After a wild ride in “Hunted,” Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles makes its hardcover debut, surprisingly, with a bit of a lull in “Shattered” ($26, Del Rey).
As the book opens, Atticus and Granuaile are still in the process of recovering from being chased all over Europe by members of the Greek and Roman pantheon.
Atticus has freed his former archdruid Owen Kennedy (Eoghan O Cinneide) from centuries of imprisonment trapped in time and must now become the teacher as he acclimates his old tutor to a very strange world. He also needs Owen to restore his damaged tattoos so that he can shift shapes again. And he needs a bigger favor from his old archdruid, who is still viewed as a neutral party in Tir na Nog – he needs to know who among the Tuatha de Danann is plotting against him.
Meanwhile, Granuaile has problems of her own. She’s contacted by Lashka, the spirit of a witch who used to inhabit her body. Now living in India, the witch has a problem that involves Granuaile’s natural father, an archaeologist who has uncovered a very dangerous artifact and, in the process, been possessed by a raksoyuj, a being that can command demons known as rakshasas. A plague is spreading across the country, and Laksha needs help to stop the demons.
There’s a lot going on in “Shattered,” but in truth, none of it seems to have the immediacy and impact of some of the past stories in the series, at least until near the end.
Hearne introduces a three point-of-view approach in this book. After bringing Granuaile in as a full POV character in the last installment, he also gives Owen a POV spot in this book. It’s a big difference from the stories fans of the series are used to and likely to bother some who are used to only seeing things through Atticus’ eyes. The different POVs didn’t bother me, though, so much as the shifts in tense between them. I’m not a fan of present tense, though I did manage to get over it.
The book does wrap up a major plot line in grand fashion, and it’s still a fast and fun read, which has been one of the appeals of this series for me. The laughs and pop culture references come rapid fire, and Hearne still has the ability to make me cackle like a madman while I’m reading like few other authors out there.
“Shattered” is probably the weakest volume of the series so far, but still very entertaining and worth your time. Hopefully it’s just a breather before the promised finale to this storyline in the next two books.