Saturday, 21 June 2014

Perfect Combination

I dare you to pick up one of Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles, and not find something you love. Action? It's intense. Mythology? Well researched and endless. Loveable characters? Too many to list. Pop culture references? The best ones. Adorable talking dogs? There are now two. Bacon? Lots of bacon. I've been a fan of this series for a long time due to all of the above. Every novel and novella has kept me hooked until the very end, leaving me craving for more and teaching me something I didn't know about a mythology I'm not completely familiar with. The same is true with Shattered, the seventh novel in the Iron Druid Chronicles.

Definitely an eye-catching cover...
The series follows one of the last living Druids, Atticus O'Sullivan, as he fights to keep dangerous gods and supernatural monsters off his back. But now in Shattered, he's not alone. His apprentice Granuaile is finally a full Druid, and Atticus has at last recovered his teacher who had been frozen in time, a crotchety old man named Owen Kennedy.

The student is teaching the master as Atticus teaches Owen about how to live in the modern world, and deciding whether or not Owen will be helpful or hindering in the inevitable battle he faces against Loki. As if that wasn't enough to make Atticus worry, his apprentice and love Granuaile learns that her father is being possessed by a dark spirit in India, and that she must try to save him with the help of a goddess who once possessed her. 

The story is told from three different perspectives– Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen– and at first I thought there might be a little too much going on. Not that it took away from the reading experience, since every character had their own interesting adventure going on, though I was mutely wondering how it would all interconnect at the end. Of course my wish was granted, and I could not have been more surprised. The twist was perfect and cringe-inducing, and I'll come back to it in a moment.

Atticus is a fantastic character. There's no other way to put it. He's one of my favorite heroes– witty, clever, honorable, and a powerful warrior. I loved following him as he traveled all over the world teaching Owen, meeting with other gods and goddesses, and how he encountered the final battle. That isn't to say he's perfect as a person– far from it. It isn't often that Atticus makes mistakes. But when he does, he makes them.

Granuaile is yet another favorite of mine, and I enjoyed her story the most. Not only is she now called the Fierce Druid, a name she absolutely earns in combat, readers will see her struggles as she begins to understand what it means to become a Druid, and leave the world she knew behind. Last but not least, the newest character to the series, Owen. Owen... wow, how should I describe Owen? Cranky, tough, raunchy, and just as memorable as every other character. He was so much fun to read, made even better when he backs off and shows a more human side of himself. I look forward to reading more about him in the next books, since he has a wonderfully complicated relationship with Atticus and it will be lots of fun to see how they handle their upcoming trials.

Speaking of those trials, Shattered feels like the calm before the storm. The stakes are raising and alliances are being made, and the twist makes me think that we'll be seeing an uncomfortable amount of Loki in the future. And he's not the Marvel Loki that everyone adores. No, this is the nasty, scheming one from Norse mythology.

And this is where my love for the series shines its brightest. While most of the mythology circles around the Celtic Tuatha Dé Danann, other deities and creatures from Norse, Japanese, Greek, Roman, and Indian culture emerge. Hearne has obviously done extensive research and has a deep love for mythology, always finding an unfamiliar story or being to put in his work and make me eager to know more about it. Even more compelling is that this is a genuine work of the heart. Hearne's passion for his is as clear and as sharp as his dialogue and form of writing, and that sort of devotion and effort always makes for a stronger story. 

There isn't a single person I can think of who wouldn't like something about Shattered or the Iron Druid Chronicles. They are both fantastic and will make you consider stopping by the mythology/history section next time you're by the library. My best recommendation? Pick up the first book, Hounded, or the seventh book if you're all caught up like me. Then, fry up some bacon, curl up on the couch, and enjoy a terrific story. Why bacon? Because as everyone's most beloved talking wolfhound would say, "Everything's better with bacon."


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