Wednesday, September 9, 2015

OUTLANDER Starz Original Series and the Adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER

The Newsletters which came out before and during the episodes, were really telling of the details that went into depicting each chapter in Diana Gabaldon's book. 

Castle Leoch, I dimly recalled, was in the middle of the clan MacKenzie lands. Plainly the clan chieftain was still the MacKenzie. I began to understand why our little band of horsemen had ridden through the night to reach the castle; 

Rising at dawn with the rest of the castle inhabitants, I breakfasted in the great hall, then, if Mrs. Fitz had no patients for me to see, I went to work in the huge castle gardens. Several other women worked there regularly, with an attending phalanx of lads in varying sizes, who came and went, hauling rubbish, tools, and loads of manure. I generally worked through the day there, sometimes going to the kitchens to help prepare a newly picked crop for eating or preserving, unless some medical emergency called me back to the Skulkery, as I called the late Beaton’s closet of horrors. Once in a while, I would take up Alec’s invitation and visit the stables or paddock, enjoying the sight of the horses shedding their shaggy winter coats in clumps, growing strong and glossy with spring grass. Some evenings I would go to bed immediately after supper, exhausted by the day’s work. Other times, when I could keep my eyes open, I would join the gathering in the Great Hall to listen to the evening’s entertainment of stories, song, or the music of harp or pipes. I could listen to Gwyllyn the Welsh bard for hours, enthralled in spite of my total ignorance of what he was saying, most times.

Hall turned out to be just that; the dining hall where I had eaten the night before. Now it was transformed, though; tables, benches, and stools pushed back against the walls, the head table removed and replaced by a substantial carved chair of dark wood, covered with what I assumed must be the MacKenzie tartan, a plaid of dark green and black, with a faint red and white over-check. Sprigs of holly decorated the walls, and there were fresh rushes strewn on the stone flags.

Given the carryings-on of the night before, I had expected most inhabitants of the castle to lie late the next morning, possibly staggering down for a restorative mug of ale when the sun was high—  assuming that it chose to come out at all, of course. But the Highland Scots of Clan MacKenzie were a tougher bunch than I had reckoned with, for the castle was a buzzing hive long before dawn, with rowdy voices calling up and down the corridors, and a great clanking of armory and thudding of boots as men prepared for the tynchal.

The castle itself was blunt and solid. No fanciful turrets or toothed battlements. This was more like an enormous fortified house, with thick stone walls and high, slitted windows. A number of chimney pots smoked over the slick tiles of the roof, adding to the general impression of greyness. The gated entrance of the castle was wide enough to accommodate two wagons side by side. I say this without fear of contradiction, because it was doing exactly that as we crossed the bridge. One ox-drawn wagon was loaded with barrels, the other with hay. Our little cavalcade huddled on the bridge, waiting impatiently for the wagons to complete their laborious entry. 

The laird received me in a room at the top of a flight of stone steps. It was a tower room, round, and rich with paintings and tapestries hung against the sloping walls. While the rest of the castle seemed comfortable enough, if somewhat bare, this room was luxuriously crowded, crammed with furniture, bristling with ornaments, and warmly lit by fire and candle against the drizzle of the day outside. While the outer walls of the castle had only the high slit windows suited to resisting attack, this inner wall had been more recently furnished with long casement windows that let in what daylight there was. As I entered, my attention

 The pipe music rose to a fervent pitch, and then abruptly ceased. In the dead silence of the Hall, Colum MacKenzie stepped out from the upper archway , and strode purposefully to a small platform that had been erected at the head of the room. If he made no effort to hide his disability, he did not flaunt it now either. He was splendid in an azure-blue coat, heavily laced with gold, buttoned with silver, and with rose silk cuffs that turned back almost to the elbow. A tartan kilt in fine wool hung past his knees, covering most of his legs and the checked stockings on them. His bonnet was blue, but the silver badge held plumes, not holly. The entire Hall held its breath as he took center stage. Whatever else he was, Colum MacKenzie was a showman. He turned to face the assembled clansmen, raised his arms and greeted them with a ringing shout. “Tulach Ard!”“Tulach Ard!” the clansmen gave back in a roar. The woman next to me shivered. There was a short speech next, given in Gaelic. This was greeted with periodic roars of approval, and then the oath-taking proper commenced. Dougal MacKenzie was the first man to advance to Colum’s platform. The small rostrum gave Colum enough height that the brothers met face to face. Dougal was richly dressed, but in plain chestnut velvet with no gold lace, so as not to distract attention from Colum’s magnificence. Dougal drew his dirk with a flourish and sank to one knee , holding the dirk upright by the blade. His voice was less
powerful than Colum’s, but loud enough so that every word rang through the hall. “I swear by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the holy iron that I hold, to give ye my fealty and pledge ye my loyalty to the name of the clan MacKenzie. If ever my hand shall be raised against ye in rebellion, I ask that this holy iron shall pierce my heart.” He lowered the dirk, kissed it at the juncture of haft and tang , and thrust it home in its sheath. Still kneeling, he offered both hands clasped to Colum, who took them between his own and lifted them to his lips in acceptance of the oath so offered. Then he raised Dougal to his feet. Turning, Colum picked up a silver quaich from its place on the tartan-covered table behind him. He lifted the heavy eared cup with both hands, drank from it, and offered it to Dougal. Dougal took a healthy swallow and handed back the cup. Then , with a final bow to the laird of the clan MacKenzie, he stepped to one side, to make room for the next man in line.

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