Welcome back! I fully intended to get this done before November, and in truth the majority of this was written in October, but then I didn’t get around to finishing and editing it, and then NaNoWriMo happened, and one thing after another didn’t give me a lot of room to get this sporking up.

My friend’s continued her Tiger’s Curse sporking though! So go check that out!

Now’s the part of the book when Atticus is meant to take the Plot seriously. Remember that there were supposed to be monsters coming to attack Atticus? Well Atticus only just now remembered. I understand if you forgot, what with him having sex with Flidais, explaining how he stole the magic sword, and went on a hunting trip in which Flidais mind-raped his dog into killing a dude, who was apparently working for Aenghus Og in a ridiculously circuitous plan.

With much apologizing and simultaneous thanks for the gift of her company, I suggested to Flidais once I returned home that if I were to be attacked shortly by a paraty of Fir Bolgs, I had much to do in the way of preparations. She was only too happy to take the hint, and her leave.

See this doesn’t add up with what he told us earlier. Because in a previous chapter Atticus told us that he had to be roundabout in telling Flidais what he wants in his own house because she’s a goddess and guest rights and all of that demand he be incredibly polite; Atticus can’t tell her to do anything and he has to walk on eggshells suggesting that he wants her to do something as simple as letting him drink his own smoothie in his own kitchen before she’ll pick up the hint. Right now, we’re being told that Atticus just about tells her that she needs to leave so he can prepare, and she’s fine with that. It’s not consistent at all.

Flidais gives him her blessing, and she pats Oberon on the head, though Oberon “tried to recoil,” an action that makes sense given that she mind controlled him into killing some dude. She leaves, and Atticus notes that “We may have her blessing, but we wouldn’t have her bow at our back,” meaning she’s not helping them to fight the bad guys coming. Again, given she murdered some dude, why would you want her help anyway? He suggests that she can’t be seen taking sides with an enemy of the Tuatha de Danann, but her showing up at his house to warn him of oncoming enemies, having sex with him, and going hunting with him is okay? If the Morrigan can pop in at any time, don’t expect me to believe that none of the other Irish gods know about this.

Oberon approaches, “head down, tail between his legs,” because he’s still upset over what happened. He apologizes, though Atticus tells him that it wasn’t his fault and that Aenghus and Flidais are the ones to blame in all this. He promises to never go hunting with Flidais again. Atticus says that the reason he was blindsided was because he’d never hunted with her in animal form. Then we go off track.

There’s a bit where Atticus says he and Flidais went hunting together in Ukraine, and that she’s the one who taught him how to shoot from horseback so he could join the Golden Horde under Genghis Khan. I know I mentioned this before, but Genghis Khan killed enough people to lower the human race’s carbon footprint. And Atticus willingly helped him do it. Genghis Khan did other things too, so I’m not saying he’s the worst person in history, but as far as we know Atticus wasn’t on board for any of that—all he’s told us is that he fought in the Mongol army, and we’re not given a reason why. But this is also the guy who killed men on his own side in battle the second they tried to stop him from running off with their leader’s magical sword, and who doesn’t care that the gods kill people as long as it doesn’t inconvenience him. So it’s entirely possible he decided to join the Khan’s army to kill people for funzies.

And then Atticus says Oberon has to take a bath, and of course the dog doesn’t want to, and then Oberon asks about Genghis Khan’s whores, and Atticus has to clarify that he said ‘hordes’ not ‘whores’ but Genghis Khan had both and this is really light-hearted dialogue considering they’re supposed to be preparing for battle and Oberon was freaking out about killing a guy two minutes ago. I’d be more forgiving if this dialogue had to do with their preparations, but it doesn’t. It’s just another segue into telling us a famous historical figure Atticus has ties to and for Oberon to make funny comments.

I had to see to my preparations for the Fir Bolgs—the full extent of which was nothing more than a good night’s sleep.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did I give you the impression Atticus was taking the Plot seriously now? Because he isn’t. The monsters are coming and all he’s going to do about it is go to sleep. He says that his house is too well-protected for them to come onto his property, but that’s not why they’re not going to bother him there. It’s because they know it’s too well protected, so they’re not even going to try to attack him until it’s convenient for the plot.

Atticus wakes up and tells about the omelet he made for breakfast, the sausages he cooked for Oberon, and the coffee he and his dog drink (Oberon likes with Irish Creme Coffee-mate and ice). Yup; he cares more about telling us what he had for breakfast than the trauma of last night, or the oncoming monsters that day. He’s also not interested in knowing that coffee, and caffeine in general, is really bad for your pets.

Oberon then asks how Genghis Khan drank his coffee. So we could get… this:

After my bathtime story, he wanted to be the Genghis Khan of dogs. He wanted a harem full of French poodles, all of whom were named either Fifi or Bambi. It was an amusing habit of his: Oberon had, in the past, wanted to be Vlad the Impaler, Joan of Arc, Bertrand Russell, and any other historical figure I had recently told him about while he was getting a thorough cleansing.

Uh…

It’s not really explicitly addressed in this book, I think, but Oberon is clearly smarter than the average dog. He’s pretty much at human-level intelligence. Yeah, he cares more about loyalty and protection than your average human, and he’s more interested in dog activities, but he has conversations with Atticus about history and English grammar. So I think it’s safe to say that he’s around human level intelligence.

Other dogs? No indication that they’re as smart as Oberon in-universe. So Oberon’s desire to have an actual harem of female dogs (specifically poodles), dogs that are not of the same level of intelligence as himself is… disconcerting. I get it, he’s a dog, and dogs like to bone. But giving this a minute of thought makes it all very strange. He’s a being that understands the concept of consent and his hypothetical harem doesn’t. I don’t know quite what to do with this, other than tell you all it makes me uncomfortable.

A being of human-level sapience…wants a bunch of sex slaves of an animal intelligence level. It’s like if Atticus, in dog form, decided to mate with several female dogs.

