity and Inventions. My favorite example is the the snake-fang syringe, which saved Jamie's life after he was bitten by a snake in FIERY CROSS, by giving Claire a way to inject penicillin directly into his bloodstream.

J for her son, Jem. And for Jamie, of course.

K for the Kiln she built on the Ridge, to make clay pipes to carry water. Also for Bree's habit of Kicking solid objects, like trees, when she gets angry or frustrated.

L for Lallybroch. Also for Lizzie, who accompanied Bree to America and became a valued member of the Fraser's Ridge community.

M for her daughter, Mandy.  Also for Matches, a 20th-century invention that Bree introduced in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES.

N for the Newspaper clipping announcing the deaths by fire of Jamie and Claire on January 21, 1776. If it hadn't been for that newspaper clipping, Bree might never have gone back through the stones, Roger would never have come after her, and all that followed would never have happened.

O for Only child. Like Roger and Claire, Bree grew up without siblings. When she visits Lallybroch in DRUMS, she experiences for the first time what it's like to be part of a large family.

P for Parents. Brianna loves all three of her parents -- Claire, Jamie, and Frank -- very deeply. I love watching the way her relationship with Jamie evolves over the course of the series.

Q for Quest. It took many months, including a trip through the stones and a long sea voyage, but Bree found Jamie Fraser at long last.
"You can ... call me Da," he said. His voice was husky; he stopped and cleared his throat. "If--if ye want to, I mean," he added diffidently.
"Da," she said, and felt the smile bloom easily this time, unmarred by tears. "Da. Is that Gaelic?"
He smiled back, the corners of his mouth trembling slightly.
"No. It's only .... simple."
And suddenly it was all simple. He held out his arms to her. She stepped into them and found that she had been wrong; he was as big as she'd imagined--and his arms were as strong about her as she had ever dared to hope.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "Journey's End". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
R for Roger, of course.  Also for Resourceful. Bree is a good person to have around in a crisis.

S for Stephen Bonnet. The rape had a profound impact on Brianna for years, but in the end she showed mercy by shooting him in order to keep him from drowning.

T for Time-Travel, without which Brianna might not have survived to be born in the first place.

U for Underwear, or the lack of it.
"I got out of the habit in the eighteenth century,” she snapped, plainly taking the huff. “I only wear knickers for ceremonial purposes anymore."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Hilltops". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
V for Virgin. Bree was a virgin on her hand-fasting night.

W for Work. Having a career is important to Brianna, just as it has always been for her mother. I like the echoes, in this scene, of Claire and Jamie's argument in DRAGONFLY about working at L'Hรดpital des Anges.
"Job?" [Roger had] said stupidly.

"Job," she’d repeated, narrowing her eyes at him.

He had been swift enough to suppress the automatic "But you’ve got a job" that had sprung to his lips, substituting a rather mild--he thought--"Why?"

Never one for quiet diplomacy, she’d fixed him with a stare and said, "Because one of us needs to work, and if it isn’t going to be you, it’ll have to be me."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "Unarmed Conflict". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
X for her eXplosive temper.
"Now, sweetheart..." Roger began. I could have told him this was a mistake; Frasers in a fury tended to pay no attention to honeyed words, being instead inclined to go for the throat of the nearest party unwary enough to speak to them.

"Don't you 'sweetheart' me!" she snapped, turning on him. "You think so, too! You think everything I do is a waste of time if it isn't washing clothes or cooking dinner or mending your effing socks! And you blame me for not getting pregnant, too, you think it's my fault! Well, it's NOT, and you know it!"
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "We Have Ignition". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Y for Young. Bree was only nineteen years old when we first met her in DRAGONFLY, naive and inexperienced in many ways, and certainly not the seasoned world-traveler that both of her parents were at the same age. She's changed quite a lot in the last few years!

Z for the Zipper of her jeans, which she used as a weapon to fend off Rob Cameron.

