We’re back! I know I’m late, but the beginning of the year is always a bit hectic for me, and I just had a birthday last Wednesday. And now we pick up with more of this nonsense. If you’re tired of it though, check out this Tiger’s Curse sporking, maybe?

I also just realized this book has a similar plot to John Wick. This book came out years before that film did of course, but it’s the same sort of plot shape, though admittedly it’s a common enough plot shape: a retired badass warrior type is brought out of retirement when his old life catches up with him. Thing is though, John Wick and many other stories with that Plot are actually good. As we’ve pointed out, Atticus has no drive other than to keep his life running as normal as he can. And even then he’s not proactive about it. He’s not going off to go kill the guy who ruined his life, he’s just waiting for each threat to arrive and beating them as they do so.

There’s no agency! There’s no thrill! He’s not trying to rescue someone, or save the world, or defeat a great evil, or learn about the universe, or anything! You don’t need a complex motivation, or even an epic one, to make a good story, by any means. The recent God of War was, at its base, about a man and his son going to spread a loved one’s ashes off the top of a mountain. But they have a goal, and there are stakes because even though they have a simple endpoint there are a ton of obstacles that get in their way and we’re invested in their journey because they’re likable characters.

Here? Nah, that’s for losers, apparently. Atticus doesn’t want the magic sword or immortality; he’s already got it. He doesn’t want to kill Aenghus Og—it just so happens that Aenghus Og is in town and wants to pick a fight with him. Atticus doesn’t want to run away from him either; he’s all too happy to sit on his hands until the villain shows up on his doorstep. He doesn’t want anything! He’s not out to do anything! Atticus is the opposite of a well-rounded protagonist!

Anything that could be a Plot is played as such a non-issue that it’s laughable. Atticus is the last of the Druids? Well that’s just a fun fact that goes nowhere. There are vampires, werewolves and witches in town? Well it’s okay because they’re all on good terms with Atticus. An Irish goddess appears? Well it’s okay, she doesn’t want anything other than to talk and make out/bang.

Why did anyone like this book?

Right, I was going to talk about this chapter, wasn’t I? Right after it was revealed Atticus was making an impotency potion aimed at Aenghus Og?

Now, that was a pretty good bomb to drop on me.

Except, like I said in the last chapter, it makes no sense! Atticus says that this proves that Aenghus is here, in town, fonduing the local witches, and that’s unusual, but the fact that you suspect he’s controlling the police department and random park rangers means you already know he has a presence in town. That’s more than just sending people after you like he usually does.

Now this does raise a red flag of, “Oh snap he’s working with witches!” And as Atticus mentioned, he wouldn’t like to fight the whole coven at once, and so if Aenghus is with them then them teaming up is a bad sign. This is an actual threat.

Instead though, this is presented as “Atticus now made a potion that makes Aenghus impotent, and in his humiliation he’s honor-bound to kill him personally.” Which is dumb, because as I outlined in the last sporking, even if he made the potion, Emilia’s the one who actually drank it, knowing what it was. Heck, she commissioned it made! She paid ten thousand dollars for it! Wouldn’t that put her right at the top of Aenghus Og’s hit list, right next to Atticus, if not ahead of him?

Atticus realizes that Emilia’s going for a terrified reaction, and instead acts like he doesn’t care.

“So you’ve come to me to make him wilt like lettuce?” I said. “You could have done the job yourself by shedding that skin and showing him what you really look like.”

“Wilt like lettuce”? I know he’s Irish, not Mediterranean, but Atticus makes references to travelling around the world and lettuce in ancient Egypt was considered an aphrodisiac and associated with fertility deities and virility. That’s like… the opposite of what he’s going for here. I guess not everyone knows that, so I’m not exactly docking points, but Atticus is meant to be oh so educated about the supernatural world and mythology, and he doesn’t know this?

I mean… there’s that whole thing (WARNING: link includes account of Egyptian gods fonduing) we fans of Egyptian myth like to call “the Lettuce Incident” after all.

Anyhow after that insult, Emily slaps Atticus, as she should. Atticus worries about this because if she uses her nails to draw blood, and with that she could do all kinds of painful magic to him. This happened to some friend of his back in the days when there were other Druids and his heart exploded. The witch that did it got away.

That’s a way more interesting story than what we’re getting now. But that charming backstory is just summarized, so that Atticus justifies hitting her back and breaking her nose. He does say “I sort of felt like an asshole even though she had planned to do much worse to me,” and, like, I get it, but Atticus has been pretty terrible up until now anyway, so I’m not inclined to be sympathetic to either party.

Atticus spells out that he was defending himself from possible escalation of bodily harm to himself. Emilya (you know I like this spelling; let’s stick with it) says her coven’s boss will hear about it, and Atticus points to his store’s security cameras which he insists will prove to the head witch, Radomila, who attacked who first. So she storms out angrily.