Alright Oberon, I’m revoking my sympathy for you.

Atticus tells Oberon that Genghis Khan preferred tea, so he makes his dog some tea while he decides “it was time to make myself a target.”

He walks out into the backyard and uses his “connection to the earth to review my domestic defenses.” He can do that, I guess. He pretends to water the plants in his planter boxes, until he gets to the last one which has “a long package wrapped tightly in oilskin” in it.

“Oh look!” I said in mock surprise. Oberon recognized my tone and didn’t bother to turn his head. “Somebody has hidden an ancient magical sword underneath my herbs. That’s so silly.”

What? He had Fragarach the entire time? I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you.

Atticus has acted as if whether he had the sword or not was some great secret, and it’s really not. The minute he pulls it out of its hiding place he loudly makes a sarcastic comment about it. And yeah, he’s checked his magic defenses, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone could hear him and report it. We’ve seen that the villain isn’t above using ordinary humans to do his dirty work.

And hey, is it just me, or does this story follow the opposite of normal structure? The hero begins the story with cool magical powers, gets near-invincibility from a goddess in the second chapter, and already has the magical McGuffin that everyone’s after before the story even begins. Atticus even already has a solid job and a nice house. He doesn’t grow or gain anything over the course of the narrative; he’s already got it all! I’m not saying that a protagonist has to start the story as a noob with no skillz, but at least not have him be at the top of his game, completely in control of every situation. It would be like if you were watching Highlander but Connor McLeod didn’t have a love interest, or fear of getting close to people, and didn’t care that the Kurgan had showed up to lop off his head because he already had a magic Kurgan-killing gun that he could pull out of his armpit at any time.

He can be immortal! He can have magic skills! He can have a magic sword! But all of these things from the get-go? Along with near-invincibility and sex with goddesses? If Atticus were a remotely likable character, then I’d want to see all the stuff that happened before this, where he learned all this magic and such.

Oh and Atticus uses this time to explain to us some more about Druid powers.

This was my most vulnerable time, because while the sword’s location was now revealed, there were three bindings and a cloak on the sword to prevent anyone—including me—from using it. The bindings were my own work, and it’s pretty much all a Druid can do. We bind elements together or unbind them: When I shapeshift, I am binding my spirit to an animal’s form. Summoning mist or wind—that’s a form of binding too, as is camouflaging myself or allowing Oberon to hear my thoughts. It is all possible because we are already bound with the natural world by living in it. We could not bind anything if the strings connecting us to all of nature were not already there. And because we see these connections and know that seemingly disparate elements can in fact be closely related, Druids have a better grasp of divination than most other magical practitioners. Our knowledge of nature makes us superior brewers of medicines, poisons, and even potables. We’re able to run tirelessly by drawing on the power of the earth, and we heal fairly quickly. We’re useful to have around. But we don’t shoot balls of fire out of our hands, or fly upon brooms, or make people’s heads explode. That sort of magic is only possible through a radically different view of the world—and by binding one’s spirit to extremely unsavory beings.

Alright this is the best explanation we’re going to get about what makes a Druid a Druid in this universe and why they’re better than every other magic user in the setting. Their magic is better because they’re bound to the earth, and they understand connections between things better than anyone else. This goes back to my earlier point: Atticus is already a master of apparently the best magic system in the universe, so he has no room to really grow. He already knows everything he needs to know.

Also? This sounds like BS. “Binding lets me shapeshift”? How does that work? The way he describes it makes it sound as if he’s possessing an animal body, like Granny Weatherwax does in the Discworld series. But that’s explicitly not what Atticus does. He turns himself into animal. It’s also a pretty big stretch of the word ‘binding’ to say “binding lets us have super endurance and healing and divination and wind-controlling powers.” Hearne’s stretching the definition of ‘binding’ to include too many things. It’s like if I said, “My superhero controls water, and since there’s water everywhere he controls the planet. And also because humans have water in their bodies he also controls people’s brains.”

I’d give this some room if not all Druids were meant to be good at all of these things. Like maybe if some Druids are better at shapeshifting, and some at potions, and some at making wind. That’s what Dresden Files does with wizards—yes, in theory wizards have education in many forms of magic, but they tend to have talents in only a handful. But I’m getting the impression that Atticus is a master of all of these things, and it’s indicated that Druids tended to be as a rule.

This also raises the question: why is Atticus the last Druid? Why aren’t there more? Presumably they’re all dead. But according to Atticus, they can heal fast, be eternally young, and make themselves stronger and faster than any other ordinary humans. Basically, they should be magic potion-making Wolverines)#Healing_and_defensive_powers running around the Celtic world. Then why are they all dead? I guess yeah, alone, some monsters could gang up on them, or if a group of deities hated them enough they could kill all the Druids. But without an explicit explanation, this doesn’t really make any sense.

And it could have been something actually interesting! What if there was some sort of betrayal? What if there was some villain out there that killed all the Druids? What if Atticus angsted about being the last of his kind? What if it was a mystery he was still trying to solve? But no, it’s just an incidental thing that he’s the last Druid, he doesn’t really care about it, and it doesn’t really drive the Plot in any tangible way.

Anyhow.

Atticus explains how there are bindings on Fragarach, to keep it in good condition, to prevent anyone from drawing it, and to prevent anyone from detecting it by magic despite it being a powerful magical artifact. He explains that the cloaking spell is NOT his work, as apparently that’s not a thing Druids can do (but turning invisible and controlling the winds is???), but he got it from a “friendly local witch named Radomila”, which doesn’t sound like the kind of thing a paranoid guy would do, but okay. He made a deal with her so that she did that spell, and in return he went to Mendocino, California, turned into an otter, dove into the water and picked up “an ornate golden necklace set with several large rubies, which were clutched in the hand of a buried skeleton she had stunningly accurate information on.” Atticus has no idea what she wanted it for, but doesn’t care, saying “That’s witches for you.”