I hope you enjoyed these! Here are the other posts in this series:

ABC's of Jamie Fraser
ABC's of Claire Fraser
ABC's of Roger
ABC's of the OUTLANDER TV Series

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Droughtlander Re-Watch: EP103 ("The Way Out")

Droughtlander Re-Watch, Week 3:  Episode 103 ("The Way Out")

*** SPOILER WARNING! ***

If you haven't watched all of OUTLANDER Seasons 1 and 2, there are SPOILERS in this post.  Read at your own risk.


My first thought on hearing the train, and seeing Claire and Frank in WWII uniform, was, "Oh, I forgot all about that!"  This little flashback is well done, and a good addition.

The next scene, where Claire imagines what would happen if she told Mrs. Fitz the truth about being from the future, is also very well done, and I liked it very much!  I couldn't help thinking about the scene in Season 2, in Paris, where Murtagh learns that Claire is from the future. He too has a lot of trouble wrapping his mind around it!

Good to see a bit of Claire's healing skills here.  I liked watching Angus and Rupert, hovering in the background.

The scene with Colum and the tailor is just terrific, one of my favorite Colum scenes in the whole season.  I love the way he pulls the dirk on the other man, making it abundantly clear that he's the one in charge.  And I was fascinated by the way they portrayed Colum's "shockingly bowed and stumpy legs".

In the scene in the Hall, finally we're back to the book. <g>  This scene is very much as I always imagined it, except that I was a little taken aback to see Claire being so friendly toward Laoghaire.  (She'll come to regret that soon enough!)

The scene with Jamie and Claire alone together is terrific, full of understated sexual tension, and I loved watching the way they look at each other.

I didn't like the "demonic possession" plotline at all the first time I watched this episode, although I've gotten used to it over time.  I don't like it when the writers stray so far away from the book.

"Have you ever found yourself in a situation with no earthly explanation?" Geillis asks.  So she's dropping hints, from the early days of their relationship, that she suspects Claire is a time-traveler.

"A priest once told me my healing skills were a gift from God."  Good line, and it shut Angus up instantly!

Father Bain is a very imposing figure, much more so than in the book. It's difficult to watch him in this episode without recalling his very dramatic appearance at the witch-trial.

When I saw Jamie kissing Laoghaire in the alcove, my first reaction was to feel sorry for Claire. She's so alone there, and now even Jamie seems more interested in L (at least for that moment).  I also thought of Jamie, in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, sternly warning Claire to stay away from alcoves. <g>

Angus's reaction when he returns to find Claire sitting where he'd left her is just priceless.  "Good. Verra good. You know how to obey a man's orders, for once."  That made me laugh.

The scene with Murtagh, Claire, and Jamie is excellent, very close to the book. It's also our first good look at Murtagh.  I think giving Murtagh Old Alec's lines in this scene works very well, and you can tell, even at this stage, that Murtagh cares deeply for Jamie.

I like the interior of Geillis's room very much.  And again she's dropping hints:  "It can't be easy, being a Sassenach in the Highlands -- assuming that's what you mean."

I had forgotten about Arthur Duncan.  His performance in this scene is way over the top, but very entertaining.  (He reminds me a bit of Simon Callow as the Duke of Sandringham, in that respect.)  I also liked the way Geillis pleads with Arthur to show lenience to the tanner's lad.

Jamie looks terrific in the scene where he shows up at Geillis's house. And I loved the way he rescues the tanner's lad -- very much as described in the book, but Sam looks like he's enjoying himself.

"Would you be willing to risk helping me again?"  This is an effective segue back to the Black Kirk storyline.

The scene at the Black Kirk is one of the first that takes place on a sunny day. <g> Good to see that it doesn't rain all the time in Scotland!

I was rather startled by Father Bain's "I am the Lord's disciple!"  It's ben a long time since I last saw this episode, and I wasn't expecting that much vehemence from him.

