Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (May 6, 2014)
Seal Team Six meets ancient magic --- with the fate of the United States hanging in the balance.
In modern America, two soldiers will fight their way through the magical legacies of Poe and Hawthorne to destroy an undying evil—if they don’t kill each other first.
US Army Captain Dale Morton is a magician soldier—a “craftsman.” After a black-ops mission gone wrong, Dale is cursed by a Persian sorcerer and haunted by his good and evil ancestors. Major Michael Endicott, a Puritan craftsman, finds gruesome evidence that the evil Mortons, formerly led by the twins Roderick and Madeline, have returned, and that Dale might be one of them.
Dale uncovers treason in the Pentagon’s highest covert ranks. He hunts for his enemies before they can murder him and Scherie, a new friend who knows nothing of his magic.
Endicott pursues Dale, divided between his duty to capture a rogue soldier and his desire to protect Dale from his would-be assassins. They will discover that the demonic horrors that have corrupted American magic are not bound by family or even death itself.
As I hustled out from the hangar into the Persian Gulf twilight, my muscles tightened, and power flowed into my hands. Soon I would do what I did best. Soon I would kill a sorcerer.
The U.S. Army base tarmac gave off a blistering heat mirage as I scrambled across it. A helicopter’s blades rotated at ready; their wash blasted hot as I boarded.
The door slammed behind me, and the copter, christened Valkyrie, took off.
The five men of my team saluted, then went back to checking their equipment. They showed no impatience at having waited on the pad for orders; they were used to the bullshit. I sat toward the front for quick off-headphone interaction with the pilot when we hit the spooky stuff.
For a silent aircraft, the Valkyrie made plenty of noise inside. Next to me, Cpl. “Vulture” Volant yelled my nom de guerre. “Casper. Is that like the friendly ghost, sir?”
“Not that friendly, Corporal.”
“A killing ghost, sir?” But, seeing that I was unamused, Vulture again inspected his sniper rifle, and I was grateful that I didn’t have to order him to shut the fuck up. It was my fault for choosing a shitty cryptonym, and not just because of the ghost reference. “Casper” gave a clue to my job. Casper, or Caspar, had been one of the Three Wise Men. A magus, or what Americans with knowledge called a craftsman. Why hide my identity only to give it away through the back door?
My father had written me a warning that “We Mortons are too practical about the craft, and too crafty about the practical.” Yeah, my real name was Morton, Captain Dale Morton. Other craftsmen tended to have strong opinions about my family. I didn’t blame them.
My men didn’t know about my family or magic, but they aimed uncomfortable glances at me. I didn’t blame them either. These five had trained together, a seamless whole, but not with me. I was too important a secret to expose to others for too much time. Our unit designation, MAC-66, appeared in no records. The Pentagon didn’t formally acknowledge Delta Force and SEAL Team Six but allowed their existence to be known. Craft ops were different; knowledge of their existence could be fatal.
Two of my five were boot camps, green as Uncle Sam’s toilet paper. Vulture and Lt. Shaheen were more experienced. Shaheen knew Arabic and regional detail and doubled as team medic, so he was Doc. And there was the old man, my NCO, Master Sergeant “Zee” Zanol.
All good men, but I couldn’t get too close. They were smart enough not to question the bullshit, but they would know the word from this land to describe me: assassin.
Copyright © 2014 by Tom Doyle
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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.