A quick note from the author

This is just a quick note to say that over the next few months I will be revamping and changing my grading system.  It has just gotten too complex and needs some revision.  To that end, I intend to combine a star system (how much I liked a book) with the Greek alphabet system that I have been using.  That system will be more about who else might like this book.

My first reviews will keep to the old system, and I will probably never go back to modify the old reviews.  But one thing I will say is that I will probably end up with a lot fewer bad reviews.  Why?  Because I just won’t be bothering to finish books if I’m not enjoying them – at least, not for the most part.  I don’t have time and let’s face it, most of you are probably more interested in which books they might want to read rather than which books I don’t like.

This will also result in a book acceptance policy that is more restrictive.  I will publish the criteria before long, but while I will be open to books from all types of authors (traditional, small press, micropress and indie), I will probably need some indication that this book was written and edited in a professional manner AND that it actually meets the criteria of novels that this blog was set up to review.

Sorry, but there are just too many people publishing books these days…

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A Return to the Blog

Greetings one and all…. and a quick apology.

It has been months since my last set of entries, and I am sorry for my sudden disappearance.  Those who have followed me on Social Media know that this was due to good things….

I grew very busy, both with Ghost Writing and with writing my own things.  Then, I was asked to fill in to teach some courses when there was a last minute need for a lecturer at my local University.  Since this would have left some 200 some odd students out in the cold with no one to teach their classes, I felt I had to say yes.

Finally, I moved across country to New England.  Since this also put a hiatus on my novel, I spent the time packing, unpacking and acclimatizing the family to my old stomping grounds.

That being the case, once I got enough done that I could turn to something again, I turned to The Traitor’s Gambit… Ripper’s Raider’s Book 2!

That is coming along nicely… but now I am thinking once more to review books, so stay tuned and hopefully in a few days, or at least a few weeks, you will see my book reviews, opinions and news.

Thank you for staying with me, and supporting me!


All the best,



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New review of Strings on a Shadow Puppet

I am delighted to report a new review of Strings on a Shadow Puppet is up, and on the SF Site, no less. Reviewer, Sandra Scholes wrote a very insightful review of my novel, which can be found at:

It gives a solid review, outlining key parts of the plot, while totally managing to avoid spoilers. I wish I could do so well in such few words.

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Goodbye Jay Lake….

I am very sorry to say that the ubiquitous Jay Lake died yesterday.  I didn’t know him well, but I liked him well… as both an author and a person.

He was a member of the workshop I belong to, and though I joined in the latter days of his attendance, I did overlap with him enough to call him a friend, and to share laughs.

me next to jay lake at wordos


I will miss him, and really have nothing to say on this topic other than my heart and hopes go to his family… particularly the Child…




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Spells and Bullets Together: The Modern Soldier-Mage’s Guide to Warfare

by Tom Doyle

American Craftsmen coverTor Books has just published American Craftsmen, my first novel in a three-book modern-day fantasy series. The “craftsmen” in the title are the magician soldiers and psychic spies who’ve been secretly serving their country since colonial times. But American Craftsmen is not an alternate history; I have not changed the outcomes of any battles or wars, and the surface truths of current events remain the same. How then does a relatively small group of preternaturally powerful individuals effectively operate within the context of modern military tactics and yet remain covert, as they have for hundreds of years?

First, I chose abilities for my soldier-mages that relate to uncanny occurrences in military history. The primary power of my protagonist, Captain Dale Morton, the thing that makes him the most valuable solider-mage in the world, is his ability to change the local weather and make it better or worse. Early on in American Craftsmen, Dale uses this power to pursue a hostile sorcerer through a sandstorm. I took the idea for this magic from the number of times that the weather has altered the outcome of American battles. For instance, bad weather saved George Washington’s army at Brooklyn Heights, while an improvement in otherwise terrible weather allowed for the success of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

tomdoyleBut the most dangerous and readily available power that a craftsman has is over his opponent’s mind. I drew this power from those instances in war where confusion scatters an army or, as in the killing of Stonewall Jackson, causes death by friendly fire. My present-day craftspeople carry precautions against such psychic warfare, but these don’t save Dale Morton from an opponent’s curse, a curse that will by twists and turns lead him to the demonic horrors corrupting the heart of American magic.

In contrast to this power of confusion or subornation, sometimes a military leader seems to possess a preternatural charisma to rally troops or exercise authority. So one of my characters, Colonel Hutchinson, has the ability to steady the nerves of combatants, while another, Major Endicott, has an extraordinary power of command.

Finally, to be the elites among other elite operatives, my magician soldiers need powers that enhance their combat skill and strength. They aren’t superheroes, but they can endure a bit more, heal a bit quicker, and shoot a bit better than normal soldiers. When fighting, craftspeople often enter an acceleration mode that I based on the sense that some soldiers have of time stretching out during combat.

