on June 10, 2011
Looking for the perfect mix of humor and thrills with a twist? These are the Druids your looking for. Hexed and Hounded don't disappoint.
Hexed, the sophomore edition of The Iron Druid Chronicles, is nonstop fun and excitement. Atticus O'Sullivan is a modern day druid, the last of his kind. And lately the crazies have been coming out the woodwork. You would think that defeating a couple of Celtic Gods, exorcising a few demons, and killing half a coven of witches would earn a guy some R&R. Think again. Tempting Tempe, Atticus' little Arizonian oasis is starting to look ripe for the picking to some pretty nasty supernaturals.
A brood of German witches kick off the shenanigans by trying to curse O'Sullivan and the local coven. The murderous attempt is quickly followed up by a demonic straggler left behind by Aenghus Óg. Hearne keeps the pace swift with a visit from Coyote, who informs Atticus of a fallen angel preying on some very unfortunate high school students. Then there are the clergymen snooping around his bookstore, and the cops that just won't go away. But the honey-do list just keeps getting longer since some sin city Bacchants are in town and ready to throw down. Let's Party.
It would be simpler to cut and run, but Atticus has decided that Tempe is home, and he has an obligation to heal the land his prior nemisis destroyed. He's going to have to get help from some familiar characters and strike a few ill advised bargains to get through the nine circles of hellion relatively unscathed, though not unmolested. By the end you'll be wondering which battle was more brutal, golems and demon spawn filled witches, or a tussle in the sack with the Morrigan.
Hexed like Hounded was a witty well written book. There were some serious storylines happening here that could have easily gotten confusing. But Hearne's clever writing allowed for clarity while navigating through the fast-pasted and complex threads. I highly recommend the audio version of this book. The narrator , Luke Daniels, is excellent. Daniels does all the accents spot on, and must be a linguist with how well he speaks all the foreign languages. He really brings the words and characters to life. I think Hearne's biggest strength is the diversity and knowledge in the cultures and supernatural beings. The books seem well researched and work well together.
Maybe it's just me, but I find the succession of this series each consecutive month refreshing. A throwback to the serials of not so long ago. Yet, because they're so good, I swear the wait is still excruciating. Keep Them Coming Kevin.
Those words uttered by Atticus O'Sullivan may be true, but Hexed proves that they can do just about everything else! It's not easy creating a second book in a series, and after enjoying Hounded so much, I was nervous that the author would not be able to sustain the high level of storytelling magic that was so captivating in Hounded. I needn't have worried. Hexed ably continues the tale, bringing Atticus into an uneasy alliance with the local coven of witches as they do battle against a group from Atticus' past that seek to encroach on his territory.
Atticus is in a rather strange position in this latest installment. His success against Aenghus Og has left him a marked man. Everyone is seeking him out to try and convince him to help them with their own God problems. The entire paranormal world now seems to have his number, which leads to some intense demon battles, some fierce sex, and a steep learning curve for his new apprentice. Most of the characters are back from Hounded, and we get to know some a little better this time around. The dialogue is as witty as ever, the action is true edge of your seat stuff, and Oberon is still enjoying his stories, with very entertaining results.
This continues to be a first rate urban fantasy series that any fan of the Dresden files will no doubt enjoy. It's a fast read that will make you hold your breath at the suspense and laugh out loud at the humor - sometimes on the same page! I'm off to go pre-order the next installment. First rate entertainment.
on July 22, 2011
This book gets a steely 5 gnomes out of 5 gnomes for being a superb sequel, having laugh out loud writing, and characters that the reader can truly care about.
This series has become one of my top 5 series, I just love so much about it. The characters and story are refreshing because it has characters and themes that are common yet used in unexpected ways. Take religion, if you read this series you will see and hear about a plethora of gods and goddesses from across many cultures. I like that there are all these religious figures still out there in the world but some just appear more often than others.
The setting is the same as the previous book and you get to find out even more about the large cast of characters. I liked seeing more of Atticus's nighttime lawyer, Leif the vampire and Granuile his new apprentice.