I know I keep bringing this up, but he really doesn’t come across as the slightest bit paranoid. He had a powerful witch do something to his most valued possession, the thing that the gods are willing to kill him over, and in return he gets her something that he doesn’t have the slightest clue the significance or power of. And he doesn’t care.

Apparently the cloaking spell will only come off if he pours his own tears on it? Then there’s this quick digression about how Atticus always tears up during Field of Dreams and then how his own father wasn’t like the dad in that movie and was apparently abusive, but he tries to pass it off as a joke, but again this is entirely pointless and has nothing to do with anything, so why is it here?

Bindings banished with a drop of blood pricked from my finger and a bit of spit—

Wait, what?

Atticus goes from telling us about his dad and Field of Dreams to how he already got rid of the bindings (but not the cloaking spell; I have no idea if that’s still on or not) with his blood. I got whiplash from how quick that shift was.

So he pulls out the sword, admires it and waves it around, and then he straps the sword scabbard to his back. Which… alright, I don’t know if you’ve ever strapped a sword to your back and tried to draw it, but I have and it usually doesn’t work. I suppose it might work if you made a custom sheath for it, and Atticus has had the time, so we’ll let it slide.

Atticus tells Oberon they’re going to the shop; he wants Oberon by his side at all times from here on out. He also casts a camouflage spell on the dog, so that if any authorities are seeking Oberon they won’t find him, and to be able to take enemy faeries by surprise if they show up.

Also, Atticus admonishes Oberon not to sniff anyone’s butts. And on the way out, the widow MacDonagh asks if he’ll be coming back, and Atticus replies “A bonny young lass like you need not ask a man twice.” I mean it wasn’t necessary to include that in this sporking, but I just want us to know that the stereotypical Irish speaking thing is still going.

At the store, his employee Perry is working. He’s a cheerful goth guy, but Hearne capitalizes the word ‘Goth.’ That doesn’t look correct to me, but I’m not sure. There follows a description of his store, the tea counter, and the kind of stuff they stock and sell, and that there’s a spell to prevent shoplifting, and he asks Perry to play guitar music, and I don’t care. This is all boring.

It’s when Hallbjorn Hauk, Atticus’s werewolf lawyer, walks in that something actually happens. “Hal,” as he’s called, comes in with “a dark pinstripe suit” which is pretty conspicuous for a guy in a New Age shop, but no one comments on that. He picks up the nearest newspaper (they sell those at the New Age shop, I guess) and the headline is about the ranger who was killed in the park.

Also they have this conversation in Irish accents. No, really:

“Now, tell me, lad,” he said in his best faux-Irish accent tinged with ancient Icelandic, “would y’be knowin’ anything about this spot o’trouble here?”

Casting off my American accent, I replied in kind: “I’d be knowin’ more than is comfortable, just between me and my attorney-client privilege.”

Thing is, besides the “spot o’ trouble” in there, I defaulted to reading this in a Southern accent, so this bit sounded more like a John Wayne movie in my head. Point is, Hal thinks Atticus knows something about it, especially because he heard Coyote’s laugh the previous night. Why? I dunno. Like I said Coyote’s not in this book.

So they agree to meet for lunch to talk things out at Rula Bula, Atticus’s “favorite hangout” and of course, an Irish bar that has “the best fish and chips in thirty states.” I would skip over this, but because Atticus thinks about this assertion for a lengthy paragraph afterward that I’m not going to relate to you because really, who cares? I’m going to go ahead and say that while fish and chips is by no means a bad meal, it’s really not that special of a dish, and most of the time it’s just… well, fried fish and fried potatoes. It’s not much to write home about. It’s not even really a signature Irish dish, as far as I understand, nor is it Norse like Hal, so I don’t know why either of them are so into it.

Hal leaves. We get some descriptions of his customers coming in, I still don’t care, they buy stuff, and then the Plot—I mean, a witch walks into the store. Atticus goes ahead and tells us, as if we’re idiots, that she wasn’t wearing a Halloween costume: “no black robes or pointy hat, no hairy moles growing on the end of an oversize nose.”

Yes, Hearne, we guessed she wasn’t the Wicked Witch of the West. I get that he wants to make sure that we get that the magical beings in his book aren’t the same as common pop cultural images, but I think your Average Joe can probably guess even from pop culture that not every witch is a shrivelled old crone. Or maybe it’s an excuse so Atticus can describe what she does look like, which he does in more detail than I care about. It’s not necessarily an obscene amount of information, but after saying she looked like a college student and had on makeup and lip gloss, did we really need all of this?

She was wearing a white bebe tank top and a pair of oversize white-rimmed sunglasses. She carried a pink cell phone in one hand along with a jangling key ring. Her tanned, silky legs were bare beyond a pair of turquoise cotton shorts that strained at the boundaries of modesty. Her feet were slipped into a pair of pink flip-flops, her toenails painted pink with golden glittery sparkling in it.

Did we need all of this detail? We don’t get that much detail for most character descriptions? Keep in mind, I skipped some of it to get to that paragraph, but it’s still weird amount of explanation of everything she was wearing. Compare this to his friend/lawyer Hal, who is also described in this very chapter:

He was dressed in a dark blue pinstripe suit with a white shirt and pale yellow tie. His hair, as ever, was immaculately styled in a Joe Buck haircut, and the dimple in his chin smiled sideways at me. If I didn’t know he was a werewolf, I would have voted for him.

…I’m not sure why he wouldn’t vote a werewolf for office. Racist.

But my point stands. Hal, who is Atticus’s friend and lawyer, is given less detail than the witch that walks in. I suspect because Hearne wanted the chance to describe a hawt woman as much as he possibly can. Is that an unfair assumption? [shrugs] I dunno. You decide.

Atticus knows from her aura (what how does that even work) that she’s a witch, and he can tell from her eyes that she was older than the twenty-one she looked.

…the eyes behind those sunglasses were definitely older than twenty-one: She had seen things that separated her from the young and stupid.

