Casting Jamie Fraser in the Outlander Movie

The Outlander Movie. Will this mythical creature that we’ve been hearing about for so long ever actually come to fruition? Or will it forever remain a phantom rumor mill floating about the interwebs, spawning YouTube fan videos until the end of time? From what I’ve gathered, Ann Peacock (screenwriter for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Nights in Rodanthe) is currently writing the screenplay and nothing else is set in stone. 

I’ll be honest, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen, and that may be a good thing. I just don’t believe it is possible to convert this 800-some page novel into a quality 2 hour movie. I would much rather see it made into an HBO or Showtime series, with an entire season devoted to each book. That way, there would be plenty of time for character development and room for all those niggly little details that people like myself are surely to look for.

Yep, I’m one of those obnoxious people who craves a literal book-to-movie translation. I realize that the logistics of such a feat are nearly impossible, but I can’t help it; I want to hear the actors quoting directly from the book and I look for costumes and locations to be spot-on. Of course, that rarely happens and I usually end up driving my husband or fellow viewers crazy with constant jeers of “What?! That did NOT happen in the book!!” or “Arrrgg?! NO! He doesn’t do that in the book!”(You should hear me when we watch True Blood. And Twilight drove me absolutely batty.)

I realize that a movie is an interpretation of a book, and that most people don’t want to see the exact same thing on-screen as they saw in the book, because “where’s the fun in that?” as my husband would say. I can understand such logic and despite my complaints, nine times out of ten, I’m usually able to get past my prejudices and still enjoy the movie or TV show (True Blood, for example).

If I’m honest with myself, however short of my expectations the movie may fall (assuming it gets made), I will be powerless to the draw of seeing the embodiment of my favorite characters on the big screen. I will probably do a lot of criticizing and complaining, but I will not have the willpower to restrain myself from seeing it. (I saw Twilight three times in the theater…I claimed I didn’t like it, but clearly there was some discrepancy between my words and my actions…). Resistance will be futile. And doubtless, there will be girlie squeals. 

Now, onto casting. (Keep in mind that I do this all in good fun.) You all know that I love Alexander Skarsgard as Jamie Fraser, but he’s really too old to play the young Jamie from book 1. My mental images of the characters have actually grown and changed as the books have progressed, so I now find it a little odd to think about Jamie as a 23-year-old, since he’s currently 50-something in my mind. Also, of course, no actual person in existence looks like Jamie Fraser. No one could possibly live up to such a namesake! I think The Lit Connection summed up this conundrum perfectly when she said “If I ever set eyes on Jamie Fraser in real life, I think I’ll go blind…much like someone will go blind staring at the sun.”

Okay, that having been said, I have a possible casting idea for 23-year-old Jamie a la Outlander: Ben Barnes.

I must give my friend Carla credit for this idea; and when she brought it to my attention several months ago, I didn’t see it. Granted, I thought he was very attractive, but I just couldn’t see him as Jamie. She recommended that I watch the movie Dorian Gray, in which he plays the lead role, since it was the movie that first gave her the idea that he could play the part. I finally got around to watching Dorian Gray a few weeks ago, and I’ve got to say, it turned me around too.

Here is Ben’s credentials: He played Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia, so he knows how to wield a sword and ride a horse. He’s British, speaks moderate French, and has mastered the Scots accent. Physically, he’s got the slanted “cat eyes” that are so characteristic of Mr. Fraser and he looks good with long hair. One of the sex scenes in Dorian Gray leads me to believe that he could easily pull off a kilt.

Now, he obviously doesn’t have the correct coloration, but I’ve seen poorly photoshopped pics of him with blond hair and blue eyes – and it works – so I think a darker shade of red would look great on him. (Although I do think it a shame to change his natural eye color because those dark, smoldering eyes are so verra nice as is…) He is long and lean, but would definitely need to hit the gym to add some muscle since he’s quite thin. Remember, Diana G has said that Jamie is built like a basketball player, not a football player.

