Book info

Lord John And The Hand Of Devils (2007)

Lord John And The Hand Of Devils (2007)
Rating
3.79 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0385311397 (ISBN13: 9780385311397)
languge
English
publisher
delacorte press
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Lord John And The Hand Of Devils (2007)
Lord John And The Hand Of Devils (2007)

About book: Lord John and the Hands of Devils is a collection that contains three Lord John mysteries... one simply called a short story and the other two meriting the designation "novella" from the author. Prior to starting the Lord John novels, I should have done a bit of research, as the first of these stories comes before the first novel in chronological order... similarly, the second story comes before the second novel and then the third story finishes things up. Reading them out of order doesn't necessarily harm you, but I wish that I had somehow contrived to figure out the chronological order as it would have filled in some details within the larger books that get more attention in the stories (who kills someone in the Abbey, why suddenly the Prussian guy is pining for John, etc.). It's a quick read, but really only worth it to those who enjoy Gabaldon's other work and, in particular, Lord John."Lord John and the Hellfire Club" is the first and shortest of the bunch -- though it is to this story that we are indebted for all of the Lord John spin-off works, as it was this story that launched him as an independent protagonist. Lord John comes across the historically famous/infamous Hellfire Club at Medmenham Abbey as he investigates the death of a young man, a cousin of John's friend Harry Quarry. Immediately returned from his exile in Scotland and still burning with desire for Jamie Fraser, John is implored by Harry Quarry's (gay) cousin for assistance in a certain matter, but before John can meet him to discuss the matter, the young man is killed. John is then courted by the elite club, which includes an ex-lover of his among the members, but he's quite right to believe that there are many things amiss with the Hellfire Club. Very short and simple, this mystery solves itself quite quickly, but one must at least appreciate this story for spurring Gabaldon to write other Lord John tales.In "Lord John and the Succubus," Lord John is stationed in Gundwitz with a companies of Prussian and English troops as they attempt to rout some French and Austrians, but the men seem more frightened by rumors of a demon spirit in the area. Of course, Lord John is smart enough to see mortal hands behind these actions... though it might take some real magic if he wants to keep out of a widowed Princess's matrimonial designs and get a moment alone to find out if his friendship with handsome German soldier Namtzen is just brotherly love or a bit more. The mystery isn't much of a mystery, but there are some amusing scenes of suspense and the standard fear that men have about their manhood and essence being stolen.For "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier," you certainly need to have read Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade to understand everything well -- because the story largely concerns the battle of Crefield, which closed out that novel. Lord John is summoned before a military commission that is concerned with the explosion of the gun he had commanded and the death of a lieutenant, floating the veiled accusation that it might have been Lord John's inept leadership that led to it. The military seems more concerned about the gun, which leaves John to try and see what right he can do by the family of the lieutenant and the man's missing widow. Lord John also investigates some leads on what caused the gun's explosion and finds a few problems, including the faulty construction of guns due to someone inside the military stealing copper and the potentially volatile ammunition provided by John's half-brother's company. In the author's notes before each story, Gabaldon makes jokes about the fact that by the time she's hit the page count for a Lord John novel, she generally feels like she's just starting up the story, so real short stories and novellas were quite the challenge indeed. Her real talent lies in creating wonderful characters and taking them through epic stories, so while individual stories might not be ideal as short stories on their own outside of the context of the larger world, they are lovely little installments in the ongoing story of Lord John Grey. I l like Lord John as a strong male figure who happens to be homosexual -- while this fact of his existence doesn't define his life, it does play a large role. He's witty and clever... and there's always the odd glimpse of Jamie, which is fun. I do hope that Gabaldon eventually gives us a story that takes us through the healing of his friendship with Jamie... which might relieve poor John from pining after his russet-haired Scot.

