Warning: very minor cliffhanger, almost not worth mentioning.
Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.
One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plain of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.
“Wooo!’ he said, slamming his shot glass down and coughing a bit. ‘That’s good stuff.’
I agreed heartily. ‘Shall we do another one?’ I asked.
‘Oh no,’ Jesus said quietly, his eyes growing round. ‘This is one of those situations where I have to stop and ask myself, what would I do?”
I had some issues overall from this book. It just felt dreadfully slow. Atticus gets distracted incredibly easily every single step of the way. He decides to move in the middle of the book, and takes forever setting that up. And then Hearne decides to take 30-40 minutes out of the three hour long book to tell a bunch of stories on why Thor is an asshole. It adds depth to the hatred, because up until this point we hadn’t heard any stories about Thor in the entire series. And then Hearne dumps it on us one after another after another, with half of the people telling the tales people we had just met and therefore didn’t care about at all.
Once again, Hearne does do a good job of telling those random stories, compared to the book in its entirety. However, they just always feel out of place. And, like I said, in this case they were back to back to back to back which seriously just throws you out of the flow of the story.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I hate Atticus so goddamn much. He is such a terrible person. I hope someone slays him at the end of this series. His “I don’t give a damn about the world, this is about me” attitude is frustrating, even though he has a point at times. He just takes it too far. Plus he says things like “Occasionally, I am smitten with an acute case of Smug.” which makes me want to punch him if I could manage to punch a made up character through a book. He also spends a good deal of time wishing Star Trek was a religion so he could have a Kirk buddy…while he is sneaking about Asgard. There is also this exchange:
I paused. “I think of him as male, even though elementals have no gender. That’s probably sexist of me.”
“Probably.” Granuaile agreed. “I’ll give you a sensitivity point for noticing, though.”
That exchange just highlights how “unmodern” Atticus is, despite harping on every single other immortal around to become more modern. It is aggravating. And oh my god the fart jokes. So many fart jokes.
While I love Hearne’s approach to gods and mythology, in the back of my mind I can’t help but saying “this cannot possibly be real”. It isn’t because the fact that everything is running about in the world, I read way too much urban fantasy to be bothered by that. It is the fact that everything is running about all at once. Where are they all supposed to fit in, how are they supposed to hide amongst the humans. Some of them are in their own pocket dimensions, but they’re all aware of what is happening on earth to some extent? How? There are holes miles wide in the world building. Until this point, it was focusing on Atticus so they weren’t as apparent, but now with the focus on Thor it has become so much more apparent because there is so much more there. The world building reminds me a lot of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods if you have read that.
One positive about this book is that Atticus finally states his purposes for acting. They’re good purposes, even if the method of action is poor choices all the way down. We learn more about his past, what he had, what he lost, and what he has now. And, what he doesn’t want to lose again. Granuaile still doesn’t feel like a character, though. This is a classic example of telling and not showing, because I seen no real connection to the character at all other than an attraction to her body. Oberon is a fun character, and it is much more obvious just how much Atticus cares for him. I just think Hearne takes the comic relief character aspect of Oberon to an unholy extreme and wish he would turn it down a lot.
Now I’ll discuss the end of the book, and put it the worst of it under a spoiler tag. The whole damn book, literally everyone important is telling them to turn off this path. That it will cause nothing but destruction later on. Atticus has been getting this warning for centuries, apparently, and hasn’t been listening to it all that time. Spoiler: Then, he goes ahead and does it anyway, because he said he would?? But, they leave behind one hell of a mess and half the important people in the entire Norse pantheon dead or severely hampered while blaming another god for the entire thing. What the hell does Atticus think is going to happen here? All while fighting a prophecy that has withstood the test of time? And then, he gives Freyja to the frost giants and says essentially “I don’t want to know what happens to her after she wakes up.” implying rape and he doesn’t give a shit?? Fuck Atticus, I hate him. Also, he leaves his neighbor who he cares for to fend for herself at the end of the book despite warning that she is in trouble? Sigh.
On the surface, these are fun books, and I can see why people like them so much. If you don’t look too hard it is the story of a guy causing a bunch of trouble and then trying to fix it in a fun little world. If you dig at all below the surface, you start to see the problems with the book. The bizarre plot patterns, the asshole main character, the world building holes.
To read more reviews for this series, check out the Iron Druid Chronicles series page!