Welcome back! I hate Atticus.

Coyote comes to pick up Atticus in a car he stole and… [sigh]

“This here is one hot ride, Mr. Druid, yessiree!” He slapped the hood a couple of times to punctuate his enthusiasm.

I don’t just hate the accent, I hate that Hearne decided to use the accent and then tell us that it’s totally the right thing to do.

Atticus makes a comment that it doesn’t look like that nice of a car, and Coyote has to clarify that by ‘hot’ he means he just stole it, which is a ‘duh’ but Atticus is an idiot. He’s got his bow and arrows and has set up a movie for Oberon to watch in the house (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest if you’re curious). Coyote tells us he’s also got a squirt gun full of holy water, which is one of those things you’d think you’d see more in urban fantasy.

They drive up to Apache Boulevard, which is supposed to be the bad part of town (I don’t know, I’ve never been to Tempe), and they find Mary there, in modern dress just like the Leprechaun imagined her in. She’s ministering to the homeless and addicts. To make sure that it’s her, Atticus turns on what he calls “faeries specs” and—

…again, I’m reminded that he doesn’t talk like a two-thousand-year-old Druid. I know that it’s meant to be that he’s adapted and because he’s talking to us, the audience, he sounds like a 21st century douchebag, but apparently the things he just talks to himself like this? He refers to his anti-glamour vision as “faeries specs”? Really? Can you imagine someone who has been walking around the planet longer than Christianity has existed would use a term like that?

Anyhow, the light of Mary almost blinds him (I chuckle at this) because her radiance is so bright. So they get out of the car to ask her for help and to bless the arrows, and she tells them that she “came here with no other purpose in mind.”

[annoyed groaning noises] I get that most characters in the novel exist to make Atticus’s life easier, but it’s still annoying when even they point it out in-text.

Make It Easy!: 5

Atticus relays the message from the Leprechaun that she loves Mary, who knows her, explains that she’s been praying for Atticus to stay safe, and says she “has a beautiful soul.” And I get what we’re going for here, and I want to say that all human beings have inherent value, but let’s also not forget that the Leprechaun expressed in the last book that she wants all English people to die. That’s far from a “beautiful soul.” I know we’re all supposed to react to the Leprechaun as “Te-he, crazy but sweet old lady!” but that’s… the woman clearly needs help.

When Atticus takes out the arrows Mary blesses them, with what we’re told is “a few lines from the Benediction in the Latin Mass.”

O salutaris Hostia quae coeli pandis ostium. Bella premunt hostilia; da robur, fer auxilium.

Alright I don’t go to Latin Mass a lot, so I can only compare this to what I can Google unless I want to go ask someone, and I don’t like talking to people–so Google it is! From what I can tell this is mostly accurate? Wikipedia says ‘caeli’ instead of ‘coeli’ and punctuates it differently; someone who is good at Latin can probably tell you whether or not this is a good sentence. Here’s the thing though: the book describes this as used for Benediction—that is, the part of the Mass when the Eucharist is prepared, and Catholics believe it’s turned into the Body and Blood of Christ. My research (which I’ll admit is far from deep) says it’s not—it’s a Eucharistic hymn written by the medieval theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas. And the words seem somewhat appropriate, which Atticus himself points out—it’s about gaining protection from enemies from all sides. But it’s still more than a bit weird that the prayer given for Atticus’s protection in a fight with a demon is from a Eucharistic prayer instead of something like an exorcism or a Bible quote about facing enemies.

Furthermore, Atticus doesn’t believe in this stuff. He’s not Christian, and Mary knows this. That’s not to say Christians can’t pray for people who aren’t of the faith, but given the way theology/gods work in-universe, as explained by Atticus—that they exist because people believe in them—having Mary ask a deity from a religion Atticus doesn’t follow and doesn’t hold in that high esteem seems off. It’s not like this is an ancient Jewish or early Church prayer—this is specifically a medieval Latin prayer, and let’s not forget that he mentioned in Chapter 4 that in-universe the Church destroyed the last of the Druids (which is BS as I pointed out there, but that’s what Hearne wrote). You would think he’d be at least a little uncomfortable with Christianity in that case, and certainly with Latin prayers composed by a medieval Dominican friar.

