Lord John series

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Lord John series
Cover of ''Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club'' (1998) 1st Edition.jpg
1st stand-alone print cover, Hell-Fire Club (1998)
Author Diana Gabaldon
Country United States
Language English
Genre Historical mystery
Publisher Delacorte Press
Published November 1998 – present
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Audiobook
Preceded by Outlander series
Website dianagabaldon.com

The Lord John series is a sequence of historical mystery novels and shorter works written by Diana Gabaldon that center on Lord John Grey, a recurring secondary character in the author's Outlander series. Secretly homosexual "in a time when that particular predilection could get one hanged," the character has been called "one of the most complex and interesting" of the hundreds of characters in Gabaldon's Outlander novels.[1] Starting with the 1998 novella Lord John and the Hellfire Club, the Lord John spin-off series currently consists of five novellas and three novels.[2]

Origins[edit]

Gabaldon introduced Grey in the second Outlander novel Dragonfly in Amber (1992) as a sixteen-year-old English soldier who chances upon Jamie and Claire Fraser on the eve of the Battle of Prestonpans. The character returned in Voyager (1994) and Drums of Autumn (1997). When Gabaldon was invited to write a short story for the 1998 British anthology Past Poisons: An Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology of Historical Crime, she was interested in the challenge of writing a shorter work but hesitant to use any of the main characters from the Outlander series for fear of creating "a stumbling block in the growth of the next novel."[2] The Lord Grey character came to mind.[3]

"Lord John Grey is an important character in the Outlander series, but he isn’t onstage all the time. And when he isn’t … well, plainly he’s off leading his life and having adventures elsewhere, and I could write about any of those adventures without causing complications for future novels. Beyond that obvious advantage, Lord John is a fascinating character. He’s what I call a 'mushroom' — one of those unplanned people who pops up out of nowhere and walks off with any scene he’s in — and he talks to me easily (and wittily). He’s also a gay man, in a time when to be homosexual was a capital offense, and Lord John has more than most to lose by discovery. He belongs to a noble family, he’s an officer in His Majesty’s Army, and loves both his family and his regiment; to have his private life discovered would damage — if not destroy — both. Consequently, he lives constantly with conflict, which makes him both deeply entertaining and easy to write about."[2]

That first Lord John story became Lord John and the Hellfire Club (1998); it was well-received and Gabaldon decided that she would write more Grey-centric tales in her spare time.[2][3] Her next attempt was a larger manuscript that secured the author a deal for three full Grey novels: Lord John and the Private Matter (2003), Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007) and The Scottish Prisoner (2011).[2][3] Gabaldon would also write four additional Lord John novellas between 2003 and 2011.[2] Meanwhile, the character of Grey appeared in the Outlander novels A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005) and An Echo in the Bone (2009), as well as in The Fiery Cross (2001) by way of a series of letters to Jamie and his family.

Lord John Grey himself has been called one of Gabaldon's "most complex and interesting" Outlander characters.[1] Publishers Weekly notes Grey to be "a competent and likable sleuth"[4] and a " soldier-hero with secrets of his own."[5] Comfortable with his sexuality but necessarily "discreet", Grey navigates mystery and intrigue "with characteristic élan, intelligence, and fortitude, assisted by jeweled goblets of wine and meaningful glances from fetching men."[6]

To date, the Lord John works all take place between 1756 and 1761, during the events of Gabaldon's Voyager.[2][7] They can be generally categorized as historical mysteries, and the three novels are shorter and focus on fewer plot threads than the main Outlander books.[7]

Lord John and the Hellfire Club (1998)[edit]

The novella Lord John and the Hellfire Club was originally published in the 1998 British anthology Past Poisons: An Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology of Historical Crime (edited by Maxim Jakubowski),[7][8] as well as by Bantam Dell as Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club in a "Complimentary Collector's Special Edition" the same year.[9] It was later included in the Lord John and the Hand of Devils collection (2007).[2][7][10]

Set in 1756 London, the novella follows the adventures of Lord John as he stumbles upon the secrets of the Hellfire Club, an underground society concerned with the supernatural. While at the Beefsteak Club, Grey is introduced to Robert Gerald, a cousin by marriage to Grey's friend and colleague, Harry Quarry. Gerald asks Grey to meet him in secret that night, hinting at intrigue, but he is later killed in front of Grey and Quarry before he can divulge the reason for the meeting. The two men begin to search for clues to the murder, and Grey is soon invited to a Hellfire Club meeting by George Everett, one of its members (and one of Grey's former lovers). When Grey attends the meeting at the club's hideout, Medmenham Abbey, he soon discovers that his life might be in danger as well.[5][6][10]

Lord John and the Private Matter (2003)[edit]

