This is a frustrating chapter to spork, because it’s almost entirely exposition. This book is less than thirty chapters long, and yet in Chapter 19, two chapters after Atticus basically promises the audience that the action’s going to pick up, he sits in a bar and talks to the hawt bartender about this witch’s backstory and how Druids work. And yeah, it’s good that there’s some more exposition on how Druids work, but it would have been better to get that at say, the beginning of the story.

Anyhow, this also means that this chapter recapping mostly involves a lot of “He says/She says” and I apologize, ‘cause I’m sure that’s pretty tedious to read, but that’s really all there is to this chapter, aside from a few breaks where Granuaile leaves to do her job.

I’ll try to make it up to you by giving you this link to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra song.

The chapter begins with Atticus telling us how much he hates witches.

Gods Below, I hate witches.

Why? Why do you hate witches? WHYYYYYYYYY

I don’t understand it. Why does he hate them so much? He made a deal with one (Radomila) and seemed to be on good terms with them until the events of this book, but even if the local coven turned on him, why would he decide that he hates all witches? There are a couple of times where he hints that it might be because he considers their sort of magic perverse, trafficking with immoral eldritch beings, but A) if those exist in this setting, why aren’t they the Plot of the series, and B) Atticus has no room to talk! One of his best buddies is a serial-killing vampire lawyer!

Oh, and were you thinking to yourself, “It’s been a while since a pop culture reference, hasn’t it?”? No? Well too bad!

Since one of them was probably listening to me through Granuaile’s ears, however, I thought it more discreet to keep that observation to myself. But doubt would be permissible to express where outright disdain would not. I gave her my best Harrison Ford half grin o’cynicism, worn by every character from Deckard to Han Solo to Indiana Jones, and picked up my glass. “A nice lady, huh?”

See nerds? Atticus is just like you! He also watches Blade Runner and Indiana Jones! Don’t you just love him?

One of the frustrating things about Atticus as a character is how he tells us how he’s acting clever in a situation where he isn’t. For instance, when Malina is asking him questions, he tells us that he’s going to answer truthfully, but not tell the whole truth. So Malina asks him if he has Aenghus Og’s sword, Atticus says “No, it doesn’t belong to him.” And he tells us it’s clever because that’s not the answer she was expecting. Except it still answers the question and tells her that he has the sword, which if he was oh so paranoid and clever, he wouldn’t have done. He should have just said ‘No’ and left it at that, because he believes it to be true that the sword he has doesn’t belong to Aenghus.

Likewise here, after hearing that the witch is a nice lady from Granuaile, he obviously doesn’t believe it. And he tells us expressing disdain for witches would be rude and the witch possessing Granuaile would get offended and do something about it. So instead of expressing disdain he expresses doubt. As in, he doubts that the witch in question is a nice lady? Which is also not a polite thing to do when introduced to someone and a quick way to get them to not like you, a problem if you think this witch is a potential threat.

And it’s framed with a stupid pop culture reference in an attempt to disguise how stupid it is. “You like Harrison Ford, right? Well I’m doing what he does, so you know it’s cool.” Except it’s not, and he has nowhere near the charisma or the affability of Harrison Ford.

So Atticus asks Grannie when the witch moved into her head, and she tells him “shortly after you came back from that trip to Mendocino.” This throws Atticus and so… I’m going to skip a lot of this conversation and just tell you what they’re talking about.

Okay. So—maybe you remember in Chapter 7 there’s a bit where he explains that the cloaking spell on the magic is a favor Radomila did for Atticus in exchange for another favor. The favor that Atticus did for Radomila was to go diving off the coast of California, transformed as an otter, and retrieve a ruby necklace from a skeleton on the ocean floor. He didn’t know why Radomila wanted that necklace, and he didn’t care because he’s an idiot.

Welp, turns out that the skeleton in question was the Indian witch Laksha, who, upon her death, moved her spirit to a ruby in her necklace. When Radomila got the necklace, she exorcised the spirit and it popped on down to Grannie’s head, because Grannie lives in the apartment under Radomila. Isn’t that convenient!

While Grannie goes and helps some other customers, Atticus thinks about how this witch is probably going to ask him for a favor and that favor is probably finding a new body. Which he doesn’t know how to do. He then decides this will probably be another quest, and he blames Radomila for everything because at this point he just wants to point fingers.

Grannie comes back, and tells him that Laksha has taught her all kinds of stuff.

“Such as?”

“Such as, all the monsters are real—the vampires and the ghouls and even the _chupacabra._”

“Really? How about Sasquatch?”

