Merry Christmas! And don’t worry, we’re not far from the end now, guys! Just hang on tight!

So Flidais just arrived right the fudge out of nowhere. Atticus explains, once again, that she has absolute control over animals (hence her ability to knock out the werewolves), and that he has no intention of ever shapeshifting in front of her again. He’s also genuinely surprised that she was able to knock out the werewolves; he “had not thought it was possible to subdue a pack of werewolves through magic.” Why? [shrugs] I dunno. Magic can do a lot of things, like kill faeries by touch, mind control, and curse people using blood, but apparently Atticus, a two thousand year old Druid, just wrote off ‘subduing werewolves’ as impossible.

And hey, what’s Grannie/Laksha doing during this scene? [shrugs] I dunno. Hearne didn’t say after he mentioned that she took a defensive stance. She’s not a werewolf, so she shouldn’t be on the ground, knocked out. But she doesn’t get mentioned until a couple of pages into this chapter, only to say that she’s doing her best to not be noticed, and Flidais doesn’t care that she’s there, so we don’t either. I suspect what happened is that Hearne wrote this scene and forgot she was there, and hastily inserted a small bit or two to explain why she doesn’t do anything. Again, this is one of those things I’d probably overlook if this book had more redeeming qualities, but it doesn’t, so, uh, there you go.

Atticus is understandably a bit wary right now; he lowers his sword, but he doesn’t actually put it away, nor does he have any intention of doing so, and he asks Flidais what’s up. The goddess goes on to explain that the witches, not being complete morons, actually set some traps around themselves for the werewolves, all involving silver. AND all the witches are packing silver daggers.

“Physical traps with magic triggers?” I said.

Who cares? This is adding more complexity to an idea that doesn’t need it. It’s a magic trap—that’s all you need to say.

Atticus asks Flidais if she’s with them, and she replies that officially speaking, she was never here and she’s not on anyone’s side. Atticus explains to us that it’s because Flidais can’t “be seen taking sides against the Tuatha De Danann” because that’s… wait, no, that doesn’t make sense! Aenghus Og is in open rebellion against the rightful queen of the Tuatha De Danann! If this were phrased in a way that says that Flidais was an undercover agent of Brighid (which she is) then I’d give this a pass, but instead it’s phrased as if none of the Tuatha De Danann are allowed to publicly side against each other, even if one of them’s plotting to overthrow their monarch.

Whatever. Flidais won’t help fight, but she can give some advice, especially since she’s angry at Aenghus for ruining her hunt back in Chapter 6. Atticus decides, I guess, that this proves that Flidais is not someone you want to mess with?

I was glad we had no quarrel; I think I would have had an arrow in my gob long ago.

Except I don’t actually believe that the author would try that hard to have you killed. Furthermore, Atticus, I think you’re missing the point of this entire conversation, and that’s this: Flidais doesn’t always act directly. If she wanted you dead, she wouldn’t just shoot you, she’d put you in a situation where you’re likely to be killed and then have no official ties to the scenario so she could get off scott-free. That’s what she’s doing to Aenghus right now.

Idjit.

Also this?

She had her bow and quiver with her now, I noticed; the protective rawhide strips on her left arm were new and fresh.

Who cares?

Finally getting back on topic, Atticus asks if there’s a way to avoid the traps, and Flidais tells her there isn’t; they form a perimeter around the witches’ location (and that of the hostages), so no matter how they go through, they will set off at least one trap. She recommends that they sacrifice one of their number to get through. And so that’s the plan they go with. Which, uh… hang on… wait, what?

Someone has to die, or at least be grievously injured for them to continue? Isn’t that incredibly morbid? Look, you’re telling me that Atticus can look at the spell used to mind control Fagles and let him see his sword, and disable that, but he can’t undo a single magic trap? He’s not even going to try to do that? Really? And even if they had to send someone through to get whammied by a trap, isn’t Atticus the best choice? Strategically speaking, he’s your Tank. Atticus heals super-fast, can draw power from the Earth, and can pop right back up pretty soon. He’s not harmed by silver in the same way that werewolves.

But nope! Not only is Atticus not going to be the one who goes through and gets stuck through with silver needles, it is not even discussed.