I hate always comparing every urban fantasy to Dresden Files but… [sigh] okay so in the third book, Grave Peril there’s a scene in which Harry’s devoutly Catholic friend Michael Carpenter prays before a mission. Harry’s specifically not very religious (although in later books he seems to acknowledge that there is a God that seems to lean towards a Christian theology, he doesn’t put much effort in being religious). But although he doesn’t know that the prayer accomplishes anything, he still feels something good about it, because he feels his friend’s faith, and it gives him a shred of hope about the outcome of the next battle.

[points at this book] Here it’s just… I don’t know. Mary is happy to pull out a traditional Latin prayer from an unrelated context to ask for his protection, and Atticus is cool with it, I guess. Not much reflection or reason other than to try to say that all the cool religious figures are on Atticus’s side.

I’ll give it a couple of counts.

Did Not Do Homework: 8

For removing the prayer from context and acting like it fits here. And this:

Make It Easy!: 6

Because ultimately, this should be a complex thing for Atticus, who should be grappling with the fact that the Church wiped out his kind, and instead he’s just happy to take their blessings when it suits him. It’s all just to make it easier for him.

This book sux.

The arrows get blessed, Atticus tells us that if he was using his “faeries specs” he would “have seen some really interesting magic” (before the brightness blinded him) and I want to say that’s not how that should work, but in-universe I guess it might be, and I’d be splitting hairs so let’s move on.

“The Last of the Druids and one of the First People of Native America are off to fight a fallen angel from the Fifth Circle.”

[rubs forehead]

A couple of things?

ONE: “Native America”? Yes, Coyote is Native American but the land he’s from is not “Native America.” That’s just America. Why would the continent itself be native? Native to what, exactly? To the planet Earth?

Did Not Do Homework: 9

TWO: Alright this leads to a discussion about fallen angels and such so let’s take this as it comes to us.

I’d been smiling back at Mary until I processed the end of her sentence. At that point I didn’t know if I’d ever smile again. “A fallen angel? One of the original host?”

Atticus does this thing that I hate after he’s told about a specific threat, in which he freaks out for the rest of the conversation as if it’s a big deal, and then the rest of the book and leading up to that threat he barely acts as if he’s worried at all. He’s doing it again here.

Basically it goes like this: in Christian mythology, demons are all fallen angels. Not so in Iron Druid Chronicles, apparently (which is inconsistent with the notion that mythological beings exist according to what people believe, but there ya go). Atticus explains that most demons, like the ones he fought so far, are just… generic monsters that spawn in Hell, I guess? There are pieces of fiction where this is how it goes (the videogame series Darksiders comes to mind) but given we’re told how figures from mythology and religion work in this world, and this isn’t it.

“Hoo-ee, Mr. Druid. Sounds like powerful medicine to me,” Coyote said. He wasn’t kidding. Fallen angels weren’t ordinary demons. I wasn’t sure Cold Fire would even work against such a being, since they were condemned to spend eternity in hell rather than spawned there.

“Hell” should be capitalized, since you’re referring to the location, which is a real, actual place in-universe.

Also: huh? You don’t need to give all the details on where demons come from, if they’re not fallen angels, but since you brought it up—where do they come from, other than “spawned in Hell”? You’ve told us that faeries are descendants or children of the Irish gods, is it a similar deal with demons and fallen angels?

And if fallen angels are bound to Hell for all eternity, uh… why is this one not there? Did Aenghus Og just accidentally break one of God’s eternal judgments? Does he have that kind of juice?

“And the Fifth Circle,” I said, “if I remember my Dante, is where the wrathful and the sullen are punished.”

“That’s correct, my child,” Mary affirmed.

