Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Such is Diana Gabaldon’s talent for characterization, that even when her plots meander, she still holds my interest.
When I first started readingLord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, I was completely caught up in the story and quickly rushed through almost half the book. Unfortunately, it was a few days before I managed to pick it up again and, regretfully, whether my attention span or the fact that she simply required the reader to retain far too much specific information – much of it from the Outlander books themselves – is at fault, the undeniable result is that I found the complicated goings-on here somewhat tough to follow. Still, I’m totally invested in Lord John Grey as a character and that’s what kept me reading.
To set the stage, this second book in her series featuring the adventures of the young Lord John, takes place while Jamie (insert appropriate heartfelt sigh here) is working as a groom in England as a condition of his parole. A baby has just been born. (And, no, I won’t say any more to avoid series spoilers.)
The plot involves Lord John’s attempt to discover what really occurred years earlier when his father was widely reported to have committed suicide due to the fact, as rumors would have it, that he was about to be exposed as a Jacobite traitor. Lord John has never believed his father guilty, but he and his mother and brother have all lived with the heavy burden of the familly’s disgrace for years.
In addition to the suspense plot line, the story also centers heavily around Lord John’s relationship with his new half-brother by marriage. For anyone who hasn’t read Gabaldon before, Lord John is gay. He is also by necessity as deeply closeted as one would have to be in order to survive as an aristocrat and military man in 18th century England.
As was the case with the first book in this series, Lord John and the Private Matter, Gabaldon excels at vividly bringing her period to life, something made even more enjoyable by the fact that 18th century-set novels are such a rare commodity these days. And, yes, for those eager for a glimpse of our beloved Jamie (insert appropriate heartfelt sigh yet again), he does make a few appearances – albeit brief ones – in this book.
Still, no matter how compelling Lord John might be, the plot does meander – my goodness, yes, it does. So much so, in fact, that by the time we arrived at the conclusion and matters are resolved, I was metaphorically scratching my head a bit as to how it all came together. Still, to be fair, I don’t think the mystery plot is the reason to come to this party – for that we should rely on the character of Lord John himself who is more than capable of taking center stage and starring in his own series of novels.
As those of us who’ve followed the Outlander saga know, Lord John doesn’t find love at the young age he is here, so consider this fair warning that the traditional HEA is absent. Still, even though I knew that the non-happy ending was inevitable, it didn’t make it any easier to bear when it finally came about. And that, fellow readers, is a great character. Not to mention a great writer, too.