Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hammered by Kevin Hearne

I’ve been progressively reading through Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series (Hounded and Hexed), and now I’m up to the series third book. Some of the developments in Hexed and the title of this alone indicates that this entry would see some action in Asgard with the Norse pantheon of gods and find out exactly why Atticus has such a low opinion of the thunder god Thor.

The book actually opens in Asgard, which is a change. So far Atticus has spent most of his time in and around his home of Tempe, Arizona. Atticus made a promise in Hexed to get one of Idunn’s apples for the Indian witch Laksha in return for her assistance, and now he has to make good on the deal. I really enjoyed Atticus’ interactions with Ratatosk, the giant squirrel in the world tree; Yggdrasil. In some ways Ratatosk was not unlike the druid’s beloved wolfhound Oberon.

Apple safely retrieved and delivered, Atticus finds himself drawn into another deal, also involving Asgard, or more specifically, one of it’s favourite sons; Thor. Atticus friends and lawyers Leif (a vampire) and Gunnar (a werewolf) have an axe to grind with Thor and want him dead. Atticus is their means to an end. They’ll do the deed, but they can’t do it without their client’s assistance.

Along the way they pick up a Russian thunder god; Perun, and a Chinese alchemist, who has moves that make Bruce Lee look like a rank amateur. The Russian deity and the alchemist have their own problems with the hammer wielding Norse god and are happy to join Atticus, Leif and Gunnar on their mission of death.

As with the first two Iron Druid chronicles, Hammered has plenty of humour (mostly from Perun, he’s highly entertaining), loads of pop culture references (the dig at Twilight was something that made me laugh) and a big action finale. Hammered is darker than it’s predecessors, it also ends on a cliffhanger involving Oberon and the cheeky, whiskey swilling Irish widow Mrs McDonagh. This will ensure that I’ll get to the series’ 4th book; Tricked, sooner rather than later.

Like all the books this far, Hammered was a quick and easy read, fun and not hard to digest. Atticus as always is a breezy, over confident, but highly likeable protagonist. His powers and general character are a little uneven. Mostly he’s pretty smart, except when he’s not. He’s quite powerful, except when he’s not. He’s physically durable and can take all sorts of punishment, except when he can’t. It seems to alter depending on what the plot requires. I have to confess that while I enjoyed Hammered, I’ve found Hexed my favourite. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why I didn’t like Hammered as much as Hounded and Hexed. One could be the choice of pantheon. I’ve always liked Norse mythology, and seeing them cast as the bad guys forced me to reassess my opinion of them. The other is the lack of Oberon. One of Iron Druid’s strengths is the relationship and the interaction between Atticus and Oberon. Oberon was absent for a good chunk of Hammered, and I really did miss him. Hearne could make Oberon the protagonist for one of the books and he wouldn’t get any complaints from me. If you’ve liked the first two then you’ll enjoy Hammered, it is more of the same, and I have to keep reading now to find out what happens after the ending.      

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