“NORTH AND SOUTH” Trilogy – Certain Topics

“NORTH AND SOUTH Trilogy” – Certain Topics

In the past, there have been questions regarding plot points for the three miniseries of the “NORTH AND SOUTH” Trilogy. I thought I would clear up a few matters. 

Elkhannah Bent’s Survival Following Fight with Orry Main

Some “NORTH AND SOUTH” fans have wondered how Elkhannah Bent (Philip Casnoff) had survived his fight with Orry Main (Patrick Swayze) in the second book, “Book II – Love and War”. In the second novel, Orry and Bent had some sort of fight near the James River that ended when Orry shoved the latter over the falls and (at least I thought) to his death. Imagine my surprise when I read “Book III – Heaven and Hell” and saw that Bent never died after all. He ended up in an army hospital in Richmond.

In the second miniseries, North and South – Book II”, Bent rushed inside that warehouse just before it blew up. I thought that was the end of that bugger – until I read the novel, “Heaven and Hell” one year later. When the miniseries, “Book III – Heaven and Hell” finally aired, Bent was alive at the beginning of the first, although scarred. How he had survived that explosion, I don’t know. After Bent killed Orry, he and Ashton Main Huntoon (Terri Garber) quarrelled. Bent had said the wrong thing to Ashton and she did to him, what Orry did in the book – shoved him over the falls and into the James River. And just as in the book, Bent ended up in an army hospital, crazy as ever.

Orry’s Swordsmanship in Book I

I must admit that I had a problem with Orry defeating Bent in that brief sword fight in Part I of the first miniseries. Especially since Orry was described as not being a talented swordsman. I had asked several people about sword fighting and according to them, brains and a solid understanding of strategy are required to be a good swordsman.

Since Orry was never that great with his studies (including military subjects), I never saw how he was able to defeat Bent, who was. The explanation that Patrick Swayze (who portrayed Orry) happened to be an excellent dancer did not seem much of an excuse. Nor did it seem like a good excuse to include that scene in the miniseries. This does not mean that all Northern cadets made better swordsmen than Southern cadets. After all, I can think of a good number of Southerners who had excelled academically at West Point – including Robert E. Lee, Pierre Beauregard and Porter Alexander.

Hanging in Book III

In the third miniseries, one of the characters – an ex-slave named Issac (Stan Shaw), ended up hanged by the local Ku Klux Klan. A “NORTH AND SOUTH” fan had believed that a similar hanging had taken place in the third novel, “Heaven and Hell”. I am here to say that no such hanging scene in the third novel. Issac’s literary counterpoint in the third novel turned out to be a former Mont Royal slave named Andy Sherman. Andy ended up being killed during the Klan’s attack upon Mont Royal. Ironically, Andy’s counterpoint in the second miniseries, was Ezra (Beau Billingslea), who happened to be in love with Semiramis (Erica Gimpel).

Mortgage on Mont Royal

In both the first novel and the first miniseries, Orry had put Mont Royal on mortgage, so he could pay back George for: a) the funds George gave to the Mains for construction of a steamship in the novel; and b) George’s investment in a cotton mill he co-owned with Orry in the miniseries. For those who do not know, the character of Cooper Main – Orry’s older brother – appeared in all THREE novels. However, the producers had decided to cut out his character in the first two miniseries. When Cooper finally appeared in Book III (in the form of Robert Wagner), the writers explained that he was the one who held the mortgage on Mont Royal. Where he had been all this time, they never bothered to explain. A moment of sloppy writing, if you ask me.

If you have any further questions regarding the plots of Jakes’ three novels or the three miniseries, please do not hesitate to ask.

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