Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles
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It’s not often that I read a book that makes me not only enjoy the story, but also makes me wish to meet the author. When an author truly enjoys the process of taking readers through his or her story, it shows. Hounded is just such a book, and Kevin Hearne is one of the most exciting new authors to come along.
The last of the Druids, Atticus O’Sullivan, has carved out a life for himself and his wolfhound Oberon in the Arizona desert. He runs an occult bookshop and keeps a low profile—the Celtic god Aenghus Og wants the magical sword that Atticus possesses. And a warning from the Morrigan indicates that Aenghus is coming with murder on his mind.
Atticus can’t defeat a god by himself, even with an enchanted weapon. On his side are a vampire, a werewolf, and a woman possessed by a Hindu witch. But there are wild cards in the mix as well. The local coven of witches might not be trustworthy, faeries stalk him on Aenghus’s behalf, and the greater faeries—the Tuatha—could help or hinder as the whim takes them. It’s a battle to the death with gods, monsters, and one very determined Druid.
My first introduction to this series was via Del Rey/Spectra’s “50 Page Friday” feature on their website, Suvudu. I quickly became impressed with Hearne’s ability to create memorable characters. I especially liked the Tuatha De Danann, which include the death goddess Morrigan and Flidais, goddess of the hunt. The author portrays them with the truly unsettling mindset of “anything to get what I want”, and he makes it completely logical within the confines of the story.
The character that I enjoyed the most is also non-human: Oberon, Atticus’s Irish wolfhound. His attachment to Atticus is well-written, and his personality is absolutely charming. Hearne humanizes him without taking away from his very obvious canine nature.
Hounded is a thorough introduction to this new series. It has a lot of ground to cover, as Hearne establishes that many supernatural beings live in Arizona for various reasons. Not only does it go into the major characters and affiliations, it sets up some future conflicts for Atticus. It’s obvious that the author knows where he wants to take both the main character and the story.
Hearne’s humor got several giggles from me. The characters, having lived a long time and seen quite a few things, often have a fatalistic attitude about the weird stuff that crops up. It’s not really gallows humor, but seems to be the wry appreciation of all that life throws at them. And since these characters are not human, their experiences can be pretty unique from a human perspective.
The novel’s action is well paced, allowing for characters other than Atticus to shoulder some of the weight of getting things done. The best example of this is Atticus’s lawyer and friend, Hal the werewolf. With Aenghus going so far as to manipulate local law enforcement to get to Atticus, Hal has more than one opportunity to throw his legal weight around. With this strong cast of supporting characters, the author is able to avoid the trap of having Atticus become the all-knowing, all-powerful main character that isn’t believeable. It also allows for some extra plots twists and turns as other characters and their personalities come into play.
I went through this novel in the course of about a day, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one when it comes out in June. Hounded is a lively and entertaining introduction to what I hope will be a long running series. And judging by what I can see of the author’s personality (especially his dedication), he seems like a genuinely fun guy that I hope to one day meet.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on May 11, 2011.