I hope you brought something to do, because this chapter is a butt-ton of exposition and not much else of note.

The one where Atticus finally talks to Malina. I say ‘finally’ but this is only the fifth chapter? It’s just that a lot of things have come into the Plot already so it feels longer than it actually is. That, and we know that Malina isn’t behind this because anyone with half a brain knew that, but ‘anyone with half a brain’ is a category that excludes Atticus O’Sullivan, so he’s been accusing her left and right of trying to kill him since the second she showed up in the first book.

Atticus senses that Oberon is not thrilled by the idea of meeting witches, so the “paranoid” Druid decides he’ll leave his dog at home while he goes and talks to Malina about the people trying to murder him. I suppose his house is magically protected, so it’s not that bad. But it’s a bit weird, to me at least, that he doesn’t so much as mention those protections right now. He just sets up Oberon to watch a Dirty Harry movie and goes about his business.

“Someone’s trying to kill me! Let me just leave my dog alone to watch a movie while I go about my business. It’s not like anyone’s ever kidnapped Oberon before—” OH WAIT.

Also, Atticus tells us that he’s begun carrying around Fragarach, the magic sword that everyone was killing for in the last book? He just wears it on his back. He tells us that most people assume he’s a nerd with a replica or that he likes LARPing or something. And I get that, but this is the actual artifact that the villain wanted all of last book! People were killing over it! And now he’s just walking around with it openly?

You Keep Using That Word: 7

Have you ever been so paranoid you carried your most valuable possession in public in full sight of everyone else around you?

Atticus explains to us that Malina and the entire coven lives in the Bridgeview condos (which are a real place, if you care), and they own the ninth floor. Since the evil witches died in the last book, there are some openings. Atticus’s apprentice Granuaile lives on the floor below them, under what was Radomila’s apartment. Atticus goes to visit Granny before talking to Malina.

You guys ready for Atticus to drool over a hawt woman? Because that’s what he’s doing now. Maybe that should have been a count. She answers the door in “something scanty” and we’re told she’s in a low-cut nightie and Atticus has to make himself avoid looking at her and think of baseball to avoid having sexual thoughts about his student. He has trouble even talking to her. That’s where we’re at guys.

Look, this is another one of those things that doesn’t make sense for a guy who is supposed to be two thousand years old. Seeing an attractive woman in a nightie reduces him to babbling? Really? If he was the age that he acts, then it’s fine, but Hearne repeatedly tells us that Atticus is supposed to be an ancient Druid, yet he always acts like a caricature of a horny college frat bro.

For instance, when Granny notices that he’s looking up (to avoid looking at her, though she apparently doesn’t know that), she asks if there’s something above her door and goes to look and he says this:

“There’s some tit, uh, titillating wallpaper up there! Yes! Fantastic interior decorating here, I just noticed.”

She points out that he’s seen it before. Atticus does manage to explain that he’s been attacked, and he wanted to make sure she was okay. When Granny asks for more details, he babbles out the full recap of the first couple of chapters. She’s more confused than ever, so he tells her that she should stay inside and lock her doors and windows. He doesn’t expect anything to happen to her, but just to be safe.

Granny’s uncertain, but agrees and goes back into her apartment.

…you know, you would think, if Atticus is constantly convinced that the witches are out to get him, he wouldn’t let his apprentice live in the same building. But what do I know?

Druid’s Log, November 1: Buy attractive apprentice some shapeless, ugly clothes as soon as possible; maybe convince her to shave her head as well. Tell her all the cool Druid initiates are doing it.

I get that this is a joke but it’s really stupid that Atticus apparently can’t concentrate when he’s too busy checking out his apprentice’s body.

Also Kindle tells me that this quote was highlighted by 184 readers.

Now I saw a review on Goodreads that called out this specific scene because the reviewer thought it was pretty stupid that Granuaile doesn’t realize that Atticus is hot for her during this conversation. And let’s be real, you’d have to be dumber than a box of rocks to not notice. Atticus isn’t precisely subtle when he’s horny.

I’m not entirely convinced that she doesn’t know what’s going through her teacher’s mind in this scene. Alright, I suspect that Hearne thought so when he wrote it, because Comedy, I guess. But we don’t get her point of view here. And I also think it wouldn’t be surprising if in a later book or interview or something, Hearne would say, “Oh yeah, Granuaile totally knew that Atticus wanted to bone her in this scene.” And given that we get the sequence from Atticus’s point of view, we could easily imagine that Granny notices without commenting on it to his face.

Atticus goes a floor up, adding some extra protection to himself to make sure no one takes his skin or hair. He explains that several floors up from the ground, he can’t draw on the Earth’s power, but he has his amulet with power stored up and a magic god sword so it’s moot. He draws his sword and knocks on Malina’s door. He keeps his sword out of sight of the peephole because he insists that she could come out and attack him. For Reasons.

She doesn’t, of course. Malina opens to the door, looking very tired, and tells him that “Waclawa’s dead.” Waclawa is one of the other witches in her coven, which we can tell by context, but Atticus has to stop and think about. She died by spontaneous combustion, which means a hex.

Also Hearne gives a detailed explanation of how she looks and what she’s wearing. Because that’s the kind of thing he cares about.

She invites him in, but first Atticus raises the sword and asks her to answer two questions. See, Fragarach is the Sword of Truth—when used a certain way, you can only say the truth when it’s used on you. They haggle a bit about getting asking questions in return and getting honest answers, or something. I don’t care it’s dumb.

