Genre: Urban Fantasie
Druid Atticus O'Sullivan hasn't stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they've chopped up his body in the Arizona desert. But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he's been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he's got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won't be fooled again. Famous last words.
I was very happy when the mailperson brought me this new book by Kevin Hearne last Saturday. And for once, it was earlier than its official release date. So, win-win. I like being one of the first persons to read and review a book. It means I don’t have to wait to read other people’s reviews until I have read and reviewed the book myself. I do confess, after this action filled book read directly after finishing Alien Diplomacy, I really need something quieter to read now.
As we all now, the third book in the series, Hammered, ended with an evil cliffhanger. This book starts a little after that ending though; you are not dropped back in the car chase. Apparently, Atticus and Coyote have made some deal. Atticus will help Coyote with some big plans he has for his own people, the Diné or Navajo. And Coyote will take Atticus place and let the Gods out to kill Atticus, kill him instead. Coyote will be reborn, none the worse for wear, and Atticus will get rid of his enemies.
After all the centuries of being nothing but a Trickster God, Coyote wants to do something real for his people, and for the environment. Colorado is being eaten by coal mining operations, strip mining especially, which is the hardest on the earth. Druids have a special bond with Gaia, or the Earth, and Atticus will have to help him find enough gold to start a solar and wind energy company. Which is good for the environment, and will produce jobs for the Navajo. The money made from this company will be invested in infrastructure and other companies providing jobs. All Atticus has to do, is make a road to the top of the Colorado Plateau, and create a vain of gold to pay for the operation start up costs. Or rather, he has to convince the Elemental of Colorado, to do it for him.
Colorado is happy to have the Druid on his lands, and will gladly smooth the earth (his skin) to form a road. But he will only create the vein of easily to mine gold if Atticus will stop the biggest coal stripping company nearby. Which Atticus happily agrees to do in turn. And he will stay for a few years in the area, if it is safe to do so.
Of course, nothing is as easy with Coyote if you think. As it happens, there are some skinwalkers in the area. Evil people, who are willingly possessed by the sprits of the First World and capable to using animal skins to change their shape. And Coyote wants Atticus to take care of them for him. But Atticus has no clue whatsoever, as their magic is totally different from his own.
When the first crew arrives to start working on a hovel, there is an older man named Frank with them who he is Nataałi, or medicine man. While Frank starts working on the blessing of the hovel that night, they are attacked by the skinwalkers, who are after Atticus, thanks to a little visit from Hel, one of the Norse Goddesses. The blessing makes that they are safe inside of the hovel, but Atticus has to do his best to keep the hovel safe from destruction. Those skinwalkers are extraordinary fast and strong, and they are only a blur to him. There is no way he can step outside and fight them with his sword.
Atticus will have to fight those who want him death, try to defeat the skinwalkers when Coyote can’t or won’t and he has to sabotage a strip mining coal company. All in a days work when you are a Druid.
The best parts in this book are his conversations with his wolfhound Oberon. Oberon is such a great character, he loves his sausages, but he is also very knowledgeable and watches tv, like the foodchannel. The second best part is Granuaile, Atticus’ apprentice and a very smart and pretty young woman. I loved the parts where he explains about his past, and how to be a Druid, and teaches her stuff. It will take about 12 years for her to complete her studies, and be able to do some Druid magic. I like books with bits and pieces of other countries’ mythologies and pantheons explained, so this is just the series for me.
Of course the Morrigan visits as well, and that is one Goddess I never want to meet.
There are not many series written by a man, or having a male lead character I enjoy reading, but this is one of them. The only thing that sometimes irritates me, is that Atticus is a bit crude, and how he and Oberon use very long and difficult words sometimes, of which I have no idea what they mean. I also have no intention to look them up in a dictionary. I wonder if this is because English is not my first language, or if American readers have the same problems with them.
All in all, I really like this series, and am already looking forward to the next book. After all, the ending of this one promises quiet times for Atticus and Granuaile, and time for teaching. I enjoy the parts where he teaches her things, especially about the earth and its creatures. I wonder how long that peace will hold though.
© 2012 Review by Aurian