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A Druid, a Werewolf, and a Vampire walk into a bar…
That is not exactly how the story goes- it is more of a meeting around a campfire, but the intent is the same. Men coming together with a purpose, sharing their tales, weaving ancient woe into camaraderie. There purpose is a little less traditional, for they are meeting with unsung heroes and ancient Powers with the sole purpose of killing the god Thor for past bloody indiscretions. That scene in Hammered, where Atticus, Leif, and Gunnar meet with a Russian thunder god, a Finnish magician and a Chinese immortal around a campfire, eating stew and telling their tales, is one of my favorites. It is the most elegant way I have ever been presented with back story and character motivation, and worked perfectly with both the characters and the flow and feel of the story.
Atticus is warned, on more than one occasion and by more than one Power, to cease his current course of action- that attempting to kill Thor will only end in disaster of horrific proportions. But Atticus has given his word to aid in the attempt on Thor’s life, and he will not be forsworn. Of course, the book starts with another trip up to Asgard as Atticus made another promise to collect Idunn’s apples for an ancient witch who helped him previously. Atticus has some powerful allies, but it seems his alliances often come with dangerous costs. He manages to retrieve an apple, and keep his word, but not without shedding blood in Asgard, and gaining the attention of the All Father. It is not a very comfortable position to be in- especially when your next visit is planned to involve killing one of Asgard’s major players.
Hearne continues his excellent work at pulling the sugar coating off of a good chunk of the pantheons the modern world is familiar with, and in the process makes everything more interesting. Atticus himself grows a bit in this one, moving beyond being just an ancient, powerful and rather flip druid. The reader can sit back and appreciate how much he values the things in live he loves now that he is very close to losing it all. Riddled with high stakes action, brilliant pop culture references, and pleasantly irreverent humor, Hammered is another great addition to the Iron Druid Chronicles.
You kill one god, and suddenly every pantheon wants a favor. Or, really, every pantheon wants one very specific favor- that Atticus O’Sullivan take a minute of his time to kill Thor. Granted, Thor is universally recognized as a bit of a dick, but that is not the sort of thing Atticus wants to tangle with. Kill one god, and the others want a favor. Kill two…and they may start to consider you a threat.
Apart from that little hitch, Atticus has to deal with the Morrigan, who’s attention has taken a turn for the rather intimate, and Brighid who has also decided it’s time to pay a more personal sort of attention to the last of the druids. Oh, and there is Coyote, who is always up to his paws in more than he is ever going to admit, and this time he hauls Atticus right along with him.
Add in an invading pack of Bacchants and some particularly nasty German witches and Atticus is going to be busy.
Hearne again weaves a story that is equal parts high stakes action and laugh out loud humor. Read in public at your own risk – those guffaws can sneak out at the most inopportune times- but do read. Hexed, and its prequel Hounded, are fantastic additions to the Urban fantasy genre and are a refreshing dodge from the usual fare.
I remember being skeptical when I picked up “Hounded”. I didn’t remain that way for too long. Hearne gets major kudos for doing something that most of the urban fantasy genre misses- he takes a powerful character, inserts reasonable limits to that power, and then throws something strong enough at the character to cause actual danger and a sense of tension. And then there is an Irish Wolfhound that would very much like to be Genghis Khan. Instead of being horrifyingly corny it was almost…endearing. Atticus, the owner of said Wolfhound also retains werewolves and an ancient vampire as his legal counsel. The usual urban fantasy tropes have been jiggled around a bit and the new arrangement keeps them interesting to an avid reader of the genre.
“Hounded” is rotten with gods. The Morrigan has a sketchy deal with our protagonist, who happens to have stolen a sword that Aenghus Og is determined to get back. Atticus, a very old druid with the Old World powers that station grant him, makes a fitting opponent for divine familial squabbling and territorial disputes. He is not as overpowered as the back of the book makes him sound- druids are limited to their contact with the earth so to use the bulk of his powers he needs to hunt down patches of earth in this modern world and press skin against it. Not as easy as it may sound when the bad guys rarely think to attack someplace convenient like the city park.
There is a wonderfully skewed bit of divine politicking that makes the whole book tick, and I found myself turning pages with delighted haste, determined to find out what happens next.