Before we start I want to give a shout-out to my Tumblr friend’s new spork of Tiger’s Curse that you guys can check out here. Let’s wish her well in her efforts to cover that monstrosity of a novel.

So…let’s talk about The Iron Druid Chronicles.

When you get into a certain genre or subgenre, there are certain titles that always pop up in recommendation lists. In urban fantasy, that book is invariably The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. And after you read those, Kevin Hearne’s Irond Druid Chronicles is almost always mentioned as an alternative. The problem is I don’t think it’s very good. In fact, there are times when it’s pretty bad. Hence this sporking.

Right now, I’m going to be sporking the first book of the series, titled Hounded.. It’s a weird male power fantasy book that I think makes all sorts of narrative blunders. Invincible hero? Check. Shoddy exposition and worldbuilding? Check. Awkward attempts at humor? Check. Forced pop culture references? Check. It’s all there.

Before we get started though, I want to give a quick disclaimer: this isn’t Angelopolis. This isn’t going as angry as the Angelopolis sporking. Because while I think Hounded is not very good and doesn’t deserve its reputation as one of the leading books in urban fantasy, it’s not that bad. It’s not until later in the series that we get to the really bad stuff. Angelopolis is a different level of shockingly bad storytelling and I don’t think anything will ever make me that angry again (unless Trussoni actually writes a sequel). So if you’re expecting hair-pulling insanity like in that spork, you’re not really going to get it here.

The biggest problem with Hounded is that it’s overstuffed; the author can’t stop shoving material in, whether it be more worldbuilding and monsters or just telling the audience completely useless information. His main character Atticus just can’t shut up. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

So without further ado, let’s begin the first book in the series, Hounded.

Our story begins with our hero reminiscing on the past:

There are many parks to living for twenty-one centuries, and foremost among them is bearing witness to the rare birth of genius. It invariably goes like this: Someone shrugs off the weight of his cultural traditions, ignores the baleful stares of authority, and does something his countrymen think to be completely batshit insane. Of those Galileo was my personal favorite. Van Gogh comes in second, but he really was batshit insane.

Alright I’ll admit this isn’t a great start for me, because Galileo Galilei is one of those topics that’s one of my berserk buttons, because everyone gets the story wrong. I invite you to look at The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown for more details. Mind you, Atticus doesn’t really go into Galileo’s work, or why he liked him, other than that everyone at the time thought he was crazy. The implication that he knew Van Gogh is also a bit weird, because if an immortal druid were friends with the depressed artist you’d think he’d have helped him with his financial woes, but apparently not; and as we don’t get any indication that Atticus really likes art it’s not clear why he’s mentioned. In fact, this aside about Galileo and Van Gogh has absolutely nothing to do with anything in the story, so for us to open with the character talking about how he met Galileo and Van Gogh is a bit weird.

Leading to the next paragraph and a minor nitpick on my part.

Thank the Goddess I don’t look like a guy who met Galileo—or who saw Shakespeare’s plays when they first debuted or rode with the hordes of Genghis Khan.

Why does every immortal in fiction happen to have met everyone famous? Why was Atticus in England in the Elizabethan Era? Why was he in Italy when Galileo was demanding everyone accept heliocentrism without proof of noticeable parallax shifts? Why was he a member of the Mongols, killing enough people they lowered humanity’s carbon footprint?

[shrugs] I dunno.

When writing immortal characters, having them mention the famous people they interacted with is common shorthand for giving you quick backstory, but it’s always struck me as being lazy. Why would an immortal magic character, who probably doesn’t want to attract too much attention to himself, go around in public with the people who were the equivalents of the biggest-name celebrities of the time? And they all happen to be the ones that are famous in the modern English-speaking world. Immortals in fiction don’t hang out with Yi Sun-Sin, or Jack Churchill, or Saint Machar, or Miguel Enriquez, or Zoroaster, many of whom are people who were also famous or notable in their times but are virtually unknown to the Average Joe in the US. Instead authors always go with names you can recognize even if you failed history in middle school. It’s lazy.

And from reading the rest of the book, it’s not like Atticus seems particularly like he cares about science, so why he would hang out with Galileo is beyond me, nor does he seem to care about theater, so why does he watch Shakespeare plays? He can fight, but he doesn’t seem like the type to make a career out of it, so why was he hanging out with the Golden Horde? Being an Irish druid is a huge part of this identity it seems, and it doesn’t seem like any of those three settings are places he’d fit. So why was he there in those places? Wouldn’t it make sense for him, as a druid, to be more interested in historical personages that displayed spirituality or particular connection to the earth? Or to spend time with Irish historical figures that made a huge difference? Instead of…everything else he’s done?

[shrugs] I dunno. And it has nothing to with the Plot other than showing that Atticus is immortal in the laziest way possible.

Anyhow, Atticus explains that he appears as a young man (the “young-Irish-lad facade” he calls it) and he runs an occult bookshop and apothecary in Tempe, Arizona for a living. Which… isn’t a bad idea. As he explains, the wildest assumption people ever get from looking at him is when they see the Celtic tattoos on his arm, and even then they probably think he’s a stoner or a punk. He says that sometimes he loses himself and does weird things like “sing shepherd tunes in Aramaic while I’m waiting in line at Starbucks” which, again, raises questions like, “When and why did he learn Aramaic?” and “Why does he know shepherd songs?” but that’s conveniently ignored.

Why does he live in Arizona? Well according to him, it’s because America, and Arizona in particular, is “practically godless.” Which, uh, is only sort of true? This is another one of those urban fantasy serieses that runs on the oh-so-tired cliche of “mythological beings exist because people believe in them” (we’ll discuss this more at length in a later chapter) so considering that there should be more mythologicals in Arizona than Atticus gives credit for.

So fun fact, Tempe is right next to Phoenix, Arizona, a city which is over 60% Christian. So there’s that. But even if Christian God is non-interventionist, you’re also only about three hours from the border of Mexico, meaning any lingering Mayan or Aztec gods are probably kicking around. You’re also only about half an hour from the Gila River Indian Community, a Native American reservation, and any traditional beliefs they’ve retained would be powering some of their gods. Atticus mentions the “occasional encounter with Coyote” as if he’s the only Native American deity in the Southwest. While he’s the most famous, there are a few others, like, say, Spider Grandmother and Kokopelli

Basically, yeah, maybe the American Southwest is less god-filled than the Roman empire that he mentions, but it’s not godless by a longshot.

Atticus also says that he likes Coyote because—

(He’s nothing like Thor, for one thing, and that right there means we’re going to get along fine. The local college kids would describe Thor as a “major asshat” if they ever had the misfortune to meet him.)

This sets up the conflict with Thor, because in Hearne’s books, everyone, and I mean everyone hates Thor’s guts.

This also sets up a running thing where Atticus informs the audience or other characters of some euphemism or expression and saying “This is what the kids are saying these days,” which isn’t objectively bad writing yet but still feels stupid to me because he says it so often.

But not only is Arizona lacking gods, it’s lacking faeries! Of course there’s MOAR exposition explaining that he doesn’t mean little pixies with wings, he means the Sidhe, creatures of Celtic mythology. In Hearne’s universe they are descendants of the Irish gods, the Tuatha de Danann, but to get to the human world they need oak, ash and thorn, which are trees that don’t really pop up a lot in Arizona. Which is good, because they hate Atticus.

