Oct 27, 2013

Book Review - The General and the Horse-Lord, by Sarah Black

General John Mitchel and his favorite pilot, Gabriel Sanchez, served together as comrades and brothers-in-arms for more than twenty-five years. They followed the warrior’s path: honor first, and service, and the safety of the tribe. Their own needs for love and companionship were secondary to the mission. Retirement from the army, however, proves challenging in ways neither expected. When old warriors retire, their armor starts falling away, and the noise of the world crowds in. That changing world sets up longings in both men for the life they might have had. After years of loving on the down-low, the idea of living together in the light seems like pure sweet oxygen to men who have been underwater a little too long. But what will it cost them to turn their dreams into truth?

No spoilers, I talk about what I found in this book, not what is actually in it.

Coolest title this year, together with what must be truly the ugliest cover.
Well, fabulous things have been known to come also in unexpected packages, and this book was recommended to me by Con Riley, and that’s usually enough for me.

And boy, does this book ever deliver, it is a scathing and fantastic swing at the Don’t ask, don’t tell.

It is a vision of the freeing of souls, the opening of minds, the possibility to move firmly into what and who you are, free to be you. To not miss out on a huge part of what is life, which is love.

This book does all that, and at the same time it is humorous, screaming-out-loud funny in places, especially where the young, crazy artistic boys meet with the two closeted-for-decades soldiers—there is a clash and a bang and so, so, so much love. Both between the generations and between the peer groups.

Then it takes a nose-dive into the mandatory angst, and I was okay with that, too.

I’m in an excerpt-kind-of-mood today, so here are some of my favorite moments:
”All you want to do when you’re fourteen is snatch up a broadsword and hack something to pieces, then find a big rock and fuck it to death.”

“John, did you see those boys at the bar the other night? They weren’t just out and proud, they were out and proud in flashing neon, you know?”

“It seems to me I’ve been missing something critical. I see that in you too. Missing the right to love. The right to make a life together.”

“’Would we have to play the gay-card?’
Gabriel sighed. ‘John, we’re gay. You know that, right?’”

“I’ll find some smoke granades. Smoke is always good to make a confusing situation a little more confusing.”

“If you ask one more lost boy to move into the house, I’m going to start building a barracks in the back yard.”

It has made me cry, and smile, and scream out loud with laughter, as anyone who has been following my updates know. It was well-written, with only three or four spelling errors. (But honestly? “Hanger” is not the word you’re looking for when talking about where to park your Apache, okay? Try “hangar”).

This story was so vividly painted that I still have an image of the house, the streets, the places they went, right here in my head. The characters were so real, so consistent with who they were that they just convinced me of the whole story. I know what the house looks like. The garage and the back yard. Ho-Ho’s food joint is a real place in my head.

Kim, oh Kim! He must be the most darling young man on the planet. I love him so much.

Honor. Pride. Love. Duty. Family. Romance. Friendship. Hate. Pain. Support. Comfort. Justice. And, of course, cheating. Yourself, your partner, your life, your very soul.

Now, the only note of pain, for me, in this book, was the character Martha, who was painted out to be the villain. Well, excuse me if I go outside and barf, but she had fucking reason to be pissed off. A lot of wrong had been done to her. A lot.

That said, this book gets all the stars from me. It wasn’t the heartbreak extraordinaire that I was led to believe, going in, but it was hard. It was hard work, trials and tribulations.

It was good, and safe, and home, and happy, and sad, and terrifying, and beautiful, and more. So much more.

What I will take with me now, when moving on, is Kim.
Kim and his love for his friends, his uncle, and for pink nail polish.


I was NOT asked to read this book by anyone, and I paid for it with my own money.

Find this book at Dreamspinner Press 

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