Hey guys, I’m the Ghost of Christmas Sporking, and we’re back. Merry Christmas.

I’m sorry I haven’t updated lately. Fact is, life has been a bit rough, even outside the pandemic, though that sure as heck hasn’t helped. The week after my last post, I started feeling ill in my stomach for weeks at a time. I’ve had it investigated and medicated, and so far it doesn’t look like anything serious, just a bit annoying and that I should be more careful about eating. Also I have a full time job now, which is great, because I get PAID! But it also means that I have much less time to write for ImpishIdea or play PS4. But I’m going to be doing my best all the same!

So… Hexed.

You remember Hounded don’t you? The first book in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles is about a Mary Sue. Atticus O’Sullivan is the last Druid, because Reasons, having survived into the modern day and is now living in Tempe, Arizona. His old enemy Aenghus Og (the Irish god of love just go with it) rolls into town, and things kind of… happen, and Atticus kills all the bad guys and goes on with his life as if everything’s fine. It’s a pretty dull, meandering story where there are no stakes, the protagonist is dumb but his enemies are dumber, and he solves his problems by using brute magical force or having his allies do it for him. We’re obviously meant to think of this as a hilarious and witty romp through an Irish myth-flavored urban fantasy, but it’s more of a nonsensical wish fulfillment with stupid characters, forgetable action, and a world that twisted to suit the protagonist’s needs. It’s by no means the worst novel I’ve ever read, but that’s a low bar when you’ve got Angelopolis on your Goodreads list.

Of course, Hounded is the first in a series of novels, so naturally there are sequels! Eight sequels, if we’re not counting all of the short stories. And there’s a spinoff series now. I’m not committing to all of them, but I did say I would try to spork the first three novels in the series, because those three form the first major story arc. I think? Maybe past them the following books become better. I don’t know. I don’t care! I’m here to spork bad books, and I’ve learned better than to expect Hearne to have gotten better at his craft.

So let’s hopped into Book 2 of the series: Hexed.

The book opens with Atticus telling us that since he’s killed Aenghus Og, the news had made its way around the mythological community.

Turns out that when you kill a god, people want to talk to you. Paranormal insurance salesmen with special “godslayer” term life policies. Charlatans with “god-proof” armor and extraplanar safe houses for rent. But, most notably, other gods, who want to first congratulate you on your achievement, second warn you not to try such shenanigans on them, and finally suggest that you try to saly one of their rivals—purely as a shenanigan, of course.

[rubs forehead]

There’s a lot to cover in this opening paragraph, and some of it is just nitpicking on my part, but let’s start with—

Better Than You: 1

Yes, that’s a new thing I’m trying out. It’s a counter. Basically every time one of these babies goes up a point is when something is going to be repeated and rubbed in your face all the time. Don’t make a drinking game out of it, because then you’ll die. This one, Better Than You is when Kevin Hearne is trying to tell you just how amazing and awesome his protagonist is, and how everyone’s just in awe of him.

Almost right off the bat, we’re told that after killing a god, and the other gods here about it, what happens? A bunch of gods show up on his doorstep and the first thing they do is congratulate him. Yes, this man killed two of their own, something that’s apparently so rare it’s frontline news in their community, and their reaction is to go personally tell him how awesome he is. They get to threatening him after, but think about this:

The gods are congratulating the protagonist on being awesome enough to kill two of them.

Yes, really.

A more realistic reaction would be just zapping his house with a lightning bolt or an earthquake or something. If this was really a story about a paranoid Druid, he’d be on the run because all the gods of the world, seeing that he’s a godkiller, would be out to kill him before he got on their case. They should be looking at him like Kratos, not like he’s just some lucky schmuck. As it is, apparently all the gods know where he lives, and he doesn’t care.

So—new count.

You Keep Using That Word: 1

[Thank Smith for the suggestion about the name. No I did not just steal it from Apep.]

This is for when, despite all of his claims at being the most paranoid man ever, he’s incredibly complacent about everything that happens around him. He talks about keeping a low profile, and in one of the short stories he makes a point of saying he doesn’t want the larger supernatural community to know where he lives. And yet here we’re told that they start showing up at his house, and he doesn’t care. He doesn’t start packing. Atticus just… goes on with his life as if nothing’s changed.

But moving on to pointless nitpicking: paranormal insurance salesmen? Supernatural charlatans? What the fudge? We get little indication before now that the supernatural community of the world in this series is anywhere near cohesive enough to have these services. It mostly seemed as if Atticus had his friends and they dicked around and covered for each other when someone got in trouble. I didn’t think the ghouls that Leif had on speed dial were like, a service, they were just some guys he knew to clean up his messes. When Malina tells Atticus about all the supernatural threats the witches have dealt with, he’s shocked because he had no clue about any of them. The impression I get from this book, and the one before it, is that supernatural entities and groups just kind of keep to themselves, occasionally forming local alliances or enmities based on convenience. Telling us that there are insurance salesmen and charlatans feels as if there’s a huge supernatural world out there.

And Hearne doesn’t do anything with it, because we don’t get any other indication of this wider supernatural community that I can recall. At least, not in this book. There are monsters and gods to fight, yeah, but the community? It’s just dropped in there and moved past. And I get that Hearne wants to get to Plot, okay, fine, but it feels as if he’s got another chance to develop this world and he walks past it again because screw it, we need to get back to everyone salivating over Atticus. There’s an outside world out there, and neither Hearne nor Atticus care.

Oh yeah, and everyone and their mother is apparently trying to get him to kill another god. If you paid attention last time you can probably see where this is going.

Ever since word got around to the various pantheons that I snuffed not one but two of the Tuatha De Danann…I had been visited by various potentates, heralds, and ambassadors from most of the world’s belief systems. All of them wanted me to leave them alone but pick a fight with someone else, and if I successfully lanced the immortal boil that vexed them, I’d be rewarded beyond my wildest dreams, blah blah barf yak.

Again: Atticus doesn’t want anything. In a well-written story, at least one of these offers would tempt him, because he would be a character who wanted something because having a motivation is how to write a protagonist. You’d think Hearne, who was a high school English teacher, would have worked that out when writing his own series of novels. But Atticus is such a ridiculous wish fulfillment self-insert that he literally has the gods offer him anything in the world, and it’s skipped over and dismissed because he already has everything he ever wanted. Sure, it’d be really cliched if he wanted to bring a loved one back from the dead or something like that, but it would be a motivation. Instead Hearne decided it was better to just make stuff happen to him or have Atticus get pulled into the Plot and go along with it because he has nothing better to do.

I’ll try not to pull this out too much in this sporking, but to recap his list of character traits and powers, Atticus is:

-Ageless
-Immune to DEATH
-Able to maintain a fairly active sex life, sometimes with literal goddesses
-Fatal to magical beings when he touches them
-Able to shapeshift into four different animal forms
-Able to control the wind
-The owner of a New Age store
-The owner of a nice house in the suburbs of a college town
-Able to heal any injury as long as he’s touching the soil
-Able to control plans
-A master swordsman
-Super strong
-The client of a wealthy law firm
-Able to turn nearly invisible
-Able to kill demons with supernatural fire
-Able to create magic potions
-Able to see through glamour
-Able to turn off his pain receptors
-Able to give people wedgies with his mind

There are ways to do powerful protagonists. This isn’t it! It’s like someone made a checklist of how to make the least engaging and sympathetic protagonist and applied it.

So after dismissing the gifts of the gods, he then complains that Brighid’s promised reward had yet to materialize, but considering she had to make him do it by having his lapdog and Oberon kidnapped, I think she can argue that he doesn’t get any reward at all.

The Japanese wanted me to mess with the Chinese, and vice versa. The old Russian gods wanted me to stick it to the Hungarians. The Greeks wanted me to knock off their Roman copycats in a bizarre manifestation of self-loathing and internecine jealousy. The weirdest by far—

Wait wait wait.