I want to reiterate in case you weren’t paying attention, so listen up: THE PLOT TELLS ATTICUS THAT SOMEONE MUST SACRIFICE HIM OR HERSELF, RESULTING IN DEATH OR GRIEVOUS INJURYAND HE DOESN’T EVEN CONSIDER OFFERING HIMSELF UP.

Can you imagine being this much of a selfish douchebag? Can you? Let’s do this thing I used to do with Angelopolis all the time that I call: Remove the Fantasy Elements. Imagine you and your friends are off on a quest to go rescue another of your friends, who only got kidnapped because of something YOU did, and then you learn that the only way to rescue your friend in time is for one of you to sacrifice yourselves, and you just turn to your friends and say, “Yeah, so one of you has to die now, sorry mate.”

‘Cause that’s what Atticus does! It doesn’t even cross his mind to try to disarm a trap, or to trip one of them himself. He’s told by someone he considers only mildly trustworthy that someone must get hit with a trap, and ATTICUS, the PERSON THEY ARE HERE FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE, the one member of the party who could potentially HEAL HIMSELF FROM THE INJURIES THE TRAP WOULD INFLICT, DOESN’T OFFER TO BE THE ONE TO DO IT. It’s just explained to his friends that one of them has to die, and that’s that.

To be fair, given these are magic traps, it’s possible that they would only be triggered by a werewolf, but Flidais doesn’t say that. She says absolutely nothing to that effect. And if she did, you’d think Atticus would offer to go it alone to avoid letting harm fall upon his friends. But he doesn’t have friends, Atticus has people who he can use and discard when it’s convenient to him. So he sees nothing wrong with demanding that people die for his own vendettas, and the narrative sees nothing wrong with letting him get away with this.

Atticus is a greedy, lecherous, scum-sucking, yellow-bellied, frat-tastic narcissist. And we’re not only meant to root for him, but see him as a hero.

Flidais explains that Aenghus Og is drawing up a lot of power from the Earth, and that when they get past the traps then the witches are still, y’know, witches, so they have to deal with that. But Hal and Oberon are doing okay, so I guess the death of one of your friends is still A-okay.

Our protagonist asks what Flidais did to the werewolves anyway, and Flidais said she subdued them because Atticus wasn’t doing anything about it. She seems to not realize that he can’t do that by himself, which is weird considering from Atticus’s comments this is a pretty tricky and nigh-impossible piece of magic, one that Flidais manages only because controlling animals is her speciality. She also comments that when she leaves they’ll wake up and be kind of upset, so it’s a bummer Atticus that he can’t control them the same way.

Also, Atticus tells her that even if he could control them like that, he wouldn’t, but we all know that’s a lie as he’s willing to sacrifice one of them to get what he wants.

And we get this:

They will turn on me merely to vent their spleen.”

“Vent their spleen? Are you trying to quote Master Shakespeare to me again?” She smiled at me, and I began to think of things I really shouldn’t before going into battle. “Because no one in this age speaks of spleen venting.”

“No, you’re right,” I said. “I get my idioms mixed up sometimes. It would be more contemporary to say they’re going to go apeshit on my ass. So what would you suggest?”

Another shot for “What the kids say these days!” Seriously, why is Atticus so insistent that he has to use expressions that he thinks are modern? It’s not like he’s talking to people who care for most of the book. And it’s weird because the modern substitution he almost always tends to contain swear words. Again, it’s not bad to use swear words in fiction, but it feels like Hearne’s trying really hard to sound hip and kewl by throwing them in there for no purpose.

And hey! Good to see that having Flidais smile at him is enough for Atticus to get a boner right now. He’s about to go into a Boss Fight with his worst enemy for the last two thousand years, and he’s just been told that one of his werewolf friends is probably going to die. But pfffft, Flidais is hawt, amirite? So naturally he’s thinking of having sex with her!

[Shouldn’t it be ‘vent their spleens’ anyway? It isn’t as if the werewolves all share a single spleen.]

[And why ‘apeshit’ anyway? It doesn’t fit with the mental image of, y’know, WOLVES. It brings to mind a different picture altogether.]

I also don’t understand how werewolves work in this universe? Apparently, when they wake up they’ll be so angry they won’t hesitate to attack Atticus? Are werewolves just raging muder monsters all the time then? I complain a lot about ‘Show Don’t Tell,’ but in this case, it’s like… showing us in a situation that’s vague and explicitly out of the ordinary. This? Werewolves getting magically fainted by a goddess? It doesn’t ever happen, in Atticus’s experience, so it’s not a great measure for understanding how werewolves work.