I loved Mrs. Fitz's line: "This is my sister's house, and my father's before that, and we will decide what is done under its roof."  Good for her!

"God will have the last word. I promise you that."  Foreshadowing -- Father Bain will be back!

I loved seeing Claire with her hair down in the final scene.  It's a much less severe look than we've seen since she arrived at the castle, and I can't help thinking that Jamie must prefer it that way, too. <g>

The scene with Gwyllyn the bard singing about the wife of Balnain is enjoyable, but I wish they hadn't tried to make so many of the details in the ballad match Claire's story exactly. I don't think they needed to beat the audience over the head with it.  Give the viewers a little credit for being able to figure things out for themselves!

On the other hand, I liked Claire's voiceover at the very end, including her determination to get back to the stone circle "or die trying", which sets up things very nicely for the next episode.

Overall, I like this episode a lot better than I did when I first saw it.  On re-watching, I'm struck by how many scenes were taken straight from the book. At this point, after two seasons, I no longer take it for granted that the show will include a lot of the original dialogue from the book, and it's a pleasure to see it here.  That's quite different from my original response to this episode, when I was bewildered and annoyed by the Black Kirk subplot, the first time the writers had strayed so far away from the book.
------------------

Please come back next week for my reactions to Episode 104, "The Gathering".

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Video of Sam and Cait at ECCC

Here's the video of the OUTLANDER panel discussion with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe at Emerald City Comic Con on March 3, 2017.



It's about an hour long, but definitely worth watching! I enjoyed it very much, and I think you will, too.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Most suspenseful moments in the OUTLANDER books

What are the most suspenseful moments in Diana Gabaldon's books?  I'm talking about a scene or a situation that leaves you riveted to the page, desperate to find out what's going to happen next.
 
Here are a few examples of what I mean.
 
* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *
 
If you haven't read all 8 of the OUTLANDER books, there are Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk. 
 
S
 
P
 
O
 
I
 
L
 
E
 
R
 
S
 
OUTLANDER - The last part of the witch-trial, up to and including Jamie's "cavalry coming over the hill in the nick of time" entrance.  Also Claire vs. the wolf.
 
DRAGONFLY IN AMBER - The duel and the miscarriage.
 
VOYAGER - Claire on the Porpoise as it begins to sail away, trapping her on a plague ship against her will, with no way to get back to Jamie.
 
DRUMS OF AUTUMN - The scene on the Gloriana where they throw the sick passengers overboard.  Also Roger's first encounter with Jamie.
 
THE FIERY CROSS - Roger's hanging (of course). Jamie's snakebite.
 
A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES - The scene in the middle of the abduction where Claire nearly suffocates, and has to find a way to breathe, despite the gag and her broken nose.
 
AN ECHO IN THE BONE - William, Rachel, and Denny facing an ax-wielding maniac. Also, Mandy waking in the middle of the night, yelling, "He's gone! He's GONE!"
 
WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD - Claire getting shot.  Also the scene with Bree battling the intruders at Lallybroch.
 
What about the rest of you?  I'm sure you can think of lots more! <g>

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February poll results

Here are the results of the February poll, which asked the question, "Do you read excerpts or #DailyLines from Diana Gabaldon's upcoming books or stories?"
  • 65.52% - Absolutely! I will gladly devour any excerpt or #DailyLine I can find.
  • 8.13% - Yes, and I wish Diana Gabaldon would post them more often!
  • 8.13% - No, I would rather wait and see those bits of the story in their proper context, when the book comes out.
  • 6.64% - Sometimes.
  • 2.75% - I used to read them, but I don't anymore.
  • 1.83% - I read excerpts, but only for certain books or stories.
  • 1.83% - I'm addicted to the #DailyLines!
  • 1.37% - No, I am trying hard to avoid the excerpts and #DailyLines.
  • 1.37% - What excerpts? Where can I find them?
  • 1.15% - What are #DailyLines?
  • 1.26% - Other
Here are the results for "Other":
  • I am weak and cannot resist.
  • I try hard to avoid them but indulge the odd time!!!
  • Don' want to ruine the new book experience by reading excerpts
  • used to read them, wait and see, & trying to avoid
  • I read the last chapter first in every book too!
  • Absolutely, because I have no will power.
  • What are excerpts and daily lines?
  • Yes until a release date is announced, then no!
  • Yes, but I feel a little guilty about it!
  • Yes, now that I have read all the books/novellas
  • YES!! I read them the min she post them!!
There were 873 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated! I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I have been an excerpt-avoider since 2008.