I have only seen the first Narnia and don’t recall Mr. Barnes, (I only remember my bitter disappointment that James McAvoy was playing the goat-man) but he’s inspired me to watch the entire series soon. In Dorian Gray, however, Ben Barnes carries the film and is flat-out gorgeous in every scene. He’s also in a movie called Easy Virtue (which I haven’t seen yet, but is on my Netflix queue as well). He’s a relative newcomer and I would argue that he’s not well-known, so that adds to my appeal, since I think it would be a shame to use big name actors in the Outlander movie (they just seem to get in the way, don’t you think?).

Jamie's always running his hands through his hair, making it stand on end...yes?

Oh, and here’s some trivia that is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand: he was 1 of 4 finalists for the role of Edward Cullen! I found that very interesting, and I think he would make a wonderful vampire (and I daresay he would be a much better actor than our beloved Rob Pattinson).

Anyhoo, I know Ben Barnes is a wild card and a total shot in the dark, but I do think he could play our 20-something Jamie (with a little prep) in an adaptation of Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber. Have I convinced you likewise? What do you think? I’m very interested to hear your opinions! Hey, if nothing else, I’ve given you some pretty pictures to look at, right? ;) And thanks again, Carla!

More Alexander Skarsgard as Jamie Fraser!

Hello, my lovely bosom blogging buddies! I realize that I’ve been neglecting you a bit lately, but it’s been a trying week. I’ve got several Jamie Fraser posts simmering at the moment, but to tide us over until they are done, let’s enjoy this delightful picture that I discovered in my inbox this morning.  Meghan, you are not alone in your love for Alexander Skarsgard as Jamie Fraser, and many thanks for the photo!

Spreading the love of Outlander

I have a couple of stories that I need to share here, because only my fellow Outlander fanatics will truly appreciate them. The first story is from my husband. Last week, he went to the doctor and while returning his paperwork and clipboard to the front desk, he noticed that the receptionist was reading a book by Diana Gabaldon.

Husband: Oh, I see you’re reading one of the Outlander books?

Receptionist: Yeah! Have you read them?

Husband: No, but my wife is obsessed with them, so I kinda feel like I’ve read them.

Receptionist: They are so great.

Husband: My wife carved a pumpkin that was a big hit with all the Outlander fans she talks to online – she has a blog- actually, her blog and pumpkin recently made it onto Diana Gabaldon’s website. You should check it out.

*At this point, he is called back to see the doctor. After his check-up, he speaks with a different lady behind the front desk and is making his way out of the office, when he hears this…*

Receptionist: Oh! Sir! SIR! WAIT!

Husband: *walks back to the front desk*

Receptionist: OH. MY. GOD.

*In my husband’s words, she was “attempting to suppress a high-pitched squeal, while slightly flailing her arms and trying to maintain a professional decorum.”*

Receptionist:  I saw the pumpkin! Please tell your wife I said thank you, thank you for that pumpkin! Oooohhhh! That just made my day!

Husband: *smiling* Sure thing.

Aww, my hubs is going around promoting the Outlander series! As a side note, I asked him which book she was reading and he said “I don’t know, it was this ugly neon green color.” HA!

Next story:

My mom was at the beauty shop, getting her hair done, when the topic of conversation switched to vampires and then Outlander. (Just to set the stage: picture a Southern beauty salon with a hairdresser named Diane, who calls everyone “Honey,” “Sweetie,” “Baby,” or the like, and doesn’t get in a hurry for anything. Diane’s son was working as a graphic designer on the 4th and 5th Twilight movies that were being filmed in Louisiana.)

Mom: My daughter loved Twilight, but she likes the Sookie Stackhouse series better.

Diane: I haven’t heard of that one. What’s it about?

Mom: Vampires. The show True Blood is based on those books, so I’m assuming they are a bit darker and more adult than the Twilight books.

