Wednesday, February 26, 2020

No STARZ tie-in paperback of THE FIERY CROSS

I've been wondering for a while why we haven't seen any mention of a STARZ tie-in paperback edition of THE FIERY CROSS, as they've done for the earlier books in the OUTLANDER series whenever a new season of the TV show begins.

A few days ago I noticed that the e-book listings on Amazon and Barnes and Noble are now showing the new cover art.

But what about the paperback?  I asked Diana Gabaldon about it today on, and she replied,
They decided to use the tie-in art only for the e-book, saying that they hadn't seen any significant difference in sales between the tie-in covers and the regular covers for previous books.
Too bad for the collectors out there who were looking forward to adding this one to the existing set. I don't collect them personally, but I like the look of the matching covers.

On the other hand, I can certainly understand the publisher not wanting to spend the extra money on printing special edition paperbacks (especially for a book the size of THE FIERY CROSS, which is already pushing the limits of what's physically possible to fit in a paperback!) if it's not going to result in increased sales.

Please pass the word to anyone you know who may be wondering about this.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Episode 502: "Between Two Fires" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 502 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Between Two Fires".


There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









The episode opens with a mob setting fire to a redcoat uniform, and it quickly becomes clear that we are in the middle of what became known as the Hillsborough Riots, a real historical event that took place in 1770. The Regulators drag men from their homes, tear off their shirts, and proceed to tar and feather them.  It's a brutal and horrific scene, made even more so by Murtagh, standing there impassively saying, "Go to it, lads!"

As portrayed in this scene, Murtagh could not be further from the likeable, sympathetic character, Jamie's godfather, whom we saw in last week's episode, and frankly, I was appalled. It reminded me somewhat of Dougal in Episode 210, "Prestonpans", killing the wounded English soldiers on the field, and I lost a lot of respect for Murtagh when I saw that. Not a promising start to this episode, to put it mildly!

The opening title card features Claire's bread-making (more about that later).

On the Ridge, Brianna has started drawing in charcoal again, just as she did when she stayed at River Run in Season 4. But the subject of her sketch is Stephen Bonnet, and it's clear that she is still very much affected by the trauma of her rape.

The quiet is shattered by the screams of a woman driving a wagon at a gallop toward the Big House, yelling for help for her husband, Mr. Farrish, who is having trouble breathing. They bring him into Claire's surgery, and his wife says she's given him purgatives and bled him, to no effect.

"Mrs. Bug, get me a bowl of cold water, please." And that's the only introduction we get to Murdina Bug, one of my favorite minor characters from the OUTLANDER books. Sadly, she doesn't speak or act much like the Mrs. Bug we know from the books. I hope that changes as we go through this season!

On further questioning, the man's wife admits she gave him "Blue Mass" pills containing mercury. At that point Claire says there's nothing more she can do for the patient, and moments later, he dies.

The next scene is a lengthy conversation between Jamie and the Redcoat officer, Lt. Knox, as they ride on horseback with Knox's troops and some of the militia members from the Ridge. Knox is complimentary toward Jamie and somewhat envious of Jamie's land, but he makes it clear that what he really wants is to capture Murtagh FitzGibbons.

They come upon a family on the road, and Knox tosses them a coin, as though he's an English lord and they are his serfs. The man spits at him contemptuously, and Knox takes offense at his lack of manners.

The conversation between Jamie and Knox resumes as they proceed on their way, and I'm starting to grow impatient. None of this dialogue is in the book, and this journey seems to be taking forever.

"I admire a man who puts duty and honor above all else," Knox says. Ironic, considering what he does later in the episode.

A rider approaches with the news that there have been riots in Hillsborough, and three of the Regulators have been captured. Jamie, Knox, and the other men proceed to Hillsborough.

Meanwhile, back on the Ridge, Claire is in the middle of an autopsy on the dead Mr. Farrish, with his belly slit open and his abdomen a gory mass of flesh. Bree comes in and is understandably horrified.

"His appendix burst, he was in septic shock, and bacteria in his abdomen created a serious infection. Blood-letting and mercury pills weren't going to do a damn thing except--"
"Kill him faster."

So the man died from a ruptured appendix.

"I can't watch someone die like this, knowing that if he'd just come to me sooner, I could have saved his life."

Saved his life, how?  I don't have a medical background, but that makes no sense to me. Even in the books, Claire couldn't have prevented his appendix from rupturing without the sort of abdominal surgery that would require ether for anesthesia, as when she performed an emergency appendectomy on young Aidan McCallum in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES. She's not thinking straight or being logical here, and it's very much out of character. I didn't like that at all.

Bree finally leaves, saying she needs to get some air. I don't blame her, considering how much that corpse must stink already!

In the next scene, Claire watches as Marsali dismembers a deer. She stares off into the distance, then at Marsali. It's clear she's thinking, but it drags on for too long, a seemingly pointless silence.

Jamie and Knox and the others arrive in Hillsborough as the townspeople are cleaning up in the aftermath of the riots. They encounter Edmund Fanning, a real historical figure whom we met in Episode 408 ("Wilmington"). Fanning takes Jamie and Knox to a tavern where they meet one of the victims of the tar-and-feather incident, whose injuries are still fresh, and quite gory.

"In time you will wear your scars wi' honor, knowing you received them doing your duty."

That's a very odd sentiment coming from Jamie Fraser, who knows all too well what it's like to be subjected to humiliating and very painful punishment (in his case, flogging) for a crime he didn't commit. Can he not bring himself to show any sympathy whatever for the injured man where Knox can see it?