The first full-length Lord Grey novel, Lord John and the Private Matter, was published by Delacorte Press on September 30, 2003.[11] Though Gabaldon had intended it to be a novella, Private Matter came in at 320 pages and secured the author a deal for two additional full Grey novels, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007) and The Scottish Prisoner (2011).[2][3][11] Private Matter reached #8 on The New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best-Seller List.[12] Publishers Weekly said of the novel, "Grey is a competent and likable sleuth, and Gabaldon's prose is crisply elegant."[4]

Set in 1758 England, the novel follows Lord John's attempt to resolve a delicate situation involving his cousin's betrothed, Joseph Trevelyan, while searching for the murderer of a fellow soldier suspected of espionage and recovering missing military intelligence.[4][11]

Lord John and the Succubus (2003)[edit]

The novella Lord John and the Succubus was originally published in the 2003 Del Rey Books anthology Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy (edited by Robert Silverberg),[7][13] and later collected in Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007).[2][7][10]

Set in 1758, the story finds Lord John in Prussia serving as the English liaison officer to the First Regiment of Hanoverian Foot. Briefly stationed at the town of Gundwitz with a group of English and Hanoverian soldiers, Major Grey is at first skeptical when he receives reports of a local succubus victimizing a number of men and murdering a Prussian soldier. Accompanying the town Buergermeister to a graveyard in his search for the creature's resting place, Grey stumbles upon the corpse of an English soldier, which only feeds the superstitious fears of the soldiers and townspeople. While attempting to solve the mystery, Grey tries to navigate his perhaps-mutual attraction to the dashing Hanoverian Captain Stephan von Namtzen, as well as to deflect the advances of the beautiful young widow Louisa, Princess von Lowenstein, at whose castle both men are staying.[5][6][7][10]

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007)[edit]

Gabaldon's second full-length Lord John novel, the 512-page Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, was published by Delacorte Press on August 28, 2007.[14] It debuted at #1 on The New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best-Seller List.[15]

In 1759, Lord John finds that someone has reawakened the long-forgotten scandal of his father's death 17 years earlier, and the old controversy threatens to cause trouble for himself and his elder brother Harold, Earl of Melton. Despite Hal's desire to leave the secrets of the past buried, Grey seeks the help of his old friend Jamie Fraser, whose secrets may both help and complicate Grey's investigations.[7][14]

Lord John and the Haunted Soldier (2007)[edit]

The new novella Lord John and the Haunted Soldier was published in the 2007 Delacorte Press collection Lord John and the Hand of Devils alongside previously-published novellas Lord John and the Hellfire Club (1998) and Lord John and the Succubus (2003).[2][7][10][16] As Haunted Soldier is a direct follow-up to her novel Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Gabaldon pushed the publication of the Hand of Devils collection until after the novel's release.[3]

Picking up right after the events of Brotherhood of the Blade in 1759, Grey searches for the culprit behind a suspicious cannon explosion as others seek to blame him or his half brother for the incident.[5][6][7][10][16]

The Custom of the Army (2010)[edit]

The novella The Custom of the Army was first published in the 2010 Tor Books fantasy anthology Warriors, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.[7][17] In May 2012 it became available as a standalone eBook, and was later included in A Trail of Fire, an Outlander collection released in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand in late 2012 and expected to be released in the United States and Canada in early 2014.[18][19]

In 1759, Lord John finds himself both about to be promoted within His Majesty’s Army and fresh from a gentlemen's duel in which his opponent was killed. Grey gladly accepts an urgent summons from his old friend Charlie Carruthers, who is facing court-martial in Canada.[17]

The Scottish Prisoner (2011)[edit]

Gabaldon's third full-length Lord John novel, the 560-page The Scottish Prisoner, was published by Delacorte Press on November 29, 2011.[20] It debuted at #6 on The New York Times E-Book Fiction Best-Seller List.[21]

In 1760, Lord John and Jamie Fraser are reunited again as Grey seeks his old friend's help investigating a conspiracy that leads them to Ireland, and danger.[7][20][22]

Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (2011)[edit]

The novella Lord John and the Plague of Zombies was first published in the 2011 Ace Books "urban fantasy" anthology Down These Strange Streets, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.[7][23] In April 2013 it became available as a standalone eBook titled A Plague of Zombies, and was later included in A Trail of Fire, an Outlander collection released in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand in late 2012 and expected to be released in the United States and Canada in early 2014.[19][24] The novella was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for the “Best Short Mystery Story” of 2011.[24]

In 1761, Lord John is sent to Jamaica in command of a battalion to put down a slave rebellion and soon finds himself investigating a mystery involving snakes, spiders and zombies.[7][24]

Collections[edit]

Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007)[edit]

Lord John and the Hand of Devils is a 2007 Delacorte Press collection of the first three Lord John novellas: the previously published Lord John and the Hellfire Club (1998) and Lord John and the Succubus (2003), and the new tale Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, exclusive to this volume.[2][7][10][16] Gabaldon pushed the publication of the collection until after the release of her novel Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, since the action of Haunted Soldier picks up where Brotherhood of the Blade ends.[3] Hand of Devils reached #24 on The New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best-Seller List.[25] Publishers Weekly noted, "Gabaldon brings an effusive joy to her fiction that proves infectious even for readers unfamiliar with her work or the period."[5]