…that’s another of those comments that makes me wonder if Hearne knows his audience. Atticus feels exactly like what a dumb young person would think makes a good protagonist, and yet here he’s calling young college kids stupid? And that’s a huge portion of the people who’d pick up this book? And Atticus is no bastion of intelligence himself, so it’s a bit hypocritical.

So this witch walks into the shop and asks for Atticus by name, and then she requests that he makes her a magic potion. An anti-love potion to be exact, one that will make her unattractive to a specific person.

“I am one of Radomila’s coven,” she said, extending her hand to shake. “The youngest, actually. My name is Emilia, but I go by Emily in America.”

Uh… why? Emilia isn’t that weird of a name in the US. There are plenty of Hispanic women in the country, so it wouldn’t be out of place. It’s not weird where I live. I suspect that Arizona, being closer to Latin America than where I live, has got tons of Emilias. Why she should feel the need to change her name to be more Anglicized is beyond me. It’s not even that ‘Emilia’ is even that foreign of a name. This book was written before Game of Thrones got big, so I guess she wouldn’t have been as famous, but Emilia Clarke is an English woman? The idea that someone moving to the US in modern day had to change her name from ‘Emilia’ to ‘Emily’ is stupid.

She shakes his hand, and Atticus tells us it’s probably to get a gauge of how magically powerful he is. Of course, being a Druid (and more awesome than other magic users, of course), it’s not a good gauge because he draws power from the Earth, so right now he’s not exerting a lot of power, but whenever he wants he can just call up ALL THE MAGIC. Or something.

We also get some info on Radomila’s coven, which is a group of thirteen witches in town, and Atticus actually considers them pretty powerful and worth staying on their good side. Of course he also adds as an aside that he could probably totally beat Radomila in a fight, because we can’t forget how much of a Mary Sue our pwotagonist is, can we? Yeah, witches could beat him, but only if they team up and use the goddess they have on their side.

Atticus finally asks why Emilia is coming to him for help, considering she’s part of an entire coven of witches fully capable of making potions. She gives some answer about how none of them actually wants to make the potion for…Reasons. I’m not skipping anything, they’re deliberately vague about why they want him to be the one to make the actual potion. Atticus again asks about it, and she responds with “I pray you do not fence with me. I know full well what you are, Druid.”

Well. That was putting the cards on the table. I took another look at her aura, which was largely red and tossed about with the desire for power. She might be older than a century after all. College students these days didn’t begin their sentences with “I pray you,” and they thought fencing was selling stolen car stereos.

Atticus, you’re an idiot. Most major universities have a fencing club, for starters. So when fencing comes up among my friends, most of them are more likely to think of sword fighting than selling stolen goods.

“And I know what you are too, Emily of the Sisters of the Three Auroras.” Her mouth formed a tiny O of surprise at my use of her coven’s true name.

Hey if Atticus has dealings with the witches’ coven, why would she be surprised at him knowing its name? That’s not precisely hidden information. The supernatural community in Tempe seems to be very close together, they would all know each other. This should not be surprising.

Emily says that if Atticus does the Thing, the coven will owe him big time. He asks if she’s authorized to hand out favors for an entire coven, and she pulls out the relevant paperwork (signed in blood, of course) to prove it. And I just realized that this conversation involves boring paperwork. Way to write a thrilling novel, Hearne.

So Atticus agrees to make this potion of anti-attraction, with the payment of a favor at some point, his usual fees, and if she follows his instructions. He tells her to come back tomorrow at the same time, and every day for a week, and that she has to pay him ten thousand dollars.

No really.

“Tomorrow you will bring me a cashier’s check for ten thousand dollars.”

Her eyes widened. “Outrageous!” she spat, and she had a point. I never charged more than two hundred dollars for my apothecary services. “That cannot be your customary fee!”

“If the Tempe Coven is unwilling to take care of your paramour’s libido on its own, which they could do far more simply than I, then I am owed danger pay,” I said.

His reasoning here isn’t bad: if you’re pulling me into some drama that your own people don’t want to get involved in, then I can charge more for putting my neck on the line. What’s setting me off is the actual amount: ten thousand dollars. This is a man who is, as far as everyone knows, just some recent college graduate type who owns a New Age shop. He occasionally sells antique books, yeah, but if he deposits a ten thousand dollar check into his bank, isn’t that going to raise some flags? Wouldn’t you, as a banker, be suspicious if someone whose finances you worked suddenly gained ten thousand dollars when he works in a business that is not that exceptionally profitable? Yeah his lawyers are supernaturals, but are his bankers? If he got in cash he could hide it better, but he doesn’t, he specifically asks for a check.

And as we see later on, the cops start investigating him because they think he’s involved with the death of that park ranger. And wouldn’t it be really suspicious if a guy you were investigating for murder suddenly gained ten thousand dollars out of nowhere?

Emily reluctantly agrees, and Atticus says he’ll begin as soon as he gets the check. They shake on it; Atticus says that they could spit and shake hands, but that’s dumb because giving a witch your spit, blood or hair is giving her control over you since she could use that in a spell. She leaves, and she says goodbye to Oberon, proving that she can see through the magic used to hide him.

The chapter ends with Atticus wondering if it was a good idea to make this deal in the first place (it wasn’t), and talks about how he’s totally done potions like this for college girls seeking to get rid of exes or stalkers. And like, I get that this has a mundane use, and sometimes there are guys who will not listen to reason. But I’m kind of bothered by the idea that Atticus is selling magic to ordinary college kids who don’t know what powers they’re dealing with? It seems incredibly irresponsible on his part, considering he’s an immortal Druid.

Wait a second: this man is an immortal Druid, who has fought gods and monsters, rode with the strongest armies on Earth, survived two thousand years…and now he sells magic drugs to college kids.

That’s just pathetic.