"They tore apart my house by the timbers," Fanning says. That is a historical fact, according to this site:
[In] the riots of September 1770 his house was cut from its sills and leveled to its foundations, "every article of furniture destroyed," and his papers and wearing apparel "carried into the street by armfulls and destroyed."
Jamie and Knox go to see the three Regulator prisoners. Jamie's dialogue is really clumsy and contrived here, making it abundantly clear that he wants to talk to the Regulators alone, presumably on the assumption that Murtagh might be one of them. Unfortunately for him, Knox insists on going with him.

Jamie questions the prisoners. "Look me in the eye, and tell me what you did was justified." So he, at least, has a sense of honor and morality, unlike just about everyone else in this episode.

Knox demands to know where Murtagh is, and the bearded man refuses, whereupon Knox draws his sword, saying, "I will remind you that I am a Lieutenant in His Majesty's Army."

The Regulator is not impressed. "I am Murtagh FitzGibbons," he says, in a vivid reminder of the famous scene from the movie SPARTACUS. Knox reacts instantly, running him through the belly with his sword, killing him in a very gruesome way.

Jamie is furious. "You executed a man without trial!" But Knox says nothing. He appears to be in shock.

Meanwhile, back on Fraser's Ridge....

A third of the way through the episode, and finally, we get our first scene that's taken at least partly from the book: Brianna giving Roger shooting lessons. I enjoyed this scene very much, and it's a relief to have a break from the grim tone of the episode so far.

I liked the "Tufty Fluffytail" bit, though I'd never heard of the character before. According to this site,
Tufty - full name Tufty Fluffytail - had his origins in 1953, created by the late Elsie Miles. In 1961, the Tufty Club was set up as a network of local groups - which at its peak had nearly 25,000 branches throughout the country. Parents would join the Tufty Club on their children's behalf, and children would proudly wear badges showing that they were members. By the early 1970s, an estimated 2m children had been members, and the movement continued well into the 1980s.
Roger still feels very much inferior compared to Jamie. "He doesn't respect me, Bree. It doesn't help matters that we had Jemmy baptized by a Presbyterian."

So does that mean we won't hear Jamie's infamous confession featuring Claire and the butter churn?  I hope they'll manage to work it in somewhere else in the season.

Bree leans against Roger's shoulder, correcting his aim with the rifle and thoroughly distracting him in the process, which made me smile. They take aim at a flock of turkeys, and Roger misses, but Bree hits one, just as in the book:
"What a thing," he said. He held it at arm's length to drain, admiring the vivid reds and blues of the bare, warty head and dangling wattle. "I don't think I've ever seen one, save roasted on a platter, with chestnut dressing and roast potatoes."

He looked from the turkey to her with great respect, and nodded at the gun.

"That's great shooting, Bree."

She felt her cheeks flush with pleasure, and restrained the urge to say, "Aw, shucks, it warn't nothin'," settling instead for a simple, "Thanks."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "Shooting Lessons". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
It's clear from their conversation that Roger wants to go back to the 20th century.

"Our family is here."
"You and Jemmy are my family. James Fraser is my Colonel."

His colonel, not his father-in-law? Wow, that's harsh! Is that what he really thinks of Jamie? It will be very interesting to see how their relationship evolves over the course of this season.

In the tavern in Hillsborough, Knox feels guilty for killing the Regulator. But he seems to think being run through with a sword is a better death than being hanged, and I can't say I agree.

"To die for king and country," Knox says. "For that is an oath we both have sworn."
"Aye, we have."

I'm confused by this bit. When did Jamie swear an oath like that?

In the next scene, Roger is singing "Abide with Me" at the funeral of Mr. Farrish, the man who died in Claire's surgery. Richard Rankin has a beautiful singing voice, and I'm glad they're giving us plenty of opportunities to hear him sing early in the season.

After the service, we get our first good look at Fergus and Marsali's baby daughter, Joan. She appeared briefly in the wedding scene in Episode 501, but some viewers may not have noticed her.

Claire takes Marsali to the surgery. I loved Marsali's reaction to the sight of the butchered corpse on the table, which obviously reminds her of all the horrible things Laoghaire told her about Claire over the years.

"Was she right, my ma? Was she?"
"I'm NOT a witch!"

OK, Claire, if you say so, but you're certainly acting like one!

"Who did we bury?"
"No one. Roger and I filled the coffin with rocks."

I have a really hard time believing that Roger, a minister's son, would agree to that sort of crazy scheme, much less to (more or less) officiate at a fake burial in full view of the grieving widow, knowing that it was a sham. This seems wildly out of character for Roger, and I thought he had better sense than that.

So Claire wants Marsali to be her apprentice. Marsali, with a toddler and an infant at home and all the household chores -- plus the hunting -- to do, presumably has zero spare time to do anything at all, much less helping Claire in her surgery. I just don't see why she would agree to this, or why Fergus would let her.

Add to that the fact that we already know quite well what killed this poor man: a burst appendix, as Claire said earlier. What more can Claire hope to learn from examining his body?

This whole plotline is so farfetched, I doubt I'll watch this part of the episode ever again. It's just beyond ridiculous.

Back in Hillsborough, Jamie sneaks into the jail where the Regulators are being held, breaks the door open (with hardly any effort at all!), and frees the two surviving men.

I liked seeing the women of the Ridge making candles. They certainly use an awful lot of them! <g>  But the purpose of this scene is to show that the women don't yet trust Claire's medical advice. They'd rather get their medical help from the doctor at Cross Creek (not Dr. Fentiman, but evidently a man with similar beliefs), and they don't believe Claire when she gives them good advice.

