This is an anthology, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, with short stories and novellas by a lot of very talented people. I have a novella in this book, a Lord John story titled “The Custom of the Army” (and before a lot of you write, demanding that I stop wasting time writing about Lord John…I wrote this novella last year, _while_ finishing AN ECHO IN THE BONE. I normally do work on multiple projects at once; I get a lot farther, a lot faster that way). There’s a longish excerpt from this story on my website (www.dianagabaldon.com ), and here’s a further short one.
“The Custom of the Army” (in WARRIORS)
Copyright 2010 Diana Gabaldon
A month later, Grey found himself, Tom Byrd at his side, climbing off the Harwood and into one of the small boats that would land them and the battalion of Louisbourg grenadiers with whom they had been traveling on a large island near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.
He had never seen anything like it. The river itself was larger than any he had ever seen, nearly half a mile across, running wide and deep, a dark blue-black under the sun. Great cliffs and undulating hills rose on either side of the river, so thickly forested that the underlying stone was nearly invisible. It was hot, and the sky arched brilliant overhead, much brighter and much wider than any sky he had seen before. A loud hum echoed from the lush growth—insects, he supposed, birds, and the rush of the water, though it felt as though the wilderness were singing to itself, in a voice heard only in his blood. Beside him, Tom was fairly vibrating with excitement, his eyes out on stalks, not to miss anything.
“Cor, is that a Red Indian?” he whispered, leaning close to Grey in the boat.
“I don’t suppose he can be anything else,” Grey replied, as the gentleman loitering by the landing was naked save for a breech-clout, a striped blanket slung over one shoulder, and a coating of what—from the shimmer of his limbs—appeared to be grease of some kind.
“I thought they’d be redder,” Tom said, echoing Grey’s own thought. The Indian’s skin was considerably darker than Grey’s own, to be sure, but a rather pleasant soft brown in color, something like dried oak leaves. The Indian appeared to find them nearly as interesting as they had found him; he was eyeing Grey in particular with intent consideration.
“It’s your hair, me lord,” Tom hissed in Grey’s ear. “I told you you ought to have worn a wig.”
“Nonsense, Tom.” At the same time, Grey experienced an odd frisson up the back of the neck, constricting his scalp. Vain of his hair, which was blond and thick, he didn’t commonly wear a wig, choosing instead to bind and powder his own for formal occasions. The present occasion wasn’t formal in the least. With the advent of fresh water aboard, Tom had insisted upon washing his hair that morning, and it was still spread loose upon his shoulders, though it had long since dried.
The boat crunched on the shingle, and the Indian flung aside his blanket and came to help the men run it up the shore. Grey found himself next the man, close enough to smell him. He smelt quite unlike anyone Grey had ever encountered; gamy, certainly—he wondered, with a small thrill, whether the grease the man wore might be bear-fat—but with the tang of herbs and a sweat like fresh-sheared copper.
Straightening up from the gunwale, the Indian caught Grey’s eye and smiled.
“You be careful, Englishman,” he said, in a voice with a noticeable French accent, and reaching out, ran his fingers quite casually through Grey’s loose hair. “Your scalp would look good on an Huron’s belt.”
This made the soldiers from the boat all laugh, and the Indian, still smiling, turned to them.
“They are not so particular, the Abenaki who work for the French. A scalp is a scalp—and the French pay well for one, no matter what color.” He nodded genially to the grenadiers, who had stopped laughing. “You come with me.”
You can pre-order the book at amazon.com, though if you’d like a signed copy, you can also order it from The Poisoned Pen (www.poisonedpen.com); I go by the store every week or so to sign their orders.