*Let me just say that I forced my mom to read Twilight during the height of my obsession and when prodded for her opinion on it, she said “Well, honestly I wish they would just go ahead and get it on with each other! This back and forth is driving me crazy!”*

Mom: Now she’s in love with a new series though, it’s called Outlander. She bought it…

*At this point, an older lady looks up from a book and interrupts my mom…*

Older lady: Oooooohhhhhhhhhh! I’ve read the Outlander books! They. Are. Amazing!

Mom: Ha! You sound just like my daughter! Have you read them all?

Older lady: (who has now relocated to fully join the conversation) Oh yeah. They are the best books I’ve ever read. I am DYING waiting for book 8 to come out! It’s coming out in March though, so I’m just biding my time until then.

My mom called me later that night to relay the story and to tell me that book 8 is coming out in March. I informed her that it hasn’t even been written yet and it will be years before book 8 comes out. Then she says to me “Well, that lady seemed to be a pretty big fan…I’d bet she knows what she’s talking about.” I had to act very offended that my mom was questioning my level of fandom and my knowledge of when the next book is coming out.

And finally, I was at Barnes and Noble this past weekend, just browsing, when I overheard a woman at the information desk asking about Outlander. Of course, my ears perked up instantly and I walked to the end of the aisle to get a glimpse. The clerk checked in her computer and informed her that it was in the fiction section, and they began walking in that direction. I actually really wanted to go over to this girl and gush about how amazing the book is and tell her about Jamie Fraser and how she will never be the same, etc, etc, but when I rounded the corner and saw her pick up the book…the way that she was tenderly cupping it (clearly already coveting it), with a big, goofy grin on her face, I realized that she already had insider info on this series. It made me smile.

I’ve seen Diana G. describe her books as “word-of-mouth books” since they are so hard to describe or categorize and these stories reminded me of that notion. I actually found the series all by myself, I was reading the USA Today Top 150 best sellers list and saw one tiny little line that said An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon and described it as “a Scottish husband and his time-travelling wife in the 1700’s, latest in a series” (or something along those lines) and for whatever reason, that little sentence spoke to me! I went to the used book store and found books 2,3, and 4 and bought Outlander new (albeit on sale). And the rest, as they say, is history!

Do you have any funny Outlander word-of-mouth stories? I’d love to hear about them!

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday! I will be posting pics from my beautiful trip to East Tennessee very soon, but for now, here is my review of Echo (copied and pasted from Word, since I was forced to suffer the anguish of no internet or blog access during the height of my post-book delirium).

I just finished An Echo in the Bone and I’m here in the mountains without internet. *fists waving in the air* Oh, Diana Gabaldon! Diana, Diana, Diana. My mind has sufficiently been blown, yet again. I shall try verra hard to harness my bottled excitement and control my trembling fingertips enough to write a coherent review of my thoughts.

Remember my review of A Breath of Snow and Ashes in which I said that upon finishing any Outlander book, the only adjective that seems to come to mind is “amazing?” Well, expect a lot of that. And there will be spoilers, because I simply don’t see how I can talk about this book without them.

The book starts out as a slow read. Not slow as in there is no action or slow as in boring, but slow as in there is a lot of information being disseminated and lots of groundwork being laid. The first half of the book felt like I was reading a Lord John novel. Not only because several threads are told from Lord John’s perspective, but also because there is a lot of military talk and battle discussion that wasn’t prominent in the prior books. In the beginning, we are mainly getting to know William, who is headstrong and eager to fight, but who also has a softer side and quickly realizes that he has a lot to learn about the art of war. I was somewhat indifferent towards him in the beginning. I very much enjoyed his storyline, but wasn’t fully invested in him as a character. It didn’t take long, however, for it to dawn on me that William could very well be a looking glass into Jamie’s young adulthood. Since they are so similar in personality, temperament, and of course, physical appearance, is this what Jamie was like when he was coming of age and finding his footing as a natural leader? I like to think there is a lot of similitude there. I began to worry about his eagerness to fight and naiveté regarding who to trust in such tumultuous times; but, for all intents and purposes, he is Lord John Grey’s son, and he has Jamie Fraser’s genes, so he’s going to be a good man. How could he not? At that point I sort of stopping worrying about him and was ready to get to the meat of the story, a.k.a., Jamie and Claire.