Flidais decides to [sigh] Make It Easy! for Atticus some more by telepathically telling the werewolves what’s up before waking them, and telling them that if their sacrificed companion manages to survive, she will help pull silver out of his or her body! Thanks, I guess. The werewolves growl but don’t do much else, and after Flidais leaves they dash towards the bad guys and battle—

[sits up abruptly]

You know, this fight would be much easier with guns.

We’ve talked a bit before in the comments, I think, about how really good urban fantasy makes use of the modern setting. Both Dresden Files and Skulduggery Pleasant have heroes that use magic, melee weapons, AND guns. Granted, against a lot of threats, they don’t always work, but in many situations they do, or at least slow down magical enemies enough to buy some time. Not in Iron Druid Chronicles apparently! We’re not given any explanation as to why Atticus doesn’t use a gun, other than the excuse he feeds the Leprechaun in his BS story when she asks: that he’s Irish. Apparently Atticus thinks Irish people don’t use guns. Considering that at the time he’s talking to someone who was involved with the Irish Troubles, you’d expect her reaction would be like this:

Now, with Atticus having unlimited time and funds, his constant lectures about practicality versus honor, and little regard to the law, he could very easily get his hands on some firearms and night vision goggles. He doesn’t need to go through all of this: all he has to do is get a rifle with a scope, find the witches in the clearing, and headshot them one by one. Aenghus Og, as Brighid mentioned and we see later in this scene, is wearing magical armor, so that won’t work on him, but you could definitely take out the witches. Most of them don’t have those magical protections on them.

Or heck! Use a bow! Surely with his Druid powers, he could snipe further than a mortal archer. And we know that Atticus can shoot a bow: after all, he explicitly tells us that Flidais taught him horseback archery so he could join the Golden Horde. And he grabs a bow to hunt enemies in the very next book!

If anybody was sensible, the situation would be approached like this: Atticus and his friends shoot around the assembled witches, taking out as many as they can. Then Atticus turns into an owl, flies over the traps, lands in front of Aenghus, fights him, and then BOOM! Plot solved. If the writer were any good, he’d come up with excuses for that not to happen, to preserve drama, but instead we’re just… running in because that’s how you approach Boss Fights, I guess. The idea of using ranged weaponry doesn’t even come up.

The werewolves run ahead of them because they’re in full-on Rage Mode.

But for Gunnar and the rest of them, this wasn’t about saving a pack member so much as saving face. No one could be allowed to mess with the Pack and not suffer retribution—with, perhaps, the exception of Flidais.

Why?! Why are werewolves supposed to be this macho?! I get it, they’re half animal, but the fact of it is that the animal half is of a creature best known for using teamwork and strategy to take down their prey. All of them running straight at the enemy with little regard to their own safety is the exact opposite of that!

But nope! Can’t be thinking about these things. Instead, werewolves are just angry Macho Men. Laksha even comments that being angry makes them stronger. For Reasons.

They get close, and Laksha says she’s going to fight Radomila now, as they’re near enough now and the werewolves could use some help, and draws herself a circle in the dirt. Atticus continues on ahead alone to catch up with the werewolves. He finds the werewolf that tripped the trap.

It was hard to miss, because there was a werewolf moaning pitiably on the ground, with silver needles sticking out of him like S&M acupuncture.

I’m sorry, what?! You see someone stuck full of needles, and your first thought for comparison… is a sex thing? Not, like, a pincushion, which I think is the simile anyone else would have gone with? You jump immediately to sadist/masochist sex play?! We’ve talked about Atticus having a one-track mind, but… one of his friends is full of deadly needles, and his mind compares this to a sex thing.

And who was the wolf who drew the short straw? We don’t know for sure, but Atticus thinks that it’s Dr. Snorri Jodursson. That’s right, the Pack’s doctor is the one who was chosen to get himself possibly killed. You know, the doctor who the Pack employs to help them and Atticus in times of trouble? Who pays a team of doctors to keep his supernatural clients out of the public record? Yeah, that guy.

Now is it just me, or is this possibly the stupidest decision the Tempe Pack has made in the book? Letting their healer get in a potentially fatal situation? He’s the last guy you want to get killed. Atticus is confused by it too, not because logic but because Snorri was pretty high-ranking in the pack. But he doesn’t care, ‘cause he just moves on with a quick “I would never understand pack politics.” Never mind that the guy who stitched him up a few chapters ago, and is meant to be a friend, I guess, is bleeding out right there. Nope! Not important.