Okay, I know that next to no one cares, and given that this is a throwaway line I don’t have to either, but you do know that the Roman gods aren’t just the Greek gods with a new coat of paint? Like, the Italian people before the Roman Republic, the Etruscans, had a religion that was sort of merged with the Greek one? Like, Minerva isn’t just Athena with a new name, she’s a fusion of the Greek Athena and the Etruscan Menvra. Rick Riordan gets this wrong too in the Heroes of Olympus series, depicting the Roman gods as mostly Greek ones with Roman names and values attached, but in his defense that’s a book series aimed at children. And again, this is a throwaway line (for now) so it shouldn’t matter and I’m not going to take off points for it, but it does bother me that Hearne’s understanding of Roman myth is just… the names are different.

[The weirdest he mentions are the gods of Easter Island who apparently want him to “mess around with some rotting totem poles in the Seattle area” if you’re curious where I cut off the quote.]

Right, the point:

But everyone—at least, it sure seemed like everyone—wanted me to slay Thor as soon as I had a free moment. The whole world was tired of his shenanigans, I guess.

So if you’re new: within the world of Iron Druid Chronicles the Norse god Thor is such a massive raging jerk that everyone mentions how much they hate him in completely unrelated conversations. And if you know your Norse mythology, you might be thinking that, yes, Thor’s not really great by modern standards of morality, but he’s not that bad a guy for the culture he comes from. He’s certainly better than a lot of gods. He had some dick moves but for the most part he was that big friendly guy you get drunk with in the local bar who happens to beat down giants on weekends. That’s why he was so popular! He was the god of the common man! He was the protector of humanity! Unlike Odin, who at best was a shady and liked testing people in disguise. There are ways to make Thor antagonistic, but like with Aenghus Og before, he basically just changes the characterization without any justification, and asks you to go along with it.

And to be fair, the recent God of War game does this too, with both Thor and Odin, but it actually has a compelling story and likable characters. Iron Druid Chronicles has no such redeeming qualities.

“Foremost” of the people begging him to kill Thor is Atticus’s bloodsucking lawyer, Leif Helgarson. No, he’s actually a bloodsucking lawyer, he’s a vampire and a serial killer who hates Thor so much that sometimes he kills carpenters because they use hammers and that ticks him off. And he’s one of our hero’s BFFs! Atticus doesn’t know why he hates Thor so much because Leif refuses to say.

So Atticus comes home the night after Samhain to find Leif on his porch. He tells us that he celebrated Samhain, honoring Brighid and the Morrigan as he did so, and he was happy to teach his new apprentice Granuaile about it, and this all makes me wonder why Hearne didn’t just… write that scene into the story? You wouldn’t think that Atticus was at all religious if he didn’t sometimes insert random bits about celebrating Samhain and the like, but the main character having meaningful interactions about his faith? That’d be good character development! So of course it can’t happen here.

It’s just here to explain why he’s in a good mood, and why he greets Leif like this:

“Leif, you spooky bastard, how the hell are ya?”

Atticus sure is the smartest of smart people all right.

Leif replies that he is not a bastard, that he’ll accept ‘spooky’, but he isn’t as “jocund” as Atticus is, and Atticus questions his use of the word, so he uses “jovial” instead and then—

“No one uses those words anymore, Leif, except for old farts like us.” I leaned my bike against the porch rails and mounted the three steps to take a seat next to him. “You really should spend some decent time learning how to blend in. Make it a project.

Bringing us to our next count—

The Kids These Days: 1

This is when Atticus rather derisively insists that young people nowadays do things a certain way, and no one in their right mind would use a word like ‘jovial’ or assume that ‘fencing’ was something other than selling stolen goods. Because modern people are stupid, tee-hee! And because Atticus is the smartest smart person, he can act stupid just like the stupid people! Now to be clear, most of the slang Atticus insists that people say now is dated, and was probably dated when the book was released in the first place, making it even more grating.

Popular culture is mutating at a much faster rate these days. It’s not like the Middle Ages, when you had the Church and the aristocracy keeping everything nice and stagnant.”

Fudge, another count? Already?

Didn’t Do Homework: 1

[sigh] Okay, like, I know that Hearne probably has a high school grasp of history, but, like, things happened in the Middle Ages, you know? Other than war? This common myth that culture didn’t do anything? That it was just the Dark Ages when peasants just rolled in dung all the time while the aristocrats and clergy rolled in money and declared everything remotely scientific to be witchcraft? That’s not a view historians have. And Atticus, as an immortal person who lived through those times (albeit, he was probably killing people with the Mongols at the time and calling himself enlightened for it), should know this. I get a little angry whenever someone even says the phrase ‘Dark Ages’ because it’s indicative of a very childish view of history!

There was poetry. There was literature. There was art. There was philosophy. There was (admittedly basic by our standards) science. Now no, a lot of this wasn’t as widely circulated, as most people couldn’t read, and I would argue that before the invention of the printing press it wasn’t really feasible to get all of this in wide circulation. But it was there. And peasants and lower class people, even if they couldn’t read, still had art and culture and developments.

And you know what else changed a lot during this time period? Language! Specifically, the English language! It came a long way from Anglo-Saxon to Middle English, and eventually to modern English (in what we’d probably call the Renaissance). So Atticus, saying that language changes now unlike it did in medieval Europe, in a language that evolved significantly during the medieval period strikes me as very stupid and I want to hit him.

So Leif says “Very well” and asks how he should respond, and Atticus informs him that nobody says ‘well’ anymore because that’s old fashioned, and the kids say “I’m good,”

The Kids These Days: 2

which Leif points out isn’t grammatically correct, but Atticus says

“These people don’t care about proper. You can tell them they’re trying to use an adjective as an adverb and they’ll just stare at you like you’re a toad.”

The Kids These Days: 3

Better Than You: 2

Does Hearne know his audience is made up of modern people? I feel like repeatedly calling his audience idiots is not a great marketing tactic.

This conversation goes on for a while, and I think it belays that Atticus/Hearne doesn’t understand language? Leif is confused about the use of the term ‘chill’ because it doesn’t make sense to him, and Atticus agrees it’s stupid, but ‘chill’ actually makes sense? Because when you’re angry, or upset, the emotions are generally associated with heat and energy, as opposed to things that are cool, or chilled, which are at a manageable temperature you use to preserve things or avoid getting spoiled.

Atticus insists that Leif has to learn the slang in order to blend in. It’s weird, because the fact is that him being a person who uses old fashioned language isn’t going to be that big of a social obstacle I think. Yeah, people think it’s weird, but not that weird. It’s hardly a crippling facet of his social life. At worst, people will think you’re like an amped up version of Captain Holt on Brooklyn 99 or something.

And I’m confused as to why anyone cares? Leif doesn’t seem to want to hang out with people other than to suck their blood, which he can just mind control people for anyway. This isn’t a pep talk to get him more friends or professional contacts or anything. It’s just… Atticus is annoyed that someone out there doesn’t talk in slang that he’s deemed stupid anyway.

One of the complaints I generally see about this series repeated over and over again, both in the comments of these sporkings and in other places is that Atticus doesn’t sound at all like an ancient immortal being. And yeah, we’re supposed to get that he’s putting up a facade to sound like a young person, or rather a stereotype of a young person, but that’s hard to buy because that’s just how he is. Atticus is a selfish, shallow, sex-obsessed worm that frequently disregards anything that isn’t right in front of him. So the suggestion that he talks like this because it’s a deliberate act he puts on doesn’t fit.