The side characters in this book are fleshed out really well. The interactions between Leif and Atticus are great especially when he tries to help him with his word phrasing so he doesn't sound as old as he actually is. Granuile (who's name I can't for the life of me pronounce) is seen more in this book and shown to be quite savvy to all the weirdness of witches, police problems, and learning all manner of information on what druids can do. It would be interesting if Atticus and Granuile had a relationship because you can tell he's interested, on the other hand though Atticus has a well known weakness for pretty women and she is technically his student.
Many of the best lines in the book are said by Oberon, the Irish wolfhound. Seeing how he and Atticus interact is a lot of fun and also makes me hope that Kevin Hearne never has any plans to kill him off like so many other authors, movies, and TV shows do with beloved pets. I actually found myself tearing up a bit at the point in the book when you find out how old Oberon is and how much Atticus looks out for him.
If you thought Atticus had problems in in Hounded then you are in for even more carnage when you read Hexed. There's gods, goddesses, good witches, bad witches, a tall priest, a short rabbi, and even more magic and fighting. The book is also chock-full of humor, I actually had to stop reading the book at work because I didn't want people to think I was a weirdo laughing to myself all alone in the library.
The endings of this book and the one before it are great because they both end on a funny note. Ending at a funny line or situation is to me much more preferable and unexpected then having a cliffhanger that makes you want to throw the book out the window. Overall I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that likes fantasy, magic, or really stupendous male main characters. I for one am very happy that the third book has been released and plan to read it as soon as possible. I look forward to reading more about Atticus's world and whatever else Kevin Hearne writes in the future.
A priest and a rabbi walk into a druid's apothecary shop... it sounds like the start of a joke but that's one of this book's plot points, and Kevin Hearne, new writer on the block, weaves it into the narrative and makes it make sense. HEXED is the sequel to HOUNDED in the hugely entertaining Iron Druid Chronicles, and it allows Hearne's constant readers to reacquaint themselves with the world's last remaining druid, Atticus O'Sullivan (not really his real name).
Atticus O'Sullivan thrives on being a chameleon, on blending into the woodwork, so you can't even tell he's over two thousand years old. Having set roots in Tempe, Arizona some years ago, Atticus could pass for a generously tattooed college student. Atticus runs an apothecary shop, and hopefully that explains away whatever offbeat vibe he does give out. Atticus strives to keep things on the down low, but he still has congress with others as paranormally inclined. And now that he's slain two deities, his magical street cred's on an alltime high, his much-cherished low profile out the window.
Only three weeks have elapsed since the epic throwdown in the Supernatural Mountains (in HOUNDED), and Atticus has been bedeviled by various pantheons and other supernatural agencies, come a-visiting to congratulate him on his mighty deeds and then to coax him into taking out this and that other supposedly deserving god. Not that it matters until the third book, but the god most often tabbed for a contract hit is the disagreeable Thor. Atticus is kept busy saying "Thanks, but no thanks." He's got enough on his plate.
He's in the middle of signing a pact of non-aggression with the local coven of witches. He's engaged in sort of a feud with his nosy neighbor. That old trickster Coyote (or one of several incarnations of him, anyway) has talked him into taking on a fallen angel from the Fifth Circle. A horde of demonic Bacchants are about to sweep into Tempe, and the local coven wants Atticus to do the dirty work. So now Atticus is fretting about cheesing off the Roman god of the vine (and debauchery). And because no urban fantasy is complete without witch on witch violence, a rival coven of witches is threatening to take over the town. See Atticus O'Sullivan prioritize. See him get pushed to the limit. See him panic a little, and then a lot. Harry Dresden's got nothing on Atticus O'Sullivan when it comes to a full day.
And Atticus's love life is rather horrible. He finds himself coveted by two feuding Celtic goddesses: his sometimes ally, the Morrigan, the humorless Chooser of the Slain, and Brighid, Celtic goddess of fire. This absolutely makes a case for online dating.