“She doesn’t know that one; it’s too modern. But all the gods are real, and for some reason almost everyone who knows him thinks that Thor is a giant dick.

Thought you’d get away from characters mentioning how much they hate Thor in completely unrelated conversations, did you? Not today!

Since relaying exposition is boring, I’ll nitpick. Here’s the thing about those monsters: the first attributed chupacabra attack was in Puerto Rico in 1995, although some claim the first attack was in the 1970’s, it just wasn’t attributed to a cryptid that wasn’t yet A Thing. Bigfoot sightings go back to maybe the 19th century, if we’re not counting possible connections to Native American folklore. So if anything, it’s the Goat Sucker that should be more too modern for Laksha to know about, not Sasquatch.

So Grannie says that she knows that Atticus is a Druid, and feels weird about having served beer to and flirted with an ancient Druid. She asks him some questions, and he says that “There was no use lying,” because she already knows enough, and “the whiskey was good, and I could blame everything I said on it if I had to.”

He’s so paranoid, guyz.

Grannie asks him how is he so old, and he tells her “Airmid,” because he’s assuming that she won’t know what he’s talking about, because he’s an idiot. But turns out that Grannie knows exactly who Airmid is, asking if he means “Airmid, daughter of Dian Cecht, sister of Miach who was slain?”

That sobered me up some. “Wow. You’d win a shit-load of money on Jeopardy! with a brain like that. They teach Celtic mythology at the university here?”

Fun fact: I have a friend whose mother was on Jeopardy!. I tell you this because it’s a more amusing thing to say than the pop culture reference Atticus just spat in your eyes.

She has an old witch in her head, and she knows you’re a Druid, and she finds that interesting. Considering all that, is it so weird that she maybe, just maybe, decided to pick up a book about Irish mythology? Or scanned the Wikipedia page in question?

Bored yet? Here’s some Florence + the Machine.

Because the book doesn’t really elaborate, I’ll explain based off of what I know from Wikipedia (so myth nerds feel free to correct): Airmid was an Irish goddess. When her brother Miach was killed by their father, she wept over his grave and 365 healing herbs sprang from the ground watered by her tears. She picked them all up and learned all their secrets, but one day her father scattered them, and since then no one has ever learned them all again. Only Airmid knows, and she’s not telling anyone. Except for Atticus apparently, who used this knowledge to become an ageless immortal.

Grannie asks if Atticus is saying he knows the herblore of Airmid, and when he says that he does, she asks why the heck she shared it with him of all people.

That was a story for another day. “Can’t tell you.” I shook my head with seeming regret. “You’re too young.”

Please tell me this is implying that Atticus has slept with Airmid. Because if that’s the case, I just… I can’t do this anymore.

This is an author who claimed he was “tired of White Male Power Fantasy” in the fantasy genre. The guy who wrote THIS! A book about an immortal Irish guy who gets invincibility in the second chapter and regularly makes out with goddesses!

Atticus tells Grannie that he calls his herb concoction “Immortali-Tea” because he’s an idiot, and confirms that he is biologically twenty-one years old. She also calls him handsome and is clearly attracted to him and says she wants something from him and leans really close so that he can smell her because God forbid that there isn’t a fanservice-y woman who doesn’t want to bone our protagonist, amirite?

But turns out that what Grannie wants is to be a Druid! She wants to be Atticus’s apprentice.


I’ve mentioned that I think this book is overstuffed with subplots? Well here’s a big couple of subplots that just got dumped into our main plot and are now super important: Laksha and Grannie. We’re over two-thirds of the way in, and now we basically have two more characters who are suddenly Plot Relevant. And one of them is now a main character. To be fair, Grannie was introduced before the last chapter, but she didn’t do anything other than fanservice stand there, flirt, and have Atticus ask questions about her.

So let’s count off: Aenghus Og, Brighid, faeries, a coven of witches, a completely unrelated witch ghost possessing Granuaile, Granuaile herself, werewolves, the Morrigan, a vampire, a magic sword, and demons from Hell. And ALL of these are Plot Relevant. Except they’re not really connected in a meaningful way that makes sense; it’s just like Hearne threw ideas at the wall and none of them stuck but he shoved them into the Plot anyway.

Atticus is a bit skeptical, because the last person who asked to be his apprentice was “one of those silly Victorians who thought Druids wore white robes and grew beards like cumulonimbus clouds.” And that’s honestly fair! If I was an immortal wizard type and someone walked up to me and said she wanted to be my apprentice, I’d have some questions before I agreed to anything.