American Craftsmen Button 1Such abilities come with limitations. My magical system is not just a binary of infinite power with a fatal flaw, à la Superman versus kryptonite and other comic book superheroes. For my characters, magic is more like a normal physical ability. A soldier’s craft improves with practice, much the same as her mundane shooting skill. A well-rested and healthy craftsperson will have more power than one who hasn’t slept or is wounded. Craftspeople in all-out combat will exhaust themselves within an hour at most.

Why do my magical soldiers bother with rifles? First, a variation on the magical Law of Return or karmic retribution makes killing by spell more dangerous to the practitioner than simply shooting someone. Furthermore, the laws of physics aren’t suspended by magic, just skewed, and it takes a great deal of magical energy to replicate the physical damage a soldier can do by just pulling a trigger. That magical energy might not be readily available, for like other armaments, magic has logistical issues. Craftspeople find it easier to recharge their power on home ground.

Some of my magic system runs at cross purposes to normal modern military tactics. I have too few practitioners for purely magical units, so craftspeople often serve with mundane soldiers. But to preserve their secrecy, craftspeople don’t serve for extended times with mundane units, so they don’t become integrated with them either. This situation creates numerous inefficiencies and can in some instances contribute to disasters, such as what happens to Dale Morton at the opening of the novel.

Still, even with such limitations, why don’t these elite magical troops completely dominate the action of battles throughout history and thus reveal themselves to all? This is similar to a common question about superheroes during the Second World War, and the answer is similar as well: in combat, craftspeople often engage the enemy’s practitioners, and the winner in that part of the fight will perhaps only be left with a slight but potentially decisive edge in the battle at large.

To conclude, I’d like to thank Thomas Evans and the Archaeologist’s Guide to the Galaxy for this opportunity to describe the military magic of American Craftsmen. If you’d like to read or listen to other stories of mine, please go to http://www.tomdoyleauthor.com.

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About Tom Doyle:

The Internet Review of Science Fiction has hailed TOM DOYLE’s writing as “beautiful & brilliant.” Locus Magazine has called his stories “fascinating,” “transgressive,” “witty,” “moving,” and “intelligent and creepy.” A graduate of the Clarion Writing Workshop, Doyle has won the WSFA Small Press Award and third prize in the Writers of the Future contest.

Posted in Alternate History, Military Science Fiction, Opinion Piece, Paranormal Military Fiction, Paranormal Mystery, paranormal or otherwise unexplained (possibly alien or magic) object, Ripping Yarn, Series, Thriller, Uncategorized, Urban Fantasy, Urban Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Apologies for Missing April

Apologies are owed to my loyal readers for failing to post even one article over the past month.  The reason is simple, I was in South America and while I did attempt to upload two articles (one on the death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez), they don’t seem to have gone up on the site.

As an act of contrition, I am happy to announce that tomorrow there will be a guest writer: Tom Doyle, whose book American Craftsmen, has just been released by TOR books.  A new, cross-genre book, American Craftsmen is what one might call a “Paranormal Mil Fic” book… combining spells with Special Ops in a modern day setting.  Tomorrow, Tom’s article will cover how he blends magic and bullets in this exciting new novel.  Personally, I am very much looking forward to reading it.

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The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (A Movie Review)

Β (Beta) Fantastic movie within the genre

catchingfireAlright, I’m off and traveling, so I thought I’d do a quickie review of The Hunger Games – Catching Fire.  In essence, I can sum it up by saying I loved it and that the movie version of the book kept all the parts I liked, and dumped the bits that I felt didn’t work.

In particular, it treated the viewers with a bit more respect than the novel treated the readers.  It dropped clues at important places, but unlike the book, didn’t hit you over the head with them. In fact, I almost feared the plot bits were too subtle, but my wife (who hasn’t read the books) picked up on them with no trouble… but only after the reveal at the end.

hunger-games-2-catching-fire (3)Now, I should say, I did like the book (see my review), but thought it was by far the weakest of the three novels in the series.  In contrast, the movie version was a significant improvement on the first film (which I loved). Indeed, I almost thought it was an alpha, but… not quite.

ICatching-Fire-capitol-portrait_Haymitch-610x903n addition to a brilliantly adapted script and excellent directing, one cannot help admire the acting that was demonstrated in this movie.  Everyone… I mean everyone – even the bit players – did a wonderful job bringing their characters to life.

So… in short?  I loved it.  It is one of the few movies that is better than the original, and one of the even fewer movies that improves the book.  Considering it was a good book….

jennaI can’t wait to see Mocking Jay. It was my favorite of the novels and done right, might even improve on a fantastic book.  Fingers crossed!

Posted in Chronicle, Coming of Age tale, Conspiracy, Cycle, Dystopian, Near Future fic, Political Drama, Ripping Yarn, Romance, Saga, Science Fiction, Serial, Series, Spy Thriller, Strong Characters, Thoughtful, Thriller, Trilogy, Uncategorized, World, YA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments