“Our stories are already written. We had yet to act them out.”
More alternate history than historical fiction. Turner rooted his tale in the events of 1865 but, rather than allowing the consequences of Booth’s failure to spin off naturally, he tries to get history “back on track” in this seven-years-later novel. The story follows the mixed-blood guard whose intervention provides the book’s title, though curiously all that action happened five years before the current story.
“The life pulled from his body as his maker took possession of his soul.”
A good story and a fun read, but the history is unconvincing. The whole Lamon-Norris-Barons subplot seems contrived and ananchronistic. The real reconstruction struggle should have provided the necessary villains and heroes without introducing a Hunger Games-esque Lottery and labor unionism as motivators. The western separatist movement rings true.
“Death creeps quietly behind a man.”
The details were well-researched and gave a good feeling for the time and place, except for transportation. The horses pulled faster and longer than real horses, the trains were faster as well, and even afoot the people covered prodigious distances quickly. Standard fantasy fare, but knocks the reader out of the historical feel. Quibble: when he surrendered to Sherman on April 18, 1865, Confederate general Joe Johnston had about 21,000 men, not 90,000 as reported here. On the other hand the “bushwhacker” insurgent campaign in Missouri throughout the war follows the pattern Turner suggests.
“Sometimes even death has to wait.”