I had the random thought that I wonder what followers of Irish paganism think of this book? Its depiction of the Irish gods is not fantastic, to say the least. I’m not saying that a writer should change his or her ideas to avoid offending people, but I was curious, in the same way how I wonder what Odinists think of the American Gods show or the recent God of War that don’t paint Odin in the nicest light.

Anyhow.

What was going on in Hounded when we left off?

Brighid was a vision. I don’t think there’s ever been a hotter widow in history.

Oh right, Atticus was getting a boner. Again.

I’m going to be blockquoting a lot more than usual, at least in this first bit, because there’s plenty that struck me as interesting to talk about here.

Even though she was in full armor and all I could see of her actual person were her eyes and her lips, well, I felt like a horny teenager again.

You always feel like that! When you see college students poking around your shop looking at New Age books, you think they’re doing it because they’re thinking about sex! And that’s weird!

I really, really wanted to flirt, but seeing as I was the guy who widowed her, I thought perhaps there was a line somewhere I shouldn’t cross.

Gee, ya think?

These lines here all comprise the opening paragraph of Chapter 14. The queen of the gods of the pantheon that he worships arrives, and he’s immediately going on about how he’s so hot for her, but he doesn’t want to flirt with her because “Oh, that’d just be awkward!” It feels all wrong for what should be going on in his head right now.

I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong for a goddess to appear and a mortal finding her beautiful, or even overtly sexual in her manifestation; that’s kind of in line with how mythologies depict some deities. But this is just… weird. Let’s go step-by-step here:

-Atticus is apparently so scared of what Brighid will do when she appears that when he hears she’s on the way, he swears in [checks Chapter 13] seventeen different languages.

-When she does appear it’s first as a burst of flame, and then as a woman in full armor, with only part of her face visible.

-And so Atticus is immediately turned on by this? And his first instinct is to try to flirt with her? And yeah, to his minor credit he doesn’t do that, but it’s because he thinks it’s awkward, not because of any shred of decency on his part.

Guys, Atticus’s internal monologue should be more along the lines of “HOLY &%(@ I need to grovel because I killed this goddess’s husband and she might smite me on principle! Pleasedon’tkillmepleasedon’tkillmepleasedon’tkillme…” None of this narration seems to indicate terror, fear, anxiety, or even just basic respect for a person arriving on your doorstep who, as far as you know, has every intention of killing you and every justification to do so.

I cleared my throat and licked my lips nervously. “You’d just like to speak about his death?” I asked. “No summary incinerations or anything like that?”

Alright now he’s showing some terror, but again, this reads weirdly. This doesn’t sound like someone who is terrified or even trying to sound regretful. It’s too weasley. It sounds more like a guy who is scared of getting detention from his teacher. Even if this did sound like grovelling, it’s completely undercut by the first paragraph informing us, pretty strongly, that Atticus’s first thoughts upon seeing Brighid are that he wants to have sex with her.

Brighid tells him that after she hears a full account of what happened, then she will make a decision about what happens to him. Atticus tells her almost everything, because “One doesn’t even attempt to lie to Brighid” although why that is, I don’t know. He does, however, leave out the details about seeing through Bres’s illusions, and he says it’s because he doesn’t want Brighid to know about his iron aura magic necklace thing, but that’s stupid because he ends up telling her by the end of the chapter anyway.

Atticus insists that it was “purely self-defense” which it kind of wasn’t—at the moment, Atticus even tells us that he doesn’t have to kill Bres, but that he does it anyway because he hates the guy and doesn’t want him to bother him again.

“I realize that.” Her manner softened. “And in truth, Druid, I owe you my thanks. You have relieved me of an odious task.”

You guys are shocked, I’m sure.

Yes, Atticus killed her husband, and her answer is “Thanks, bro, you saved me the task of doing it myself.”

Gadzooks! Brighid just said she owed me. That was a huge admission, and not what I had expected at all.

ONE: Who the flying fudge says “Gadzooks!”?

TWO: Not what you expected? Really? ‘Cause you haven’t been acting like you were this close to dying. You’ve been acting like your hot teacher’s going to talk to your parents about your grades. In either case, whether or not it’s what Atticus expected, it’s not far off from what the reader expected. At this point, we’re fairly certain that nothing is going to happen to Atticus that might inconvenience him. In this book Atticus can’t die, he can’t be seriously injured, and he can’t even have his house or shop get seriously wrecked! Even if Brighid did come here to kill him, something else would have happened to prevent it from happening, like the Morrigan flying in with some BS explanation as to why it shouldn’t happen.

How sad is it that a major goddess manifests in our protagonist’s workplace after he killed her husband, and we know there’s not going to be a boss fight because it would destroy the store? There’s no risk here! Not only will our protagonist not die when by all rights someone should have murdered him, he can’t even have someone blow up his house or his store or anything! The most we got is Brighid breaking his door!

Brighid removed her helmet, and her red hair spilled out across her pauldrons like one of those self-inflating life rafts. It wasn’t sweaty or tangled from being confined in a helmet across miles of desert. It was glorious, shining, Age of Aquarius hair that would make Malina Sokolowski envious, a full-blown movie star ‘do that a team of stylists would spend three hours teasing before the cameras rolled. It smelled of lavender and holly. I remembered to breathe only with some effort.

See, in theory I don’t have too much of an issue with this. Brighid’s a goddess. Of course she’s unbelievably beautiful. But I take issue with it because A) we’ve already established that Atticus’s view of Brighid is sexual (reminder: her ENTIRE BODY except for her head is covered in armor, so this is weird), so his description of her hair is definitely meant to be more than just aesthetic; it’s supposed to be insanely hot; B) in that description there’s also a putdown of Malina, because why not? Atticus is all too happy to talk about how everyone else is better than those witch skanks anyhow.

“Yeah, this goddess? She’s so much hotter than that witch from earlier!” Guess what? We don’t care!

I’m tired, guys. Here, take a look at this bunny gif:

Yeah, divinities bang mortals all the time in mythology. But Brighid’s not here to sleep with him. She’s just here, and Atticus is not appreciating her beauty; he’s gawking over how hawt she is.

Brighid asks for tea, and Atticus is all too happy to do it and starts working on it. Oberon asks to meet her, and Brighid is surprised to learn there’s a dog in the house because despite being a goddess, she doesn’t have the supersenses that every other supernatural being in the story does. Atticus dispells the magic cloaking on Oberon, and Brighid is nice to Oberon and therefore everything is cool, right?

Brighid brings up that Oberon’s killed a dude, and he feels bad, but says that he didn’t mean to, Flidais made him do it. Brighid knows, and says that it’s kind of her fault because she’s the one that sent Flidais to Atticus’s house in the first place.

Trivia: Brighid takes milk and honey in her tea. Just like me.

I don’t care! I don’t know what this comment is for. It sounds like the kind of thing a moron with a massive crush would care about, but considering that this goes nowhere, as far as I know, it’s absolutely pointless.

…sat down and took a moment to savor the surrealism. I was having tea with Brighid, a goddess I’d worshipped since childhood, in a city that didn’t exist when I was a child.

Here’s the thing (aside from the question of whether the area was settled before he was born, as it might well have been, because there’s evidence of Native Americans having lived around the area, if not necessarily right there, before the birth of Christ):

None of these interactions read like a man who is meeting his god.

I don’t know how many of my readers are religious, but if you are, whether it be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, Neopagan, Zoroastrian, whatever: is this how you’d act and talk if a central figure from your religion descended from the celestial planes to come talk to you? ‘Cause I’m betting… not.

There’s no reverence in how Atticus interacts with Brighid. There’s no awe, no wonder. It’s mostly sucking up. His fear is of being killed, but it’s pretty weak, and even then that’s not what his fear should be. When he hears she’s coming, he starts swearing a bunch, instead of, I dunno, being gripped by fear for his life or his soul or anything. If this is a goddess he actively worships now, there should be a sort of fear of being in the presence of a being so far beyond his understanding and capabilities that his thoughts should be jumbled. Atticus should be terrified or in awe on a level that he doesn’t know what to do with himself.

Instead, he’s just sipping tea and thinking, “Hey, isn’t this kind of funny?”

I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be drinking tea or anything, but Attiucs shouldn’t be this casual about this. And his first thoughts when Brighid arrives in his shop definitely shouldn’t be about how he thinks it’d be awkward to flirt with her.

Like in Dresden Files when—

No! No, wait, I can do an example that’s not Dresden Files this time!

Have you heard of the Obsidian and Blood trilogy by Aliette de Bodard? If not, they’re very good, and worth checking out. It’s a historical fantasy murder mystery series set in the Aztec Triple Alliance. The lead character is Acatl, the high priest of the god of the dead. He regularly interacts with gods and minor sorcerers and the like. And when he interacts with gods, even if he doesn’t like them, he treats them with respect their otherworldly power and does his best to not offend them. Because even if it’s not his god, even if that god has shown that he’d happily kill all humanity, the fact is that he, a person raised in this belief system, sees them as gods, beings so much above and beyond him that the best he can do is sort of appease them and hope they don’t squish us. It helps that his patron deity, Mictlancuhutli, is (relatively) benevolent and doesn’t care about scheming because, well, he’s the god of the dead: he’ll get everyone in the end anyway.

I’m not saying every author needs to take that route, but I’d have liked to see something similar to that from Atticus, considering he’s, y’know, a Druid who actually worships this pantheon, and here he straight-up admits that he worships Brighid. I’d be less bothered if Atticus was explicitly non-religious, but here is a being he literally worships, and he’s acting more like he’s interacting with a hot celebrity he had a crush on since he was a kid.

Hearne kind of shot himself in the foot by making the Tuatha de Danaan into super Druids instead of actual gods? And by making Atticus himself basically their equal. If you recall, early on Atticus explains that the Irish gods weren’t really born as gods; they’re humans, sort of super-Druids, who got themselves deified. So why does Atticus, a person who knows this, worship some of them? He’s basically a god: he’s around the power level they are, except without the limitation that they’re less powerful in American than in Europe. And he has an amulet that defies the basic rules of magic. The difference is that he doesn’t have the name recognition. Why would he worship them? He knows that they’re not really divine and he can kill several of them any day of the week.

[This, in turn, sort of feeds into why I don’t like the whole idea of ‘gods exist because people believe in them’ trope that’s all too common; because the gods aren’t real. And so any religious person who discovers that he or she lives in a universe like that should reject that belief. If my belief is what makes a god, then it isn’t really a god, is it? It’s a thing we made.]

The point I’m making here is this: none of this adds up. Atticus should not be worshipping a being he knows for a fact is not divine. He should not have been horny just from Brighid’s appearance at her arrival even if she wasn’t a goddess he worshipped, but because she is it’s even more inappropriate and weird.

You might be wondering why Brighid is here, if it’s not to kill Atticus or sleep with him. It’s for the other reason characters appear in this book: to infodump! Basically, this is what she tells us:

Aenghus Og has been plotting to take over the Tuatha de Danann for some time now; Brighid thinks it’s part of an even bigger evil plan, but we don’t know what that is. It doesn’t really matter. So Aenghus has been grabbing as many magic weapons and pieces of armor as he can get his hands on. That armor that Bres was wearing? Brighid made it, because Bres, on Aenghus’s orders, asked her to make him some armor strong enough that the sword Fragarach couldn’t cut through it. She made some crappy armor for him, no questions asked, and Bres believed it and went and got killed. Which is fine with Brighid, because she doesn’t want to directly get involved with Aenghus’s people unless it’s absolutely necessary. Because… Reasons?

But hey, why kill Bres at all… ? I get that he’s a dick, and he’s apparently working for Aenghus, your enemy. If Bres has always been such a douchebag, why hasn’t she killed him before now? And why not capture him and interrogate him for what he knows? Even if he should have been killed, Atticus shouldn’t be the one to do it—having someone who is not a god killing a god, of your own pantheon, and one who is your spouse, sets a very bad precedent! You let a human kill your husband, Brighid! How does that look to the other gods?

