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.

  5. TMary on 28 February 2019, 01:36 said:

    This is a shamefully long comment, but here it is anyway.

    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.

    Oh, happy belated birthday!

    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 know, I don’t think I’ve ever read a story in which the main character had no motivations at all. Like, at all. I’m sure I’ve encountered characters who had no particular desire to do anything beyond keep living from day to day, but they weren’t the people the story was about, or if they were, they started wanting things as soon as the plot started rolling. And even before the plot started rolling, they usually had something – they wanted to move back to their old town, they wished they knew who their parents were, they were mourning their pet goldfish – something that informed us about who they were as people and where they wanted to go! And they also were, as far as I can remember, not sitting on an artifact of great magical power!

    Why did anyone like this book?

    I keep asking myself this question about a lot of books with uninteresting protagonists and a plot that does nothing. At least when there is a plot and stuff is happening I can understand not noticing the plain stupidity going on – shoot, in the I keep mentioning that my siblings and I are sporking, I didn’t realize how bad it was when I first read it, because the plot kept moving at breakneck speed and I just idly followed it. It wasn’t until I’d finished it that I had a funny sensation as if I’d missed something…and then I went back and reread it and realized how bad it was.

    Anyway, my point is that if there’s enough happening, I totally understand having the illusion that you’re reading something good, or at least decent. And I guess it’s possible that for a lot of people, it seemed like things were happening in this book; I mean, there’s constant mention made of exciting/dangerous stuff happening on the periphery. I do recall seeing someone say on some sporking or another that a lot of people read what they think is there, or what the author says is there, and they don’t necessarily read what is there. I don’t mean to sound elitist saying that, because as I’ve just proven, if I’m not paying attention, or if I really, really want a book to be good, I can be just as guilty of that as anyone. So I feel like that could easily have happened here for a lot of people, and they came away thinking they had read an interesting, exciting book when they actually hadn’t. It’s almost like a weird kind of hypnotism you do to yourself.

    The other option, I suppose, is that it was a wish fulfillment thing for a lot of people, and they didn’t really care about the story, they just enjoyed imagining themselves with all these cool powers and magic items…and, for guys, at least, imagining that they were really good-looking and slept with literal goddesses probably helped.

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

    drifts away into a happy daydream

    Oh, darn, it was just a figure of speech.

    Now this does raise a red flag of, “Oh snap he’s working with witches!”

    Except…it kinda doesn’t? I mean, here’s Emilya asking for an impotence potion. That implies that she, at least, is no longer an ally of Aengus Óg, and I’d be willing to bet there’s a few other witches in the coven who aren’t, either. In any case, this is more a, “There may be some witches on his side” thing than a “He has an entire coven on his side” thing.

    As a side note, assuming I’m supposed to take this as “Aengus keeps coming on to Emilya and she’s desperate enough to make him stop that she’ll whammy him with impotence” and not “Emilya’s getting revenge because he didn’t take her to the movies yesterday or something”, this is one of the few things Hearne has had his villain do all book that is unambiguously unsympathetic (not counting the things he did in Irish mythology which Atticus claims were unsympathetic, because context says they’re not). Maybe the only one. goes back and checks the sporking of Chapter Six

    OK, yeah, it is the only one. Yes, Atticus is trying to claim that Aengus used the park ranger like a puppet in order to frame Atticus for murder, but A: That doesn’t make sense, and B: The murder is entirely on Flidais. She totally did not have to kill the dude; she’s a literal goddess. She could have disarmed him and mind-wiped him. Or poofed herself and Atticus out of the park. Or quietly gone along with being arrested and then poofed herself and Atticus out of jail. Or put him in an enchanted sleep. There’s loads of things she could have done. There’s loads of things Atticus could have done! And there’s no proof Aenghus wanted Atticus to kill the park ranger, just that he wanted Atticus taken down.

    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.