This chapter is really long, and easily could have been split up: Atticus says goodbye to Flidais and picks up Fragarach, and then a second chapter for him going to the shop and meeting the witch. Considering exactly how painstakingly described random bits of worldbuilding are, it’s near insanity that Flidais leaving is basically written as “And then she left. Bye!”

We get tons of details about how the Druid powers work, but they don’t make sense as they’re all shoved under the label of ‘Binding.’ We get information about the witches; but at this point it’s weird that yet another faction is being shoved into the Plot and made important when we already have the Irish gods, Fir Bolgs, faeries and werewolves in the mix. I guess the first Dresden Files introduced a lot of characters to be involved in the Plot, but that’s a mystery story, so it makes sense that Harry goes around asking different people what’s going on. Here they just sort of wander into the Plot for Reasons.

Furthermore, any interesting ideas are dropped with little fanfare. Atticus could be an interesting character, but Hearne absolutely refuses to let him be one. We found out in an earlier chapter that Atticus has had at least one child, but what happened to the kid is never mentioned and never made important. We find out here that he had an abusive father, but this doesn’t get elaborated on and is not at all a part of his character. We’re told repeatedly that he’s paranoid but he keeps taking stupid risks; in a good book, this could be written as him trying to find something new and exciting in an immortal life by taking stupid crazy risks.

Instead it’s just there. Hearne throws tons of stereotypically cool traits to Atticus, and instead of fleshing them out to make an interesting characters he’s flatter than pancake.

Join us next time, when Atticus goes to his favorite Irish bar, talks to his lawyer, and gapes at the hawt bartender.

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  1. The Smith of Lie on 25 November 2018, 17:17 said:

    Now’s the part of the book when Atticus is meant to take the Plot seriously.

    Well, he might, but for us that boat has sailed.

    With much apologizing and simultaneous thanks for the gift of her company, I suggested to Flidais once I returned home that if I were to be attacked shortly by a paraty of Fir Bolgs, I had much to do in the way of preparations. She was only too happy to take the hint, and her leave.

    This might be my inner Flashman talking, but if I were to be attacked, by whomever, I’d take the hint and leave as well. There is no good reason for Atticus to stay and risk a fight unless Fir Bolg can wait form him to returne idenfinitely…

    Again, given she murdered some dude, why would you want her help anyway?

    Well, given that the situation at hands seems to call for murdering some dudes… Well, what she did was morally wrong, but I certainly wouldn’t mind having a known murderer on my side if I had to fight for my life.

    Of course that assumes that I wouldn’t be worrying if said murderer will stab me in the back at some point… But that is more a healthy suspicioun regarding Flidais’s motivations and not regarding her willingness to kill in general.

    And then Atticus says Oberon has to take a bath, and of course the dog doesn’t want to, and then Oberon asks about Genghis Khan’s whores, and Atticus has to clarify that he said ‘hordes’ not ‘whores’ but Genghis Khan had both and this is really light-hearted dialogue considering they’re supposed to be preparing for battle and Oberon was freaking out about killing a guy two minutes ago. I’d be more forgiving if this dialogue had to do with their preparations, but it doesn’t. It’s just another segue into telling us a famous historical figure Atticus has ties to and for Oberon to make funny comments.

    None of this would be a problem if he either cut and run or had pre-emptively booby trapped the surroundings of his abode for just such an emergency.

    I had to see to my preparations for the Fir Bolgs—the full extent of which was nothing more than a good night’s sleep.


    Excuse me, but WHAT THE FUCK?! This is the extent your preparations? Not, I don’t know, brewing up some potions that’ll give you advantage? Not setting up some wards or high explosives or even a pit trap? Not calling the forces of darkness that spawned you to help you in the upcoming fight?

    My god the arrogance. And of course he’ll get away with it.

    Uh…

    And so far Oberon was actually likeable…

    Atticus has acted as if whether he had the sword or not was some great secret, and it’s really not. The minute he pulls it out of its hiding place he loudly makes a sarcastic comment about it. And yeah, he’s checked his magic defenses, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone could hear him and report it. We’ve seen that the villain isn’t above using ordinary humans to do his dirty work.

    And he keeps it just buried in his back yard… I know that “it is a good idea, because no one sane would do this, so no one will think to counter it” is sort of a trope, but really? Keeping it in your garden is silly.

    If you want it close at hand if you want to use it, then don’t bother hiding it too much. Bottom of the wardrobe will do just as well as the patch of ground behind your home. And if you want to make sure it doesn’t get found, but don’t need it yourself then keeping it close by is a great way to point someone towards where it is…

    And hey, is it just me, or does this story follow the opposite of normal structure? The hero begins the story with cool magical powers, gets near-invincibility from a goddess in the second chapter, and already has the magical McGuffin that everyone’s after before the story even begins. Atticus even already has a solid job and a nice house. He doesn’t grow or gain anything over the course of the narrative; he’s already got it all! I’m not saying that a protagonist has to start the story as a noob with no skillz, but at least not have him be at the top of his game, completely in control of every situation.

    Pretty much this. If it was video game it’d get panned for poorly balancing difficulty curve. Or difficulty slide if you will.

    Also? This sounds like BS. “Binding lets me shapeshift”? How does that work? The way he describes it makes it sound as if he’s possessing an animal body, like Granny Weatherwax does in the Discworld series. But that’s explicitly not what Atticus does. He turns himself into animal. It’s also a pretty big stretch of the word ‘binding’ to say “binding lets us have super endurance and healing and divination and wind-controlling powers.” Hearne’s stretching the definition of ‘binding’ to include too many things. It’s like if I said, “My superhero controls water, and since there’s water everywhere he controls the planet. And also because humans have water in their bodies he also controls people’s brains.”

    This is why Sanderson is one of my favourite writers. His magic systems don’t get into BS like that – what characters can and can not do with magic is pretty clear and even if he does something that could otherwise be an ass-pull he sets it up beforehand, even if set-up is not obvious (example: in one book a character is thought to be dead, turns out they survived; it works because other characters who share their power-set displayed abilities that allowed said survival even if we didn’t know about them at the time of apparent death).

