Kevin Hearne creates the ultimate Atticus O’Sullivan adventure in the grand finale of the New York Times bestselling Iron Druid Chronicles: an epic battle royale against the Norse gods of Asgard.
Unchained from fate, the Norse gods Loki and Hel are ready to unleash Ragnarok, a.k.a. the Apocalypse, upon the earth. They’ve made allies on the darker side of many pantheons, and there’s a globe-spanning battle brewing that ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan will be hard-pressed to survive, much less win.
Granuaile MacTiernan must join immortals Sun Wukong and Erlang Shen in a fight against the Yama Kings in Taiwan, but she discovers that the stakes are much higher than she thought.
Meanwhile, Archdruid Owen Kennedy must put out both literal and metaphorical fires from Bavaria to Peru to keep the world safe for his apprentices and the future of Druidry.
And Atticus recruits the aid of a tyromancer, an Indian witch, and a trickster god in hopes that they’ll give him just enough leverage to both save Gaia and see another sunrise. There is a hound named Oberon who deserves a snack, after all.
I admit, I dreaded reading this book. It’s the final book in what has been an intense series for me. I loved many books, hated some moments. Some characters I can’t stand, others I adore – even for all their faults. There have been a million ups and downs, mistakes made, and the best choices in bad situations. But it’s never been dull. I didn’t want to see it end, and yet I knew it had to. The best series do end – at some point. Or at least pause. Maybe this is a “pause” sort of ending. Maybe it’s the end. I don’t know, but I do know that this took me on a hell of a ride, sprinting to the finish.
“You often see the good you do as bad and just as often make terrible decisions in service to what you think is good. You are so wonderfully damaged.”
There have been many times while reading this series where I wondered what the hell he was thinking. Even as I understood his rationalizations, they often fell short when looking at it from more than a 3-foot distance. At the same time, I understood Atticus. He’s fully himself, owning his mistakes just as much as his wins. He always strove to be better, but the fact of the matter is that Atticus proves that immortality doesn’t make one wise. 2,000-year-old beings are just as prone to cocking things up as anyone in the world. Despite best intentions.
I love Atticus. He’s grown as I’ve watched, learned from each victory and each misstep. I’ve watched him try to do the right thing, over and over, digging himself a deeper hole each time.
And I am just honest enough with myself to realize that I would probably make those same decisions again, for that is how deeply flawed I am.
We spend a lot of time in a lot of places in this book. With many characters that we’ve come to know throughout the series. Others are relegated to the sidelines as their part in the story is either over or not needed here. I did miss some of them, and found myself somewhat disappointed in how large the world had grown that the druids spend the majority of this book apart. Understandable, but … sad.
The entire time reading I found myself fully invested in each characters story, whether it was Granuaile, Owen, or Atticus. They all had something to learn and something to do, and I loved reading each bit. Owen’s grown on me quite a bit, though I may always hate Greta. Granuaile became her own person throughout the series, and I like that she isn’t simply Atticus’ hanger-on.
Looking back now, though, I find that things seemed to move a bit too fast. The battles feel like they were over too quickly. Perhaps that is because we were jumping from one thing to another, to another. We moved from one point of view to another, so quickly in the middle of the battle, that there was hardly a moment to catch your breath. That can be a good thing, and a bad thing, in a story. It keeps the tension high, and the story moving, but it doesn’t ever really allow you to connect with the moments occurring either. The story has been building to Ragnarok for some time, I think I would have enjoyed a bit more long-term tension in this book. It’s a minor complaint, overall.
Finishing this series is bittersweet. Or dolofabolo as one character calls it. Finishing this book made me happy because I appreciated how it ended. But it also left me sad, because it is the end.
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.