Here’s the thing though— The Divine Comedy isn’t canon. It’s a good piece of fiction, but this isn’t the theology of any Christian denomination. And even if it was, because I’m sure there are people out there who think that it is canon, I don’t know that many of those people are familiar enough with it that they’d recognize which circle is which. Very rarely is it brought up in pop culture, and then it’s usually done wrong. Christopher Hitchens has a quote in Letters to a Young Contrarian that says something like (and I’ve seen a bunch of people try to quote that), “According to Dante, the people in the deepest circle of Hell are those who didn’t choose sides in times of moral conflict.” Except Dante Alighieri never said that—Martin Luther King, Jr. did, I think? If you read Inferno then you’ll see that the deepest circle in Hell is for those who commit the sin of Treachery.1 That is, after all, where both Lucifer and Judas are tormented.

[And Brutus, because Dante Alighieri was a Roman fanboy and apparently equated the betrayal of Caesar with the betrayal of Jesus. He was weird like that.]

The ones who didn’t pick sides aren’t even in Hell–they’re outside the gates being chased by hornets.

In short, I don’t think that Dante Alighieri’s conception of Hell should be A Thing in this universe. There are ways in which it could work—in Salvation War Hell’s geography matches Inferno and characters hypothesize that he was telepathically shown what it was like. But in a world where things like this are shaped by belief? I don’t think enough people believe in the poem for it to shake out that way. I could be wrong though, so I’m not taking points. This time.

Atticus, swearing by “Gods Below,” asks how Aenghus Og could have summoned something that powerful. Mary suggests that he didn’t summon it as much as just left the door open long enough for it to escape, though it still has the same binding on it that it can’t leave until it kills Atticus. Which doesn’t make sense? Aenghus Og didn’t have enough power to summon it, but he had enough power to bind it? How the wiggly chickens does that make sense?

Also Mary “beamed” at him after the question, “ignoring [his] invocation of a different pantheon.” Which I do not think Mary would do? Even if she’s okay with him being pagan, I don’t think she would completely ignore this.

I’m reminded of Rick Riordan’s Norse mythology books, in which one of the characters, Samirah, is a valkyrie while also being devoutly Muslim. Her reasoning is that while the Aesir and Vanir actually exist, they’re not actually “gods” as such and she doesn’t worship them so it’s okay. Which, if you ask me, is… shaky ground theologically-speaking, considering Odin signs her paychecks and she constantly works with the souls of the slain in Valhalla. And everyone is surprisingly cool with it? And I don’t think that any heroic characters should be prejudiced or anything, and I understand that this is a book for children and teenagers, but it felt as if the characters were bending over backwards in their worldview to accommodate someone who really should have a problem with what’s going on? To the point that Heimdall even affirms this viewpoint with a comment like, “Yeah, the Aesir kind of suck sometimes, you’re probably right that we’re not really gods.” It all feels very unnatural, is what I’m saying.

All this to say: Mary shouldn’t necessarily be yelling at Atticus, but him invoking different deities, something against both Christianity and the Judaism she would have been raised with, should at least merit an uncomfortable look.

Anyhow Coyote takes the arrows back to the car because “This white lady’s a bit too shiny for me.”

“You have an interesting assortment of friends,” Mary observed as Coyote’s boots crunched away on the gravel. “A Native American deity, a pack of lycanthropes, a vampire, and a coven of Zorya worshippers.”

“I wouldn’t call them all my friends,” I said. “More like acquaintances. Mrs. MacDonagh and my dog, Oberon, are my friends.”

“Then you have chosen your friends wisely,” Mary said kindly.

…was he not friends with the werewolves and vampire? Is that not the impression we’re meant to get? Not so much with Coyote and the witches—obviously not the witches—but he’s always referred to the others in a way that seems to indicate that he thinks of them as friends? Or rather, that we’re supposed to think that he thinks of them as friends. They hang out, they have inside jokes, that kind of thing? He is happy to sacrifice his werewolf buddies at the drop of a hat to get what he wants though so I wouldn’t call that friendship, but I just assumed he was a jackhole who thought that’s what friends were for, and that Hearne was a hack who didn’t understand that it made Atticus a jackhole.