You think now the Plot gets started, right? Nope, Atticus is going to tell us that he set up a new identity in Tempe, that his bookshop is called ‘Third Eye Books and Herbs’

(an allusion to Vedic and Buddhist beliefs, because I thought a Celtic name would bring up a red flag to those searching for me)

Yes, thank you for explaining the origin of the idea of a third eye. Heaven forbid you don’t explain everything to us. Like, yeah, I think it’s kind of clever that he avoids naming his bookshop something Celtic, but at the same time he goes around looking like a stereotypical Irishman with an Irish name, so it falls flat. And this information could easily have been delivered in dialogue rather than told to us.

His bookshop is…well, have you walked into a New Age-y store? It’s like that.

I sold crystals and Tarot cards to college kids who wanted to shock their Protestant parents, scores of ridiculous tomes with “spells” in them for lovey-dovey Wiccans, and some herbal remedies for people looking to make an end run around the doctor’s office. I even stocked extensive works on Druid magic, all of them based on Victorian revivals, all of them utter rubbish, and all vastly entertaining to me whenever I sold any of them Maybe once a month I had a serious magical customer looking for a genuine grimoire, stuff you don’t

[snore]

I’m sorry, did I miss something? I don’t care! You can’t just dump information about his day job on my face and expect me to find it interesting. This book is about a Druid fighting an ancient Irish god and it starts with an infodump? These are long paragraphs of Atticus winging on about his life and I don’t care!

Finally the Plot starts, after Atticus reminisces about how having a stereotypical Irish name and being searchable on the Internet means people can find him if they want to, even if it never occurred to him that immortal supernatural beings even know what the Internet is, because the gods are stupid I guess. Anyhow some faeries attack him outside his bookstore on his lunchbreak.

It’s not so bad though because Atticus has a magical amulet that makes him deadly to touch for faeries!

Wait, did I not mention that before?

Well neither did Atticus.

That’s not quite deus ex machina because it’s the first chapter of the book, and this is the setup of this plot element, but that’s probably one of the first things I’d have mentioned in this introductory exposition dump, rather than that he helped kill half of Asia or that he knows Aramaic songs.

Right, anyhow, so five faeries jump Atticus at work.

AND THEN THEY FIGHT!

He barely dodges a sword attack and jabs a faerie in the face, and because of his cold iron amulet it kills that guy. He explains that he’s been training in unarmed combat (with vampires, because those are also a thing in this universe now). However, the action abruptly stops to describe the faerie hitmen who should, by all means, be beating the snot out of him while he’s studying them. Basically, they used glamour to disguise themselves as cross-country runners and their weapons (swords and spears) as brooms. Atticus explicitly compares them to Orlando Bloom’s portrayal of Legolas (I should make a pop culture reference drinking game).

Now logically, these guys would have chosen ranged weapons like bows, and sniped the crap out of Atticus the minute he stepped outdoors, instead of this up-close-and-personal thing where he has a better chance of fighting back. But aw, what the heck, a fight scene’s a fight scene, right? I’m not going to hold it against Hearne if he wanted a cool fight scene.

Atticus dodges two spear thrusts and then hits another in the throat, killing him. He blocks a sword strike to the skull, but that results in the sword hitting his arm instead, so he’s got an arm wound that “bit down to the bone.” He hits the guy who cut him though, and that guy goes down.

My cold iron amulet was bound to my aura, and by now they could no doubt see it: I was some sort of Iron Druid, their worst nightmare made flesh. My first victim was already disintegrating into ash, and the other two were close to realizing that all we are is dust in the wind.

I could do without the song lyrics, really. The title drop for the series was cool though, I guess.

I think it’s kind of disturbing though that he’s so nonchalant about the fact that to faeries he’s basically radioactive? They touch him, and they die. And he seems to take a certain pleasure out of it. I suppose with Atticus implying that he is apparently being attacked by faeries constantly it’s understandable that he’s not sympathetic to their plight, but it’s still a bit…disconcerting. I mean he even refers to the first guy he killed here as his “victim” which, like, he wasn’t—Atticus was the one being attacked, killing the faerie was just self-defense.

We’ll talk more about this specific power later.

Atticus kicks off his sandals so that he can get his feet on the ground. Because you see, Druids get their power from the earth, and so if he can heal his arm. He can’t heal it instantly (he says that will take time he can’t afford right now), but he can stop the bleeding. I’m a bit mixed on this. Because on the one hand, I like that the protagonist has healing powers that don’t work instantly. That means that any wound he sustains in a fight will actually hinder him to some capacity. But at the same time, we do know that it will be completely healed sooner or later so there might not really be any permanent wounds in the series.

I don’t want to constantly be comparing the series to Dresden Files buuuuut…. When Harry gets a wound, it’s not permanent, but it does stick for a while. He burns his hand in one book and that’s a thing for quite some time. In Iron Druid it’ll stick for…maybe a couple of chapters, is all.

Anyhoo, when Atticus falls to the ground to get some healing power, he also sends out a message to a local iron elemental that just happens to be around. The iron elemental will eat the faeries, but it’ll take a couple of minutes, so Atticus stalls by asking the remaining faeries if they meant to capture or kill him. One of them answers by demanding to know where the sword is. When Atticus asks for clarification, he specifies that he’s looking for the sword Fragarach, the Answerer, which is this book’s Plot McGuffin.

[To Kevin Hearne’s credit, he includes a pronunciation guide in the front of the book, so I can tell you that Fragarach pronounced “FRAG-ah-rah.”]

Atticus denies knowing what they’re talking about, and asks who sent them. The faeries point out that the guy who can see through glamour and has Celtic tattoos is probably the dude they’re looking for. Atticus counters that lots of people in the paranormal community could have both of those features, and that if he had a magic sword he’d have used it by now. He then suggests to the faeries that they’re just cannon fodder, and that they’ve been sent there to die.

The faeries are offended by this, as they were sent by someone of their own family, revealing that the villain of the book is…“Aenghus Óg?”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRfmFdaBdyk

Wait….the Irish god of love? Youth? Beauty? Poetic inspiration? That guy?

Aenghus is a really weird choice for a villain, but okay I guess.

Atticus tells the faeries that Aenghus Óg “tricked his own father out of his home” which is true (the story can be read in his Wikipedia article), but, like, his father (Dagda) was also a god so it’s not like he would have much trouble finding another. This is also after Dagda divied up the lands to give all his sons homes and somehow forgot to give one to Aenghus. So, it’s douchey, yeah, but it’s not as clear cut as “Aenghus screws over his family on a regular basis.” There’s another story in which Aenghus killed a dude because he trash-talked his brother Ogma; clearly family matters to him.

Atticus continues and points out that the way Aenghus would know if his faerie scouts found Atticus would be if they didn’t come back, because Atticus would obviously kill them. If they did come back, they clearly didn’t find him. The faeries realize that this is probably true, and that’s right when the iron elemental shows up.

The bars along the wall of my shop had melted silently apart behind them and morphed into jaws of sharp iron teeth. The giant black maw reached out for them and snapped closed, scissoring through the faeries’ flesh as if it were cottage cheese, and then they were inhaled like Jell-O, with time only for a startled, aborted scream.

I got a message from the iron elemental before it faded away, in the short bursts of emotions and imagery that they use for language: //Druid calls / Faeries await / Delicious / Gratitude//

So, uh, yeah. Fight’s over now.

I remember reading this and thinking that Atticus comes across as overpowered. And it sort of makes sense that the beginner’s mooks don’t cause him any trouble. He is, after all, immortal and in shape and he’s used to people trying to kill him. But it’s still… I dunno, too easy? It’s not just that he can fend them off, he kills them by touching them, he can heal from their attacks with no complications and he can call up an iron elemental to eat the faeries he didn’t kill. If it was one of those things I don’t think I would be bothered.

But Atticus has all of those things on his side.