There wasn’t nearly enough Jamie for me. The only solace I found was that what little bit we got, was really, really good. I think Diana G realized that she was depriving us in the Jamie department and thus resolved to give us quality over quantity. Is it just me, or was every single scene with Jamie nothing short of amazing? We got back to the introspective, sweet, heart-breakingly poetic Jamie of yore, and for that reason alone I can forgive Diana for giving us so little. After Saratoga when Claire has just rescued him from the battlefield, given him laudanum and is preparing to do surgery on his hand? That was perhaps one of my favorite scenes in the book because Jamie is so incredibly open and vulnerable. He is dazedly explaining his rationale for risking his life to save those of complete strangers and all walls are down and we see his complete trust in Claire to pick him up, fix him and see him through it. The scene was just overflowing with love and emotion and trust and sincerity and while I was grieving for him and the loss of his finger, I was drinking it all in.

Another favorite scene -a happy one this time- was when Jamie and Claire are stopped in Edinburgh en route to return Simon Fraser’s body for burial in Scotland. Finally we get to see Jamie and Claire relaxing and actually enjoying life without freezing, starving, or running for their lives. They have money and time to leisurely dine at expensive restaurants, shop for new clothes, and pick out spectacles. I envisioned them walking down the stone streets arm in arm, strutting confidently,( bespectacled) with the sun on their shoulders, enjoying the brief respite from worry or fear. It had been a long time coming and they totally deserved it.

One aspect of the book that took me by surprise was Ian. I felt like I was really seeing a different side of him than I’d ever seen. I finally saw the fierceness that had been mentioned so often before, but never really illustrated (to me) until this book. In addition to that, he opens up and we’re given so much more insight into the way his mind works and how he manages the balance between his Scottish roots and his newly acquired Mohawk beliefs. Poor Ian was truly raked through the coals in this one: his anguish over the accidental death of Mrs. Bug (and the subsequent terror of being pursued by Arch Bug), tying up loose ends and finding closure with regards to Emily and his lost child, his separation from Rollo (who had just been shot), the reunion with his parents after (how many?) years, the death of his father, and falling in love with a Quaker girl who found it hard to reconcile his warrior nature with her non-violent beliefs. I’ve always loved Ian, thinking of him mostly as an easy-going little brother, but he has now officially grown up in my eyes. I had so much respect for his unwillingness to be something he is not and for not faltering in his beliefs. He was clearly anxious and reticent about his return to Lallybroch, but confronted it head on, donning Mohawk finery and holding his head high as if to say “This is who I am now. I can’t go back and you must accept me for what I am, or not have me at all.” Such a dramatic change from the boy who sacrificed himself for Roger back in Drums of Autumn because he was groping for his calling in life and had no idea what he was supposed to be. Am I happy that Rachel Hunter accepted him in the end? I’m not sure yet…I admire her loyalty and her dedication, but I’m not completely convinced that she is an adequate partner, not yet at least.

