Hammered: The Iron Druid Chronicles
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Kevin Hearne has exploded onto the urban fantasy scene with The Iron Druid Chronicles, the adventures of a 2100 year old druid named Atticus. The story contains lots of action, tons of humor, and several pantheon’s worth of pissy gods and goddesses. In Hammered, the latest in the series, Atticus finally takes on Thor, god of thunder.
(Description nicked from the back of the book.)
“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. But things are heating up in Atticus’s 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 gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.”
One thing I love about Hearne’s books is that he’s not content to let his novels become one-note wonders. It would be very easy to write throwaway plots in which he and Oberon solve problems with a quip and some bacon after everything’s said and done. But instead, the author stretches and expands both his plot and his characters, and it definitely keeps the tale from growing stale.
That said, this novel wasn’t quite as solidly woven together as the two previous. The plot was a bit patchier, as Atticus goes to Asgard to get a golden apple in payment of a debt, fights off the Hammers of God, and goes to Asgard again, while working in the backstories of several other characters. In my opinion, this novel is a pivotal one for the plot that will follow in the next few books, as it clears out the “feud with Thor” storyline and sets Atticus on the path to other events. But in so doing, it takes on a bit more than it can chew.
In fact, the whole “let’s tell the stories of our grudges against Thor” episode, while interesting, lasts far too long. The only one that I was really interested in was Leif’s tale, as it was his grudge against Thor that set these events in motion. This section lasts from page 171 to page 225, and aside from Leif’s story, that makes 39 pages of unneeded exposition. Readers already know that Thor is a jerk—we don’t need further proof.
But regardless of my complaints about this book’s pacing, it’s still one of the more entertaining books that I’ve read this year. Once the Thor situation is resolved, there’s a lot of fallout to deal with, and the novel ends on something of a cliffhanger. It’s clear that Hearne will be moving Atticus along to different people and places than he’s been thus far, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
And one final shout-out: Atticus’s wolfhound Oberon is one of the best sidekicks in fantasy literature. I want to hug him and snorgle his belly fur and feed him all the bacon he can eat. When he and Atticus are playing off of each other, both characters truly come to life. In fact, I’m friends with Atticus on Facebook. Now Oberon just needs his own page!
Even with a few pacing issues, Hammered is still leaps and bounds beyond most of what’s being put on the shelves these days. The Iron Druid Chronicles continues to set the bar high and deliver thrills, action and sharp witted humor. I’ve put this book directly into the hands of several people, and I’ll continue to do so until I convert the masses. If you haven’t picked up any of Hearne’s novels yet, do yourself a favor and grab them now!
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on September 10, 2011.