Atticus scoops up some of her blood that she left on the floor when he broke her nose and uses it to cast a quick binding that reflects any spells Emilya would have used against him. He does this casting in the parking lot right in front of her parked car, so she can angrily curse him and Atticus can watch her get wounded by her own spells. She drives away with broken ribs while giving Atticus the middle finger.

[Why Emilya didn’t try to kill Atticus is beyond me? If it bounced back she’d be dead, yeah, but then the coven would have more reason to go after Atticus, and she’d have revenge that way. Unless she wants him alive?]

Also when she gives him the finger, he says it’s “a gesture that had zero cultural relevance to me” which is stupid because he constantly uses common American English slang, phrases and cliches. He’s basically an American at this point. It doesn’t matter that he’s an ancient Irishman—he knows exactly what it means.

There’s some boring bit of Atticus and Oberon alone in the shop, and he promises to go hunting with Oberon somewhere far out of town, and then a couple of customers come in. And then gets a phone call from the witches’ coven in town. A witch named Malina Sokolowski asks about what happened (all the while not saying too many specifics out loud because a Muggle customer is in the shop).

Basically, she says if Atticus still considers his contract with Emilya valid, which he does, she’ll accompany Emilya next time she gets the tea. Atticus clarifies that he did not attack first and that she’s screwing an old enemy of his. Malina clarifies that they’re not not allied with Aenghus Og, but that they’re trying to humiliate him. Or something.

Anyhow this conversation wraps up and Atticus deals with a guy in his shop looking to buy some pot. He goes on a rant about how he doesn’t understand drug addicts, which is dumb because, in case you forgot, Atticus sells magic potions to college kids. No, it’s not pot, but he’s still selling some questionable stuff, including impotency potions, to college kids.

Our protagonist is a two thousand-year-old Druid, who fought with the Golden Horde, evaded execution by the Romans, talked with the most brilliant scientists of history… and now he sells magic drugs to college kids.

I don’t know if there’s anything overtly wrong with the scenes that played out in this chapter so far. Yes, Atticus breaks a woman’s nose, but she was planning worse harm on him. Yeah it’s convenient that the witch is there for Atticus to watch as her curses bounce back on her, but it’s easier to see those effects if they’re on-screen. The coven does side with Emilya, but Atticus does have proof that this whole thing is her fault and is okay with continuing his business because of it.

But… the problem remains that runs throughout the entire novel: Atticus is always in control of every situation. The times we’ve seen him lose his cool are A) when the Morrigan got naked in front of him, and B) when Flidais made Oberon kill a park ranger. Look at what’s happened here:

-Emilya tells Atticus that his potion is going to bring Aenghus Og’s wrath on him. He’s very surprised, but he manages to pretend he isn’t.

-She slaps him to draw blood and cast a curse, and he sees exactly what she’s doing and hits her in the face first.

-She accuses him of starting a fight, and he explains his cameras will have recorded who did what first.

-Atticus happens to have exactly what he needs in order to shoot her attacks right back at her.

-Someone from her coven calls, and has a very civil conversation with him where he makes it clear that there isn’t going to be a major conflict between the two entities and he can prove it’s not his fault.

At no point does he lose his cool. And yeah, he’s a two thousand-year-old Druid, so we can justify this as him learning to be careful and keep his emotions in check. But it makes for a boring story if he’s never really thrown off guard. It feeds into the larger problem that this story is about a character who has basically already ended his Hero’s Journey—at this point, he has everything he wants and needs, and is doing the motions of a fantasy hero. He doesn’t have any serious problems to contend with because he already knows how to deal with everything.

Right now you might be thinking, “Wow, for a guy who was sure there was a bad guy attack coming in, it sure seems like it’s been like a day and no bad guys have attacked.” And you’re right! The Plot’s not going to bother Atticus with silly inconveniences like breaking down the walls of his shop or something. Because now it’s closing time and he goes to mow his neighbor’s lawn. You remember the neighbor, right? The little old Irish lady who spoke like a Lucky Charms box? The one who likes to watch him work in her yard because she totally wants to bone him?

“Ah, yer a fine boy, Atticus, and that’s no lie,” she said, saluting me with her whiskey glass as she game out to the front porch to watch me work. She liked to sit in her rocking chair and sing old Irish songs to me

I cut off the quote here because it makes my point: she’s still an Irish stereotype. In case you were wondering. There’s a bit that specifies that the “old Irish songs” are old for an ordinary mortal, not for him who’s been alive for two thousand years. Which is kind of a ‘duh’ but when has that ever stopped Hearne in this book?