Please take a moment to vote in the March poll, which asks the question, "What are you doing to pass the time until the OUTLANDER TV series returns" Thanks!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Droughtlander Re-Watch: EP102 ("Castle Leoch")

Droughtlander Re-Watch, Week 2:  Episode 102 ("Castle Leoch")

*** SPOILER WARNING! ***

If you haven't watched all of OUTLANDER Seasons 1 and 2, there are SPOILERS in this post.  Read at your own risk.


As they arrive at the castle, it's easy to pick out Murtagh, Rupert, and Angus. But I remember very well how hard it was to tell the clansmen apart, on the first few viewings.

Look at Murtagh in that first scene, and think about how he looked in the Paris scenes in Season 2, all cleaned up with his hair combed and his beard neatly trimmed. Looking at him here, it's almost hard to believe it's the same character. <g>

The scene with Jamie and Claire is very much as I always imagined from the book. But after Episode 106 ("The Garrison Commander"), it's impossible to see the scars on Jamie's back without remembering those horrific scenes of the flogging.

Jamie shows a little more humor here than in the book. ("They were holding me prisoner.")

Jenny looks very young in the flashback scene -- more so than I remembered. That whole scene was very well done. I had forgotten the bit with BJR rubbing his thumb over Jenny's face. Ewwww! <shudder>

When Jamie takes Claire into his arms for the first time and holds her as she weeps for Frank, I couldn't help remembering that this is the point where Jamie said much later that he fell in love with her. Awwww!

The dressing scene with Mrs. Fitz is just priceless, and very funny! My favorite part is the bit where Mrs. Fitz snatches the cup of broth out of Claire's hands before she's had more than a couple of sips. <g>

I hadn't realized before that the letter with "1743" on it was lying in plain sight on the desk.

The sight of Colum's legs is shocking, but very much as I'd imagined from the book. The use of CGI here is very clever.

"Is there ever a good reason for rape, Master MacKenzie?" Great line! I had forgotten about that.

"It was all second-hand knowledge, acquired from books, museums, paintings" -- and old Scottish songs, like "Loch Lomond"? <g> Look here for my thoughts on that from my first viewing of the episode in 2014.

When Claire walks into the Great Hall, my impression is that she's showing a lot more cleavage than strictly necessary. <g>  Another reminder of her "other-ness". It makes her look like a bit of a slut, by 18th-century standards, IMHO.

Colum's interrogation is very effective, no doubt about it.  Claire really is a very bad liar, and she's drinking quite a lot, even before the Rhenish makes its appearance.

And then Hamish shows up, and she puts her foot in it, in no uncertain terms! Oops. <g>

I love the thatched roofs on the little buildings Claire passes on the way to the stables.

"She's just a girl with spirit, is all. That's always a good thing." I love that line, and the way Jamie looks at her.

The whole conversation in the stable is taken almost word-for-word from the book. That's a pleasure to see.

"Try not to get flogged or stabbed today."
"No promises, Sassenach."

I like that very much. <g>

The scene with Claire and Rupert is terrific, a great addition. Listening to Rupert describe Angus, I can't help thinking of so many of the scenes to come involving Angus, up to and including the way he died. It's hard to remember that at this point in the story, he's just one of the clansmen in the background, and we don't know him at all yet.