There's no dropping off point with HEXED. It's as good as HOUNDED. Kevin Hearne manages to do what Jim Butcher does so exceedingly well, which is toe the line between levity and suspenseful urban fantasy thriller. In HEXED, Atticus is again very funny, but his Irish wolfhound Oberon - with whom he communicates telepathically - is again funnier. Atticus's supporting cast keeps you invested, from the old, porch-sitting Mrs. Macdonagh to Atticus's new apprentice, the sexy Granuaile, to his two attorneys-on-retainer, Hal the werewolf and Leif the vampire (who also wants Atticus to kill Thor). Even Laksha, that ancient, deadly, body-swapping Indian witch, returns to answer Atticus's plea for help.. but for a price. They're not that tight.
I relish the world Atticus inhabits. This is the sort of place where, with Atticus requiring divine blessings on his weaponry, he suggests to a devout person - say, Mrs. Macdonagh - that she prays to the Virgin Mary. And, sure enough, Atticus later drives up to the most seedy neighborhood in Tempe and there's the Virgin Mary, conferring blessings on the criminal and the downtrodden. And I'll mention again how much I like the cross-polination of pantheons and how there could conceivably be different versions of any particular god. As Atticus explains to Leif: "We can invade Asgard, kill off Thor 1.0... we could come back here to Midgard only to have the comic book Thor smite the hell out of us..." I, for one, would love to see that.
Atticus is such a well-writen protagonist, and even though he drops one-liners like they were hot potatoes, he's a solid character and he grounds the story. The battles are fantastically staged, and this is coming from a guy who once thought that druids make for some of the most boring folks. But what other druid is this much of a wiseacre and wields an enchanted sword and steals his neighbor's grenade launcher to combat the forces of evil? Only Atticus O'Sullivan. Holler.
I'm sensing a pattern with how Hearne is titling his books. I'm guessing, after the third volume HAMMERED, the next one'll be called HAMPERED or HOTCAKED or maybe HADDOCKED.
The second book in the Iron Druid Chronicles begins three weeks after Hounded ends. Demons released by the bad witches in the last book need to be dealt with, a group of Bacchants come to town wanting to take over the territory, as do a group of demon-casting German witches who announce their presence by trying to kill Atticus using a spell from afar. The police have become suspicious of Atticus as he matches the description of a guy with a sword at different scenes, and a priest and rabbi are getting way too noisy. If that weren't enough, two goddesses want to claim Atticus as their own personal weapon.
The only Druid left in the world, all he wants to do is live a quiet life under the radar, grow the herbs he sells in his store, train his new apprentice and heal the large area of earth that was destroyed in the fighting from the last book. But demands from the coven of local Polish witches as well as Coyote, have him fighting to take out the escaped demons and destroy the others that have come to town to cause harm. And he's being bombarded with requests to take out Thor.
There's plenty of action, humor, negotiations, myth, history and even his hospitality is loaded with political fencing. I've got a better appreciation for his new apprentice, Granuaile as she proves to be quick thinking. And of course Oberon, Atticus' telepathic dog, gives us more comic relief as well as show us how much respect Atticus has for his dog's feelings and happiness.
What I like most about Atticus is that he's so earth based. His relationship and responsibility to nature make Atticus a large part of who he is. Having 2100 years of experience, I find his reasoning, manners and maneuvering when dealing with others in positions of power to be both clever and savvy while remaining respectful. His philosophy speaks to me. The mythology covers a number of different pantheons and the history in this book deals with WWII.
The only thing that could have made this a better book for me is if there had been a little more down time. Most of that involves being connected to the earth to heal. He is trying to teach his vampire lawyer, Leif, to change his old-world formal speech pattern to blend in better and does get in a small visit with Mrs MacDonagh, the only non-magical person who knows what he is. But other than that if he isn't ramping up energy and protection spells, negotiating, playing politics while being a host, being hounded by the police or the clergy, for the most part he's fighting. It can be a little exhausting, although the humor helps a great deal.
On the other hand the story wouldn't be as exciting if there was more down time.
The third book, Hammered, will be released in July.
It's been a week since I finished this book, so the details aren't totally fresh in my mind. However, I will say that my general impression was favorable, especially in comparison to book one (Hounded). Because this is the second volume in a series, and the writer has a little experience under his belt now, the beginning was much smoother -- there was a lot less infodumping. (And what was there -- for example, the explanation of the dog Oberon's longevity -- was kept short and was better integrated into the story.) So the writing has much improved, and with it, my enjoyment of the book.
