Monday 9 April 2012

Review: Hounded, Hexed and Hammered by Kevin Hearne

by Kevin Hearne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: Audiobook 

Synopsis from Author's website:

Atticus O’Sullivan has been running for two thousand years and he’s a bit tired of it. After he stole a magical sword from the Tuatha Dé Danann (those who became the Sidhe or the Fae) in a first century battle, some of them were furious and gave chase, and some were secretly amused that a Druid had the cheek to defy them. As the centuries passed and Atticus remained an annoyingly long-lived fugitive, those who were furious only grew more so, while others began to aid him in secret.
Now he’s living in Tempe, Arizona, the very last of the Druids, far from where the Fae can easily find him. It’s a place where many paranormals have decided to hide from the troubles of the Old World—from an Icelandic vampire holding a grudge against Thor to a coven of Polish witches who ran from the German Blitzkrieg.
Unfortunately, the very angry Celtic god who wants that sword has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power, plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good, old-fashioned luck of the Irish to kick some arse and deliver himself from evil.
Hexed by Kevin Hearne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: Audiobook

Synopsis from Author Website:

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to “make nice” with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial non-aggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. The new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of WWII.
With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch-hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

Hammered by Kevin Hearne
My rating 3 of 5 stars 

Source: Audiobook

Synopsis from author website:

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.
One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. Plus things are heating up in his home base  of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plane of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry Norse gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.

Books 1-3 of the Iron Druid Chronicles

Atticus O'Sullivan is a 2100 year old druid passing as a regular Irish 21 year old bookshop owner. He lives in Tempe, Arizona as it is dry and arid and the lack of life force in the area makes it difficult for faeries to get to (or one particular faery with a grudge). As a druid he draws power from the earth and his tattoos, and can shapeshift into animals or birds at will. He runs a bookshop and sells herbal teas and medicines and generally tries to avoid trouble, hanging out with his lawyer friends who just happen to be a vampire and a werewolf, and helping out the (usually sozzled) elderly widow down the street.  Atticus is likeable, noble and sarcastic, and a very relateable character.

These are really great books with plenty of magic, faeries and evil guys- action and pace. I read a lot of books in a year, so a 3 star rating still means that I really liked these books. I'm always really mean with my stars anyway, but I think in this instance it was just a case of wrong reader. This just maybe wasn't the book for me. I know that other book bloggers have loved this, and I can totally see why, because it is funny, action packed and with great characters based around a unique mythology, but, it also felt like more of a "bloke's book" to me. There is a lot of male posturing, and at times felt like a sequence in an xbox fantasy game. Atticus is running around with his magical sword and meeting up with beautiful goddesses and sleeping with them (no double entendre intended!). I just personally prefer stories with real romances and focus on relationships, than just lots of meaningless sexual conquests.

There are many different characters in this book, both good and evil, but my absolute favourite character is Atticus's dog Oberon. Oberon can speak into select people's minds, and his thoughts are always so pure and simple. His voice is a breath of fresh air amongst all the drama, sword swinging action, betrayals and danger of the rest of the story. In the midst of a war he'll be there, asking if they can go and get some sausages after all this, because he's been very good! He will always be unwaveringly loyal to Atticus. Some of the funniest moments in the books are Oberon's attempts to persuade everyone how good he's being and how much he therefore deserves a treat or a belly rub. But he is so smart as well, randomly quoting his favourite TV characters (like Eric Cartman).

The only way Atticus can get Oberon to take a bath is by telling him a story in the tub, and Oberon becomes so completely intrigued by these tales. This is how throughout the whole of book 1 Oberon becomes obsessed with Genghis Khan, and throughout book 2 he is obsessed with hippies, Wavy Gravy and "sticking it to the Man"! What can I say- I love Oberon, cutest Irish wolfhound on the planet!

I really enjoyed the mythology in this book. It opened the doors to so many different possiblities, and hilarious clashes of culture, and gave the sense that absolutely anything could be possible. In this world any religion that people believe in is true- so every version of Heaven/Hell from any belief is real, and what will happen when you die depends on whatever you believe in. It also means that any god/goddess from any belief system is real and wandering the Earth. Atticus through the course of the books might find himself buying a whisky for Jesus, making deals with an Indian goddess, or tracking down the Norse god Thor. I thought it was so funny when Atticus is daydreaming about chatting with Captain Kirk and Spock, and lamenting that Star Trek never became a religion so that they could hang out for real!

A small downside for me though was the number of different characters, and all the different bargains and alliances that Atticus makes. The story becomes so political at times! Although Atticus is always diplomatic and tries to avoid conflict wherever possible, he can't help owing favours, and making deals with certain powerful people. Some people are not always to be trusted, and sometimes a  character is not what Atticus originally expects. There are so many characters- demons, witches, deities, faeries, and even run-of-the-mill bad humans that I couldn't keep track of who was who, and whether they were an ally at that moment or not. I couldn't always understand why he needed to go into battle to help out another character, but even though I was confused I just went along with the flow. It's Oberon again that provides light relief during moments when Atticus is conducting meetings and making bargains, since Atticus is the only one who can hear Oberon's sarcastic comments and Atticus struggles to keep a straight face at vital moments.

I would love to see more of Atticus's new apprentice Granuaile in the next book. She is a smart and kick-ass character that hasn't seemed to have had a whole lot of druid training so far- with Atticus off on his different quests and battles, he seems to only call on her when he needs a ride, to provide an alibi to the police, or to take care of the dog.

I love the books for the humour, and the heart behind the main characters. They are all a roller coaster of excitement and action, and I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, just to continue with the story a little longer and to see how it develops.

Rest of the series:

Book 4 Tricked is due to be released late April 2012

The Iron Druid Chronicles is currently set to be a six book series, but the author has stated in interviews that he would love to write nine books for the series. Whether this will be possible depends on book sales of the series so far.

On a side note- I love the covers for the books. This is just exactly how I picture Atticus to look while I'm reading these books. I listened to the audiobooks for this series- expertly narrated by Luke Daniels.

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