This feels, to me at least, as if Hearne is trying to justify the dialogue or address critics’ complaints by saying that Atticus is doing this because he has to fit in. But it doesn’t work because again, it still doesn’t feel like he has a handle on how people talk. It’s like if I wrote a novel about middle schoolers, and the dialogue based on my classmates’ Instant Messenger logs from middle school (I never got into IM’ing myself). It wouldn’t reflect how they actually talked, it would sound stupid, and no one would find it believable. Yeah, I’d have an excuse, but that doesn’t make it good.

Atticus also gives us this:

I hang out with these college kids and they have no clue that I’m not one of them. They think my money comes from an inheritance trust fund, and they want to have a drink with me.”

Hey, isn’t it weird that his two thousand-year-old guy likes hanging out with college kids? I mean, it’s not necessarily creepy, but considering he’s mentioned a very active sex life, and Atticus is pretty much constantly thinking about sex, what we have here is a considerably older man who likes spending time around young people who only just reached adulthood. Even if we take out the sexual angle, outside of the werewolves and vampire, Atticus is an older man that prefers spending time with much younger people, pretending to be one of them. Is that not, at the very least, incredibly sketch?

Also he sells them magic drugs at his shop.

And hey, he has been pretending to be a college kid for years. One would think that people would pick up that this guy has been the same age for a long time.

So Leif changes the subject, saying that he needs to talk about something for a bit—

Listen to yourself, Leif! Do you want to blend in or not? The span of an hour? Who says shit like that anymore?”

The Kids These Days: 4

You know what’s not blending in? Shouting about slang on your front porch!

GET TO THE POINT HEARNE!

No wonder you can’t carry on a half hour’s conversation with a sorority girl!

Huh?

Again, stuff like this makes me think that Atticus is probably only trying to blend in for the skeeviest reasons imaginable—to get laid. With college girls. Like, I suppose he could technically be looking for friendship, but this is Atticus we’re talking about, who values women on how hawt they are. I understand that it’s not as if there are a lot of women that are Atticus’s age, but again, these are women who have just reached adulthood, and Atticus’s type is either a goddess or a college girl, and that he consistently sleeps with college-aged women, a group of people he dismisses because they’re modern and thus stupid.

Atticus’s type in sexual partners, when not literal goddesses, is women that he values only for their bodies. THINK ABOUT THAT.

[I hadn’t planned this, but now I’m considering doing a ‘Atticus is a perv’ count. Suggest names in the comments!]

Oberon telepathically talks to Atticus because Hearne decided this scene needed MOAR padding and in their conversation they mention that his favorite Irish pub is mad at them for taking Granuaile away from working there. I don’t care. Moving on.

So after even more criticism of his language, Leif explains that he wants Atticus to kill Thor. Atticus and Oberon point out that there’s a line of people who want him dead, and Leif jumps on this as a reason he should do it—he should find plenty of people willing to help him do it, and everyone will love him once he does it. Atticus asks the obvious question: if everyone wants him dead, why hasn’t anyone else done it already?

Leif claims it’s because of Ragnarok. Basically because there’s a prophecy about the end of the world in Norse mythology (that’s Ragnarok), and Thor has a part in it. So everyone assumes that because of that, he HAS to survive until then, and so every attempt to kill him will fail. Because Prophecy. But if that’s so, why is everyone asking Atticus to kill him? And if it’s a cross-pantheon thing… well, it’s not like other mythologies believe in the Norse Ragnarok, do they?

Also if the Norse gods exist because people believe in them, then… how the fudge does this even work?

Leif basically says it’s all nonsense anyway, calling it “some ancient tale dreamed up in the frozen brains of my ancestors” but again, in this world, stuff becomes true when people believe in it! So this assertion that Ragnarok isn’t going to happen because Reasons… I don’t know if this makes sense or not! Do enough people believe in Norse religion for it to work?

Aenghus Og and Bres both came to me and picked a fight, and all I did was finish it. And, you know, it could have easily gone the other way. You weren’t there: I nearly didn’t make it.

HA! This is laughable. Yes, Atticus shows his disfigured ear to show that he got hurt, but let’s tally the scores a bit: he kills Bres without even a fight, knocking him down and lopping off his head over the course of a single page. And Aenghus Og gives him trouble because he gets weakened by the mooks—once he gets back to full power, because the Morrigan lended him strength, Atticus duels Aenghus Og and beats him fairly easily, noting that his opponent hasn’t learned any new fighting skillz or tricks in thousands of years whereas Atticus learned martial arts in Asia.

Which martial arts, you ask? Y’know. Those ones. From Asia.

NO, it was not a close call. Atticus did not survive because of his wits, barely scraping by as dastardly villains plotted against him. He survived because he’s an overpowered git and all the antagonists are stupid. I remind you that part of Aenghus Og’s plan to kill Atticus involved rendering himself impotent. Atticus consistently had more trouble fighting the henchmen than he did with the gods themselves. All the wounds he received in the last book were from mooks, not bosses.

Atticus also claims that gods from all the other world’s religions would come after him for killing Thor, as it sets bad precedent to kill a major deity like that, even though the beginning of this chapter, and this conversation, all tell us that everyone wants Thor dead. Consistency? What’s that? We’re getting to Angelopolis levels of continuity here.

He explains to Leif (and us) that there are also multiple versions of Thor running around, including the Marvel comic book version? And basically all of them would be angry about killing the original Thor from Norse mythology, and HOW THE FUDGE DOES THAT EVEN WORK?! Why are there different versions of Thor running around? Theoretically, shouldn’t there also be different versions of Aenghus running around too? Because the one from the books is nothing like the one from the original mythology. Or the one from Irish literature. So theoretically, that one should be gunning for Atticus’s head right about now too. But can’t make it too difficult for our protagonist, I guess.

And if there are different versions of Thor, why does this Ragnarok thing matter so much? If you kill one, shouldn’t one of the others running step up and take his spot for Ragnarok? Again, a bunch of information is dumped on us, but Hearne doesn’t bother to explain how it fits into what we know. It’s just… there.

Leif then offers that he gets a crew together—basically, if he assembles a team willing to go kill Thor, would Atticus join? And Atticus still refuses. This is one of the few times that Atticus in any way embodies any of the caution he consistently claims he’s always exhibiting. Going and fighting a major deity is a great way to draw unwanted attention and he doesn’t want that.

Atticus is all too happy to tell Leif to go do it and get himself killed though, telling him “I recommend avoiding Loki,” because you can’t trust that guy. Which Leif, being an actual Norseman, would know. Is there a word for this? Druidsplaining, maybe? It feels like it’s thrown in there so Hearne can say, “Look guys, I know about Norse mythology! Aren’t I clever?” Except it’s as basic as you get, and it makes no sense for Atticus to say this to someone who should know this better than he himself does.

Imagine, for instance, advising your Jewish friend to stay away from golden calves, because God doesn’t like those, lol. Of course a Jewish person should know that. It’s a basic thing in that religion.

Leif gets surprisingly dark though, and says he just doesn’t want to coexist in the same reality as Thor because he wants his revenge. What exactly for, Atticus asks, but before Leif can answer he notices that Atticus’s iron amulet is glowing and asks what the fudge that’s about. It’s not until after it’s pointed out that it’s also apparently giving off a lot of heat, enough that there’s a sizzling noise and “a little piece of me frying like bacon.”

“I’m under magical attack!” I hissed through clenched teeth.

And because he’s convinced Leif is stupid (no really, he says he has to “connect the dots for Leif, in case he was missing out on the salient point”) he adds the final sentence of the chapter “Someone’s trying to kill me!”

Alright so the first book didn’t have a great opening, but this one’s somehow worse. Hounded began with him being ambushed by faeries and fighting them off, and that scene was ruined by him stopping the action to explain things every few minutes, and he’s more powerful than them anyway, healing from the wounds they give him almost instantly and having an iron elemental on standby to conveniently kill them and then disappear for the rest of the book.