"Can you imagine if it was discovered that the King was being poisoned by his own physician?" one of the women asks skeptically. But in fact, there is some evidence that that's exactly what happened to King George III.

So Claire writes out tips for preventive health care, under the pseudonym of "Dr. Rawlings", whom book-readers will know as the former owner of Claire's medical box. I thought it was a good idea to use his name. A very brief nod, at least, to book-readers, as if to say that the writers have not entirely lost sight of the source material, even if they're using precious little of Diana Gabaldon's words in this episode.

Meanwhile, back in Hillsborough, Knox tells Jamie, "You need more men." Jamie is going to have to call up the Fraser's Ridge militia, but even that number of troops won't be enough.  "Come prepared for war," says Knox.

Back at the Big House, Claire tests Roger's vision. This scene is loosely based on the scene in THE FIERY CROSS, but in the book, Roger's difficulty is a lack of binocular vision, not nearsightedness.
“Your eyes are fine,” I assured him. “It’s just that they don’t work together. It’s really a fairly common condition--and many people who have it don’t realize it. It’s just that in some people, for one reason or another, the brain never learns to merge the images coming in from both eyes in order to make a three-dimensional image.”


“You can see perfectly well for almost anything you want to do,” I assured him. “And you very likely can learn to shoot all right; most of the men I see shooting close one eye when they fire, anyway. But you might have trouble hitting moving targets. You can see what you’re aiming at, all right--but without binocular vision, you may not be able to tell precisely where it is in order to hit it.”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Twenty-Twenty". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
We learn several more bits of information in this scene:
  • Marsali has agreed to be Claire's apprentice
  • Roger helped Claire hide the cadaver under the root cellar. (Can you imagine the smell seeping into the area where they keep onions, potatoes, and other food items for the winter? Ewwww!)
  • Roger's father, Jerry MacKenzie, was an RAF pilot who flew Spitfires in WWII. (Unlike the other two items, this one is actually consistent with the books.)
"Didn't you tell me you had some many-times-great-grandparents roaming around here in America?" Claire asks Roger.  Good! The viewers need to be reminded of that from time to time, so they'll remember Morag when she reappears later.

"As much as I love all of you being here, I hope you don't stay."

My instant reaction to this statement from Claire was, "WHAT?!??  Are you kidding?!"  I could be wrong, but I don't recall Book Claire ever saying something like that to either Roger or Bree after they settled on the Ridge. Yes, it's dangerous, but would she really rather send them away forever?

In the next scene, the escaped Regulators return to the main Regulator camp. The watchword, "Caisteal Dhuni", is the war cry of Clan Fraser of Lovat, which is certainly appropriate for Murtagh. From Wikipedia:
"Caisteal Dhuni" (Castle Dounie/Downie) refers to the ancestral Castle and Clan seat, which once existed near the present Beaufort Castle.
Herman Husband, the Quaker who in the book was the unofficial leader of the Regulators, looks nothing at all like I expected. That huge bushy beard is so distracting that I have a hard time paying attention to anything the man says, which is unfortunate.

So now Murtagh sounds reasonable, understanding Jamie's position ("between two fires") without agreeing with it. It strikes me as too little too late. I'm not ready to forgive or forget the way Murtagh acted at the beginning of this episode, when he ordered the tar-and-feathering.

And now, yet another contrived scene featuring Claire. This time she's baking dozens and dozens (!) of bread loaves, not for eating but to set aside to grow mold for penicillin experiments. This strikes me as ridiculous, an enormous waste of the precious grain supply that they need to get through the winter.

But even if you accept that Claire needed to bake all that bread, it's Brianna's reaction that really surprised me. When Claire says she's going to make penicillin, Bree's reaction is to tell her she can't do that, because "penicillin isn't invented for another hundred years."

"It's dangerous. What if it messes with some cosmic balance, or breaks some rule of space and time?"

Since when would Bree let that stop her, or Claire, from experimenting? Bree is an engineer by training. In the books, she's always building things, inventing things. Snake-fang syringes, matches, safety pins, water pipes....the list goes on. It's wildly out of character for Bree to object to Claire trying to do the same thing on the grounds that the technology is anachronistic. I didn't like that at all.

The next scene, where Roger sings, "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog" to wee Jemmy, is very cute and a lot of fun. Too bad Jemmy doesn't seem interested.

Roger takes the laundry basket into the cabin, and accidentally discovers Bree's drawings, including more of Stephen Bonnet. He's disturbed enough by the pictures that he doesn't really react when Bree shows him how Jemmy has learned to walk.

The last scene in the episode features a bizarre fight between two women, with a raucous crowd placing bets on the outcome, followed by a swordfight between Stephen Bonnet and another man. This is based on an incident in the book that Lord John Grey describes to Jamie in a letter.
One combatant was the man Bonnet, the other a Captain Marsden, a half-pay Army Captain known to my Guest as a good Swordsman. This Marsden, feeling himself the injured Party, damned Bonnet’s eyes, and invited the Smuggler to accommodate him upon the Spot, an Offer at once accepted. Wagers ran heavy upon Marsden, his Reputation being known, but it was soon clear that he had met his Match and more in Bonnet. Within no more than a few moments, Bonnet succeeded in disarming his Opponent, and in Wounding him so grievously in the Thigh that Marsden sank down upon his Knees and yielded to his Opponent--having no Choice in the Matter at that Point, to be sure.