He asks what he gets in return, and Grannie says that Laksha will help, because she knows that Atticus has problems with Radomila’s coven. By the Power of Plot Convenience, the Polish witches ALSO walked into this very bar and started talking about their Evil Plans. Grannie and Laksha started paying attention when they heard Atticus’s name come up in conversation, as they’re plotting to take something from him. They think that they’re going to get passage through and some land in the realm of Mag Mell. It’s a Fae realm, “The really posh one” according to Atticus.

According to Wiki, if you’re curious, it’s either an Irish afterlife reserved for those who died in glory, or an Earthly paradise where all the cool mythological figures hang out and you can sail there if you’ve got the guts.

And it’s being sold off to Polish witches.

…why is the Polish bit important? Like, it sounds a bit racist.

Atticus tells the audience that Mag Mell’s ruled by Manannan Mac Lir, and this probably means that Aenghus Og is planning to overthrow him too. We’re given little reason to care though, as we don’t know Mac Lir or have any point of reference for what he’s like, so this means absolutely nothing.

Grannie informs Atticus that Laksha wants to take a shot at Radomila to get the necklace back. Atticus asks why Laksha/Grannie, who I remind you live in the apartment right below them doesn’t take a shot at them without his help, and Grannie replies that Radomila’s apartment is magically protected like Atticus’s house is. Laksha wants the necklace back, and a drop of Radomila’s blood. She’s also fairly confident in herself, claiming that if she gets the necklace back, she can take on the entire coven by herself. Which Atticus admits is scary; in a rare moment of humility, he tells us that he couldn’t take on the entire coven at once.

Hey, isn’t this awfully convenient? Like, right as we’re nearing the end of the novel where he will, theoretically, have to fight all of the witches at once, a character who can actually do that for him steps up almost out of nowhere to do just that for him! More and more I’m convinced that Smith’s right: whenever a problem comes up for the protagonist, Hearne just looked at it and said “Make it easy!” And he did.

Once she gets the necklace, Laksha will soon try to hop to another body so that Grannie can be Atticus’s apprentice. That’s a condition on Laksha’s leaving; she wants Grannie to be Atticus’s apprentice too. Atticus is wondering why the witch cares, and Grannies says this?

“She knows that I don’t want to be pulling draughts all day for every Mike and Tom who comes in here.

That’s not an answer, but okay.

Grannie goes on to say that if she doesn’t become an apprentice Druid, then she’ll just become a witch instead, but that she’d prefer to be a Druid. Atticus asks her why.

If she took this opening to make a joke or to flirt or kiss my ass, I would tell her no right then.

Why? That covers how you approach every situation. A goddess of war and violent death materialized in your shop and you tried to grope her. Up until this point Granuaile’s been flirting with you, with this end goal in mind. So why would it bother you now?

Grannie tells him basically because Atticus is friggin’ old, man, and that learning from a person who has actually lived through history, because “It’s just the general principle that knowing is better than not knowing, knowledge is power, and so on.” Which… doesn’t sound good, when she’s basically saying she wants knowledge for power. Atticus doesn’t seem too impressed, but then Grannie continues with saying that witch magic is creepy because it involves making deals with “H.P. Lovecraft action figures” and rituals with weird body fluids and she finds the business gross.

Alright some things:

ONE: Lovecraft action figures? That’s a weird way to put it. In any case, this is the first time that we’ve really seen it spelled out that witches make deals with horrors from beyond the veil of reality or anything. The witches in Tempe seem to worship the Zoryas, is all, and that’s quite a bit of a difference from calling up Yog-soggoth.

TWO: “I want to be a Druid because I want magic powers but I don’t want the icky creepy rituals that go with witchcraft!” Which makes sense, and as a Catholic I don’t really advise witchcraft, but it’s like… she wants magic powers, but not anything that might be icky about it. She later explains that she doesn’t like how witchcraft is often more destructive in nature, and I get that, but it’s not like Atticus is a shining beacon of morality or non-ickiness either.

Atticus warns her that witches can get a lot of power a lot faster than Druids, and can do some things Druids can’t. But Grannie “shot back” that there are different kinds of power and that theirs is “the power to dominate and destroy. Your power is to defend and build.”

