Trapped by Kevin Hearne

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Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles has become wildly popular in the past year.  It has been touted as the natural successor to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and that’s not a description that I can really argue with.  However, I think that Hearne’s storytelling can occasionally wander a bit, and Trapped , while still a good book, suffers a bit from lack of focus.

(Description nicked from B&

“After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.

Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.”

One of my favorite characters of all time has to be Oberon, Atticus’s wise-cracking Irish wolfhound.  Frankly, I just want to rub his belly and feed him bacon all day—he’s that well-written.  I do have to note, though, that sometimes Hearne overuses Oberon and his charms.  I called out the previous book, Tricked, for having way too much snarky commentary (a problem that the Dresden Files has occasionally).  Thankfully, the author has toned down the witty banter in this book.  There’s still a lot of Oberon silliness to giggle over, but it doesn’t bog down the story, so in this respect Trapped is an improvement over the last book.

Unfortunately, I do have to call this novel out on its plotting.  Hearne creates great storylines, make no mistake.  What I have noticed in this book and the one before it is a tendency to throw too many plotlines together in one volume.  If pressed, I couldn’t tell you what the main plot of Trapped really is, because there’s more than one.  The author has Atticus deal with vampires, deal with a Greek god who wants to kill him, get his apprentice bound to the earth, confront dark elves, and face off against Loki.  That’s way too much for one book.

I will say that I still enjoyed the novel.  For all that it has flaws, I still find Hearne’s writing to be fun, and his stories regularly make me laugh out loud.  He’s also not afraid to throw some really nasty monkey wrenches in the works for his characters, so I certainly can’t say that his stories are predictable.  I do think that the series runs on the strength of its characters, though.  I like Atticus and Oberon, and the minor characters (especially the Morrigan) interact well with the main cast.

In that vein, I appreciate that Atticus isn’t all powerful.  In fact, most of the immortal characters aren’t either, for all that they’re gods.  They have failings and foibles, and they have blind spots in their beliefs that they just can’t get past.  In a genre crowded with super-powered characters that gain new abilities every time they need them, Hearne has kept his cast to a fairly well-defined set of rules.  As far as that aspect of plotting goes, the author gets it right.

While I do think that this novel should have been more tightly focused, Trappedentertains with rampaging gods, globe-hopping adventures, and one very precocious Irish wolfhound.  I can’t wait to see what happens next for Atticus and his friends, and Kevin Hearne is definitely an author to watch.

Also by this author: Hammered, Hexed, Hounded, Hunted, Tricked

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on November 13, 2012.

Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles
ISBN: 9780345533647
Publisher: Del Rey
Page Count: 320
Publication Date: November 27, 2012
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Author Website
Read an excerpt