K.A. Stewart‘s Peacemaker gives us an alternate America (Kansas, to be exact) in which most people have magic, arcane-powered transports replace the horses they’re modeled on, and Native American magic is strong enough that the USA stops at the Rockies. The eponymous Peacemaker (think US Marshal), Caleb Marcus, brings his magic, his staff and his familiar (a cute jackalope named Ernst) to the town of Hope, where he has to deal with a Bad Wealthy Rancher.
I give that last phrase capitals because he’s a trope, one of a number of tropish characters. The friendly saloonkeeper (who’s Scottish), the helpful general store owner, the grumpy blacksmith (who’s Swedish), the schoolmarm, the kid who’s running a bit wild but has potential, the mysterious old Indian shaman. They do come through as individuals, though, not just chess pieces or cardboard cutouts (and, after all, there are a limited number of roles you can have in a Western).
The protagonist of Peacemaker is the Wounded Veteran, something he struggles with through the course of the book, though it helps rather than hinders him when the chips are down. He fought for the Union in the Civil War and lost a chunk of his power, as well as gaining a nasty scar. He seems to have plenty of power left, though.
Although it doesn’t break new ground particularly, this story puts a fun spin on some beloved tropes, and is told fluently and engagingly. It’s well-edited; I found only six minor typos, which, if you follow my reviews, you’ll know is a small number (I often get into double figures even with traditionally-published books). At the end is an excerpt from another series by Stewart, an urban fantasy which I’ll probably track down.
All in all, Peacemaker is a good bit of entertainment.