Bonnet did not accept of this Surrender, though, but instead performed an Act of such Cruelty as made the deepest Impression upon all who saw it. Remarking with great coolness that it was not his own Eyes that would be damned, he drew the Tip of his Weapon across Marsden’s Eyes, twisting it in such Fashion as not only to blind the Captain, but to inflict such Mutilation as would make him an Object of the greatest Horror and Pity to all who might behold him.
Leaving his Foe thus mangled and fainting upon the bloody Sand of the Innyard, Bonnet cleansed his Blade by wiping it upon Marsden’s Shirtfront, sheathed it, and left--though not before removing Marsden’s Purse, which he claimed in payment of his original Wager. None present had any Stomach to prevent him, having so cogent an Example of his Skill before them.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 30, "Spawn of Satan". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
This is a very shocking scene in the book, but oddly enough, I think it loses some of its impact here, in the context of all the blood and gore and violence we've already seen in this episode. What Bonnet did to that man was horrific, and certainly an illustration of Bonnet's character (as if we needed any more!), but it just felt like too much violence on top of everything that's already happened.

Note that Stephen Bonnet has been introduced to Forbes, the lawyer whose proposal Bree rejected last season. This will be important to remember later.

I was really disappointed in this episode, after the season got off to such a good start last week. Let's hope for better things to come!
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far, and please come back next week to see my recap of Episode 503.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Episode 501: "The Fiery Cross" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 501 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "The Fiery Cross". Overall I thought this was an excellent episode, and a terrific way to start Season 5!


There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









I loved the opening scene, with Murtagh and eight-year-old Jamie on the day of Ellen Fraser's death. Murtagh looks heartbroken, as well he might, considering how he felt about Ellen.

Most of Murtagh's dialogue here comes word for word from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, chapter 19, "An Oath is Sworn", and I relaxed immediately, reassured by the familiar words.

"She's gone now, but I'll always be with ye. Always." This line from Murtagh made me cry. It's been less than three months since my own mother's death. But I liked the way Murtagh managed to get a half-smile from young Jamie. It helps to know you're not alone.

I won't comment in detail on the new opening credit sequence, since I already blogged about it here, but I will say that I like it more every time I watch it.

I liked the shaving scene with Roger and Jamie. I thought it was an effective way to establish their relationship right from the start. The line about the "cutthroat razor" comes from the opening chapter of THE FIERY CROSS, in which Roger did indeed cut himself shaving on the morning of his wedding.

Jamie's wig looks very good, a vast improvement from Season 4! It's a more mature, sober hairstyle, befitting a man who'll turn fifty soon, and with his hair tied in a proper queue, he looks -- finally!! -- like the 18th-century landowner he is. I'm very relieved to see this.

"Nervous?" Jamie asks Roger.
"About what the day has in store for me, or that you have a blade to my throat?"

Good line. This scene reminds me a little of the bit in Episode 106 ("The Garrison Commander") where Black Jack Randall shaves his young orderly.

I liked the way they explained that Bree and Roger would now be living in Jamie and Claire's old cabin: "Couldn't have my wee grandson sleepin' in the woods, now could we?"

Most of the dialogue in this scene comes straight from DRUMS OF AUTUMN chapter 67, "The Toss of a Coin", and it seems a little odd and out of place here, given that Roger has evidently been living on the Ridge for some time since the end of Season 4. Presumably Jamie knows by this time that Roger has very little in the way of 18th-century skills. Still, I enjoyed watching the two of them interact.

So Murtagh made a silver ring for Bree, similar to the one Jamie gave Claire in Season 4. We only got a brief glimpse of it, but I like the look of it. "This one's certainly fit for my daughter," Jamie says, and I agree.

And now we get our first look at the Big House. It certainly is big <g>, with room enough to hold all manner of guests, visitors, and future members of the household.

Bree looks beautiful in her wedding finery, and I think the costume designer did a wonderful job with her dress. It's lovely and elegant, and I like the embroidery. I don't mind that they changed it from the blue wool described in the book. (Here's an interview with Trisha Biggar, the show's new costume designer, in which she explains her decision about the wedding dress.)

I enjoyed the "something borrowed, something blue" scene very much. It's sweet to see Jamie taking it so seriously, wanting to make everything perfect for Bree on her wedding day.

"And no good love'll do either of them, if he gets himself killed." For those of us who've read the books, that's pretty ominous!

I love the expression on Jamie's face when Bree turns around and he sees her in her wedding dress for the first time. It's as though he never actually saw her as a beautiful woman before, only as his daughter.

The pearl necklace looks lovely worn in a double strand like that. In fact it's the first time I've seen that necklace that I actually found it attractive. It works very well with that dress.

"No matter where I am, I will always be your wee girl." Good line.

Jamie, Bree, and Claire step outside, and Jamie calls out, "The Frasers of the Ridge are here!" That line comes from the book (FIERY CROSS chapter 18, "The Flames of Declaration"), but in this context, it struck me as a little odd, given that this is a wedding, not a Gathering. Still, it certainly got the attention of everyone assembled outside.

As Claire walks down the aisle, she nods to Governor Tryon and Lord John Grey, neither of whom were there for Bree and Roger's wedding in the book. Still, I was very glad to see Lord John there, considering all he did for Bree in Season 4.

Roger looks very handsome and dignified in his blue suit.

The wedding ceremony was just wonderful, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Well done!

On re-watching, I keep getting distracted by the little boy in the front row (Germain), who can't keep still in his seat.
I liked Claire and Jamie's whispered exchange:

"Brave face, darling."
"It's as brave as I can muster, given that it's not in Latin and conducted by a Catholic priest."
Claire: <rolls eyes>

As Roger and Bree exchange their vows, Jamie looks over at Fergus and Marsali, smiling at each other with love in their eyes, and then he looks at Claire, and we get a brief flashback of Jamie and Claire's wedding in Season 1, the two of them speaking those same vows -- and it ends with Jamie and Claire, in the present day, echoing Brianna's, "As long as we both shall live." I thought that was really effective, very moving.

