I have written about Diana Gabaldon before on this blog, and let me say straight away that I enjoyed Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade a lot more than Echo in the Bone.
Lord John, who emerged from the Outlander series as a separate series of novels, has a few problems on his plate. For one thing, he's in love with his new stepbrother. For another, the bitter feelings surrounding his father's death are still very much alive after a period of several years, and his brother Hal won't bear his father's title. Then there's the matter of the pages from his father's missing journal that keep turning up. . . On top of which, as a professional soldier Lord John generally has a battle to fight somewhere, and the next one may cost him his life.
As always, I'm impressed with Gabaldon's command of dialog and attention to historical detail. As always, her plot is intricate and involves a large number of characters. I have decided I need to get a better handle on the Outlander world if I'm going to keep reading these books (and I will, I'm a sucker for a lively historical novel) so I've downloaded the audiobook of Outlander and intend to work my way through the series in the order they were written. Perhaps my poor lame brain can get its head round all these people if someone is doing the voices.
What I like most about the Lord John books is, I think, the fact that each one is based on a puzzle/mystery that gets worked out by the last chapter (whereas the Outlander series is very episodic). I also enjoy seeing how Lord John negotiates a world in which homosexuality is a crime and a guaranteed route to social ruin if found out. And I like this character; I always enjoy characters who have a smooth, polished facade that hides deep emotions. Dorothy L. Sayers fans like myself may recognize Lord John as a gay Lord Peter Wimsey (who, according to Sayers, is an 18th-century gentleman at heart).
Verdict? Good. If you like intricate plots in a historical setting, you'll enjoy.