I liked the scene between Claire and Dougal very much, too.  On re-watching, this seems like foreshadowing of several similar confrontations to come. (At St. Ninian's Spring in Episode 106, for example.)

Claire's introduction to Geillis is suitably mysterious.  "I know who you are, Claire" -- indeed, she may well know a lot more about Claire than Claire knows about her!  (Thinking about the notebook where she kept notes about mysterious occurrences near stone circles, including Claire's own disappearance.)

I had forgotten how much Gaelic is in this episode, particularly throughout the scene in the Hall.

Right before Jamie raises his voice to address Colum and the rest of the people in the Hall, you can see him and Murtagh talking quietly, while the crowd's attention is focused on Laoghaire. Murtagh is definitely not happy -- from his body language alone, you can tell that he knows what Jamie is about to do, and he doesn't like it, but he can't stop him. I totally missed that in previous viewings of this episode.

Jamie is so young here, young and cocky and fearless -- and evidently enjoying himself. <g> Very much as I've always imagined from the book.

I like the way Jamie grins at Rupert after the first blow, as if to say, "Is that all you've got?"

And then Rupert hits him very hard in the injured shoulder, and I gasped. Owwwww! "That's not fair!" I thought, and then I heard the much older Jamie's voice in my head, saying, "Dirty fighting is the only kind there is."

Claire seems much too willing to leave Laoghaire alone with Jamie. "I think someone would like to speak with you." On the other hand, she thinks she's leaving forever, and she has no idea that Jamie is falling in love with her.

The scene with Colum and Claire is terrific! Claire really underestimated him.

"You'll remain here, as my guest."
"You mean as your prisoner, don't you?"
"Only if you try to leave."

What a chilling, and subtly terrifying, way to end the episode! I really felt sorry for Claire at the end, more alone now than she's been since she came through the stones.
------------------

Please come back next week for my reactions to Episode 103, "The Way Out".

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Droughtlander Re-Watch: EP101 ("Sassenach")

Looking for a way to pass the time until OUTLANDER Season 3 returns in September?  Here's a suggestion that was posted on Compuserve the other day.

There are 29 weeks between now and the beginning of September.  By coincidence, there are 29 episodes in Seasons 1 and 2.  So the idea is to watch one episode per week, starting from the beginning, and post your impressions.  For example:
  • Has your reaction to the episode changed over time?
  • Did you notice things on re-watching that you didn't catch before?
  • Is there anything in the episode that seems like foreshadowing of future events?
  • What are your favorite (or least favorite) scenes, lines, or moments in the episode?
To start things off, here are my comments on the first episode:

Droughtlander Re-Watch, Week 1:  EP101 ("Sassenach") 

*** SPOILER WARNING! ***
 
If you haven't watched all of OUTLANDER Seasons 1 and 2, there are SPOILERS in this post.  Read at your own risk.

The opening shot, of the gorgeous Highland scenery, is just breathtaking! In many ways the first season is a "love letter to Scotland", as I think Matt Roberts said of EP105, and this was our first taste of it.

I haven't seen the opening credits of the first half of Season 1 in a long time, and I had forgotten some parts of it, like the glimpse of Frank and Claire sitting on the dock. Seeing Diana's name in the opening credits reminds me what an enormous thrill it was to see this, the first time.

The bit with Frank remembering how he used to doodle the lines in Claire's hand on official reports is cute, and serves to humanize him more than in the book.

Seeing the half-destroyed 1940's Castle Leoch was a shock.  I had forgotten that.  It looks really WRONG, especially now that i've seen Castle Doune, where they filmed it, with my own eyes.

"You can give me a bath."  I still don't care for this. It has to be one of the most un-romantic places ever, for a sex scene! <g>

Good to see the Reverend and Mrs. Graham again.  Of course I can't watch the tea-leaf reading scene without hearing the echo of it in Claire's fortune-telling in EP114, "The Search", where she borrows heavily from everything Mrs. Graham told her in this scene.