The first question Atticus asks is if Malina knows who tried to kill him or was involved in any way or knows who is. Malina says that she didn’t do it, she has nothing to do with it, though she knows who is responsible. He’s tempted to ask who it is, but for his second question Atticus asks if there was any spell cast on him while in the building. She explains she didn’t, but there’s an automatic enchantment in the building that identifies nonresidents when they enter. She’s about to go on, but doesn’t feel like telling Atticus that, and tries to use magic, and then close the door on him. But the Sword of truth won’t let ther because it doesn’t let you move too far when you’re using it in truth-telling mode or something. Eventually she succumbs and tells Atticus that there’s an enchantment in the hallway that takes some hair from your head if you’re not a resident there, that her kitchen knife is magicked to cut strangers who try using it, and the bathroom will recycle the waste material to be used in magic.

“Eww, gross,” I said. First impression of a valley girl, ever. I swear.

A.) I didn’t read that in a stereotypical valley girl voice. I don’t know who would. It seems a normal reaction to someone saying that their toilet is magicked to recycle strangers’ poop.

B.) I also don’t believe that is Atticus’s first impression of a valley girl. If you convinced him that’s how everyone talked, he’d stick to that impression and pretend it’s the cleverest thing imaginable.

Malina demands to be released from the spell because she gave all the information to answer the questions. Atticus claims that her reticence in answering proves he was right to be careful, which for once, is kind of true? He also points out that collecting samples from him is against their treaty (which, as is pointed out at the beginning of the book, isn’t signed yet.)

So Malina is released, and Atticus wants to know who tried to kill him and killed one of their own coven. Malina finds that reasonable and offers to return any hair samples taken and dispel the protective enchantments Atticus finds so offensive. But she gives the condition that Atticus never use the sword on any coven members, which Atticus tells us he doesn’t actually agree to but tells her to go on.

I don’t much feel like describing every single detail of everything in this book, but in the apartment there’s this:

The wall above the obligatory big-screen TV boasted a large painting of a triple goddess figure, presumably the Zoryas.

Did Not Do Homework: 4

I know I talked about this last book, so maybe it’s unfair to add to the count here. But I don’t care! It’s still stupid. In case you’re new, it’s this: the Zoryas are not a triple goddess. They are not a trio of goddesses. They are two Slavic goddesses, representing the morning and evening stars. There’s some debate, but consensus is that there isn’t a third Zorya, a midnight star, as Hearne claims in this book. See, while it’s very popular, especially in New Age and neopagan circles, to suggest that all Western cultures had the notion of a triple goddess, or something like the Greek Fates, that’s not quite true.

In his novel American Gods Neil Gaiman paints the Zoryas as a triple goddess like the Fates. Thing is, Neil Gaiman has more or less admitted that he made up a lot on his depiction of the Slavic deities because he didn’t have many sources available to him while writing. And that’s fine. But Hearne is regurgitating this view of the Zoryas on Gaiman’s novel, even using the same name of the third sister. So Hearne just…copied an idea from one of his favorite authors and passed it off as a mythological concept.

To be fair, thus far the Zoryas have not actually appeared as characters, so at least he didn’t copy and paste the characters from someone else’s work. But he did read someone’s novel and decided it was the real thing, without doing any research of his own on the subject.

Looking around Malina’s apartment, Atticus is surprised (and surprised at his own surprise) that she has normal magazines and newspapers around instead of manuals on animal sacrifice or anything like that. Which is weird, because last book he makes a point to tell us that witches generally don’t look like hags or the Wicked Witch of the West. So even though he chastises the reader about having stereotypical ideas about witches, he himself holds them. Good to know.

Also Malina offers for him to sit, but he thinks she easily could have bespelled the furniture to hurt him so he passes. He also doesn’t take a drink when she offers.

So Malina explains that Waclawa, her deceased coven sister, has been incinerated. It’s not a spell anyone in their coven can do, as it requires deals with demons and that sort of thing. She says it takes at least three witches to cast one of those, and with each of the coven members targeted, plus Atticus, he runs the numbers and says that they’re dealing with “two dozen witches plus eight demons.” Uh, okay. I’d like Atticus to explain the math, but whatever, let’s go with it.

Malina says the demons might not be around, but that they impregnated the witches (what ew) and that in nine months there will be demon babies going around? What? Why is this a thing? Why is this here, Hearne?

Also Malina tells us what this coven is called: “die Tochter des dritten Hauses,” or “The Daughters of the Third House.” Malina notes that Atticus speaks German when he translates it, and Atticus says he speaks several versions of it. But not Polish?

The reason most of the witches didn’t die when they were attacked by the curses of the German witches was because they were at home; their apartment complex is warded against attack. Waclawa was running errands or something, so she just went up in smoke. When Atticus asks why they were all targeted, Malina guesses that aside from trying to “settle an old score” it’s because they’re the best magical protection in the East Valley territory, and without them in the way they can move in quickly.

Atticus, rather astutely, asks why the werewolves or Leif weren’t targeted, and Malina points out that they don’t really care about protecting the place, and so the witches decided they weren’t worth the effort. Atticus protests that he isn’t interested in being the East Valley’s guardian, which, uh, I thought he was because he’s a Druid? I thought the point was being a defender of the Earth. Now he’s trying to be like, “Not my problem.” Once again, Atticus is only part of the action of the Plot because he’s dragged into it. He doesn’t care!

And Malina also says that the reason the East Valley is more prosperous and less crime-ridden is because the witches there? She says they’re “Not solely responsible, just largely responsible” because the Zoryas are protective goddesses (no they’re not) or something like that.

