Friday, October 21, 2011
On Druids: A Review of Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Atticus is a 2000+ year old druid masquerading as a harmless young bookstore owner. He is under the dubious protection of the goddess Morrigan, who comes to warn him that his life is threatened. Atticus possesses the magic sword Fragarach. The god Aenghus Og wants the sword and has been tracking Atticus for centuries. When it becomes clear that Aenghus is now serious about killing Atticus, the druid is left to call for help from his varied list of friends. To my delight, we are then introduced to a cast of witches, werewolves, vampires, and gods. But most importantly we meet Oberon, Atticus's beloved dog and best friend.
Since I mostly read female-centered books, reading something told from a male perspective was different and refreshing. Atticus is a very well written character. At times you do get the impression that he is ancient and wise. Yet he has adapted well to modern times, has a sense of sarcasm and humor, and does not take himself too seriously. I also really liked the way that his druid powers were explained and utilized throughout the plot.
As I said above, I loved the supporting cast of characters. Oberon makes a delightful sidekick. Atticus has two lawyers: one a vampire, and one a werewolf. I'll admit, they aren't well fleshed out in this particular novel, but I still found their presence in the story amusing. I enjoyed the way that the gods were portrayed: powerful, selfish, and out of place in the modern human world.
There is a decent balance between world building and action within the plot. I never felt overwhelmed by information, and I was never bored. At the same time, I was never confused. To me this shows that the author has the ability to deliver information in a concise and entertaining manner.
As I said, I love the side characters, but Hearne walks a fine line in that he has so many of them. Having a large cast of characters can be fun, but it can also be confusing for readers. In addition, it means that each character might not be as thoroughly developed as you would hope. Several of them are introduced well into the book, and then set aside without being given full character arcs.
This brings me to my second complaint, which is that this book is full of sequel bait. It doesn't have a cliffhanger, but there are a lot of loose ends. Don't get me wrong, I was already looking forward to reading book two, and this will no doubt motivate me to pick it up soon, but I like my books to be self contained and stand alone as much as possible.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel immensely. If you like urban fantasy, especially the kind filled with gods and magic, I highly recommend picking this one up. 4 stars.