Another aspect of the book that pretty much knocked my socks off was the marriage of Lord John and Claire. I already knew that they had sex under the pretense that Jamie was dead (as a result of listening to Diana G read an excerpt from book 8 during a Dragon Con panel ), and yet it still came as a huge surprise to me. It’s still scandalous to think about, but here’s the kicker: I liked Lord John and Claire together. Is that wrong? I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the scene with them lying in bed talking after their drunken rendezvous the night before. John’s openness and honesty was lovely and I felt like he had genuine respect and admiration for Claire. And his story about the white deer, oh my god, my heart melted when he stopped her in the doorway and told her to “…think of the deer. My dear.” In that moment, in my eyes, they were perfect for each other! (By the way, did anyone else catch the possible symbolism there? Claire is called the white woman/witch; John’s associating her with the mysterious white deer? Is it just me?) I have long wanted Lord John to find someone with whom he could have a meaningful relationship that consisted of more than just sex, and I felt like he found that with Claire, however untraditional and fleeting. It all happened rather quickly and I wasn’t sure if Ian, Fergus, Marsali, or anyone else really knew the extent of what was happening (if at all), but quite frankly, I loved every minute of their marriage. When Jamie finally did return to America and unexpectedly walked in on Lord John and Claire, casually dressing and getting ready for the day in John’s bedroom, he was clearly not of the proper mindset to grasp the significance of the scene.  I believe that he would have immediately realized the casual intimacy between them, behaving like a settled old married couple, had he not been fleeing from the British army and seeking refuge. And once he does realize?? The intensity of this cliffhanger reinforces my prior fear of my inability to cope with the 2 year void until book 8 is released.

And speaking of cliffhangers, what about Jem?! And more importantly, Roger?!? At least we know that Jem is still in the tunnel (for now), but Roger has just travelled through the stones! If he is concentrating on Jem (in the theory that it will help direct him through time), where will he end up?! And what about Percy and Fergus?! My nerves are shot, people.

I love this book so incredibly much. It’s absolutely amazing. How fitting it is that I bought Outlander in an after-Christmas sale in 2009 and now I have finished the series almost exactly a year later? I shall forever think of 2010 as the year of Outlander :) Without any new books to turn to in the coming year, I suppose I will have to resort to some meaningless one night stands with sexy vampires and civil war soldiers to tide me over until my reunion with Jamie and the gang, but I most definitely see some re-reads in my future…

Alexander Skarsgard in a kilt!

So Carol from Australia sent me her photoshopped pic of Alexander Skarsgard in a kilt (with her idea of Brianna), and I wanted to share since this is the only pic of him in a kilt that I’ve ever seen. (She has others on YouTube – just search for  “Outlander through the stones.”) Thanks Carol!

I think we need a shirtless version next time ;) Yay for Skarsgard as Jamie Fraser!

I have discovered the delight of a wee dram

A few months ago, I bought a bottle of Glenmorangie Scotch. I generally shy away from anything stronger than beer, but I had to experience this fabled drink that has such a prominent role in the lives of my most beloved characters. In the Outlander series, it seems that everyone is always drinking Scottish whisky, good times or bad. Jamie is an expert at making the stuff and Roger was in awe of Claire’s ability to knock it back.  Basically, I wanted to know if I could hang with Jamie and Claire.

I started out by pouring it over ice and mixing it with some water. I was surprised at how quickly it grew on me. My husband told his co-workers at lunch one day that he couldn’t get used to the sight of me sitting around sipping on a glass of scotch. They all apparently got a huge laugh out of the idea and joked about me wearing a smoking jacket, sitting by a fire with the hounds at my feet and a shotgun propped against the wall, sipping on my whisky. I’m glad I could be such a source of amusement for the boys at work, but that’s definitely not an accurate depiction. Anyhoo, one of the guys loaned me his copy of The Bartender’s Bible (by Gary Regan) to give me some ideas for mixed drinks.

I flipped immediately to the chapter about Scotch and found myself in an Outlander fangirl’s dream! Names like Whiskey Mac, Black Jack (Randall?), Highland Fling, Macbeth, Ma Bonnie Wee Hen, To Hell with Swords and Garters, and Tartan Swizzle (I could go on, my friends) just scream Jamie Fraser! And when I branched out to include other liquors, I found drinks such as Big Red, Dragonfly (in Amber?), Dunbonnet Fizz, and Gale at Sea (Voyager anyone?). I was so excited to try them out, so I decided to have “Scottish Night” at my place.