It doesn’t read like a beginning fight. It’s not as if Aenghus is going to show up angry about his descendants being killed. None of them have angry family members or friends come to avenge them. None of them escaped to haunt Atticus through the rest of the story. Atticus points out that they’re cannon fodder, and…that’s about it. They’re there to be killed quickly and easily.

It’s not bad that a book begins with a fight that protagonist wins. It’s really not. But there are ways to do it, and this is not really it. The urban fantasy book Chasing Embers opens with the centuries-old hero fighting off an old enemy, and he gets out of it easily enough to fly away though it seemed as if he at least had to exert some effort. I don’t get that impression in Hounded. Yes, he gets wounded, but he tells the audience immediately afterward that he’ll heal it with no trouble at all other than he has to wait a bit.

Our hero is ambushed, and has no doubt whatsoever that he’ll come out of it okay. It might not be that bad if it later in the book the monsters and enemies get progressively harder and so this fight is a contrast: at first he feels nigh-invincible, but then as time goes on the villains get smarter and more powerful, so he has to adapt and doesn’t always do it as quickly. Except basically every fight in this book goes like this one. Maybe there’s a minor setback, but for the most part he stomps through everything.

So that’s our first chapter. Join us next time when the Irish deity of violent death drops into Atticus’s shop and proceeds to flirt with him.

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Comment

  1. Aikaterini on 14 June 2018, 09:56 said:

    Why does every immortal in fiction happen to have met everyone famous?

    Yeah, this also came up in the “All Souls Trilogy” series by Deborah Harkness, where the vampire love interest, Matthew, was friends with Christopher Marlowe and a bunch of other famous people. This conceit can be cute, but it can also be overdone, as you’ve said. There are millions of people in the world: the odds of one person meeting a bunch of famous ones, even if that person is immortal, is still very slim.

    This is another one of those urban fantasy serieses that runs on the oh-so-tired cliche of “mythological beings exist because people believe in them”

    I guess that it’s there to explain why the modern world looks the way it does: if Zeus really does exist, then where has he been in all of the centuries of Greek civilization after Greece converted to Christianity and why hasn’t he done anything? It could also be considered a commentary on religion itself: the reason why people considers Zeus and Anubis to be fictional is because nobody believes in them anymore. But I’m interested to hear your commentary on this trope.

    I mean everyone hates Thor’s guts

    That’s a curious choice. I mean, Thor isn’t a saint in Norse mythology, but is there any particular reason why Hearne chose him as the god that everyone hates, rather than a likelier choice like Loki or Set or another god that has a bad reputation as a troublemaker? (Or even just a death or Underworld god, like poor Hades, who is already presumed to be villainous on account of being a god of death?)

  2. The Smith of Lie on 14 June 2018, 13:26 said:

    Before we get started though, I want to give a quick disclaimer: this isn’t Angelopolis. This isn’t going as angry as the Angelopolis sporking. Because while I think Hounded is not very good and doesn’t deserve its reputation as one of the leading books in urban fantasy, it’s not that bad.

    Well, one has to get up very early to manage to be as bad as Angelopolis. So that bar isn’t very high. It’s more like a limbo stick really.

    Why does every immortal in fiction happen to have met everyone famous? Why was Atticus in England in the Elizabethan Era? Why was he in Italy when Galileo was demanding everyone accept heliocentrism without proof of noticeable parallax shifts? Why was he a member of the Mongols, killing enough people they lowered humanity’s carbon footprint?

    For the same reason that everyone who tries hypnotic past-life regression ends up being someone important and interesting instead of discovering their previous incarantion was a French peasant from XIIIth century, who starved to dead at ripe old age of 23 because the winter happened to be especially severe that year… A large heap of self-aggrandizing.

    Instead authors always go with names you can recognize even if you failed history in middle school. It’s lazy.

    That is fair point. There is a very shallow pool of references that is constantly re-used. The same goes for time travellers. I don’t remember anyone going to meet Lao Tze or Jan Hus or Skanderbeg but you’ll have Cleopatras and Napoleons by the dozen.

    He says that sometimes he loses himself and does weird things like “sing shepherd tunes in Aramaic while I’m waiting in line at Starbucks” which, again, raises questions like, “When and why did he learn Aramaic?” and “Why does he know shepherd songs?” but that’s conveniently ignored.

    More importantly, who sings to themselves while waiting in line. Maybe I’m being too conservative here, but even if he was singing latest pop single of whatever starlet is popular in Current Year I’d find it sort of weird.

    It’s not so bad though because Atticus has a magical amulet that makes him deadly to touch for faeries!

    Meh. My personal head canon is that there’s no amulat, he just has very poor personal hygine. Yes, yes I am that childish.

    Now logically, these guys would have chosen ranged weapons like bows, and sniped the crap out of Atticus the minute he stepped outdoors, instead of this up-close-and-personal thing where he has a better chance of fighting back.

    Or even high caliber rifles. It’s amazing what new materials that have nothing in commont with iron, cold or otherwise, the firearms can be made of these days.

    So that’s our first chapter. Join us next time when the Irish deity of violent death drops into Atticus’s shop and proceeds to flirt with him.

    Dead Odin, this is making me relieve bad memories… Lets just say than one terrible, terrible Polish urban fantasy book has main character of such Mary Sue proportions that both Gabriel (yes, the archangel) AND Lucifer (yes, the Bringer of Light, the fallen angel, Satan and all that) pretty much grovel in front of her… AGH.

  3. Juracan on 15 June 2018, 18:40 said:

    Yeah, this also came up in the “All Souls Trilogy” series by Deborah Harkness, where the vampire love interest, Matthew, was friends with Christopher Marlowe and a bunch of other famous people. This conceit can be cute, but it can also be overdone, as you’ve said. There are millions of people in the world: the odds of one person meeting a bunch of famous ones, even if that person is immortal, is still very slim.

    Yeah. More to the point here though, none of these make sense. I haven’t read Harkness, but from looking at her book titles and the description of the first book, witches and the supernatural feature heavily. So it’s not so out there that Matthew, a presumably British vampire, would have known Marlowe, a writer famous for writing a play about black magic (Faustus). Maybe some of the other examples in the books are more egregious.

    Like I said here, we have no indication why Atticus would be friendly with some of these people, and a running idea is that he spent a lot of the past trying to avoid attracting notice. This would be very difficult for someone who goes around with famous leaders and artists throughout history.

    I guess that it’s there to explain why the modern world looks the way it does: if Zeus really does exist, then where has he been in all of the centuries of Greek civilization after Greece converted to Christianity and why hasn’t he done anything? It could also be considered a commentary on religion itself: the reason why people considers Zeus and Anubis to be fictional is because nobody believes in them anymore. But I’m interested to hear your commentary on this trope.

    I have… a lot of thoughts on this, but I’m going to save it for when it comes up in the spork. But basically I think after Gaiman and Pratchett, it’s become basically defacto a part of urban fantasy and I’m annoyed at its omnipresence.

    That’s a curious choice. I mean, Thor isn’t a saint in Norse mythology, but is there any particular reason why Hearne chose him as the god that everyone hates, rather than a likelier choice like Loki or Set or another god that has a bad reputation as a troublemaker?

    There’s not. Like, this will be more of a thing later in the series; the third book is when he finally fights Thor. But there isn’t really any in-universe justification for it, other than “Thor is a douchebag and we hate him.” Mind you, Loki also pops up and he’s pretty villainous, but like you said, that one makes sense.

    It’s like using Aenghus Og. It’s another god not particularly known for being bad yet Hearne uses him as the villain because…reasons.

    Well, one has to get up very early to manage to be as bad as Angelopolis. So that bar isn’t very high. It’s more like a limbo stick really.

    I know, right? One of the villains in Angelopolis eats penises. That’s… a special brand of crazy.

