Tricked (The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Four)
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Kevin Hearne is one of my new favorite authors. His writing is funny and witty, and his characters are so well drawn that you want to sit and have a beer with them. The story of Atticus O’Sullivan, the world’s last druid, has been growing in complexity, and the fourth novel contains many twists and turns for our heroes.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.
But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.”
Okay, don’t pay attention to the overly cutesy and pun-laden description—Tricked is much subtler than what you read here. It definitely contains humor and lighter moments, but it doesn’t hit the reader over the head with the sense of “Oh, look how clever this is!” Hearne’s writing reminds me of Jim Butcher at his best, with snappy dialogue and a wry self-awareness that what’s going on is rather unusual and worthy of a raised eyebrow.
Of course, if you’ve read any of Hearne’s novels, you know that the wolfhound Oberon steals the scene whenever he’s on the page. This book is no exception, and indeed, Oberon’s antics are still the most entertaining part of the story. The hound’s leap of logic that leads him to declare “Bacon is the Way and the Truth” is worth the cost of the book by itself.
Unfortunately, this book is also very much a transitional novel. In the previous novel, Hammered, the storyline with Thor and the other Norse gods wrapped up, and so Atticus and company are at loose ends and needing a new direction. The obvious way to go is to focus on the training of Atticus’s apprentice, Granuaile, and that’s kind of what starts here. But very little happens with it. The end of the novel seems to hint that training will be happening, but the excerpt from the next novel picks up twelve years later. I think the series is wandering a bit in terms of direction.
That really doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the novel in and of itself. I still love following Atticus and Oberon through their adventures. I just hope that the next book pulls together a strong storyline to go with these memorable characters. Tricked gives readers all the thrills and laughs that Hearne is known for. Hearne is still one of my favorite writers and I look forward eagerly to every book that he releases.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on May 22, 2012.