But moving on, if we call the Leprechaun his real friend, that’s not wise at all. She is the one who wants to kill all the English, remember? She helps Atticus bury a body the second that he says Bres was British. Picking her as a friend is not a feat of wisdom.

Mary tells Atticus that the fallen angel’s name is Basasael, and that he was a powerful angel before he sided with Lucifer and got kicked out of Heaven, and Atticus acts like this is a big deal, but we have no frame of reference here. Like yeah, it sounds like a big deal but we don’t have much talk about angels in these books so this doesn’t mean much to me. Atticus is talking like it’s a problem, but he usually does whenever something comes up and then dismisses it five minutes later. Are angels any tougher than Irish gods? [shrugs] I dunno.

“Christ,” I whispered without thinking.

“My son is confident of your victory,” Mary said.

“Son” should probably be capitalized, given context. And using the Lord’s Name in vain is also a big no-no in Christianity, so again, I don’t think Mary should pass over this one so lightly! As I said above, I don’t think Hearne should necessarily have Mary give him a telling off, but there should, at least, be some level of discomfort with this, whether that be with a look or some other gesture.

Then again, these two have interacted before in canon, so maybe she’s just tired of always correcting him.

Atticus asks Mary to tell Jesus hi, and that they’ll get a beer next time he’s around. She promises to pass on the message and tells him to go with her blessing.

“Peace be with you,” I said, and as I turned to resume my journey with Coyote, I added under my breath, “and asskicking be with me.”

Te-he, isn’t he clever and witty!

LAUGH, DAMNIT!: 6

It’s not quite as bad as the ending of Chapter 17 but it’s not great either.

So I apologize, because this chapter is a little shorter than some of the others. I considered combining this with the next chapter, but that one (which contains the boss fight with Basasael) is pretty long; I don’t think I can put the two together without making this an absurdly bloated sporking entry. I imagine you’d rather go ahead and read an entry rather than an uber-long one.

1 An illusion that Pirates of the Caribbean of all things got right.

Better Than You: 3
Did Not Do Homework: 9
The Kids These Days: 5
You Keep Using That Word: 7
Make It Easy!: 6
LAUGH, DAMNIT!: 6

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Comment

  1. The Smith of Lies on 12 December 2021, 14:02 said:

    Welcome back! I hate Atticus.

    Welcome back! Don’t we all?

    “This here is one hot ride, Mr. Druid, yessiree!” He slapped the hood a couple of times to punctuate his enthusiasm.

    Ok, this might be me not being American, but just that sentence? It reminds me of the stereotypical portrayals of black people in servile jobs (think hotel bellboy or similar position) than anything else. And even if I am wrong on that one it just sounds terribly out of place.

    and she tells them that she “came here with no other purpose in mind.”

    Excuse me, despite having dropped my Catholicism I still threw up a little in my mouth.

    This gives me some bad flashbacks (the Polish terrible Urban Fantasy I mentioned few times). I hate and I do mean hate it when beings of power show up and for whatever reason act as if main character was the best thing since sliced bread or, even worse, sometimes even grovel in front of them.

    I am gonna count whatever scan blessings we get and be glad that at least Atticus does not describe how hot she is…

    But although he doesn’t know that the prayer accomplishes anything, he still feels something good about it, because he feels his friend’s faith, and it gives him a shred of hope about the outcome of the next battle.

    I’d like to stress another difference here. Prayers of Michael Carpenter have some power in them but that power does not come from any specific words. Sometimes they are something as simple as “Lord please watch over us.” They do something based purely on personal faith of Michael Carpenter, there is no magic in their form, only in their substance.

    Contrast this with Mary, who is almost semi-divine in nature (at least within the way metaphysics of the Iron Druid universe work, not gonna make this a theological hypothesis) using a formalized chant that has no personal meaning for anyone involved.