    Or even high caliber rifles. It’s amazing what new materials that have nothing in commont with iron, cold or otherwise, the firearms can be made of these days.

    Yeah, except this is one of those series that runs on the assumption that mythological beings are all morons who don’t realize that society has progressed at all past swords.

    Dead Odin, this is making me relieve bad memories… Lets just say than one terrible, terrible Polish urban fantasy book has main character of such Mary Sue proportions that both Gabriel (yes, the archangel) AND Lucifer (yes, the Bringer of Light, the fallen angel, Satan and all that) pretty much grovel in front of her… AGH.

    A) SPORK IT PLEASE

    B) What is the title of this oh-so-bad series anyhow?

  4. TMary on 16 June 2018, 01:48 said:

    YAY it’s a new Juracan spork! :D

    And oh boy, it’s the one about the Irish druid, with Aenghus Óg as the villain, hooray…I’m so…stoked?

    (I do plan to check out that Tiger’s Curse spork. I remember Tiger’s Curse being sporked on here a long time ago, but it never got past the first few chapters, so I never got to see how utterly insane the rest of the book was. I am excited. And frightened.)

    I hope you don’t mind my comment-when-I-find-something-to-comment-on, proof-reading style of commenting :)

    His main character Atticus

    Hold up!

    goes to Wikipedia

    Yup, that’s a Latin name. Thought so.

    Look, if Hearne has an explanation for why a druid from ancient Ireland would be going around with a Latin name instead of an Old Irish one, if he explains that he changed it to hide his identity, or because his mother was actually a Roman slave, or something, I’ll say no more about this. Otherwise, however, it’s the wrong name.

    There are many parks to living for twenty-one centuries,

    I think you meant “perks” there. Unless that’s a typo in the actual book, in which case WOW.

    Someone shrugs off the weight of his cultural traditions, ignores the baleful stares of authority, and does something his countrymen think to be completely batshit insane. … Van Gogh comes in second, but he really was batshit insane.

    So, not an art nerd…what did Van Gogh do that was so crazy the whole of Holland declared him a madman? I mean, he painted kind of swirly, but that was about it.

    And, y’know, from what I’ve read about Van Gogh’s life, he didn’t seem quite so much Coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs as he did very depressed and rather lonely, so this makes Atticus come across as rather insensitive.

    I’m too busy commenting to finish The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown just now, though it is interesting me far more than I thought math and physics ever could. What I’m getting from it, though, is that basically Galileo proposed that the Earth revolves around the sun without showing any real evidence for it, and so of course everybody thought he was a nutter. I mean, he kind of was, to think anybody would just accept his findings as The Great Truth without any kind of proof.

    So basically I’ve been told all my life that Galileo Galilei was a great genius unrecognized in his time, unjustly derided and imprisoned by those unscientific, superstitious fools in the Catholic Church, when in actual fact those people were scientific and the best science they had to offer said the sun went around the Earth. Y’know, I’m getting about sick of being misled into thinking that everyone in medieval times was stupid, ignorant, and superstitious, except for a brave, further-evolved few. I mean, I know there’s some truth to that, but there’s also a lot of lies to it.

    When writing immortal characters, having them mention the famous people they interacted with is common shorthand for giving you quick backstory, but it’s always struck me as being lazy.

    Yes!

    Immortals in fiction don’t hang out with Yi Sun-Sin, or Jack Churchill, or Saint Machar, or Miguel Enriquez, or Zoroaster, many of whom are people who were also famous or notable in their times but are virtually unknown to the Average Joe in the US. Instead authors always go with names you can recognize even if you failed history in middle school. It’s lazy.

    YES!

    Wouldn’t it make sense for him, as a druid, to be more interested in historical personages that displayed spirituality or particular connection to the earth? Or to spend time with Irish historical figures that made a huge difference? Instead of…everything else he’s done?

    Yes! Why can’t he say that he was there when Saint Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland? Or was there when Ireland brought Christianity and almost the entire body of Roman learning back to Europe and to places that had never had it (beginning with Scotland)? Was there when the pillaging of the Vikings brought an end to the power of Ireland’s monasteries? Why can’t we explore his no doubt complicated feelings about all these events, what with him being a druid and all?

    Oh, because it would be hard and complex. My mistake, carry on.

    As you can probably tell, I’m entirely in agreement with you about keeping your character’s background and historical context in mind when considering which people they would even know about, let alone know personally. And I also agree that it’s a really, really lazy way to get across that your character is immortal, or at least incredibly long-lived, showing off all the people they know. Not to mention, it’s unrealistic! Besides your excellent point about “Why would anyone trying to keep a low profile hang out with Genghis freakin’ Khan”…how does he even know Genghis freakin’ gosh-darn Khan? Are you personally acquainted with even one of the famous or infamous people of your country, let alone anybody else’s country? And I know that, being a druid, Atticus here probably had some kind of prestige in ancient Ireland, but that was a long time ago in one very specific country. Anywhere else, they probably wouldn’t care.

    I recall a debate about this cropping up on one of the Twilight sporkings at das-sporking; I think it was in reference to Edward name-dropping some celebrity or famous event from the ’40s. Anyway, one person pointed out that OK, he did live through these big events and probably does remember the news coverage, but he wasn’t really involved in them, so why should he care any more than your grandfather does? If you asked your grandfather, “What was it like in the ’40s?” he probably wouldn’t drop a few tidbits about WWII and Eisenhower and say nothing else. He’d probably talk about the average day-to-day parts of life that he remembered: Radio shows he was fond of as a kid, restaurants he and his family could go to that aren’t there any more, how it felt when they got their first television. The point being made was that little details about how the average person lived gives the character way more depth, and makes their reminiscing about the past seem far more authentic, than just talking about stuff that anybody could find out by flipping through a U.S. history textbook. Don’t have them sound like they’re singing “We Didn’t Start the Fire”!1

    As a side note, crikey, Genghis Khan killed enough people that it lowered humanity’s carbon footprint?! I…guess I understand now why everyone was so terrified of him.

    Also, I think you meant “a particular connection to the earth”. :)

    the “young-Irish-lad facade” he calls it

    Hoo boy. I’m not…sure of this, but I think “lad” is far more a Scottish word for boy than it is an Irish one. As a matter of fact, in Ireland, it’s a colloquial euphemism for the…erm…you know what, just look it up.

    I mean, I guess, maybe there was a time in Ireland where they used “lad” to mean boy, but I think that time has gone, and, OK, Atticus is dated, but he’s a little more dated than that. Use “buachaill tír e” if you’re going to play that game!

    He says that sometimes he loses himself and does weird things like “sing shepherd tunes in Aramaic while I’m waiting in line at Starbucks” which, again, raises questions like, “When and why did he learn Aramaic?” and “Why does he know shepherd songs?” but that’s conveniently ignored.

    Also the question of “How do you lose yourself so completely that you end up singing shepherd tunes in Aramaic while waiting in line”? Dude, I’m a show-off, I know what showing-off looks like, that’s showing off! harrumph

    Well according to him, it’s because America, and Arizona in particular, is “practically godless.”

    Yeah, um…this is a sticky subject and I don’t want to start any debates, and anyway, you pointed out how wrong this is, so I’m not gonna get too into it, but you can’t deny that Christianity, just for one, is a very strong religion in America. And in Arizona? Yeah, you picked the wrong state, buddy. I do get the bit about the ash, oak, and thorn, though. There aren’t that many trees, period, in Arizona, from what I remember, let alone ash, oak, or thorn.

    Atticus mentions the “occasional encounter with Coyote” as if he’s the only Native American deity in the Southwest.