And hey, isn’t it handy that the werewolves got here first? Because out of the six witches present, four of them are already dead when Atticus arrives on the scene! How convenient! The only two left are Emilya and Radomila, the ones we actually care about. Three other werewolves have been injured, and Atticus tells us that they’re not doing so hot, but we don’t get much detail other than that.

Radomila’s a miniboss, so she’s in a cage lined with silver doing her spells. This would be fixed with a ranged weapon. Emilya runs away, and the werewolves are about to follow her, but then realize that she’s only leading them to the perimeter traps, so they don’t pursue and she gets away to be a pain in the next book.

It was time for me to act.

YA THINK?! This chapter book has been other people doing stuff for you, including getting killed! It’s far past time you did something!

There was nothing more they could do—I sincerely doubted they would be able to take on Aenghus Og, and last long. I doubted I could either, but I had some hope.

…what? Where is this coming from? Since when has Atticus expressed anything but the upmost confidence in his own abilities compared to Aenghus? He keeps telling and showing us that he can curbstomp every enemy that gets in his way. He’s only been vaguely nervous about Aenghus Og coming for him in Tempe, but he’s done nothing to actually prepare himself other than go about his day and talk to people he knows around town. And now he’s telling us, “Oh, I don’t know if I’ll be able to beat him

NO! Let’s not act like there’s any fear of failure here. You know and I know that what’s going to happen is that they’re going to fight in a way that shows just how much more TEH AWESOMEZ Atticus is than Aenghus. It wouldn’t surprise me if Atticus threw in the word ‘AWESOMEZ’ because he thinks people say that nowadays, although he’d also put a F-bomb there too.

Anyhow, Aenghus Og is there, clad head-to-toe in silver-plated armor, apparently doing… who knows while the werewolves were slaughtering witches. To be fair, they can’t even touch him, because his armor is silver-plated. There’s a detailed description of his armor too, if you care: Corinthian helmet, silver gorget, chain skirt, and some silver spurs. Atticus calls the spurs “a surreal mash-up of medieval armor and American spaghetti westerns” which is weird, ‘cause… well, medieval knights also used spurs. As did the ancient Celts, in fact.

He’d planned to involve the Tempe Pack all along—for many months it would seem, because that suit of armor had to be a fairly recent commission… It spoke to me of a level of connivance that chilled the marrow of my bones—when he found out where I was, he had known I would involve the Pack through my lawyers… He had outplayed me with the witches from the beginning, had two different police departments playing fetch for him, and had anticipated or even counted on a pack of werewolves showing up tonight: What else had he thought of ahead of time? What was he doing with that fire pit, and what was Radomila up to?

[yawn] Oh, I’m sorry, am I supposed to care what he’s saying? Because I don’t. This part is supposed to make Aenghus Og feel like a credible villain, but that doesn’t change that he has been on page for one chapter and he hasn’t said or done anything we haven’t already been told he’s going to do. He hasn’t said anything at all actually.

This moment is meant to convey to the audience how devious Aenghus is, how he’s been planning this for months and he’s a perfect manipulator. Except Atticus has walked through all of Aenghus’s minions at a leisurely pace and has refused to take him seriously. It’s just now that he’s in front of Atticus that he’s worried about him. And as we’ve discussed, Aenghus’s plans have all been really stupid. If he wanted to kill Atticus that bad, all he had to do was hire someone to shoot him. That’s it! That’s all! We’ve even seen him telepathically talk Fagles into shooting Atticus: why didn’t he do that with a bunch of gunmen?

And hey, if Aenghus has known about Atticus being in Tempe for months, why did he send that scouting party of faeries at the beginning of the novel? The first chapter? That served no purpose other than to start the book with an easily-won fight scene.

This all falls flatter than a pancake.

So what’s Aenghus doing with the fire? Why he’s summoning stuff! First comes Death, riding a pale horse, given no description other than being a hooded figure on a pale horse. Because Hearne has no creativity. Atticus explains that because the Christian personification of Death is here personally, then his deal with the Morrigan won’t save him. If he gets killed, Death will take him to the afterlife, Morrigan or no Morrigan. Atticus begins to wonder if the Morrigan had planned for this, but I don’t care.

