I finished a 9 book series a few weeks ago, and I’ve been letting my feelings about it sit. It’s one of those things I had to walk away from, plus my husband hadn’t finished the series yet and I didn’t want to spoil anything for him. But there is one thing I let him know. I wasn’t happy.
The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne was recommended to my husband by one of his co-workers. Since my husband expressed interest, I bought a couple of the audiobooks with my eStories credits and hunted down various discs from the library to build a listenable collection. We finished the series in a month and a half.
It’s first person with an irreverent tone about a 2000 yo druid in modern-day Arizona. I enjoyed the first few books, the silly humor and quips. It was adventure and hijinks with Atticus (the main character) digging himself in deeper with each attempt to gain ground. It was going well until a secondary character’s POV joined the narration.
It wasn’t the switch in narrators that bothered me. This POV (female) was boring. Voice is a big deal for me, and this character had none. It was also jarring when it switched from past tense to present with this new POV, but that was less of an issue than just wanting something in the way of personality to shine through. Both my husband and I agreed, she wasn’t an asset to the story, and we both grew to hate her before the series ended.
And then other things started to tick me off. Yes, Atticus screws up. What good protagonist doesn’t? But blame is not the same as fault, and there was a ton of blame getting heaped onto his shoulders. As the story progressed, another female character displayed her dislike of the main character. She blamed Atticus for the death of a couple of people close to her.
Except… A) Person #1 had a mind of his own, and he’d made it up that he was going to go on this death-mission. Not Atticus’s fault he died. B) Atticus warned, explicitly and fervently, that he had stirred up trouble with a group and they might come after those close to him, so be prepared for an attack and set up precautions. And then Person #2 winds up a casualty in that fray.
But according to female side-character, Atticus is the sole responsible party here, therefore he gets all the blame. B.S. (My husband had less of an issue with this character than I had, but she is, by far, my least favorite character of this series.)
And then we get to the last book of the series which came out last month. It punctuated that all the surviving female characters are people I would love to slap in real life. I really liked two females in this series. They’re both dead now. The ones that remain are hypocritical, selfish, and self-righteous. Oh, and they all blame Atticus for their woes. (Okay, so I still kind of like a couple of the Tuatha de Danann gals, and they don’t blame Atticus for their woes. They’re more of a “Crap, dude, you screwed up. Sucks for you.” attitude, which I’m okay with. And the witches didn’t tick me off either. They were reasonable. Sneaky, but reasonable.)
I don’t know if I’m more sensitive to the series’ portrayal of women because I am one, but even my husband took issues with it. When he finished the series, his primary issues were with three of the female characters. He also had issues with the colorful metaphors and how all the POV characters (3 different ones by the time the series completed) used the same ones. So, note to self there, make sure if the characters aren’t from the same experience and background, that they don’t all use the same jargon.
I was also unhappy with the way the series ended, and it took two epilogues before I was willing to say, “okay, fine, I’m willing to forgive you.”
I’m sure, by now, you’re probably thinking “wow, I should probably avoid this series.” That’s not really the case, though. It’s a fun frolic with lots of different pantheons popping up in a modern-day world. You’ve got tons of different mythologies coming together to build a story. There’s Fae, Greek and Roman gods, Jesus and Mary, Coyote, Japanese, Chinese, and Indian deities, and a ton of old Norse tales. It’s creative and interesting. Plus, there’s Oberon.
Oberon is a dog. But not just any dog. He’s Atticus’s best friend. He’s got an obsession with sausage, always has the best commentary on the situation, and is all around delightful. Where female POV lacked voice, Oberon has it in spades. He’s a good break from the action for a nice jaunt into humor.
Overall, I’d give the series a 3.5. There was good stuff in there. I think Mr. Hearne and I might just not see eye-to-eye on women (but I have been told by my co-workers that I’m atypical for a woman as they make generalizations while in my presence about how my gender behaves, and later follow it up with “well, you’re the exception.” So, maybe it’s just me? #maledominatedworkplace).
The audiobook narrator, Luke Daniels, did an excellent job. I am going to try to find the novellas and short stories in audio format to fill in some of the gaps, because I enjoyed the world and most of the guys in it. I did actually recommend it to one of my co-workers, so I can’t say I wouldn’t recommend reading it. I still like the Dresden Files more (irreverent first person urban fantasy with a male narrator). The Iron Druid Chronicles is complete at 9 books, so if you’re the type who likes to wait until the author has finished the series before picking it up, then you’re in luck.
Have you read the Iron Druid Chronicles? What were your thoughts on it? What are your favorite series? Are you a fan of irreverent urban fantasy?