    Ah, goody, now we start name-dropping famous gods and mythological creatures, which is something that irritates me about a lot of fantasy. I know about Coyote and Thor and unicorns and dragons! Tell me about something I don’t know about! Do something interesting with your worldbuilding!

    This sets up the conflict with Thor, because in Hearne’s books, everyone, and I mean everyone hates Thor’s guts.

    I think you want a comma after that second everyone, but more importantly, did Hearne get hit by lightning? Is that why he doesn’t like Thor? I’m not that well-versed in Norse mythology, so I don’t know how bad of a guy Thor is, but surely he can’t be any worse than, say, the other Norse gods?

    This also sets up a running thing where Atticus informs the audience or other characters of some euphemism or expression and saying “This is what the kids are saying these days,” which isn’t objectively bad writing yet but still feels stupid to me because he says it so often.

    It feels stupid to me for two reasons. First because it’s just such an obvious way of pointing out, “Oh haha I am not actually one of those kids who are saying such things these days, I’M JUST DOING THIS TO BLEND IN, SEE HOW MUCH I’M BLENDING IN?!” And second because…dude, we are the kids these days. We know what they’re saying. How about you tell us what people would have called Thor back when you were a kid, huh?

    Of course there’s MOAR exposition explaining that he doesn’t mean little pixies with wings, he means the Sidhe, creatures of Celtic mythology.

    I have to ask…does he do this in a condescending way? You know the way: “Oh you petty normals/humans with your stupid myths about creatures you know nothing about sniff This is what fairies are really like.” I ask because I have noticed this in a lot of fantasy, and it kinda rubs me the wrong way the more I notice it. OK, I’m sorry I didn’t know how fairies really were! It’s not my fault J. M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan!

    At least in his case, however, he actually is getting the original myths right…if I recall correctly, the Sidhe are the descendants of the Tuatha de Danann in Irish mythology.

    (an allusion to Vedic and Buddhist beliefs, because I thought a Celtic name would bring up a red flag to those searching for me)

    OK, Hearne, I’m gonna say this once, so pay attention:

    CELTIC IS NOT A SYNONYM FOR IRISH.

    Don’t make me expound on that.

    Like, yeah, I think it’s kind of clever that he avoids naming his bookshop something Celtic, but at the same time he goes around looking like a stereotypical Irishman with an Irish name, so it falls flat.

    Saints an’ begorrah, ‘tis Hillman Hunter!

    …Er, if you haven’t read And Another Thing…, Eoin Colfer’s ending to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, do yourself a favor, it’s quite good. Hillman Hunter is a stereotypical Oirish man deliberately playing up the stereotypes to win people’s trust. First thing I thought of.

    Anyhow, I am curious, what’s Atticus’s last name? That, at least, had better be an actual Irish name.

    And this information could easily have been delivered in dialogue rather than told to us.

    Yeah. Maybe Hearne at some point heard: “Don’t make your dialogue too informative” and took it the wrong way.

    I sold crystals and Tarot cards to college kids who wanted to shock their Protestant parents, scores of ridiculous tomes with “spells” in them for lovey-dovey Wiccans, and some herbal remedies for people looking to make an end run around the doctor’s office. I even stocked extensive works on Druid magic, all of them based on Victorian revivals, all of them utter rubbish, and all vastly entertaining to me whenever I sold any of them

    Condescension it is! grumpy

    Also, you want a full stop after “whenever I sold any of them”.

    And if I was a druid on the run, personally, I wouldn’t want anything to do with anything even hinting at magic. I mean, I know this isn’t real magic and whatnot, but he admits to selling stuff like actual grimoires, and around once a month, which isn’t exactly infrequent for that kind of thing! It’s just…not the right scene if you’re a druid trying to keep a low profile.

    These are long paragraphs of Atticus winging on about his life and I don’t care!

    “Whinging” is spelled with an H. And…it is a word separate from “whining”, and not just everybody around me suddenly misspelling “whining”, right?

    Finally the Plot starts, after Atticus reminisces about how having a stereotypical Irish name and being searchable on the Internet means people can find him if they want to, even if it never occurred to him that immortal supernatural beings even know what the Internet is, because the gods are stupid I guess.

    This sentence…is confusing me a little? Are you saying that he’s never stopped to wonder whether immortal supernatural beings even know what the Internet is?

    Also, like my brother pointed out, how does having a stereotypical Irish name make you easy to find? I mean, that would be a common name, right, like Patrick Murphy or Sean O’Leary?

    Also, I don’t think reminisces is quite the word you want…I’d try “muses” or something similar.

    Annd also, is Hearne spelling it “faeries”? ‘Cause I thought “faerie” was itself a plural. Why not just call them the Sidhe?

    that’s probably one of the first things I’d have mentioned in this introductory exposition dump, rather than that he helped kill half of Asia or that he knows Aramaic songs.

    Yeah, if you’re going to begin a book with an infodump, then make it info that’s relevant to the plot! Later on, maybe, we could throw in a side note here and there about interesting events in his past, but for the beginning, tell us what we need to know about this character.

    AND THEN THEY FIGHT!

    Ah-bwa-ha-ha-ha I love you for this reference. XD

    He explains that he’s been training in unarmed combat (with vampires, because those are also a thing in this universe now).

    Is there a reason vampires are particularly good at unarmed combat, or is this just an excuse to do more mythological creature name-dropping?

    However, the action abruptly stops to describe the faerie hitmen who should, by all means, be beating the snot out of him while he’s studying them.

    Eh…this is something I kind of understand. It is hard to balance “The audience needs to know what the enemies look like” with “But the enemies would be killing my hero in the time it takes to tell them”. I feel like the best way to do it is to tell what they look like in snatches, and don’t get overly lengthy or flowery with your descriptions.

    Basically, they used glamour to disguise themselves as cross-country runners and their weapons (swords and spears) as brooms.

    Do…um…do cross-country runners normally do their cross-country running while carrying brooms? Because that mental image is funny as heck. XD

    Now logically, these guys would have chosen ranged weapons like bows, and sniped the crap out of Atticus the minute he stepped outdoors, instead of this up-close-and-personal thing where he has a better chance of fighting back. But aw, what the heck, a fight scene’s a fight scene, right? I’m not going to hold it against Hearne if he wanted a cool fight scene.

    Eh…I’m mixed on this. On the one hand, I feel like you should always, always think about what the logical option is, and see if you can’t build an interesting story around that, or, if you can’t, have a justification for the illogical reason. On the other…I do get the allure of a cool fight scene, logic be darned.

    I think it’s kind of disturbing though that he’s so nonchalant about the fact that to faeries he’s basically radioactive? They touch him, and they die. And he seems to take a certain pleasure out of it. I suppose with Atticus implying that he is apparently being attacked by faeries constantly it’s understandable that he’s not sympathetic to their plight, but it’s still a bit…disconcerting.

    There is a difference between being unsympathetic to someone’s suffering and being gleeful about it. The one can be understandable. The other almost never is, without a lot of wrong done by the person and a lot less glee.

    Because you see, Druids get their power from the earth, and so if he can heal his arm.

    You accidentally a few words there.

    [To Kevin Hearne’s credit, he includes a pronunciation guide in the front of the book, so I can tell you that Fragarach pronounced “FRAG-ah-rah.”]

    Except that it’s not. In Irish, as in Scottish Gaelic, a “ch” combination is always the German “ach” sound, except sometimes, like at the beginning of a word, where it’s kind of the same sound but more in the front of your mouth (…I am not good at explaining sounds). It’s definitely not silent. If it was “th” or “dh” or “gh” or “bh”, I’d accept that it was silent, but not if it’s “ch”.