At the wedding reception afterward, I was struck by the variety of guests present, ranging from John Quincy Myers to Jocasta and Ulysses. And suddenly I really missed Young Ian. Every other important character is here (well, except Murtagh, but we'll get to that in a bit), but Ian is far away with the Mohawk.

I like the dialogue in Jamie's conversation with Governor Tryon.

"But I can't help but feel myself robbed of the satisfaction of seeing one particular story being brought to its conclusion. Your dispatches have kept me enthralled for these past few months, but a few too many twists and turns of plot for my taste. You know, I like to see a villain get his comeuppance."

This is, of course, a reference to his having ordered Jamie to track down and kill Murtagh in the final scene of Season 4.

The little boy who plays Germain is very cute. "Grand-pere says [....] all Presbyterians have hair-ticks." That made me laugh out loud.

Germain is a little older in the show than he is in the book, but I'm not going to complain about it. If they aged him up for convenience, to make it easier to get him to say his lines or do what they needed him to do in certain scenes, I'm willing to suspend disbelief. The fact that he's dark-haired rather than blond like Book Germain took me by surprise at first, but I'm not bothered by it.

The scene with Bree and Roger cutting their wedding cake was very nice, a little touch of the 20th century coming through. As the newlyweds looked up at the crowd, I half-expected to see a wedding photographer snapping pictures, and it took me a second to think, "Oh, right. Remember when they are!"

"But you did come back," Bree says, "and that's all that matters." I'm so glad that's settled between them!

On the other hand....

"Maybe when we go back, we can do all this again, and I'll be a little more prepared."  So Roger isn't sure they should stay for good. Notice the look on Bree's face as he says this. Uh-oh! That's an issue that's going to come up again, I'm sure.

I liked the fiddle music in the dancing scene. The tune is called "My Love She's But a Lassie Yet," and it's based on a poem by Robert Burns. Here's a video.

As darkness falls, the festivities get much more raucous, with John Quincy Myers leading a drunken tongue-twister contest. Notice the young man who recites "Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers." Myers calls him Morton, so this must be Isaiah Morton. I wonder how much of Isaiah's storyline from the book will appear in Season 5?

I thought Lauren Lyle was terrific as Marsali in this scene. And Lord John, trying to elevate the tone of things a bit with the reference to Shakespeare, and totally failing, made me laugh.

I was vaguely aware that the "mashed potato" was a dance from the 1960s, but I'd never actually seen it before, so (prompted by Bree and Claire's conversation) I found this video from 1962. I can't quite picture Jamie dancing like that, can you? <g>

It's good to see Jamie and Lord John having a quiet moment to speak together. In THE FIERY CROSS, Lord John doesn't appear at all except through letters, so I see this in-person meeting as an unexpected treat for both of them. I thought this was an effective use of adaptation, to condense the original material without losing too much of the flavor of it.  Lord John seems to be finding his role as stepfather to an almost-teenager (William is about twelve at this point) rather stressful, and he informs Jamie that William has gone to England, just as in the book.

The other piece of news Lord John brings is much more disturbing: Stephen Bonnet is alive and has been sighted "in the province". Brianna, just passing by, reacts with shock and horror at the sound of Bonnet's name, and we see a brief flashback of her rape. How awful for Bree, to have to relive those memories on her wedding night, of all times!

I liked Claire's comment that Frank "would be delighted that you're marrying an Oxford man." That's undeniably true.

The next scene, with Jocasta and Murtagh, was well done, but I am still not at all enthusiastic about what the fans have taken to calling "Murcasta". Enough already!

Jamie and Claire babysitting baby Jemmy was quite entertaining, and a good way to give Roger and Bree some privacy on their wedding night.

I thought Roger's serenading Bree with "L-O-V-E" was fantastic! Richard Rankin did a fabulous job with that song, which I hadn't heard before. It's a Nat King Cole song from 1964, and it works amazingly well in this context. I have always loved the use of "Yesterday" in the book (very poignant and eerily appropriate lyrics), but it would have been much too expensive, and anyway I think the upbeat tone of "L-O-V-E" suits a community wedding celebration much better.

I enjoyed the montage. The sex scenes with three different couples made me think at once of the "CODA IN THREE-TWO TIME" from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD. Even Murtagh and Jocasta didn't bother me much in this context, since the focus wasn't only on the two of them.

Notice the elderly couple kissing at about 34:15, just before Jemmy cries. Mr. and Mrs. Bug, perhaps?  Also Marsali, gesturing to her belly and smiling at Fergus. Another baby on the way!

That shot of Bree on her wedding night, lying wide awake in bed after having sex with Roger, but (from the look in her eyes) clearly still preoccupied with Stephen Bonnet, is heartbreaking. It's a shame that thoughts of him had to intrude on such an otherwise perfect day, but Sophie did a good job of conveying that without words.

The next morning, Jocasta and Murtagh reassess their relationship.

"In another lifetime, you and I might have had more time," Murtagh says. He sounds regretful, but ready to break it off.

"Duncan Innes has proposed marriage," Jocasta announces.

My eyes popped wide open in surprise at that. This is, I believe, the very first reference to Duncan in the TV show, and I really hope it means that they are planning to bring him into the series this season (at long last!), and assume his rightful place in the OUTLANDER universe. But I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much.