    Style over substance can work. It just doesn’t here. At all.

    ONE: “Native America”? Yes, Coyote is Native American but the land he’s from is not “Native America.” That’s just America. Why would the continent itself be native? Native to what, exactly? To the planet Earth?

    That and Coyote probably would consider himself as native of whatever region the tribe that believed him into existence was rather than America anyway. If he was Navajo incarnation he’d consider himself as being from Dinétah for example.

    In short, I don’t think that Dante Alighieri’s conception of Hell should be A Thing in this universe. There are ways in which it could work—in Salvation War Hell’s geography matches Inferno and characters hypothesize that he was telepathically shown what it was like. But in a world where things like this are shaped by belief?

    In a world shaped by belief there probably would be multiple hells. Dante’s would certainly be one of them (though probably not the most prominent). Consider that we know for sure there are multiple Thors and Coyotes. Given the state of Christianity in US, with its number of denominations, small churches with their own theology spawned by whatever their pastor cooks up… I would not be surprised if there was a literal legion of Jesuses, at least some of whom would be the Supply Side Jesus variants. And hence we’d have fire and brimstone hell, lake of fire hell, ironic punishments hell, Dante’s Inferno, Hell is Other People hell, Hell is the Eternal Absence of God hell and many more.

    How the wiggly chickens does that make sense?

    Wibbly wobbly, mage-y wimey?

    I’m reminded of Rick Riordan’s Norse mythology books, in which one of the characters, Samirah, is a valkyrie while also being devoutly Muslim. Her reasoning is that while the Aesir and Vanir actually exist, they’re not actually “gods” as such and she doesn’t worship them so it’s okay. Which, if you ask me, is… shaky ground theologically-speaking, considering Odin signs her paychecks and she constantly works with the souls of the slain in Valhalla. And everyone is surprisingly cool with it?

    This actually seems like an interesting idea if a one that’d be very difficult to pull off convincingly. It reminds me of an idea I had as kid after consuming a large amount of Greek mythology themed media, where mythological gods existed and Christian god was sort of “overgod” who had dominion over them as well.

    Obviously a silly concept, but in an urban fantasy universe it might work. Or at least as a viewpoint a character has that might or might not be correct.

    bq.…was he not friends with the werewolves and vampire?

    It is not the intended interpretation but I am taking this as a confirmation of our reading, that Atticus is a sociopath who does not care for anyone, his alleged friends included.

    She is the one who wants to kill all the English, remember?

    Obviously the Catholic incarnation of Mary would approve of that, seeing how they are all dirty heretics!

    All in all the tone of the whole meeting with Mary is exactly what I mentioned at the start, a figure of supposedly great power and importance (Mary is possibly the most important figure in Christianity right after the Trinity) completely losing it around the protagonist… A charitable interpretation would read this as forbearance on Mary’s part. But this is Iron Druid so we know this is the universe bending itself over backwards because Atticus is so awesome and only people who don’t love him are the baddies.

    So I apologize, because this chapter is a little shorter than some of the others. I considered combining this with the next chapter, but that one (which contains the boss fight with Basasael) is pretty long; I don’t think I can put the two together without making this an absurdly bloated sporking entry. I imagine you’d rather go ahead and read an entry rather than an uber-long one.

    No worries, it is nice to get a new spork any way!

  2. Juracan on 13 December 2021, 22:44 said:

    Welcome back! Don’t we all?

    I certainly hope so by this point.

    Ok, this might be me not being American, but just that sentence? It reminds me of the stereotypical portrayals of black people in servile jobs (think hotel bellboy or similar position) than anything else. And even if I am wrong on that one it just sounds terribly out of place.

    It… it could, I suppose, be read that way, in that sort of speech. But in context with everything else I didn’t see it that way. Just a different stereotypical accent, I guess? I don’t know. Hm.

