Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: When a druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he’s bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Even his former friend an legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers–led by power-mad, pain-in-the-neck Theopolis–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 Theopolis, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end and immortal than the Eternal City. But poetic justice won’t come without a price: In order to defeat Theopolis, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.
I’ve been a huge fan of this series since Hounded was published in 2011. While I don’t think this is the strongest story in the series, it’s still worth reading as it’s definitely setting things up for the ninth and final book.
My main disappointment with this is the way the author has changed the way the story is told. Instead of the third person POV of Atticus, chapters alternate between him, his mentor Owen, and his protege/love interest Granuaile. Hearne does a fabulous job as always when he’s focusing on Atticus. I especially love the conversations between him and his faithful Irish wolfhound Oberon who communicate via a mental link. Owen has his own unique voice, although I think his personality is so over-the-top at times that it’s grating. Granuile is a great character, but I find she sounds exactly like Atticus. The end result is that there isn’t any new character development.
My other issue with this book is that it has way too many sub-plots. Atticus is dealing with the vampires. Owen is embarking on a new mission with the werewolves, and fighting trolls. Granuaile still has the spectre of Loki looming over her, yet decides now is a good time to seek revenge against her stepfather. Then there’s also: Polish witches, a magical horse, the Fae, the Roman god Jupiter and Diana, and of course the fast approaching threat of Ragnarok, which according to Norse mythology is a series of events that will result in the world ending. That Kevin Hearne is able to include all these things in a book that’s about 330 pages is in some respects impressive, yet ultimately makes for multiple storylines that unfold at a frenetic and confusing pace until the characters finally come together in the final few chapters.
Despite it’s flaws, I still recommend that fans of The Iron Druid Chronicles read this. It’s quick and there are some fun moments including one at the end involving Oberon and Granuaile’s hound Orlaith. For readers who haven’t tried this series, but are animal lovers and fans of fantasy, filled with irreverent humor, you should definitely take a look. Because of all the characters and the somewhat complex worldbuilding, you need to read the books in order though.
Kevin Hearne started the multiple POVs with his last book Shattered, and since the next book is supposed to be the last, I’m fervently hoping he’ll go back to his original style of writing and send Atticus and company off in the grand fashion they deserve.