Thursday Thirteen: Things I like about Lord John

Thursday 13 Books

Thirteen Things I Like about Lord John Grey:

1) His use of language.  I'm in total agreement with Bree when she says, "I really like the way you talk."  Lord John's vocabulary often makes me laugh, as in this bit from his first appearance in DRAGONFLY:
"Whereas you, sir, are a conscienceless outlaw, with a reputation for thievery and violence!  Your face and description are on broadsheets throughout Hampshire and Sussex!  I recognized you at once; you're a rebel and an unprincipled voluptuary!" the boy burst out hotly, his face stained a deeper red even than the firelight.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 36, "Prestonpans". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) His sense of honor.  This is one of the (many) things Lord John and Jamie have in common, and it's one of the things I like best about John's character.  Realizing that Jamie cannot and will not ever reciprocate his feelings, Lord John doesn't press the issue, but instead does everything he can to help Jamie and his family -- including taking Willie to raise as his own son when Jamie could not.

3) His relationship with Brianna.  I love their verbal fencing matches, and I think it's really a shame that we (probably) won't get to see them interacting again.
"Why did you marry Isobel?"

He sighed, but there was no point in evasion.

"In order to take care of William."

The thick red brows nearly touched her hairline.

"So you got married, in spite of--I mean, you turned your whole life upside down, just to take care of Jamie Fraser's illegitimate son?  And neither one of you ever talked about it?"

"No," he said, baffled.  "Of course not."

Slowly, the brows came down again, and she shook her head.

"Men," she said cryptically.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 116, "The Ninth Earl of Ellesmere". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

4) He's comfortable with his homosexuality, and doesn't waste time wishing things could be otherwise.  This is a major difference between Lord John and Percy:
"Do you ever wish that you were...not as you are?"

The question took him by surprise--and yet he was somewhat more surprised to realize that he did not need to think about the answer.

"No," he said.  He hesitated for a moment, but Percy's asking of the question was enough.  "You do?"

(From LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 19, "Pictures at an Exhibition". Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) His sense of humor.  I really enjoy John's wry observations -- even when they're only his private thoughts.
Christ, was he going to die in public, in a pleasure garden, in the company of a sodomite spy dressed like a rooster?  He could only hope that Tom was nearby, and would remove his body before anybody noticed.

(From "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier", Part 3 ("The Hero's Return"), in LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS by Diana Gabaldon. Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

6) His relationship with Tom Byrd.  I think the two of them have great chemistry, and their interactions are often hilarious.  Here's one of my favorites, from "The Custom of the Army":
"Me lord?"

The voice at his elbow nearly made him swallow his tongue.  He turned with an attempt at calmness, ready to reproach Tom for venturing out into the chaos, but before he could summon words, his young valet stooped at his feet, holding something.

"I've brought your breeches, me lord," Tom said, voice trembling.  "Thought you might need 'em, if there was fighting."

"Very thoughtful of you, Tom," he assured his valet, fighting an urge to laugh.

(From "The Custom of the Army", by Diana Gabaldon, p. 245 in the WARRIORS anthology. Copyright© 2010 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) He may be physically smaller than average for the time (only about 5'6"), but he is also a career soldier who can be ruthless and violent when it's called for.  (As, for example, when he gouges out Adams' eye at the end of BOTB.)

8) He's fiercely loyal, just as Claire is.  I think this is one reason why Percy's betrayal hurt John so deeply.

9) He's a good friend, in every sense of the word.  He used his influence to have Jamie sent to Helwater rather than transported to the Colonies with the other Ardsmuir men -- an action that quite probably saved Jamie's life -- and continued to offer his friendship and support even years later, when it became clear that he and Jamie were going to be on opposing sides in the Revolution.

10) He's the son of a duke, born into an upper-class life of privilege, but he's not afraid to get his hands dirty (as during Olivia's childbirth scene in BOTB) or to mingle with the lower classes (as when he went to Tyburn to witness Bates' execution).  I think this makes Lord John seem more down-to-earth and easier to relate to than many upper-class English characters you find in historical novels.

11) He's not intimidated by strong-willed females.  I think this comes from a lifetime of experience dealing with his mother, Benedicta, who is a rather formidable woman in her own right.  No surprise to me that Lord John gets along so well with Brianna.  His relationship with Claire is obviously much more complicated, but clearly he's used to being around stubborn, intelligent women who are not afraid to speak their minds.

12) He's evidently been a good father to William.  I love this little glimpse in ECHO of Lord John's life as the father of a teenager:
When William was sixteen, his father had caught him and a friend engrossed in the pages of his friend’s father’s copy of Mr. Harris’s notorious guide to the splendors of London’s women of pleasure. Lord John had raised an eyebrow and flipped slowly through the book, pausing now and then to raise the other eyebrow. He had then closed the book, taken a deep breath, administered a brief lecture on the necessary respect due to the female sex, then told the boys to fetch their hats.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 36, "The Great Dismal". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
13) As well as we think we know him, Lord John is still very much capable of surprising all of us, as we saw with his encounter(s) with Claire in ECHO.  I won't say more about that here; if you want to see more of my reactions to that incident, look here:

ECHO: Claire and Lord John (Part 1)

ECHO: Claire and Lord John (Part 2)


Sara said...

One of the points that I think has been left out of the Compuserve discussion is that John has been slowly growing more attracted to Claire over the years. There are just a few brief references to this which I don't think I could find---it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack! So I don't think that he was really making love to Jamie that night! She might have been, but not LJ, at least not entirely.

Cari said...

I have only read the LJ series once through so far, and your list has me wanting to pick it up again soon. I was originally planning on re-reading it this summer in prep for the two stories (hopefully) being published this fall, but why wait?!

jw said...

You've done a good job of capturing LJ. I like him, always have, even though some fans of the Outlander books could take or leave the LJ books (or haven't even read them). I especially like his wry sense of humor. In my head, I picture a young Paul Newman when I think of LJ - handsome, witty, wry and honorable.

Merih said...

Great list Karen. You mentioned many of my favorite scenes involving Lord John. I hoep we see more of Tom Byrd!

Deniz Bevan said...

Love this list Karen - I agree with all of it :-) Ah, the sense of humour... I love the way he and Jamie can share that. "What news from the Underworld, Persephone?" [bg]

Karen Henry said...

Sara - that's an interesting point. Not sure I agree with you entirely, but it's interesting nonetheless :-)

Cari - I think it's a great idea to (re-)read the LJ books and stories before SCOTTISH PRISONER and "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies come out this fall. I'm sure PRISONER, in particular, will be much easier to understand if you've refreshed yourself on the details of the earlier books.

JW - "handsome, witty, wry, and honorable" pretty much captures him, doesn't it? Thanks!

Merih - me, too. I just love watching Lord John and Tom together.

Deniz - <giggle> I love that scene, too.


Cait Donnelly said...

"So that's what happened to your clothes!" Tom Byrd, Brotherhood of the Blade

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