One thing that I thought was a strength of the previous book was that the main character, Atticus, was generally likable despite having a different sense of morality than a contemporary American would have (because of his upbringing in a very different time and place). There's a little evidence of that here (especially when he's out to save his own hide), although there are a couple of elements that seem designed specifically to elicit sympathy for Atticus (for example, the story about his activities during WWII, although there was at least a slim connection to the events of the present-day story there, as well). I guess we learn more about Atticus here, although I wouldn't say he develops any greater depth. I have found that with first-person POV series in general, not all books contribute equally to character development, though. Some volumes add more than others. So I'm not feeling cheated here.
I do think Atticus is a little bit less of a male Mary Sue here. He can't do everything on his own; he has to ask for help. And when he asks for help, he has to obtain it from people he'd rather not deal with, or to make compromises he finds a little distasteful. Plus, he has to clean up some messes stemming from his actions in the previous book.
As with the previous volume, most of the magic is based on Celtic mythology. However, other mythologies and theologies make appearances here as well. Atticus must rely on the prayers of a Catholic friend at one point, and we meet some followers of Bacchus/Dionysus. We also encounter a version of the trickster Coyote, and one of the characters has a personal problem with Thor. I rather like all of these disparate elements coming together in one place. One theme in the book is that belief plays a part in making the gods/goddesses what they are. And so only in a country like America, where there are people from all these different cultures living together, would these different mythologies and religions clash. So I think the setting was very appropriately chosen.
This book doesn't really stand on its own. You need to read the previous volume, wherein you are introduced to many characters, and there are a couple of things in this book that will probably get addressed again at later volumes in the series (Atticus makes promises to the witch Laksha and also to one of his attorneys regarding certain quests he's undertaking for them or helping them to undertake, and these aren't resolved; also, one of Bacchus's followers escapes and the implication is that she may be back again). There is a main conflict that is resolved by the end of the book, however -- a new coven of witches is trying to encroach on the territory where Atticus is living, bringing with them all sorts of bad news and events. I don't get too upset about this because I would not call the ending a cliffhanger and I expect some type of series arc to carry through any multi-volume series (there are a handful more volumes out that I haven't read yet).
I seem to remember trying to drop everything to read this, so the pace near the end must have been quite good -- and I definitely wanted to know what happened. In the end, I did enjoy reading this -- more than I enjoyed book one. It wasn't perfect, but it was fun to read and I'm looking forward to the next volume.
on February 24, 2012
I've come to loathe this series. I found the beginning of Hounded to be slow but I was looking forward to Hexed. I then spent the entire first chapter of Hexed thinking "Wtf is this?" Here's a summary of how it starts: Atticus harasses, harangues, and otherwise preaches to Leif about how to use modern English.
It should be noted that in Hounded Leif spoke perfectly normal modern English. Suddenly in this book he's speaking archaic English and is mystified by Atticus's English lesson. Imo, it is not okay to blatantly change the basic foundation of your characters from one book to the next.
Moving on, I have trouble with the overabundance of super beautiful, perfect bodied, gorgeous haired women that seem to account for just about every female written into the books. It seems like an unnecessary amount of text is dedicated to Atticus's detailed fawning over women which just kills the flow. I fail to understand Granuaile's purpose, besides to let us read about baseball while Atticus is trying not to think pervy thoughts while he's ogling her. The focus seems to be on how much Atticus wants to bang her. Really I find the majority of Hearne's characters to be flat. I'm disappointed in the treatment of Coyote, whom Hearne describes as having two facial expressions. I see Coyote as an embodiment of unpredictability and I can't imagine him only having two facial expressions. I feel like this was a hugely missed opportunity. Basically, Hearne's Coyote seems really half-a**'d.
I find myself annoyed at the world building. It comes off as though Hearne decided to throw everything together in one world. Everything exists... but he's still trying to figure out how it all fits together so a lot of things just get glossed over and dismissed as magic. Or I feel like Atticus knows all about how things work but the reader doesn't get to be let in on the secret, if that makes sense.