Then after asking, Atticus says he doesn’t care and wants to know how to kill these evil witches. Malina tells him to do whatever it was he did last time he fought witches, and Atticus keeps to himself that last time werewolves did most of the work. She promises to have the coven get together to try to learn the evil coven’s location by magic. The invaders have more numbers and are more powerful, “So it is up to you, Mr. Sullivan, to go out and thwart them if you can.”

“I think you’re confusing me with a superhero. Heroes go around thwarting dastardly villains. They give evidence to the police, and the bad guys always say that they would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids.”

Malina looks very confused at this, and Atticus tells us it’s because she’s “Not a big fan of Saturday morning cartoons, I guess.” Though I suspect it’s because once again, Atticus mixed his references. The “meddling kids” thing is from Scooby-Doo, and while Batman has guest-starred on different incarnations of the show, it’s not a superhero show! Everyone knows that!

Did Not Do Homework: 5

So no, he’s not a superhero, he’s a Druid, who “on the other hand, take revenge on people who try to cook them.” And, uh, I don’t think Malina was ever suggesting that you have the witches arrested. Especially when Atticus’s relationship with the police is garbage.

And you know what else? This line is still stupid because that’s not really what Atticus does. We’ve seen what happens to Atticus’s lifelong enemies. Remember Aenghus Og? At the end of the last book, it’s revealed that if he’d gone and fought Aenghus at any time in the last few hundred years he would have killed him without expending much effort, because he’s a much better swordsman and can think of a plan that doesn’t involve rendering himself impotent what the Karzanhi was that even about

This man absolutely will not do anything, even if his life depends on it. I’d say he’s a coward for not facing his enemies, but he doesn’t even run (though he claims he does). He doesn’t care!

Atticus asks why the East Valley is so important anyway, and Malina says it’s an industrialized area of people who aren’t particularly superstitious enough to believe in magic. So magical groups flock towards urban centers to be able to blend in, but again, why the East Valley? The world, heck, the Americas, are full of urban centers where a magical being could blend in.

Atticus asks why they can’t share, and Malina says they can—after all, the Tempe coven shares the area with Atticus and the werewolves. But too many magic users means risk of exposure increases, and also “the risk of overtaxing the economics”. Wait, what?

[Also shouldn’t that be “economy” instead of “economics”?]

Atticus asks what the fudge she’s talking about, and Malina tells us that the coven makes their money through their magic. Basically they use their glamours to enchant people into giving them money.

“we are on the payrolls of two dozen different companies as consultants, but we do absolutely nothing for our paychecks, just like normal consultants.”

Dang, Hearne, did a consultant steal your college girlfriend or something?

[I’ll admit, I found this one jab a little bit amusing. I chuckled.]

It’s kind of boring that they make their money by not doing anything, but I can totally see magic users doing this so I don’t have much comment. Malina also says, like she did in the last book, that they keep the area free of other magical threats. Also some Bacchants are on their way from Vegas.

I struggled to appear nonchalant, but I was dangerously close to needing a new pair of underwear. Back when I was an initiate—this was decades before Jesus—Bacchants were the scariest thing in the world, according to the archdruid. Anything that could scare the archdruid damn well gave me nightmares; I nearly shat kine whenever Bacchus was mentioned even obliquely for my first few centuries.

Um, okay, but you’ve fought literal gods and demons? And you’ve mastered magic and outlasted all the other Druids? Why the fudge would Bacchants bother Atticus this much, after all this time? The answer: they don’t, but once again Hearne is telling us he’s worried, only for Atticus to go along as if nothing’s wrong and no one can hurt him. Because they can’t, because he’s a stupid Mary Sue and I hate him. He did this with Aenghus Og, he did this with Bres, he did this with the witches, he did this with the Fir Bolgs. He tells us he’s worried, has a reaction, and then goes about his business like nothing’s wrong.

This is his actual approach to any antagonist being announced in the Plot:

It would be entertaining if we weren’t supposed to be taking this Plot semi-seriously.

Kids today don’t know much about Bacchants, except perhaps for the story about Orpheus told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I had an ASU student looking for it in my shop last week, and he defined the Bacchants for me as “those drunk chicks who killed that one dude because he wouldn’t have sex with them.”* His professors must be so proud. I asked him if he knew what maenads were, and instead of correctly answering that it was just another name for Bacchants, he bizarrely thought I was referring to my own testicles—as in, “‘Ere now, mate, don’t swing that bat around me nads.” The conversation deteriorated quickly after that.

LAUGH, DAMNIT!: 3

Thing is, the way that college kid talks isn’t too different from how Atticus himself talks. I don’t get why he’s mocking the kid. Heck, the first chapter Atticus is getting on Leif’s case for not talking like a stupid college kid. What does he want?

So because this chapter is a dung load of exposition, it is explained to us that Bacchants have magic staves that can summon wine, and when they go into frenzy from dancing and drinking they’re strong enough to rip people apart. Their magic drives people crazy, and because Atticus suspect it’s based on pheromones, he’s worried his amulet won’t protect him from it. They can’t be burned or hurt by iron. Apparently the latter applies even to Atticus’s cut-anything sword, which seems a bit silly to me.

Instead of analyzing this information and formulating a plan, Atticus accuses Malina of making him solve all of her problems while she and her sister witches just sit back and watch movies. He does this while making a stupid accent.

“Was that supposed to be an imitation of my accent? It sounded like a Russian trying to imitate Bela Lugosi and failing miserably.

Atticus asks what she plans to do to fight the German witches. Malina does this thing where she shakes her hair, which as in the last book, can enchant men to do what she wants. Atticus is resistant, but because she’s hawt he sits there checking her out anyway and has to focus by reminding himself to think of baseball. Again.