[Oh and by the way, Aenghus and Brighid are brother and sister? Which isn’t really, like, shocking considering how mythology works, but I felt it could have been brought up instead of just casually mentioned without anyone commenting on it.]

The armor that Brighid’s wearing, on the other hand, actually was built to withstand Fragarach, but she doesn’t know for sure that it’ll work because it’s never been tested, and she has no intention of giving Aenghus the chance. That’s why Aenghus wants Fragarach specifically—to kill Brighid with.

Which is kind of dumb, if you think about it? Because hey, as we’ve learned from this book, the Tuatha de Danann are actually not immortal in this series. Which means that any method of killing her would work, but for whatever reason Aenghus decides it must be the sword. If he were really the scheming dickbag this book keeps trying to paint him as, who’d be willing to do anything to get what he wants, wouldn’t he just shoot her? Okay, maybe her armor is bulletproof, but there are plenty of other ways to kill people. Drowning. Poison. Strangulation. Poison gas. Grenades. Arguably maybe she could magic her way out of those too, but seeing as no one explains that, and we have yet to see how gods, Druids or faeries would deal with those things, I have no idea why Aenghus’s plot is so reliant on Fragarach.

This is a god who is willing to manipulate law enforcement, hire assassins both mortal and faerie, and you’re telling me that his plan of killing his sister, the queen of his nation, is entirely dependent on him getting a specific sword, and he can’t carry out his plan without it? Why the fudge not?

“I would never wield Fragarach against you.”

[…]

“I know that, Atticus. And I would rather Aenghus not wield it against me either.”

“I’d have to be dead first.”

“Precisely. I think you are fit to wield it

Wait a minute, back up! Why does she trust Atticus with the sword? Because he’s on her side? It didn’t stop him from killing Connie of the Hundred Battles’s men when they tried to take the sword from him and give it back to their king who dropped it. Atticus is not the last person you’d trust with the sword, but he’s pretty low on the list. He killed people on his own side because he got the magic cut-through-anything sword. That’s not exactly trustworthy.

He’s not fit to wield it! He doesn’t carry it because he’s worthy, or he went through some trials or quests or anything! The sword landed in front of him, and he picked it up! Then he ran ‘cause the Morrigan said so! That’s it! There is no good reason for him to have the sword!

Brighid tells Atticus that the police are being controlled by Aenghus, which is why they’re so interested in arresting him (WE KNOW THIS).

The police are now tools of the love god.

“They’re definitely tools,” I agreed.

ISN’T ATTICUS SO FUNNY GUYS? ISN’T HE SO WITTY AND HILARIOUS? ARE YOU LAUGHING YET?

She then tells him that the witch coven in town is also allied with Aenghus, and Atticus acts shocked because Malina just told him they weren’t! And I think we’re supposed to care which way the witches lean, and I just… don’t. I don’t care. Atticus points out that if they’re siding with him, it doesn’t make sense for one of them to order a potion that makes Aenghus impotent, which is what I said, but Brighid gives him the explanation he gave the audience earlier, that it gives Aenghus an excuse to go after Atticus and get the witches close to him. Which is stupid, because Aenghus doesn’t need an excuse to want to kill Atticus—he’s a god, and he’s been trying to kill him for over a thousand years. Why does he need to give himself impotence?

Atticus acts all outraged, because he has a symbol of Radomila’s blood, and the coven owes him a favor, so how could they double cross him like this? Brighid claims it’s because they’re not expecting him to be around to collect on the favor, and she hypothesizes that they’ll get travelling priveliges through Tir na nOg. Atticus gives “a low whistle” and says—

HANG ON A MINUTE. What is he feeling in this scene? Because he’s really agitated when he’s told the witches have double crossed him (despite him constantly telling us you can’t trust witches anyway so it’s not like he thought much of them to begin with), but now he gives a low whistle? It’s like he goes from being animatedly upset to just calmly interested. Pick a mood, man!

Anyhow, somehow being able to travel through Tir na nOg would make them a powerful coven, though why isn’t explained. Does it give them power? Does it connect to other places on Earth? I don’t know! And no one tells us!

Brighid keeps dumping info on our heads to tell us that Aenghus has definitely cut a deal with Fomorians and Fae, and that she suspects he’s made some deals with hell. And no, it’s not capitalized here despite it definitely talking about the Christian concept of Hell.

That could be a fairly huge problem. There were way more of them than me, and they wouldn’t listen to my lawyer.

LAUGH DAMNIT

What does the heck does Hell get out of this? Why are we bringing in yet another fantasy element to the Plot that doesn’t fit? Why would Lucifer make a deal with Aenghus Og? What could possibly be gained that’s worth the trouble?

Atticus asks what the other Irish gods think and who they’re siding with, and Brighid says most of them are with her, because, surprise! They don’t like the idea of Fomorians and demons in their yards! Which makes you wonder why Aenghus is doing any of this? Why does he want to rule a kingdom so badly that he’s willing make deals that none of his subjects will be happy with? I know that people do stupid shiz for power all the time, but there’s always a semblance of a reason. And this is fiction; it has to make more sense than real life. Once again, we’re being told that Aenghus Og is doing all this evil crap, but he’s given no motivation to do so!

Brighid asks him to join her side, and Atticus immediately agrees.

What moral dilemma was there? She wanted me to keep the sword; Aenghus wanted to take it. She liked me alive; Aenghus didn’t. She was hot; Aenghus was not.

You know, up until that last sentence I didn’t have a problem with this passage. Also when Brighid offers to reward him if he kills Aenghus Og we get this:

I have to admit that some of the warm fuzzies flew away right there. It made me feel like a mercenary.

Since when has Atticus cared about stuff like this? He’s always been a dick who’s willing to screw over anyone if it’s convenient. This was never a righteous cause kind of deal; look, on this same page he admitted that one of the reasons he picked Brighid over Aenghus is because she’s hotter! Even if he did care about morals, he’s constantly telling us that he’ll happily use sneaky and backhanded tactics to get what he wants because it’s more practical and keeps him alive. So why does he feel bad all of a sudden about mercenary work?

Brighid wants to give him a special kind of magic in case he runs into some demons, called Cold Fire, but she can’t give him the magic because of his special iron amulet. She asks about it, and he explains to her how he has this thing he made that defies the rules of magic but he has one because he’s just so OMG BRILLIANT, AMIRITE? It’s so brilliant guys, that Brighid, the goddess of crafting and queen of the Irish gods, thought it was impossible and hasn’t even tried it! She’s completely baffled by how this thing works! Isn’t Atticus so impressive?

Brighid asks how the amulet was made, and Atticus says he can’t tell her because it’s a secret because the Morrigan made him promise not to tell anyone else how it’s made as part of their deal—he’s only allowed to teach her, and that’s it. Atticus doesn’t tell Brighid about the Morrigan though, just that it’s a secret, but he encourages her that she’ll figure it out sooner or later, in a way that’s not at all condescending.

Nah that’s a lie, it’s super condescending.

So she gives him Cold Fire when he momentarily takes off the amulet, and it’s, like, this literal fire that’s cold? Like ice? It drains a lot more Mana than other spells, even if he’s touching the Earth at the time. It apparently only works on demons from Hell, and they must both be touching the Earth because… reasons.

And the magic word is “Doigh.” According to Wiktionary, as a verb it means “burn.” But if it’s cold, why would it do that? I don’t get it?

… you are all that is keeping Aenghus Og and his allies from moving openly against me.

Why? You’re the queen of a pantheon? Brighid has gods on her side, and she could easily get a bunch of mortal pawns on her side.

And then Brighid kisses him, tasting “of milk and honey and berries” and she leaves. How does she leave? [shrugs] I dunno. Hearne doesn’t tell me. He just puts in Oberon’s dialogue tag that he said his lines “once Brighid had left.” Considering her entrance was so big and flashy, you’d think it’d be worthwhile to describe how she exited the scene. But nope! Nothing.

Anyhow, Oberon says that since three goddesses have kissed Atticus, Oberon deserves his harem of three hundred poodles. Because… that’s funny, I guess? Our protagonist’s dog demanding that his sexual fantasies be fulfilled is meant to be cute or something. Look, I don’t care, but he does bring up that actual goddesses are showing up at his shop and house to make out with him, and this is meant to be amusing instead of stupid?

Join us next time as Atticus talks to cops again.

Tagged as: ,

Comment

  1. The Smith of Lie on 21 July 2019, 07:07 said:

    I was recently at the bookstore, just browsing around, hoping something will catch my attention. Then I saw something by one Kevin Hearne and went “Wait a sec, that name sounds familiar…”. Then I saw “Author of Iron Druid chronicle…” on the back and almost dropped it in disgust.

    This tangent has no moral except that I apparently tried to supress memory of Hearne’s work so badly that I forgot his name. And yet here I am…

    I was curious, in the same way how I wonder what Odinists think of the American Gods show or the recent God of War that don’t paint Odin in the nicest light.

    Or the Old Testament portrayal of Abrahamic god.

    Brighid was a vision. I don’t think there’s ever been a hotter widow in history.

    I had no expectations and I am still disappointed.

    Even though she was in full armor and all I could see of her actual person were her eyes and her lips, well, I felt like a horny teenager again.

    You always feel like that! When you see college students poking around your shop looking at New Age books, you think they’re doing it because they’re thinking about sex! And that’s weird!

    This is quite unfair. I used to be a teenager and knew some of those weird creatures. And I can attest that at least some of them, if not most, can think about things other than sex for longer than few seconds at a time. Compared to Atticus an average teenager is about as sexual as a paricularly pious member of Benedictine order.

    I really, really wanted to flirt, but seeing as I was the guy who widowed her, I thought perhaps there was a line somewhere I shouldn’t cross.

    Ten bucks on him actually disregarding this in few paragraphs and flirting with her in what is supposed to pass as a witty manner. And probably making comments about Bres’s armor, because that apparently never gets old (except it got old very, very fast).

    I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong for a goddess to appear and a mortal finding her beautiful, or even overtly sexual in her manifestation; that’s kind of in line with how mythologies depict some deities.

    Except it usually isn’t when the said goddess shows up with presumed vengence on her mind, clad in full body armor.

    Guys, Atticus’s internal monologue should be more along the lines of “HOLY &%(@ I need to grovel because I killed this goddess’s husband and she might smite me on principle! Pleasedon’tkillmepleasedon’tkillmepleasedon’tkillme…” None of this narration seems to indicate terror, fear, anxiety, or even just basic respect for a person arriving on your doorstep who, as far as you know, has every intention of killing you and every justification to do so.

    This. As per tradition, Dresden Files actually deals with this quite well. Harry knows he should act respectfully, but then his reaction to being nervous is to get mouthy. And about as often then no his snarking at dieties gets punished. (Also, even when specifically targetted by sexy glamour and expected to react to it, he is able to keep himself under control. Atticus could really learn a thing or two from Dresden.)

    “I realize that.” Her manner softened. “And in truth, Druid, I owe you my thanks. You have relieved me of an odious task.”

    You guys are shocked, I’m sure.

    Also: Makes it easy!

    […] That was a huge admission, and not what I had expected at all.

    Let me remind you a bit from spork of chapter 9.

    She does point out though that Bres’s wife Brighid will be upset and probably want Atticus dead. Atticus tells her that if they point out how much of an idiot Bres was, then maybe Brighid won’t mind.

    So yeah, see how serious Atticus was about Brighid’s revange. So serious that he thought a stupid armor worn by Bres would be enough for her to ley bygones be bygones…

    It’s almost as if there’s no consistency in how Atticus acts…

    Yeah, divinities bang mortals all the time in mythology. But Brighid’s not here to sleep with him. She’s just here, and Atticus is not appreciating her beauty; he’s gawking over how hawt she is.

    Well since we are on the topic of divinities banging mortals, here’s a little palette cleanser.

    I don’t care! I don’t know what this comment is for. It sounds like the kind of thing a moron with a massive crush would care about, but considering that this goes nowhere, as far as I know, it’s absolutely pointless.

    Wait. You mean to tell me that you are not so deeply invested in Atticus’s character, that the way he takes his tea is a relevant inforamtion?! Pull the other one.