So after that he sits on the porch with the Leprechaun and she talks about “her younger days in the old country,” when she was “running around the streets of Dublin with a bunch of ne’er-do-wells.” And she adds that she hadn’t met her husband yet at that point. As if we care.

I had Oberon stationed as sentinel on the edge of the lawn, close to the street.

Oh yeah, there’s supposed to be a bad guy attack, isn’t there?

I know we’ve given these examples a lot, but let’s reiterate: monsters and malevolent gods are going to be attacking Atticus at his house, and what does he do? He’s mowing his neighbor’s lawn and then he listens to her prattle on about her youth. Who cares? By all rights he should be fortifying his position, but again, Atticus doesn’t care about the bad guys. Why should he? After all, he’s always in control.

Furthermore, if he’s expecting trouble, shouldn’t Atticus be staying away from his elderly neighbor that he’s friends with? That’s putting her closer to the line of fire, which you’d think he wouldn’t want to do. He should be staying in his own house—which is fine, as he says he’s magically fortified it—and then tell Mrs. MacDonagh to stay in her house for a while to be safe.

Since he’s not a sane person, Atticus doesn’t do that, and Oberon lets Atticus know that a stranger is walking from the north, and that he “can smell the ocean on him.” Atticus knows exactly who this is, so he grabs his sword and approaches. Without telling the Leprechaun what he’s doing either.

“Excuse me, Mrs. MacDonagh,” I said, “someone’s coming and he might not be friendly.”

“What? Who is it? Atticus?”

I couldn’t answer yet, so I didn’t. I kicked off my sandals and drew power from the widow’s lawn even as I walked toward the street and peered northward.

And that’s the last dialogue he has with her until the end of this encounter.

I’m not suggesting that Atticus tell her exactly what’s going on, but he hears there’s an enemy coming, and instead of giving even a cursory explanation that someone bad is coming for specifically him, he just walks off saying that the approaching stranger “might not be friendly.” He also doesn’t tell her to go inside, that there’s going to be a fight, that she should lay low, or anything of the sort. He just walks off with his sword.

And I’m unsure as to whether or not she can see the sword.

He also says that he “couldn’t answer yet.” But he totally could, because it’s implied he knows exactly who the stranger is. When Oberon says that he smells like the ocean, Atticus responds with “Uh-oh. That’s not good.”

One of the charms on my necklace has the shape of a bear on it, and its function is to store a bit of magical power for me that I can tap when I’m walking on concrete or asphalt.

Are we still keeping a list of Atticus’s powers? Put that one down too.

Atticus acts like he doesn’t know who this guy is despite again, having implied knowing who he was when he showed up, but it’s Bres. It’s totally Bres. He shows up as a tall guy in clanky bronze armor. Atticus takes some time to tell us that the armor’s ugly too, being too heavy and probably incredibly hot and tight. Just… imagine uncomfortable leather and bronze armor. It’s so ugly, that Atticus calls his helmet “beyond ridiculous” and assumes “he must have been wearing it as a joke.”

He opens with: “I greet you, Siodhachan O Suileabhain,” he said. “Well met.” Then he grins, and Atticus “wanted to slay him on the spot.” Like, I get it, there are some obnoxious douchebags who evoke that reaction with just a smirk, but this guy just rolled up and said hi. He hasn’t done anything! So Atticus saying he wants to kill him because smiled, when he still acts like he doesn’t know who this is, doesn’t do anything but make Atticus sound like more of a violent sociopath.

Atticus also keeps his magic see-through-glamour vision on, because he’s worried that Bres might try something.

Finally Atticus tells us that it’s Bres, and insults him to his face by saying that he would rather have not seen him at all, and makes a joke aloud about his costume belonging in a Renaissance Festival.

[Also they tell us he smells like fish, despite being a god of agriculture, probably because of his being of Fomorian descent. Atticus hasn’t told us what a Fomorian is though, so this means absolutely nothing to us.]

Now I get that Bres isn’t here for a smoothie. I know, and Bres knows, and Atticus knows, that Bres is here to start trouble. But after telling us that he has to be so sensitive and polite around gods, for Atticus to turn around and start insulting Bres to his face knowing that it will end in violence strikes me as a bit odd.

And Bres hasn’t done anything. At least, not to Atticus in-story. If you know some Irish mythology, you’ll know that when Bres was king, he enslaved the Irish gods to the Fomorians. But weirdly this book doesn’t explain that to us, like it over-explains so many other details. I’d bet that this book assumes you know nothing about Irish mythology, with how it portrays Aenghus Og as a cackling supervillain and paints his deeds as villainous without context. So without that information all we know is that this big dumb brute of a god shows up, and Atticus keeps insulting him to his face for no reason. But then this book drops things like ‘Fomorians’ and that whole account of a battle from Irish mythology and doesn’t explain jack.