She tells him they’re going to locate the witches by magic, and until then they can’t do much. So she agrees to give Atticus the hair samples she magically took, but it turns out that because of Atticus’s protective enchantments she didn’t get any so this whole thing was pointless! There’s also a trip through her pantry, and he offers her some supply that she’s been missing. But yeah the chapter ends with Malina being surprised that her hair-collecting enchantment didn’t work.

Ha-ha. My personal binding was stronger than her enchantment. Neener neener, Malina. You can’t catch me.

LAUGH, DAMNIT!: 4

I hate this man. He’s such a turd.

I was thinking about this book, and the previous one, and how there are just… info dumps. Textbook examples of infodumps. And comparing it to Dresden Files because that’s the other big name urban fantasy series. Harry Dresden gets told new information a lot, but generally they are smaller bits of information that he puts together over the course of the story to figure out, as the reader does, what’s going on and who is doing what. As opposed to Atticus, who shows up somewhere and a character tells him who the villains are and what they want, and his internal narration smugly lectures us some more.

I’ll admit that this is maybe not a fair comparison because Dresden Files is deliberately also trying to be reminiscent of mystery stories, and Iron Druid isn’t. I’m also not sure what the fudge Iron Druid even is trying to be. Someone in the comments for the first book’s sporking mentioned that it looked like someone attempting to do an adult version of Percy Jackson and that’s honestly the closest thing I can think of. It’s attempting to be an action comedy “for adults” but not understanding how to be mature, how to be funny, or even how to be action.

[points at this chapter]

It sure as fudge isn’t like_this_ piece of junk chapter. I know not every chapter is going to be nonstop action, but this halts the Plot so Malina can explain what’s going on, while Atticus condescendingly snarks at her. And this is right on the heels of a chapter in which Coyote shows up at Atticus’s house to give him MOAR exposition about future Plot developments. Surely there was a better way to deliver this information?

Apparently Hearne couldn’t think of one.

Better Than You: 3
Did Not Do Homework: 5
The Kids These Days: 4
You Keep Using That Word: 7
Make It Easy!: 3
LAUGH, DAMNIT!: 4

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Comment

  1. Aikaterini on 27 July 2021, 12:38 said:

    She answers the door in “something scanty” and we’re told she’s in a low-cut nightie

    How convenient. I could see this happening if Atticus had arrived right after she’d slept with someone and she’d scrambled for something to put on before answering the door. But as far as we know, she’s alone. All of the outfits she could’ve been wearing when answering the door and it just has to be something to make Atticus drool over her? Do she and Atticus get together in this book? Because ‘protagonist accidentally stumbles upon shirtless man/woman in lingerie’ is pretty much shorthand in film for “This person will be a love interest.”

    adding some extra protection to himself to make sure no one takes his skin or hair

    Okay, at least that part seems sensible and something that a ‘paranoid’ Druid would do. I don’t understand why Atticus is so lax about everything else, though.

    he thinks she easily could have bespelled the furniture to hurt him so he passes. He also doesn’t take a drink when she offers.

    Again, this seems like something that a person who’s paranoid (or at the very least, careful around the supernatural) would do! What’s gotten into Atticus in this scene?

    Atticus protests that he isn’t interested in being the East Valley’s guardian, which, uh, I thought he was because he’s a Druid?

    So, if he’s not a guardian, then what is he doing? What is the point of his job?

    he’s a Druid, who “on the other hand, take revenge on people who try to cook them.”

    So, they’re just vigilantes, then? Also, the way he phrases this makes the job sound reactive. They don’t try to achieve vengeance on others’ behalf. They only take revenge on people who go after them. Basically, if nobody bothered them, then the Druids would do nothing.

    the way that college kid talks isn’t too different from how Atticus himself talks.

    And like that college kid, Atticus isn’t as clever or knowledgeable as he thinks he is, considering that, as you’ve already pointed out, he just mixed up superheroes and Scooby Doo.

    What does he want?

    To be seen as smarter and cooler than everyone else.

    Atticus accuses Malina of making him solve all of her problems while she and her sister witches just sit back and watch movies.

    Given Atticus’s laziness and apathy, I think that he’s projecting here. He really sounds like a whiny, spoiled child. “What do you mean, I have to use my Druid gifts to defend the community and help other supernatural beings? I just wanna chill with my dog and ogle hot chicks!”

    Ha-ha. My personal binding was stronger than her enchantment. Neener neener, Malina. You can’t catch me.

    Okay, I thought that Atticus sounded like a stereotypical frat boy earlier, but here? He sounds like he’s five years old. How old is this man supposed to be again?

  2. Faranae on 28 July 2021, 00:31 said:

    How old is this man supposed to be again?

    2000 years old! Two! Thousand! You know, when I watched an SFF panel on older characters and the panelists discussed how bad SFF often is at characters who are centuries old, they weren’t even discussing this level of awful. Atticus acts likes a teenage boy the whole time. Even the inconsistent paranoia fits. I just don’t understand not just… making him a young man? A reincarnation! It would be fine!

    Incidentally, the best portrayal of immortal characters imperfectly coping with long lives that I’ve seen was the obscure, incomplete self-published Kastor Chronicles, which features an ensemble cast of immortal, god-like beings who have to prevent insanity by selectively erasing their memories. And their flaws do not consist of “being a giant man-child” (except for one villain) and “BSOD in the presence of conventionally attractive people”.

  3. The Smith of Lies on 28 July 2021, 09:00 said:

    I hope you brought something to do, because this chapter is a butt-ton of exposition and not much else of note.