    I don’t know how many of my readers are religious, but if you are, whether it be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, Neopagan, Zoroastrian, whatever: is this how you’d act and talk if a central figure from your religion descended from the celestial planes to come talk to you? ‘Cause I’m betting… not.

    Now this is an interesting point. You’ll not that most of the religions you mentioned deal with a single diety, which is not very humanized in most of the sources. Neopagan and Wicca are as far as I am aware most similar to the old mythilogies, when it comes to having relatively human dieties (maybe Hinduism? I don’t know too much about it.) Taking that into account and taking into account that Atticus seems to have been dealing with gods for millenia it is not entirely weird that he is not awed. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that jazz.

    On the other hand I doubt that this is the reason Hearne wrote it that way. More probably he just didn’t consider that Atticus should be in awe of anyone given the amount of authorial fiat coursing in his veins.

    Also, from what we’ve seen from the gods in this universe, they ain’t that big of a deal. I mean they’re as stupid as everyone else and die easier than mooks. Given how casually Atticus disposed of Bres, there’s little to be awed by as far as we know.

    Have you heard of the Obsidian and Blood trilogy by Aliette de Bodard?

    No. But I am intrigued, go on.

    It’s a historical fantasy murder mystery series set in the Aztec Triple Alliance.

    You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.

    I’m not saying every author needs to take that route, but I’d have liked to see something similar to that from Atticus, considering he’s, y’know, a Druid who actually worships this pantheon, and here he straight-up admits that he worships Brighid. I’d be less bothered if Atticus was explicitly non-religious, but here is a being he literally worships, and he’s acting more like he’s interacting with a hot celebrity he had a crush on since he was a kid.

    Now having only second hand experience I’d never assume Atticus as an active worshipper. He acts more like being Druid is all about having awesome powers, not about being a priest.

    Hearne kind of shot himself in the foot by making the Tuatha de Danaan into super Druids instead of actual gods? […]

    This is kind of shoddy world building. But it also missess on a chance for a real cool aspect of the universe. If Tuatha didn’t start as gods, there should be a real possibility of ascension into a godhood for Atticus and other characters. Maybe I haven’t been reading the correct books, but aside from Malazan Book of the Dead I think there’s not enough fantasy that includes the possibility of entering the divine pantheon.

    You might be wondering why Brighid is here, if it’s not to kill Atticus or sleep with him. It’s for the other reason characters appear in this book: to infodump!

    Yet another reason not to take her seriously. I mean, being a head of pantheon can’t be a real job if she has a time to just drop on Atticus to deliver some more exposition.

    Also, good thing she is here for exposition, the ratio of plot to exposition was getting too far from 0.

    I have no idea why Aenghus’s plot is so reliant on Fragarach.

    Because it is just an excuse to have the McGuffin. Lets be honest, nothing about the whole scramble to get the sword made much sense ever since the Atticus stole it. If not for that contrivance there’d be no plot because Atticus would be sitting in his shop, ogling teenage girls who are into New Age stuff and being the useless layabout that he is.

    This is a god who is willing to manipulate law enforcement, hire assassins both mortal and faerie, and you’re telling me that his plan of killing his sister, the queen of his nation, is entirely dependent on him getting a specific sword, and he can’t carry out his plan without it? Why the fudge not?

    See my previous statement.

    Wait a minute, back up! Why does she trust Atticus with the sword?

    Because everyone in the book is stupid. Aenghus has a stupid plan, that Atticus stupidly avoids, while Morrigan stupidly helps him and Brighid stupidly trusts him. Lawyers are giving stupid advice that works because police is stupid. Witches play stupid games for some (probably) stupid reasons. Irish Widow is made into a stupid caricature of Irish stereotype. Stupid stoners act stupidly for the amusement of stupid protagonist.

    The tag-line of the book should be “In the kingdom of the stupid, the one with authorial fiat on his side is the king!”

    He’s not fit to wield it! He doesn’t carry it because he’s worthy, or he went through some trials or quests or anything! The sword landed in front of him, and he picked it up! Then he ran ‘cause the Morrigan said so! That’s it! There is no good reason for him to have the sword!

    And he doesn’t even use it for anything in particular! Up untill now it might have just as well ben a fancy paper-weight. In most books when hero lays his hands on the super-duper magic artifact you expect them to use it in a quest to rid the world from some great evil or maybe to help the helpless. But Atticus spend 2000 years faffing about and serving only himself!

    Brighid tells Atticus that the police are being controlled by Aenghus, which is why they’re so interested in arresting him (WE KNOW THIS).

    But theyt are not even particularly interested in that! I’ve read enough articles about the ways cops are able to abuse their power to see that if they really wanted to arrest Atticus he’d have been arrested about 5 chapters ago! It doesn’t matter that he has glib answers, the system leaves enough leeway for corruption that they’d pin something on him, frame him and plant fake evidence. But that’d be incovenience.

    ISN’T ATTICUS SO FUNNY GUYS? ISN’T HE SO WITTY AND HILARIOUS? ARE YOU LAUGHING YET?

    No. And I think I lost my ability to laugh, due to how aggressively unfunny that line was.

    [The part about how coven is involved.]

    Holy moly… Can you imagine how good the book would have been if Hearne put as much work into making an actual plot, instead of creating convoluted complications that don’t actually matter for the basic “get the McGuffin” scam he’s running?

    What does the heck does Hell get out of this? Why are we bringing in yet another fantasy element to the Plot that doesn’t fit? Why would Lucifer make a deal with Aenghus Og? What could possibly be gained that’s worth the trouble?

    You know, I am only getting a recap and this whole thing is making me feel tired.

    Also the Hell is getting involved because so far Hearne has been trivializing a threat after threat, so I suppose he just threw it in to create an illusion of upping the stakes.

    So why does he feel bad all of a sudden about mercenary work?

    Because the audience is supposed to think that he’s the hero and not a giant, gaping asshole that he is?

    It’s so brilliant guys, that Brighid, the goddess of crafting and queen of the Irish gods, thought it was impossible and hasn’t even tried it! She’s completely baffled by how this thing works! Isn’t Atticus so impressive?

    I can’t even come up with something witty here. I just hate this.

    Atticus doesn’t tell Brighid about the Morrigan though, just that it’s a secret, but he encourages her that she’ll figure it out sooner or later, in a way that’s not at all condescending.

    You know what could have save this scene? If Brighid never considered something like this due to apparent impossibility. Then confrotned by Atticus and him having done it, the shift in her thinking about the issue should make it reasonably easy to get the general gist of the thing. And by the next time they meet Brighid should have a version of the amulet that is an upgrade in every over the one Atticus has made.

    This would shift the tone from Brighid looking stupid to her just not thinking outside of the box before, but being able to catch up once she saw it. But of course we can’t have that, as it’d rob Atticus from the chance of being a smug prick.

    And then Brighid kisses him, tasting “of milk and honey and berries” and she leaves. How does she leave? [shrugs] I dunno.

    She just walked out through the door and caught a cab.

    Anyhow, Oberon says that since three goddesses have kissed Atticus, Oberon deserves his harem of three hundred poodles. Because… that’s funny, I guess?

    What is it with Hearne and his obsession with poodle harem!? It was not really funny the first time, now it is just getting more and more disturbing.

    Join us next time as Atticus talks to cops again.

    Oh good. That certainly won’t make everyone look stupid and unfunny.

  2. Juracan on 22 July 2019, 09:00 said:

    I was recently at the bookstore, just browsing around, hoping something will catch my attention. Then I saw something by one Kevin Hearne and went “Wait a sec, that name sounds familiar…”. Then I saw “Author of Iron Druid chronicle…” on the back and almost dropped it in disgust.

    Honestly? I’d like to think he’s gotten much better over time. Heck, maybe the later books in this very series are better than the first few. But it’s a fair reaction; after this, you’re not really obligated to give him a chance.

    Or the Old Testament portrayal of Abrahamic god.

    This one I wondered less about because we see that all the time in popular culture, at least in the US. And we see the backlash too! So I’m familiar with how that goes. Neo-pagans? Not so much. It’s especially interesting because I’ve heard a lot of people say stuff like “I’ve learned so much about Norse mythology from playing God of War!” and when they talk about it seems like… they haven’t, really.

    This is quite unfair. I used to be a teenager and knew some of those weird creatures. And I can attest that at least some of them, if not most, can think about things other than sex for longer than few seconds at a time. Compared to Atticus an average teenager is about as sexual as a paricularly pious member of Benedictine order.

    I did specify that I was referencing “horny teenagers” rather than all teens. But yes, you’re right—Atticus isn’t a good representation of the average teeanger’s libido, as much as a particularly perverted one who has trouble making friends because he won’t stop talking about sex.

    It’s almost as if there’s no consistency in how Atticus acts…

    Whaaaaaat? No way!

    BTW, the Zeus comic really made my day.

    Now this is an interesting point. You’ll not that most of the religions you mentioned deal with a single diety, which is not very humanized in most of the sources. Neopagan and Wicca are as far as I am aware most similar to the old mythilogies, when it comes to having relatively human dieties (maybe Hinduism? I don’t know too much about it.) Taking that into account and taking into account that Atticus seems to have been dealing with gods for millenia it is not entirely weird that he is not awed. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that jazz.

    It’s true that a lot of these are monotheistic and not with a deity that’s considered very much like a person. That’s why I decided to go with “a central figure from your religion” rather than “your god” because Judaism and Islam have prominent angels and prophets and such that I think would also fit for the purposes of the scenario.

    And you’re right, if we take into account that Atticus has been dealing with gods for two thousand years, it’s not that weird. But this chapter also establishes that he does in fact worship Brighid, so it’s a bit strange from that end.

    Now having only second hand experience I’d never assume Atticus as an active worshipper. He acts more like being Druid is all about having awesome powers, not about being a priest.

    Bingo. There’s an explanation somewhere in the series, I think, that being a Druid doesn’t necessarily mean you have to worship Celtic gods, it just means being an awesome earth wizard, but I don’t think that’s exactly parsed out in this book, so it’s all unclear and I don’t know how you’re supposed to get that. Especially since historically speaking, priests of the Celtic gods were exactly what the Druids were.

    This is kind of shoddy world building. But it also missess on a chance for a real cool aspect of the universe. If Tuatha didn’t start as gods, there should be a real possibility of ascension into a godhood for Atticus and other characters. Maybe I haven’t been reading the correct books, but aside from Malazan Book of the Dead I think there’s not enough fantasy that includes the possibility of entering the divine pantheon.

    You’re certainly right, and it’s a shame that this book doesn’t go into it. Because it’s really, really weird that it brings up the possibility of deification, and then doesn’t do anything with it, especially since Atticus is, more or less, a god, just without some of the bells and whistles.

    Because it is just an excuse to have the McGuffin. Lets be honest, nothing about the whole scramble to get the sword made much sense ever since the Atticus stole it. If not for that contrivance there’d be no plot because Atticus would be sitting in his shop, ogling teenage girls who are into New Age stuff and being the useless layabout that he is.

    As I like to say, the Power of Plot Contrivance!

    Because everyone in the book is stupid. Aenghus has a stupid plan, that Atticus stupidly avoids, while Morrigan stupidly helps him and Brighid stupidly trusts him. Lawyers are giving stupid advice that works because police is stupid. Witches play stupid games for some (probably) stupid reasons. Irish Widow is made into a stupid caricature of Irish stereotype. Stupid stoners act stupidly for the amusement of stupid protagonist.

    And there’s more stupid on the way! Hooray!

    And he doesn’t even use it for anything in particular! Up untill now it might have just as well ben a fancy paper-weight. In most books when hero lays his hands on the super-duper magic artifact you expect them to use it in a quest to rid the world from some great evil or maybe to help the helpless. But Atticus spend 2000 years faffing about and serving only himself!

    And let’s be clear: Atticus totally could have solved a lot of the world’s problems with his powers and the magic sword. He just doesn’t because… well, that would be an inconvenience.