A Trail of Fire (2012)[edit]

A Trail of Fire (Four Outlander Tales) is a collection of Outlander novellas released in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand in late 2012 and expected to be released in the United States and Canada in early 2014.[19] It includes two previously-published Lord John novellas, The Custom of the Army (2010) and Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (2011), as well as two previously-published Outlander novellas, A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows (2012) and The Space Between (2013).[19] According to Gabaldon, the volume is delayed in the US and Canada until February 2014 when the rights to The Space Between in those areas revert to her.[19]

The Lord John Series eBook (2013)[edit]

In April 2013 Gabaldon released an eBook collection called The Lord John Series featuring all three of her Lord John novels (Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade and The Scottish Prisoner) as well as the initial three novellas collected as Lord John and the Hand of Devils (Lord John and the Hellfire Club, Lord John and the Succubus and Lord John and the Haunted Soldier).[26] Though calling itself an omnibus, the collection does not include the previously-published Lord John novellas The Custom of the Army (2010) and Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (2011),[26] which appear together in the Outlander collection A Trail of Fire.[19]

Reception[edit]

Lord John and the Private Matter reached #8 on The New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best-Seller List in 2003.[12] Publishers Weekly said of the novel, "Grey is a competent and likable sleuth, and Gabaldon's prose is crisply elegant."[4] In 2007, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade debuted at #1,[15] and the Hand of Devils collection reached #24 on The New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best-Seller List.[25] In a review of Hand of Devils, Publishers Weekly noted, "Gabaldon brings an effusive joy to her fiction that proves infectious even for readers unfamiliar with her work or the period."[5] The Scottish Prisoner debuted at #6 on The New York Times E-Book Fiction Best-Seller List in 2011,[21] and A Plague of Zombies was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for the “Best Short Mystery Story” the same year.[24] Of Scottish Prisoner, Publishers Weekly said, "A complicated plot will likely baffle new readers, but long-time Gabaldon fans will find plenty to love."[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Silverberg, Robert (December 30, 2003). "Intro: Lord John and the Succubus". Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy. Del Rey Books. ISBN 0345456440. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Official site: Lord John Grey Series". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Donnell, P. (October 6, 2007). "From Academia to Steamy Fiction". Canada.com. The Gazette (Montreal). Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Fiction Book Review: Lord John and the Private Matter". PublishersWeekly.com. September 15, 2003. Retrieved November 23, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Fiction Book Review: Lord John and the Hand of Devils". PublishersWeekly.com. September 10, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d Reese, Jennifer (November 27, 2007). "Book Review: Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007)". EW.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Official site: Chronology of the Outlander Series". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (November 12, 1998). Jakubowski, Maxim, ed. Past Poisons: An Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology of Historical Crime. United Kingdom: Headline Publishing. ISBN 0747275017. 
  9. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (1998). Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club: Complimentary Collector's Special Edition. United States: Bantam Dell. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Gabaldon, Diana (November 27, 2007). Lord John and the Hand of Devils. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385311397. 
  11. ^ a b c Gabaldon, Diana (September 30, 2003). Lord John and the Private Matter. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385337477. 
  12. ^ a b "BEST SELLERS: October 26, 2003". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. October 26, 2003. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  13. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (December 30, 2003). "Lord John and the Succubus". In Silverberg, Robert. Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy. Del Rey Books. ISBN 0345456440. 
  14. ^ a b Gabaldon, Diana (August 28, 2007). Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385337493. 
  15. ^ a b "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. September 16, 2007. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c Kleine, Jane (January 27, 2008). "Lord John compelling tales". PostandCourier.com. The Post and Courier. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Gabaldon, Diana (March 16, 2010). "The Custom of the Army". In Martin, George R.R.; Dozois, Gardner. Warriors. Tor Books. ISBN 0765320487. 
  18. ^ "Official site: Lord John and the Custom of the Army". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f "Official site: A Trail of Fire". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Gabaldon, Diana (November 29, 2011). The Scottish Prisoner. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385337515. 
  21. ^ a b "Best Sellers: E-Book Fiction". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. December 18, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "Fiction Book Review: The Scottish Prisoner: A Lord John Novel". PublishersWeekly.com. February 13, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2013. 
  23. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (October 4, 2011). Martin, George R.R.; Dozois, Gardner, eds. Down These Strange Streets. Ace Books. ISBN 0441020747. 
  24. ^ a b c d "Official site: A Plague of Zombies". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. December 16, 2007. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  26. ^ a b "Official site: The Lord John Series (4-Book Bundle)". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013. 

External links[edit]