Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Delacorte, Sep 2007, $25.00
Being a gay man in 1758 England is difficult as caught sodomites are hung in a grisly manner. The government does not call attention to a group of conspirators who will be tried for treason; so instead accuse them of sodomy. Lord Major John Grey, brother to Hal, the Duke of Pardloe, keeps his sexual orientation hidden for fear a wrongly placed whisper means death.
While in the Hal’s Office, a page of their dead father’s journal is found on his desk. Hal tells John he was exiled to Aberdeen when his father died because there were rumors that their father was a traitor who was going to be arrested and rumors of his being a sodomite were on everyone’s lips. John takes solace in his new relationship with Percy, the stepson of the man about to marry his mother. Percy joins the same regiment that John and Hal belong to so that they have another reason to be brothers. John has recently been attacked several times; their mother believes the incidents are tied to their father’s murder. John is content to be with someone he cares about and not delve into the homicide even if it ties to the present. After their regiment deploys to the German front to fight the French, clues surface that could solve the decade old murder mystery.
The latest Lord John book is more a historical drama than a mystery. Readers obtain a glimpse at life in mid eighteenth century England for someone who is gay. John is an honorable person who relishes his sexual orientation although he hates having to hide it (not out of shame but out of a real fear for his life). The murder mystery is interspersed throughout the story line as that subplot serves to enhance the look at the life of a homosexual in historical England. Diana Gabaldon’s provides a powerful Lord John tale that is unforgettable especially with its relevancy today.