    Well, I am supposed to be at work now, so I guess I have something to do… But how can I say no to a new chapter of the spork?

    The one where Atticus finally talks to Malina. I say ‘finally’ but this is only the fifth chapter? It’s just that a lot of things have come into the Plot already so it feels longer than it actually is.

    I mean the fact that Atticus did something within only 5 chapters since setting out to do it is a rather break-neck pace compared to the first book.

    He tells us that most people assume he’s a nerd with a replica or that he likes LARPing or something.

    I’d chuck a “Makes it easy!” count for that one. Walking around with a sword is not exactly inconspicous. I know that US has rather more lax attitude to carrying firearms around (though I have no idea if AZ is an open carry state) compared to Europe and then swords are even less likely to be tightly regulated, but that’d still catch attention.

    Not to mention that Atticus actually got shot by a cop for having the sword on him in the first book. And now everyone just ignores it? He could have at least have enough dignity to walk around in a duster big enough to conceal it. You know, like the cool immortals do.

    Since the evil witches died in the last book, there are some openings.

    “So dear, it says on your application that you have a PHD in applied chemistry, why did you choose to try and join our coven?”
    “Well… That is a bit embarassing, but well… Economy being what it is I could use a dental plan and how much more difficult can being a witch be compared to organic chemistry?”
    “… Not exactly enthusiasm we’re looking for, but you’ll do. I swear, this is the last time we’re doing recruitment through classifieds…”

    Look, this is another one of those things that doesn’t make sense for a guy who is supposed to be two thousand years old. Seeing an attractive woman in a nightie reduces him to babbling? Really? If he was the age that he acts, then it’s fine, but Hearne repeatedly tells us that Atticus is supposed to be an ancient Druid, yet he always acts like a caricature of a horny college frat bro.

    Interesting point in that regard, that sometimes pops up in context of long-live species. Namely, being rather deviant sexually due to simple boredom of decades and centuries of experience. As Auberon of Aen Elle says in Witcher I have lived long, seen all and am bored with it.

    Given Atticus’s proclivities he probably fucked his way through life in all imaginable cirmustances, combinations and ways as well as some unimaginable. Seing a scantily clad woman is probably as common and tired sight for him as possible. Fighting arousal? Stifling a yawn would be way more appropriate reaction for him.

    And of course obligatory Flashman aside. Flashman was as randy as they come. At one point around the middle his (in)glorious career he made a count of women he’d been with and he hit something upwards of 400. And even this lech dealt with his cravings with more class than Atticus (even if only cause he was more methodical about it).

    “There’s some tit, uh, titillating wallpaper up there! Yes! Fantastic interior decorating here, I just noticed.”

    This line does not belong in an urban fantasy book about a 2000 year old druid. It belongs in a subpar, harem anime about an ingenue, teenage protagonist. Seriously, this is simply embarassing coming from an (allegedly) adult man.

    …you know, you would think, if Atticus is constantly convinced that the witches are out to get him, he wouldn’t let his apprentice live in the same building.

    That is a part of it. Another part is, that it makes for a terribly narratively convenient coincidence that she just happens to lives next to the witches.

    I get that this is a joke but it’s really stupid that Atticus apparently can’t concentrate when he’s too busy checking out his apprentice’s body.

    Which only convinces me that my plan of buying him an escort who’d live a big brick of C4 under his bed is a perfect way to assasinate the filthy bugger. She could probably carry it in her hand and as long as the cleavage is cut low enough he won’t notice.

    And I also think it wouldn’t be surprising if in a later book or interview or something, Hearne would say, “Oh yeah, Granuaile totally knew that Atticus wanted to bone her in this scene.” And given that we get the sequence from Atticus’s point of view, we could easily imagine that Granny notices without commenting on it to his face.

    While it would not be surprising, I do hope he did not expand on it in any way shape or form. Because I have a strong suspicion that if he ever did, he’d supply that the feeling was mutual.

    Also Hearne gives a detailed explanation of how she looks and what she’s wearing. Because that’s the kind of thing he cares about.

    Makes one wonder how much happier we’d all be if he just went and made career in writing straight up smut instead of wrapping it in veil of urban fantasy.

    See, Fragarach is the Sword of Truth—when used a certain way, you can only say the truth when it’s used on you.

    Oh god, this shit again? Wasn’t it enough to have that in Immoral Instruments? Well, at least here no one is trying to reverse its polarity to start summoning demons. Yet.

    Thing is, Neil Gaiman has more or less admitted that he made up a lot on his depiction of the Slavic deities because he didn’t have many sources available to him while writing.

    As far as I am aware, this is because compared to other popular mythologies, there are very few original sources for it, since there was never a comprehensive, written version. So we are mostly operating on survivng bits and pieces and some oral tradition.

    So even though he chastises the reader about having stereotypical ideas about witches, he himself holds them.

    That is interesting. Given all established information about his attitude towards them one would think that as bigoted as he is, he wouldn’t mind stereotypes. I guess he just needs to be hating them for the “right” reasons and not for the pop-cultural image.

    Atticus is a bigotry hipster.

    Also Malina offers for him to sit, but he thinks she easily could have bespelled the furniture to hurt him so he passes.

    On one hand this is the first paranoid thing he did. On the other he has just used his Plot Sword to get comprehensive list of enchantments in her house, up to and including the toilet hex. I think the armchair is safe.

    He also doesn’t take a drink when she offers.

    Now that is smart. I know that were I in Malina’s shoes, I’d be very tempted to make sure to use some ethylene glicol as a sweetener for his drink.

