I'll try at first to restrict it to the first three books (1632, 1633, and 1634: The Baltic War), especially since the MWW collaborated on the last two, but with the breath and scope of the series, well, we shall see.
Besides, I got demoted to Captain of the List in the Great Revision, so I need some more posts to make it back to Admiral...
And a couple of oldies (from the first book) to start off:
"Well-trained, you Marines," he murmured.
Nichols snorted. "Marines, my ass. I knew what to do with one of these before I was twelve." He hefted the automatic. "This is Blackstone Rangers' training. I grew up within spitting distance of Sixty-third and Cottage Grove."
Suddenly, the black doctor was beaming wickedly at the white men around him. "Gentlemen," he said, "the Marines are at your side. Not to mention Chicago's worst ghetto. Let's deal."
It was early on that James Nichols became one of my favorite characters.
--And Mike Stearns states the basis of the entire series right there.We are surrounded by a Ring of Fire. Well, I've fought forest fires before. So have lots of other men in this room. The best way to fight a fire is to start a counterfire. So my position is simple. I say we start the American Revolution—a hundred and fifty years ahead of schedule!"
--Morris Roth on Mike Stearns heritage."That's my father. The place where the photo was taken is called Buchenwald. It's not far from here, as it happens." He pointed to another man in the photograph. Taller, healthy looking despite the obvious weariness and grime—and wearing a uniform.
"That's Tom Stearns. Michael's grandfather. He was a sergeant in the American unit that liberated Buchenwald from the Nazis."
He put the photograph back on the mantelpiece. "Most people don't know it, but West Virginians—in terms of percentage, of course, not absolute numbers—have provided more soldiers for America's combat units than any other state in the nation, in every major war we fought in the twentieth century." He turned back to face Abrabanel. "That's why my father moved here, when he emigrated to the United States after the war. Even though he was the only Jew in Grantville when he first arrived. Tom Stearns had invited him to come, you see. Many others went to Israel, but my father wanted to live near the man who took him out of Buchenwald. It was the safest place he could imagine."
There. Then. That moment.
That is where the legends pivot and wheel. Decade after decade, century after century; never reaching agreement, but always circling.
The Father of Modern War, Gustavus Adolphus almost certainly was not. But he may very well have been the Father of the Modern World. Because then, at that place, at the moment when the Saxons broke and the Inquisition bade fair to triumph over all of Europe, the king of Sweden stood his ground.
And proved, once again, that the truth of history is always concrete. Abstractions are the stuff of argument, but the concrete is given. Whatever might have been, was not. Not because of tactics, and formations, and artillery, and methods of recruitment—though all of those things played a part, and a big one—but because of a simple truth. At that instant, history pivoted on the soul of one man. His name was Gustavus Adolphus, and there were those among his followers who thought him the only monarch in Europe worthy of the name. They were right, and the man was about to prove it. For one of the few times in human history, royalty was not a lie.
Two centuries later, long after the concrete set and the truth was obvious to all, a monument would be erected on that field. The passing years, through the bickering and the debates, had settled the meaning of Breitenfeld. The phrase on the monument simply read: freedom of belief for all the world.
Whatever else he was or was not, Gustavus Adolphus will always be Breitenfeld. He stands on that field for eternity, just as he did on that day. September 17, 1631.
Breitenfeld. Always Breitenfeld.
--I can't always state that Eric is a perfect historian--but he knows characters, and Gustavus Aldophus was one of the Great ones.
An idle question came. He leaned over and murmured to Tom: "I'm curious. What would be your weapon of choice? In a duel, I mean."
The very attractive woman's husband replied instantly.
Not a good idea.
--Tom Simpson to General Torstensson, both destined to play major roles in the coming years and books.
-At the Seige of the High School"Can you handle a .30-06 semiautomatic?" he demanded. "We've got two of them, but they're the only rifles in the whole damned school."
Melissa gasped. So did Julie. Melissa's gasp came from shock. Julie's, from sheer outrage.
"Is that a joke? I can shoot anything!"
James Nichols was, by nature, a smiling man. It was one of the reasons Melissa loved him. But she had never seen such an incredible grin on his face. "Those poor bastards," he laughed. "Did they ever pick the wrong day to piss off pregnant women!"
--Hans Ricther as a Bus driverAs soon as Dan came aboard, Hans closed the door and sent the bus lurching ahead. Dan grabbed the upright post by the door to keep from falling.
When he saw Hans at the wheel, the police chief hissed, "Oh, shit."
"He can drive anything," stated Gretchen firmly.
The bus careened around the corner. Frantically, Gretchen grabbed the overhead rail. "Anything," she repeated. Not as firmly.
Hans took the next turn like a charging cavalryman. The rear right wheels of the bus hammered over the curb, half-spilling the recruits out of their hastily taken seats.
"Oh, shit," repeated the police chief. He was now holding onto the upright with both hands. His knuckles were white.
On the next turn—whang!—Hans massacred a stop sign. "Anything," prayed Gretchen. "Gott mit uns."
--Gotta love the Finns...Led by Anders, the Västgöta flooded the area in front of the tiered seats, protecting the students. At the captain's command, his Finns moved forward against the enemy.
At the end, the surviving imperial cavalrymen—perhaps twenty in all—tried to surrender. They received the traditional Finnish terms.
Rebecca burst into soft laughter. Dan Frost, standing next to her, was frowning with puzzlement.
"I don't get it," he hissed. "Does Julie know that guy from somewhere? They say his name's Captain Gars."
Rebecca choked off the laughter. "Oh, yes. They've met before."
She stared at the immense man in the center of the room. Her own eyes softened.
"What a lunatic," she murmured. "He has not done this in many years. Not since he was a young man, according to the history books." Again, she laughed.
Dan was scowling fiercely. "I still don't—"
"Captain Gars," said Rebecca. "To the best of my knowledge, he is the only king in history who ever actually did it outside of fable. Travel in disguise, I mean, assuming the pose of a simple soldier. The books claim that he scouted half of western Europe in that fashion."
The police chief's eyes widened. His jaw sagged.
"Oh, yes," chuckled Rebecca. "Captain Gars. Gustavus Adolphus Rex Sueciae."
I should have guessed it, but the first time I read the sotry it wasn't until I got to this section that I figured out who Captain Gars was...
"Isn't she beautiful?" whispered Rebecca, cradling the sleeping baby in her arms. "Kathleen," she murmured.
That was the name they had agreed on, if the child was a girl. But Mike had been thinking about it during the endless drive back from Nürnberg with ferocious concentration, trying to keep his mind on future hope rather than today's fear.
"No," he said, shaking his head. Startled, Rebecca looked at him.
Mike smiled. "We can call our next girl Kathleen. But this one—" Gently, he stroked the tiny head. "This one I'd like to name after a promise kept. So let's call her Sepharad."
Rebecca's eyes filmed with moisture. "Oh, Michael," she whispered. "I think that would be wonderful."
She reached up her free hand and drew Mike's head down. But halfway through the kiss she started laughing.
"What's so funny?" he demanded.
"Sepharad!" she exclaimed. "It's such a splendid name. But you know they'll be calling her Sephie before she's two months old."
Laughing, laughing. "Hillbillies! You have no respect."
And about as good a closing line as you could ask for.