I wanted to make an authentic Scottish meal to go with our alcoholic explorations, so I settled on “Rumblethumps” (I got the recipe from Scotland for the Senses– you should check it out, it’s a beautiful site all about Scotland) and bannocks (a.k.a. oatcakes). The Rumblethumps – which is basically just a mixture of cabbage, potatoes, and onions – were DELICIOUS! So cheap, so easy, and so good. My husband even asked if we could have it again sometime this week.

Cheesy comfort food. Mmmmm...

The bannocks, however, didn’t turn out so well. The recipe called for bacon fat, but since everyone at my house was a vegetarian, I opted for butter instead and I think that may have been the problem.

Epic fail.

We pooled our resources and worked with what we had without spending a lot of money. We tried a Black Jack (Randall), Mithering Bastard, and Piper at the Gates of Dawn; all of which were actually really good. The Mithering Bastard was the unanimous favorite.

We kicked off the night with a Black Jack (Randall)

I’ll list a few recipes here to get you started…

Highland Fling (We’d all like to have one of these, eh? *wink, wink*)

  • 2 ounces Scotch
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Combine first three ingredients in a mixing glass half-filled with ice cubes, strain into glass and garnish with cherry.

Scotch Mist

  • 2 1/2 ounces Scotch
  • Crushed ice
  • lemon twist

Pour into a shaker half-filled with ice, shake well, garnish with lemon twist.

Whisky Mac

  • 1 1/2 ounces Scotch
  • 1 ounce green ginger wine

Pour both ingredients into a wine goblet with no ice.

Black Jack (Randall– I can’t not say Randall…)

  • 1 1/2 ounces Scotch
  • 1 ounce Kahlua
  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, shake well, pour into cocktail glass.

I had so much fun with this! Party season is approaching, so why not throw a Scottish party?! I’ve already decided that my next spirits endeavor will be with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, when I will make a toast to Stephen Bonnett. Plus, Jameson’s has my favorite commercial of all time :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOydQFJdx1k

Happy imbibing, fellow fangirls!!

A Pumpkin Homage to The Exile: page 5

So I thought it might be kind of funny to carve Jamie Fraser’s naked behind (from the infamous page 5 of The Exile) into a pumpkin. Oh boy, was I right. I can’t help but giggle uncontrollably each time I look at it. My hubs even agrees that it’s hysterical.

 Jamie’s bottom glowing like a beacon in the night. What on earth will the neighbors think?! ;)

I’ve got a visual on Lord John Grey…

The entire time I was reading the first 6 books in the Outlander series, I had a very vague mental image of Lord John. And it wasn’t good. For whatever reason, I pictured him as small, weak, blonde-verging-on-gray, and sort of old. Several of my Outlander-obsessed blogging friends cast actors as the characters in the books and it seems a lot of people agree that Jude Law would make a good Lord John. After having read the Lord John series, I now feel wonderfully relieved to have my own mental image…and he’s hot! I’ve decided to play my own hand at the casting game. 

Several months ago, my husband and I rented The Crazies. (I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it actually wasn’t bad.) I found myself being utterly blown away by the gorgeous blue eyes of the actor who played the deputy, so much so that I looked him up. I realized that he was the same actor who played Henry Austen in Becoming Jane (amazing movie, I guess I was too distracted by James McAvoy to notice anyone else in the film). His name is Joe Anderson and while I was becoming reacquainted with Major Grey during the Lord John novels, it hit me that he fits the description perfectly! Shorter stature, lean build, blonde hair, English, slightly feminine yet still a head-turner, and beautiful, big, blue eyes. What do you think? 

This is exactly how I imagine Lord John. Sexy man overload in these pictures!!

 

 

The Lord John Series by Diana Gabaldon

I started reading Echo in the Bone back in late August and decided to stop *gasp* after I continued to have the nagging sensation that I needed to read the Lord John series before I went any further. So that’s what I did. I read Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and Lord John and the Hand of Devils.