He also notices that Aenghus is drawing up a lot of power from the Earth, actually killing the plant life around him, and Atticus is actually upset about this because as a Druid he’s supposed to care about this I guess. This really makes him mad, too. Atticus acts like this is some sort of perverse use of magic, because Druids are supposed to protect the Earth, and screwing with power like this “was solid proof that his priorities had widely diverged from the old faith, and he had bound himself to darkness.”

Dude. You’re the one who made an amulet that makes him deadly to faeries to touch, breaking the rules of magic. And you sold the secrets of that amulet to the Morrigan, the goddess of violent death and war. You just let the guy who stitched you up get shot full of deadly needles FOR YOU without raising any objections. Don’t claim the moral high ground here.

If I were to die tonight,

You won’t. We all know you won’t. We’d know that even if this wasn’t the first in a series. We know that Hearne won’t give you any trouble.

it would be a death any Druid would be proud of—not fighting on behalf of some petty Irish king’s wounded pride or his yearning for power over a small island in the great wide world, but fighting on behalf of the earth, from which all our power derives and from which all our blessings spring.

Stop claiming you have some sort of moral reason for doing this! Atticus is here because they kidnapped his dog! It’s not like protecting nature has been something he’s cared about before now either. In his civilian life, it’s not like we see Atticus promoting clean energy, or conservation efforts, or recycling, or growing a sustainable environmentally-friendly garden. No, he’s been a regular slimeball, hunting in public parks, stealing municipal funds, selling drugs to college kids, and doing everything he can to benefit himself. He doesn’t step out of his comfort zone until he’s forced to.

So no, Hearne, don’t try to spin Atticus as some environmentally-conscious eco-warrior. He’s not. He’s just some douchebag villain you’re barely even trying to spin as a hero.

Atticus leaps at Aenghus Og, sword held high and screaming at the top of his lungs. And then demons start crawling out of the fire pit, because of course they do and that’s the end of the chapter.

Have a happy holiday season, guys!

Tagged as: ,

Comment

  1. The Smith of Lie on 21 December 2019, 11:26 said:

    Merry Christmas! And don’t worry, we’re not far from the end now, guys! Just hang on tight!

    Merry Christmas to you too!

    He’s also genuinely surprised that she was able to knock out the werewolves;

    Why would that be any different than knocking out a pack of wolves? I mean we know that Atticus, who is human, was vulnerable to her magic while shape-shifted. The book gave us no reason to suspect werewolves would be any different than a magic shape-shifter in that regards.

    Now if they were like Werewolves from the Werewolf: Apocalypse in Crinos form there’d be some reason to at least suspec there’s some doubt here. But we get nothing except what I assume is a pointless wank about how awesome the goddess that Atticus shagged is.

    Atticus is understandably a bit wary right now;

    I guess there’s a first time for anything. Even for Atticus not being a completely carless and reckless.

    Aenghus Og is in open rebellion against the rightful queen of the Tuatha De Danann!

    If only the book had gone into some details about political situation amongst Tuatha, established some of them beyond “a bad guy” and “bunch of hot goddesses that Atticus has/is gonna to have sex with”. We could have Aenghus pull off Baron Harkonen by securing support or at least non-involvment from the major players among Tuatha as a preparation for his bid for power. And Flidalis could be skirting the line by keeping to the letter of agreements made, while going against their spirit in a clever fashion.

    And yes, I am sorry for describing the alternative timeline where the book does not suck. But it is the same one where Hitler discovered cure for cancer, so you know it is one of the weird ones.

    If she wanted you dead, she wouldn’t just shoot you, she’d put you in a situation where you’re likely to be killed and then have no official ties to the scenario so she could get off scott-free. That’s what she’s doing to Aenghus right now.

    Oh hey, another weird timeline. How awesome would it be if the whole affair whe the Sword was set-up by Flidalis playing a long con to get Atticus killed by Aenghus?

    Yes, it would be even more ridiculously circuitous than what actually happened, but it would be hilarious.

