Tor, 320 pp.
American Craftsmen is the first novel from up-and-coming author Tom Doyle. For me, a lot of the joy in reading a new book is discovering new characters and new ideas and in American Craftsmen you truly feel and appreciate the author’s excitement in making those discoveries with you. Doyle builds an intriguing new world here and seems to be having a ton of fun doing it.
In American Craftsmen Doyle invents a world where magic has secretly existed since the founding of the country. Magic users have secretly worked alongside the United States government and military to keep our country safe. These military magicians—called craftsmen—have their own rules of operation and secrecy that makes them similar to a Special Forces unit so, in a sense, the story reads like a mash-up of Jim Butcher and Tom Clancy (only without Clancy’s verbosity).
One facet of the story’s setting is that different family lineages have different specialties and this first novel pits two of those families against each other in a conflict that climaxes in a no-holds-barred magical battle to determine the fate of the nation. Doyle also cleverly references the works of Poe and Hawthorne to add extra flavor to his secret history of the United States.
Likable (and a few detestable) characters, non-stop action and some of the most original ideas in urban fantasy that I’ve read in a very long time make this a book worth checking out.