    And as Smith already pointed out, it’s not like Aengus can kill Atticus any more than the killed he’s going to kill him. I guess he could choose to make his death drawn-out and painful instead of instant, or, as Smith said, come after him personally, but the end’s gonna be the same.

    “You could have done the job yourself by shedding that skin and showing him what you really look like.”

    …You need a slap, Atticus.

    Anyhow after that insult, Emily slaps Atticus,

    Look at that, it’s like Christmas all over again!

    Also,

    “Wilt like lettuce”?

    My problem with this is more that it just sounds stilted and awkward, but then again I didn’t know all that about lettuce and the Egyptians.

    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.

    Or she could…do humiliating but ultimately harmless magic to him. That’s also a possibility. But I’m not really complaining, seeing as I understand why he doesn’t want to take the chance and this is the first instance of paranoia I’ve seen from him all book.

    He does say “I sort of felt like an asshole

    What, just now?

    I get it, but Atticus has been pretty terrible up until now anyway, so I’m not inclined to be sympathetic to either party.

    Yeah, I feel the same. What Emilya is planning to do here is pretty terrible, but it’s hard to feel worried for Atticus when A) He’s got a bajillion magic wards around himself, and B) He’s such an unlikable person.

    and Atticus points to his store’s security cameras which he insists will prove to the head witch, Radomila, who attacked who first.

    You know, I feel like it would be interesting if the head witch didn’t care. Or if she pointed out that Atticus provoked Emilya by insulting her in the first place. But that would make difficulties for Atticus so nope!

    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.

    First off, this sounds needlessly cruel to me, on the author’s part if not Atticus’s.

    Second, did Emilya see him do this casting? Because if she did…wouldn’t she have realized what he was doing and not curse him? I mean, she’s a witch. Surely if anybody would realize him having her blood was probably not a good thing for her and that she should play it safe, it would be her.

    She drives away with broken ribs

    First: How the heck does he know her ribs are broken? Did he hear the crack or what?

    Second: YEOWCH, I don’t really want to think about driving with broken ribs. That sounds…well-nigh impossible; I’ve never had broken ribs knocks on wood but as far as I know they’re one of the most painful injuries known to man.

    [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?]

    My guess would be that no, she doesn’t want to kill him, just teach him a lesson. And let’s be real, with Atticus’s sooper heeling skillz, it’s not like broken ribs would be much of a problem for him.

    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.

    Shoot, I’ve never been out of the US in my life, but if I went to, say, the UK, and someone flipped the backwards V at me, I’d be hurt and annoyed. Or if I went anywhere and anyone made an unfamiliar hand gesture at me while making an angry facial expression. It doesn’t matter that those aren’t gestures in my culture, or that I don’t necessarily know exactly what they mean; it’s clear it’s meant to be offensive.

    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,

    He’s…still gonna do that, then? Never mind the fact that the last time he did that it led to a park ranger’s death – and yes, I know that was Flidais’s fault really, but the point is, it’s risky. They could get caught by another park ranger and be in serious troub – oh, never mind, Atticus has sooper heering skillz or something and can’t get caught by normal people, doesn’t he. Well, OK, what if Aengus is controlling another park ranger? Ever think of that?

    You don’t really have to reply to this rant, Juracan, I already know the answer is “Atticus isn’t paranoid at all and the book makes everything easy for him”. I’m just frustrated.

    Or they could maybe go hunting for deer in a non-protected area, I guess that could work. But after what happened the last time, I’m surprised Oberon even feels much like going for a hunt.

    A witch named Malina Sokolowski

    I’m curious, is there any reason all these witches appear to be Eastern European?

    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.

    I think Bugs Bunny gets thrown off his guard more often than Atticus does, and the whole point of Bugs Bunny is that he’s supposed to be cool at all times and in control of the situation. And, y’know, warp reality to do his bidding.

    He doesn’t have any serious problems to contend with because he already knows how to deal with everything.