    Atticus, he runs the numbers and says that they’re dealing with “two dozen witches plus eight demons.” Uh, okay. I’d like Atticus to explain the math, but whatever, let’s go with it.

    As much as I hate giving Hearne any credit, this seems to track well enough. I don’t know if it is spelled out how many members of the coven were attacked, but assuming demon to witch ratio for the attack spell is 1:3 I would put that number at 7. This way two dozen witches gives us 8 groups of 3, each with a demon and thus 8 simultaneous casts.

    Of course we don’t know if one couldn’t simply cast the hex over and over with one set of witches+demon, what is the refractory period, how many times can you cast it in a row before falling down exhausted (or dead)… But technical details of magic were never a strong part of the books.

    What? Why is this a thing? Why is this here, Hearne?

    Because it is a popular enough trope?

    Atticus protests that he isn’t interested in being the East Valley’s guardian, which, uh, I thought he was because he’s a Druid? I thought the point was being a defender of the Earth. Now he’s trying to be like, “Not my problem.”

    Say what you will about his moral fibre, at least he isn’t pretending to be something he isn’t here. This is surprisingly self aware for Atticus and his typical smug assertions.

    “I think you’re confusing me with a superhero. Heroes go around thwarting dastardly villains. They give evidence to the police, and the bad guys always say that they would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids.”

    _“No, I confused you for someone who doesn’t want to get murdered by a coven of hostile witches. Guess I was wrong. Have fun not thwarting them.”

    But this also annoys me because this is second time in as many chapters that Atticus just wants to ignore whatever threat happens to be around. I can get someone being anti-hero who does not chase danger out of the goodness of their heart. But then it is on the writer to give them a drive to deal with the issues. He can be mercenary, he can be dealing with it as a counter-strike, he can be dealing with it out of spite but he should have some internal reasoning to deal with the issue. But all Atticus does is whining how he does not want to be a part of it, which does not become a protagonist.

    because Atticus suspect it’s based on pheromones, he’s worried his amulet won’t protect him from it

    This is an accidental nugget of potential. I always liked creative solutions to the problesm with use of magic. One of my favourite examples is in Black Company books by Glen Cook. One side of the war has been using flying carpets for scouting attack runs. At one point they ran into a person who had aura that blocked magic in large radius, causing the carpets to fall.

    The solution? They build glider frames around the flying carpets, so they could get into the zone, drop missiles and then leave in unpowered untill magic kicks back in.

    I strongly doubt we’ll see fraction of such cleverness in the Iron Druid.

  4. Faranae on 28 July 2021, 12:32 said:

    I’d chuck a “Makes it easy!” count for that one. Walking around with a sword is not exactly inconspicous. I know that US has rather more lax attitude to carrying firearms around (though I have no idea if AZ is an open carry state) compared to Europe and then swords are even less likely to be tightly regulated, but that’d still catch attention.

    Arizona is an open carry state. Until 2011, it was unclear if this included blades, but the state law was clarified and yes, you can legally carry around any size sword you please. This is not the same as it being unremarkable. Generally it’s people with pistols, and people start to freak out with larger guns. Swords are outright abnormal, and the US is the kind of place where the legality of the action does not preclude the police shooting you out because they are incredibly high strung and unpredictable. Tempe isn’t a nerd haven, as much as Hearne desperately wants it to be. You could almost get away with “LARPer with a replica!” in Portland, OR or NYC, but pretty much anywhere else you’re likely to get shot, especially if there isn’t an actual nerd convention happening. Besides which, it’s standard practice to “peace bond” replica weapons unless they are made of foam, which render it pointless to haul around a real sword.

  5. The Smith of Lies on 28 July 2021, 14:35 said:

    Arizona is an open carry state. […]

    Thank you for that edifying comment. It more or less confirms my guess as to legality of the situation as well as my conviction Atticus would stick out like a sore thumb and probably get himself questioned by law enforcement regularly… Then again, given what we know about his interactions with cops, maybe we are blessed to be spared the dubious pleasure of witnessing that.

  6. Juracan on 28 July 2021, 20:07 said:

    How convenient. I could see this happening if Atticus had arrived right after she’d slept with someone and she’d scrambled for something to put on before answering the door. But as far as we know, she’s alone. All of the outfits she could’ve been wearing when answering the door and it just has to be something to make Atticus drool over her? Do she and Atticus get together in this book? Because ‘protagonist accidentally stumbles upon shirtless man/woman in lingerie’ is pretty much shorthand in film for “This person will be a love interest.”

    It is a bit weird, which one of the reasons I have my doubts that Granny doesn’t know the effect she has on Atticus. For the record, they don’t get together in this book, but yes, she is Atticus’s love interest in the series.

    What’s gotten into Atticus in this scene?

    A small bit of common sense.

    It doesn’t last, of course.

    So, if he’s not a guardian, then what is he doing? What is the point of his job?

    I don’t know! Supposedly the duty of a Druid is to protect the Earth, but he shows so little regard to that one thing, it’s difficult to think it’s something he takes seriously. One would be excused that he’s more interested in his day job of running a store.

    So, they’re just vigilantes, then? Also, the way he phrases this makes the job sound reactive. They don’t try to achieve vengeance on others’ behalf. They only take revenge on people who go after them. Basically, if nobody bothered them, then the Druids would do nothing.

    I don’t know what to tell you. He’s a selfish dick, and if the Plot didn’t happen he’d just be going about his day, running his shop and sleeping with college girls.

    How old is this man supposed to be again?

    2000 years old! Two! Thousand! You know, when I watched an SFF panel on older characters and the panelists discussed how bad SFF often is at characters who are centuries old, they weren’t even discussing this level of awful. Atticus acts likes a teenage boy the whole time. Even the inconsistent paranoia fits. I just don’t understand not just… making him a young man? A reincarnation! It would be fine!

