Lord John and the Hand of Devils (Lord John Grey Series)

Lord John And The Hand Of Devils - Diana Gabaldon 2nd read: Feb 2012 - 3.5+ starsOn the second read, I had the chronological order of the three short stories in this book, which I found helped my enjoyment and understanding of these stories. I actually *got* what happened, especially in the last story, "The Haunted Soldier"... I just needed the context.I've come to appreciate Lord John Grey much more than I ever thought possible. And while this book isn't the best of his series, the stories in this book are vital (IMO) to understanding LJ's complete story - his character, his family, his honor, and even his obsession with Jamie Fraser.1st read: Aug 23, 2011*Edited by me*This book is a compilation of short stories that Diana Gabaldon wrote about Lord John. She challenged herself to write a story less than 300 pages!!!Lord John is a character in the Outlander series, and his importance and part of the Outlander story increases through book #7. I was intrigued to understand more about him.I found these stories spotty, at best. I understand the author's sympathy towards Lord John's sexual orientation, and she provides some interesting information about the social views and the historical time to frame the views on that sexual orientation. But somehow, it felt, at times, that the author was stretching the story lines to encompass that orientation, rather than just allowing Lord John to be himself.HOWEVER (new edits here), in light of the other LJ short stories and books, especially "The Scottish Prisoner", Ms. G builds characters and scenes that are meaningful to the overall Lord John story, and that eventually intersect with the Outlander cast and story. We meet Stephan von Namtzen, who becomes a good friend (and possible love interest?) to LJ. We also get to know LJ's brother, Hal, better, and the action on the field. Lord John is, after all, a soldier; what better way to get to know him than by watching him in action?