    And this just ties into what I’ve been saying for ages – Atticus should not be the protagonist, or at least not the viewpoint character. He’s like Dumbledore or Gandalf or, heck, Sherlock Holmes; yes, they’re cool characters, and it’s nice to know they’re around as they usually know what they’re doing and how to take care of themselves, but the story from their point of view isn’t interesting.

    Except it probably still would be (well, at least in Dumbledore or Gandalf’s case) because they’re interesting characters who do interesting things and, despite all their skills and know-how, still sometimes run up against obstacles.

    “Ah, yer a fine boy, Atticus, and that’s no lie,” she said, saluting me with her whiskey glass

    Of course she did.

    She liked to sit in her rocking chair and sing old Irish songs to me

    Of course she did.

    So after that he sits on the porch with the Leprechaun and she talks about “her younger days in the old country,”

    Of course she does.

    There’s definitely a fine line between writing a character who’s proud of their culture and heritage, and writing a blatant stereotype, and it sometimes gets blurry, especially when people decide to act like a stereotype. I’m hardly an expert on where the line is drawn and how to avoid stepping over it myself, but I would suppose it requires A) listening to – and if at all possible, living among – people from the culture you’re trying to represent, to get a better feel for what traits really are part of the culture and which are projected from other cultures who maybe don’t like them that much, B) presenting your work to people from that culture who can tell you better than anyone else what sounds right and what’s stereotypical, C) remembering to craft character first, nationality second, and D) remembering that even if at first glance something seems like a pure stereotype, there may well be something deeper behind it. Like when you read that article. At first it sounds like “Boy, Italians sure are crazy about their music, aren’t they?” but reading further you realize that they’re going to extremes in part because the destruction of World War II is still fresh in their memories and they didn’t want these priceless cultural artifacts to be lost forever, should any disaster ever befall them again. If they can’t save the instruments themselves, at least they can save the sound.

    If you can keep all that in mind, you’ll probably be good. And you don’t wind up with characters like this.

    Also, I sporfled at “the Leprechaun”.

    Furthermore, if he’s expecting trouble, shouldn’t Atticus be staying away from his elderly neighbor that he’s friends with?

    One of the things that will endear me to a hero is if he remembers not to get the innocent bystanders caught up in his battles with the big guys, if it is at all possible. Conversely, something that will turn me off from him is if he chooses to risk putting them in harm’s way anyway. Especially if it’s someone he’s close to!

    I kicked off my sandals and drew power from the widow’s lawn even as I walked toward the street and peered northward.

    I just thought of something: Wouldn’t it be interesting if Atticus couldn’t draw as much power as he was used to from the lawn, seeing as it’s a lawn and those really aren’t normal, natural environments and aren’t good for the environment in general? Or better still, what if, what with global warming and pollution and destruction of the wilderness, the earth itself is not as powerful as it used to be, and Atticus’s magic doesn’t work as well? It’s slowly getting weaker, in fact? I understand that would be a hard plot point to pull off, since done badly it comes across as preachy and blind to the complexities of the issues, and also since it’s not really one that can be resolved, seeing as it’s not resolved in the real world, but done well it could be interesting. And also give drawbacks to Atticus’s powers, and give him weaknesses and character development.

    And you know, that’s something else. Atticus is supposedly a druid, and draws his power from the earth, and his magic is Better because he understands the connections of all things Better Than You. You’d think, therefore, that he’d be appalled at the way the earth is being treated by modern-day humans! Druids literally had sacred trees; does industrial logging and deforestation and even the way people will cut down trees in their front yards because they want more sun not upset him at all?

    I know, he doesn’t give a hoot for people, why should he care about trees, but it’s just such wasted potential and shows such a lack of consideration for who Atticus is as a person and where he comes from.

    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

    Then it should have a camel on it /snark

    It’s so ugly, that Atticus calls his helmet “beyond ridiculous” and assumes “he must have been wearing it as a joke.”

    Shall we mark that as one more “The gods can’t adapt to the modern era” count? Because it kinda sounds, to me, like Bres is wearing armor that would have been considered fine in his day, but nowadays does look kind of ridiculous.

