- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1071 KB
- Print Length: 146 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0765394294
- Publisher: Tor.com (25 April 2017)
- Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01JZ6SJ0W
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 30 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #397,464 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Buffalo Soldier Kindle Edition
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"A wild, satisfying ride awaits." -- The New York Times Book Review
"A joy to read... the ending came all too soon." --Lightspeed Magazine
"I want more of this world and soon." --The Brazen Bull--This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
MAURICE BROADDUS is a fantasy and horror author best known for his short fiction and his Knights of Breton Court novel trilogy. He has published dozens of stories in magazines and book anthologies, including in Asimov's Science Fiction, Black Static, and Weird Tales.
Broaddus was born in London, but grew up in Indianapolis. His mother is from Jamaica, where she and many of his relatives still live.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
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It's a short read that at times feels like it had more potential to be more. To be longer. That it's a bigger story told too quickly. And yet a part of me is so wholly satisfied with wanting more than feeling that something overstayed it's welcome.
There's tight, pulpy action sequences, interesting characters and culture, an emphasis on imperialism and colonialism and the importance of our stories to us as people.
It's a strong read, and I recommend it. Especially considering the low low price point.
Top international reviews
Maurice has lovingly woven Jamaican culture and history, American Civil War history into an alternative history Steamfunk classic that is resonating with me even now. There are telekinetics, Steam men, mechanical animals, spies, assassins and some cool fight scenes. The relationship between Desmond and Lij is an important one and is depicted with care. It's very touching when they interact, and the use of stories within the main narrative adds depth to this already excellent read. The dialogue was very well executed too, and the Jamaican patois touches were fantastic.
My only disappointment is that this adventure had to end so soon but luckily for you, it can just be the beginning.
In novellas, as with short stories, the author cannot spend a great deal of time describing the setting and history: the action needs to grip the reader and propel us along just as quickly as in a short story. But it is clear Broaddus’ world-building for Buffalo Soldier is complete and massively detailed. The reader gets just enough historical detail to glean that the American Revolution failed while Jamaican independence was successful, and that what we know as the United States is divided into three main regions: Albion, ruled over by Regents of the British government; Tejas (Texas and environs); and the Six Civilized Nations (various native tribes, occupying fortified holdings in the west after being forced out of the east). The novella is set in what feels like the present day, or close to it. The politics and history that led to these divisions is hinted at with carefully placed familiar names and locations from our own history. The technological world-building is equally hinted at throughout the book, quick glimpses of steam-based weaponry and transportation tiding us over until a key reveal.
But it’s the characters that draw the readers into this world and keep us there; Desmond Coke, Lij Tafari, and the mysterious Cayt Siringo. Coke’s world-weariness is palpable in the early pages and deepens as the story progresses: he knows he’s doing the right thing for Lij, even though it has meant leaving behind everything he knows, and yet he still questions whether he’s doing the right thing. The questioning and the willingness to do what’s right despite the danger it puts him in makes Desmond Coke our point of view into the history and the ensuing action. He finds some, if not all, of the answers he’s seeking as things progress. And while he’s the main point of view character, he’s not the character who pulls the majority of the reader’s attention.
That character would be the quiet, if not always controlled, Lij Tafari. Lij’s innocence is the counterpoint to Coke’s not-quite cynicism. Coke understands the way the political world affects where he can travel with Lij; Lij has no understanding of, or interest in, how the world works outside of his immediate interactions with it. Coke’s (and later, Cayt’s) handling of Lij hinges on their understanding of where this innocence comes from. While the word itself is never used, it is clear from his dialogue and his actions that Lij is autistic. Lij’s autism is as much a story point as Coke’s depression or Cayt’s cunning or the parental protectiveness of supporting characters Inteus and Kajika: that is to say, it’s important when it’s important, and not belabored when it’s not. It’s so easy for authors to portray autism as a character deficit, to have other characters talk down to the autistic character or treat them as less than human, or to treat it as a series of disconnected tics. Broaddus spectacularly fails to fall into any of these traps: his portrayal of Lij and of how Coke and others interact with him, perfectly matches the functional autistic kids, and parents of same, that I know.