Bres says he’s there “at the request of an old friend,” which Atticus takes as another opportunity to insult his wardrobe.

“Did he request that you dress like that? Because if he did, he’s not your friend.”

Isn’t Atticus so witty? Isn’t he? ISN’T HE?! LAUGH, DAMN IT!

Get used to these jabs at Bres’s wardrobe.

Mrs. MacDonagh asks who the fudge this person on the street in front of her house is, and Atticus just says it’s “Someone I know. He won’t be staying long.” And in that same paragraph he turns around and telepathically tells Oberon to flank Bres—grab his leg and pull when he gives the signal, so that Bres is on his back.

Of course Bres is there on the demand of Aenghus Og. He wants the magic sword. Atticus asks him why he isn’t there himself, and Bres tells him Aenghus is actually around.

That was calculated to ratchet my paranoia up a few levels. It worked, but I was determined it would not work in his favor.

YOU KNEW THIS ALREADY YOU TWIT.

You knew he was using the local law enforcement. You knew he was making deals with the coven of witches and having sex with at least one of them. Basically, Atticus, you had every indication that he was in town and keeping tabs on you, and now you’re acting like this is new information. It isn’t.

Atticus wonders why Bres is involved at all, and asks about the armor, which Bres doesn’t answer. Bres gives the usual: give him the sword or die. Atticus asks why Aenghus wants the sword anyway, as last time it was given to a mortal to use as High King of Ireland. As Ireland doesn’t have a High King these days, what’s the point?

[That was not meant as a pune.]

…yes, our protagonist, a supposedly clever, immortal man, just asked in all sincerity why someone would want a magic sword that can cut through anything.

Atticus is not a bright man.

So Atticus waves Fragarach, the magic sword, in his face. But because it’s magically cloaked, Bres doesn’t believe it’s really it. Or maybe he does and he’s stalling for time. In any case Bres does this thing where he moves forward to attack Atticus, but still casts the illusion of standing still calmly. Atticus knows what he’s doing because he can see through glamour. Atticus changes the plan to Oberon (who has been magically camouflaged this entire time, BTW) and tells him to lie behind Bres, so he can push him over and he’ll trip on Oberon.

When Bres strikes, Atticus dodges, disarms him, roundhouse kicking him so he falls backward over Oberon. And then Atticus kills him (and insults his armor again as he does).

Now to be fair, this guy just tried to kill him. But this is a god. This should be a boss fight, where Atticus has to expend quite a lot of effort, skill and power in taking him down. Instead, Atticus uses his amazing martial arts skillz to take him down and kill him over the course of a couple of pages. The fight in the very first chapter was more difficult for Atticus. I think we’re meant to find this impressive but it just reads as lazy writing.

And oh, it gets lazier.

See, Mrs. MacDonagh was sitting on that porch the entire time1, and saw Atticus kill the guy. She’s terrified, and asking if he’s going to kill her next. Well, actually she does it with the stereotypical Irish accent:

“Ye killed him.” Her voice quavered. “Are y’goin’ to kill me too now? Send me home to the Lord so I can be with me Sean?”

Hey, if I have to read this stupid accent, then you do too.

Atticus, instead of being worried about someone he considered his friend being terrified for her life of him, is just like, “I have no reason to kill you.” Yeah, that’s reassuring. If you saw one of your friends kill someone in front of you, even if it was self-defense, would that make you feel better? That your friend is completely calm and tries to logically explain that you’re not a threat?

Even though he calls it self-defense, the widow points out that she didn’t see it that way. Which she didn’t, because, y’know, glamour. Atticus insists that she just didn’t see everything and points out his sword lying on the ground. She admits that maybe she heard him threaten him, which doesn’t make me think she heard it as much as she’s trying to stay on the good side of the man who just killed someone else in front of her with a sword.

He calls Bres “an old enemy of mine” but this is just confusing, because as far as this little old lady knows, he’s just twenty-one. So Atticus makes up some bullshimflarkus about how this guy had beef with his father, and that it’s a sort of family grudge and has been chasing him for years. She wonders why he didn’t buy a gun for self-defense then, like most Americans with the means and are scared for their lives might do.

I grinned at her. “Because I’m Irish, Mrs. MacDonagh. And I’m your friend.”

Hey, fun fact! There are Irish gangs. And they have guns. It’s heavily implied that Mrs. MacDonagh’s youth was involved in some of this gang-related activity. So I’m wondering why the heckamajigger Atticus thinks Irish people are more inclined to swordsmanship in their illegal feuds.

I modulated my expression to earnest pleading and clasped my hands together.

Well that reads “manipulative as all get out.”