    He opens with: “I greet you, Siodhachan O Suileabhain,”

    A Shiodhachain.

    A Shiodhachain.

    grabs megaphone and bellows through it A SHIODHACHAIN.

    sighs deeply Hearne. Languages have rules, and languages different from English have rules different from English too. In both Irish and in Gaelic (and possibly in the other Celtic languages too, but I’m too lazy to check), if you address someone, you can’t just use their name. You have to put their name into the vocative case. This is done, first of all, by putting “a” in front of their name (unless it begins with a vowel or with F immediately followed by a vowel). Then, if the consonant requires it, you lenite the beginning consonant by putting an H after it to change the beginning sound. And then, in masculine names where the last vowel is broad (A, O, or U), you slenderise it – put an I or E after it to change its sound. Thus, Siodhachan becomes a Shiodhachain.

    Now, is that complicated and hard to remember? Yes, somewhat, but that’s why you check and double-check and triple-check and never assume you know what you are doing when you are using a language you do not yourself speak. Even if it’s only one word, depending on the context, that one word can change in a host of ways. And the further away the language gets from your own language, the more likely it is that there will be rules you never thought of! Which is why you check!

    All this, of course, assumes that Bres is speaking Irish to Atticus and not English. If it’s the latter…well, you all know my opinion on that, I’m not going to repeat it here. waves hand helplessly

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

    Gee, ya think, Atticus?!

    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.

    It occurs to me that this is probably what happens to a man who knows he can cure almost any wound and can’t be killed. He gets too darn cocky for his own good.

    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.

    That is weird. And you’d think Hearne would want to include Bres’s backstory, considering that it really does paint the dude in an unsympathetic light and gives us some idea why Atticus might be justified in disliking him. Why leave out stuff that actively helps your case?

    That was calculated to ratchet my paranoia up a few levels.

    loud scornful laughter

    …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.

    Spontaneous spitefic time!

    Bres arched an eyebrow at me. “That really is none of your concern, O Suileabhain,” he said, “but I’m feeling generous, so I’ll answer. Freagarach belongs to the heroes of Ireland, not merely the High Kings. Should one ever be required again, the sword will name him. Besides, the sword grows angrier with every moment you keep it from its makers and its destiny. Hand it over now, or be cut down by the blade you wield.”

    I wanted to answer, but couldn’t. It is, after all, slightly distracting to suddenly feel the tip of a sword against your back, especially when you know there’s no one behind you to wield it. Bres’s lips curled into a positively crocodilian smile.

    “Too late.”

    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 it has something of a Worf Effect, too; it’s supposed to make Atticus look really tough, but it actually just makes Bres look like a wimp.

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

    What did I ever do to you, Juracan?

    Oh well. As long as no mangled Scots shows up, I should be able to stay somewhere below simmering with rage.

    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?

    Yeah, that’s…really terrifying. I feel like the first thought that would pop in my head would be “What happens to me if you someday decide I am a threat?”

    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.

    double-take He only looks twenty-one? I mean, it’s not impossible, but I was picturing him looking somewhere in his mid-twenties to early thirties. A young man, still, but old enough to not get carded all the time, or seem out of place running his own shop.

    And…shouldn’t he have reached a certain level of seniority to be considered a real druid? Or at least to be given this special Druid Juice? Or did they just start giving whoever wanted to become a druid their Druid Juice so they had lots of time to train them, and all druids permanently looked like they were in their early twenties?

    So I’m wondering why the heckamajigger Atticus thinks Irish people are more inclined to swordsmanship in their illegal feuds.

    Not been back to the old country in a few centuries, have you, Atticus?

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

    Well that reads “manipulative as all get out.”

    It kinda reads “pathetic” to me. Nobody does the clasped-hands-puppy-dog-eyes-pleeeeease pose seriously, not even five-year-olds, and here’s Atticus doing it trying…to get an old woman to help him hide a body after he killed somebody.