    Then why are they all dead?

    Mass suicide due to the guilt caused by association with Atticus.

    And it could have been something actually interesting! What if there was some sort of betrayal? What if there was some villain out there that killed all the Druids? What if Atticus angsted about being the last of his kind? What if it was a mystery he was still trying to solve?

    What if the book was actually good?

    He made a deal with her so that she did that spell, and in return he went to Mendocino, California, turned into an otter, dove into the water and picked up “an ornate golden necklace set with several large rubies, which were clutched in the hand of a buried skeleton she had stunningly accurate information on.” Atticus has no idea what she wanted it for, but doesn’t care, saying “That’s witches for you.”

    Much, much later when the regime controlled by Radomila turned the whole world into nightmarish, authoritarian dystopia I regretted helping her. I never expected her to use the necklace to mind control president of the United States and launching campaign of terror and domination that killed billions and ended up with enslavement of human race. That’s witches for you.

    At the store, his employee Perry is working. He’s a cheerful goth guy, but Hearne capitalizes the word ‘Goth.’

    Well, it might be correct. Depending on wheather Perry is a member of subculture or a part of Germanic people living around 1st century AD. Given the book it might be either. Or both.

    Hal leaves. We get some descriptions of his customers coming in, I still don’t care, they buy stuff, and then the Plot—I mean, a witch walks into the store. Atticus goes ahead and tells us, as if we’re idiots, that she wasn’t wearing a Halloween costume: “no black robes or pointy hat, no hairy moles growing on the end of an oversize nose.”

    Bud did she weight the same as a duck?

    She was wearing a white bebe tank top and a pair of oversize white-rimmed sunglasses. She carried a pink cell phone in one hand along with a jangling key ring. Her tanned, silky legs were bare beyond a pair of turquoise cotton shorts that strained at the boundaries of modesty. Her feet were slipped into a pair of pink flip-flops, her toenails painted pink with golden glittery sparkling in it.

    Yup, seems like your basic witch.

    We also get some info on Radomila’s coven, which is a group of thirteen witches in town, and Atticus actually considers them pretty powerful and worth staying on their good side. Of course he also adds as an aside that he could probably totally beat Radomila in a fight, because we can’t forget how much of a Mary Sue our pwotagonist is, can we? Yeah, witches could beat him, but only if they team up and use the goddess they have on their side.

    Can they do that? Please? Anything not to have to endure this git… And I’m not even the one reading the book.

    “I pray you do not fence with me. I know full well what you are, Druid.”

    My head canon is that she means “an amoral, mercenary asshole who’ll make the potion because he doesn’t give crap about ramifications of such an act”.

    Join us next time, when Atticus goes to his favorite Irish bar, talks to his lawyer, and gapes at the hawt bartender.

    DEAR SATAN! When the chapter started with him talking about getting ready for a fight I thought the fight was imminent. Like “oh, hey the Fir Bolg will be here in half an hour”. Apparently that was too optimistic of me. Now I expect that they’ll show up in the last chapter, Atticus will mop the floor with them within half-page (while spending five on reminescing about the whores of Genghis Khan and other unrelated shite) and then it’ll be over.

    By the way, I learned that in one of the later books he steal Gungnir from Odin. Because of course he does, the godamned thief he is. I hate this character with the power of 10.000 suns…

  2. lilyWhite on 25 November 2018, 17:36 said:

    So our hero, who has this stolen magic sword he keeps hidden and binded with magic to keep anyone from detecting it, and he…takes it out, banishes the bindings protecting it, and waltzes around town with it. When fairies can easily find and detect him without the sword.

    Maybe Atticus is a psychopath. He associates with murderous gods (well, okay, goddesses) and practically beckons attacks because he just likes people dying.

    The chapter ends with Atticus wondering if it was a good idea to make this deal in the first place (it wasn’t)

    Let me take a wild guess: it turns out he shouldn’t have made a deal with the witch, but in the end, whatever happens has literally no consequences for Atticus. And he probably gets one over on Emily/whoever screws him over, if he doesn’t just kill them for wronging him.

  3. sidhecat on 27 November 2018, 06:24 said:

    So it sounds to me that Hearne more or less adapted DnD’s version of Druids. I think in later books it’s even mentioned you don’t need to be priest of Tuatha to be one…which is rather stupid. Perhaps gods wiped them out for being bad priests.

    Term binding feels wrong to me. Natural or elemental magic feels more correct.

    To be fair, I heard of that way to shapeshift in urban fantasy and folklore both. You are essentially attuning yourself to, or calling upon spirit of animal to possess you to assume their form. Most of those magics require smth like, wearing pelt of animal to assume their shape.

    Honestly most urban fantasy messes up legends to make it ‘‘cooler.’‘ If somebody wants to see great series with beautiful art and characters that is well researched and full of fae, magic and British lore, check out manga ‘‘Ancient Magus Bride’‘

  4. Juracan on 27 November 2018, 17:08 said:

    Well, given that the situation at hands seems to call for murdering some dudes… Well, what she did was morally wrong, but I certainly wouldn’t mind having a known murderer on my side if I had to fight for my life.

    I should have clarified, but you pretty much hit the nail on the head with the next paragraph: it isn’t just that she murdered a man, it’s that she did it in a way that compromised him. She’s proven that she can’t be trusted, though Atticus still thinks this was a mistake on her part rather than a deliberate action.

    Excuse me, but WHAT THE FUCK?! This is the extent your preparations? Not, I don’t know, brewing up some potions that’ll give you advantage? Not setting up some wards or high explosives or even a pit trap? Not calling the forces of darkness that spawned you to help you in the upcoming fight?

    He gives an explanation along the lines of “My house is already magically protected anyway,” but it’s still pretty lame that he talks about having to prepare for an attack, and then he just… sleeps. It also makes for a boring story because, why tell us about him making preparations when he can just go about his daily life as if nothing unusual is going on?