    I am gonna count whatever scan blessings we get and be glad that at least Atticus does not describe how hot she is…

    Yeah, let’s go with that. In a couple of chapters we’re going to get a description of a potential employee Atticus interviews and Hearne makes a point of describing her hotness, if I recall correctly.

    Style over substance can work. It just doesn’t here. At all.

    Make this a sticker and slap it to the cover of the book.

    That and Coyote probably would consider himself as native of whatever region the tribe that believed him into existence was rather than America anyway. If he was Navajo incarnation he’d consider himself as being from Dinétah for example.

    As per an earlier conversation, yes, he IS supposed to be the Navajo incarnation. I hadn’t thought about it, but you’re right—the whole “America as a singular place/people” notion is probably a very foreign notion to a being who was around when there were several different peoples before Europeans came and took over, renaming the places.

    In a world shaped by belief there probably would be multiple hells. Dante’s would certainly be one of them (though probably not the most prominent). Consider that we know for sure there are multiple Thors and Coyotes. Given the state of Christianity in US, with its number of denominations, small churches with their own theology spawned by whatever their pastor cooks up… I would not be surprised if there was a literal legion of Jesuses, at least some of whom would be the Supply Side Jesus variants. And hence we’d have fire and brimstone hell, lake of fire hell, ironic punishments hell, Dante’s Inferno, Hell is Other People hell, Hell is the Eternal Absence of God hell and many more.

    That actually makes the most sense to me? A bit like how Jesus appears in the American Gods television adaptation. Of course Hearne doesn’t go into that, because I imagine he just went with ‘stereotypical urban fantasy’ and most people who go into these things already have an idea of what Hell is and how it works so he just imagines you’re used to it and doesn’t bother to explain. Like he does with werewolves and vampires, I suppose.

    This actually seems like an interesting idea if a one that’d be very difficult to pull off convincingly. It reminds me of an idea I had as kid after consuming a large amount of Greek mythology themed media, where mythological gods existed and Christian god was sort of “overgod” who had dominion over them as well.

    Obviously a silly concept, but in an urban fantasy universe it might work. Or at least as a viewpoint a character has that might or might not be correct.

    No, I get it, and I think it can work in an urban fantasy setting. It also reminds me of a throwaway line in The Just City by Jo Walton in which Apollo actually says something similar, but it’s never fully explained in that novel or the sequel so I’m not sure what it’s meant by it.

    It is not the intended interpretation but I am taking this as a confirmation of our reading, that Atticus is a sociopath who does not care for anyone, his alleged friends included.

    Good to finally have in-text, in-character confirmation, isn’t it?

    No worries, it is nice to get a new spork any way!

    I’m glad you’re enjoying. I’m hoping to have the next chapter in the next month or so, but it’s long and has a big fight, and there’s a lot I’m working on aside from this so who knows!

  3. The Smith of Lies on 14 December 2021, 05:26 said:

    It… it could, I suppose, be read that way, in that sort of speech. But in context with everything else I didn’t see it that way. Just a different stereotypical accent, I guess? I don’t know. Hm.

    Like I say, this is me being an outsider and having limited exposure to some of American dialects, accents and styles of speech. Regardless of whether I am reading too much into the quote, I think we can agree that it is a terribly written bit of dialogue?

    Yeah, let’s go with that. In a couple of chapters we’re going to get a description of a potential employee Atticus interviews and Hearne makes a point of describing her hotness, if I recall correctly.

    Tells you a lot, when the bar is “Not sexualizing Virgin Mary”. It is not as much a low bar as a limbo stick on the bottom level of hell.

    Make this a sticker and slap it to the cover of the book.

    I gave the issue about half a minute of thought and I have hypothesis why it doesn’t work. It is a purely speculative one, especially since I am experiencing the book only indirectly.

    The reason for this is twofold. First the style in “style over substance” needs to be strong enough to carry the story. And it tends to work in mostly visual mediums. Think Alucard fighting Nazi vampires. It is not a deep or even particularly well told story. But the protagonist with distinct look and mannerisms fighting over the top enemies? It carries. In the books I would say the Witcher has elements of that – fights are described in a way that has little to do with real fencing but have enough dynamism and drama in their descriptions that they work. Or Skulduggery Pleasant with its weird world, actually witty one liners and interesting set pieces.