Hexed starts with Atticus summarizing much more interesting conversations than the one we get, telling us how much he doesn’t care about it anyway, and then his friend showing up telling him to do a thing, which he doesn’t want to do, and then someone’s attacking him magically, but not enough to actually, y’know, seriously hurt him.

I mean, yeah, the amulet’s burning his skin, but he can regenerate so that’s near nothing to him. It probably hurts more than anything else, and we were told in the last book that if he wants he can turn off his pain receptors. Basically this magic amulet is blocking the magic from doing any serious harm, and so any drama in this scene is just… not there?

As you can probably guess, this is a pretty good indicator of things to come. This is a book with a fallen angel, bloodthirsty followers of Bacchus, Nazi witches, the Virgin Mary, Coyote, and a slaughter at a night club. And guess what? Atticus barely has to exert himself to deal with any of it. It all just kind of happens around him.

Join me next time, as Atticus tells us, yet again, how much he hates witches.

COUNTS (and double check to make sure I got this right; math’s not my strong suite):

Better Than You: 2
Didn’t Do Homework: 1
The Kids These Days: 4
You Keep Using That Word: 1

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Comment

  1. TMary on 26 December 2020, 12:35 said:

    I realize that I never finished commenting on Ye Olden Spork, and I’m not getting in-depth here (I intend to do both those things…soon? Don’t hold your breath, but I want to get around to it), and, for that matter, that I fell off the edge of the earth for…nearly a year there? Wow.I’m sorry. My natural procrastination (ask Smith, he knows) (and yes, Smith, I’m going to respond to you too, I just wanted to do a proper job of it and Christmas caught up with me), my natural procrastination, I say, combined with a suddenly busy life, meant I never got around to checking in.I am excited for the new spork, though! And glad to see you’re still around, and you have a full-time job, too! Sorry to hear your health hasn’t been great, though, but glad it’s not anything worse. I hope it remains that way!

  2. TMary on 26 December 2020, 12:41 said:

    Anyway (I’m on my phone and it’s terrible), I just wanted to say hello to the new spork, and also to add that, for the “Atticus is a perv” count, I humbly submit “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Horndog” for your consideration. That’s all, thank you. I shall now retire. Hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas and you stay safe in the new year!

  3. The Smith of Lies on 28 December 2020, 07:15 said:

    Oh man, you have no idea how happy I am to see you post this spork! Lemme pour myself some liquor to steel myself for more or of Atticus and lets get this show rolling.

    Hey guys, I’m the Ghost of Christmas Sporking, and we’re back. Merry Christmas.

    And belated Merry Christmas to you.

    The week after my last post, I started feeling ill in my stomach for weeks at a time. I’ve had it investigated and medicated, and so far it doesn’t look like anything serious, just a bit annoying and that I should be more careful about eating. Also I have a full time job now, which is great, because I get PAID! But it also means that I have much less time to write for ImpishIdea or play PS4. But I’m going to be doing my best all the same!

    Yeah, need to keep a gainful employment has a way of cutting into the entertainment (though reading and re-reading Iron Druid can hardly be considered that). It is great that you are finding the time and will to write the spork at all.

    You remember Hounded don’t you?

    Despite copious amounts of alcohol and hard drugs, yes.

    The gods are congratulating the protagonist on being awesome enough to kill two of them.

    Well, it wold make much more sense if they ganged up on him and made him suffer a terrible, protracted death (or a fate worse than such), to send the message to other would-be god slayers, that such behaviour is frowned upon. But of course then we’d have no book series… … … Ok, how would that be a bad thing here?

    Also, this is giving me the flashback to that terrible Polish urban fantasy, that had both Gabriel and Lucifer pretty much groveling in front of the protagonist in book 1… (So I guess Hearne gets credit by witholding that to the book 2?)

    [Thank Smith for the suggestion about the name. No I did not just steal it from Apep.]

    And I certainly did not steal it from Princess Bride. No siree. Completely original invention of mine, this one.

    Telling us that there are insurance salesmen and charlatans feels as if there’s a huge supernatural world out there.
    And Hearne doesn’t do anything with it, because we don’t get any other indication of this wider supernatural community that I can recall.

    And that is a travesty. Because it introduces an idea that has potential to carry a series on its own merits and then does nothing with it. Some of my favourite urban fantasy books explore the way supernatural society works and how it interacts with world at large (Skullduggery Pleasant and Rivers of London come to mind), even if only as a side plot. Giving a hint that there is something interesting out there and then just leaving readers hanging is worse than not giving us anything at all.

    All of them wanted me to leave them alone but pick a fight with someone else, and if I successfully lanced the immortal boil that vexed them, I’d be rewarded beyond my wildest dreams, blah blah barf yak.

    You pick up on Atticus’s complete lack of motivation and agency. And those are things that I hate with burning passion. But this passage vexes me way more for a different reason. It implies that all those entities are incapable of resolving their issues without getting Atticus to do it for them.

    Of course a value of a good cat’s paw can’t be overstated and using a deniable asset is often the best way to deal with an issue. But the way Atticus describes it, it seems as if all those gods and beings were sitting on their asses doing nothing about their enemies (either lacking capability or agency) untill “Our Lord and Sue-vior” Atticus rolled onto the stage.

    Fuck, this makes me like Aenghus all the more. His plan was shit, but at least he did something, even if it took him 2000 years.

    But everyone—at least, it sure seemed like everyone—wanted me to slay Thor as soon as I had a free moment.

    We’ve been over this, but seriously, the fuck is Hearne’s problem with Thor? Did Thor cosplayer steal his girlfriend or something?

    I’d understand Zeus, Zeus was kind of asshole. I could see Loki getting on everybody’s nerves. Fuck, maybe Coyote or Seth could get enmity of a lot of people. Maybe Tezcatlipoca. But Thor was never into much of fuckery. I guess Hearne is going with another “Hurr, durr stupid mortals got it all wrong in their myths, ain’t Atticus soo cool for not buying into pro-Thor progapganda?! Ain’t he just so?!”

    You really should spend some decent time learning how to blend in. Make it a project.

    Wait. But he is blending in. He is a lawyer and a presumably reasonably sucessful one. If he is talking with an archaic manner… Well, given the profession people probably think he is a pompous asshole (and a bit of a weirdo), but alledging that Leif is not blending in well, goes agaisnt previously established facts.

    Also, Atticus has no business in telling anyone to blend in better. He even has “You keep using that word” counter for his lack of paranoia!

    Does Hearne know his audience is made up of modern people? I feel like repeatedly calling his audience idiots is not a great marketing tactic.

    I don’t know, one can get to be a POTUS on it.

    This conversation goes on for a while, and I think it belays that Atticus/Hearne doesn’t understand language? Leif is confused about the use of the term ‘chill’ because it doesn’t make sense to him, and Atticus agrees it’s stupid, but ‘chill’ actually makes sense? Because when you’re angry, or upset, the emotions are generally associated with heat and energy, as opposed to things that are cool, or chilled, which are at a manageable temperature you use to preserve things or avoid getting spoiled.

    Ah yes, because before modern times methaphorical phrases did not exist and language was wholly literal. There were no slangs or popular turns of phrases and everyone spoke like they were trying to realize Vienna Circle’s ideas…

    Atticus is a selfish, shallow, sex-obsessed worm that frequently disregards anything that isn’t right in front of him. So the suggestion that he talks like this because it’s a deliberate act he puts on doesn’t fit.

    You forgot “Smug”. He is so smug all the time, that whenever you paste a quote from the book I want to reach through the screen and slap him untill he is raw. And then slap him some more.

    This feels, to me at least, as if Hearne is trying to justify the dialogue or address critics’ complaints by saying that Atticus is doing this because he has to fit in.

    This is a bullshit explanation, because his narration also sounds like that. There is no discernable difference between his inner voice and his outer voice. And assuming he just became the mas is giving Hearne credit he does not deserve, not when you need a “Kids these days” counter for instances of Atticus shitting on modernity.