    If you want it close at hand if you want to use it, then don’t bother hiding it too much. Bottom of the wardrobe will do just as well as the patch of ground behind your home. And if you want to make sure it doesn’t get found, but don’t need it yourself then keeping it close by is a great way to point someone towards where it is…

    I agree entirely. Right now it’s in too conspicuous of a location that requires too much effort and too much visibility to retrieve. Of course, it’s handwaved with ‘Atticus’s house is magically protected so it’s fine’ but it’s a pretty terrible place to hide a magic sword.

    Mass suicide due to the guilt caused by association with Atticus.

    Smith this made my day.

    Much, much later when the regime controlled by Radomila turned the whole world into nightmarish, authoritarian dystopia I regretted helping her. I never expected her to use the necklace to mind control president of the United States and launching campaign of terror and domination that killed billions and ended up with enslavement of human race. That’s witches for you.

    Sadly we get to see what happened with the necklace, and it isn’t this. Already though, this spitefic is better than the entire first novel.

    Well, it might be correct. Depending on wheather Perry is a member of subculture or a part of Germanic people living around 1st century AD. Given the book it might be either. Or both.

    My understanding is that the subculture is not capitalized? That is what I think Hearne was going for, because there is no indication that Perry’s immortal or a vampire or anything. He’s Just Some Guy. So I don’t think it should be capitalized.

    Bud did she weight the same as a duck?

    Sadly no one tests this.

    Can they do that? Please? Anything not to have to endure this git… And I’m not even the one reading the book.

    More witches attack him in the next book (Hexed), if that makes you feel any better?

    When the chapter started with him talking about getting ready for a fight I thought the fight was imminent. Like “oh, hey the Fir Bolg will be here in half an hour”. Apparently that was too optimistic of me. Now I expect that they’ll show up in the last chapter, Atticus will mop the floor with them within half-page (while spending five on reminescing about the whores of Genghis Khan and other unrelated shite) and then it’ll be over.

    Welcome to Iron Druid, Smith! Where the Plot happens at the protagonist’s convenience, and nothing is ever at a bad time! So when we’re told that Fir Bolgs are attacking soon, it surely won’t happen until after lunch at least! We can’t have it happen before Atticus has a moment or two to talk about the Plot with his lawyer and check out the hawt bartender, right?

    By the way, I learned that in one of the later books he steal Gungnir from Odin. Because of course he does, the godamned thief he is. I hate this character with the power of 10.000 suns…

    He also kills Odin’s horse.

    And also a lot of his family members.

    And makes a deal with the frost giants where they get to kidnap (and presumably gang-rape) Freya.

    Yeah.

    So our hero, who has this stolen magic sword he keeps hidden and binded with magic to keep anyone from detecting it, and he…takes it out, banishes the bindings protecting it, and waltzes around town with it. When fairies can easily find and detect him without the sword.

    Um…yes?

    I think he puts up some sort of camouflage spell when he’s carrying it around so most people can’t see it or something, but he is still walking around with it. And yes, when he takes it out, he loudly makes a joke about it. Presumably his magical defenses prevent a monster or faerie from being near enough to do anything about it, but he does have human neighbors, and there’s no indication that they won’t be interested in the sword too…

    More to the point, this just goes to show that Atticus can waltz around with the McGuffin and no one bothers him about it yet because, well, he’s the protagonist and we can’t inconvenience him, can we?

    Let me take a wild guess: it turns out he shouldn’t have made a deal with the witch, but in the end, whatever happens has literally no consequences for Atticus. And he probably gets one over on Emily/whoever screws him over, if he doesn’t just kill them for wronging him.

    ACTUALLY I think this is the subplot that leads into the second book. We’ll get there eventually though.

    So it sounds to me that Hearne more or less adapted DnD’s version of Druids. I think in later books it’s even mentioned you don’t need to be priest of Tuatha to be one…which is rather stupid. Perhaps gods wiped them out for being bad priests.

    I remember there being somewhere that yes, they don’t even have to worship Irish or Celtic gods to be Druids. They’re just ‘servants of the Earth’ or something. Which makes you question why, then, are all the Druids on historical record from the Celtic peoples? If they’re not tied to the Celtic pantheons or nations, then why aren’t there Druids from Egypt or Romania or Korea or Peru? Why are they all from Celtic nations?

    It’s as if Hearne wanted to divorce the Druids from the Irish gods because he finds them problematic (in part because he sort of invents negative personalities for them), but doesn’t do it in a way that makes any goshdarn sense.

    Term binding feels wrong to me. Natural or elemental magic feels more correct.

    I’d agree! That would make much more sense.

    Honestly most urban fantasy messes up legends to make it ‘‘cooler.’‘ If somebody wants to see great series with beautiful art and characters that is well researched and full of fae, magic and British lore, check out manga ‘‘Ancient Magus Bride’‘

    I’m not really against making up/faking mythology or folklore to make a fantasy series (though I do really like it when it’s accurate so I might have to give AMB a go). But what’s frustrating about Hearne doing it is that it doesn’t make any sense, and he tries to tie it to real-world mythology by saying stuff like, “Look at these douche things Aenghus did in the myths!” when, in reality, those myths don’t really paint him in that bad of a light in-context.

  5. Epke on 2 December 2018, 12:50 said:

    and that she’s the one who taught him how to shoot from horseback so he could join the Golden Horde under Genghis Khan.

    It’s an interesting contrast, I’ll give Hearne that. Druid magic can’t directly kill without killing the caster, but Atticus circumvents this by… just killing people normally. Left, right and center.

    I had to see to my preparations for the Fir Bolgs—the full extent of which was nothing more than a good night’s sleep.

    rolls eyes

    When I shapeshift, I am binding my spirit to an animal’s form.

    Then… what happens to his body when he’s shapeshifted?

