What do you get when you put a 21 centuries-old Irish druid, a talkative Irish wolfhound and a lot of gods in one room? That’s your Iron Druid Chronicles, except that the books don’t limit themselves to one room. On the contrary. The Iron Druid Chronicles have become one of those series that start out slightly above average, but are getting increasingly better with the passing of the books. It was the case with the transition from the first to the second book, and this third one also manages to step ahead of Hexed.
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.
I never really complained about the abundance of gods in these books, just merely mentioned that it was bordering on too much, but I could live with it. In Hammered, however, the scope is drastically reduced to the Norse gods and it was actually pretty refreshing. Especially in Hexed, I was steadily growing fond of the random encounters with gods and the like, but here, it all felt so much more focused that I couldn’t help but like it more for simply that. Focus really is the key to the plot of this book, rather than the ‘everything goes’ approach of the former two instalments. This book also allows Leif to tell his story without shifting focus too much. I do have to say that the four to five chapters revolving around how Thor wronged the band of brothers, was a bit too much. It does make for a better understanding of their motives and such, but being shoehorned in right before hell was about to break loose, it drastically reduced the pacing of the story. Once in Asgard, however, the story got going again and how! There have been quite some battles in the series, but none on such a grand scale as this one. Wow, simply wow. It was also great to see all the gods of one pantheon working together, instead of the average one popping up on Earth to wreak some havoc once in a while.
Despite the whole book mainly being about the battle with Thor, things in Arizona aren’t going all that well either, but because everything is told from Atticus’s point of view, you don’t get to see a whole lot of it. I think I would have liked it if the reader had had some glimpses of what was going on there, perhaps through the perspective of Granuaile? Or even better, Oberon!
The Atticus-POV has an effect on the characters as well, cause Oberon can’t travel the planes so he’s absent for the good part of the book, which is a real shame. It’s not like he has to be around to make for a good book – cause he wasn’t around much and it’s still a good read – but he just spices things up and I got used to his presence. The same goes for Granuaile and the widow. We do get some other characters here, but none as great as the usual ones. In fact, I have trouble remembering the new ones introduced here, so they didn’t really leave an impression, apparently. With the exception of the Squirrel Ratatoskr. How great is mythology?!
I do have to mention the writing here as well. Hearne has showed in his two previous novels that he’s able to write a good and funny story, but here he showcases another aspect of his writing. The tone of this book is much darker and more serious than either Hounded or Hexed and while I primarily love this series because of its lightheartedness, I highly appreciated this change of tone.
With Hammered, Kevin Hearne continues a good and entertaining series and I can’t wait to read the next one. Especially not after the ending of this one, which was quite the cliff-hanger and I just refuse to believe he (spoiler) Dark times are ahead, it seems..
★ ★ ★ ★
Want to fight Thor? Find your mittens, strap on your snowboots and get Hammered!