Overall, they were okay. Pretty solid, as my brother would say. (I found these books to be much like every Kings of Leon song I’ve ever heard: they start out with a lot of  promise, but never really seem to go anywhere. I hope that wasn’t too snarky? I still love you, Diana G!) On the bright side however, I did develop a definite attachment to Lord John, whom I had always been fairly indifferent towards while reading the Outlander novels, as well as a concrete image of what I think he would look like.

Lord John and the Private Matter begins with LJ accidentally catching a glimpse of what appears to be a pox mark on the manparts of his cousin’s fiance. LJ feels that it’s his duty as an honorable man to do some sleuthing to determine the true character of said fiance in enough time to cancel the wedding. The premise makes me giggle, but I kind of had to force myself to get through this one, and truthfully, I can’t even remember much of what happened. I kept waiting for some juicy Jamie bits, but alas, there wasna any. I did enjoy learning about the mollyhouses and I love Tom Byrd to death, but I don’t really feel that this book is critical to the series.

Lord John and the Hand of Devils is a collection of 3 novellas that each have a supernatural twist, and it turned out to be a great book to kick off the start of October. I actually really enjoyed these short stories, Lord John and the Hellfire Club being my favorite…very, very strange…but strange in a good way. I suppose my overall favorite however is Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. It’s by far the most substantial of the 3 books (around 500 pages) and I felt that I got the most out of it (a.k.a. it has juicy Jamie bits), and that’s what I’m going to focus on here.

It’s the heart of the Seven Years War and someone is sending pages from the diary of  Lord John’s deceased father to members of his family. His father, the Duke of Pardloe, is believed to have committed suicide after being accused as a Jacobite agent when LJ was a boy.  John has harbored a secret regarding his father’s death for many years and now wants to clear his good name, as well as recover the missing diary. Meanwhile, his mother is preparing to wed General Stanley and John is introduced to his soon-to-be step-brother (and so much more), Percy Wainwright. John and Percy have a bit of an awkward “introduction” since they have met once before during a mollyhouse one night stand (in the Private Matter). Percy joins the army and they begin a passionate affair that lasts throughout the majority of the book until John (and several other army officers) accidentally catch Percy with another man. LJ is then faced with a moral dilemma: to testify to what he saw and potentially sentence Percy to death, or lie in court and free Percy, but put an end to his own good word. The timeframe of the novel coincides with Voyager, when Jamie is working as a groom at Helwater. Lord John receives notice that his beloved friend Geneva Dunsany has died and leaves at once to help console the family, thus seeing Jamie Fraser in the first of many visits throughout the book.

I found it very interesting to see the other side of the Dunsany/Helwater debacle from John’s perspective. Grey had known the Dunsany’s since the early days of his commission, where he became good friends with their son, Gordon. Gordon was killed during the Jacobite Rising and as a result, the family adopted Grey as a sort of foster son. John had known Geneva from the time she was 4 or 5 and Isobel since birth. There is a touching scene where John comes across a rain-soaked and grief-striken Isobel preparing to jump out of the window. He pulls her down and in an attempt to comfort her, confesses that he took to smashing things while mourning his father. He gathers some objects for her to throw out the window and offers to take her out to shoot clay pigeons. It was a very sweet scene, especially knowing  that they would end up as husband and wife. (I would love to hear Isobel’s thoughts on that marriage.)

On the night before the funeral, John walks to the family chapel to sit with Geneva’s body one last time before she is buried. Upon entering the room, he is shocked to find Jamie lying on the freezing floor, in nothing but his shirt, keeping watch. Jamie sounds like he has been crying and John realizes that he must have been performing an act of penance, which leads him to believe they were lovers. (LJ later pays a visit to the new Earl, expecting to find a head full of tell-tale red hair.) Jamie serves as a pallbearer to the Earl of Ellesmere at the joint funeral (scandalous!) and apparently the other manservanst are fearful of him. He sits completely alone while most of the congregation openly gawk at him. John is keeping a careful watch on him as well, and notices that Jamie is clearly showing signs of distress during the funeral, and he wonders if it’s Geneva that he is mourning, or his dead wife.

