This addictive and wildly imaginative series stars hero Atticus O’Sullivan: a handsome, tattooed Irishman who looks like a young rock star, but is in actuality a 2,000-year-old Druid with extraordinary magic powers. In Besieged, Atticus’ adventures throughout history are told in a collection of nine new and original short stories.
The ancient gods are alive and well in the modern world in this hilarious, action-packed collection of original short stories featuring Atticus O’Sullivan, the two-thousand-year-old Irishman from Kevin Hearne’s New York Times bestselling Iron Druid Chronicles.
• In ancient Egypt, Atticus agrees to raid a secret chamber underneath the library of Alexandria, dodging deadly traps, only to learn that on-site security includes two members of the Egyptian pantheon.
• At a Kansas carnival, fun and games turns to murder and mayhem, thanks to soul-snatching demons and flesh-craving ghouls luring visitors into an all-too-real house of horrors.
• Verily, in olde England, striking up a friendship with William Shakespeare lands both Atticus and the Bard in boiling hot water with a trio of infamous witches.
• During the Gold Rush, the avatar of greed himself turns the streets of San Francisco red with blood and upsets the elemental Sequoia. Atticus may have to fight fire with fire if he’s going to restore balance.
More, you say? Indeed there is—including bogeymen, vampire hordes, wrathful wraiths, and even a journey to the realm of the dead. Prepare to be besieged with nine tantalizing tales—not to be missed, never to be forgotten.
Though I purchased this on release day, because how could I not, I didn’t read it until recently. I had missed the fact that they were almost all new stories. In fact, 8 of the 9 are brand new. As soon as I recognized that, I immediately dove in. I know I’ve recently binged this series, and remember the characterization of females getting better and better throughout the series – and I can easily say that it continues here. I appreciate the awareness the characters exhibit of many of the current political hot-button issues that seem to constantly be under debate. The acknowledgment, inclusion, and the fact that it’s not made to be a big deal, is handled well.
My thoughts on each story are broken out below. First, a note: At the beginning of each story Kevin Hearne notes where in the chronology they take place. It’s not perfect though. Because while Atticus and Granuaile may be speaking while he’s training her (4.x), the story Atticus is telling takes place long before the events of Hounded, for example. So, I’ll number them as Hearne notes them, and try to place the story told within the story as well.
The Eye of Horus (4.1) – Narrated by Atticus. We learn the tale of how he came to be in possession of Bast’s book (see The Grimoire of the Lamb). This is an interesting tale of thievery and protections and Egyptian gods (always of interest to me). There are hints of the reasons Atticus was driven to create his iron amulets; the ones that allow him to perform bindings without speaking. Fun story, nice history of Atticus.
This was six more chambers than Ogma had told me to expect, and none of them was labeled helpfully with THIS ONE HAS THAT THING OGMA WANTS.
Goddess at the Crossroads (4.2) – Narrated by Atticus. Of the time that he met William Shakespeare. And how the witches came to curse The Scottish Play. This was such a fun story! Shakespeare’s history is neatly and interestingly incorporated.
The triskele tattoo on the back of my right hand would raise far too many questions…To the Jacobeans, there was functionally no difference between a Druid and a witch: If it was magic, their solution was to kill it with fire.
The Demon Barker of Wheat Street (4.6) – Narrated by Atticus. Who knew demon stories in this world would turn out to be some of my favorites. The variety of incorporated mythologies in the Iron Druid Chronicles is one of my favorite things. Previously published, in Carniepunk.
<Curiosity killed the cat but never hurt a hound, you know.>
Gold Dust Druid (4.7) – Narrated by Atticus. Granuaile, and we, hear about his encounter with a demon during the gold rush of California. I really enjoyed seeing Atticus figure out how to assimilate, even temporarily, when he’s been out of touch for a while. It shows an attention to detail that the character doesn’t always just know what’s going on everywhere. Additionally, the story had a great atmosphere.
“What? You didn’t even let me finish my first sentence!”
The Bogeyman of Boora Bog (8.1) – Narrated by Owen. I went into this anthology with a pretty strong dislike of Owen. His judgment of Atticus, without any understanding or compassion, has always frustrated me. Atticus has made hard choices, and there wasn’t always a good option. Owen never seemed to take that into account. Instead he just seemed to take his lover’s opinion as his own. I still kind of hate Greta. In this short story, however, we learn how Owen came to be Archdruid of Atticus. It’s a fascinating story, that shows the good guys aren’t always who you think they should be. It also gave some depth to Owen’s thoughts and feelings regarding Atticus. Something I appreciated very much.
That’s basically the core of what I taught him: Protect Gaia first, protect humans second, and question everything else.
Cuddle Dungeon (8.2) – Narrated by Perun. This is right up there for one of my favorite stories in the series. Perun and Flidais go to a BDSM club, in search of new experiences. I quite liked that Flidais was the Domme. That Perun enjoyed the suspense and submitting. That consent was foremost. This is both a fun story, and a nice learning experience for Flidais.
“‘Consent is prime importance.’ He was talking about sexy things, but applies to other things also.”
Blood Pudding (8.6) – Narrated by Granuaile. This story takes place before the vampire treaty deadline. Granuaile is confronted by a vampire while in Poland, continuing her education with the Sisters of the Three Auroras. I really am enjoying Granuaile’s character. It’s easy to see how much she’s grown. It’s nice, also, to see such first-hand proof of how the author has grown with writing female characters. Or maybe it’s just that he’s finally got someone else besides a goddess to work with. Either way, she’s pretty awesome.
“I will have poetry in my life… Poetry and asskicking. You can have both, you now. There’s a certain poetry to violence, don’t you find? …There’s a certain violence to sex too. Penetration. Screaming. You know. …But you should know I have a boyfriend. He’s a Druid too. He got shot in the head once, but he’s fine now and can recite the complete works of William Shakespeare from memory. He kills gods on Saturdays.”
Haunted Devils (8.7) – Narrated by Owen. Another excellent story, here we learn about Atticus, Owen, and Owen’s Grove going to heal some Tasmanian Devils of wrongs. The Tasmanian elemental has contacted them both, and brings them there separately. This causes some grief with Greta, but I like the way this may be heading. I especially liked how Owen is teaching the kids, and how we’re getting to see it. I feel, already, like he’s doing better than he did with Atticus all those years ago. As he said, he’s not as angry now.
Greta may only see what he’s destroyed, but I see what he’s created too, and I have to admit: It makes me proud.
The End of Idylls (8.9) – Narrated by Atticus. Ugh. I can’t say I loved this story. I knew it was going to be sad from nearly the start, and it was. On a small scale, it was heart-wrenching. Despite all of Atticus’ best efforts, I’m still terrified there’re some devastating losses to come. The title here refers to what the Morrigan calls Atticus’ reprieve while Loki readies himself for Ragnarok. This story leads directly into the final book in this series, Scourged. And I’m more than somewhat apprehensive.
<What is it, Atticus? Cybermen? Borgs? Frakkin’ toasters?>
This is a solid collection of short stories in the Iron Druid Chronicles. The stories are more enjoyable if you’re already invested in the world. But if you’re not, I’d definitely recommend starting at the beginning anyway. After a somewhat rocky start in book 1, Hounded, this has easily become one of my favorites. I’m on the edge of my seat, and dreading, the end to come.