Hammered by Kevin Hearne – review

HAMMERED (Iron Druid Chronicles, book 3) by Kevin Hearne
Del Rey, 2011, 326 pages, 978-0-345-52248-1, Mass Market Paperback, $7.99

Genre: Urban Fantasy

After reading the first three books in the Iron Druid Chronicles, I’ve come to a conclusion–Kevin Hearne would be great to hang out with for fun times and shenanigans. Over the course of his novels, he’s made references to just about everything on my Lots of Fun list. The only thing missing is a reference to Namie Amuro, and I haven’t given up on that just yet. This conclusion only deepens my annoyance at Florida for being a great big no-zone for sf/f authors. Geez, home-state, way to be far away from everything.

But, geographical grousing aside, I received a review copy of this book last month, and I was determined to save my write-up for release day so that it might function as a sort of “Look what’s out at this very moment–you know you want it” taunt to everyone likely to stop by the blog.

It’s true, though. You know you want it.

Book three in the Iron Druid Chronicles deviates from what we’ve come to expect, not in terms of quality, of course, but in terms of tone. Hammered is, by far, the more serious of the novels, which isn’t to say it doesn’t have its amusing moments. With giant squirrels, squabbling television icons, a version of Jesus that is, in my opinion, awesome, and a whole group of alpha males trying not to embarrass themselves, it couldn’t be completely humorless. But Hammered does, without a doubt, deal with Serious Business, and that comes through in the writing.

As the title suggests, this novel focuses largely on the pursuit of Thor promised during Hexed. But wait! There’s more. The Hammers of God also return, and they have something to say about Atticus’s open-mindedness toward creatures of most ilk. And they say it…with their facial hair? Well, what ensues is probably the most surreal fight scene you’ve ever read–and if I’m wrong, you should definitely tell me what you’ve been reading.

As he’s getting ready to transport Leif and company to Asgard, Atticus must deal with the realization that he’s no longer protected in Tempe. Thanks to Aenghus Og, the Bacchants, and his first trip to Asgard on behalf of the witch Laksha, Atticus has revealed his location and made himself vulnerable. But not just himself–his friends as well. To protect everyone, he decides it might just be best to relocate, but he can barely focus on that while preparing to fight Thor–that, and having Bacchus hot on his heels.

There’s a lot of emotion in this situation for Atticus. On the one hand, he doesn’t want to leave Tempe, but he doesn’t want himself or anyone else to die, either. Likewise, he’s worried about the end result of the conflict in Asgard, and with good reason. He has received more than one divine forecast telling him not to go through with it, but he has to weigh a possible bad outcome against breaking his word to a friend who has high stakes in the fight. Hearne gives us a little glimpse of Atticus’s past to further validate his feelings and explain why he tries so hard not to get deeply involved with others, or why he doesn’t simply help all of his friends become long-lived humans so they can remain with him throughout time.

Hearne does a few things in this novel that you might not expect, particularly toward the end. I, for one, have become accustomed to Atticus getting away with things more often than not–something he has obviously become accustomed to as well–but this story doesn’t end with all parties unscathed. I find this good for both Atticus as a character and the series itself. We see a greater range of feelings from Atticus during Hammered, and it gives him even more depth.

One really interesting deviation is the selection of Canterbury Tales-style stories told about Thor. If you couldn’t accept Leif’s opinion of Thor simply on his word, these five stories will give you ample reason to put Thor on the list of people whose butts you’d most like kick. Of all of them, I think the wizard’s tale made me most angry on everyone’s behalf. Read it and you’ll see why.

This is a great addition to the Iron Druid Chronicles, and the differences from the first two novels are what make it that way. In addition to telling a good story, we get to see a wider range of tone, feeling, and style, and it makes me look forward even more to what we’ll get from the next three books in this series.

Also, how about that ending? Creepy much?

Thank you to Del Rey for providing a review copy of this novel.



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