    Atticus and his cardboard cut-outs lack any kind of flair or cool quirks that could carry the book in similar fashion. Honestly, when you look past the powers granted to Atticus by the authorial fiat he is pretty bland. And writing does not carry the style over substance either. It is functional and solid craftsmanship but to get away with purely stylish action it would have to go above and beyond.

    Secondly, even a style over substance implies there is some substance. Characters with discernable motivations and reacting like people would to the situations. Participants in the story having some kind of goals they are trying to achieve. Those can be basic and set in a simple plot structure, but there needs to be at least bare bones amounts of substance to hang the style on.

    Iron Druid gives us a character who wants nothing to do with the plot, villains who sit on their hands for millennia, supporting cast that exists only to fawn over Atticus or (in case of most women) to try and throw themselves at him.

    There is no wonder that it doesn’t work as style over substance type of story.

  4. Juracan on 18 December 2021, 19:57 said:

    Like I say, this is me being an outsider and having limited exposure to some of American dialects, accents and styles of speech. Regardless of whether I am reading too much into the quote, I think we can agree that it is a terribly written bit of dialogue?

    It is. Most of Coyote’s dialogue is written terribly. You know what? Let’s just say that Hearne’s dialogue leaves a lot to be desired.

    Tells you a lot, when the bar is “Not sexualizing Virgin Mary”. It is not as much a low bar as a limbo stick on the bottom level of hell.

    Smith you have a delightful way with words.

    The reason for this is twofold. First the style in “style over substance” needs to be strong enough to carry the story. And it tends to work in mostly visual mediums. Think Alucard fighting Nazi vampires. It is not a deep or even particularly well told story. But the protagonist with distinct look and mannerisms fighting over the top enemies? It carries. In the books I would say the Witcher has elements of that – fights are described in a way that has little to do with real fencing but have enough dynamism and drama in their descriptions that they work. Or Skulduggery Pleasant with its weird world, actually witty one liners and interesting set pieces.

    Atticus and his cardboard cut-outs lack any kind of flair or cool quirks that could carry the book in similar fashion. Honestly, when you look past the powers granted to Atticus by the authorial fiat he is pretty bland. And writing does not carry the style over substance either. It is functional and solid craftsmanship but to get away with purely stylish action it would have to go above and beyond.

    Secondly, even a style over substance implies there is some substance. Characters with discernable motivations and reacting like people would to the situations. Participants in the story having some kind of goals they are trying to achieve. Those can be basic and set in a simple plot structure, but there needs to be at least bare bones amounts of substance to hang the style on.

    Iron Druid gives us a character who wants nothing to do with the plot, villains who sit on their hands for millennia, supporting cast that exists only to fawn over Atticus or (in case of most women) to try and throw themselves at him.

    There is no wonder that it doesn’t work as style over substance type of story.

    I think you hit something good here, and I’ve touched on it a few times too—all of this book would be more forgivable if there was something to hang on to, but the style is all… terrible. So much of the worldbuilding is just copied and pasted from pop culture in the most obnoxious way. And the few things that are actually really cool ideas, like a demon being pummeled by a giant cactus, are all letdowns because it exists to make things easier for Atticus. It’s something else to take care of his problems for him. Everything remotely cool goes that way in the book.

    Considering his powerset, you would think that Atticus could have a lot of really cool things and applications of his powers. Instead he doesn’t have any creativity and he doesn’t have any drive to. It’s just so dull!

    If Hearne leaned fully into the Irish mythology angle, into the Druid angle, it could have been so much better! But nope! He’s just a Druid to give some excuse to mess with vampires, werewolves, and witches. Anything close to original style is an afterthought.

    Anyway if I don’t post/comment again before then: Merry Christmas.