Later, while still attempting to clear his father’s name, John offers to release Fraser from the provision of his parole if he can provide names of the prominent Jacobites from England during 1741. Jamie becomes very agitated when LJ mentions that he needs the information in defense of his father’s honor, and goes on to give this chilling speech:

I am not merely defeated, nor only imprisoned by right of conquest. I am exiled, and made slave to an English lord, forced to do the will of my captors. And each day, I rise with the thought of my perished brothers, my men taken from my care and thrown to the mercies of sea and savages – and I lay myself down at night knowing that I am preserved from death only by the accident that my body rouses your unholy lust.

One thing that I found a little confusing was the dynamic of Jamie and John’s relationship. Based on Voyager, I had the impression the two had grown to be good friends as a result of spending so much time dining together at Ardsmuir. In Brotherhood of the Blade, however, I felt like Jamie was consistently hostile and unfriendly towards John; and at times, I got the impression that perhaps John felt more lust than actual love for Jamie.

It was very intriguing, albeit a little strange, to see Jamie through a different set of eyes (other than Claire). For example, check out LJ’s description of Mr. Fraser upon first approaching Helwater…

The lines of neck and spine, the solid curve of buttock and columned thigh, the sun-darkened flesh of his throat, sun-bleached hair of his arms- even the small imperfections, the scars that marred one hand, the pockmark at the corner of his mouth- and the slanted eyes, dark with hostility and wariness. It was perhaps no surprise that he should feel physical arousal; the man was beautiful, and yet dangerous in his beauty.

I don’t remember Claire mentioning any pockmarks, but I can definitely appreciate a fresh take such as that. Basically, Jamie is the center of John’s world.  Oddly enough, instead of this making me angry (like it did in Voyager– I suppose it was the idea that John was potentially competition, or maybe just a major complication, for Claire?) it actually just strengthened my notion of the love between Jamie and Claire. I realized that Jamie always had eyes for only Claire, and that Lord John was fully aware of this.

There is one scene in the book that does sort of bother me though. It’s towards the end, when John is desperately torn about what to do during Percy’s impending court date. John travels back to Helwater specifically to consult with Jamie to get the counsel of a truly honest man (Grey also says that Jamie is the only person in the world to whom he can speak frankly). Grey admits that he cannot see Percy hanged for a crime whose guilt he shares. At this, Jamie refers to Percy as Grey’s “catamite” and implies that John is preying on young boys. Tempers flare rapidly and a heated argument ensues about whether or not men can love one another (Jamie saying the thought of it “curdles my wame”), the climax of which occurs when the following exchange takes place:

Jamie: “Draw on me and be damned, armed or no, ye canna master me.”

John: “You think not? I tell you, sir – were I to take you to my bed – I could make you scream. And by God, I would do it.”

(Yowza!! My jaw totally dropped at that one!) Anyhoo, what happens next is very vague, but basically Jamie throws a punch, John is disoriented and stumbles out of the barn (they were in the barn because Jamie always seems to be pitching hay in this book), ripping at his flies…next thing you know, “desperate fisting” ensues and a “drained” John sinks to his knees. I realize there are a multitude of reasons why this scene should be vague, but I have a lot of questions, the most significant being whether or not Jamie witnessed what was taking place?! It only seems logical to me that if he was in the midst of a fight, and his opponent walked away, he would at least watch to see what his next move would be, right? I would like to think that Jamie wouldn’t have stayed to watch the public indecency take place, but he had to have known what was going on? It was crazy, to be sure.

So, in summary, I am glad that I took the time to read this series and I definitely have a new-found appreciation for Lord John Grey. I officially like him now. While I pretty much just covered all the parts involving Jamie, I would recommend that any Outlander fans should at least read Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. I heard that Diana G is writing a new story involving Lord John and zombies and I’m actually most excited to get my hands on that!