    Is that not, at the very least, incredibly sketch?

    Eh, I’d give Atticus a break on this one. I mean, he might technically be 2.000 years old, but I am willing to bet that when it comes to maturity and being emotionally well-adjusted those college kids have him beat.

    GET TO THE POINT HEARNE!

    Bold of you, assuming there is one to be found.

    Like, I suppose he could technically be looking for friendship, but this is Atticus we’re talking about, who values women on how hawt they are.

    That and he is a sociopath incapable of caring about anyone but himself, as evidenced by his treatment of werewolves trying to help him in a hostage situation.

    [I hadn’t planned this, but now I’m considering doing a ‘Atticus is a perv’ count. Suggest names in the comments!]

    Hmm. If we wanna lean into the age difference aspect and predatory vibes you described, maybe something like “FBI! Open up!” or “Why don’t you take a seat over there?”. For less of a meme “Wait… this isn’t ‘Lolita’!”. Or if none of those fit, we can once again steal from Apep and go for “both hands on the keyboard please”.

    Which martial arts, you ask? Y’know. Those ones. From Asia.

    Of course! Because HEMA does not exist.

    He explains to Leif (and us) that there are also multiple versions of Thor running around, including the Marvel comic book version? And basically all of them would be angry about killing the original Thor from Norse mythology, and HOW THE FUDGE DOES THAT EVEN WORK?! Why are there different versions of Thor running around? Theoretically, shouldn’t there also be different versions of Aenghus running around too? Because the one from the books is nothing like the one from the original mythology. Or the one from Irish literature. So theoretically, that one should be gunning for Atticus’s head right about now too. But can’t make it too difficult for our protagonist, I guess.

    There was big rant about “God Needs Prayey Badly” trope and the whole belief makes it real theme in the early chapters of Hounded spork. And some more of complaints about the trope in comments. I have no issue with them. But the way Hearne went about them is so stupid, lazy and nonsensical.

    We already had doubts what does and does not become real by the power of mass belief. But this right here is pushing the world-building straight into absurd. Marvel’s Thor is running around? So a niche group, that is aware of the character being fictitious is enough to think them into reality? HOLY SHIT, the world has no business having any kind of masquerade. Gods, demons, angels, superheros, Jedi, Space Marine with God Emperor of Mankind, cryptids and all manner of weird supernatural shit should be running around. At this point Hearne made humanity into some kind of weird reality warper, creating things into existance daily.

    And that wouldn’t be a bad idea for a book. But he seems to be blissfully oblivious to how much divergence he needs in order to make the world work the way he describes. It’s as if he never spares the thought to what the things he describes mean! AAAAAGH!

    And because he’s convinced Leif is stupid (no really, he says he has to “connect the dots for Leif, in case he was missing out on the salient point”) he adds the final sentence of the chapter “Someone’s trying to kill me!”

    This reminds me of an episode of an old kids tv-show ReBoot. There was this one episode where one of the characters wished to be the smartest (and he used some McGuffint to make it so). Except instead of making him smarter, every other character became too dumb to live. I feel like this is what happened in Iron Druid.

  4. LWE on 29 December 2020, 18:06 said:

    Holy cow, there are eight sequels? And short stories about Atticus, too? That’s better than Maradonia!

  5. The Smith of Lies on 29 December 2020, 19:20 said:

    Holy cow, there are eight sequels? And short stories about Atticus, too? That’s better than Maradonia!

    Eh, not a very good comparison. Maradonia was obvious vanity project that only got traction among caustic critics and never had real chance to reach wide audience.

    Whatever faults of Atticus as character and story as a whole, Hearne is actually pretty successful, up to the point of his books actually getting translated into other languages.

    And as much as I hate giving the man any credit, he at least seems to be basically competent as far as basics go. A master wordsmith he ain’t, but his use of language is mostly acceptable, unlike self-publishing hacks.

  6. Juracan on 30 December 2020, 08:45 said:

    I realize that I never finished commenting on Ye Olden Spork, and I’m not getting in-depth here (I intend to do both those things…soon? Don’t hold your breath, but I want to get around to it), and, for that matter, that I fell off the edge of the earth for…nearly a year there? Wow.I’m sorry. My natural procrastination (ask Smith, he knows) (and yes, Smith, I’m going to respond to you too, I just wanted to do a proper job of it and Christmas caught up with me), my natural procrastination, I say, combined with a suddenly busy life, meant I never got around to checking in.

    Hey, it’s no problem! No one’s obligated to comment on these. We all have lives and stuff.

    Anyway (I’m on my phone and it’s terrible), I just wanted to say hello to the new spork, and also to add that, for the “Atticus is a perv” count, I humbly submit “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Horndog” for your consideration.

    It shall be considered!

    Oh man, you have no idea how happy I am to see you post this spork! Lemme pour myself some liquor to steel myself for more or of Atticus and lets get this show rolling.

    Glad to see I could bring some joy to you this Christmas season.

    And belated Merry Christmas to you.

    Technically it’s still Christmas season—we get 12 days of Christmas after all.

    [This is also what I was going to tell myself if I didn’t manage to get this posted on time so I didn’t have to change the opening/title.]

    Despite copious amounts of alcohol and hard drugs, yes.

    We all wish we could forget it exists, don’t we?

    And I certainly did not steal it from Princess Bride. No siree. Completely original invention of mine, this one.

    Well, obviously.

    You pick up on Atticus’s complete lack of motivation and agency. And those are things that I hate with burning passion. But this passage vexes me way more for a different reason. It implies that all those entities are incapable of resolving their issues without getting Atticus to do it for them.

    Of course a value of a good cat’s paw can’t be overstated and using a deniable asset is often the best way to deal with an issue. But the way Atticus describes it, it seems as if all those gods and beings were sitting on their asses doing nothing about their enemies (either lacking capability or agency) untill “Our Lord and Sue-vior” Atticus rolled onto the stage.

    Fuck, this makes me like Aenghus all the more. His plan was shit, but at least he did something, even if it took him 2000 years.

    Yeah, see, this is how it works in Sue universes, isn’t it? All the gods were just waiting around doing nothing until Atticus came along. With his oh-so-cleverness and wit he changed everything you see?

    Sorry, I think I threw up a bit in my mouth.

    I’d understand Zeus, Zeus was kind of asshole. I could see Loki getting on everybody’s nerves. Fuck, maybe Coyote or Seth could get enmity of a lot of people. Maybe Tezcatlipoca. But Thor was never into much of fuckery. I guess Hearne is going with another “Hurr, durr stupid mortals got it all wrong in their myths, ain’t Atticus soo cool for not buying into pro-Thor progapganda?! Ain’t he just so?!”

    I don’t know! I don’t think it’s an attempt to make Atticus seem smarter than everyone else, because in-universe everyone else agrees with this assessment. I don’t understand it. I think it was just an attempt to make the series seem different and/or “more mature”?

    “Hey, I did something DIFFERENT with Thor! Aren’t I so clever and cool?”

    I mean it doesn’t make any sense with the character? But it’s different, I guess. Doesn’t make it good, but maybe being different is what he was going for.

    There are plenty of authors who don’t realize that with writing mythological characters “Different =/= Good.” It CAN be good writing if you do something unexpected with well-established mythological characters, but if you actually write it in a way that makes sense. This is just… it sounds like Hearne hates Thor for no reason.

    Wait. But he is blending in. He is a lawyer and a presumably reasonably sucessful one. If he is talking with an archaic manner… Well, given the profession people probably think he is a pompous asshole (and a bit of a weirdo), but alledging that Leif is not blending in well, goes agaisnt previously established facts.

