Sunday evening came and I have nothing. I wanted to review the Temeraire cycle, but I want to do the first three books at once and I got stuck halfway through (lack of time, the books are good). I love China Miéville’s Kraken, my commuting read, but I still have a couple of chapters to finish. So, as usual, I chose to do something quick and emotionally satisfying – write a short review of a book I hate ;). Or, this time, a whole series. The Iron Druid Chronicles from Kevin Hearne.
I’ve listened to… most of them, actually, but with decreasing amount of attention and fast forwarding most of the later ones. Technically there was nothing wrong, the narrator was doing a good job, but the books themselves…
They are very popular, all have been published in Poland, same/next year as in the US, while we only have 6 Dresden Files here! That means – more Hearne than Butcher. What’s wrong with our publishers? Beside guys like me buying all our books in English from Amazon ;)…
Ok, I’ll try to start from the beginning. Although I don’t want to, the premise is actually really good and might trick some people into picking it up (it did trick me…).
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
“Cool, new, funny urban fantasy hero” my ass. It’s a weak Harry Dresden fanfic written with Introduction to writing marketable urban fantasy always on hand. The jokes are forced, the stereotypes raw, the mythology simplistic, geek references fed to us page after page whether justified by what’s going on or not. And it only gets worse – when it looses what freshness was there in the first volume.
It’s the very definition of Mary Sue. Author definitely liked Harry Dresden. Maybe even imagined himself as a wizarding superhero walking the streets of Chicago. But! Harry Dresden has problems. Weaknesses. Powerful enemies. Personality. Lets make someone better. Cooler. Handsomer. The ladies will be all over him. No, forget that. Goddesses. And he won’t be killing some weaklings, like daemons and vampires. He’ll destroy (spoiler alert) gods. One after another. Wise cracking all the f* time.
Sharp wit, sharp sword, bunch of generic allies and lets invade Asgard.
But, of course, there will be mystery about him. Difficult past. He’s not only supercool and omnipotent, but also very sensitive.
At first it’s very annoying. Then – boring. Around volume 4 it seems that the author realised his hero is too powerful and tries to slightly downgrade him, and make him take some responsibility for what he managed to screw up up to this point.
If it isn’t too late, because by this time the world is broken. Too many gods killed.
Worldbuilding is not the strongest point of the series. The power levels of different pantheons aren’t balanced. Main hero is way too powerful to make me care for his struggles. What’s new is bad, what’s good is old, and usually done badly.
Altogether – a mix of popular urban fiction clichés gone wrong.
One thing that could save it for some people is humour. It’s even my kind of humour. But there’s too much of it, it hurts the story. Often forced, repetitive. References to popular geeky stuff are common, taken separately not necessarily bad, but they didn’t make the series any more bearable for me.
Hal explains that the show is called Sherlock and that it was made some years ago by the Britons, some tribe from the island next to Ireland that rose to prominence after my time. A Roman outpost called Londinium grew into a huge city called London, and this Sherlock Holmes solves crimes there.
Millennia old druid who tries too hard to be funny. People that cool should be euthanised.
And he has a very annoying talking dog. OMG, how I hoped somebody would just shoot it.
Score: Hounded 6/10, Books 1-4 as a whole: 4/10