Tom Doyle’s American Craft series, American Craftsmen and Left-Hand Way, are (addictive) military fantasy. They blend magic and war into gritty and grounded scenes. Doyle adds elements of creativity, love, relationships, hate, guilt, and more into a spicy mix.
American Craftsmen introduces the idea that the world we know exists in parallel to a society of ghosts and magicians descended from ancient ancestral lines. In Doyle’s world, the U.S. Army uses families with magical powers to manipulate the outcome of wars. This first novel introduces evil twins Madeline and Roderick, along with questionable loyalties and an assassin that plagues Captain Dale Morton in his quest to uncover corruption at the core of the Pentagon.
Left-Hand Way, the second novel in the series, has Major Mike Endicott and his friend, Captain Morton, searching for a doomsday machine as the evil Roderick seeks immortality and plots their destruction. The battles involve magic and ghosts in surprisingly realistic special ops episodes. In the middle of all the fighting, Mike Endicott falls in love, and leverages his dead paternal ancestors to help save the world.
Doyle uses a variety of interesting characters. Bad Roderick kills many people, including everyone he sleeps with. There are plenty of male-female hookups for those who like a little romance, although there is nothing gushy here. Gals and guys alike kick plenty of evil-ass. In Left-Hand Way, Captain Morton almost becomes bad because of a drug, but still has nice things to say about his mother.
Both books have very complex plots, which I like, but the different ancestries are hard to keep straight. Nonetheless, the quest of good triumphing over evil drives Doyle’s plots very nicely, especially when the good side begins to weaken.
There is considerable reference to the world we know to keep us grounded in amusing ways. Doyle discusses sorcery affecting the outcome of the Civil War. Chernobyl is inherently a place of evil. Ukraine is full of tough guys. Doyle even has us meet some ghosts in the House of Seven Gables, of all places.
American Craftsmen and Left-Hand Way both get a thumbs-up from me. They’re creative stories told well. I hope you enjoy them, too.
A retired engineer, Ursula Wong writes about strong women. Her award-winning debut novel, Purple Trees, and her second novel, Amber Wolf, portray women struggling against impossible odds to claim the lives they deserve.