The mention of Sandringham's death (with the conveniently timed rattle of dishes <g>) now conjures up a whole host of images and bits of dialogue from EP211, of course.

I still don't like the ghost scene. It's nearly impossible to make out the ghost in the dark, and I for one can't tell what he's wearing.  Maybe Frank just has much better eyesight than I do?

"I love you, and nothing you could ever do could stop my loving you."  I know it's a quote from OUTLANDER, but it occurred to me, watching this, that Jamie said something very similar to her in MOHB. <g>

The scene with the dancers at Craigh na Dun is just mesmerizing, eerie and beautiful, and I love the music as much as I did the first time I saw this episode.  Watching the sun rise over Craigh na Dun now makes me think of the final scene of Season 2, of course, with the dawn lighting Claire's face as she realizes Jamie didn't die at Culloden after all.

I had forgotten about "Run, Rabbit, Run." <g>  I love the long, lingering look Claire gives Frank as he leaves -- take a good look, you won't see him for a while!

Even though I knew it was coming, I still jumped at the sound of the gunshot.  Yikes! The music in the chase scene is just wondeful.

The scene with Claire and BJR is terrific!  And I had to laugh, this time, when Murtagh whacked Claire over the head -- his specialty, as we found out later. <g>

When I first watched this episode in 2014, I found it nearly impossible to tell the clansmen apart. Now, of course, it's easy to spot Rupert ('We could put her to the test") and Angus.

The first meeting between Jamie and Claire is just wonderful, every bit as I had always imagined it from the book!

And here's the Jamie and Claire theme music, for the first time. <g>  I love that!

As they mount up to ride away, it's absolutely pouring rain. I hadn't remembered that, and I feel sorry for the actors having to film in those conditions.  But Jamie's "You're shakin' so hard it's making my teeth rattle" is a great line!

When Jamie intercepts Claire as she's trying to escape, I thought of the big argument by the roadside in EP109, "The Reckoning".  You can see flashes of that here, especially in Claire's facial expressions and body language.

"That ride through the dark together....", as Jamie recalls much later.<g>   Cait is more or less channeling Claire in the scene where she dresses Jamie's wound, and it's amazing to see.

When Claire reached down a hand to help him up, I thought at once of the scene in EP201 where Claire comes down off the plane and we're suddenly in 1744, with Jamie's hand reaching up to clasp hers. <g>

And that "Thank you, Sassenach. Truly." is just wonderful!  I've always felt that Jamie was speaking on behalf of all of the fans who waited so many years to see this story come to life on TV.


"On your horse, soldier."  It's impossible to hear that now without thinking of the other times TV Claire has said similar things to Jamie.  Although, as Claire says in the voiceover that ends this episode, "How could I remember something that hadn't happened yet?" <g>
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I plan to continue posting these each week until September.  Please come back in a few days to see my impressions of Episode 102.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A message from Jeff Woodman

We had a surprise visitor on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community yesterday.  Jeff Woodman, who narrates the Lord John audiobooks, popped in to say hello:
I've retired from audiobook narration, but will continue to do the Lord John books as they emerge because I just LOVE them!
I'm very glad to hear that he will continue to do the narration for any future Lord John books or stories. Diana Gabaldon has said that his voice for Lord John sounds exactly like what she hears in her head.

Here's a very interesting interview from a few years ago where Jeff Woodman goes into some detail about what it's like to be an audiobook narrator.

UPDATE 2/19/2017 7:10 pm:  Jeff Woodman has been posting some very interesting comments in the thread on Compuserve.  I would really encourage you to take a look.

If you've never listened to the Lord John audiobooks, I would definitely recommend them!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

OUTLANDER Season 3 will premiere in September!



STARZ announced today that Season 3 of OUTLANDER will premiere in September 2017.

From the press release:
Carmi Zlotnik, President of Programming for Starz said “While ‘Droughtlander’ will last just a little longer, we feel it is important to allow the production the time and number of episodes needed to tell the story of the ‘Voyager’ book in its entirety. The scale of this book is immense, and we owe the fans the very best show. Returning in September will make that possible.”