    I’ve read enough articles about the ways cops are able to abuse their power to see that if they really wanted to arrest Atticus he’d have been arrested about 5 chapters ago! It doesn’t matter that he has glib answers, the system leaves enough leeway for corruption that they’d pin something on him, frame him and plant fake evidence. But that’d be incovenience.

    Like I said before: realistically speaking, if the cops were such corrupt, tempermental dickbags as Hearne paints the, Atticus could very easily find himself in jail or shot by now.

    No. And I think I lost my ability to laugh, due to how aggressively unfunny that line was.

    Happens to me too, sometimes.

    Holy moly… Can you imagine how good the book would have been if Hearne put as much work into making an actual plot, instead of creating convoluted complications that don’t actually matter for the basic “get the McGuffin” scam he’s running?

    Yeah, but it’d be shorter.

    And less painful.

    Actually yeah, he should have cut all of this crap.

    [Actually some of this is setup for what happens in the next book. It’s still dumb.]

    Also the Hell is getting involved because so far Hearne has been trivializing a threat after threat, so I suppose he just threw it in to create an illusion of upping the stakes.

    Yeah the Hell demons don’t actually appear until the very end. It’s stupid.

    You know what could have save this scene? If Brighid never considered something like this due to apparent impossibility. Then confrotned by Atticus and him having done it, the shift in her thinking about the issue should make it reasonably easy to get the general gist of the thing. And by the next time they meet Brighid should have a version of the amulet that is an upgrade in every over the one Atticus has made.

    Nah, but then she wouldn’t appear in the next book and offer to sleep with Atticus in exchange for the secret of the iron amulet (I think).

    What is it with Hearne and his obsession with poodle harem!? It was not really funny the first time, now it is just getting more and more disturbing.

    Wait ‘til you get to the payoff for this joke.

    Oh good. That certainly won’t make everyone look stupid and unfunny.

    This book runs on stupid and unfunny.

  3. sidhecat on 23 July 2019, 08:59 said:

    So, on how neopagans see modern portrayals of their gods, from my experience most are exasperated and disappointed but not surprised by how gods are portrayed in media. Those from less ‘‘mainstream’‘ traditions like say, Slavic or Finnish, tend to be happy and interested when somebody is making something with elements of their beliefs but also wary, especially if it is done by British or Americans.
    I know of one popular Odin devotee who likes American Gods and God of War despite it’s bad portrayal of Odin because it features research and elements of legends that aren’t often mentioned in most media, and that she thinks it can be useful in inspiring people to start their own research.

    Aenghus really has no motivation here? He is just there to be evil? And what is point of pointing out that he and Brighid are related if not to show some family drama?
    For making bargains with Fomorians and Hell, that could have been useful in plot? Maybe there is faction conflict between Tuatha, some of whom think they should be making treaties and change alongside new world, while others are wary of entering in bargains with their ancient enemies and religion that replaced them?

    Also, if Bres wasn’t killed after leading Fomorians at Tuatha, I doubt he would be for throwing his lot in with Aenghus. And if yes, at least give Brighid chance to mourn him a bit, because I doubt Tuatha customs force you to stay in marriage when you don’t like other partner.

    And yeah, god of love and beauty not being hot. I don’t buy that.

  4. Juracan on 23 July 2019, 21:01 said:

    So, on how neopagans see modern portrayals of their gods, from my experience most are exasperated and disappointed but not surprised by how gods are portrayed in media. Those from less ‘‘mainstream’‘ traditions like say, Slavic or Finnish, tend to be happy and interested when somebody is making something with elements of their beliefs but also wary, especially if it is done by British or Americans.

    I feel like this is not so different from how we Catholics feel about media portrayals of our religion in media.

    I know of one popular Odin devotee who likes American Gods and God of War despite it’s bad portrayal of Odin because it features research and elements of legends that aren’t often mentioned in most media, and that she thinks it can be useful in inspiring people to start their own research.

    This is fair, I think. If it inspires tangential learning, then it’s A-okay. Honestly that was kind of why I picked up this book in the first place? I wanted to know stuff about Irish mythology, and I figured a fictional handle to jump off of might be a good place to start? And I suppose, in a way it was, because working on this sporking I’ve learned a lot more about Irish mythology, just in pointing out everything wrong with the way it’s presented in this novel.

    Aenghus really has no motivation here? He is just there to be evil?

    …yeah, kinda. He wants power. Why? [shrugs] I dunno. Like I said, Aenghus is a very strange choice for a villain. I could think of ways in which it could have worked, but Hearne doesn’t even try. He’s just a power-hungry dick because Hearne wants him to be.

    And what is point of pointing out that he and Brighid are related if not to show some family drama?

    To be fair, it’s not even pointed out; Brighid just casually refers to him as “my brother” and nothing is made of it. But you’re right, there should be something there, and there isn’t. One of the reasons I like mythology stories so much is because I’m a huge fan of stories about families and their dynamics, and in mythology so many of the characters are related in one way or another.

    Yet here, it means… nothing. Aenghus’s being Brighid’s brother, and yet plotting to kill her, is just there. It doesn’t mean anything at all. It’s another fact thrown at you, and the narration acts as if it’s common knowledge. Like I said, there are tons of things about the worldbuilding that Hearne will gladly stop the action in its tracks to explain for pages on end, but when it comes to the actual Irish mythology he tends to sort of assume you know it. Which is weird, because that’s probably the stuff we need the most exposition on; your average reader probably doesn’t have that deep a grasp on Irish myth.

    For making bargains with Fomorians and Hell, that could have been useful in plot? Maybe there is faction conflict between Tuatha, some of whom think they should be making treaties and change alongside new world, while others are wary of entering in bargains with their ancient enemies and religion that replaced them?

    Yeah, sidhecat, but that requires effort!

    Really, I think Hell’s just in the Plot because Hearne decided to start ticking off a checklist of things that appear in urban fantasy. Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Witches? Check. Fae? Check. Demons? Sure, we’ll squeeze that in somehow.

    The relationships between different mythological figures of different belief systems isn’t really fleshed out in the first couple of books at all, despite it being kind of essential to the Plot? Already we’ve got the Irish gods, demons from Hell, and witches who pull their power from Slavic goddesses. The next book introduces Greco-Roman-powered characters, Coyote, and the Virgin Mary. You would think that how they all interact with each other would be a bigger focus, but it’s kind of not.

    Also, if Bres wasn’t killed after leading Fomorians at Tuatha, I doubt he would be for throwing his lot in with Aenghus.

    Another thing that’s never explained!

    Yeah, several of the sources I found on Bres seemed to indicate that he’s supposed to be dead at this point. And it’s not bad to keep him alive to fit him into the story, but Bres does absolutely nothing in the story other than show up and die. I suppose one could argue he leads to Brighid appearing and that armor of his alludes to Aenghus’s plan? Roundaboutedly? But basically he’s in the story to die. That’s it and that’s all.

    There’s no reason for him to be in this story. He might as well have been dead already.

    And if yes, at least give Brighid chance to mourn him a bit, because I doubt Tuatha customs force you to stay in marriage when you don’t like other partner.

    Another thing that’s never explained! Really it’s unclear if Brighid ever really disliked Bres, or ever really liked him, or what. Their relationship’s depth is… this chapter. That’s it. Other than that, we’ve got nothing.

  5. The Smith of Lie on 24 July 2019, 01:39 said:

    Actually yeah, he should have cut all of this crap.

    I’ve been thinking about it a bit and to be honest the story structure does not need too many changes for it all to fit reasonably well. It just needs some things to be better established and some things to be pruned a little.

    Here’s the same story, just recontextualized so it makes sense without squinting and giving the characters needless benefit of the doubt.

    We start with the battle of Magh Lena (it still can be in a flashback, but for the sake of chronology of events lets put it first in the recap). We establish that Fragarach is some kind of Platonic Ideal of Swordiness and that it is the only thing that can put a Tuatha down. During the battle Morrigan again puts up Atticus to grab the sword and he reluctantly takes it.

    Aenghus calls this out demands to be given the sword. Enter Brighid jurding that Atticus got it as spoils of war, all fair and legal and Aenghus better not stir troubles over this. Aenghus with the law laid upon from high can’t directly go after Atticus now.

    Atticus being kind of piece of shit and unwilling hero spends centuries avoiding whateve agents Aenghus can send after him on down low. Finally he settles 2000 years later, arrogantly certain that the scandal blew over already.

    This prompts Aenghus to throw everything he can after Atticus. Faeries fail so he sends in the Police. Atticus gets away at first due to his lawyer timely intervention, but is warned that it only bought him some time (say Hal has someone in DA office, but Aneghus’s agent is even higher up and will override it), so now Atticus is hiding from Police.

    Enter Bres. This time around he kicks Atticus’s butt around and shrugs off everything that’s thrown at him. Finally Atticus is forced to break out Fragarach just to survive. This pretty much makes him a beacon for Tuatha and others, hence the Fomorians showing up.

    Finally when Brighid shows up she explains that Aenghus tricked Bres into coming after Atticus and she offers to take the sword from him, so he won’t be entangled in the Tuatha politics. And here’s a chance for Atticus to actually have an arc – he can return to being a useless layabout and not worrying about vengeful god trying to off him. But he decides that opposing Aenghus is the right thing to do and starts taking active part in the plot (yaaaay for protagonist with an agends!).

    The witches sub-plot also serves this version. Aenghus is kept from personally getting involved by the previously established judgment from the time of Magh Lena. But if Atticus offered him an offence, such as making a potion, he could drop cat paws and just get the job done…

    So it is not so much that all the stuff is in the book, as it is that it is thrown in all willy nilly.

  6. Juracan on 28 July 2019, 09:36 said:

    ^See? Was that so hard? Having, like, actual character motivations? And chances where the main character’s actually in danger??

    Maybe a fix fic is in order…

  7. TMary on 15 October 2019, 12:36 said:

    deep breath

    OK. I hated this book already, but this chapter crossed pretty much every remaining line I had. I just…I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t comment on it because every time I thought about it I just wanted to go and tear the copy I have into shreds. With my teeth. So I’m not commenting on this one.

    But I know someone who can. He’s the oldest and dearest of my OCs, and his name is Starspirit Koreak Prankster. Starspirit, say hello.

    Starspirit: Hello. waves

    TMary: So really quick introduction: Starspirit’s not actually an OC per se, he’s an extremely, extremely AU version of Mewtwo from Pokémon. (Bulbapedia’s a better place to look him up, but its links aren’t working with II’s coding.) What happened is that tiny TMary (this is literally before I can remember, I think I was maybe two-and-a-half) saw Mewtwo Strikes Back with her big brothers and immediately claimed the titular character as her imaginary friend, and I’ve been making up stories about him and the expanded universe involving him ever since. He stayed Mewtwo and fairly/somewhat/semi-true to his canon counterpart till I was maybe…nine, ten, and then I changed his name and slowly his character started evolving1 into the one it is today, which is…

    Starspirit: A practical-joke-loving, tree-hugging, smart-alecky, hyperactive goofball, who prefers to spend as much of his time as possible roughing it in the wild, and who has (I’ve been told) the same general disposition as a golden retriever. Which…I mean, there’s worse animals to be compared to. And I’ll probably be comparing Atticus O’Sullivan to every single one of them before this chapter is through!

    TMary: He’s such a good boy. I honestly would comment on this chapter myself, but I feel like filtering my responses through his lens will make them more articulate, and possibly entertaining, I hope. Juracan said it was okay. I’ll see you all at the end of the chapter. Thanks again, Star, I owe you one.

    Starspirit: magnanimous hand-wave Ah, what are friends for?

    gets comfortable So. Hi, everyone. Nice to meet you all, nice to be here, and I assume that if you’ve gotten this far and you’re still reading, you don’t think my author is clinically insane, in which case she thanks you. All views expressed in this comment are, obviously, entirely hers. Although sometimes they only came up because she was thinking about things from my point of view, and they are expressed in a way that suits my personality, and she’s a perfectly normal young woman, I promise, she’s just as sane as I am.

    Now, what got her so upset that she had to call her old imaginary friend in to deal with it?

    Brighid was a vision. I don’t think there’s ever been a hotter widow in history.