    I think Hearne really screwed up when he made Atticus the way he did? Because everything falls apart with what’s supposed to be an experienced 2,000-year-old Druid, and much of the Plot and characterization would work better if he just… wasn’t. It seems more like a way to make him seem like a cool and unique character, but Hearne so rarely does something with it that feels authentic that it’s just wasted.

    Incidentally, the best portrayal of immortal characters imperfectly coping with long lives that I’ve seen was the obscure, incomplete self-published Kastor Chronicles, which features an ensemble cast of immortal, god-like beings who have to prevent insanity by selectively erasing their memories. And their flaws do not consist of “being a giant man-child” (except for one villain) and “BSOD in the presence of conventionally attractive people”.

    [marks to look into that]

    Well, I am supposed to be at work now, so I guess I have something to do… But how can I say no to a new chapter of the spork?

    I cannot judge, when I get bored at work I look at fast food menus and argue with myself whether I’m going to eat out.

    I mean the fact that Atticus did something within only 5 chapters since setting out to do it is a rather break-neck pace compared to the first book.

    Don’t know if I would say “did something” to describe this chapter, thinking back on it.

    Interesting point in that regard, that sometimes pops up in context of long-live species. Namely, being rather deviant sexually due to simple boredom of decades and centuries of experience. As Auberon of Aen Elle says in Witcher I have lived long, seen all and am bored with it.

    Given Atticus’s proclivities he probably fucked his way through life in all imaginable cirmustances, combinations and ways as well as some unimaginable. Seing a scantily clad woman is probably as common and tired sight for him as possible. Fighting arousal? Stifling a yawn would be way more appropriate reaction for him.

    Yeah? I’m not saying that Atticus should have no libido at all, but it is really weird that he’s so horny all the time? That he looks at attractive women and almost always gets instantly aroused? The man’s been around for a long time; one would think that he wouldn’t have this problem. If anything, you’d expect more commentary on the changing standards of beauty throughout history.

    This line does not belong in an urban fantasy book about a 2000 year old druid. It belongs in a subpar, harem anime about an ingenue, teenage protagonist. Seriously, this is simply embarassing coming from an (allegedly) adult man.

    This is another one of those things that I’m sure when Hearne wrote it, he giggled to himself for five full minutes about how funny he is. And I hate it.

    Which only convinces me that my plan of buying him an escort who’d live a big brick of C4 under his bed is a perfect way to assasinate the filthy bugger. She could probably carry it in her hand and as long as the cleavage is cut low enough he won’t notice.

    And to be clear! The Morrigan brings this up in the second chapter of the last book! Well, not the C4, but that Aenghus Og could totally have him killed with a succubus or a normal human woman distracting him. And Atticus shrugs it off, claiming it’s been tried before. The fact that he’s still alive makes me think it hasn’t been tried before.

    While it would not be surprising, I do hope he did not expand on it in any way shape or form. Because I have a strong suspicion that if he ever did, he’d supply that the feeling was mutual.

    Sad spoiler alert: she’s the series love interest.

    Oh god, this shit again? Wasn’t it enough to have that in Immoral Instruments? Well, at least here no one is trying to reverse its polarity to start summoning demons. Yet.

    I do wonder if this sword, which is totes a thing in Irish mythology, was the inspiration behind the one in Mortal Instruments. I haven’t heard from Apep in ages though and he’s our resident expert.

    As far as I am aware, this is because compared to other popular mythologies, there are very few original sources for it, since there was never a comprehensive, written version. So we are mostly operating on survivng bits and pieces and some oral tradition.

    Right. And Gaiman was writing this in the late 90’s or so (the book first came out in 2001)? So he didn’t even have the Internet to fall back to. So he invented some stuff, or fell back on New Age theories, which is why you have this weird thing with Czernabog/Bielobog. And it’s a cool set of characters, I don’t mind, and I’ve tried doing the same thing with my own writing and Taino mythology, because we don’t have that many authentic written records.

    Hearne doesn’t have the same excuse of not having the Internet. He should know that the thing about the Zoryas wasn’t A Thing by now.

    Atticus is a bigotry hipster.

    [strokes beard] I shall have to save this for later.

    As much as I hate giving Hearne any credit, this seems to track well enough. I don’t know if it is spelled out how many members of the coven were attacked, but assuming demon to witch ratio for the attack spell is 1:3 I would put that number at 7. This way two dozen witches gives us 8 groups of 3, each with a demon and thus 8 simultaneous casts.

    No, you’re right, Hearne’s right. I did the numbers in my head too. But it seemed like weird from jumping over the work he did in his head to get that in a book that… look, I don’t think that this was written with math people in mind. I don’t think most readers would have stopped and checked to make sure that math adds up.

    Basically, it’s not wrong, but I would have liked for Hearne to show some of his work before throwing Atticus’s calculation at us.

    But all Atticus does is whining how he does not want to be a part of it, which does not become a protagonist.

    AGAIN, you would think Kevin Hearne, who was AN ENGLISH TEACHER, might know what makes a good protagonist, but sadly not.

    I strongly doubt we’ll see fraction of such cleverness in the Iron Druid.

    I mean the first book the protagonist beat the bad guy by being handed power by a goddess and being naturally smarter and a better swordsman and better looking than the villain.

