Diana Gabaldon never fails to deliver a well-researched and well-written novel. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade is no exception. From Goodreads: “In 1758, in the heart of the Seven Years’ War, Britain fights by the side of Prussia in the Rhineland. For Lord John and his titled brother Hal, the battlefield will be a welcome respite from the torturous mystery that burns poisonously in their family’s history. Seventeen years earlier, Lord John’s late father, the Duke of Pardloe, was found dead, a pistol in his hand and accusations of his role as a Jacobite agent staining forever a family’s honor. Now unlaid ghosts from the past are stirring. Lord John’s brother has mysteriously received a page of their late father’s missing diary. Someone is taunting the Grey family with secrets from the grave, but Hal, with secrets of his own, refuses to pursue the matter and orders his brother to do likewise. Frustrated, John turns to a man who has been both his prisoner and his confessor: the Scottish Jacobite James Fraser. Fraser can tell many secrets—and withhold many others. But war, a forbidden affair, and Fraser’s own secrets will complicate Lord John’s quest. Until James Fraser yields the missing piece of an astounding puzzle—and Lord John, caught between his courage and his conscience, must decide whether his family’s honor is worth his life.”
While this is an enjoyable installment that gives us further background into John’s family and personal history, something was missing for me. I didn’t feel the same attachment to the characters and there were very few scenes that left me with ‘the feelings’ that Diana usually conveys through her writing. There were a few lighthearted moments – John’s cousin giving birth in the church, Percy learning to dance. And, a few heartbreaking – John finding Percy in a very compromising position that left them both with almost no options. But, in general, it was a fairly standard historical novel with a little romance and a little mystery.
I was most impressed with John finding a way to save Percy while still preserving the honor that is so important to him.
One pet peeve – the synopsis listed above plays on Jamie Fraser as a character. He is in about two scenes that are fairly unimportant to this story (there is a revelation to John regarding William’s birth but that is truly more about the Outlander storyline.) I think Lord John can stand on his own and they don’t have to use Jamie as a selling point for these books.
4/5 stars because, even with flaws, Diana Gabaldon can write!