Mrs. MacDonagh, for once acting like a rational human being unlike everyone else in this book, is still unconvinced, so asks what the feud was about. Atticus says it’s about the sword, claiming that his “Da” stole it from this man’s private collection and he was still mad about it. Why? Because “It’s an Irish sword…and it didn’t seem right, him being British and all.”

And just like that, MacDonagh switches her tune and helps him bury the body in her backyard.

“Ah, well then ye can bury the bastard in me backyard, and God damn the queen and all her hellish minions.”

Yes, two seconds ago she was fearful for her life and suspicious, but because this guy mentioned that his enemy was of the one nationality on the planet that she has problems with, she decides to help him, no questions asked. See, it JUST SO HAPPENS, and it’s not been mentioned until RIGHT NOW, that MacDonagh’s deceased husband Sean was IRA, and was killed by the Ulster Volunteer Force during the Troubles in Ireland.

Oh yeah, we just dropped the Irish Troubles in this Plot.

[rubs forehead] I need a drink.

I don’t want to do this. This is barely related to this book at all. But fine; Hearne did it, so I guess we have to.

Let’s talk a bit about the Irish Troubles.

“The Troubles” or “the Northern Ireland Conflict” refers (at least these days) to a period of violence from the 1960’s up to the year 1998. It can also refer to earlier periods of Irish history in which there was violence, but they have the same thing in common: they were centered around the question of Northern Irish independence. This is when Ireland’s relationship with Great Britain reaches boiling point. Paramilitary groups (or terrorists, depending on who you ask) like the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force were either formed or hit international headlines in this period, due to violence perpetrated that went beyond the borders of Northern Ireland into the UK and even into mainland Europe. Riots, bombings, executions, killing in the streets, segregations, arrests without trials—you name it. This was one of the worst things to happen in Irish history, and to this day there are still people with not-so-fond memories of the Troubles. In parts of Ireland, Catholics and Protestants (who largely correspond to the two sides of the conflict) still mostly live geographically separately to this day.

And Hearne just dropped it into his book out of Plot Convenience. It’s not brought up until right it becomes relevant. It’s kind of played as a joke, as it’s just another eccentricity with Mrs. MacDonagh and a reason for her to make more “jokes,” this time about hating English people.

Is it just me, or is this grossly offensive? This strikes me a bit like bringing in the September 11, 2001 attacks, or a KKK lynching (or any violence grabbed from international headlines for my non-American readers) out of nowhere to explain why a side character is willing to act a certain way for one specific scene. It’s incredibly insensitive and lazy. If this had been mentioned earlier in the story, I’d have more sympathy, but it’s not—we’re hearing about how MacDonagh’s husband died right now for the first time. Imagine writing a novel and the protagonist needs to get out of a jam, and it JUST SO HAPPENS that his or her friend is willing to help out because that friend had a loved one die in a famous violent conflict that in real life people are still tense over. It makes me very uncomfortable that it’s used as a casual motivation pulled straight from the author’s armpit, just so the Plot can be easier for Atticus.

‘Cause that’s what this is! It would be actually interesting if Atticus’s mortal friends thought he was a murderer because he couldn’t explain away what happened with Bres. But that would make things difficult and we can’t have that, can we?

Also why the heck would she agree that Bres is English? Didn’t she say she heard him threaten Atticus? And would Bres be talking with an English accent? I very much doubt it, considering the prevalence of Irish stereotypes.

AND, I feel the need to point out, Atticus just says he “felt ashamed for pushing the widow’s buttons like this” which is funny because I never got the impression he had any shame.

So anyhow, Mrs. MacDonagh’s terrible accent offers to get him some lemonade while Atticus buries the body. Oberon pushes the head along (it’s too heavy in the helmet to lift), and again I’m wondering if no one else witnessed this? It’s a fairly nice neighborhood, as I understand it. The text assures us it’s gotten dark, but this takes place over, what, fifteen minutes? It’s incredibly convenient that no one’s watching this, isn’t it?

So then the Morrigan shows up, in crow form. Atticus tells her he’ll talk to her in the backyard, and hauls the body over “in a fireman’s carry.” Wait a minute—you’re telling me that his Irish wolfhound had trouble carrying the armored head by himself, but Atticus can pick up the heavily-armored body over his shoulder with no problem?

We can chalk this up to ‘Druid powers,’ as they can enhance their strength if they want to, but it’s not mentioned here.

So the Morrigan changes to human form and berates him for killing a member of the Tuatha De Danann. Atticus says he’s just defending himself, but the Morrigan points out that he can’t die—remember, he made that deal at the beginning with the Morrigan that she wouldn’t take his soul to the afterlife? He can’t use the self-defense argument if he’s invulnerable.