    Where is Hearne from? I ask this because I’m curious to know if he’s got any connection to Ireland, and not at all because I want to whack him upside the head with a clue-by-four. whistles

    Also, if he was going to include a pronunciation guide, why not go with the original spelling of Freagarthach?

    “Aenghus Óg?”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRfmFdaBdyk

    Your link got away from you there.

    As for Aenghus Óg…you know how I feel about this. waves hand helplessly It’s not like I’m against the idea of changing a mythological figure, per se, I just…think it ought to be done for a good reason, and not just because you felt like it.

    I got a message from the iron elemental before it faded away, in the short bursts of emotions and imagery that they use for language: //Druid calls / Faeries await / Delicious / Gratitude//

    I kinda like this, to be honest. It could get annoying, but used sparingly it’s a good effect.

    I remember reading this and thinking that Atticus comes across as overpowered. And it sort of makes sense that the beginner’s mooks don’t cause him any trouble. He is, after all, immortal and in shape and he’s used to people trying to kill him. But it’s still… I dunno, too easy?

    Yeah, I mean…he kills them if they touch him. He doesn’t weaken them, or paralyze them, or confuse them, or make them momentarily lose their powers, he just flat-out kills them. It seems a little unfair, and unnecessarily brutal.

    Join us next time when the Irish deity of violent death drops into Atticus’s shop and proceeds to flirt with him.

    Awesome sporking as always, Juracan (and I like your punny titles :)). See you next time!

    Smith of Lie: More importantly, who sings to themselves while waiting in line. Maybe I’m being too conservative here, but even if he was singing latest pop single of whatever starlet is popular in Current Year I’d find it sort of weird.

    puts her hand up sheepishly I am prone to bursting into song, in public or no. I don’t sing loudly, and not unless there’s a song playing in my head or I recognize a song on the radio.

    Smith of Lie: Meh. My personal head canon is that there’s no amulat, he just has very poor personal hygine. Yes, yes I am that childish.

    I am too, ‘cause I snickered. XD

    Smith of Lie: Lets just say than one terrible, terrible Polish urban fantasy book has main character of such Mary Sue proportions that both Gabriel (yes, the archangel) AND Lucifer (yes, the Bringer of Light, the fallen angel, Satan and all that) pretty much grovel in front of her… AGH.

    I second Juracan’s call to spork it.

    1 Much as I do like that song. :3

  5. The Smith of Lie on 16 June 2018, 02:23 said:

    A) SPORK IT PLEASE
    I did actually consider doing that. I even created the introductory post explaining the background of the book and issues with terminology rising from the fact that I’d have to translate relevant bits to English. It didn’t pass the muster required to be posted on Impish Idea when I submitted though, so I sort of gave up on the whole thing.

    I guess I could set up a blog and do this anyway, but I doubt anyone would ever read it.

    B) What is the title of this oh-so-bad series anyhow?

    The whole series is called Heksalogia o Wiedźmie which literally means A Hexalogy about a Witch. And I’ve only read the first book Złodziej Dusz/Thief of Souls which was such a great book that I was tempted to throw my Kindle at the wall, but I managed to calm myself enough to just flip it off.

    And the sad part is that the author gets to be called Queen of Polish Urban Fantasy, fact which only made me stop looking at any local Urban Fantasy with anything less than contempt.

    It was never published in any other language than Polish as far as I’m aware.

  6. Juracan on 17 June 2018, 17:18 said:

    I’m going to attempt to take on TMary’s novel of a comment, so this might be long. But I’m glad you’re enthusiastic about a new sporking starting!

    Look, if Hearne has an explanation for why a druid from ancient Ireland would be going around with a Latin name instead of an Old Irish one, if he explains that he changed it to hide his identity, or because his mother was actually a Roman slave, or something, I’ll say no more about this. Otherwise, however, it’s the wrong name.

    Atticus’s birth name is Siodhachan O Suileabhain. He mentions that his current name is a name he took to fit into the modern world. It’s mentioned in this chapter that the name ‘Atticus’ is not his birth name, and that O’Sullivan is an Anglicization of his real surname. So in this case, this is more that I just haven’t included the explanation.

    So, not an art nerd…what did Van Gogh do that was so crazy the whole of Holland declared him a madman? I mean, he painted kind of swirly, but that was about it.

    I mean…I’m not an art nerd either, but the guy did give his ear to a prostitute.

    Yes! Why can’t he say that he was there when Saint Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland? Or was there when Ireland brought Christianity and almost the entire body of Roman learning back to Europe and to places that had never had it (beginning with Scotland)? Was there when the pillaging of the Vikings brought an end to the power of Ireland’s monasteries? Why can’t we explore his no doubt complicated feelings about all these events, what with him being a druid and all?

    I mean yeah, basically. Instead Hearne just hits the high notes because he knows that’s what readers recognize. I think it would have even been acceptable to have him outside of Ireland travelling the world, but it doesn’t seem as if any of the names he drops are people he would have any reason to hang out with. They’re just…big names to drop.

    I think you want a comma after that second everyone, but more importantly, did Hearne get hit by lightning? Is that why he doesn’t like Thor? I’m not that well-versed in Norse mythology, so I don’t know how bad of a guy Thor is, but surely he can’t be any worse than, say, the other Norse gods?

    I think somewhere Hearne said something like, “Well he’s a douchebag to the main characters but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some positive qualities too.” But there’s no evidence that the Thor of Iron Druid is anything but a massive chuckmuffin. In Norse mythology he has a habit of getting drunk and being bloodthirsty against jotuns, but he’s still the protector of humanity. There isn’t any indication I can think of that he goes out of his way to hurt ordinary people for his own enjoyment.

    Yeah, I don’t know. Hearne picks really weird gods to be the bad guys.

    I have to ask…does he do this in a condescending way? You know the way: “Oh you petty normals/humans with your stupid myths about creatures you know nothing about sniff This is what fairies are really like.” I ask because I have noticed this in a lot of fantasy, and it kinda rubs me the wrong way the more I notice it. OK, I’m sorry I didn’t know how fairies really were! It’s not my fault J. M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan!

    I don’t think it’s meant as condescending. It’s just him making sure to sit down and explain what he’s talking about. Most urban fantasy authors have the same basic idea of what they mean by ‘faerie’ but it’s good to go ahead and explain that. I didn’t take it as condescending, at least.

    CELTIC IS NOT A SYNONYM FOR IRISH.

    It’s not, no, but Irish is under the subset of ‘Celtic,’ so I didn’t really think too much of this. That being said, I don’t think there are any overt references to Welsh or Gaullic Celtic cultures/mythologies, so maybe Hearne doesn’t know this?

    Also, you want a full stop after “whenever I sold any of them”.

    There is a stop there, but I cut off the sentence to reinforce that I gave up because I was bored. The full paragraph is about twice as long.

    “Whinging” is spelled with an H. And…it is a word separate from “whining”, and not just everybody around me suddenly misspelling “whining”, right?

    I meant to say ‘whinging.’ I told myself I’d look up the spelling later and apparently never got around to it. Or perhaps I thought the mental image of Atticus flapping his arms like wings while talking about his life was too good to pass up.

    This sentence…is confusing me a little? Are you saying that he’s never stopped to wonder whether immortal supernatural beings even know what the Internet is?

    He’s never considered that supernatural beings would know how to use the Internet. That’s another bit of the sporking I thought I should re-write, but I couldn’t think how to re-word it better and thought it was clear enough. I was wrong.

    Also, like my brother pointed out, how does having a stereotypical Irish name make you easy to find? I mean, that would be a common name, right, like Patrick Murphy or Sean O’Leary?

