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.

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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…