    Someone has to die, or at least be grievously injured for them to continue? Isn’t that incredibly morbid? Look, you’re telling me that Atticus can look at the spell used to mind control Fagles and let him see his sword, and disable that, but he can’t undo a single magic trap? He’s not even going to try to do that? Really? And even if they had to send someone through to get whammied by a trap, isn’t Atticus the best choice? Strategically speaking, he’s your Tank. Atticus heals super-fast, can draw power from the Earth, and can pop right back up pretty soon. He’s not harmed by silver in the same way that werewolves. […]

    You forgot that they have Laksha with them, who is allegedly some sort of Uberwitch, capable of taking whole coven at once (with her McGuffin) and backed by centuries of experience. You’d expect that she might know a trick or two when it comes to disrupting magic traps. But that’d rob Atticus of a chance to sacrifice one of his friends pawns. We all know that deep inside he enjoys the thought of having someone die for him.

    Atticus is a greedy, lecherous, scum-sucking, yellow-bellied, frat-tastic narcissist. And we’re not only meant to root for him, but see him as a hero.

    You know what I have not raved about in a while? Flashman. Harry Flashman is a scum of the Earth, a coward and a blackguard. And you know what? He’d make a show of offering to take a hit himself. Sure, it’d be done in such a way to solicit an offer from someone else, an offer that’d Flashman would allow himself to be convinced to accept. But he’d at least think about the option, before trying to talk himself out of it.

    And Flashman would fully acknowledge that what he is doing is manipulative and morally wrong. He wouldn’t let that stop him, but for all his faults he knows who he is and makes no pretense to be otherwise in narration. (And that is why I love him as a character even if I have to condemn a lot of his actions.)

    You know, this fight would be much easier with guns.

    This was the very first thing I thought about when I read that the witches are all armed with silver daggers. Except I applied it to the bad guys. Why are the witches using daggers? We have been given no indication that magic inteferes with technology, so why not guns?

    Hell, even if magic and tech did not go together, why not bows or crossbows? Going into hand to hand with a wolf strikes me as a pretty poor idea, especially with a short weapons. Sure, it can be done, but when one thinks of witches, it does not include a reputation for deadly skills in close quarters.

    But of course, and this explains both witches using daggers as well as Atticus and co not laying an opening barrage on the baddies, all characters in the book are barely functioning morons who wouldn’t know strategy and tactics even if the two ambushed them during a river crossing and shot full the cast full of holes.

    excuse he feeds the Leprechaun in his BS story when she asks: that he’s Irish

    At this point, given the subtlety and delicate care with which Hearne covers the matters, I’ll take it and be happy that this did not translate to Atticus using pipe bombs…

    It was hard to miss, because there was a werewolf moaning pitiably on the ground, with silver needles sticking out of him like S&M acupuncture.

    Also this strikes me as incredibly callous. It is his friend pawn who just took a hit for his sake, possibly sacrificed his life. And here’s Atticus making light of it, by employing a really inappropriate witticism.

    He’d planned to involve the Tempe Pack all along—for many months it would seem, because that suit of armor had to be a fairly recent commission… It spoke to me of a level of connivance that chilled the marrow of my bones—when he found out where I was, he had known I would involve the Pack through my lawyers… He had outplayed me with the witches from the beginning, had two different police departments playing fetch for him, and had anticipated or even counted on a pack of werewolves showing up tonight: What else had he thought of ahead of time? What was he doing with that fire pit, and what was Radomila up to?

    Ok, here’s what I would do if I were a power-hungry, god bent on killing Atticus and getting a magic sword from him.

    I’d get a mortal goon good with guns. I’d have them ambush Atticus on a street and shoot his kneecaps. And break his arms with a baseball bat, just to be sure. All this on a nice, insulating layer of concrete. Then have them throw Atticus into a van and drop them off at some quiet, private property. Where I’d have Atticus swinging from some meat hooks to ensure no healing-factor shenanigans. From there on it is a straightforward affair of flaying him slowly untill he tells me where the sword is. Once that is that flaying can be continued for its own sake.

    […]This all falls flatter than a pancake.

    Well it is an obvious, last moment attempt to give the whole thing some more gravitas than a sunday trip to the mall. Given what happened through the book and the lack of any real activity from Aenghus, so he needs to be retroactively made actually threatening.

    So what’s Aenghus doing with the fire? Why he’s summoning stuff! First comes Death, riding a pale horse, given no description other than being a hooded figure on a pale horse. Because Hearne has no creativity. Atticus explains that because the Christian personification of Death is here personally, then his deal with the Morrigan won’t save him. If he gets killed, Death will take him to the afterlife, Morrigan or no Morrigan. Atticus begins to wonder if the Morrigan had planned for this, but I don’t care.