Atticus replies with pointing out that he may survive, but he may have been wounded, and had to live the rest of his life being disemboweled or something. Which is still a weak argument, because A) he has healing powers, and B) he still went out of his way to stab and behead a downed opponent, so it wasn’t really self-defense anyway.

The Morrigan demands that Atticus tell her everything that happened. Upon hearing it, she agrees that Bres was stupid and deserved to die and that his armor was ugly. She does point out though that Bres’s wife Brighid will be upset and probably want Atticus dead. Atticus tells her that if they point out how much of an idiot Bres was, then maybe Brighid won’t mind. Morrigan considers it possible.

Yes, Atticus and the Morrigan decided that maybe a goddess won’t mind that you just killed her husband, by virtue of saying whenever she shows up, TO HER FACE, “Well you’re husband was stupid anyway, so it’s no big loss.”

Because we can’t make Atticus break a nail or something, the Morrigan decides to clean up the body for him, so while she does that Atticus goes and gets the garden hose to wash the blood out of the street. The old lady comes out and asks “Have y’buried the fecking tea bag already?” And Atticus is surprised at the swearing but says he’ll get to it, he’s just washing the blood out of the street, so MacDonagh says she’s turning in so she can watch Wheel of Fortune, promising that she won’t tell anyone about what just happened.

Oberon suggests that maybe television is what desensitized the old lady to violence, but Atticus points out that it was probably more with living in Ireland during the Troubles. And then Oberon asks what the Troubles were, and Atticus just gives us this:

Freedom. Religion. Power. The usual. Would you mind standing sentinel again on the edge of the lawn while I do this?

And that’s all we’re getting on the Troubles. That’s the only explanation we’re getting. Because it’s not important to the book at all! It’s just a sidenote to explain why a little old lady’s okay with Atticus killing a guy in front of her house! The climax of centuries worth of imperialism, oppression, violence, religious persecution and political tension? It gets five words of explanation.

The chapter ends with Oberon warning Atticus that there are several heavy footsteps coming their way. Presumably, these are the Fir Bolgs that Atticus was warned about.

[sigh]

So to recap: Atticus finds out Aenghus is in town (twice), he breaks a witch’s nose but the coven doesn’t care too much, he kills a god with no effort, his neighbor helps him hide it because of a previously-unmentioned grudge against British people due to the Troubles, and he should be able to worm his way out of being in trouble for killing a god because that god was an idiot. And more bad guys are showing up.

1 Though apparently NO ONE ELSE IN THIS SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD witnessed this event.

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  1. The Smith of Lie on 9 February 2019, 10:33 said:

    I am probably making this a bigger deal than it is, but I have made something I consider special, inspired by the sporking of Hounded. And what better occasion than a new chapter to unveil my monstrosity? (You guys are at fault just as well as me, you’ve been enabling me for years by this point!)

    Without further ado, I give you the first chapter of The Legion of Bastards

    Great, big thanks to TMary for her help in making it happen.

    And now enough of spot-light stealing, lets dig into the sporking itself!

    There’s no agency! There’s no thrill! He’s not trying to rescue someone, or save the world, or defeat a great evil, or learn about the universe, or anything! You don’t need a complex motivation, or even an epic one, to make a good story, by any means. The recent God of War was, at its base, about a man and his son going to spread a loved one’s ashes off the top of a mountain. But they have a goal, and there are stakes because even though they have a simple endpoint there are a ton of obstacles that get in their way and we’re invested in their journey because they’re likable characters.

    Hell, I’ll take an unlikable character with an agency over a non-entity like Atticus. There’s this series called The Second Apocalypse by R. Scott Bakker. One of the main characters is possibly the most hateful character I’ve read about. And yet he has clear goals that he is trying to achieve (and they are rather noble ones at that, though that does little to make him more likeable; this makes for curious experience – hating the character but wanting them to succeed) which makes reading his bits of the book interesting if not necessarily pleasant.

    I’d be much less inclined to hate Atticus even if he was out-and-out villain, as long as he had some kind of goal and plan to accomplish it.

    Now this does raise a red flag of, “Oh snap he’s working with witches!” And as Atticus mentioned, he wouldn’t like to fight the whole coven at once, and so if Aenghus is with them then them teaming up is a bad sign. This is an actual threat.

    If only, if only…

    Instead though, this is presented as “Atticus now made a potion that makes Aenghus impotent, and in his humiliation he’s honor-bound to kill him personally.” Which is dumb, because as I outlined in the last sporking, even if he made the potion, Emilia’s the one who actually drank it, knowing what it was. Heck, she commissioned it made! She paid ten thousand dollars for it! Wouldn’t that put her right at the top of Aenghus Og’s hit list, right next to Atticus, if not ahead of him?

