(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“For nearly two thousand years, only one Druid has walked the Earth—Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword have kept him alive as he’s been pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he’s got company.
Atticus’s apprentice Granuaile is at last a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy.
And Owen has some catching up to do.
Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus’s chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury’s still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki—or merely a pain in the arse.
But Atticus isn’t the only one with daddy issues. Granuaile faces a great challenge: to exorcise a sorcerer’s spirit that is possessing her father in India. Even with the help of the witch Laksha, Granuaile may be facing a crushing defeat.
As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they’re hoping that this time, three’s a charm.”
Oh, this is going to be one of those books that I simultaneously like and have problems with. I hate those. They’re so hard to review! I’m sure you all read reviews like this and come away wondering what in the world I actually thought of the book. Truth to tell, sometimes I wonder that myself.
Let me get my grumbling over with posthaste: my main issues are with the multiple points of view and the choices of tense in the narration. There are three characters telling the story: Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen. Atticus is the only one using third person narration, and the other two use first person. It can be a bit jarring to jump between tenses, especially because the chapters don’t go in a predictable rotation. The only clue you get as to whose chapter is whose is by the graphic at the start of the chapter. And I swear that, on occasion, the first person points of view slip into third person briefly before returning to first person.
Right before I read this book, I saw a video of Hearne at a signing in Oregon. He expressed some fear about creating a new “voice” for this novel (Owen’s), and I hate to say it, but a little fear is a good thing in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I like Owen. He’s a cranky, down to earth son-of-a-gun, and I enjoyed his chapters immensely; however, his voice didn’t quite solidify for me. Admittedly, the chapters from his point of view are being written as what’s going on in his head during the novel’s events, but it seemed to me that his voice flattened out as the story went on. What I mean by that is that he sounds more “old Irish” in earlier chapters and less so as the book progresses. He also seems far less gobsmacked by the modern world than I’d expect, but I can write that off as focus on what was going on with the gods and Fae. Sure was a missed opportunity, though.
Similarly, Granuaile’s voice hasn’t ever felt natural to me, and this is her second point of view novel. I guess she sounds too formal, and that’s at odds with her character portrayal. Granted, your “inner voice” can be significantly different than what you show to the world, but to me, there’s too much dissonance between the two. I’ll fully admit that this is likely a personal gripe on my part and not anything wrong with the author’s writing.
Okay, enough complaining. Plot-wise, this book advances in leaps and bounds worthy of a hound in pursuit of sausage. Hearne divulges a lot of info about what’s going on with the overarching storyline, and that’s not something I expected until the next book. It was a welcome surprise, though. Readers will get more of Loki’s plan for mischief, appearances by gods who haven’t been on stage for a while, and the surprise reveal of the mastermind behind the attempts on Atticus’s life. It’s a lot to pack into a comparatively short novel.
As always, I enjoy Oberon’s antics, and this time, we get another hound, Granuaile’s companion Orlaith. She doesn’t quite have Oberon’s wit and development yet, but she’s well on the way. Atticus continues to dispense his own brand of snark, although since he’s only in roughly half the book, we don’t get as much of that as usual. Granuaile provides some welcome grounding to the narrative, and Owen is kind of an older, grumpier version of Atticus. It’s all very enjoyable.
Basically, I like these characters and this story so much that I look forward to any and all new material. These books are never boring, and they always make me snicker and reach for a pen to write down funny lines for later use in conversation. Most of what I read isn’t half so much fun as Atticus’s antics. And one more point: remember that video that I mentioned earlier of Hearne talking about this book? Something else that he talked about was how he likes to challenge himself with something new in each book, and I give him mad props for that. It may not always work out perfectly, but he is pushing himself as a writer, and I applaud him for that.
Although I have a few gripes with the form of the narration, I have no quibbles with the story and the action. Shattered is obviously setting up for some earth-shaking events, and as Ragnarok gets closer, it will be interesting to see how Hearne shakes out all the players and sets up for the endgame.
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles
Publisher: Del Rey
Page Count: 352
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Read an excerpt