    Arizona is an open carry state. Until 2011, it was unclear if this included blades, but the state law was clarified and yes, you can legally carry around any size sword you please. This is not the same as it being unremarkable. Generally it’s people with pistols, and people start to freak out with larger guns. Swords are outright abnormal, and the US is the kind of place where the legality of the action does not preclude the police shooting you out because they are incredibly high strung and unpredictable. Tempe isn’t a nerd haven, as much as Hearne desperately wants it to be. You could almost get away with “LARPer with a replica!” in Portland, OR or NYC, but pretty much anywhere else you’re likely to get shot, especially if there isn’t an actual nerd convention happening. Besides which, it’s standard practice to “peace bond” replica weapons unless they are made of foam, which render it pointless to haul around a real sword.

    I don’t necessarily think he’d get shot. Tempe isn’t a nerd haven, but it is right by a college which means the people there might see weird stuff every so often. I think they would think that there was something up, but not necessarily that he’s dangerous. Though it also depends how it’s sheathed, if the blade is visible, and where he’s going.

    But it certainly would get noticed, and it would get commented on, and it wouldn’t be out of the question for a police officer to look at him and ask him about it sooner or later.

  7. Faranae on 28 July 2021, 22:37 said:

    Thank you for that edifying comment.

    You’re welcome!

    But it certainly would get noticed, and it would get commented on, and it wouldn’t be out of the question for a police officer to look at him and ask him about it sooner or later.

    We can only assume that Atticus’s extremely white skin protects him from being shot for waltzing around with a sword, except insofar as he literally provokes them all the time. Not all college towns are created equal, and generally, “see weird stuff all time” doesn’t usually involve weapons, even in the US (at least not when these books were written. Things have gotten more intense of late…)

    Supposedly the duty of a Druid is to protect the Earth, but he shows so little regard to that one thing, it’s difficult to think it’s something he takes seriously.

    Honestly, an ancient Druid who’s a card-carrying member of Greenpeace or Extinction Rebellion or heck, the Sea Shepards, would have been far more engaging. It’s super weird he prefers living in a city as it is. Doesn’t all that asphalt and pollution interfere with his magic and Earth connection? Oh no, it doesn’t, because of Make It Easy!

    I think Hearne really screwed up when he made Atticus the way he did? Because everything falls apart with what’s supposed to be an experienced 2,000-year-old Druid, and much of the Plot and characterization would work better if he just… wasn’t. It seems more like a way to make him seem like a cool and unique character, but Hearne so rarely does something with it that feels authentic that it’s just wasted.

    This is where the classic manga trick of making him a reincarnation of a Druid from 2000 years ago could work so well. He could be a dumb college kid while getting flashes of his ancient self. Hearne could even have all the other incarnations filtering through. So, Avatar: The Last Airbender or Hawkgirl. He could have his cake and eat it too!

    AGAIN, you would think Kevin Hearne, who was AN ENGLISH TEACHER, might know what makes a good protagonist, but sadly not.

    Justin Trudeau, PM of Canada, was a French teacher. His French is terrible. It’s embarrassing. He gets his tenses and genders wrong all the time.

  8. Juracan on 29 July 2021, 07:46 said:

    Also something we’re not emphasizing here in regards to “whether the cops would shoot Atticus” is that Atticus… is a cop killer. Sort of. He had a hand in Fagles’s death, and even if no one understood quite what happened there, all the police present know he had something to do with it, and then sued the city about it. And when Fagles went down, Atticus was up and walking the next day as if nothing was wrong.

    Even sympathetic portrayals of police officers in the US emphasize that they have a very ‘Attack one and you attack all of us’ mentality (which as I understand—and I’ll admit I’m not an expert so I might be wrong—may be true to life and another reason why it’s difficult to root out corrupt cops). So Atticus is walking around freely flaunting the thing that Fagles died looking for, and, uh… even if Atticus is not shot the fact is that all the police in Tempe should know who he is and take every chance they should to harass him.

    Honestly, an ancient Druid who’s a card-carrying member of Greenpeace or Extinction Rebellion or heck, the Sea Shepards, would have been far more engaging. It’s super weird he prefers living in a city as it is. Doesn’t all that asphalt and pollution interfere with his magic and Earth connection? Oh no, it doesn’t, because of Make It Easy!

    Yeah, there’s a line in the last book where he claims he “lives simply” and it made me think that the character would work a lot better if he lived in the countryside using his powers to grow his own crops and such. But I imagine that Atticus (and Hearne) are of the impression that “duh-doy, modern people are stupid and all live in cities!” and doesn’t consider any other options.

    This is where the classic manga trick of making him a reincarnation of a Druid from 2000 years ago could work so well. He could be a dumb college kid while getting flashes of his ancient self. Hearne could even have all the other incarnations filtering through. So, Avatar: The Last Airbender or Hawkgirl. He could have his cake and eat it too!

    And you know what? Reincarnation is mentioned as a part of his belief system in the last book! It’s not explained very well, but it could be if Hearne had just made Atticus reincarnate. And that way his character makes much more sense, and you don’t start the story with him having all his powers already.

    Like imagine him having to face off against Aenghus Og, but having to learn A) how to use his powers and B) who Aenghus is and why this guy wants him dead so badly. There’s a quest! One that gives him something to actively do!

  9. LWE on 29 July 2021, 10:52 said:

    Pheromones are indeed an interesting idea for taking Atticus out. To use a phrase from Maradonia, “but what about pheromones?”

  10. Uno on 22 August 2021, 23:31 said:

    After how I was treated on this site, it’s kind of gratifying to watch it die.

  11. Juracan on 21 September 2021, 20:49 said:

    After how I was treated on this site, it’s kind of gratifying to watch it die.

    Sorry you feel that way, friendo.