Jocasta makes it clear she hasn't decided whether to accept Duncan's proposal, so it could come to nothing in the end. Still, Murtagh's "I'll no stand in the way of your happiness," and the way Jocasta pulled her hand out of his at the end, make me cautiously optimistic. I'll be watching eagerly to see where this leads.

Meanwhile, back at the Big House, Lizzie is flirting with a young man who turns out to be Josiah Beardsley. He certainly looks the part, even if he's a bit older than the fourteen-year-old described in the book. And he appears to be wearing a wig similar to Jamie's awful wig from Season 4. It suits him far better than it did Jamie!

The scene with Roger and Jocasta is just terrific, very much as I've always pictured it from the book, and I'm so glad they kept the dialogue intact.
“If ye canna love the lad for himself, I thought ye might treat him well for the sake of his prospects.”

He stared at her, words jamming in his throat. His face felt hot, and the blood throbbed dully in his ears.

“Oh, I ken how it is,” she assured him. “It’s only to be understood that a man might not feel just so kindly toward a bairn his wife’s borne to another. But if—”

He stepped forward then and gripped her hard by the shoulder, startling her. She jerked, blinking, and the candle flames flashed from the cairngorm brooch.

“Madam,” he said, speaking very softly into her face. “I do not want your money. My wife does not want it. And my son will not have it. Cram it up your hole, aye?”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 11, "Pride". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I just love the bit at the end, after Roger storms off. Ulysses is laughing quietly. "As you hoped, Mistress?" And she smiles in satisfaction, saying, "Even better."

Claire, in her surgery at the Big House, examines Josiah and says his tonsils need to be removed. Jamie tells him Claire will do the surgery if Josiah agrees to come and settle on the Ridge.

And now the Governor is back, referring to Jamie as "Colonel" and telling him, "It's time for you to fulfill your oath."  He leaves, with most of his troops, and Jamie, having no choice, says they will prepare to leave within a week.

Meanwhile, Roger returns to the cabin after his explosive meeting with Jocasta. He kneels down by the crib where Jemmy lies, and cuts his hand with his dirk.

"Roger, what are you doing?"
"Something I should have done a long time ago."

Yes, indeed! say all the book-fans out there (including me!) who were disappointed not to see this in the finale of Season 4.

The blood oath Roger swears comes word-for-word from DRUMS:
Roger knelt in front of her, and reaching out, pushed the shawl aside and smeared a broad red cross upon the downy curve of the baby’s forehead.

“You are blood of my blood,” he said softly, “and bone of my bone. I claim thee as my son before all men, from this day forever.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 66, "Child of My Blood". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I have always loved this bit in the book, and I'm delighted to see it here. Better late than never!

Jamie comes home to break the news to Claire about the militia. I just love the way he says, "Tryon wants a Scot. I'll give him a Scot!"

Watching Jamie wearing the full regalia of a Highlander for the first time in many years, I thought immediately of this quote from DRUMS:
A Highlander in full regalia is an impressive sight--any Highlander, no matter how old, ill-favored, or crabbed in appearance. A tall, straight-bodied, and by no means ill-favored Highlander in the prime of his life is breathtaking. He hadn’t worn the kilt since Culloden, but his body had not forgotten the way of it.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 12, "The Return of John Quincy Myers". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.) 
I loved Claire's reaction to seeing Jamie dressed like this. Cait does a marvelous job of showing how conflicted she is, without saying a word. Of course she must find him irresistible, dressed much as he was on their wedding day (how could she not?), but she only looks at him with a slight, worried frown on her face. And then she nods slightly, as if to say, "Do what you have to do."

Jamie walks outside, where night has fallen, and proceeds without a word to take a torch to the large Celtic cross in the yard. That gets everyone's attention in a hurry. When the crowd assembles, Jamie tells them the story of the fiery cross, taken almost word-for-word from the book.
“In the Highlands of Scotland, when a chieftain would set himself for war,” he said, his tone casually conversational, but pitched to be heard throughout the dooryard, “he would burn the fiery cross, and send it for a sign through the lands of his clan. It was a signal to the men of his name, to gather their weapons and come to the gathering place, prepared for battle.”

There was a stir in the midst of the crowd, a brief nudging and more cries of approval, though these were more subdued. A few men had seen this, or at least knew what he was talking about. The rest raised their chins and craned their necks, mouths half-open in interest.

“But this is a new land, and while we are friends”--he smiled at Gerhard Mueller--“Ja, Freunde, neighbors, and countrymen”--a look at the Lindsay brothers--“and we will be companions in arms, we are not clan. While I am given command, I am not your chief.”

The hell you aren’t, Roger thought. Or well on your way to it, anyroad.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Playing With Fire". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I thought Sam was just mesmerizing during this speech, absolutely channeling Jamie Fraser with his words, tone of voice, and body language. Just perfect!

"Stand by my hand," he says, gesturing to Roger. But Roger just stands there, frozen with shock, and before he can decide whether to step forward, another man (Isaiah Morton) has come forward to be first to swear the oath.

I was surprised to see the ceremony. I wasn't expecting something so formalized, nor so closely resembling the oath-taking at Castle Leoch from Episode 104, "The Gathering". But I thought it worked well.

Jamie calls Roger by name, and says, just as in the book, "Be a shield for your family, and for mine. Son of my house." And he gives Roger the rank of Captain. As Roger is absorbing that, Jamie murmurs, "You'll be safe by my side." And knowing all too well what's coming later, I felt a chill up my spine at those words.

Roger has clearly been paying close attention, because he recites the oath flawlessly and without hesitation, after hearing it only once.

And then Jamie calls Fergus, "son of my name and of my heart", which made me go, "Awwww!!"