    Yeah I don’t know what to do with this. Because like I said, it’s not like he’s trying to have a social life or make friends. It’s just… Atticus thinks he should sound like an idiot because he thinks that’s how modern people are.

    I don’t know, one can get to be a POTUS on it.

    [And that’s all I’ll say on that.]

    This is a bullshit explanation, because his narration also sounds like that. There is no discernable difference between his inner voice and his outer voice. And assuming he just became the mas is giving Hearne credit he does not deserve, not when you need a “Kids these days” counter for instances of Atticus shitting on modernity.

    Yeah, when he talks to us the same way he talks to everyone else, the idea that it’s just a screen to blend in doesn’t really work, does it?

    Bold of you, assuming there is one to be found.

    I know, it’s wishful thinking on my part.

    That and he is a sociopath incapable of caring about anyone but himself, as evidenced by his treatment of werewolves trying to help him in a hostage situation.

    Fun fact: Atticus’s treatment of the werewolves is actually called out in this book. He doesn’t care, but it is brought up. Feels like an afterthought that.

    Hmm. If we wanna lean into the age difference aspect and predatory vibes you described, maybe something like “FBI! Open up!” or “Why don’t you take a seat over there?”. For less of a meme “Wait… this isn’t ‘Lolita’!”. Or if none of those fit, we can once again steal from Apep and go for “both hands on the keyboard please”.

    Shall be put under consideration.

    We already had doubts what does and does not become real by the power of mass belief. But this right here is pushing the world-building straight into absurd. Marvel’s Thor is running around? So a niche group, that is aware of the character being fictitious is enough to think them into reality? HOLY SHIT, the world has no business having any kind of masquerade. Gods, demons, angels, superheros, Jedi, Space Marine with God Emperor of Mankind, cryptids and all manner of weird supernatural shit should be running around. At this point Hearne made humanity into some kind of weird reality warper, creating things into existance daily.

    And that wouldn’t be a bad idea for a book. But he seems to be blissfully oblivious to how much divergence he needs in order to make the world work the way he describes. It’s as if he never spares the thought to what the things he describes mean! AAAAAGH!

    No! It makes no sense! I don’t know what’s up with it! He doesn’t explain. There is no reason why a fictional character should be running around with the other Thors! If Hearne/Atticus explained that the comic book character influenced enough believers that there was a version of Thor that greatly resembled the comic book character, that would make some amount of sense? But that’s not what he does. Apparently, Marvel’s Thor just… exists out there, for no discernible reason.

    This reminds me of an episode of an old kids tv-show ReBoot. There was this one episode where one of the characters wished to be the smartest (and he used some McGuffint to make it so). Except instead of making him smarter, every other character became too dumb to live. I feel like this is what happened in Iron Druid.

    Basically. But Hearne doesn’t realize that’s what he’s done. He honestly thinks Atticus is a genius-level intellect.

    Holy cow, there are eight sequels? And short stories about Atticus, too? That’s better than Maradonia!

    Yup! It was Hearne’s flagship series for a while. And it was one of the big urban fantasy serieses.

    The short stories I have read (two came in the Kindle edition of Hounded) aren’t anywhere near as bad, but I didn’t feel like sporking/reviewing them because there’s enough going on.

    And as much as I hate giving the man any credit, he at least seems to be basically competent as far as basics go. A master wordsmith he ain’t, but his use of language is mostly acceptable, unlike self-publishing hacks.

    Yes. He’s terrible at characterization, Plot, and theme, but at least he knows how a sentence works.

  7. Aikaterini on 4 January 2021, 13:40 said:

    Happy New Year!

    Paranormal insurance salesmen with special “godslayer” term life policies. Charlatans with “god-proof” armor and extraplanar safe houses for rent.

    The narrative seems to be treating this as if Atticus won the lottery. Do gods get killed so often that ‘godslayer’ term life policies would be a thing, something to base a business on?

    despite all of his claims at being the most paranoid man ever

    Was there ever a point to labeling him as such? I can’t remember the last time where he did act like he was paranoid. It’s the opposite: he’s meant to be so cool because he doesn’t care and has a laid-back attitude to everything.

    All of them wanted me to leave them alone but pick a fight with someone else

    Why? If they had a serious dispute with another god, why wouldn’t they just handle it themselves? Why would they need Atticus to do it for them, unless they wanted to keep their hands clean?

    Minerva isn’t just Athena with a new name, she’s a fusion of the Greek Athena and the Etruscan Menvra

    Actually, I had the opposite problem with that passage. If Minerva is Athena with a new name, then this comes off like the Greek gods wanting to kill themselves.

    Also, why would the other pantheons care about Atticus killing an Irish god? The Japanese and Chinese gods don’t have anything to do with Ireland. Why would it be a blip on their radar?

    I also think that it’s rather convenient that the gods’ values reflect those of the mortals who worship them: the Japanese and Chinese gods likely hate each other in this series because of the underlying tensions between Japan and China. Are the gods patriotic? Are they that attached to their worshippers that they get angry at non-believers who harm them? Otherwise, I don’t see why timeless gods would care so much about the modern politics of mortals. Especially when world politics and alliances and enmities keep changing throughout history: would the Russian gods support Germanic gods and then want them dead when the Soviet Union switched over to the Allies during WWII?

    Unlike Odin, who at best was a shady and liked testing people in disguise.

    Or Loki. Yes, I’m not sure what Hearne is going for here. If he’s going to subvert expectations by casting a heroic god as the villain, there should be an explanation why other than the fact that it’s unexpected. For example, you could look at deeds attributed to that god that aren’t acceptable by modern standards or look at their deeds through another’s point of view. But the narrative hasn’t done that yet, it’s just randomly announced that Thor is bad now. There hasn’t been any build-up or explanation as to why.

    sometimes he kills carpenters because they use hammers and that ticks him off

    Again, this is really reminding me of that American vampire in the “Breaking Dawn” movie who killed people for playing a song by the Beatles. But this is even sillier, he doesn’t specifically dislike Scandinavian carpenters, just carpenters in general. For the crime of using a common tool that all of humanity uses. Does he want Atticus to kill Hephaestus too, because he uses a hammer? Or any other smith/metalworking god?

    honoring Brighid and the Morrigan as he did so

    The same Morrigan who stripped in front of him and kissed him for no reason?

    Atticus informs him that nobody says ‘well’ anymore because that’s old fashioned, and the kids say “I’m good,”

    You’re not kids, Atticus.

    Atticus is annoyed that someone out there doesn’t talk in slang that he’s deemed stupid anyway.

    I don’t get the sense that he’s annoyed, it seems more like he wants to show off how more ‘modern’ and ‘hip’ he is.

    Atticus also claims that gods from all the other world’s religions would come after him for killing Thor, as it sets bad precedent to kill a major deity like that

    So, Aenghus Og wasn’t major enough for everyone to get mad at him? Why wouldn’t they congratulate Atticus like they did before?

    there are also multiple versions of Thor running around, including the Marvel comic book version?

    That does sound like an interesting premise for a story all on its own, but it would depend on what the purpose would be in order to keep it from getting too complicated and confusing. Explain the varying genealogies of gods? Distance a god from their bad behavior (ex. this is the Loki who helped the gods and that is the Loki who harmed them)? Trace a god’s anthropological roots (ex. Ariadne as Dionysus’s wife and Ariadne as a Minoan labyrinth goddess)? I guess we’ll have to see what Hearne does with this idea.

    “I recommend avoiding Loki,” because you can’t trust that guy

    So, Loki is untrustworthy in this series, but Thor is meant to be the bad guy?

  8. Juracan on 5 January 2021, 23:20 said:

    Happy New Year!

    To you as well!

    The narrative seems to be treating this as if Atticus won the lottery. Do gods get killed so often that ‘godslayer’ term life policies would be a thing, something to base a business on?

