Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review: "Hammered" by Kevin Hearne

If you’ve read the first two books in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles and are thinking to yourself, “Atticus O’Sullivan can’t keep getting away with all this thumbing his nose at deities. It’s got to catch up with him somewhere.” You’re right. It does in “Hammered” ($7.99, Del Rey).

 In the first two books, Atticus has, to put it bluntly, pissed off quite a few powerful beings. In the third volume, the decisions and deals that he has made leave him in, as the Russian thunder god Perun so eloquently puts it, a “monstrous fuckpuddle.”

 First he has to sneak in to Asgard, home of the Norse pantheon, to steal one of the golden apples of Idunn for the witch Laksha who has a new body and hopes to keep it young for a long time. It’s part of a deal he made with her when she took out a group of Bacchants who were looking to cause chaos in his area in “Hexed.” (Bacchus, the Roman god of the vine, is still pretty hacked off at him about that, too.) That mission turns into a complete disaster.

The bad news for Atticus is that trip to Asgard was just the prelim. His vampire lawyer Leif Helgarsson also helped him handle a coven of German witches who were looking to unleash demons on the world. In return, he’s given his word to take Leif back to Asgard to kill the Norse thunder god Thor. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Thor probably deserves what’s coming to him, but Atticus has been warned of the dire consequences that his actions will set in motion if he keeps his word.

“Hammered” has caused me to re-evaluate my opinion of the Iron Druid Chronicles. I spent the first two books thinking they were light, fun adventure tales that managed to cram a lot of good jokes between two covers. The third volume, however, takes a much darker turn. It’s still just as much fun as the first two, and the jokes still come fast and furious for most of the book. But when Atticus and his band enter Asgard for the second time, things become deadly serious in a hurry.

The last third of the book is a much more somber note than the series had struck up to that point. Hearne finally forces Atticus, who has been throwing his power around with abandon, to take a close look at his actions and what they mean for the people around him. Even a 2,000-year-old druid, it seems, still has a few things to learn. It brings a little more depth and a little less light-hearted ease to the character that I think will serve the series well going forward.

 My only complaint with “Hammered” is that there’s not nearly enough of Oberon. Here’s hoping Hearne remedies that in the follow-up.

 I can’t remember the last time that I tore through a series of books like this one. Granted, they’re fairly short and quick reads, but the characters and fast pace that Hearne sets pulled me along and often kept me reading for longer than I’d planned when I sat down. The fourth book in the series “Tricked,” released last week,  has moved to the top of my reading list.

 I normally only do this on my other blog, but it seems only fitting to crank up a little Amon Amarth in salute to Hearne.

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