Iron Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, hero of Kevin Hearne’s epic New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series, has a point to make—and then drive into a vampire’s heart.
When a druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he’s bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It’s time to make a stand.
As always, Atticus wouldn’t mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it’s not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki’s mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.
As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won’t come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.
I’m glad that the vampire problem is finally dealt with in this book. It needed to be tied up and resolved. Especially as Ragnarok has to be getting closer than ever. There are lots of good things here to deal with, but I admit that I got more than a little irritated with some of the characters in this book. For the most part they aren’t main characters, only secondary ones, but the irritation is coloring my view of the book some.
I know not everyone loves it, but I’m greatly enjoying the multi-POV perspectives in the books lately. I think it adds a bit of depth and conscience to the series that it was missing previously. Not that Atticus doesn’t have a conscience, but he can’t always see past his own history to possibilities. Owen and Granuaile give back some of those possibilities and let us expand a bit more into the world.
I love that we get to catch up with the Polish coven, and a little bit more that we get to catch up with Laksha – more on her later. The Polish coven is one that’s always fascinated me. Ever since Atticus entered into that mutual non-aggression treaty with them I’ve wanted to be able to spend more time with them. I feel like they are the best of what witches can be. Their absolute joy while talking with Granuaile is infectious as well.
Now Laksha. When last we saw her, Granuaile was telling her to enter the one body she was able to find. She had a lot of work to do to heal the pathways in the brain to make the woman’s body function again. Now, she’s functioning and back with the girl’s family. Who are abusive as fuck. Controlling and assholes the entire lot of them. Laksha is a powerful witch, able to leave at any time she wishes, but she chooses to stay. Why? Because she thinks she deserves it. Fuck that. Whatever her karma is, no one deserves that. And everything in that moment and scene felt wrong. When Granuaile confronts her and asks her why she doesn’t just leave, Laksha admonishes her about speaking from a place of privilege. That it’s not so easy for someone that can’t do the things Granuaile can do.
While I agree with that sentiment in life – abusive relationships maintain themselves precisely because they are so hard to get out of. First you have to believe that you deserve to be out of it. Then you have to find the way, practically, to actually survive. However, it felt forced, because while Laksha does believe she deserves it, she’s not staying because it’s hard to leave. She could leave at any time – she has similar advantages as Granuaile does. So talking about “privilege” in this scene felt like something that was shoe-horned in. It’s not Laksha’s lack of ability that keeps her there. It’s her own guilt.
I hope she recognizes soon that no one deserves what she’s allowing to happen currently, and gets the hell out of there. Because with the series winding up in the next book, I’m going to be pissed if an incredibly strong woman ends up remaining in that situation.
Let’s talk about Granuaile for a second. I like her ideals. I love how strong and independent she is. What I don’t like is that she admonishes people for choosing their own paths – paths that don’t hurt anyone else. I actually agree with her that it would be awesome if she and Atticus took a more active role in protecting the earth from pollution and fracking and all sorts of other shit that normal humans do to it. But the way she stands on her pedestal and rages about Atticus’ lack of interest in that – at the moment – infuriates me. Atticus has spent the last 2,000 years with one thing on his mind. Surviving.
While surviving, he’s done everything to protect the elementals from magic users, protecting Gaia and ensuring that the earth is tethered and loved. All while being a pawn in the gods’ games. He didn’t have the luxury of trying to do more, consistently. And honestly he still doesn’t. Ragnarok may seem like a part-time gig to Granuaile (and Owen for that matter), but Atticus has been charged to find the best way forward. Directed by nine powerful gods and goddesses, with little instruction in how to achieve the ends everyone wants to see come about.
So Granuaile’s insistence that he commit to doing something long-term to protect the earth from regular humans, when he’s honestly not sure he’s going to survive the next little while, is quite infuriating. The fact that she gets mad because he hasn’t taken the time to think about it is ridiculous. Should he think about it? Yes. Absolutely. But that he hasn’t shouldn’t be so surprising. And I don’t know how she can’t understand that about him.
Granuaile’s been a druid for about 10 minutes compared to Atticus. And I love that she speaks freely and passionately about what she believes. But I learned long ago that you don’t open people’s eyes by yelling. And she could learn that, too.
Owen. I like him. I do. But if he continues to pound on Atticus and his zero-choice-decisions, making him feel more guilty than he already does, I’m not going to continue liking him. Atticus’ choice in this book is to take the fight to Theophilus or to let the druids be killed off. This won’t just be Atticus’ death, but Granuaile’s and Owen’s as well. So he takes the fight to Theophilus. Which doesn’t mean that he’s then responsible for every action taken from that point forward by all parties involved. The blame should be placed squarely where it belongs – the vampires.
I’m sick to death of Greta and don’t buy for a second the “love” that she and Owen share. It happened overnight? Give me a break. It’s just one more way for Atticus to be hit with guilt and anger every time he tries to protect everything he cares about. Including Owen and his friends. OH! And Greta trying to interject herself into how druids are trained – Grrrr….
Anyway, I get that pain makes us say and do all sorts of hateful things. Things that we wouldn’t likely be pushed to without it. But the fact is that Atticus is NOT responsible for everyone and the shit that happens to them. He’s just not. Stop freaking blaming him for all your pain. Y’all made bad choices too, and you had full knowledge of what might be happening. So the fact that you didn’t properly prepare is not his fault.
Got a little side-tracked there. Sorry about that.
Other than those few character moments – which don’t detract from the story, just characters making me angry – I really enjoyed this story. I liked all the different things that happened in this book. From small things meant to lessen Loki’s advantage in the coming Ragnarok; or Granuaile’s growth and introspection. I liked where Owen’s heading – for the most part. And I really enjoyed the battle against the vampires.
There were some bath-time stories that I got to read in this book that, while interesting, I’m not sure really added a lot to the story. They weren’t long though, so they didn’t detract or feel excessive. However, usually when stuff like that is included, it’s because it becomes important later. I just didn’t see where it was necessary in this book. Still, fun to read them. I think I probably enjoy them as much as Oberon.
The next book is supposed to be the last. Scourged, coming out in April 2018. I have plenty of worries and speculations to keep me busy until then. Though my speculations never really amount to terribly much, as Kevin Hearne continuously manages to add more and more depth to the world and bring about resolutions that I don’t quite see coming. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I can’t wait to see how everything is resolved.