Ultimately, “Buffalo Soldier” is about stories: the stories we tell others, the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we draw on to survive and move on. Early on, the stories are all in bits of dialogue: Coke bending the truth of his and Lij’s identity in order to survive crossing Tejas, for instance. Near the half-way point, we are dropped wholesale into the tales and legends the characters tell Lij to keep him moving or to keep him calm. Here, Broaddus’ skill as a teller of tales-within-stories really shines: the rhythm and level of detail changes with each teller.
This novella could be a done-in-one: all of the major plot and sub-plots are resolved (some bloodily so, but then again, there’s no shortage of violence throughout). But I’m really hoping we’ve not seen the end of Desmond Coke, Lij Tafari, their friends and their enemies. There’s so much more to explore.
The prose was good throughout, and the use of steam punk tropes were used to good effect. The main characters were interesting enough that I felt disappointed I didn't really get to know them well. I will definitely read more from this author. tbh, I'd like to read a longer version of this story.
Desmond and Lij have fled to Tejas (Texas) and seek refuge with the Seminole when everyone seems to be after them: Tejas industrialists, Pinkerton agents in the hire of a mysterious client, Jamaican Niyabingi (of which Desmond used to be one.) Cayt Siringo, the Pinkerton agent, is particularly troublesome and hard to shake (and the story's main antagonist, but not an unsympathetic one as the story advances.)
I really loved the worldbuilding in this--there's a steampunk aspect to it, but it's clear that there are layers and layers. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Seminoles' city and their technology. Desmond's character was wonderful, particularly his determination to protect Lij. My one complaint was that this felt a little rushed in places, like it needed more room to spread out, and I'd have liked to see more of it (in fact, I really hope there's a sequel.)
ETA: Meant to mention. Dang, that cover! Gorgeous.
They run into far too much trouble in the Free Republic of Tejas, but manage to cut through a bunch of corporate mercenaries. Unfortunately, the gun-slinging Pinkerton agent Cayt Siringo is a more dangerous foe, but they still manage to hobble over the border into the Assembly of First Nations, but not even this most technologically advanced territory may be able to protect them from their enemies.
Can Desmond and Lij escape to freedom? Can they find anyone they can trust? And what is the secret hiding in Lij's genes?
Maurice Broaddus' novella revs up fast and rarely slows down. The action is excellent, and the settings, particularly the extremely high-tech Assembly of First Nations, are lots of fun. Characterization is also a very strong point. Desmond and Lij are both skillful and subtle creations, but some of the secondary characters are especially great, like the desperate but mannerly Cayt, the dignified fury of Inteus, and the calm, commanding, but compassionate Kajika.
It's also a story about stories. Seems like everyone tells stories to Lij at one time or another, generally about legends and mythology. He's on the run because someone decided they could decide what the story of his life was going to be -- the stories show him he can decide for himself.
If you're looking for grand, action-packed fantasy with a steampunk-Western twist and a fun, diverse cast, you'll want to pick this up.
An alternate history, steampunk, weird west novella which sticks a lot of material in a very small space, maybe too small. It has an exploration of different storytelling traditions, a commentary of expansionist governments, and the pure fun of guns and the wild west. I think the central plot is figuring out how a found family works.
The ending is abrupt, but as stated throughout the storytelling examples – stories are messy, and clean, and complicated, and simple, and you never know where they end or begin.
The copyediting/proofreading could use another pass to eliminate the couple-few repeated phrases.
The 4 rather than 5 is over Broaddus’ use of others’ stories to extend the narrative (reminds me of Kevin Hearne’s similar digressions). Sometimes they support the narrative, sometimes not so much. I would have preferred slightly less, but understand that it is the communication style that appeals best to the small boy character in the story. I remember seeking out all the Andrew Lang fairy books at an early age, so this makes some sense to me.
Nevertheless, it’s a great beginning. I hope there is more.