Lastly, I can understand authors living a little vicariously through their books but Hearne over does it So. Much. Knowing that Hearne is an English teacher and reading about Atticus's fixation with proper English usage (plus the English nerdgasm in the 1st chapter), I am overwhelmed by the feeling that Atticus is merely an avatar for the author. This makes the high rate of perfect bodied women who want to get in Atticus's pants seem a lot like reading some guy's sexual fantasyland diary. For me this series has serious issues, especially the major alteration of a character from one book to the next. Sorry, I'm a stickler for operating inside the universe you create as an author.
on July 25, 2014
I have to say that The Iron Druid Chronicles are growing on me. When I read the first book in the series I was a bit taken by surprise by how immature O’Sullivan was behaving given that he was supposed to be an over two millenia old druid. This and a few other things put me off a bit when reading the first book.
However, I thought the book was definitely good enough for me to give one more instalment a go and so, here we are. I have read Hexed which is the second book in the series. The somewhat “boyish” behaviour of O’Sullivan is no longer a surprise so it doesn’t really disturb me as much as in the first book. His rather care-free gung-ho attitude can actually be rather fun at times.
I have also grown accustomed to his conversations with his Irish Wolfhound which are fairly ridiculous if you give yourself time to think about it but are also really funny if you try not to be to serious about it. We are talking about a fantasy novel after all. But I guess a dog not only using words to communicate but words like discombobulating (I had to look that one up) might not be to the liking of everyone.
One thing that I like, and which I liked already in the first book, is that the main character is not only likable but a very positive person not running around doing a bunch of self-loathing and feeling sorry for himself. Even when he suffers quite a bit of a down-event in the book he keeps his spirit and is more interested in kicking some serious behind rather than go around harping about how he could have done things differently.
Our friends from the first book are back of course and his new apprentice, the neighbouring widow as well as O’Sullivans lawyers are as likable as always. I’m even starting to like the local witch coven. The various Irish gods are of course back as well although they kind of wiggle around being likable and not so likable. And of course there are a few new acquaintances on the definitely-not-likable side.
There are plenty of action in the book as well. Witches, hexes, golems and demons are thrown around fairly liberally. The story is rather simple but works quite well for this kind of book. Most of it is concentrated on the main plot of the book which has a clear beginning, middle and end which I like. Sure there are few threads that continues from the first book and will continue in the next one(s) as well but it is a book with a clear conclusion which does not leave you with any “oh no” cliffhangers at the end of the book.
On the whole I would say that I found this book quite entertaining and I did not hesitate to put the next one on my to-read shelf after having finished this one.
on February 23, 2012
Our favorite Druid is back, and this time with a coven of German witches spelling death at him!
How does he rise to the challenge? By creating a pax pact with other local witches, and going to war alongside a werewolf and master vampire. Death and destruction reign, you'll love it all!
I thought there was a lot of potential in the first book of this series, and I am happy to see it is expanded on in Hexed. Here, a coven of evil witches makes a move on Malina’s territory, which also happens to be Atticus’. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the followers of Bacchus have also dropped into town to unleash chaos via uninhibited orgies, there’s a fallen angel killing high schoolers and everyone wants Atticus to kill Thor. Just another day in the life of a druid.
The first book dis appointed me because everything came to Atticus; someone would conveniently tell him what he needed to know so he never had to be proactive. Thankfully, that is not the case here. The book is very fast paced since there are so many fires for Atticus to put out. This means he has to plan, negotiate and work out how to tackle each crisis. There was a lot of planning involved, with Malina’s coven and Leif, plus the return of Laksha. There’s also a lto of humor here, specifically from Atticus’ knowledge and appreciation of pop culture. I love that he’s trying to teach Leif how not to sound like a stuffy vampire!
I did have a couple of issues with the book. The Morrigan and Brighid both make appearances that go on too long and serve no purpose to the current plot. And, a noticeable amount of the book is taken up with setting up the next book, which will no doubt deal with Thor (and everyone wanting him dead). I don’t mind some build-up for the next book; but it should come near the end, and not at the expense of the story currently being told. However, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the story and I do look forward to the next installment.
Overall, a nice improvement over the first book with some character growth and expanded cast. Recommended to fans of urban fantasy.