Monday, January 7, 2008

Man Love Monday - Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade review

And now for the second part of my contribution to Man Love Monday...(if you still haven't checked out the awesomeness on lisabea's blog, make sure you do!)

Now we move to a more somber and serious story. I’m a longtime reader and fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books. When Lord John Grey showed up, I must admit that I wasn’t very fond of him. Mainly because he carried a torch for Jamie and I’m irrationally protective of Jamie. He’s Claire’s (and mine of course, but that doesn’t count), and I don’t want anyone else lusting after him. Like, I said…irrational. But since Lord John has started starring in his own series of mystery stories, my views on him have taken a complete turn.

I “read” Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade as an audiobook. There is something to be said about curling up in bed, in the darkness of the night and falling asleep gently to the sound of a story. Each night as I got further into the story and got to know Lord John better, the more I was intrigued by him. He’s a man of intense honor. A soldier who knows how to lead men and how to inspire loyalty. And yet, he must keep the most essential part of him a secret. I found it fascinating how LJ is both completely comfortable with his sexuality (in a conversation with a lover, he says that he’s never wished he was not gay) but yet completely in the closet. He HAS to be for the sake of his career, his family, and his very life. Being a gay man in 18th century England was not accepted. Indeed, there were repercussions far worse than simply being looked down upon. Dishonor, ruin, even prison and death.

This book is not a romance novel but does contain romantic elements. As far as the actual plot of the story is concerned, it is like any good Gabaldon tale. Long and seemingly meandering but everything falls together in the end. Long ago, the death of Lord John’s father cast a shadow of scandal over the entire family. Although it was accepted a suicide, LJ is certain that it was in fact murder and new information prompts him to undertake a quiet investigation. In the meantime, his regiment is preparing to reenter the war in mainland Europe, he embarks on a new love affair and all the while manages to balance everything with his trademark wit, grace and dry sense of humor that makes him such a memorable character. Something that I particularly enjoyed was the delicate and unspoken dance of words, gestures and double meanings that serve to convey meaning between himself and other gay men right in plain view of everyone. For an excellent example, check out the following excerpt.

As it happened, I was listening to this book at the same time I was reading My Fair Captain. The juxtaposition of gay men in an open society vs. gay men in a closeted society was really quite interesting. It made me very sad that Lord John would never be able to openly experience a loving relationship with a partner of his choice. By the end of the book, I was aching for him and what seemed to be a lonely future stretching before him. I know that Gabaldon isn't finished with him yet and he still has a role to play in the Outlander books, so I'll continue to hope that he finds some measure of happiness. And I'll continue to have a little crush on him.



lisabea said...


Great review, Sula. I cannot wait to read this book. My wish is that maybe JL will find a time portal and be sent, mysteriously and magically, to Regelence. There he will be able to do his detectoring with one of the yummy brother princes...No? Oh well.

Marg said...

I am reading Lord John and the Hand of Devils at the moment, having read Brotherhood of the Blade a couple of months ago. I think Gabaldon does an amazing job of portraying Lord Johns relationships, especially of how clandestine everything needs to be at that time in history.

Katie(babs) said...

I have always had a tender spot for John, especially as he and Jamie would play chess in the jail. And even though John could have forced him to do what he wanted, John was always very aware that he rather have Jamie as his friend than nothing at all.
I will be visiting the library today and will pick this up!

Tumperkin said...

I've not read this yet. So far just LJ and The Hellfire Club - an introductory short story - and LJ and The Private Matter (which I loved). These books have a very different feel from Outlander.

sula said...

thanks lisabea! And who knows...Gabaldon does write time-travel so one could always send LJ to the future. Then again...mebbe not.

marg, how is the next book? I agree with you on Gabaldon's writing. It's really fascinating, this hidden world that you don't often get to read about. LJ is such a great character; very subtle in his actions and words.

katiebabs, it's true that John had a real sense of honor when it came to Jamie. I just remember being so frustrated with him at the time because I wanted Jamie to be with Claire RIGHT NOW and I had no patience for a secondary character getting himself mixed in there. lol. I think I will have to do a massive re-read of the entire outlander series now with my new view of LJ just so I can read his parts in a different and more sympathetic light.

T, I liked this book a lot better than LJ and the Private Matter. Mainly because we actually got to see John in a romantic relationship. Very fascinating, if a little heart-breaking.

Carolyn Jean said...

Thanks for the totally engaging review. This sounds excellent. Would it be okay to read having only read Outlander?

My friend who recommended Outlander initially told me that Gabaldon created LJ as a positive gay character after getting a lot of shit for creating such an evil gay character in Outlander. Is this true?

Marg said...

In the next book there are two novellas and one short story. The short story is only 23 pages long, I had read the first novella before but liked it (much more than LJ and the Private Matter which I was kind of underwhelmed by) and I am really enjoying the second novella! Overall it's good!

sula said...

CJ, I think you could definitely read the LJ books without having read all of the Outlander books. Just ask tumperkin, she's read LJ BEFORE reading Outlander. *g*

As for the reasons behind Gabaldon's giving LJ a larger role, I think it's a bit simplistic to say that it was 'because of' or in reaction to evil Jack Randall. T, correct me if I'm wrong because it's been a while since I've read Outlander, but I think JR is less of an "evil gay" character than simply an evil man who enjoys hurting and humiliating others. He's into power and he likes inflicting pain be it on men or women. IIRC, he was ready to rape Claire at one point too. Also, LJ was introduced as a sympathetic character in book 3, quite a long time before he got his own series. So yeah...really no idea if there is a connection. I kind of doubt it. It might be interesting to do some research online and see if DG has ever answered that question.

marg, I am going to have to see if the book is available at my library. Or wait for a good Borders discount coupon. :) I hope you write a review when you're finished. I'd like to know more.

sula said...

hmm, and I only just now noticed that somehow the link I had posted to the most excellent excerpt was messed up. doh! I've corrected it and would encourage all interested parties to check it out. :)

lisabea said...

I hate when that happens. I kept trying to link that photo of Nate with the man jewelry and everytime I published, the picture would be hugely smirking on my blog! Heh.

I think my mom's picking the LJ books up for me at the library. She and I had lunch the other day and she's read all the Gabaldon books and couldn't believe that I hadn't. I'm like, "There sooo thick!" *whining voice*

Happy Thursday. SO, what are we doing for NEXT Monday, Sula?

Marg said...

One advantage of the LJ books is that they are normal sized!!!

Marg said...

Just thought I would let you know that my review of LJ and the Hand of Devils is up here

Riva said...

Keep up the good work.