The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
When I was first recommended to read The Iron Druid Chronicles by a fellow reader buddy of mine (shoutout to Lauren from Always Me!), I have to admit that I was a little hesitant to pick it up. The urban fantasy genre is new to me in general, the first real series I read of which was Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. And I. Worship. It. I’ve set Butcher’s work on a pedestal and it will forever be the book I compare all urban fantasy writers to from here on out. So when I read the blurb about Iron Druid Chronicles, I was like, “Eh, this is just going to be a Harry Dresden rip off, isn’t it?” It even says in the Goodreads page that fans of Harry Dresden would love it! So, I picked up the book with cautious optimism. (Well, technically, I listened to it, but still.) It was about Irish lore and had a hot guy on the cover – what’s a girl not to like, right?
Luckily, my worries were unfounded. I was blown away by the world Hearne created. Atticus – a two thousand year old Druid - is snarky and sarcastic, quick-witted and resourceful – overall a hero worth rooting for. He has an adorable Irish Wolfhound companion, Oberon, who I’ve really come to love and adore throughout the course of the series and there are an assortment of friends and allies he’s come across, from vampires to werewolves, to gods and goddesses of many different pantheons.
The characterization in the novels is what really snagged me and kept me engaged through the eight books I devoured in a few weeks’ time. What makes Hearne’s work so special, in my opinion, is the magical world that he’s built. In most urban fantasies, there is usually only one pantheon depicted or a select few mythical beings. In Hearne’s world, though, there are infinite pantheons, from the Olympians to the Norse to the Christian. Just about any magical creature you’d want to read or meet shows up at least once in the stories. Of course, given that the series focuses on Irish mythology, the main focus is on the daoine sidhe (Irish fey). In this tradition, the Sidhe are considered to be ancient Celtic gods, also known as the Tuatha de Danann. Since Irish mythology is largely obscure, Hearne was left with a lot of creative freedom to build the gods and goddess as he saw fit, though they still stick true to their lore, my favorite of which were Morrigan and Flidais.
Morrigan was actually the character that I found most compelling in the series, even above Atticus and the other female lead, Granuaile. Despite being a Goddess of the Fallen and – to put it bluntly – exorbitantly cruel at times, it was profoundly interesting to see someone like a goddess become a dynamic character, one that strives to change and better herself – even if only for Atticus’ sake. It was almost heartbreaking to see her struggling with her true nature and trying to branch out to befriend others. Seriously, I think I shipped MorriganxAtticus more than I did AtticusxGranuaile. And while it was amusing to see Atticus realize what a dumbass he’d been concerning Morrigan’s feelings for him, it was depressing to never see the relationship come full circle. At least I’ve access to FanFiction.net to feed my fantasies…
That brings us to the storyline in general. Over the course of all eight books, there are smaller plots that need to be addressed for each book, though a big, overarching storyline concerning the Norse God of Mischief, Loki, progresses throughout the whole series. In the latest book, Staked, Atticus is confronted with the repercussions of angering an ancient vampire and – as a result – brings their wrath down upon himself and his allies. What was interesting about this book in particular was that it was about so much more than just Atticus’ battle with the vampires. We get to see Owen try to assemble his own apprentices as well as Granuaile’s attempt to finally get even with her step-father. They weren’t just foils to be used when Atticus needed them. They were there to help him when he needed them most, yes, but they were their own active characters, building and living their own lives. They’re dynamic. And much of the love I’ve garnered for this series is surrounded by the characters.
It’s hard to write a broad review of a series, rather than just a single book, but I wanted to share what I thought was a fantastic and imaginative series with my fellow bloggers. If you love urban fantasy, this isn’t one to be missed. With epic battles, loveable characters, and plenty of imagination, you’ll be plenty entertained.
And on a final note, I listened to all the books via Audible. I HIGHLY SUGGEST you listen to at least one. Luke Daniel’s voice is like honey. Definitely one of my favorite narrators I've come across thus far!
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