    You know that you made your protagonist too strong when the Big Bad has to go through a hoops of summoning a FUCKING HORSEMAN OF APOCALYPSE just to be able to take them on. Usually one ramps the stuff up to the level of characters from Book of Revelation at the earliest in the book 4 or 5, preferably even later. I mean where do you take if from here? There’s no reasonable escalation from a freaking Death showing up.

    Well either that, or the Death is getting cheapend beyond all reason and becomes a pointless ornament serving only to show how awesome the protagonist is.

    You won’t. We all know you won’t. We’d know that even if this wasn’t the first in a series. We know that Hearne won’t give you any trouble.

    Ah, but we need to build up some tension! I mean, there was pretty much none so far, so cramming few lines about how Atticus thinks he might die is the only way to create an illusion of it.

    It does not work.

    Atticus leaps at Aenghus Og, sword held high and screaming at the top of his lungs. And then demons start crawling out of the fire pit, because of course they do and that’s the end of the chapter.

    Well, blow my legs off and call me shorty, I expected Atticus to end the chapter by going off to go and catch a nap, as he is wont to do when he’s promising to take action.

  2. Juracan on 22 December 2019, 08:27 said:

    Why would that be any different than knocking out a pack of wolves? I mean we know that Atticus, who is human, was vulnerable to her magic while shape-shifted. The book gave us no reason to suspect werewolves would be any different than a magic shape-shifter in that regards.

    The only thing that seems to make werewolves different than other magic-users who shapeshift into animals in this book seems to be that werewolves are rage monsters? They wolf out when they get angry, which happens more easily, and apparently get stronger when they’re upset? How this translates to them being more resistant to magic controlling them, I don’t know.

    If only the book had gone into some details about political situation amongst Tuatha, established some of them beyond “a bad guy” and “bunch of hot goddesses that Atticus has/is gonna to have sex with”. We could have Aenghus pull off Baron Harkonen by securing support or at least non-involvment from the major players among Tuatha as a preparation for his bid for power. And Flidalis could be skirting the line by keeping to the letter of agreements made, while going against their spirit in a clever fashion.

    That’s one of the big issues with this book when it comes to backstory: it doesn’t do a lot of it when it comes to the Tuatha de Danann. It’s like the book assumes you have a basic understanding of Irish mythology, except we don’t. If it was just Atticus throwing some references out there, it’d be less weird, but several of these gods actually show up in the Plot, so it’s confusing. What’s also confusing is that at the same time, it expects you to not know about Irish mythology, because if we did we’d know that this book’s characterization of Aenghus Og is complete bunk in contradiction with everything in the myths about the guy.

    So instead of developing these characters, he just sort of throws them at you nonsensically, doing what he wants with them whether or not it makes sense to the mythology or what he’d previously written.

    How awesome would it be if the whole affair whe the Sword was set-up by Flidalis playing a long con to get Atticus killed by Aenghus?

    Really awesome, but sadly, Atticus doesn’t die at the end of this book.

    You forgot that they have Laksha with them, who is allegedly some sort of Uberwitch, capable of taking whole coven at once (with her McGuffin) and backed by centuries of experience. You’d expect that she might know a trick or two when it comes to disrupting magic traps. But that’d rob Atticus of a chance to sacrifice one of his friends pawns. We all know that deep inside he enjoys the thought of having someone die for him.

    To be fair, Hearne himself forgot they had Laksha with them.

    But yeah! You’re right! Especially considering that it’s the same brand of magic: witchcraft! So there’s no reason I can think of that she wouldn’t give it a try. We’re not sure why they have any sort of time limit on this, so Atticus or Laksha should totally just sit and be able to disarm a trap or two. But nope! Can’t have that, I guess.

    Atticus is such a douchebag.

    You know what I have not raved about in a while? Flashman. Harry Flashman is a scum of the Earth, a coward and a blackguard. And you know what? He’d make a show of offering to take a hit himself. Sure, it’d be done in such a way to solicit an offer from someone else, an offer that’d Flashman would allow himself to be convinced to accept. But he’d at least think about the option, before trying to talk himself out of it.

