Thoughtful Thursday: Tom Doyle wonders about secret mages

Tom Doyle blends historical fiction and urban fantasy in his AMERICAN CRAFT series. I loved his first bookAmerican Craftsmen and can’t wait to read his newest offering, The Left-Hand Way. Tom’s here today to talk about secret mages and to give away a copy of The Left-Hand Way to one commenter.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMy AMERICAN CRAFT series is about the adventures and intrigues of modern-day magician-soldiers, or craftsmen. While their abilities are clearly supernatural, they are also things that could go largely unnoticed by non-practitioners: a favorable alteration in the local weather, a bit of edge in combat skills, a vision of a possible future. For the backstory of the craftspeople, I’ve imagined that their ancestors have been secretly intervening in world events since prehistoric times.

Thus, during the past few years, I’ve been exploring instances in which magic might have covertly altered history. For example, the bad weather at Brooklyn Heights that saved Washington’s army during the American Revolution and the good weather that allowed the D-Day invasion to go forward seem like almost miraculous coincidences.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBut, while I’ve thought about many such events, I haven’t considered very often who in our world might have performed the intervention. That is, what historical persons best fit the profile of a secret mage? In my books, only the earliest family ancestors are based on real people; the rest are inspired by literature or simply made up.

Of course, unlike the majority of characters in my books, secret mages wouldn’t only have been soldiers or spies. They might have been politicians, artists, authors, scientists, members of religious orders, or peasants.

So, I’d like to see your candidates from the past or present for secret mage. Why does that person fit the bill? Did uncanny things happen around them, or did they seem to pull of the impossible? But I’m also interested in what you’d do if you were such a mage — where and when would you want to be, and what would you want to do there? (It’d be as if you were Doctor Who with magic, only you wouldn’t have to be so careful with the temporal continuum.)

Readers, comment below for a chance to win a copy of The Left-Hand Way. (US or Canadian addresses, as usual.)

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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years. We still hear from him every once in a while.

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  1. wbogacz /

    I’m not a lefty, but would like to win and read this.


  2. I’d love to read this one! And a Left-Hand Way post and giveaway on International Left-Handers Day, how apt :) Contact: steffstuff (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. April /

    I’d have to say Hitler. Though, not in a good way. He’d be one of the bad guys, obs.

    I can think of several war generals that did some fabulous things with limited resources and knowledge. So, I’ll say Mad Anthony Wayne and his exploits in the American Revolutionary War and after could have been a secret mage.

    • Hitler (or some persons working for him) would be a good candidate on the evil side of history. He seemed uncanny right up to his survival of the assassination attempt in the summer of ’44. I like Mad Anthony Wayne as a choice from American history (and his is significant name in my native Michigan).

  4. If I could go back in time to change something, I’d have to say that I would change the weapons that the Germans had at D-day. If I could go back and disarm or destroy all their turrets and heavy artillery, many lives would be saved in the process. The hardest part of conquering Omaha and Juno beach (the 2 hardest beaches during D-day) was the weaponry that was being used against the Allies. As soon as the boats opened, the Germans started firing their turrets and wave after wave of bullets shot down on them. Without these weapons, the Germans would still have the higher ground, but it would be much easier for the Allies to take the beach and many lives would be saved in the process.

    • Yeah, that’s a good one. The better we did on D-Day, the sooner the war would have ended, which would have been better for everyone. Coincidentally, I may be visiting the Normandy beaches soon.

  5. John H. /

    What about Leonardo Davinci? His foresight and intellect were centuries before his time.

    • Leonardo is a classic case. I think folks were even accusing him of sorcery in his own lifetime, and some of his work has the aspect of something seen in the future and copied into his own day. Just to play devil’s advocate though, he also had issues finishing his projects and designing them to last, which is why we have relatively few of his finished works. But a great choice anyway–thanks!

  6. Bethany C. /

    I thought of Da Vinci, too. Maybe also Michaelangelo, Rasputin, Scheherazade, or Josephine Baker? Probably the Kardashians, because if there are no mages among them then why the hell are they so successful?

    • My favorite of these is of course Scheherazade, as I have a character with a variant of that name, Scherezade Rezvani, or Scherie. Also, her magic was storytelling, and what writer wouldn’t want that?

  7. Secret mage fighting skills? Has to be CHUCK NORRIS. How could it be otherwise?

  8. The first name that pops to my mind is “Jules Verne”.

  9. Jazz, if you live in the USA, you win a copy of The Left-Hand Way!
    Please contact me (Marion) with your US address and I’ll have the book sent right away. Happy reading!

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