    Ah. That. Yeah, that would just about do it. You know, when TMary told me “The main character is a lecherous slimeball who objectifies every woman he meets even in the most inappropriate of situations”…I didn’t realize she really meant “the most inappropriate of situations”. Because there are very few more inappropriate situations than that one. I mean, what is this, the morality limbo? I know you have animal instincts and all, but keep ‘em to yourself! Now I’ve got this painting in my head.

    And why is there something extra gross about the way he says “I don’t think there’s ever been a hotter widow”? Like, do you regularly go around appraising widows’ looks and thinking “Meh, she’s a five at best”? Because if you do – well, on the one hand, I can’t imagine there’s many women who, upon the death of their husband, would think “Gosh, I hope that guy across the street thinks I’m cute”, but on the other, they’re not there to look attractive for you! Their husbands have just died, you monster! Could you please show a modicum of human decency?

    Even though she was in full armor and all I could see of her actual person were her eyes and her lips, well, I felt like a horny teenager again.

    Apparently not.

    Wait a minute, all you can see are her eyes and her lips? All you can see are her eyes and her lips, and that’s a “vision”? That gets you turned on? This emoticon?

    Hawt.

    Seriously, what is with this guy? Why is he hornier than a herd of polycerate ibexes?

    All those links are safe for work, honest.

    I really, really wanted to flirt, but seeing as I was the guy who widowed her, I thought perhaps there was a line somewhere I shouldn’t cross.

    THE TREES HAVE SPOKEN.

    That was disgusting, and the only reason I’m not calling it the most shameless thing I’ve ever heard is because my worst enemy once outlined his plans for world domination to me, and then told me that if there was one thing he couldn’t stand, it was arrogance. It’s definitely up there, though.

    TMary, I apologize for doubting you. Atticus, I hope your feet get stuck inside your shoes for six months. Oh, you don’t think that sounds so bad? Imagine not being able to take your shoes off for the next week and get back to me.

    But you know, this isn’t just disgusting, it’s stupid. In other ways from how you already pointed out it was stupid. This chucklehead knows the Morrigan has a thing for him. Goodness knows why, if you ask me, he looks like a hipster version of Harpo Marx, but to each their own, my point is that she likes him, and he knows she likes him. But he still goes to bed with Flidais and desperately wants to get with Brighid, plus he’s always ogling normal, mortal women.

    That’s morally repugnant, of course, but forget that and ask yourself this: If you knew there was a goddess in love with you – especially the goddess of death, who is the only thing granting you your immortality – would you try to run around behind her back with two other goddesses? Doesn’t that seem just a mite…suicidal?

    he swears in [checks Chapter 13] seventeen different languages.

    Show-off. Swear in four, like a normal person.

    -When she does appear it’s first as a burst of flame, and then as a woman in full armor, with only part of her face visible.

    Specifically, her eyes and her lips. Only. Which strikes me as odd, the more I think about it. What kind of helmet only shows your eyes and your lips? What, is it built like a ski mask? Wouldn’t you want a guard for your eyes if you were heading into battle? Wouldn’t it just flat-out look silly?2

    And never mind being turned on, how can Atticus even tell it’s a woman wearing the armor?

    Alright now he’s showing some terror, but again, this reads weirdly. This doesn’t sound like someone who is terrified or even trying to sound regretful. It’s too weasley.

    Yeah, I’ve pulled this routine enough times to recognize it. This is the “Am I in trouble again?” routine. This is a guy who’s committed some minor mischief, has been caught, and feels little to no remorse about it but is scared he’s gonna be punished.

    Which would be fine, if what he had done was, say, put a whoopie cushion on his snooty maiden aunt’s chair at dinner, but when he’s just murdered the king of the gods that he worships and said king’s widow shows up at his house, and this is his reaction? That shows me that this is a man with no conscience, no morals, no empathy, and I got my fill of those over the eighteen years I spent fighting Team Rocket. I don’t want to read about one, and if I have to, I certainly don’t want to read about one in the role of the hero!

    Although at least the Rockets usually had some self-preservation instinct. Sheesh.

    at the moment, Atticus even tells us that he doesn’t have to kill Bres, but that he does it anyway because he hates the guy and doesn’t want him to bother him again.

    rubs his temples Okay, look. I get it, kind of. And just because I was too soft-hearted to kill my enemies when I had the chance doesn’t mean everyone has to be. But without the author painting Bres as a genuine threat to his safety rather than a minor annoyance, and without expressing any real self-loathing, Atticus comes across like a cold-blooded monster. Again – I know people who can look at other people, declare them a threat to be exterminated, and walk away without an ounce of regret or remorse! And I put all of them in jail for plotting crimes against humanity!

    Yes, Atticus killed her husband, and her answer is “Thanks, bro, you saved me the task of doing it myself.”

    …What the Sam Hill is this?

    Okay, I owe TMary another apology. I didn’t believe, when she said “And he never faces any consequences for his actions” that she really meant “never”. And “any”. Come on, please tell me somebody at least sneaks into his room while he’s sleeping and plays the 1812 Overture at top volume!

    In an attempt to distract myself from…that…I sat there watching that GIF for so long that it turned into an optical illusion, and now it looks like his head is sinking lower to the desk with every few bangs and then rising again. Watch. It does. It goes in a pattern…

    shakes his head to clear it Bguh, sorry, what were we talking about?

    ONE: Who the flying fudge says “Gadzooks!”?

    raises hand awkwardly In my defense, I use it humorously.

    At this point, we’re fairly certain that nothing is going to happen to Atticus that might inconvenience him. In this book Atticus can’t die, he can’t be seriously injured, and he can’t even have his house or shop get seriously wrecked!

    I have a new term for writers like Hearne. They’re helicopter authors. They can’t stand to let their precious little darlings get hurt, so they hover around behind them clearing away obstacles, and giving them wads of money, and shoving friends at them, and making sure anybody who is at all mean to them gets what they deserve. And they doesn’t realize that by doing this they are depriving their characters of everything they need to grow and develop and have valuable life experiences. And thus, we get this:

    Not only will our protagonist not die when by all rights someone should have murdered him, he can’t even have someone blow up his house or his store or anything!

    Hearne. Listen to me. You can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.

    Or the readers.

    It was glorious, shining, Age of Aquarius hair

    Okay, this is a weird thing to fixate on, but what the heck is this supposed to mean? I always have a hard time keeping it straight what different hairstyle names are supposed to refer to, and even if you hand me a specific name my imagination has little to no idea what to do with it, so when I see something like this, I have no clue what Hearne’s going for. I guess it could be 60s hair, although I can’t really see Brighid showing up in a beehive.

    Oh, wait, maybe it was the 70s. Yeah, the 70s would make a little more sense. Still having a hard time seeing an ancient Irish pagan goddess styling her hair to fit 40 to 50-year-old Western beauty trends, but what do I know? All I know is, it wasn’t the 80s. At least I hope not.

    I remembered to breathe only with some effort.

    jumps out of his chair Oh, my gosh, it’s a male Bella Swan! RUN!!

    Or better yet, we could sic them on each other and watch them suffocate over the other’s good looks.

    Or lure them into the woods to gaze into a pool of water and fall in love with their own reflections, I’m sure that would work too.

    Oh, look, a bunny! Man, now I just remembered it’s fall and baby animal season is over where I live. And baby animal season is so great, because you get to just walk along and occasionally find a fawn lying in the grass, or a den of fox cubs, or an owl’s nest, and if you’re real quiet you can just sit and watch them…

    Yes, I’m stalling, I apologize, but in my defense, wouldn’t you rather think about baby animals, too?

    Brighid is nice to Oberon

    So I read this chapter, briefly, kinda, with one eye at a time, switching whenever the one I was reading with started to burn, and I noticed that Brighid called Oberon “Shakespeare’s King of the Fae”, all happy about it. And that struck me as a little odd? Like, would an Irish goddess, queen of the fae herself (kinda, I’m not really clear on that), be okay with some mortal making up a king of the fairies – and an English mortal, at that? I’m guessing not.

    And – my gosh this is stupid I don’t believe I’m saying it – but the Irish gods haven’t poked their heads out to see what’s tricks since the Iron Age, because they ran out of sunscreen or something, so how does she know who Shakespeare is?

    It sounds like the kind of thing a moron with a massive crush would care about, but considering that this goes nowhere, as far as I know, it’s absolutely pointless.

    With the caveat that I don’t really like the word “moron” due to its history and prefer not to use it myself any more…yeah, that’s about right. I mean, even non-twits with crushes care about this kind of thing, but they don’t subject other people to them.

    TMary: swings around the door “And the way she makes her cursive S’s is just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!”

    Starspirit: …In my defense, I never said I wasn’t a twit.

    Also, this is probably needlessly nitpicky of me and I would never normally say it, but I’m annoyed so here goes and forgive me: How does Brighid know what tea is if she’s stuck in the Iron Age?

    …sat down and took a moment to savor the surrealism. I was having tea with Brighid, a goddess I’d worshipped since childhood, in a city that didn’t exist when I was a child.

    That doesn’t sound surreal as much as it sounds boring. I’m sure, if this was a better book (boy, I’ll bet that’s been said a lot this sporking), I would accept that this situation was a little…well, surreal. I’d even want to read about it. But frack all has been happening in this chapter, where he was supposed to get his backside roasted by a vengeful fire-goddess queen, and as far as I know frack all has been happening in every chapter before that! I want epic magical duels! I want her to try her best to kill you! I WANT ACTION, DANG IT!

    This may be the most boring book in existence, relative to what was promised. I mean, sure, you hit spells in some books where you sit there poking yourself in the leg with a sharp stick and going “Stay awake for two more pages and you can go read some Terry Pratchett”, but I don’t remember any of those being billed as an awesome, action-packed, edge-of-your-seat urban fantasy adventure. Seriously, does anything happen in this book?

    None of these interactions read like a man who is meeting his god.

    I was just gonna say that, so I’m glad you brought it up. And to answer your question below this, no. TMary says no, too.

    Although I am genuinely surprised that he says he still worships this pantheon. My impression was that he’d stopped being religious literal ages ago, and he seems to organize the gods into two groups: Enemies he holds in contempt, and hawt chicks he also holds in contempt. Where is there room for worship in that? He thinks about his gods the way Vaarsuvius thought Belkar thinks about everybody!

    Hearne kind of shot himself in the foot by making the Tuatha de Danaan into super Druids instead of actual gods? And by making Atticus himself basically their equal. […] Why would he worship them? He knows that they’re not really divine and he can kill several of them any day of the week.

    These are the suckiest gods ever!

    I’m sorry, but they are! I could crush O’Sullivan’s head just by thinking about it – theoretically, I mean, I’ve never actually crushed a person’s head before, but I’ve crushed a variety of other objects ranging from fuse-boxes and sandbags to watermelons and dictionaries and I’m fairly confident that the practice is roughly the same no matter what you’re crushing – but I digress. My point is, I could kill him, easily. And if I was in this universe, I could also kill at least some of its gods! Easier than I could kill the protagonist! THE PROTAGONIST IS MORE POWERFUL THAN THE GODS!

    flings his hands in the air, paces around the room a few times, and sits back down So sorry, continue.

    Basically, this is what she tells us:

    Hey, a wild PIDGEPLOT appeared! And it only took 156 pages’ worth of wandering through the long grass of Chapters 1-14, growing increasingly desperate, with only the occasional disappointment of an Eggsposit or a Slowjoke or maybe a Pikaclu popping up for a diversion. We finally found a Pidgeplot! Quick, catch it!

    Sorry for the extended Pokémon metaphor, but sometimes you really have to go back to your own canon to express your frustration, y’know?

    [Oh and by the way, Aenghus and Brighid are brother and sister? Which isn’t really, like, shocking considering how mythology works, but I felt it could have been brought up instead of just casually mentioned without anyone commenting on it.]