Where I got the book: B&N clearance rack.Do you have to be a Lord John Grey fan to read this book? I think not. Or not even, possibly, a fan of Gabaldon's Outlander series, although if you're not there will be one or two references to red hair that might confuse you. This collection of three stories (one short, one long-short-story length and one novella) is a decent introduction to Lord John and to Gabaldon's 18th century.I've said a lot of what I think about the Lord John books in my review of Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (which I just posted; it is new to Goodreads). As Lord John and the Hand of Devils is a story collection it obviously lacks the coherence of the novel; there is a vague theme of the supernatural which is almost abandoned in the third (and best) story, Lord John and the Haunted Soldier. The stories also lack the long, inventive sex scenes that are a Gabaldon hallmark, and don't suffer from the omission. They carry forward the central problem of Lord John's existence as a gay career soldier in a world where "don't ask, don't tell" is most definitely a survival tactic, and I like the fact that two of the stories (The Succubus and The Haunted Soldier) show Lord John in his day job as an artillery major. I really liked The Haunted Soldier because it has everything in it that pleases me about Gabaldon (complex, subtle plot, a hint of dry humor, a wonderful sense of being in the 18th century without overdoing it and an excellent command of both dialogue and action) and it contributes depth and pathos to Lord John's wonderfully conflicted character. He's a man who loves men and thrives in a man's world, written by a woman who obviously loves men and thrives in a man's world, and this balance of hidden urges and a commonsense approach to everyday life is rather irresistible. Had the book been comprised of just this story I might have given it 5 stars, because it's the nearest Gabaldon's come to blowing me out of the water, but I'm holding back because the other two stories, although good, didn't pack the same wallop.
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Reviews
Candice
John Grey is one of my favorite fictional characters ever, so to say I have mixed feelings about the Lord John series is a bit of an understatement. I love reading about Grey's life when he isn't with Jamie and Claire (the main characters from the Outlander series where Grey is a secondary character). But I'm completely thrown by the stories themselves. They're set up as mysteries, which is fine, but the cast seems to number thousands, and by the time we get to the point where the mystery is solved, I've forgotten who half the people are and why they're important (or not), and sometimes even what exactly Grey is trying to figure out, what with all the subplots and doublebacks and loops.But John Grey is fascinating, as a gay aristocratic soldier living at a time when gay sex was a crime punishable by death. I really like the characters who show up regularly - Grey's older brother, his valet, and even Jamie Fraser on occasion. I wanted to see more of Jamie since he's the love of Grey's life, but the few times he showed up felt a bit forced. And I must admit I really dislike the person Jamie becomes around Grey, so far in the series.So, for a glimpse into the life of a smart, rich, handsome, politically-connected gay Englishman in the 17th century, I'm guessing these books are unequaled. As murder mysteries or whatever...~shrug~.
Dawn Dorsey
I enjoyed the two novellas (Succubus and Haunted Soldier) more than the short story, partly because being longer, the plot and characters are more fleshed-out. In Succubus we meet Stephan Von Namzen (for the first time, I think, but I have read these out of order). He appears at greater length in Brotherhood of the Blade, where he ad Lord John already know each other. Brotherhood takes place historically between Succubus and Haunted Soldier, which both cast light on the fuller novel. Despite the supernatural requirement for Succubus, written for a specific collection, Lord John fans will be glad to see he finds a human and rational explanation for events, befitting his personality and education. Haunted Soldier is perhaps the most interesting story in the collection, following up as it does the confusing battle of Crefeld from Brotherhood. There we actually meet an older half-brother of LJ, who has been referenced only tangentially heretofore, and leaving the possibility that we will meet him again somewhere. We also have several opportunities to converse with Harry Quarry, bluff and hearty colonel in the Duke of Pardloe's regiment, who preceded LJ as commander of Ardsmuir Prison in Scotland, and whom we meet again at assorted occasions in later novels.It centers around the politically-motivated inquisition into the exploding cannon that severely injured LJ at the battle if Crefeld, as described at length in Brotherhood. As usual, LJ finds himself compelled to investigate the matter himself, together with a few other mysteries that surface along the way. Have no fear, LJ fans; he answers all the questions. Before the novella is finished he has discovered who is really sabotaging cannon at the English foundry, and why, provided answers and peace to the family of a soldier who died in the explosion that injured Grey, dealt with a cad in the ranks, and accounted for a missing country lass, and her orphaned infant. Being the all-around good guy he is, he even finds a loving home for the baby.
Reem Al Kaabi
Lord John and the hand of devils by Diana GabaldonThis book has 3 separate stories. I read the last story that called lord john and the haunted soldier. Generally I love obscurity stories and enjoy read them. This story is not that much interesting. It has many events, which make me lost while I’m reading and require from me to read again to have clear idea about it. The story is tending to the police story kind. Grey was the main character in the story and he was fight against evil.On the other hand, I learned many new vocabularies that improve my skill language.
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