The first three books of the Iron Druid Chronicles were released in quite a quick fashion, and their premise triggered my curiosity. As a devoted lover of Ireland and Fantasy, how can a combination of those go wrong, right? It turned out I did like them for what they were, a quick and light read, sprinkled with humour. I appreciate when books don’t pretend to be something more than what they are, and Kevin Hearne does just that. The Chronicles aren’t pretending to be a thought-provoking, epic read where you wrestle with a buttload of characters and intertwining plotlines, and that is a good thing. Whilst I do like a complicated novel in a Martinish sense, I have to catch my breath sometimes and since starting this series, Atticus and Oberon – or should I say Snugglepumpkin? – achieved that status. So when the fourth book dropped in my mailbox, it didn’t take me long to take it off the shelf with a big grin and start reading.
Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.
But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.
This book basically picks off where Hammered left of. The latter was quite a turn in sense of undertone, in comparison to Hounded en Hexed, for it became darker and the light-heartedness that coated the first two got a grim aftertaste. Tricked is a novel in the same fashion, it is still a fun read, but there’s a slight edge to things.
The novel starts with a serious bang and Coyote is in the middle of it. Knowing Coyote’s nature from previous books, you know that this little favour will have to be returned and basically that’s the main plotline here. The returning of the favour by Atticus. Coyote, however, wouldn’t be himself if there wasn’t a catch and that catch comes in the form of Skinwalkers who plague a nearby working site. Add to that a rotting Norse goddess on the loose, craving for Atticus’s death, and some nasty leftovers from the previous adventure, and you’ve got yourself a nice mess.
“rotting Norse goddess on the loose
What I liked about this book, is how the plotline flowed from the previous book into this one. It’s got its own little story, but at the same time, it feels like part of something bigger, whereas the first two books were more of an episodic nature. They too have had some repercussions on the next installments of the series, but not in the way that they are absolutely necessary. Tricked, however, wouldn’t have been what it is – at all – without Hammered and while that is just a minor thing, I liked that. What really made me excited, however, was the background against which it all took place. In the previous novels, we’ve been introduced to a lot of gods and beliefs which are fairly well known because they feature a lot in other stuff like games, movies and so on. Tricked, however, gives us a taste of the Navajo-culture and that was something completely new for me, so I really digged that. It also provided for a little exploration of the character of Coyote. He’s still quite a mystery, but he’s not just another random god anymore, he has a setting and is part of something.
Speaking of which, the gods have always been ever-present in the series, but not so much in this one. Apart from Coyote, other gods only make an appearance near the beginning but not so much after that. It’s different, but I like it. If I have to be completely honest, I’m not much a god-person or anything that comes from up there, for that matter. I don’t care for books about angels, fallen angels, gods and stuff, that’s just not something for me, unless you give it a twist. The abundance of gods in previous novels was bordering on ‘too much for me’ but on the whole, I like the way Hearne presents the gods and the different pantheons do fascinate me. To have a book low on gods, however, was really nice for a change.
“a big and hairy Jenks
As for the characters, Atticus and Oberon are still the stars of the show. It’s so great to read about them and how they complement each other. Oberon’s comments are so silly but priceless at the same time, he cracks me up whenever he’s talking. It was so good to have him back after he didn’t accompany Atticus for the latter part of Hammered. It didn’t take me long to get used to Oberon, but now, after four books, he achieved the status of my second-favourite sidekick ever. He reminds me a lot of a big and hairy Jenks (Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series), but Jenks will always own the throne. Another pleasant surprise was the growing role Granuaile is playing. I really love her and she is a wonderful addition to the team, so I really hope she sticks around. She’s also very funny and the thing about buttload, shitload and fuckton was hilarious.
The writing style is really nice. I feel like Kevin Hearne is growing as a writer and even though the writing was never bad or even mediocre, it feels better to me as the series progress.
So in conclusion, this was a lovely addition to a fun series and I’m really looking forward to the next novel. I wonder if there will me a 12-year jump in time, cause this book was really working towards that, with Granuaile’s training and stuff. So, if it be that way, I’m really excited to read how it all works out.
★ ★ ★ ★
Already hammered? Time to get Tricked!