Book Review: The Iron Druid Chronicles
Atticus O’Sullivan lives a mostly quiet life in Tempe, Arizona with Oberon, his Irish wolfhound. He runs an occult bookshop, hangs out with his friends, and his biggest problem is a cranky neighbour.
Well, and that he’s been hiding from Aenghus Óg, the Celtic god of love for well over a thousand years and that his closest friends are a werewolf and a vampire. Perhaps I forgot to mention that Atticus is a druid and 2000 years old, give or take a few years?
Oh, and that although the books take place in our world, there is also another very richly developed, as well as very hidden, world filled with supernatural beings, such as several pantheons of gods, some werewolf packs, and a lively vampire community.
But there is only one druid. All the rest are gone, most of them killed during Roman times during an extermination of sacred groves and druids masterminded by the vampires and executed by the Romans.
And that’s just the background story and the beginning of Hounded, the first book in The Iron Druid Chronicles, a series written by Kevin Hearne. So far, there are eight books with several novellas and an upcoming ninth book. I just discovered that that will be the last in the series and I’m very sad about it.
Atticus, Oberon, and their friends (and enemies) have kept me company throughout this summer of healing. I’ve read every one of the books currently available, alternating with tomes by other authors to cleanse my palate in between adventures.
Each book continues more or less where the previous one left off, although each is also a stand-alone story. The stories are wonderful, building nicely to a satisfying conclusion, even when that conclusion is pretty harrowing. Because that’s one of the best parts of these stories. Contrary to so many other series, there is real peril here for recurring characters. Not everyone gets out alive.
Characterization is also really good. Hearne has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about what being immortal and living for 2000 years would do to a person. Atticus is remarkably normal in many ways — he works hard at it — yet has an element of a lack of regard for consequences. Which would be natural after having lived that long. His actions gets him and his friends and allies into situations that don’t always end well. And that’s another great thing about the series. Consequences do happen and Atticus has to face them.
That might make the books sound very serious, but they aren’t. They have a wonderfully light tone, depicts some terrific adventures, with serious elements. And they are also very funny. One of my favourite characters is Oberon, Atticus’ wolfhound. Fully realized with the ability to speak with Atticus on the mental plane, Oberon is very, very funny.
No review of The Iron Druid Chronicles would be complete without spending some time gushing about the narrator, Luke Daniels. He is the perfect narrator for this series and over the course of the books he develops a superb level of comfort with the different characters. Each have a unique voice and tone that makes it easy to identify who is speaking. His Oberon voice is especially inspired and completely hilarious. I’m going to look out for more books narrated by this man. He is a brilliant narrator.
I think these books would be as enjoyable if you’re reading them in print format, but do yourself a favour and get the audiobooks. They are a perfect blend of excellent storytelling and a fantastic narration working together to create something more than the sum of their parts.