Lord John and the Brotherhood
of the Bladeby Diana Gabaldon


By Deniz Barki

On the day after their first formal meeting with their mother's fiancée and their soon-to-be stepbrother, Lord John Grey finds a disturbing missive in his brother Hal's office at the 46th Regiment's headquarters in London - a page torn from his father's last journal, which disappeared soon after their father, accused of being a Jacobite agent, was found dead with a pistol in his hand. Lord John is disturbed and intrigued, all the more so when Hal refuses to disclose any information or even to treat the matter seriously. If Lord John defies his brother and pursues his investigation, can he clear his father's name and restore his family's honour?

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade is Diana Gabaldon's most recent novel, following Lord John and the Private Matter, to focus on the intrigues and adventures of 18th Century soldier and nobleman Lord John Grey. A third volume, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, enclosing two previously published and one new short story, was released at the end of November. Lord John first made his appearance on the eve of the Battle of Culloden in Scotland, as a brave - if foolhardy - 16 year old, in the second book of Gabaldon's bestselling Outlander series about James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp, and immediately captured the interest of devoted Jamie and Claire fans. For those unfamiliar with the original series, however, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade may serve as an exci-ting introduction to both Lord John - and James Fraser, who holds nothing but scorn for his erstwhile gaoler Grey, as both an Englishman and homosexual, but may hold the key to solving the mystery of Grey's father's death.

Lord John's quest for the truth leads him back and forth across London and up to the Lake District, where Fraser is indentured, all the while as he is engaged in preparing the 46th Regiment for battle on the French front (in what was afterward called the Seven Years' War). At the same time, in a London that does not look kindly on men of his nature, Grey finds himself torn between his growing affection for his stepbrother and his incessant, though never to be requited love, for Fraser. Other mishaps occur along the way, involving a chance meeting at a literary salon, never-ending Irish wakes, and even a stolen fortune-telling automaton, as Gabaldon deftly weaves the threads of Lord John's story. Her attention to historical detail and her sparse prose, which in a few words conveys a wealth of ideas and reveals the depths of her characters' emotions, draw the reader in to a convincing - and breathless - world.

Gabaldon has said that whether short story, regular-length novel or epic, each of her stories may be encapsulated in one word, and that Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade is about honour. Whether his father's, his lover's, Fraser's or his own, readers are masterfully led through every twist and turn as Lord John takes on himself the task of clearing his family's honour - without losing his own.


DECEMBER 2007


Old Articles by Deniz Barki:
Approaching Ireland by ferry...
Just Plain Nesin