    It doesn’t, in and of itself. But he sells occult books and artifacts on the Internet, runs a New Age bookstore, and apparently hasn’t aged…well, if you know what you’re looking for, and where to look, it wouldn’t be hard. Especially for a god.

    Annd also, is Hearne spelling it “faeries”? ‘Cause I thought “faerie” was itself a plural. Why not just call them the Sidhe?

    I’ve seen it every which way. I’m not bothered by how he decides to spell it or what term he uses.

    Is there a reason vampires are particularly good at unarmed combat, or is this just an excuse to do more mythological creature name-dropping?

    I have to it up again, but I think when it comes to vampires, Hearne adheres to Hollywood ideas. So they’re probably faster/stronger than an ordinary human.

    But mainly it’s an excuse for more mythological name-dropping.

    Do…um…do cross-country runners normally do their cross-country running while carrying brooms?

    Nope. But that’s Hearne’s writing.

    Also there’s no one around to see them fight so it doesn’t matter how they or their weapons look. No one seems to witness the bad guys disintegrate, after all.

    Except that it’s not. In Irish, as in Scottish Gaelic, a “ch” combination is always the German “ach” sound, except sometimes, like at the beginning of a word, where it’s kind of the same sound but more in the front of your mouth (…I am not good at explaining sounds). It’s definitely not silent. If it was “th” or “dh” or “gh” or “bh”, I’d accept that it was silent, but not if it’s “ch”.

    Not being Irish this doesn’t bother me that much, but it is important to know that he got it wrong. I’ll have to do more research on this.

    Feel free to correct some of the other Irish names when we get to them later on!

    Where is Hearne from? I ask this because I’m curious to know if he’s got any connection to Ireland, and not at all because I want to whack him upside the head with a clue-by-four.

    Kevin Hearne is born and raised in Arizona. So he knows about Arizona, if nothing else. I don’t know about his family’s background.

    I guess I could set up a blog and do this anyway, but I doubt anyone would ever read it.

    Hey, it’d be worth a shot just to try! I don’t know how recruiting for ImpishIdea writers goes though, because, uh, the editorial staff has been radio silent for a while now…

    The whole series is called Heksalogia o Wiedźmie which literally means A Hexalogy about a Witch. And I’ve only read the first book Złodziej Dusz/Thief of Souls which was such a great book that I was tempted to throw my Kindle at the wall, but I managed to calm myself enough to just flip it off.

    That’s… a shame. I googled the books/author, and you’re right, it’s not in English, so I doubt I’m getting a look at these first hand. Mind you, that’s not a complaint…

  7. TMary on 17 June 2018, 21:34 said:

    I’m going to attempt to take on TMary’s novel of a comment, so this might be long.

    Ahaha, yeah, I meant to leave an apology about that. :S I’m long-winded.

    Atticus’s birth name is Siodhachan O Suileabhain. He mentions that his current name is a name he took to fit into the modern world. It’s mentioned in this chapter that the name ‘Atticus’ is not his birth name, and that O’Sullivan is an Anglicization of his real surname. So in this case, this is more that I just haven’t included the explanation.

    Then I’ll say no more about the name. … Except that I’m having a really hard time finding “Siodhachan” listed anywhere that’s explicitly for Irish names; the only other places are those baby name websites that I’m never quite sure of. I’m not saying it’s not a name; it could easily just not be very common.

    Also “Atticus O’Sullivan” does not roll off the tongue for me. “Atty O’Sullivan” does, but I digress.

    I mean…I’m not an art nerd either, but the guy did give his ear to a prostitute.

    Ah, yeah, I did know about that, but I got the impression that they’d all declared him insane even before that happened. (And, from scanning Wikipedia, it looks like he was actually in the middle of an intense mental breakdown and really had no idea what he was doing.) And I won’t deny that he did have clear, serious issues with his mental health…it’s just that Atticus’s way of remarking on that came across as quite insensitive.

    In Norse mythology he has a habit of getting drunk and being bloodthirsty against jotuns, but he’s still the protector of humanity. There isn’t any indication I can think of that he goes out of his way to hurt ordinary people for his own enjoyment.

    So, basically an okay guy then. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Hearne picks really weird gods to be the bad guys.

    Who does he pick to be the good guys, then? I mean, vampires, for one, evidently…O.o

    I don’t think it’s meant as condescending. It’s just him making sure to sit down and explain what he’s talking about. Most urban fantasy authors have the same basic idea of what they mean by ‘faerie’ but it’s good to go ahead and explain that. I didn’t take it as condescending, at least.

    OK, that’s good. :) I understand wanting to explain yourself, it’s just that some explanations do give a vibe of “Gosh, you’re all so stupid, this is how it really is!”

    It’s not, no, but Irish is under the subset of ‘Celtic,’ so I didn’t really think too much of this. That being said, I don’t think there are any overt references to Welsh or Gaullic Celtic cultures/mythologies, so maybe Hearne doesn’t know this?

    Yeah, I wouldn’t think too much of it either, except that I’ve seen way too many people say, “Oh, this is a book of Celtic songs” or “I’m really into Celtic mythology” or “Here’s a collection of Celtic art” when what they really mean is “Irish, with maybe some Scottish and occasionally some Welsh”. Nobody ever mentions the Manx or Cornish or the Bretons. And the way that he said “I didn’t want to use a Celtic name” kind of rubbed me the wrong way, in light of all that. Maybe I’m a little over-sensitive, I don’t know.

    There is a stop there, but I cut off the sentence to reinforce that I gave up because I was bored. The full paragraph is about twice as long.

    Ah, I gotcha. :) Cheese and crackers, I see what you mean about “Atticus won’t SHUT UP”.

    I meant to say ‘whinging.’ I told myself I’d look up the spelling later and apparently never got around to it. Or perhaps I thought the mental image of Atticus flapping his arms like wings while talking about his life was too good to pass up.

    Well, in fairness, it is a pretty good mental image. XD

    He’s never considered that supernatural beings would know how to use the Internet. That’s another bit of the sporking I thought I should re-write, but I couldn’t think how to re-word it better and thought it was clear enough. I was wrong.

    It happens. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Come to think of it, if I was Atticus, I’d be concerned that these supernatural beings could find me with or without the Internet.

    I’ve seen it every which way. I’m not bothered by how he decides to spell it or what term he uses.

    I get it. I’m a bit of a pedant and a traditionalist, so it gets to me a little more, maybe. And also I just thought it was a bit odd that he was saying “They’re the Sidhe” and then goes back to calling them “faeries” immediately after.

    Also there’s no one around to see them fight so it doesn’t matter how they or their weapons look. No one seems to witness the bad guys disintegrate, after all.

    Or Atticus’s entire shop turn into iron teeth.

    Not being Irish this doesn’t bother me that much, but it is important to know that he got it wrong. I’ll have to do more research on this.

    I’m not Irish either, or Scottish, but I’m currently super into both countries’ histories and languages and mythologies and cultures. I’m far from being an expert, but when I see something I know is wrong, it bugs me a lot.

    Also, somewhat off-topic, but I found this post in the middle of double-checking that I was right about Fragarach, and…is it me, or is this Kevin Hearne? If it is, he didn’t take the correction about Fragarach to heart.

    Feel free to correct some of the other Irish names when we get to them later on!

    Thank you, I will :)

    Kevin Hearne is born and raised in Arizona. So he knows about Arizona, if nothing else. I don’t know about his family’s background.

    That also explains the novel’s setting.

  8. Juracan on 18 June 2018, 10:35 said:

    Ahaha, yeah, I meant to leave an apology about that. :S I’m long-winded.

    It’s not a problem! I’m glad you’re excited for the spork.

