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September 08 2016 @ 07:59 am
The Lord John novels  
I've read all of the Outlander novels (more than once each), and a collection of short stories, but I've not read any of the Lord John books. I like Lord John well enough as a secondary character in the main book series, though he's not my fave secondary character.

I was wondering if anyone else who has a similar reaction to the Lord John character has read those novels and how they found them. I'm just a bit dubious about reading and enjoying a book centred around a character to whom I'm not that attached. I keep thinking of various TV series spin-offs built around secondary characters -- I've rarely enjoyed any of those (not even Frasier -- I never liked the Frasier character in Cheers). I'd appreciate any feedback about the Lord John books. Not reviews, just if you liked them, what did you like about them, if you didn't like them, why not, etc.

_celebrian_celebrian on September 8th, 2016 01:25 pm (UTC)
I think I should start with the disclaimer that I absolutely adore Lord John. ;-) Then again, I can't honestly recall whether I adored him from the main series before I read the Lord John books or whether I adore him now because I've also read all the LJ books. But, just so you know.

In any case, what I've told people about the LJ books is that if you go into them expecting them to be like the main series then you are likely to be disappointed. They don't have the broad scope that the main series has and they are really historical mysteries without the mix of many genres in the Big Books. You do get to learn a lot more about Lord John as a character and meet his family and some friends who are pretty entertaining. Also, reading the LJ books - and most particularly Brotherhood of the Blade - will introduce characters who later show up in the main series (especially in Echo and Moby) and it's helpful to know their backstories.

The other main thing I tell people is that I prefer to listen to the Lord John books on audio rather than reading them. LJ has a very dry sense of humor that doesn't always come across easily to me from the page, but Jeff Woodman who narrates the audiobooks is fantastic. Not sure if that's your thing, but something to consider.

Also, all of the shorter works - LJ and other novellas (not sure DG writes much of anything that would be a true "short story" LOL) - add to the overall world that DG is creating, so I think they are worthwhile for that alone if you love the series.

Over the past year, I've been reading and discussing the Oulander books with a group of people and in between the Big Books, we did some of the LJ stories. I think everyone in the group ended up enjoying them (some stories more than others and we haven't read them all yet). At least one person said she actually liked them more because she loves mysteries.

So, I guess my suggestion is to give them a shot. Reading them in order is helpful so here is a link with the reading order: http://outlanderbookclub.freeforums.org/lj-books-reading-order-of-the-stories-t209.html . And, I wouldn't give up after Hellfire if you read that first. It's the shortest and at least for me, I find some of the longer ones more satisfying. I've heard several people say that Haunted Soldier is a favorite and that's the 5th in order (third novella with 2 novels in between, including BotB which is possibly the most helpful with respect to backstories that help you understand dynamics in the main series). Also, a lot of people who don't love the LJ books as such do like Scottish Prisoner because that is a hybrid: about half LJ and half Jamie. So if you haven't read that you might consider it whether or not you read all the other LJ stories.

I hope this is helpful.
siobhan63siobhan63 on September 8th, 2016 03:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That was very helpful. I'm not a fan of audiobooks because having someone read to me puts me to sleep in minutes. Of course, that often happens when I read too, but it's guaranteed to happen if being read to. Also because I do most of my reading while commuting and the subway is too noisy -- I have to turn the volume up way more than I like which is why I no longer listen to music while commuting.

I most likely will give them a go -- probably after I finish reading The Expanse series.
Elf Lady: Jamie & Claireelflady_2001 on September 8th, 2016 06:45 pm (UTC)
I agree with _celebrian. I'll also add that Jeff Woodman's narration really pulls you into Lord John's POV. LJ is quite witty and urbane and his internal dialogue just makes you love him. ♥

I started out with The Scottish Prisoner at first before realizing there was a main series. I'm probably odd but once I'd finished the LJ books and before MOBY was released, I realized that Lord John Grey is actually my favorite character. Jamie and Claire are wonderful as are many of the other characters, but LJ is my favorite. I want to know more about him, his adventures, his family, etc.

That said, I think the events that occur in the LJ books inform his character and you understand him better as a result as well as his relationship with Jamie.
siobhan63siobhan63 on September 8th, 2016 09:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the input. I'm not sure who my fave character in the main series is... I am growing quite fond of Rachel, Young Ian's wife. And unlike many, I actually really like Brianna -- esp. in the later novels.
caitri: bookscaitri on September 8th, 2016 09:04 pm (UTC)
I love LJ in the main series but have struggled with the books, largely because of the period voice Gabaldon uses throughout his narratives. I also think I struggle a bit with the genre confines--the main series is a bit twisty in how it plays with different genres, while the LJ stories are straightforwardly historical fiction mysteries.
siobhan63siobhan63 on September 8th, 2016 09:23 pm (UTC)
"the LJ stories are straightforwardly historical fiction mysteries."

