Outlander Book Club: Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade Chapter 14 breakdown

Lord John attends a hanging in Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade Chapter 14. Here's our breakdown of the chapter.
Outlander Season 3 -- Courtesy of Aimee Spinks/STARZ
Outlander Season 3 -- Courtesy of Aimee Spinks/STARZ /

We remain at the prison in Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade Chapter 14. John goes through with his promise to be there for Bates’s hanging.

The chapter is a dark one. It gives us a realistic look at the world of hangings in England. Tyburn Hill was known for many hangings, and all of them had the people come out to jeer at the condemned prisoners. This time is no different.

Lord John ends up doing something that he had paid someone else to do. It, again, gives us a look at the stark reality of executions back then.

Breaking down Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade Chapter 14

One of the things Bates wanted John to do was to be there at his hanging. John held up that promise, dressing in his uniform to make sure Bates would see him. This was a risk for John, though. After all, others would notice him, and they would see that he wasn’t there to jeer at the prisoners.

As convicted sodomites, nobody watching was there for comfort. Even Madame Mags and her girls are there jeering the prisoners with the rest of the crowd. There are three prisoners in total, and one of them is Ottway, who wails in the leadup to the execution.

John thinks to himself that the man should die as a man and not a baby. I love how we get to see this side of John. So often, he seems to be understanding and caring, but he fails to put himself in the position of Ottway. After all, he has no idea what it’s like to actually face an execution. While John thinks he knows how he would act, he doesn’t. But this is such a flaw in humans as a whole, and it makes John’s character so believable.

Ottway is the only one who has a clean death with his neck breaking on the way down. John had paid for a “neck breaker” to make sure Bates wouldn’t flail around. In the end, the person he paid didn’t come forward, so John has to be the one to go and give Bates a cleaner death. It leads to John falling into the mud.

I did question John’s decision to do this. I guess it was part of his humanity coming out. However, John has now shown mercy to a convicted sodomite, which could lead to some suspicion on him.

Could this chapter be used in a TV show adaptation?

If there is an adaptation, I’m in two minds about whether this chapter would be used. One the one hand, it’s a necessarily realistic view of executions in England at the time. However, it doesn’t really need to be shown in order for the overall story. We can find out that John was there through conversations with others.

Part of the inclusion question comes down to time. It would depend on if there is enough time to show it—and show it properly. It does give us a look at John willing to risk his own safety to give a man a clean death. We get that look of humanity in Lord John Grey. However, if there wasn’t enough time, this is one chapter that the show could get away with not showing.

If it is shown, as I said, it needs to be done properly. You can’t include something like this for drama or gratuitous effect. It needs to be done to show the realism of the time, and it should put the focus on Lord John Grey’s humanity in the ending moment.

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