Loyal readers of the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon will be pleased to pick up this new book, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. New readers who pick it up on a lark will also easily enjoy the story. Lord John is a compelling character, and Gabaldon’s writing style makes it easy to sink in.
For longtime fans, this book is set further back in time than the most current “Outlander” saga. It is during the time that James Fraser is exiled in England, after meeting and developing an unlikely friendship with Lord John in prison; Red Jamie the Jacobite is the prisoner, while Lord John is serving as the man in charge of the Scottish prisoners of war. In this book, however, Jamie is a minor character and Gabaldon instead focuses on the inner workings and worldly adventures of John.
We learn much more about Lord John, through his many military experiences, family interactions and hot-blooded escapades. His experiences are woven together to create a much clearer, if more romantic, view of the man - along with minor complications such as hanging executions and bloodthirsty mobs, attacks in the night and the unsolved murder of his father. That trauma, deeply hidden for years, is always on the edge of John’s amorous frivolities and duties. It affects every part of his psyche, even, in the course of learning the truth, his renowned abilities to carry out military necessities.
Although fans of the “Outlander” series will gobble this latest story up, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade is a complete tale unto itself. In this book, Gabaldon further delves into the sensuality and honor that defines this character. If nothing else can be said of him, one can say with certainty that he has fascinating flaws to balance his charm, making him an excellent choice for stand-alone books. His intense honesty, his rather unusual rare blushes when taken unawares, and his sense of honor make him very likable and easy to empathize with. He is very sensual in his acceptance of self, and although the book takes us through a romantic entanglement, it tends toward steamy rather than raunchy.
There is a murderer to bring to justice, the murky depths of politics and family to wade through to find the truth. There is his newest partner, young Percy, who helps to unlock secrets while bringing dangerous predilections to the light of day. Military and personal needs take John around England and Germany both. Minor battle skirmishes are written in detail, but can easily be enjoyed even by the faint of heart.
Taken as a whole, the story is satisfying, although it leaves one with a wistful sigh upon closing and replacing the book to its place in the shelf. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade will leave you hoping for more. Diana Gabaldon’s next one is expected on November 27th, 2007, and the title promises adventure: Lord John and the Hand of Devils.