I quite like mysteries/police procedurals as a genre, so maybe that will be a plus for me?
caitri: bookscaitri on September 8th, 2016 09:26 pm (UTC)
Quite possibly!! :)
Artemiscrsg on September 8th, 2016 09:38 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the Lord John novels. Disclaimer though, I've actually never read a single page of the Outlander series - I'm just a really big fan of the TV show. I wouldn't be all all surprised to hear they differ wildly from one another in terms of writing style, to say nothing of the obvious differences in genres, but then again, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Why not just read a little of one and see what you think? If you find it's not your thing, at least you'll know. I recommend starting off with the first full-length novel from the series, Lord John and the Private Matter.
siobhan63siobhan63 on September 9th, 2016 11:25 am (UTC)
Thanks! I would strongly encourage you to read the Outlander series too. They do an excellent job with the adaptation, but there is so much detail/character development that you get in the novels that they just can't include in the show due to time limitations and such.
siphraniax3: pic#121944670siphraniax3 on September 8th, 2016 09:51 pm (UTC)
They're my favorites. I absolutely love them. Lord John is not only extremely complex, but he's very funny and clever. He's my favorite of all things Outlander. The books read as if one of Georgette Heyer's somewhat naughty side characters became a detective. They are comedies of manners in places, and I have read and re-read them. The humor is very dry, and if you are used to a writer like Heyer, it will make you crack up. If not, you may not get it. The audiobooks may be the way to go. I second _celebrian on the audio! The actor really REALLY gets it, his inflections and acting: perfect. His is the voice of Lord John.

siobhan63siobhan63 on September 9th, 2016 11:23 am (UTC)
I have to say that I have never heard of Georgette Heyer, so that comparison doesn't help me much, unfortunately.

I can't stay awake listening to audiobooks. The one time I tried them was after I'd had PRK laser eye surgery -- since I couldn't read for the first few days afterwards. Just could not stay awake listening. Plus, as I explained above, I mostly read while commuting, and the loudness of the subway/people around me requires me to turn up the volume way more than I am comfortable with (my hearing is already somewhat problematic). That's why I've stopped listening to music while commuting. Audiobooks would be even more difficult to listen to while commuting because I'd have to turn them up even more to properly hear everything.

"His is the voice of Lord John."

Hope the guy cast to play him in the series doesn't end up disappointing too much on that front!
siphraniax3siphraniax3 on September 9th, 2016 03:13 pm (UTC)
Georgette Heyer wrote mystery and romance fiction. She pretty much created the historical romance genre, in particular Regency Romance. Meticulously researched and often quite funny with the kind of dry humor Lord John often displays. They're among my favorites.
siobhan63siobhan63 on September 9th, 2016 06:08 pm (UTC)
Ah. Not my genre at all. Also why I avoided the Outlander series like the plague until the show started. Luckily, Outlander, esp. the later books, are more historical action and less romance!
siphraniax3siphraniax3 on September 9th, 2016 10:13 pm (UTC)
Well if you haven't read a Georgette Heyer novel, then you might think they are syrupy romances, but they are not. They are very clever, very well written, incredibly well researched, and they feature some of the wittiest dialogue you'll ever read. Gabaldon was obviously influenced by them, but mostly in her writing for the Lord John novels, which is probably why I like them so much.
Jill aka Jo: SH: I & A in swampsireesanwar on September 15th, 2016 08:07 pm (UTC)
I have never heard of Georgette Heyer. I love romance books but something like Outlander is more my things.

I will check her out because your description of her writing makes me want to read her work!
Jo Ann: Rolling Eyes Taylor GIFyeuxdebleu on September 11th, 2016 02:55 am (UTC)
I share your feeling and haven't read any of the Lord John books either.
Jill aka Jo: Sherlock: Mollysireesanwar on September 15th, 2016 08:05 pm (UTC)
I personally didn't enjoy the Lord John books. I like in in the Outlander books and I've enjoyed him more in the last Outlander book than ever before but for me his books were hard to follow. They are more mystery and sometimes I got too confused to even know what happened by the time I got to the end.

I would recommend borrowing one and if you like it then just investing in them.