    Especially since being in a war against one’s own brother seems like it would be…upsetting? Complicated? Definitely not something one would just drop in casual conversation over tea? I don’t even like fighting with my sisters or brothers over Scrabble. The idea of going to war with them makes me feel vaguely queasy. Does Brighid have any sort of emotion about this at all?

    checks book

    Oh, she does say she doesn’t really want to kill her own brother, but Atticus figures that that’s just because she’s scared she might get killed. Because why should anyone have any sort of conflicted emotions about murdering their own siblings? Silly rabbit, those are for heroes!

    Does anyone in this book do anything because it’s the right thing to do?

    Arguably maybe she could magic her way out of those too, but seeing as no one explains that, and we have yet to see how gods, Druids or faeries would deal with those things, I have no idea why Aenghus’s plot is so reliant on Fragarach.

    You know what Hearne could have said here? “Only a weapon forged by a god can kill a god.” Voilá, you have your reason for him to need Freagarthach. “But why doesn’t Aengus make his own weapon?” Because he doesn’t know how. He’s the god of love and beauty, not blacksmithing. There’s only so many gods/goddesses whose purview is weapons, and only so many weapons they’ve made.

    Of course, this does leave the question of why Aengus doesn’t trick Brighid into forging her own murder weapon, which would make sense, and be a suitably despicable thing for a villain to do. But maybe that’s a back-up plan, and he really wants Freagarthach because it’s a huge feather in his cap: This cowardly little poltroon and traitor to druids and the Tuatha Dé and Ireland in general ran off with it years ago, but Aengus has returned it to its rightful owners, and slain the tyrant Brighid with it. Or maybe Freagarthach has some sort of special quality that literally makes it the only weapon which can kill a god (which would also make it a huge feather in his cap if he got it back: “Look, I have wrested the one object which can kill us from the hands of a mortal!”). I don’t know, but there’s got to be something, and if there isn’t, then maybe this is not the plot you want.

    He’s not fit to wield it! He doesn’t carry it because he’s worthy, or he went through some trials or quests or anything! The sword landed in front of him, and he picked it up! Then he ran ‘cause the Morrigan said so! That’s it! There is no good reason for him to have the sword!

    This is honestly almost insulting. Freagarthach was supposed to be the sword that named the true king of Ireland. It was a big freaking deal to wield that sword. And here this dungball just snatched it up and ran off with it Because The Plot Said So, and he won’t give it back. No wonder Aengus is out to kill him. He is dishonoring the sword and the tradition, and if he doesn’t like it, well I’m sorry, the gods are still stuck in Iron Age morality, they don’t follow your rules, you should just follow theirs if you want to stay alive!

    She then tells him that the witch coven in town is also allied with Aenghus, and Atticus acts shocked because Malina just told him they weren’t!

    And you believed that, didja, O’Sullivan, you nimrod? You’ve been telling us for the last fourteen chapters how untrustworthy witches are, and now you want to cry that they’ve been lying to you? I’ve been stabbed in the back before, I know it’s not a pleasant feeling, but I also know that if I had proceeded to re-trust the guy who did it and start cutting deals with him, whatever he did afterwards would have been partly on me!

    Which is stupid, because Aenghus doesn’t need an excuse to want to kill Atticus—he’s a god, and he’s been trying to kill him for over a thousand years.

    And this is, like, a really bad excuse. It’s much worse than the one he already had. I mean, if this was your king and he wanted to focus his energy on killing some guy, which would you think was a more impressive reason? “He stole the divine sword of heroes from its rightful owners” or “He once sold some tea to the woman I was dating and she used it to make me impotent”? What kind of self-glorifying supervillain even allows his followers to know he’s impotent?

    HANG ON A MINUTE. What is he feeling in this scene? Because he’s really agitated when he’s told the witches have double crossed him (despite him constantly telling us you can’t trust witches anyway so it’s not like he thought much of them to begin with), but now he gives a low whistle?

    It’s almost like Hearne didn’t give him a personality and he’s not really thinking about how his personality would inform his reactions to things, but just sticking whatever reaction sounds good to a cardboard cut-out made for cardboard wish fulfillment. But that’s silly, why would an author do that?

    And no, it’s not capitalized here despite it definitely talking about the Christian concept of Hell.

    Well, that certainly raises a lot of theological, mythological, and world-building questions that I am willing to bet my entire collection of Journey albums and live concerts will never be properly addressed or answered.

    That could be a fairly huge problem. There were way more of them than me, and they wouldn’t listen to my lawyer.

    LAUGH DAMNIT

    Once again, we’re being told that Aenghus Og is doing all this evil crap, but he’s given no motivation to do so!

    Not only that – let’s say we accept the idea that he wants to be king because he’s just that much of a narcissistic jerk. Okay, but in my experience, those tend to be pretty impatient. Narcissists like instant gratification. With that in mind…has he been waiting two thousand years to kill Brighid and take her place on the throne? I mean, he’s always wanted the sword, right? Has he always wanted it for this? Or did he just want it back, idly, on general principle, and only a month or two ago say “Heeeey, you know what I could use that for?” And how has it taken him so long to kill Dorian Red over here?

    In conclusion, Your Honor, none of this makes any sense and Aengus Óg is the worst villain ever. The prosecution rests!

    Brighid asks him to join her side,

    It’s a trap!

    No, really, hear me out. This goddess, with whom I can only assume he has never had any contact, bursts into his house and proceeds to give him a long and not very well-thought-out speech about how the eeeevil Aengus Óg is attempting to take over her kingdom, using demons and witches and probably laser sharks, and he wants to get his hands on the sword Atticus is conveniently sitting on, all so he can kill her, mwa-ha-ha-ha. Now Atticus has to help her or all is lost! She’s not going to offer a shred of proof to back up these accusations, of course, you’re just going to have to take her word for it.

    Doesn’t that seem a tad suspicious to any of you? He’s already been burned twice in this book by Flidais and the coven (which is a great name for a band); what makes him think Brighid is any more trustworthy? Heck, she told him she sent Flidais, and yes, the park ranger was Aengus’s fault (I guess), but Flidais was the one who mind-controlled his dog and tried to mind-control him! That doesn’t set off any alarm bells? And neither does Brighid somehow knowing what the coven is planning? What seems more likely – that she’s telling the truth, or that she’s manipulating Atticus into giving her his help for her own nefarious purposes, namely, putting down the rebellion her brother is starting? Or else – and stop me if this is a crazy idea – she might be in league with Aengus too, you dimwit! You have only her word for it that she isn’t, and as you found out just this chapter, people’s word isn’t worth squat! Use your common freaking sense! My gosh!

    takes a deep breath

    And I dunno about you, Juracan, but when I read the narration describing Brighid, something about some of the lines gave me a definite sketchy vibe. Like this one:

    “Brighid laughed. It was like listening to a symphony that makes you shiver and cry for the joy of it.”

    Uh-uh. No. No likey. I read The Silver Chair, I know where this goes. I’m sure in the hands of a better author, this could have been used to convey how absolutely wunderbar she was, but in this scene, everything she said made me think “She wants to enchant you to do her bidding and you’re falling for it, ya chowderhead!” Sheesh, I’m the guy with the general disposition of a golden retriever, and I’m suspicious.

    Anyhoo.

    What moral dilemma was there? She wanted me to keep the sword; Aenghus wanted to take it. She liked me alive; Aenghus didn’t. She was hot; Aenghus was not.

    …So, if I interpret the sounds of screaming and glass breaking currently coming from my authoress’s room correctly, she is saying something along the lines of: “Atticus O’Sullivan is a shallow, amoral, egotistical, hypersexual witling, whose motivations are roughly those of a spoiled child crying because he is not allowed to play with his father’s power tools, who is not worthy to wield so much a plastic butterknife, much less Freagarthach, the Answerer, and who would be well served if his gullibility came back to take a bite out of his pompous backside.”

    turns to TMary Did I get all that right?

    TMary: growling and clutching a baseball bat GrargaAengusÓgagrargh.

    Starspirit: Oh, and: “While I acknowledge that Atticus is unlikely to be highly motivated by Aengus Óg’s looks as opposed to Brighid’s, I ask that he at least recognize that Aengus was supposed to be so handsome that no human woman could look upon his face without falling in love with him. This is the god of love and beauty you’re speaking of, after all.” That everything?

    TMary: jabs a finger at the screen Gragerrammar.

    Starspirit: “And those semi-colons are entirely unnecessary and probably incorrect. They should be commas.” Now is that everything?

    TMary: Greh.

    Starspirit: You’re welcome.

    If I may offer an extra opinion or two about that last paragraph, I have to say that it nicely demonstrates two of my biggest problems with this book. First off, no one – and I mean no one – is fighting for anybody but themselves. Atticus doesn’t actually care about protecting Tir na nÓg from Aengus, he’s just in it because Brighid likes him personally. Brighid doesn’t actually seem to care about much beyond keeping her place on the throne, and Aengus…well, he is the villain, in any other story I would be fine with him having entirely selfish motives, but at this point I’m just casting around for somebody, anybody, who wants something for someone outside of themselves. And I’m not getting anyone. And without that, who am I supposed to root for?

    I’m not saying I completely hate the idea of grayer heroes or villain protagonists, and I know perfectly well that in real life people often are just out for themselves. But there has to be am acknowledgment from the author that that’s what they’re writing, and even more than that, for me at least, when there’s no one with any nobler goal than “Keep myself alive and comfortable” in mind, and they really don’t care what they have to do to fulfill that goal, then I’ve got no one to sympathize with. None of these people are interested in saving anyone or righting any wrongs – it’s just a bunch of sociopaths duking it out to see who’ll be the last man standing, and if I wanted to read about that, I’d go ask the higher-ranking members of Team Rocket to write their memoirs.

    And you know, giving your characters sympathetic motives is actually a really good trick for easily getting a plot out of your book, but since Hearne clearly doesn’t like those, either, here I am.

    The other thing is that it’s yet another example of Atticus being reckless and impulsive, and I have problems with Hearne’s depiction of that beyond Atticus constantly telling us he’s oh-so-careful without any evidence for it.

    Can I tell you guys a little bit about me? (First is that, in case you haven’t noticed, I have a tendency to ramble, so get comfortable, this is gonna take a little while.) I’m a little bit like our intrepid hero here.

    Don’t run away! Wait, come back! Let me explain!

    When I say that, I don’t mean I’m exactly like him, but I am super-powered well beyond most creatures’ capabilities, and I’m impulsive and reckless, with a habit of letting my emotions make the decisions, of doing whatever I feel like in any given moment, and of shooting off my mouth when I really shouldn’t. (And of constantly making pop culture references, but we’re getting off the subject.) I’m not opposed to a hero with all these flaws.

    But here’s the thing. They’re flaws, at least if taken too far. Not only is Hearne not showing us what he’s telling us, what he’s showing us isn’t presented as a problem, or at least not a big one. Atticus is stuck in the mindset of “I have powers, so I can just bulldoze my way through whatever obstacles I encounter”. I recognize that mindset because I was once stuck in it myself, and it’s not a good place to be. Namely because life will hand you something you can’t just bulldoze your way on through, powers or no, and then you are going to be out on a limb, my friend. Or you would, if the author would allow you to learn that lesson!

    And I recognize another part of his mentality, a little bit. He kinda has this quality of wanting to take risks, and of deliberately stoking the fire of a tense situation, rather than trying to damp it. I used to do that too, in what was let’s say my rebellious teenage phase. Heck, I still have an inclination towards it sometimes. I did it then because A: having superpowers can get boring, especially if you don’t really have a purpose in life beyond fighting with them, and it makes you start want to create a dangerous situation just for the thrill of it, and B: I was actually, looking back, pretty depressed. My mother, who I very close to and would have trusted with my life, had just disappeared with no explanation, and I was in the clutches of an emotionally manipulative and abusive kinda dark warped twisted father figure kinda guy, who was trying to keep me away from the one thing that made me feel happy and push me into things that made me feel worse. I went around deliberately poking hornets’ nests3 because that at least drowned out the deeper pain and made me feel alive, and it was a way of blowing off steam and taking out some of my anger on other people. I could be mean in those days, and I was definitely angry a lot of the time. That was not a good period in my life.