Steve Kent, Senior Executive Vice President, Programming, Sony Pictures Television said, "With the scope of the production and all of the intricate details that go into the Emmy®-nominated sets and costumes, we had to make sure everything is kept to the high standard of the previous seasons and Diana Gabaldon’s beautiful story. We’re so proud of the incredible work that Ron and the Outlander team have done.”
I know a lot of fans will be disappointed to hear this, but just speaking for myself, I'm glad to hear that they won't have to rush the production to meet an arbitrary deadline, and that they're taking the time they need to do justice to the story.

VOYAGER has always been one of my favorite books in the series, as it is for so many OUTLANDER fans all over the world, and I am really encouraged that they are going to take the time they need to do the best possible adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's wonderful story.

And I admit to being relieved that for the first time since 2013, I'll be able to enjoy the spring and summer without spending all my spare time managing "thread explosions" on Compuserve.

To those of you who may be tempted to take out your frustrations on social media by attacking STARZ, Ronald D. Moore, Maril Davis, Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, or anyone else involved in the production of the TV series:  PLEASE DON'T!!  They are working very hard to bring VOYAGER to life for fans all over the world, and getting mad at them because of this delay isn't going to help.



Here's a bit of Gaelic that some of you may have heard before: "Fuirich agus chi thu", which means "Wait and see." It's one of Diana Gabaldon's favorite phrases.

Yes, it will take a while longer, but Season 3 will be worth the wait. I'm sure of it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

VOYAGER fan video

If you've read Diana Gabaldon's VOYAGER, book 3 of the OUTLANDER series, you'll love this video

If you haven't read the book, there are SPOILERS for part of Season 3 here, so don't say I didn't warn you!



Favorite romantic quotes from the OUTLANDER books



In honor of Valentine's Day, here are some of my all-time favorite romantic Jamie quotes from Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books.  It was hard to pick just one per book! I hope you enjoy them.

OUTLANDER:

"Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone. I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One. I give ye my Spirit, 'til our Life shall be Done."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 14, "A Marriage Takes Place". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

DRAGONFLY IN AMBER:

"I'm honest enough to say that I dinna care what the right and wrong of it may be, so long as you are here wi' me, Claire," he said softly. "If it was a sin for you to choose me...then I would go to the Devil himself and bless him for tempting ye to it."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "The Royal Stud". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

VOYAGER:

"To have ye with me again--to talk wi’ you--to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts--God, Sassenach,” he said, “the Lord knows I am lust-crazed as a lad, and I canna keep my hands from you--or anything else--” he added, wryly, “but I would count that all well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin’ ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "Up in Flames". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

DRUMS OF AUTUMN:

"And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire--I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "The First Law of Thermodynamics". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

THE FIERY CROSS:

"When the day shall come, that we do part," he said softly, and turned to look at me, "if my last words are not 'I love you'--ye'll ken it was because I didna have time."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111, "And Yet Go Out to Meet It". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES:

"Claire," he said, quite gently, "it was you. It's always been you, and it always will be."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 31, "And So To Bed". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

AN ECHO IN THE BONE:

"Ever heard of coup de foudre, Sassenach? It didna take me more than one good look at you."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 68, "Despoiler". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD:

"I have loved ye since I saw you, Sassenach," he said very quietly, holding my eyes with his own, bloodshot and lined with tiredness but very blue. "I will love ye forever. It doesna matter if ye sleep with the whole English army--well, no," he corrected himself, “it would matter, but it wouldna stop me loving you."

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Welcome Coolness in the Heat, Comfort in the Midst of Woe". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

And here's a bonus quote from TV Jamie, from OUTLANDER Episode 107 ("The Wedding"):

"To a lady of grace, a woman of strength, and a bride of astonishing beauty."

Happy Valentine's Day!