Sometime around 1990 I discovered urban fantasy reading Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks, and it was a bit of an awakening. Prior to that, I had read fantasy, science fiction, and even some modern thrillers, but until then I’d never seriously considered the merger of fantasy and the modern world. A bit of Anne Rice and Mercedes Lackey solidified my conversion from merely interested to a fan of fantasy crossovers. The mere idea of introducing more real magic into the modern world was enough to get me intrigued, but I began to understand that these were the modern myths for our time – filled with hope, the potential for redemption, and danger in the unknown.
Jim Butcher pushed it over the edge when I first read Storm Front years ago and cracked open The Dresden Files, and since then there have been many others. Neil Gaiman. Carrie Vaughn. K.A. Stewart. But no other series really captured my attention quite the same way that Dresden did. Then a friend of mine introduced me to the book Hounded by Kevin Hearne. Just like with Butcher, Hearne captured an amazing world and tempered it with heart and tons of sarcasm. Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, and his faithful Irish wolfhound Oberon, faced off against beings and gods of mythology but did so in Phoenix, AZ–a city I lived in for several years. I knew those locations Hearne wrote about and it made it come to life in unexpected ways.
Over the last few years, I have read every book and novella in the Iron Druid series. So as you might imagine, when Trapped hit shelves this week, I was all over it. Due to a few interruptions it took me about three days to read the book beginning to end and I wasn’t disappointed. Atticus and his apprentice Granuaile were almost done with the training. Twelve long years to get from zero to a druid-ready state. Imagine it like graduate school, but involving more PE, languages, common sense, and the ground rules of magic than you usually get in a graduate program.
So it’s time! Granuaile is ready! Only one problem. They get interrupted. Gods pop up wanting revenge. Other gods pop up asking for help to clean up the mess Atticus caused during earlier adventures that may have sped the Norse end of the world along a bit… That’s right, Ragnarok may be coming fast! Add some pissed off vampires, some dwarves, dark elves, and old friends into the mix and you have a recipe for what could possibly be a disaster.
But we all know Atticus and Oberon will wisecrack their way to a solution, right?
Trapped wraps up a few loose ends from earlier books and leaves some big problems to solve in later ones, so it’s a great mix of resolution and setup. The writing is great, with a mix of styles you don’t regularly see in urban fantasy. I mean, where else would you have a dwarf relate a tale of woe with an epic flavor? Or an Irish god talk about Norse myths and the dark elves? The only thing lacking was getting inside Granuaille’s head to get her perspective on everything.
My one niggly issue with the book was with Granuaille transitioning from Druid-in-training to full-fledged-Druid and only having one scene of confusion when she gets her magic going. Even with twelve years of training and occasionally seeing through Atticus’ eyes, I just can’t see her going from fledgling to badass as quickly as she does. Sure, she’s tough and resourceful, but Atticus deliberately kept her from some of the worst fighting in earlier books and now she’s going toe to toe with some major deities with nary some sweat on her brow.
Even with that issue, I have to say for the record that Trapped is another amazing book for the series. Kevin Hearne is on a roll and I can hardly wait to see what trouble Atticus, Oberon, and Granuaille get into next!
For more about Kevin Hearne and the Iron Druid series, check out KevinHearne.com. He’s really engaged with Facebook and Google+, so be sure to drop by and say hi!