The Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne starts with ‘Hounded’ and introduces the main character of Atticus and his faithful hound Oberon. I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum.
Atticus is the last druid walking the Earth and is laying low in Arizona after swiping a mystical sword & ticking off a lot of Fae. I won’t say more about the story of the first book other than that. As for the characters, I found them funny, refreshing, and almost witty. There are a lot of pop culture references; which don’t hurt, but don’t do much to further the story. Oberon, the dog is linked telepathically to Atticus so a lot of their conversations are funny but kind of buff the word-count and get some jokes in. I heartily enjoyed the first book and sought out the second.
The second book in the series ‘Hexed’ is more of the same. This time it’s Atticus versus evil Witches with some cameos tossed in and side plots for good measure. It’s well written, it flows nicely, and more than once my wife had to really try to get my attention while i was caught-up reading.
The third book ‘Hammered’ is where I start to get a little iffy with the series. The story is how Atticus and a group of conspirators get together to kill the Norse Thunder God Thor. I can understand this is fiction, I can understand a writer will adjust things to fit the story but this felt a bit hollow. My religious designation is Heathen, which means I’m kind of familiar with Nordic Legends. I found the portrayal of Thor and most of the pantheon in this book to be rather off, borderline insulting. I get it, Marvel has a comic with Thor in it so it had to be different but making him an all-out super douche was kind of a bit much.
To be honest, I skipped a go portion of this book because it was too hard to read. However, this didn’t stop me from enjoying the series of seeking out the next two books.
The fourth book in the series ‘Tricked’ has Atticus dealing with Coyote and the backlash of his trip to Asgard. It was good, not outstanding, just good.
The fifth book in the series ‘Trapped’ has Atticus continuing to deal with the fallout of certain choices he has made through the entire series. With this book there is a feeling of finality to the plot. With one more book announced in the series it looks like it is the last. There were a few issues I had with this book, mainly that it deals with the Norse Pantheon more and does so in a way that just doesn’t make sense. Other than that personal influence the interaction between Atticus and Oberon were a bit tired, the pop-culture stuff is out of place with the heavier tone, and it is a bit rushed toward the end. My biggest issue comes late in the book with the mention of ‘Odinsleep’. This idea was the invention of Marvel Comics and has no basis in Norse Lore. It pretty much kicked me out of the entire book and I had to put it down.
Over the course of the books I’ve enjoyed the characters and the interpretations of supernatural beings but upon seeing this one word it make me question the entire series. I had thought the author was well researched but tossing in something made up in the 70’s by desperate comic writers. It has made me want to see exactly how bad this series really is. on the research front. Now I see that’s it’s just Urban Fantasy. Good Urban Fantasy but still just Urban Fantasy.
I get it, this is Urban Fantasy not Nation Geographic and to date it has the best version of Jesus Christ I’ve seen in modern fiction. Seriously, when Jesus, or The Virgin Mary, shows up in the series they are handled nicely. As it stands I’m not going to give up on the series and if Mr. Hearne comes out with another book, I’ll probably pick it up. His books provide a fun, quick read that are worth the price of admission.
Some reviews compare him to Neil Gaiman and those would be inaccurate. Hearne is the really BBQ joint downtown while Gaiman is the sit-down restaurant you take a date to for a good impression. I don’t really enjoy his characterization of the Nordic Gods but I understand it’s just fiction, it’s not like he’s violating the Hávamál by writing it.
Verdict: Read it, definitely buy the first two and go from there.