I’m happy to be joining in Anne’s Readalong for the fourth year in a row! This year we’re reading The Iron Druid Chronicles. Be sure to stop by her blog for all the details and today she’ll also have the review for Hounded up on her blog. I’m reviewing the three shorts that come before Hounded as well.Grimoire of the Lamb by Kevin Hearne
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #0.4, Iron Druid Chronicles #0.5
Published by Random House Audio on May 07, 2013
Length: 3 hours 15 minutes
When he’s not vanquishing villainous gods or dodging demons, 2,000-year-old Druid Atticus O’Sullivan can be found behind the counter of Third Eye Books and Herbs in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, literally minding his own business. But when an evil sorcerer - and amateur shoplifter - snatches an ancient Egyptian tome of black magic, The Grimoire of the Lamb, Atticus is not sheepish about pursuing him to the ends of the earth...or at least to the Land of the Pharaohs.
Unfortunately Atticus already has enemies in Egypt - including cat goddess Bast, who wants her own book of mischief back from the Druid. In the streets of Cairo, she sends a feline phalanx after Atticus and his Irish wolfhound, Oberon. With fur still flying, Atticus must locate the sorcerer’s secret lair - where he will face killer crocodiles, spooky sarcophagi, and an ancient evil Egyptian who’s determined to order the sacrificial lamb special tonight.
Includes a bonus recording of the short story "Clan Rathskellar"!
Grimoire of the Lamb (#0.4) was not my favorite short story — I think I actually tuned out a decent amount of it. It leaned into the ridiculous a bit more than I tend to like. The cats chasing them was hilarious and yet, a little too far for me to not roll my eyes. But as a short, meant to introduce you to Atticus and Oberon, it does the job decently. I just can’t say I would have continued to read Hounded based on this — that book is so much more than the short suggests. Luke Daniels narration was also a little off. It was still good, but his voice for Oberon was different and not in a great way. I hope this isn’t how he narrates Oberon in the rest of the books. That would be disappointing.
Clan Rathskeller (0.5) was a smidge better (for me) than The Grimoire of the Lamb. It also leaned a bit more into the ridiculous than I prefer. But I did like that we learned a bit more about the world in this book — there are gnomes for example — and if you read it prior to Hounded (I did not), you learn a bit about some of the issues that come up in much more detail. And you get to know Atticus a bit better, which is also nice.Kabab Unbound by Kevin Hearne
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #0.6
Published by Random House Audio on May 19, 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 1 hour 24 minutes
Two Iron Druid short stories available in audio for the first time, narrated by Luke Daniels!
"Kaibab Unbound" occurs just a couple of weeks before the events of Hounded, book one of the series. Before Atticus gets drawn into the battles of gods and monsters, he has to protect one of the earth's elementals from an accomplished coven that wants to steal its power for their own.
The events of "A Test of Mettle" happen concurrently with book three of the series, Hammered, as Granuaile MacTiernan and Oberon discover that Atticus doesn't have the final say over who can become a Druid's apprentice.
These stories serve both as an introduction to the New York Times best-selling series and as exciting background for longtime fans.
Of the three shorts prior to Hounded, this was my favorite. It was a lot less ridiculous and lot more informative about who Atticus is — specifically as the last Druid. I really appreciated the glimpse into his role as a protector of the earth/nature. And it also added to my understanding of why Atticus has such a dislike for witches. Oh and we also get to see a nice glimpse of his free time with Oberon, so that was also nice. Based off of this short (unlike the other 2), I probably would have picked up Hounded.Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on April 19, 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 8 hours 11 mins
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 sexy 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
It’s funny re-reading my review for when we read this in 2020 for book club — I loved so many of the same things this time around! At that time, I had hoped it would be Anne’s 2021 readalong pick and even though it wasn’t, I’m glad it made it in 2023. I’m so excited to continue this story!
What I liked:
As I said, I really liked so many of the same things! A quick list:
- The world is truly fantastic. Kevin Hearne manages to do what few do — build a complex fantasy world without ever leaving me lost or having the dreaded info dump. It was the perfect balance! There are still questions about the world for me, but I’m excited to see them unfold in future books
- Oberon! Atticus has a dog whom he has taught to communicate with him via a mind-link and he may be the single best character in the book. I love him — he’s loyal and funny and so clearly a dog. His interactions with the werewolves may be some of my favorite moments.
- There really is a solid plot here — I love that there’s so many possible threads to pull on. The gods, the fae, the witches, the weres, the vampires, and even the ghouls make a brief appearance. And of course there is Atticus, the last of the Druids. So many twists and turns, lots of action and excitement to keep you on your toes.
This is such a small point, but it was enough for me to bring it down a half point. Atticus is just such a man, in a crass way. He’s not a bad guy by any means. But the way he looks at some of the female gods with such lust (and does have random sex with them too), and the way he and his dog talk about women (of human and canine variety) is just not my favorite. I need to be clear, it is not offensive and just believable of how some guys probably think – especially someone as old as Atticus. And he does respect women just as much (or perhaps even more) than men as foes and allies. It’s just not my favorite.
I mentioned this in my 2020 review as well – but Luke Daniels is just phenomenal. I would happily read more books he narrates. His voice for Oberon is perhaps the best part — he sounds like you think a dog would sound if he talked. Out of context I think I would still know Oberon is a dog based on voice alone. He also does great accents and is comfortable to listen to at 2x speed (my normal speed preference). Looking forward to listening to more as the readalong continues.