My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Read on 7/27 to page 214, on 8/5 to the end.
I liked this story. I recommend it to historical fantasy fans, mystery fans, and gay men.
In “The Haunted Soldier” we start out putting Lord John into a confrontational military inquiry. The inquiry is a stretch back to a previous book. “Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade”
In that book, Lord John finds himself in the fog of war in a battle in Germany. In the fog of war you begin knowing what you are doing then slam into such chaos and confusion it is much like a thick fog. Inside that “fog of war” you bounce through the emotions of fight or flight. Time becomes an abstraction where moments may pass instantly, or seem minutes, hours, or days to pass. A clearing in that mental, emotional, and chaotic fog of violence brings an awareness you know not where you are, or why, but the adrenaline still demands the urgency of doing the next thing.
John’s military tribunal is about precisely one of those moments when Lord John was severely wounded. But not before he performed several acts of heroic bravery and courage.
John, not 100% recovered from his injuries does not know the purpose of the military inquiry but before long he has more questions than the inquiry is pressing upon him. Why are they asking him this question or that one? Shortly he comes to understand they are implying his action during that combat was questionable. During his long recovery he has gone over that battle from beginning to end hundreds of times and he cannot piece together every single thing that happened. But he is soon standing up, indignant, and marching out of the inquiry, uncertain if it will mean serious punishment, but he is too angry to care.
I found this Lord John story to be more complex than earlier stories. Usually in stories like these you find the needle in the haystack and that’s that. This story is partially an investigation into why Lord John was injured in an earlier story. Reasons are discovered, but like real life, these usually lead to more questions. I was taught a story is “two dogs fighting over a bone”. This is more like John is chasing a bone and as soon as he gets it, another one is thrown for him to chase after. Repeat.
Diana Galbadon’s Lord John stories are not Claire and Jamie kind of stories but Lord John is singularly as sexual as either Clair or Jamie and if you’ve read Outlander books, you know they are blatantly pornographic in bits and pieces. Ms. Galbadon infuses Lord John with similar homosexuality, which in the historical time period can be much more dangerous than sexually transmitted diseases. John is a Lord and an Officer in the English Army and the mysteries he is often trying to untangle are taking place within the pressure cooker of his homosexual desires which must remain extremely discrete.
I’ve often been amused to discover why a book or story is named as it is named. Often it is one short line out of an entire book that actually has little to do with anything in the story. In this one there is a Haunted Soldier. I’ll leave it for your to discover when you read the book.
Artillery Gun Crew Illustration and Battle Image are Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=156768