    And here’s this book shoving an apparently perfectly happy hero who nevertheless behaves like me at my lowest in my face, and telling me it’s fine. I wouldn’t blame Atticus for being depressed – dude’s the last of his kind in a world he doesn’t recognize and which is dying under his feet – but he’s not, as far as I can make out, so I’m left with the conclusion that the author thinks my unhealthy, immature behavior is not only okay, but cool. And that is honestly rather insulting.

    And to rub salt in the wound, this bonehead is apparently two thousand years old! I did all that stuff I just told you about when I’d been awake for maybe a year and a half! You’re telling me in two thousand years he hasn’t grown out of his rebellious teenage phase? How long do druids take to mature, anyway? Grow up, you berk!

    Thank you for indulging that incredibly long schpiel. Back to our regularly scheduled nonsense.

    So why does he feel bad all of a sudden about mercenary work?

    From what I know of him, it would be the “work” part more than the “mercenary”. He’s down with killing people who annoy him, he’d just rather do it on his own time. You know, as a hobby.

    Brighid wants to give him a special kind of magic in case he runs into some demons, called Cold Fire,

    Is that anything like a glowing heat cushion of burning snowflakes?

    It’s so brilliant guys, that Brighid, the goddess of crafting and queen of the Irish gods, thought it was impossible and hasn’t even tried it! She’s completely baffled by how this thing works! Isn’t Atticus so impressive?

    You know the worst enemy I’ve been alluding to throughout this comment? The one I spent eighteen years fighting? The emotionally abusive dark warped kinda father-ish figure? Well, his whole schtick was breaking his arm patting himself on the back about how awesomely awesomeful him and his stuff and his inventions and his plans all were, and how much everybody else sucked by comparison. I can absolutely imagine him showing off to the goddess of blacksmithing how clever he was to have figured out a way to forge this amulet. So this kind of attitude from our hero makes me want to stick him headfirst into a fire ants’ nest.

    he encourages her that she’ll figure it out sooner or later, in a way that’s not at all condescending.

    Nah that’s a lie, it’s super condescending.

    To the fire ants’ nest with him!

    So she gives him Cold Fire when he momentarily takes off the amulet,

    And it blows him up! Into a million zillion tiny little pieces! KABLOOEY! cackles maniacally

    I’m sorry, but if he’s stupid enough to take off the thing keeping him alive in the presence of someone who has every reason to want to kill him, he deserves to be blown up.

    Although! Although. TMary, in the midst of her rage, was able to find one tiny thing about this chapter that she actually thought Hearne did well, and after I heard her reasons I said, “That’s fair”, so I’m including it here: Brighid’s hands are callused from her blacksmithing work. It’s a little detail, but it’s, you know, not a bad one. It’s a detail that shows Hearne was maybe possibly thinking about what he was writing, and, as TMary puts it, it’s nice to see it acknowledged that hard physical labor leaves marks on women as well as on men. It’s kinda weird that it shows up in this book, to be honest.

    Aaaaand now I’m scared that you’re going to tell me that actually Hearne stole that from somewhere, but even that would mean he at least went, “You know, that makes sense”, and decided to include it, so it’s still okay.

    It drains a lot more Mana than other spells, even if he’s touching the Earth at the time. It apparently only works on demons from Hell, and they must both be touching the Earth because… reasons.

    I’d give Hearne credit for finally giving him a power that comes with limitations, but something tells me that the limitations won’t actually limit him in any meaningful way.

    But if it’s cold, why would it do that? I don’t get it?

    Well, there actually is such a thing as an ice burn, which has symptoms close to a regular burn and can be made worse by too much heat, and frostbite can have a similar effect to a burn, so I’d say it’s not impossible. Also, have you ever gotten really, really cold – like way too cold, like your hands went numb and you couldn’t move them properly? Have you noticed how when they start to warm up it feels like they’re burning? That might be what Hearne is thinking of (although if he’s an Arizonian, maybe not).

    Why? You’re the queen of a pantheon? Brighid has gods on her side, and she could easily get a bunch of mortal pawns on her side.

    You know what I’d do, if I was Brighid? Well, preferably, I’d kill this useless, amoral blob of pus the second he took off his amulet, but failing that, I’d take the sword away from him, hide it somewhere nice and safe that only I knew about, and let Aengus think Atticus still had it. Then Atticus keeps doing what he’s been doing, beating up pawns who go to get the sword, till Aengus says, “You know what, I’m doing this myself,” goes to get it, and then I’d show up in a puff of smoke and execute him for high treason to the crown, THE END. I might get this little nimrod to help me out, but I wouldn’t rely on him.

    And then Brighid kisses him, tasting “of milk and honey and berries” and she leaves.

    Well. Well, that’s – certainly – wait, what’s that noise?

    TMary: comes running in aaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

    WHY

    WHY

    WHY IS EVERYTHING SO EASY FOR THIS LITTLE PUSTULE

    WHY DO ALL THESE PEOPLE PANDER TO HIM

    WHY DOES EVERY GODDESS HE MEETS WANT TO MAKE OUT WITH HIM

    WHY

    WHY

    I’m fed up. I’m FED UP! HAVE A SPITEFIC!

    Brighid pulled away, looking oddly satisifed, and for just a moment I felt warm all through my veins. Then the warmth receded, leaving me feeling normal again.

    No, not normal. Cold. Cold.

    I lurched away from the table and collapsed on the floor, the ice in my blood already half-paralyzing me, so cold it burned, searing my muscles into place. I was shaking uncontrollably and could scarcely move, but I managed to turn my head slowly, jerkily, and choke out, “What – did you – do?”

    Brighid looked down at me and smiled. “Why, I gave you the gift of the Cold Fire, O Suileabhain. I may have neglected to mention that no mortal can withstand it in their veins, not even one with such power as you have, not if they are suitably distracted until it is too late.”

    I couldn’t answer – I couldn’t breathe. The cold had gripped my lungs, and every breath seemed to scorch my throat, but I struggled to breathe anyway, wheezing and hacking on the floor. Brighid ignored this; she cast one look around the room, then flung out her hand and cried, “Come to your maker, a Fhreagarthaich!”

    There was a clatter from behind me, and then suddenly a shining blur raced through the air and the sword landed in Brighid’s hand. She looked down at it in satisfaction, then raised her head as someone stepped forward behind me. I could no longer speak or move or even blink, and my vision was blurring, but I still recognized the voice of the god at my back.

    “Go raibh mile maith agat, a Bhríd,” he said.

    “Fáilte romhat, a dheartháir,” she answered, and threw the sword across the room to Aengus Óg.

    Starspirit: cautiously pats her back You doin’ okay there, kiddo?

    TMary: panting Yeah…yeah, I think I’m okay. I can take it from here. bows Otsukare, otsukare.

    Starspirit: bows back Tondemonai.4 ‘Bye everybody! Thanks for having me!

    TMary: Didn’t I tell you he was a good boy? Anyway, other people’s comments…

    Smith: This tangent has no moral except that I apparently tried to supress memory of Hearne’s work so badly that I forgot his name. And yet here I am…

    It was an amusing tangent, anyway.

    I had no expectations and I am still disappointed.

    Harry knows he should act respectfully, but then his reaction to being nervous is to get mouthy. And about as often then no his snarking at dieties gets punished.

    Starspirit: swings around the door Hi, I know I said I was gonna go away, but I just had to say, yeah, this. This this this. I understand this so much. Nervousness makes me talk, and when I talk, I also crack jokes, and if it’s someone I don’t particularly like, they’re usually jokes about them, and depending on the situation, that has gotten me into some serious trouble. I feel like I’d get along pretty well with Harry Dresden. He seems like he’s what Atticus should have been.

    Okay, I’ll go now and stop being weird. Just wanted to add that.

    Also, from what we’ve seen from the gods in this universe, they ain’t that big of a deal. I mean they’re as stupid as everyone else and die easier than mooks. Given how casually Atticus disposed of Bres, there’s little to be awed by as far as we know.

    TMary: I mean…this is a good point. I wish he was more overawed, but really, I wish there was something to be overawed by.

    The tag-line of the book should be “In the kingdom of the stupid, the one with authorial fiat on his side is the king!”

    I say we petition to add this to the covers of all later editions of this book.

    And he doesn’t even use it for anything in particular! Up untill now it might have just as well ben a fancy paper-weight. In most books when hero lays his hands on the super-duper magic artifact you expect them to use it in a quest to rid the world from some great evil or maybe to help the helpless. But Atticus spend 2000 years faffing about and serving only himself!

    If he had only done something heroic with it, I might have accepted him stealing it! If it had been a question of him obeying orders he knew were wrong, or taking the sword and doing what he knew was right, and he had done the second and now he was being pursued for breaking the law even though it was unjust, I would actually have some respect for him! That would have been cool! But instead he goes off, joins Genghis Khan’s army, and then, once killing lots of people isn’t viable any more, just does nothing!

    It doesn’t matter that he has glib answers, the system leaves enough leeway for corruption that they’d pin something on him, frame him and plant fake evidence. But that’d be incovenience.

    It would have been interesting, though! Like…did you all ever watch Arthur? Anyway, in one of the episodes, there’s a character who really wants to be a writer, so she sends in a short story to her school magazine (she sends it under a pen name, so people will tell her what they think and be honest about it). She asks one of the girls what she thinks, and the other girl says it stinks. Author asks why. Other girl explains that it’s because everything is going well for the protagonist and is all sunshine and rainbows, and that’s boring. Author takes this to heart, gives her story a drastic rewrite, filling it with danger and suspense, and other girl greatly enjoys it.

    That episode has stuck with me since I was a child, and I think Hearne needs to watch it.

    No. And I think I lost my ability to laugh, due to how aggressively unfunny that line was.

    If it makes you feel better, your line made me laugh.

    Also the Hell is getting involved because so far Hearne has been trivializing a threat after threat, so I suppose he just threw it in to create an illusion of upping the stakes.

    You know…that makes sense.

    She just walked out through the door and caught a cab.

    This made me laugh too.

    Juracan: Nah, but then she wouldn’t appear in the next book and offer to sleep with Atticus in exchange for the secret of the iron amulet (I think).

    stares at that sentence for a long, long time

    with smoke coming out her mouth Starspirit!

    Starspirit: comes running in and restrains her Um, so I think what TMary was going to finish up with was saying that that is foul, vile, repulsive, degrading, and disgusting, a note that Smith’s reimagining of this story is very well done indeed and makes everything make total sense, and a thank you to sidhecat for all their excellent points, but especially for the one that Aengus Óg was supposed to be hot. And now why don’t we go get you a nice cup of tea?

    TMary: spitting fire and scrabbling for the computer

    Starspirit: TTFN, everybody, before this becomes the comment that ate the world. drags the snarling TMary out the door with him

    1 Hooray for unintentional Pokémon puns!

    2 Live footage of Brighid getting dressed to go out.

    3 Not literally, of course, because the poor hornets never did anything to me, but.

    4 This exchange is what I think, after two exhausting but interesting hours, means “Thank you for your hard work” and “Don’t mention it” and would be appropriate for two Japanese friends of roughly the same age to say to each other. I hope.

    I’m a lot more sure but still not completely about the Irish in the spitefic, which means something like, “A thousand thanks, Brighid” and “You’re welcome to it, brother”. I think.

  8. Starspirit on 15 October 2019, 12:47 said:

    Starspirit: Also, French spelling hates my guts and has it in for me.

    Voilá

    It’s a frickin’ grave accent, Prankster.

    Here. Let’s just pretend it says this:

    Voilà

    And my French teacher never needs to know.

  9. Juracan on 16 October 2019, 17:13 said:

    Starspirit: Hello.

    Welcome to the sporking, friend!

    I know you have animal instincts and all, but keep ‘em to yourself! Now I’ve got this painting in my head.

    That’s a pretty good image for guys like Atticus? To be fair, in-narrative all the women are after him as much as he is interested in them; we don’t see him do anything like the painting. But it’s the same attitude underlying both, you know? The guy in the painting embodies the idea that “I’m so interesting clearly these women are all invested in what I have to say to them!” Except in Hearne’s writing, that’s actually the case.

