The Left-Hand Way (American Craft Series)
by Tom Doyle
Cover Artist: Dominick Saponaro
Review by Jon Guenther
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765337528
Date: 11 August 2015 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
When I reviewed American Craftsmen last May, Tom Doyle's first book in this series, I had no idea I'd get the right of first refusal to review the second book in the series. I'm happy to say I did. The Left-Hand Way is every bit as good as the first book, and once more a highly imaginative entry into the fantasy genre.
It's hard to say what's different about this series because it has so many original elements. It's like simultaneously watching episodes of the A-Team, The Walking Dead, and Fringe. While that comparison may not be great for those unfamiliar with the shows, it does point to the pop culture style of Mr. Doyle's creation. Plus, The Left-Hand Way is intelligently written—clearly an homage to pulp storytelling with a generous dose of spit-and-polish.
Like the previous book, Mr. Doyle takes us between a third-person and first-person narrative, and he does so with a deft hand. This second story picks up shortly where we leave off the first. The first-person narrative is told this time not from the viewpoint of Dale Morton, but Major Michael Endicott. Endicott is not only the chief protagonist in this book but also has become a Left-Hand hero as he, Dale, Scherie, and newcomer Commander Grace Marlow [sic] battle the reincarnation of Roderick. Roderick's aim is to become a power-hungry god and do what every good bad guy wants, of course: to enslave and devour the entire world.
Through a bit of bureaucratic red tape, Endicott has been sent on a mission across the continent in Great Britain. The interplay here works well with Grace Marlow acting as a sort of female James Bond to assist Endicott. The relationship that ultimately develops between them is natural, not forced. Meanwhile, Dale and Scherie are faced with their own personal missions, all of it culminating into a final battle against Roderick.
An unfortunate aspect I found was that I felt the author did his best to keep some things purposefully obscure about these separate missions, but in some regards the actual book's description ruins that effort through the obvious (if likely inadvertent) release of spoilers. There are still a few surprises, though, and definitely one plot point toward the end that pays off in a very big way.
I had fun reading The Left-Hand Way and that's about the strongest recommendation I can give any book in that regard. If you've read the first book (and you definitely should before digging into the sequel) and you're looking forward to it's sequel, I don't think you'll be disappointed. I've always felt the second book of any series really has the potential to make or break the whole. Tom Doyle done good here. Bravo!