Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

The Custom of the Army

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Custom of the Army (2010) Diana Gabaldon

Set in London and Canada

One of the things I loved about the story was the brief glimpse of Hal (much of the book is set in the Americas).

his brother often did take his daughter out, with the feeble excuse that the child needed air. His wife accused him of wanting to show the baby off— she was beautiful— but Grey thought the cause somewhat more straightforward. His ferocious, autocratic, dictatorial brother— Colonel of his own regiment, terror of both his own troops and his enemies— had fallen in love with his daughter.

OK, there is this as well.

“Eventful,” he repeated. “Yes, it was, rather. But I didn’t do anything to Caroline Woodford save hold her hand whilst being shocked by an electric eel, I swear it. Gleeglgleeglgleegl-pppppssssshhhhh,” he added to Dottie, who shrieked and giggled in response.

Another thing, combined with the above, are the reminders that despite everything, John holds family important.

“Yes. Well. As I said, it’s nothing to do with Olivia— and so it’s nothing to do with you.” He spoke with apparent calmness, but Grey could see the pulse hammering in his throat, the nervous shiftiness of his eyes. “It’s nothing out of the ordinary— it’s the bloody custom, for God’s sake. Everybody—”

He kneed Stubbs in the balls. “Try again,” he advised Stubbs, who had fallen down and was curled into a fetal position, moaning. “Take your time; I’m not busy.”

Olivia is only his cousin, yet he behaves as if she were her sister–even in a time when men didn’t always hold their sisters in high regard.

And through these stories are the reminder that war and battle were not and are not calm and clean, but chaos and ugliness.

“The … the killing. Not … battle. Not an honorable thing. Farmers. Women …” Grey saw Stubbs’s heavy throat move, swallowing. “I— we— for months now. Looting the countryside, burning farms, villages.” He sighed, broad shoulders slumping. “The men, they don’t mind. Half of them are brutes to begin with.” He breathed. “Think … nothing of shooting a man on his doorstep and taking his wife next to his body.” He swallowed.

That, of course, makes parts of these stories hard to read, but I think it’s important that we be reminded just how much those who fight are sacrificing and changed by their experiences.

I tend to forget that fireflies aren’t universal.

A drifting spark of green drew his eye, and he felt delight well up in him. There was another … another … ten, a dozen, and the air was suddenly full of fireflies, soft green sparks that winked on and off, glowing like tiny distant candles among the dark foliage. He’d seen fireflies once or twice before, in Germany, but never in such abundance. They were simple magic, pure as moonlight.

I do love this series.
Rating: 8.5/10

Publisher: Dell

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Re-Read     Comments (0)    

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