    For the sake of discussion lets say that the potion works by giving Aenghus a mental image of Atticus for the purpose of chilling his libido (this makes as much sense as anything else), hence he knows who he has to thanks for the effect.

    How does that change Atticus situation in any material manner? “Oh hey, the guy who has been trying to kill you for centuries and who probably hates your guts will now try to kill you more?” The only reason it makes a difference is that Hearne for some unimaginable reason made Aenghus ineffective enough not to make a move for 2K years and had to contrive a reason for him to finally do this personally.

    Anyhow after that insult, Emily slaps Atticus, as she should. Atticus worries about this because if she uses her nails to draw blood, and with that she could do all kinds of painful magic to him. This happened to some friend of his back in the days when there were other Druids and his heart exploded. The witch that did it got away.

    Ah, but this won’t work on Atticus, the heartless bastard he is.

    He does say “I sort of felt like an asshole even though she had planned to do much worse to me,”

    Oh please Atticus, it’s not even the most asshole thing you did today. It’s like… fifth? Maybe.

    And then gets a phone call from the witches’ coven in town.

    And now I imagine the coven as a sort of modern club. With their own building in town, weekly meetings (with coffee and cookies), members giving power point presentations on their witchcraft activities and poor Susan who is coven’s treasurer trying to get everyone to pay their membership dues on time each month.

    Our protagonist is a two thousand-year-old Druid, who fought with the Golden Horde, evaded execution by the Romans, talked with the most brilliant scientists of history… and now he sells magic drugs to college kids.

    Given what we learned about his activities in the past? I’d say this is the most benign occupation I can imagine for Atticus.

    By the way, I can’t be arsed to check previous chapter sporks, has Atticus ever disavowed making love potions for sale?

    Oh yeah, there’s supposed to be a bad guy attack, isn’t there?

    And of course Atticus is not in the slightest bothered that him mowing the old lady’s lawn might get her involved. I guess if she got hit by a cross-fire it’d fall under “collateral damage” in his books.

    Are we still keeping a list of Atticus’s powers?

    I’m not. It seems like a pointless excercise to do so.

    Now I get that Bres isn’t here for a smoothie.

    Dang, there goes my theory!

    Isn’t Atticus so witty? Isn’t he? ISN’T HE?! LAUGH, DAMN IT!

    I’d give that joke a count of “Rapier Twitt”

    And in that same paragraph he turns around and telepathically tells Oberon to flank Bres—grab his leg and pull when he gives the signal, so that Bres is on his back.

    Oberon’s jaws closed over the armored shin and he pulled with all his not inconsiderable strenght. Bres’s leg didn’t move even slightly. “Pull the other one,it’s got bells on.”

    When Bres strikes, Atticus dodges, disarms him, roundhouse kicking him so he falls backward over Oberon. And then Atticus kills him (and insults his armor again as he does).

    Well good thing this wasn’t in any way, shape or fome climactic. It might have given the readers some tension or even, god forfend, excitment!

    Hey, fun fact! There are Irish gangs. And they have guns. It’s heavily implied that Mrs. MacDonagh’s youth was involved in some of this gang-related activity. So I’m wondering why the heckamajigger Atticus thinks Irish people are more inclined to swordsmanship in their illegal feuds.

    Widow MacDonagh shooting Atticus few times in the head would be a pretty good resolution of this little plot thread.

    “Ah, well then ye can bury the bastard in me backyard, and God damn the queen and all her hellish minions.”

    Yes, two seconds ago she was fearful for her life and suspicious, but because this guy mentioned that his enemy was of the one nationality on the planet that she has problems with, she decides to help him, no questions asked. See, it JUST SO HAPPENS, and it’s not been mentioned until RIGHT NOW, that MacDonagh’s deceased husband Sean was IRA, and was killed by the Ulster Volunteer Force during the Troubles in Ireland.

    Obviously. Because, just as everything else in the book, it is convenient for Atticus. He doesn’t need to find a solution nor has he to face consequences of his actions

    Is it just me, or is this grossly offensive?

    I’d say that at best it shows a big lack of sensitivity on Hearne’s part.

    It makes me very uncomfortable that it’s used as a casual motivation pulled straight from the author’s armpit, just so the Plot can be easier for Atticus.

    There was this old video-review of Charmed tvseries by Obscurus Lupa. She had a catchphrase in it “Makes it easy!” due to how plots teneded to resolve themselves in that series.

    I think “Makes it easy!” would be a great tag-line for Hounded.

    The Morrigan demands that Atticus tell her everything that happened. Upon hearing it, she agrees that Bres was stupid and deserved to die and that his armor was ugly.

    “Makes it easy!” If there was a spark of good book buried somewhere inside Morrigan would tell Atticus that he’s a dick and he could have just as easily avoided the fight with all the warnings he had and that she’s cancelling their deal, so that he can now fend for himself.