    And I won’t deny that he did have clear, serious issues with his mental health…it’s just that Atticus’s way of remarking on that came across as quite insensitive.

    As we’ll see next chapter, Atticus is not exactly a bastion of sympathy for his fellow man.

    Who does he pick to be the good guys, then? I mean, vampires, for one, evidently…O.o

    And the Morrigan, funnily enough. I don’t know enough about her role in the myths, but she’s usually appeared as a villain in fiction I’ve read. So her being helpful to the protagonist here is a bit weird. Though in that case, it’s clear she’s not good as such, but she’s just supportive of the main character.

    Still an odd choice.

    Also, somewhat off-topic, but I found this post in the middle of double-checking that I was right about Fragarach, and…is it me, or is this Kevin Hearne? If it is, he didn’t take the correction about Fragarach to heart.

    That has to be him. The timing mostly matches up (book came out in 2011, that post is in 2009), and his username is “Oberon89.” In the book, we meet Atticus’s talking dog, who is named ‘Oberon,’ and Hearne has mentioned before that the dog is the character he identifies with most.

    Good find!

  9. TMary on 18 June 2018, 22:28 said:

    It’s not a problem! I’m glad you’re excited for the spork.

    Ah, cool then :)

    As we’ll see next chapter, Atticus is not exactly a bastion of sympathy for his fellow man.

    What a hero.

    And the Morrigan, funnily enough. I don’t know enough about her role in the myths, but she’s usually appeared as a villain in fiction I’ve read. So her being helpful to the protagonist here is a bit weird. Though in that case, it’s clear she’s not good as such, but she’s just supportive of the main character.

    My knowledge has come from scanning her Wikipedia article for about five minutes, but it would appear that she’s not altogether good or evil. She foretells the deaths of warriors on occasion (she’s associated with the banshee), and sometimes also influences the battles that they’re fighting in, for good or evil. She’s also associated with the land and with livestock; some say she’s more a goddess of protection of the land to than she is a goddess of war.

    So basically I don’t know that much either, but it would appear she’s more complicated than just being hero or villain.

    That has to be him. The timing mostly matches up (book came out in 2011, that post is in 2009), and his username is “Oberon89.” In the book, we meet Atticus’s talking dog, who is named ‘Oberon,’ and Hearne has mentioned before that the dog is the character he identifies with most.

    Good find!

    Thanks! It was completely by accident, too; I was just reading along and suddenly went, “Wait…is that the guy I was just talking about?” XD He also mentions that his book is coming out in 2011, so I ran off to check the publication date of Hounded, and sure enough…

    Funny coincidence, that.

  10. sidhecat on 19 June 2018, 05:30 said:

    I agree wholeheartedly on whole ‘‘immortals know everybody famous (that general american-european public has heard of)’‘. I mean it makes sense in question is some sort of seer seeking out famous people, or spirit or fae or something like that whose hobby is observing powerful warleaders or great artists or something like that. It’d make more sense for this protagonist to meet somebody from Irish history. But general public hasn’t heard of them so…

    Do we ever get explanation why Attcus moved to Arizona (aside from author is american and wanted to set book where he knows what he is talking about). Also calling it godless land… I mean aside from all reasons you all listed, in this genre gods and fae and other such things generally live in other dimensions. Wouldn’t then technically every land be godless?

    I also tend to hate belief fuels gods, partly because it is so present (even Prattchet’s way, which was of much higher quality, didn’t really hit for me), partly because I find it sort of insulting and mostly because it is much more boring then dealing with fact that all gods exist and all delicious theological discussion and revelations you could have upon meeting god in person. I remember one tumblr post that summed it up very well : ‘‘if God is something I created, then it’s not real. I have no desire for a God who isn’t God. If God is just a wish granting machine that works in exchange for my belief, faith is not worth having. ‘’

    That part with Aengus irks me very much (I read book didn’t really love it at all). I feel author just wanted to have Atticus fight god and chose random one to be villain, with only Morrigan being planned to be on his side, and researched nothing about worship and barely something about myths, and made him dumb super jerk (also Atticus is from what I hear often against Tuatha, and aren’t druids supposed to be priests).

    Also, TMary, isn’t that Polish series by chance known as Dora Wilk? Sounds familiar to me…

  11. The Smith of Lie on 19 June 2018, 10:20 said:

    Also, TMary, isn’t that Polish series by chance known as Dora Wilk? Sounds familiar to me…

    It was me nto TMary who mentioned it. And yes, it is known as Dora Wilk series from the name of the Mary Sue who is the main character.

  12. sidhecat on 19 June 2018, 12:12 said:

    Oh sorry, mixed up stuff, meant to ask them question too but blended two. Thanks for answer.

  13. Princesselwen on 19 June 2018, 22:54 said:

    I also dislike the “gods’ existence is fueled by humanity’s belief in them” trope. People can be really fickle, beliefs can be really changeable, and I can’t believe that a being who would just stop existing if enough people stopped thinking they were real, would really be that powerful. They’d actually be less powerful than a human, because a human doesn’t stop existing if enough people refuse to believe they’re really there.
    (I did like the line from one fantasy series I read, where the immortal faerie knight is stated as simply not caring whether or not humans believe he exists. Humanity’s belief—or lack thereof—in the fae, has no impact on their continued existence.)

  14. The Smith of Lie on 20 June 2018, 05:57 said:

    Well this is interesting. It seems that Gods Need Prayer Badly trope is a big point of contention here, but I don’t recall seeing it all that often. The only two examples that readily come to mind are American Gods which plays with the concept quite nicely and actually makes it the center of the story and Discworld, which also did some very nice things with it in Small Gods.

    Maybe I have been avoiding it, but I can’t really say it seemed to prevalent to me. That may have to do with the fact that I grew disillusioned with Urban Fantasy genre, which has few good titles The always metnioned Dresden Files, Rivers of London which are decent and Skullduggery Pleasant which is pretty light on the urban part. Others that I bothered to try varied from mediocre to terrible. So I might have missed the worst offenders in “supernatural needs faith” thing.

  15. Epke on 20 June 2018, 12:33 said:

    Late to the party, but the website keeps giving me automaism errors. Let’s hope Nate’s help works.

    the “young-Irish-lad facade” he calls it

    So I don’t know what cover Juracan’s got, but a Google search shows Atticus as being a slim young man with a petit goatee and a big mop of curly, ginger hair. Add the Celtic tattoos and he stands out.

    And of course, we can’t have a modern urban fantasy set anywhere else than in the good ol’ US, because everyone and everything goes there now! /sarcasm

    (He’s nothing like Thor, for one thing, and that right there means we’re going to get along fine. The local college kids would describe Thor as a “major asshat” if they ever had the misfortune to meet him.)

    Sigh. This’ll get so much worse, you won’t even believe it. Hearne has got it out for Norse gods, especially Thor. One might think that a god that was loved by the people would’ve earned said affection, but nope, I guess not. Hallower and defender of mankind: you’re a jerk?

    Aenghus is a really weird choice for a villain, but okay I guess.

    You wouldn’t even believe.

    Yeah, except this is one of those series that runs on the assumption that mythological beings are all morons who don’t realize that society has progressed at all past swords.

    It’s a trope at this point, I guess: the reason why humanity has moved beyond the supernatural is because we adapt and create/use tools that are more powerful than anything the supernatural has. Rifles, bombs, television, phones etc. “Gosh darn it, my three thousand year old brain can’t figure out how to use this gun thingy, but I sure can pick up this sword and swing that about!”
    Perhaps it’s a way to show the triumph of Man over Gods: modern man, in this case Atticus, uses both his magic and the technology of mankind to defeat the old gods, the old system. To defeat the old fear of the dark. Either way it’s very tropish.