    [sigh]

    Their husbands have just died, you monster! Could you please show a modicum of human decency?

    Atticus wouldn’t know human decency if it slapped him across the face.

    Weirdly this reminds me of the original Three Musketeers novel now that you’re talking about it? The titular characters are really, really poor, and one of the ways they get money is basically by seducing rich widows. So this kind of sleaze isn’t new actually. But I always felt like in Three Musketeers it was at least acknowledged as being kind of sleazy and also those characters are desperate for money any way they can get it. That doesn’t make it okay, I think, but there are circumstances where I get why these guys are bothering widows.

    [The BBC Musketeers has an episode deconstructing this whole thing, wherein Porthos actually ends up falling in love with the widow in question, only for it to not work out because she can’t love a man that’s constantly putting his life in danger.]

    In any case, fact is that it’s been over a hundred years since The Three Musketeers and notions of what is or isn’t appropriate behavior have changed quite a bit.

    Wait a minute, all you can see are her eyes and her lips? All you can see are her eyes and her lips, and that’s a “vision”? That gets you turned on? This emoticon?

    It reminds me of a post someone was complaining about on Tumblr where apparently some guy was complaining about women’s ponytails because he found it too distracting. And I was like, “Who the **** is turned on by ponytails?!” I don’t know if that’s precisely what that post was getting at though.

    Here? Yes, Atticus is apparently horny from seeing eyes and lips. He’d probably see that emoticon you linked to as porn, but only if it was explicitly female.

    Atticus, I hope your feet get stuck inside your shoes for six months. Oh, you don’t think that sounds so bad? Imagine not being able to take your shoes off for the next week and get back to me.

    That’s both creative and a terrible thing to have to deal with.

    Atticus deserves it.

    This chucklehead knows the Morrigan has a thing for him.

    I actually don’t think he knows that the Morrigan has a thing for him. She obviously does, with the lengths she goes to protect him and warn him of oncoming danger, and how she turns into a beautiful naked woman in front of him and kisses him, but I’m pretty sure he just thinks that they’re just friends. Maybe Friends with Benefits.

    Yes, Atticus is that stupid.

    Specifically, her eyes and her lips. Only. Which strikes me as odd, the more I think about it. What kind of helmet only shows your eyes and your lips? What, is it built like a ski mask? Wouldn’t you want a guard for your eyes if you were heading into battle? Wouldn’t it just flat-out look silly?

    I imagine it looking something not exactly but somewhat like this. I realize that’s a Greek helmet and not an Irish one, and the nose would be visible too, but it’s the only thing close to what fits the bill. From what I understand, the helmet’s description doesn’t seem particularly like any an ancient Irish person would wear. For that matter, the heavy plate armor in general doesn’t sound ancient Irish, or even particularly Celtic at all.

    And never mind being turned on, how can Atticus even tell it’s a woman wearing the armor?

    Plot.

    Someone write a spitefic where the person who shows up seduces Atticus only for him to find out it’s an effeminate man impersonating Brighid on her behalf once he gets out of the armor.

    Although at least the Rockets usually had some self-preservation instinct. Sheesh.

    The difference, of course, is that Atticus knows that his life’s too easy to give a crap about people trying to kill him.

    …What the Sam Hill is this?

    THIS! IS! HOUNDED!

    Come on, please tell me somebody at least sneaks into his room while he’s sleeping and plays the 1812 Overture at top volume!

    Pfft, that’d be too much of an inconvenience for him. We can’t have that!

    In my defense, I use it humorously.

    Part of the reason I jumped on it is not because I have anything against the word or its use, but because Atticus keeps telling us things like “Oh the kids say THIS these days!” and is using what he thinks are obviously common pop cultural expressions. Except I don’t hear ‘Gadzooks’ much said seriously, so him saying it here just feels weird. It’s like if your teacher who is constantly lecturing you on perfect grammar starts saying ‘y’all’ or ‘ain’t’.

    I have a new term for writers like Hearne. They’re helicopter authors.

    That’s fair.

    Okay, this is a weird thing to fixate on, but what the heck is this supposed to mean?

    I don’t know, and now I’m bummed that I didn’t think to comment on this more in the spork. Because… that’s not really how you’d expect someone to describe an Irish goddess’s hair, is it? I Google’d ‘Age of Aquarius hair’ and none of that really looked right either. Googling ‘Celtic hair’ got me results that seemed more likely what I’d expect Brighid to wear, and that’s mostly braids.

    Wait, why isn’t her hair braided? If she’s in armor, like she’s expecting battle, and she insists on keeping her hair long, why doesn’t she make sure it’s held in a way that’s not going to go all over the place?

    So I read this chapter, briefly, kinda, with one eye at a time, switching whenever the one I was reading with started to burn, and I noticed that Brighid called Oberon “Shakespeare’s King of the Fae”, all happy about it. And that struck me as a little odd? Like, would an Irish goddess, queen of the fae herself (kinda, I’m not really clear on that), be okay with some mortal making up a king of the fairies – and an English mortal, at that? I’m guessing not.

    I was going to say to be fair, Oberon as King of the Fairies does predate Shakespeare’s play, at least according to Wiki. But Brighid does specify Shakespeare, doesn’t she? It’s also weird considering that the Irish gods in general seem a bit out of touch with the human world, so Brighid knowing her Shakespeare at all is a bit off. I don’t know. It’s never really explained.

    As to the nature of the fae in this setting: from what I understand, from what Atticus has said in this book, the fae are all descendants/relatives/subjects of the Irish gods. The fae who attack Atticus at the beginning are not just working for Aenghus, they’re related to him, though he doesn’t care about their well being.

    How does Brighid know what tea is if she’s stuck in the Iron Age?

    Because the Author Says So.

    Seriously, does anything happen in this book?

    There’s a sword fight at the end, if that makes you feel any better?

    My impression was that he’d stopped being religious literal ages ago, and he seems to organize the gods into two groups: Enemies he holds in contempt, and hawt chicks he also holds in contempt. Where is there room for worship in that? He thinks about his gods the way Vaarsuvius thought Belkar thinks about everybody!

    That’s the impression you’d get from reading the books, but that’s apparently not what he believes. Mind you, we don’t see him send up prayers or anything, which would be a lot more interesting, even if it wasn’t actually magic. Sort of how like in the Justice League cartoon, Wonder Woman would say things like “Great Hera, give me strength!” during a fight or something.

    THE PROTAGONIST IS MORE POWERFUL THAN THE GODS!

    Yup.

    This isn’t impossible to make work in a story, but it is difficult. In Sandman for instance, Dream/Morpheus is more powerful than most gods or immortal beings, but A) he doesn’t usually challenge or fight them and B) they can do lots of things he can’t, because he’s limited by certain rules. So he can’t unleash his full power all the time, something beings like Loki use against him.

    Because why should anyone have any sort of conflicted emotions about murdering their own siblings? Silly rabbit, those are for heroes!

    Nah man, complex emotions? This book don’t do that. I don’t know if Hearne even understands that. I recently read a book he co-authored and the decoy protagonist gets killed off with little fanfare and none of the other characters really care.

    Does anyone in this book do anything because it’s the right thing to do?

    Nope!

    You know what Hearne could have said here? “Only a weapon forged by a god can kill a god.” Voilá, you have your reason for him to need Freagarthach. “But why doesn’t Aengus make his own weapon?” Because he doesn’t know how. He’s the god of love and beauty, not blacksmithing. There’s only so many gods/goddesses whose purview is weapons, and only so many weapons they’ve made.

    Bam. Easy fix. You’d be surprised how many of those Hearne (and other bad authors) don’t use those.

    No wonder Aengus is out to kill him. He is dishonoring the sword and the tradition

    [stealing from Ryse: Son of Rome here]

    Aenghus: I should kill you myself, Druid. You bring dishonor to your tribe. You bring dishonor to your gods. You bring dishonor to Ireland!

    It’s really telling that Aenghus has yet to do something on-page that’s actually worse than what our protagonist has told us he’s done. He’s a thieving, murdering oath-breaker.

    And you believed that, didja, O’Sullivan, you nimrod? You’ve been telling us for the last fourteen chapters how untrustworthy witches are, and now you want to cry that they’ve been lying to you? I’ve been stabbed in the back before, I know it’s not a pleasant feeling, but I also know that if I had proceeded to re-trust the guy who did it and start cutting deals with him, whatever he did afterwards would have been partly on me!

    Atticus, probably: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you even more because I’m so wonderful how you could betray me?

    I mean, if this was your king and he wanted to focus his energy on killing some guy, which would you think was a more impressive reason? “He stole the divine sword of heroes from its rightful owners” or “He once sold some tea to the woman I was dating and she used it to make me impotent”? What kind of self-glorifying supervillain even allows his followers to know he’s impotent?

    That he apparently arranged himself! He couldn’t think of anything else? To stage an insult on himself? Than publicly make himself impotent to the entire supernatural community of Tempe?

    Also, I’m still unclear how that potion works! Emilya says it makes her unattractive to a specific person, whereas Atticus says it makes him impotent, but if Emilya’s statement stands then it means he’s only impotent in regards to Emilya. To one person. That’s… not… what the fudge even.

    Well, that certainly raises a lot of theological, mythological, and world-building questions that I am willing to bet my entire collection of Journey albums and live concerts will never be properly addressed or answered.

    Not in this book, nope!

    With that in mind…has he been waiting two thousand years to kill Brighid and take her place on the throne? I mean, he’s always wanted the sword, right? Has he always wanted it for this? Or did he just want it back, idly, on general principle, and only a month or two ago say “Heeeey, you know what I could use that for?” And how has it taken him so long to kill Dorian Red over here?

    Presumably this plot to take Brighid’s throne is (relatively) new. But we have no way of knowing this!

    It’s a trap!

    I… hadn’t even thought about this, because my brain had died from this book, I think. But you’re not wrong. This entire thing sounds entirely skeevy. If nothing else, it sounds like Brighid wants to use Atticus for gain or something (which, surprise surprise, she does in the second book), but Atticus laps it up because he can’t believe that this hawt woman has any ulterior motives (unless the hawt woman in question is a witch).

    But this guy is so paranoid, amirite?

    You’re telling me in two thousand years he hasn’t grown out of his rebellious teenage phase?

    Probably because maybe the author hasn’t either.

    To the fire ants’ nest with him!

    [imagining Atticus being taken by fire ants into a anthill]

    Although! Although. TMary, in the midst of her rage, was able to find one tiny thing about this chapter that she actually thought Hearne did well, and after I heard her reasons I said, “That’s fair”, so I’m including it here: Brighid’s hands are callused from her blacksmithing work. It’s a little detail, but it’s, you know, not a bad one. It’s a detail that shows Hearne was maybe possibly thinking about what he was writing, and, as TMary puts it, it’s nice to see it acknowledged that hard physical labor leaves marks on women as well as on men. It’s kinda weird that it shows up in this book, to be honest.

    That… is weird. It’s not often that I get any indication that Hearne knew what he was doing in this book, so thanks for pointing that out. Nice catch! As far as I know, he didn’t steal it from somewhere else.

    I’d give Hearne credit for finally giving him a power that comes with limitations, but something tells me that the limitations won’t actually limit him in any meaningful way.

    Not in this book!

    Well, there actually is such a thing as an ice burn, which has symptoms close to a regular burn and can be made worse by too much heat, and frostbite can have a similar effect to a burn, so I’d say it’s not impossible. Also, have you ever gotten really, really cold – like way too cold, like your hands went numb and you couldn’t move them properly? Have you noticed how when they start to warm up it feels like they’re burning? That might be what Hearne is thinking of (although if he’s an Arizonian, maybe not).

    I am sort of aware of that, but it just seemed… a weird way to name a cold spell. Considering how the spells seem to usually be (attempts at) using an Irish word for what you want to happen, it seems a cold spell that’s called literally ‘BURN’ would be a quick way to mix things up.

    I’m fed up. I’m FED UP! HAVE A SPITEFIC!

    YASSSSSSSS