What the fudge has Atticus ever built with his magic? The very first scene in the book is him using magic to kill his enemies! Atticus acknowledges that Druid magic can be used to dominate and destroy, but instead of citing his own uses in that field, he mentions to the reader the evil magic that Bres and Aenghus have used. Grannie corrects herself, saying that it can be twisted to evil intention, but at its core, Druid magic is capital-G Good, while witchcraft has a lot of magic that can’t possibly be used for good. And Atticus kind of rolls with this, as if he uses his magic for benevolence all the time. Again: we’ve seen him use magic to kill. A lot, actually. And also to cover up his crimes.

He asks her what she thinks Druids do, and she says

“They are healers and wise people…Tellers of tales, repositories of culture, shape-shifters according to some stories, and able to exert a little influence over the weather.”

Atticus is almost none of these things. He only heals himself, he isn’t wise, he only half tells stories, he remembers Shakespeare, I guess, but nothing about Irish culture, and we haven’t seen him control the weather. But he does shapeshift, so… one out of six? That’s not a great score.

He then asks her if Druids fight, and she says they did sometimes, but not with magic, and Atticus doesn’t correct her. Which is also untrue: we’ve seen Atticus use his magic to win fights all the time, from the very first chapter.

There’s a lot of “according to the legends” from Grannie, and so Atticus asks them what they do all day. She replies that they advise kings and read the future. She then asks if he reads entrails, and he says that he doesn’t, he prefers to cast and read wands. Grannie takes this as more proof that Druids don’t do harm to anyone or anything, but if you recall, when talking about divination in Chapter 2 Atticus tells us that many Druids totally did read entrails, it was just not his preferred method. He doesn’t mention this to Grannie though.

I get that this exchange is him trying to figure out what her expectations are about Druidism, but he doesn’t correct her, implying that yes, she’s right: Druids are the Good Guys because they have the Good Magic that they use to preserve and heal, rather than other forms of magic that hurt and destroy. But that’s not what we’ve seen at all! Atticus uses his magic strength and healing battle all the time! He uses spells to slow down or trap opponents, and then kill them while they’re stuck. He uses a magic sword! He calls an iron elemental in the first chapter (who hasn’t been as much as mentioned since)! He made himself an amulet that lets him kill faeries just by touching them!

Atticus goes on to explain what training to be a Druid would actually entail: twelve years of memorizing crap for starters, including learning several languages. She’ll have to work for him at his book shop instead of as a bartender. After the initial training is when she’ll learn some actual magic, and then she’ll get her Druid tattoos, which will take five months. She’s a bit disconcerted about “getting stabbed with a needle” for five months, and Atticus corrects her: no, this isn’t done with needles, it’s done with thorns. That will complete her binding to the power of the Earth.

He also mentions Aenghus Og and his deal with demons in a minor tangent, and of course Grannie recognizes the name because she knows about Irish mythology. Which surprises Atticus, though he admits he shouldn’t be considering how this conversation’s gone. And that’s true. But again, we’re told time and again that he’s a guy that’s incredibly cautious and guarded, and here he just casually mentions Irish gods and his interactions with them to someone and is surprised when she knows what he’s talking about.

So finally, Atticus says he’ll consider her “application” and that he needs to talk to Laksha before he makes a final decision. Grannie agrees, but does some work while Atticus thinks about the very idea of taking an apprentice. He hasn’t even seriously entertained it was when he started training a guy in Spain in the tenth century, but then that guy was killed in the invasion of Iberia by the Islamic Conquest. Since then he’s never taken an apprentice.

I packed my things and headed off to Asia, eventually coming back to Europe with Khan’s hordes.

To kill people. You left Europe and didn’t come back until you were with an invading army to kill people. We just had a conversation about how Druids are all about healing and preserving. Then what are we supposed to think of Atticus hanging out with Genghis Khan?

Atticus does tell us that he’s considered starting a Druid Grove, but he’s never had time with “persecution by monotheists” and being chased by Aenghus Og. He also explains that the deal he made with the Morrigan doesn’t actually make him immune to death, it just mostly does? That if Aenghus Og makes a deal with Hell, then the Christian personification of Death might come for him, but no one believes that’s gonna happen because, after all, the motto of this book is “Make it easy!”

He also starts talking about how worried he is about the divination the Morrigan mentions at the beginning of the book in Chapter 2, which is strange, because when it came up then he dismissed it as stupid, and it has been seventeen chapters and he hasn’t been worried about it once since then.

So Grannie comes back, and lets Laksha take over her body to talk to Atticus, and that’s where the chapter ends.

Hope you like exposition and conversation, because we have another chapter of exposition before the Plot actually gets going again.

Tagged as: ,


  1. Cheap Dissertation Writing Services UK on 7 November 2019, 01:07 said:

    Like always, great content. Keep up the good work.