The last scene in the episode serves as sort of a bookend to the first. Jamie and Murtagh, alone in the woods. Jamie tells Murtagh about Tryon's order, and the coming confrontation with the Regulators. As they talk, Murtagh begins putting together a miniature stone circle on the ground, complete with a tall central stone like the one at Craigh na Dun.

"Claire, Brianna, Roger....they all came to this time from another. And because they did, ye have everything you've ever wanted."

That's insightful, coming from Murtagh.

"It's no longer safe for you to remain here," Jamie says. "I know you stayed because of the vow you made to my mother, and to me. Now, I release you from it." And he tells Murtagh to go.  "Be hard to find."

As the episode ends, Jamie crouches on the ground, weeping for his godfather, and for what he may be forced to do.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far, and please come back next week to see my recap of Episode 502.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

I've been mentioned in the Washington Post!

About a week ago, I got an email from Erika Mailman, a freelance writer for the Washington Post, who said she was working on an article about the "OUTLANDER Effect" on Scottish tourism, which is bringing a lot of attention to historic sites like Culloden as well as places where the OUTLANDER TV show has filmed in Scotland.

She said she'd seen a reference on my blog to the boundary stone between England and Scotland known as the Carter Bar, and she wanted to know where the specific quote was in the books that referenced it. So I told her what she wanted to know. <g>

In case you're wondering, the reference is in VOYAGER:
He had come up from the Lake District and over the Carter’s Bar, that great ridge of high ground that divides England from Scotland, on whose broad back the ancient courts and markets of the Borders had been held.

“There’s a stone there to mark the border, maybe you’ll know; it looks the sort of stone to last a while.” He glanced at me, questioning, and I nodded. I did know it; a huge menhir, some ten feet tall. In my time, someone had carved on its one face ENGLAND, and on the other, SCOTLAND.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 37, "What's in a Name". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
When Ms. Mailman mentioned what her article was about, naturally I said I'd been to Scotland twice, the first time on Judy Lowstuter's Celtic Journeys tour with my mom and my sister in 2012, and had a fabulous time. (You can read my account of that trip here.) She said she'd interviewed Judy for this article. And Diana Gabaldon, too, of course, but she didn't mention that.

So the article will be appearing in the Travel section of the Washington Post tomorrow (Feb. 16), timed to coincide with the premiere of Season 5. <g> As soon as I heard that, I asked her to include a link to my site if possible -- which she did!

Here's the link to the article if you want to read it online. (It may only be available to Washington Post subscribers, though.)

Even though it's only a brief mention, this is quite a thrill for me personally, as you can imagine. <g> Another item to add to the list of things that would never in a million years have happened to me if I hadn't found these books.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Favorite romantic quotes from the OUTLANDER books

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here are some of my all-time favorite romantic quotes from Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books.  It wasn't easy to choose just one per book! I hope you enjoy them.


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


“Ye know,” he observed, letting go at last, “you’ve never said it.”

“Neither have you.”

“I have. The day after we came. I said I wanted you more than anything.”

“And I said that loving and wanting weren’t necessarily the same thing,” I countered.

He laughed. “Perhaps you’re right, Sassenach.” He smoothed the hair from my face and kissed my brow. “I wanted ye from the first I saw ye--but I loved ye when you wept in my arms and let me comfort you, that first time at Leoch.”

The sun sank below the line of black pines, and the first stars of the evening came out. It was mid-November, and the evening air was cold, though the days still kept fine. Standing on the opposite side of the fence, Jamie bent his head, putting his forehead against mine.

“You first.”

“No, you.”


“I’m afraid.”

“Of what, my Sassenach?”

The darkness was rolling in over the fields, filling the land and rising up to meet the night. The light of the new crescent moon marked the ridges of brow and nose, crossing his face with light.

“I’m afraid if I start I shall never stop.”

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 31, "Quarter Day". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


“I will find you,” he whispered in my ear. “I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you--then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest.”

His voice dropped, nearly to a whisper, and his arms tightened around me.

“Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.”

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


"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.)


“But do ye not see how verra small a thing is the notion of death, between us two, Claire?” he whispered.

My hands curled into fists against his chest. No, I didn’t think it a small thing at all.

“All the time after ye left me, after Culloden—I was dead then, was I not?" [....] “I was dead, my Sassenach--and yet all that time, I loved you.”

I closed my eyes, feeling the tickle of the grass on my lips, light as the touch of sun and air.

“I loved you, too,” I whispered. “I always will.”

The grass fell away. Eyes still closed, I felt him lean toward me, and his mouth on mine, warm as sun, light as air.

“So long as my body lives, and yours--we are one flesh,” he whispered. His fingers touched me, hair and chin and neck and breast, and I breathed his breath and felt him solid under my hand. Then I lay with my head on his shoulder, the strength of him supporting me, the words deep and soft in his chest.

"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.)


“I love you,” she murmured against his mouth, and he seized her lip between his teeth, too moved to speak the words in reply just yet.

There had been words between them then, as there had been words tonight. The words were the same, and he had meant them the first time no less than he did now. Yet it was different.

The first time he had spoken them to her alone, and while he had done so in the sight of God, God had been discreet, hovering well in the background, face turned away from their nakedness.

Tonight he said them in the blaze of firelight, before the face of God and the world, her people and his. His heart had been hers, and whatever else he had--but now there was no question of him and her, his and hers. The vows were given, his ring put on her finger, the bond both made and witnessed. They were one body.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "On the Night That Our Wedding Is On Us". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


“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.)


“Thee is a wolf, too, and I know it. But thee is my wolf, and best thee know that.”