    This also raises the question: why is Atticus the last Druid? Why aren’t there more? Presumably they’re all dead. But according to Atticus, they can heal fast, be eternally young, and make themselves stronger and faster than any other ordinary humans.

    Roman pogrom back in the day to wipe out all Druids, apparently.

    Atticus explains how there are bindings on Fragarach, to keep it in good condition, to prevent anyone from drawing it, and to prevent anyone from detecting it by magic despite it being a powerful magical artifact.

    Hm. I dislike this… labelling that Hearne does. Everything non-human is magical. Magic, magic, magic. It’s like the writers of Guild Wars 2 that handwave everything with “magic”. If anything, shouldn’t Fragarach be a divine sword as it was made by a god?

    The chapter ends with Atticus wondering if it was a good idea to make this deal in the first place (it wasn’t)

    Just you wait until Hammered (book three). He gets outright told that his plan will have major consequences and he does it anyway, because fuck it.

    He also kills Odin’s horse.
    And also a lot of his family members.
    And makes a deal with the frost giants where they get to kidnap (and presumably gang-rape) Freya.
    Yeah.

    And indirectly kills Rattatosk, then the Norns, one of Odin’s ravens, lots of Norse gods (by the way – when you get to the reason why Hal hates Thor, you’ll piss yourself laughing. It’s instant karma), a whole lot of innocents who just reacted to an intruder in Asgard… oh, and (spoiler) Freya isn’t raped. Her cats save her in the last moment, no thanks to Atticus, who basically got the Frost Giants to help with the promise of Freya being part of “the spoils”.

    I’ve actually read a lot of review recently, because I am a masochist, of Hearne’s book, and the Freya thing has been a very hard point of contention – as has his depiction of Thor.

  6. Juracan on 2 December 2018, 15:36 said:

    It’s an interesting contrast, I’ll give Hearne that. Druid magic can’t directly kill without killing the caster, but Atticus circumvents this by… just killing people normally. Left, right and center.

    I had honestly forgotten that Druids can’t kill people with their own magic, because it has no bearing on the Plot and Atticus just skips around that loophole merrily all the time.

    Mind you, he uses things like a magic sword, and his magically-derived strength, to kill people all the time, but that doesn’t count, I guess.

    Then… what happens to his body when he’s shapeshifted?

    It becomes an animal form I guess? Like I said, it sounds like he’s possessing an animal’s body rather than turning into one the way he describes it here, but that’s not what happens.

    Roman pogrom back in the day to wipe out all Druids, apparently.

    There are references here and there to the fights between the Druids and the Romans in Hearne’s books, and yes, that was a thing that happened. But it still don’t make sense when we factor in that the Druids had all these powers that no one else has. How did the Romans manage it?

    Hm. I dislike this… labelling that Hearne does. Everything non-human is magical. Magic, magic, magic. It’s like the writers of Guild Wars 2 that handwave everything with “magic”. If anything, shouldn’t Fragarach be a divine sword as it was made by a god?

    I kind of agree. He tends to lump a lot of things all into one category, but magic is one that comes to mind. Especially because it’s not until this chapter that we really see what the difference between his magic and others’ is. One would think that the magic of divinities would be of a different flavor than Druid magic.

    (Though, to be fair, Hearne seems to characterize the Irish gods as being souped-up Druids.)

    oh, and (spoiler) Freya isn’t raped. Her cats save her in the last moment, no thanks to Atticus, who basically got the Frost Giants to help with the promise of Freya being part of “the spoils”.

    Oh good. Hearne has some small measure of decency in him.

    I’ve actually read a lot of review recently, because I am a masochist, of Hearne’s book, and the Freya thing has been a very hard point of contention – as has his depiction of Thor.

    I’ve seen those two brought up a lot, because the Freya thing strolls so far out of hero territory that it makes the character unambiguously unsympathetic, and the Thor thing because it’s just so off that it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

    I imagine if Aenghus Og were a more well-known figure, his depiction of him in this book would be more of a sticking point as well.

  7. The Smith of Lie on 3 December 2018, 03:23 said:

    It’s an interesting contrast, I’ll give Hearne that. Druid magic can’t directly kill without killing the caster, but Atticus circumvents this by… just killing people normally. Left, right and center.

    Not to be nitpicky, but he literally created and amulet that allows him to kill Fair Folk on touch. If that isn’t directly using your magic to kill people then I don’t know what is.

    Of course I’m certain there is some BS in-universe explanation, but for me this is just one more brick in “THIS MAGIC SYSTEM IS SHITTY” wall.

    There are references here and there to the fights between the Druids and the Romans in Hearne’s books, and yes, that was a thing that happened. But it still don’t make sense when we factor in that the Druids had all these powers that no one else has. How did the Romans manage it?

    You know what would make for a good story? A story of Roman legion tasked with purging druids. You have moral ambiguity built into the scenario – on one hand they are commiting an extermination, which is intrinsically evil, but on the other they hear about all the human sacrifice that druids do and they have their orders. Then you have good balance of powers – Roman Legion with all that goes with it against the supernatural powers of druids. This gives a lot of chances for clever tactics and so on.

    And depending on what you want to do with the story it might or might not turn out that purges were justified or maybe the legion lets some druids go on purpose after learning what kind of atrocity they were commiting. Lots of wriggle space here.

    As for in-universe explanation, well that’s pretty simple. None of the other druids were as awesome and skilled and clever as Atticus. And seeing how low of a bar that is…

    Oh good. Hearne has some small measure of decency in him.

    Small mercies.

    I imagine if Aenghus Og were a more well-known figure, his depiction of him in this book would be more of a sticking point as well.

    I still don’t get why he chose Aenghus. If he wanted a figure more or less considered villainous (even if that might be due to later Christian interpretations) there is always Crom Cruach. Nothing paints you as an asshole as well as being associated with sacrificial infants.

    But as we have established, Atticus’s Druid Juice™ for youth is made of infants so he can’t be casting that stone really…