Metal Storm

Weird Custer, A Novel

Fiction - Action
195 Pages
Reviewed on 03/27/2015
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Metal Storm: Weird Custer is a historical fiction novel written by William Sumrall. The author sets the stage for the infamous last stand of George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. Custer has big plans for his future, including the presidency of the United States. He even has a press secretary in mind, a young reporter who is following the 7th Cavalry as they prepare for battle. Custer also has victories in Mexico and then Canada in mind, after this little problem with the Indians is taken care of. While his scouts are well aware of how seriously outnumbered Custer's forces are compared to the thousands of Indians at Little Big Horn, Custer remains resolute and is seemingly unaware of the dire situation he is in.

William Sumrall's historical action novel, Metal Storm: Weird Custer is recommended for American history buffs and anyone else who enjoys stories that are just a bit, or maybe even more, different. Metal Storm is certainly that. I'm not really a big fan of American history dealing with the Western expansion, but the title caught my eye, and when I started reading, I knew this book was a keeper. It works on so many different levels. Metal Storm is loaded with irony: the handsome and dashing Custer who suffers from an advanced case of gonorrhea, the soldiers' ammunition which jams their guns, the cruelty of the commanders towards their support staff, all leading up to a tragic and disastrous climax. The author brings the geography of the area to life brilliantly, and his characters, though flawed, are larger-than-life. The basic plot, despite its familiarity, is stunning and unforgettable as seen through the eyes of this author. Weird, yes, but Metal Storm: Weird Custer is very, very good, and it's most highly recommended.

Raanan Geberer

While most Americans know the story of Custer’s last stand, few know much about Gen. George Armstrong Custer himself. The general and his famous campaign are the subjects of Metal Storm: Weird Custer by William Sumrall, and the fictionalized picture Sumrall paints is not a pretty one. In Metal Storm, Custer has presidential ambitions and is contemptuous of both his political rivals (“milk-sops, effeminate dandies”) and his subordinate officers, whom he reviles with slurs like “Italian son of a bitch” and “f---ing Mick.” In fact, it’s Custer’s boundless pride that proves his downfall – he disregards his scouts’ advice that there are too many Indians for him to face successfully. Facing off against Custer is Sitting Bull, who, at least in this book, has the ability to command wolves, owls and other beasts. By the way, although we’re all familiar with the wrongs the Americans did to the Indians, Sumrall shows us that the tribes, too, could be very cruel – in one scene, Native women and children dance around wounded American soldiers, shooting arrows at them and hitting them with hammers.

In Metal Storm: Weird Custer, Sumrall shows himself to be an excellent writer who can describe both action and his characters’ internal struggles. He gives us some fascinating details about the Native Americans – for example, that the Cree (or Arikawa) engaged in brother-sister incest, which is why they were shunned by other tribes. His scenes showing Custer’s wife’s pampered existence away from the battlefield are also a nice touch. Metal Storm: Weird Custer is a short book, but in that space Sumrall manages to give more of the feel of the Old West than other books do in three times its length.

Faridah Nassozi

Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, commanding officer of the 7th Cavalry, had his mind set on becoming the next President of the United States of America and he slowly started building the necessary allies for the cause. He already had several advantages over any opponent in the race, but he needed one more victory on the battlefield to seal the deal. A victory against the Sioux and Cheyenne would definitely serve that purpose and move his ambitions further in the right direction. He needed America to see him as a hero and a legend. However, all did not go as planned as his ego and ambitions blinded him to the facts presented by some of his best men about the force that they were up against.

Metal Storm: Weird Custer by William Sumrall is a captivating war story set in the 1870s against the background of the wars with the Native American tribes. The book portrays a very vivid image of what it must have been like during these wars through descriptive writing that takes your imagination to the front line. The way William Sumrall described the various scenes brought this adrenaline-pumping story to life. The coarse writing served to deliver more strength to the theme of the story and enable it to perfectly relate to the intended period. The characters on either side of the battle field were a thing to behold as each brought a new element to the story with their unique and intense personas.

Paul Johnson

Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer at the age of 23, he had been promoted to General during the Civil War. Now, at age 36 he was yearning and scheming for something even higher and, by all accounts, this son of a blacksmith would be a virtual shoo-in to be the next President of the United States. However, to ensure his place in history as President, he needed one last crowning achievement. To the West, in the Montana Territory lay his chance to solidify everything he wanted. All he needed was a decisive victory against one of the most powerful forces in the west, the Sioux nation. Custer’s plan was shortsighted at best when he chose to attack the largest gathering of Sioux clans ever seen, along with elements of the Northern Cheyenne and Comanche.

The foolishness of his plan was quickly apparent with an unparalleled disaster of his own making. His thirst for fame and glory caused one of the most famous military blunders in American history. Choosing to ignore the counsel of his officers, he attacked a gathering of thousands with his small force of a little less than 700 men. The result was inevitable.

Metal Storm: Weird Custer by William H. Sumrall is historical fiction and gives the reader a totally different perspective on the events leading up to the Custer massacre. I have always been a fan of historical fiction. Mr. Sumrall’s account is raw, violent and sad. He also spends a considerable amount of time and detail on Custer’s wife, Libby. This is something not normally shown in many accounts of Custer’s life. An interesting and thought-provoking story.

K.C. Finn

Metal Storm: Weird Custer, A Novel is a short novel of the ‘Weird West’ genre by William Sumrall. It chronicles the life of real-life hero General Custer and his disastrous demise at the young age of 36. The plot also features Custer’s family and closest friends and allies within the 7th cavalry division, include his wife, Libby, who here is portrayed as an occasionally sadistic voyeur fascinated by the ways of the ‘Indian’ folk. The plot outlines the winding trail that leads Custer to make his mistakes through his own vanity and blind ambition. It also offers a detailed historical look at life for soldiers, Native American tribespeople and women during the middle of 19th-century America.

In the spirit of old masters such as HP Lovecraft, my literary concept of ‘weird’ fiction usually involves a very strong science fiction or fantasy element. I initially believed that Metal Storm: Weird Custer would include this element from its description; however, the novel is 98% historical fiction with very little fantasy going on. Having said that, the historical work itself is excellent and very well-researched. William Sumrall takes the time to develop his own versions of the personalities and darkest thoughts of some of history’s most interesting military figures. I particularly loved Libby Custer’s slow decline from trapped proper lady to all out maniac. Fans of historical fiction should enjoy Sumrall’s retelling of one of the world’s most rumoured and fictionalised battles, but fantasy fans need look elsewhere for a more fantastical tale.