Book Review: American Craftsmen

americancraftsmenby Michael D. Pederson

 

American Craftsmen
Tom Doyle
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.

 

Persephone and Eurydice

by Tom Doyle

 

Drag us up, pull us down,
Flashy gems, flashy lyre,
They can’t be dead without us.

The gods were taller then,
When we thought open fields were innocence.

But they grew small, standing together,
Puny bird chests puffing songs and commands.
If they had but spoken heard
As we had seen felt
We might have lost each other
For heaven and earth.

Now we prefer the quiet of sipping pomegranate juice,
so sweet
To the noise of thunder and the jangling of strings,
To games of chutes, snakes and ladders.

We enjoy these autumn leaf men,
Silently forsaken here, too late learning awe
Of spring, maids and love.

If they could see us, mothers lovers god man,
Perhaps we wouldn’t be here,
goddess woman,
But they could only look need must want.

So beautiful, cold and unalone.