    The chapter ends with Oberon warning Atticus that there are several heavy footsteps coming their way. Presumably, these are the Fir Bolgs that Atticus was warned about.

    Yaay, another “climactic” fight for Atticus to show his prowess. Can’t wait for all that adrenaline pumping action and suspense.

  2. sidhecat on 9 February 2019, 17:14 said:

    Weird thing to catch on I know, but somehow I feel that a god of fertility and sexual desire should be capable of sensing, or at least reversing something like that potion? It is kinda his domain right?

    You know what I want to read now? A story about Mrs. MacDonagh, how she participated in gangs and came to America, and realizing she is sorta Chosen One and those nice young people hanging around helping with garden and groceries are Tuatha De Dannan. Her first assignment is to deal with corrupt druid using magic to extend his lifespan. Internal conflict can come from Catholicism vs paganism and also being angry why magic showed up now and not when she needed it (heartwarming answer being Because you didn’t need magic, magic needs you now). Also she can flirt with Aenghus who regularly seduces police to keep her out of trouble, because urban fantasy demands bit of erotica it seems.

  3. Juracan on 12 February 2019, 08:42 said:

    Without further ado, I give you the first chapter of The Legion of Bastards

    I am… intrigued. I look forward to future installments!

    ‘Cause, like, even though this story paints Atticus as a massive chuckmuffin, it’s not wrong. I don’t really have any indication that he wouldn’t drop his family and move on the second he decides that she’s no longer hot enough for him. He’s a pretty shallow guy.

    How does that change Atticus situation in any material manner? “Oh hey, the guy who has been trying to kill you for centuries and who probably hates your guts will now try to kill you more?” The only reason it makes a difference is that Hearne for some unimaginable reason made Aenghus ineffective enough not to make a move for 2K years and had to contrive a reason for him to finally do this personally.

    I… didn’t think about that, really, but you’re right. It’s not as if Aenghus is going to kill him harder or something. The fact is that this contributes absolutely nothing to anyone’s character arcs. It’s just another cheap attempt to ratchet up tension in the most juvenile way possible.

    By the way, I can’t be arsed to check previous chapter sporks, has Atticus ever disavowed making love potions for sale?

    I don’t think so? I don’t think he does them, but I don’t know if he’s ever made it, like, a policy or something.

    And of course Atticus is not in the slightest bothered that him mowing the old lady’s lawn might get her involved. I guess if she got hit by a cross-fire it’d fall under “collateral damage” in his books.

    Yeah, but I think we’re supposed to get the impression that he’s genuinely fond of this old lady.

    I’m not. It seems like a pointless excercise to do so.

    …probs, yes.

    There was this old video-review of Charmed tvseries by Obscurus Lupa. She had a catchphrase in it “Makes it easy!” due to how plots teneded to resolve themselves in that series.

    Oh Lord! Lupa’s recaps of Charmed were some of the best products from that age of Internet Reviewing. But yeah, the same principle applies to this book—Atticus hardly ever has to try anything. It contributes to making the Plot pretty weak, as he barely lifts a finger for any problem that comes up.

    If there was a spark of good book buried somewhere inside Morrigan would tell Atticus that he’s a dick and he could have just as easily avoided the fight with all the warnings he had and that she’s cancelling their deal, so that he can now fend for himself.

    If only! Alas, this book doesn’t have that spark, and the Morrigan is still one of his biggest fans.

    Weird thing to catch on I know, but somehow I feel that a god of fertility and sexual desire should be capable of sensing, or at least reversing something like that potion? It is kinda his domain right?

    You would think, wouldn’t you? But it doesn’t really come up.

    You know what I want to read now? A story about Mrs. MacDonagh, how she participated in gangs and came to America, and realizing she is sorta Chosen One and those nice young people hanging around helping with garden and groceries are Tuatha De Dannan. Her first assignment is to deal with corrupt druid using magic to extend his lifespan. Internal conflict can come from Catholicism vs paganism and also being angry why magic showed up now and not when she needed it (heartwarming answer being Because you didn’t need magic, magic needs you now).

    This sounds AMAZING. Because A) it actually involves a protagonist who has to go out of her way to DO SOMETHING, and B) has actual conflict and character development. I’d love this story and I desperately wish we’d gotten this instead of whatever the heck Hounded is.

    Also she can flirt with Aenghus who regularly seduces police to keep her out of trouble, because urban fantasy demands bit of erotica it seems.

    Yeah, I’ve noticed that. Probably ‘cause a lot of authors who write fantasy feel the need to go “I’M AN ADULT!”

  4. sidhecat on 13 February 2019, 08:14 said:

    Thank you a lot! I may actually write that if catch time.