    I don’t know! Again, it’s just thrown at us without any context or worldbuilding, so we have no way of knowing. From what we see though, I don’t think so.

    Was there ever a point to labeling him as such? I can’t remember the last time where he did act like he was paranoid. It’s the opposite: he’s meant to be so cool because he doesn’t care and has a laid-back attitude to everything.

    Look man, Hearne thinks if he keeps telling us that Atticus is paranoid and clever, we’ll buy it.

    Why? If they had a serious dispute with another god, why wouldn’t they just handle it themselves? Why would they need Atticus to do it for them, unless they wanted to keep their hands clean?

    Because Atticus is so powerful and clever and smexy that the gods can’t help but approach him? IDK you’re asking too many smart questions for this book. :P

    Actually, I had the opposite problem with that passage. If Minerva is Athena with a new name, then this comes off like the Greek gods wanting to kill themselves.

    To be fair to Hearne, Atticus in-text calls it some form of self-loathing.

    I also think that it’s rather convenient that the gods’ values reflect those of the mortals who worship them: the Japanese and Chinese gods likely hate each other in this series because of the underlying tensions between Japan and China. Are the gods patriotic? Are they that attached to their worshippers that they get angry at non-believers who harm them? Otherwise, I don’t see why timeless gods would care so much about the modern politics of mortals. Especially when world politics and alliances and enmities keep changing throughout history: would the Russian gods support Germanic gods and then want them dead when the Soviet Union switched over to the Allies during WWII?

    Again, to be fair to Hearne, the gods of this universe are (usually sometimes kind of) built off of people’s beliefs. Naturally, if their worshippers are inclined to certain nationalistic or patriotic beliefs, I don’t think it’s a stretch for their gods to be as well. Then again, we see that the Irish gods don’t seem to know much about world geography/history/politics, but they’re specifically not created by belief so I don’t know know guys, Hearne is just throwing nonsense at us and hoping it sticks.

    The same Morrigan who stripped in front of him and kissed him for no reason?

    [starts crying because of what happens later in this book]

    So, Aenghus Og wasn’t major enough for everyone to get mad at him? Why wouldn’t they congratulate Atticus like they did before?

    Yeah, you would think that Aenghus counted as a major enough deity? I assume because he doesn’t have as much name recognition as Thor to Hearne’s audience that he doesn’t count. After all, he counted on readers not knowing that all his examples of Aenghus Og’s dickery were all pretty reasonable in context of Irish mythology.

    That does sound like an interesting premise for a story all on its own, but it would depend on what the purpose would be in order to keep it from getting too complicated and confusing. Explain the varying genealogies of gods? Distance a god from their bad behavior (ex. this is the Loki who helped the gods and that is the Loki who harmed them)? Trace a god’s anthropological roots (ex. Ariadne as Dionysus’s wife and Ariadne as a Minoan labyrinth goddess)? I guess we’ll have to see what Hearne does with this idea.

    Well we’ll have to wait because in THIS book it doesn’t really come up again.

    So, Loki is untrustworthy in this series, but Thor is meant to be the bad guy?

    Yes. Because Reasons.

    You’re just supposed to go with it.

  9. The Smith of Lies on 6 January 2021, 10:25 said:

    I am loving the fact that this spork is getting so much traffic! Reminds me of the good old times of Impish Idea [sheds a single tear].

    [Juracan] Yeah, see, this is how it works in Sue universes, isn’t it? All the gods were just waiting around doing nothing until Atticus came along. With his oh-so-cleverness and wit he changed everything you see?

    [Aikaterini] Why? If they had a serious dispute with another god, why wouldn’t they just handle it themselves? Why would they need Atticus to do it for them, unless they wanted to keep their hands clean?

    You know, it occured to me, that this is what one could expect from the world Hearne presented. It is crazy, but consider Atticus. He is the protagonist of the story, the main character and our window into the world. And what he does? He lazes about, doing nothing untill he is dragged forcefully along or untill the plot comes to his very doorstep.

    Even when danger was about, even when the opposing scheme was in full swing what Atticus did was to bother his Caricature of a Cardboard Cut-Out neighbour or waste the time at a bar. He wasn’t marshalling his allies, he wasn’t tracking Aenghus, wasn’t gathering intel on the coven. He was pissing about.

    And he is, according to Hearne at least, the guy who numbers among the best, the protagonist, the great Atticus O’sullivan. And even still, he would not recognize Agency and Initiative if they mugged him in broad daylight.

    How bad it must be then for all the characters who are not the focus of the author, who don’t have the Point of View always pointed at them? Of course they’d be static. After all their only ever chance of doing something within a world written this way is in relation to Atticus.

    I don’t think Hearne meant it to be like this, but it makes perfect sense. In the world of Terminally Lazy, Aenghus Og should have been a king, cause he was the only one to actually do something. And it still took him 2000 years.

    [Juracan]There are plenty of authors who don’t realize that with writing mythological characters “Different =/= Good.” It CAN be good writing if you do something unexpected with well-established mythological characters, but if you actually write it in a way that makes sense. This is just… it sounds like Hearne hates Thor for no reason.

    I am down with the different. I will read the book where Loki is the good guy (there is actually a decent anthology of short stories like this, where Loki is forced to work for the Angels after Asgard falls to forces of Heaven and tries to con his way into being allowed to live; sequels are pretty mediocre). But show it to me.

    Thor suffers the same fate as Aenghus – we are being told by Atticus that his is an asshole and that we are supposed to take his word on this. Well, his and serial killer psychopath’s word. I can imagine more reliable sources.

    Now if Thor dropped by, nuked Atticus’s shop just for fun or threw Mjolnir into the ocean to cause a giantic tsunami cause he wanted to surf or created as storm that washed orphanage into the sea. Anything, as long as he did it on page.

    But even he was murderous asshole, what makes him different from other gods or Atticus himself? Morrigan almost killed two innocents and Atticus’s only objection was that she’d make a mess. Flidalis murdered a park ranger who was only doing his job and Atticus was pretty much fine with that. Hell, the cop who was enchanted by Agenghus? Atticus pretty much murdered him by messing around with the spell he did not understood and when other cops shot the dude? Atticus decided to sue, because he is the only one who knew that he was responsible (though he’s in denial about it).

    So lets say Thor wanders the world and casually murders people. Terrible. But how much worse than Atticus and his friends – Morrigan, goddess of war and Leif, slayer of carpenters?

    This is why the whole thing bothers me so much. We are just supposed to accept that Thor is this big bad guy, because Atticus said so and because Haerne’s fiat made it so.

    [Juracan] Fun fact: Atticus’s treatment of the werewolves is actually called out in this book. He doesn’t care, but it is brought up. Feels like an afterthought that.

    A wild guess – someone pointed this to Hearne and he wrote a scene to show that… I don’t know either it wasn’t as bad or that Atticus was right. That it was on purpose and not just Hearne unwittingly writing his self instert power fantasy protagonist as a collosal psychopath.

    [Juracan] No! It makes no sense! I don’t know what’s up with it! He doesn’t explain. There is no reason why a fictional character should be running around with the other Thors! If Hearne/Atticus explained that the comic book character influenced enough believers that there was a version of Thor that greatly resembled the comic book character, that would make some amount of sense? But that’s not what he does. Apparently, Marvel’s Thor just… exists out there, for no discernible reason.

    [Aikaterini] That does sound like an interesting premise for a story all on its own, but it would depend on what the purpose would be in order to keep it from getting too complicated and confusing. Explain the varying genealogies of gods? Distance a god from their bad behavior (ex. this is the Loki who helped the gods and that is the Loki who harmed them)? Trace a god’s anthropological roots (ex. Ariadne as Dionysus’s wife and Ariadne as a Minoan labyrinth goddess)? I guess we’ll have to see what Hearne does with this idea.