    And Flashman would fully acknowledge that what he is doing is manipulative and morally wrong. He wouldn’t let that stop him, but for all his faults he knows who he is and makes no pretense to be otherwise in narration. (And that is why I love him as a character even if I have to condemn a lot of his actions.)

    This is exactly the sort of character Atticus should be, based on how he acts and thinks, but instead he’s written in the least interesting way possible. He’s just some lazy dick but everyone praises him as clever and brave when he hasn’t even pretended to be so.

    But of course, and this explains both witches using daggers as well as Atticus and co not laying an opening barrage on the baddies, all characters in the book are barely functioning morons who wouldn’t know strategy and tactics even if the two ambushed them during a river crossing and shot full the cast full of holes.

    Yup. Like you said, we’re given no indication that magic and technology interfere with each other, so it’s just… really dumb that no one’s using guns in this fight. Atticus keeps telling us over and over again how he’s clever for not caring about honor or the like, and that he’s all for sneaky tactics if it keeps you alive, and yet… he doesn’t even think about using guns, or doing anything in this final battle except a straightforward charge. With a sword.

    At this point, given the subtlety and delicate care with which Hearne covers the matters, I’ll take it and be happy that this did not translate to Atticus using pipe bombs…

    You know that’s fair.

    You know that you made your protagonist too strong when the Big Bad has to go through a hoops of summoning a FUCKING HORSEMAN OF APOCALYPSE just to be able to take them on.

    Basically. It’s not like Atticus has to fight Death or anything. Death’s just… there to chill and watch.

    Well, blow my legs off and call me shorty, I expected Atticus to end the chapter by going off to go and catch a nap, as he is wont to do when he’s promising to take action.

    Nah, even Hearne knows that when he’s near the end of the book, something has to happen. It’s going to be lame and anti-climactic, but it will be something.

  3. The Smith of Lie on 22 December 2019, 11:24 said:

    That’s one of the big issues with this book when it comes to backstory: it doesn’t do a lot of it when it comes to the Tuatha de Danann. It’s like the book assumes you have a basic understanding of Irish mythology, except we don’t. If it was just Atticus throwing some references out there, it’d be less weird, but several of these gods actually show up in the Plot, so it’s confusing. What’s also confusing is that at the same time, it expects you to not know about Irish mythology, because if we did we’d know that this book’s characterization of Aenghus Og is complete bunk in contradiction with everything in the myths about the guy.

    It’s not even the lack of backstory. I can imagine a universe in which I go along with “well, yeah all those legend got the stuff wrong and all those gods and creatures are actually different” schtick or with just giving us tha bare-bones basics and letting the curious do their own research into mythology. But it is the way the Tuatha are (non)involved into the plot that annoys me.

    A story with the plot “For the last 1000 years or so Odin was gathering the greatest warriors of the human race and now the Earth is gonna become the field of battle between Aesir and the Jotunn.” is not mythically accurate, but it does something interestinw with the premise of what the gods were doing in the meantime and what are they up to these days. (Also I just described a premise for an amazing, anachronistic, over the top post-apocalypse setting.)

    Hounded does nothing of the sort. We get no insight into Tuatha internal politics, they are not developed as characters, we know nothing about their relationship with modern mortals. They are as much cardboard cut-outs as the Garden Gnome Leperchaun. They only do the things that are required to put the Atticus through the barest minimum of plot and they barely even get an excuse of a motivation.

    And this connects with how they are all stupid and archaic. Of course they are. Because Hearne gave no thought to their characterization beyond “haha, they still act like it’s 114 BC. I am so clever.”

    It’s going to be lame and anti-climactic, but it will be something.

    Huh, I thought we got that back when Flidalis jumped into the bed with Atticus.

  4. Juracan on 22 December 2019, 11:35 said:

    Hounded does nothing of the sort. We get no insight into Tuatha internal politics, they are not developed as characters, we know nothing about their relationship with modern mortals. They are as much cardboard cut-outs as the Garden Gnome Leperchaun. They only do the things that are required to put the Atticus through the barest minimum of plot and they barely even get an excuse of a motivation.

    This probably describes most all of the characters of the novel. But you’re right—it’s especially egregious with the gods, because we’re meant to believe that they’ve been around for thousands of years, and they apparently spent that time… doing absolutely nothing.

    Their lives revolve around Atticus, apparently.

    Huh, I thought we got that back when Flidalis jumped into the bed with Atticus.