He’d started to burn when she spoke, an ignition swift and fierce as the lighting of one of his cousin’s matches. He put out his hand, palm forward, to her, still cautious lest she, too, burst into flame.

“What I said to ye, before ... that I kent ye loved me--”

She stepped forward and pressed her palm to his, her small, cool fingers linking tight.

“What I say to thee now is that I do love thee. And if thee hunts at night, thee will come home.”

Under the sycamore, the dog yawned and laid his muzzle on his paws.

“And sleep at thy feet,” Ian whispered, and gathered her in with his one good arm, both of them blazing bright as day.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 103, "The Hour of the Wolf". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


“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.)

What are some of your own favorite romantic quotes from the books?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Episode recaps

As we prepare for Season 5, I thought I'd repost my collection of episode recaps from Seasons 1-4. For anyone who's wondering, yes, I will be doing recaps for this season as well. Hope you enjoy them!


Episode 401: America the Beautiful
Episode 402: Do No Harm
Episode 403: The False Bride
Episode 404: Common Ground
Episode 405: Savages
Episode 406: Blood of My Blood
Episode 407: Down the Rabbit Hole
Episode 408: Wilmington
Episode 409: The Birds and the Bees
Episode 410: The Deep Heart's Core
Episode 411: If Not For Hope
Episode 412: Providence
Episode 413: Man of Worth


Episode 301: The Battle Joined
Episode 302: Surrender
Episode 303: All Debts Paid
Episode 304: Of Lost Things
Episode 305: Freedom & Whisky
Episode 306: A. Malcolm
Episode 307: Crème de Menthe
Episode 308: First Wife
Episode 309: The Doldrums
Episode 310: Heaven and Earth
Episode 311: Uncharted
Episode 312: The Bakra
Episode 313: Eye of the Storm


Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche
Episode 205: Untimely Resurrection
Episode 206: Best Laid Plans...
Episode 207: Faith
Episode 208: The Fox's Lair
Episode 209: Je Suis Prest
Episode 210: Prestonpans
Episode 211: Vengeance is Mine
Episode 212: The Hail Mary
Episode 213: Dragonfly in Amber


Episode 101: "Sassenach"
Episode 102: "Castle Leoch"
Episode 103: "The Way Out"
Episode 104: "The Gathering"
Episode 105: "Rent"
Episode 106: "The Garrison Commander"
Episode 107: "The Wedding"
Episode 108: "Both Sides Now"
Episode 109: "The Reckoning"
Episode 110: "By the Pricking of My Thumbs"
Episode 111: "The Devil's Mark"
Episode 112: "Lallybroch"
Episode 113: "The Watch"
Episode 114: "The Search"
Episode 115: "Wentworth Prison"
Episode 116: "To Ransom a Man's Soul"

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The "OUTLANDER Effect" comes to North Carolina

Many of you have heard about the "OUTLANDER Effect" on Scottish tourism, as more and more OUTLANDER fans visit Scotland to see for themselves the locations mentioned in the books, as well as various sites used in the filming of the TV show.

But what about North Carolina? Those of us who live here (I'm a longtime resident of Raleigh, NC) have been asking that question for years, and ever since the Frasers settled in North Carolina in Season 4, it appears that OUTLANDER fans are finally starting to take notice.

Here's an interesting article on the "OUTLANDER Effect" on tourism in North Carolina.
The popularity of the TV series, which returns for its fifth season on Feb. 16, and North Carolina’s debut on it last year has brought the state’s colonial history into the lucrative world of “Outlander.” Specifically, it has sent fans to historic sites in droves seeking to follow in the footsteps of the characters.
Although I often roll my eyes at the show's concept of North Carolina's geography, which places the mountains much closer to the coast than they are in reality, I think overall they're doing a reasonably good job portraying the landscape. Is it exactly like what NC looks like in real life? No, but given that they weren't able to film here, I try not to nitpick too much. It's a thrill for me to see the story taking place not far from where I live, just as it always has been. I still have vivid memories of my first reading of DRUMS OF AUTUMN, and my surprise and delight when I realized that Jamie and Claire were going to settle here.

Diana Gabaldon visited Alamance Battleground and Tryon Palace last year, to help raise funds for the preservation of these historical sites. I think it's wonderful that the show (and the books) are inspiring fans to visit these sites and to learn more about North Carolina and its history. And there's much more to come in Season 5!

Have any of you visited the locations in North Carolina mentioned in the books or show? What do you think of the show's depiction of North Carolina so far?

Saturday, February 1, 2020

January poll results

Here are the results of the January poll, which asked the question, "Have you ever been to Scotland?"
  • 32.25% - No, but I'd love to visit there some day!
  • 19.07% - I visited Scotland long before I knew Diana Gabaldon's books existed.
  • 11.16% - Yes, I've been there more than once.
  • 8.52% - I visited Scotland after I discovered the OUTLANDER books.
  • 5.07% - I'd like to visit, but I can't travel due to age or health reasons.
  • 4.46% - I visited Scotland as a result of seeing, or hearing about, the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 3.85% - No, but I'd like to see some of the locations shown in the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 3.45% - I'm making plans to go to Scotland in 2020.
  • 2.84% - I went on an OUTLANDER-themed tour of Scotland.
  • 2.43% - I've lived in Scotland all or part of my life.
  • 1.22% - No, it's too far away and/or I can't afford it.
  • 0.81% - No, I like reading about Scotland or seeing it on TV, but I don't have any desire to go there myself.
  • 4.87% - Other
There were 493 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated! Please take a moment to vote in the February poll, which asks, "Would you go through the stones, if you could?"