    I am pretty sure that Hearne does nothing with the idea. Because this single fact is enough to bend the whole worldbuilding into a pretzel and base the series just on that one premise. But here it is just dropped as a passing mention, more an excuse for Atticus not to do something he does not want to. In any competently written series, one where author thinks through the implications of what he describes, this would be either a giant reveal or a founding principle of the world.

    This is exactly the same issue that Bright had. Oh sure, there was a Dark Lord 1000 years ago who gathered hordes of orcs and tried to conquer the world, but was defeated by alliance of races, including humans, centaurs and who knows what else. But the rest of history was perfectly the same as in real world, with US, Alamo and everything else. Because of course Dark Lord, magic, various non-human races and so on wouldn’t make the world completely unrecognizable outside the shape of the continents…

    The implications of various aspects of Thor being given life by belief, including Marvel’s Thor implies a world where human belief has actual creative power. It goes beyond the usual trope, it actually includes pretty much wishing a character, fictional one, into existance. The world should either be teeming with various kinds of weirdness or under strict informational control of some vague body trying to preven humanity from thinking itself out of existance.

    Of course one could say “ah, but it only works for beings that humans worship”, which could work for the way it was established in book one. But then Marvel’s Thor smashes this assumption as if he was Hulk, because I don’t think anyone worships this version. And even limiting this to worship… What about various God Kings who demanded worship through history? Why aren’t there numerous Pharaohs and some Roman Emperors running around, made immortal and divine by the worship they mandated?

    And what are we shown in the books? Bog standard Masked World, where, for some reason that is never established or explored, it seems like no one has any idea about supernatural being real, about gods, vampires, witches and all that other stuff. A world that is exactly like ours, except for whenever Hearne needs to throw a creature or power or McGuffin at us, but not letting those things actually interact with the world and shape it.

    I have expressed my feelings about Masquerade as an overused and tired trope, that rarely gets properly justified and explored. But at least most of the time some kind of lip service is paid to it and the very core fundamental rules of the universes featuring Masquerade do not break it and make it impossible. At this point Hearne is like that meme, with a guy “hiding” an ostich.

  10. Juracan on 6 January 2021, 21:22 said:

    I am loving the fact that this spork is getting so much traffic! Reminds me of the good old times of Impish Idea [sheds a single tear].

    Aw, man, those were the days, amirite? If it were within my power, I’d have promoted so many people to staff writers, but sadly I do not have that power. No one does anymore. If they did, we would be barraged with spam comments all the time.

    I don’t think Hearne meant it to be like this, but it makes perfect sense. In the world of Terminally Lazy, Aenghus Og should have been a king, cause he was the only one to actually do something. And it still took him 2000 years.

    And this author taught literature for a living. I want you to think about that.

    I am down with the different. I will read the book where Loki is the good guy (there is actually a decent anthology of short stories like this, where Loki is forced to work for the Angels after Asgard falls to forces of Heaven and tries to con his way into being allowed to live; sequels are pretty mediocre). But show it to me.

    FIRST: I want the name of this anthology. Now.

    SECOND: I definitely think ‘Loki as good’ can work. It takes some effort, but I think it can work. Loki’s a complex enough character in the original mythology that there’s a lot you can do with him.

    [mumbling] Something, something Runemarks by Joanne Harris…

    This is why the whole thing bothers me so much. We are just supposed to accept that Thor is this big bad guy, because Atticus said so and because Haerne’s fiat made it so.

    I saw on TV Tropes (but without citation, so maybe take with a grain of salt) that Hearne said that his Thor does have some sympathetic qualities, but that they’re just never on page, and he’s alienated so many in the supernatural community that nobody else sees it either. And that… doesn’t quite work. Again, if everyone thinks him such a raging douchebag, I can’t imagine why it’s so different from the original myths? It’s just because Hearne said so.

    Heck, Vikingdom gave an actual motivation for Thor being evil, and that’s one of the worst-made (but oh so fun to watch) movies I’ve ever seen!

    And what are we shown in the books? Bog standard Masked World, where, for some reason that is never established or explored, it seems like no one has any idea about supernatural being real, about gods, vampires, witches and all that other stuff. A world that is exactly like ours, except for whenever Hearne needs to throw a creature or power or McGuffin at us, but not letting those things actually interact with the world and shape it.

    I mean, yeah.

    Otherwise it would take effort.

    This is making me think about the effort I gotta put into my own writing though…

    At this point Hearne is like that meme, with a guy “hiding” an ostich.

    You mean the Spencer from iCarly meme?

  11. The Smith of Lies on 7 January 2021, 01:54 said:

    FIRST: I want the name of this anthology. Now.

    I can provide it, but I don’t think it was ever translated into English. Kłamca (literally Liar) by Jakub Ćwiek. It is actually where my username comes from.

    I saw on TV Tropes (but without citation, so maybe take with a grain of salt) that Hearne said that his Thor does have some sympathetic qualities, but that they’re just never on page, and he’s alienated so many in the supernatural community that nobody else sees it either. And that… doesn’t quite work. Again, if everyone thinks him such a raging douchebag, I can’t imagine why it’s so different from the original myths? It’s just because Hearne said so.

    Well, that still falls under the same problem we are having with Thor being an asshole – telling instead of showing. Whatever his qualities are we are just supposed to take them on faith and that’s that.

    You mean the Spencer from iCarly meme?

    Yup, that’s the one.
    Audience looking at world breaking revelation: Hearne what you got there?
    Hearne: An excuse for Atticus to sit on his ass.

  12. The Smith of Lies on 7 January 2021, 01:59 said:

    Ok, I guess I got an egg on my face. Just after posting the previous comment I checked out of curiosity… I give you Loki – the Liar

    A word of warning – I remember it as good, but it was back in high school. I have since then revisited and revised my opinions on some of the books I used to love. Some of the later books by Ćwiek did fall flat in my opinion. I hope that Loki – the Liar holds up well enough, but be aware that I am looking at it via filter of nostalgia.

  13. Juracan on 7 January 2021, 07:34 said:

    I can provide it, but I don’t think it was ever translated into English. Kłamca (literally Liar) by Jakub Ćwiek. It is actually where my username comes from.

    Just as I feared! Oh well.

    But that’s cool, it being where you got your username and all.

    Well, that still falls under the same problem we are having with Thor being an asshole – telling instead of showing. Whatever his qualities are we are just supposed to take them on faith and that’s that.

    Yes. And it’s not like we have much faith in Hearne as an author at this point.

    Ok, I guess I got an egg on my face. Just after posting the previous comment I checked out of curiosity… I give you Loki – the Liar

    I just checked too! I am curious, so I might check it out soon; though again, with a full time job now, I don’t have quite as much time to read as I used to.

  14. The Smith of Lies on 7 January 2021, 11:49 said:

    I just checked too! I am curious, so I might check it out soon; though again, with a full time job now, I don’t have quite as much time to read as I used to.

    Upon further investigation, the translation might be only of one or two stories, since Amazon page lists the lenght at 70 pages. Though that might be down to font size, English being more space efficent than Polish or the physical size of the paper back pages (though I’d still be impressed, I think Polish version has something like 200 pages or more).

    Anyway, if you ever get to trying it out, do tell how you liked it. I might dig it up to see how it holds up after all the years, but either way I’m curious to hear your take on it.

  15. LoneWolf on 7 January 2021, 15:34 said:

    Eh, not a very good comparison. Maradonia was obvious vanity project that only got traction among caustic critics and never had real chance to reach wide audience.

    Whatever faults of Atticus as character and story as a whole, Hearne is actually pretty successful, up to the point of his books actually getting translated into other languages.

    Oh, I agree that Hearne is competent as far as the technical art of writing goes. But the Mary Sue factor is the same – I’d say that it’s even bigger in Hearne, probably because he is much better at successfully translating his ideas to pages.