    Pathetic and sociopathic, what a great combination.

    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.

    I completely agree with everything you said about the Troubles and how it is treated in this book. It’s really a terribly insensitive thing to do. Although I have to admit that I am relieved it wasn’t any worse; when Mrs. MacDonagh first showed up in this story, I thought maybe Atticus was going to kill Bres, claim he was English, and she was just going to help him hide the body because the Irish hate the English amirite? (I remembered you mentioning this scene briefly, ages ago, when I first saw you talk about the Iron Druid Chronicles.) So at least she does have a reason…but it’s still clean out of the blue and, as you said, grossly offensive.

    And I don’t really buy it, either. I don’t care if her husband was in the IRA and was killed by British soldiers, most people are capable of nuance, and just saying “Oh, he was British and he happened to have an Irish sword he could have gotten from anywhere” shouldn’t be enough for her to be entirely okay with Atticus murdering a dude in (what looked like) cold blood with a sword on her front lawn! He didn’t even say Bres was a British soldier, just that he was a Brit! Not to mention, even if she was okay with it, I feel like she’d still want a little more explanation than “Er, he was a British dude who my dad stole back an Irish sword from and he’s hated my dad and me ever since”. And even if she didn’t, she really doesn’t mind getting involved at all? Even though this could mean a lot of trouble for her if it’s ever found out?

    Annnd let’s not forget that “the Irish hate the Brits and wouldn’t care at all if they all died” is very much a stereotype as well.

    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.

    (I mean, I don’t think he should have been speaking English at all, but you all know that.) In fairness, there are some Irish in Northern Ireland who consider themselves British (British does not equal English, however much the two terms are used interchangeably) and they were the ones opposing the IRA most vehemently, as you might have guessed. She might easy well have assumed he was a Loyalist. My question, though, is…did he have himself glamoured? Or is she so incredibly near-sighted she didn’t notice the armor?

    So anyhow, Mrs. MacDonagh’s terrible accent offers to get him some lemonade

    A-bwa-ha-ha, that cheered me up. XD

    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?

    Yeah. Baloney it’s gotten dark. In this modern era we have streetlights, and people can easy well be looking out their windows in the evening – and it’s clearly not that late, either.

    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?

    In fairness…have you ever seen a dog try to pick up a soccer ball in their mouth? It just doesn’t work, it’s the wrong shape. I can imagine a helmeted head would give a dog a similar amount of trouble. If Hearne had used that as the reason for Oberon just pushing the head along, I wouldn’t even blink.

    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.”

    The only way this can get any worse is if Brighid not only goes along with this, but agrees to sleep with Atticus, too.

    …Juracan, tell me she doesn’t sleep with Atticus. Even if you have to lie to me, tell me she doesn’t.

    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.

    I don’t watch The Simpsons, but this meme seems appropriate here:

    You know, I’m fed up. Wait through this comment and the one responding to other comments, and I might leave a suprise at the bottom.

    Because we can’t make Atticus break a nail or something,

    snorts

    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?

    Wow, that’s terrible. I mean, it’s honestly terrible. This whole thing is terrible, the way Hearne’s using the Troubles is terrible, and Atticus’s explanation was terrible too. I get that he’s in the middle of something and might be kind of tense and not really in the mood to talk about the Troubles right now, but in that case tell Oberon you’ll explain later! Maybe Hearne was trying to go for “Atticus has seen a lot of conflicts and they tend to revolve around the same things and grow out of the same issues”, but that doesn’t make them all the same, and you should still treat them with the gravitas they deserve!

    Not to mention, does Hearne’s audience know anything about the Troubles? I’m sure some of them do, probably many, maybe even most, but still, there are going to be people reading this book who don’t have any idea what he’s talking about, and they might come away with a false impression of what was a very painful and very recent time in Ireland’s memory, on all sides, and something that is still close to the surface for some people!

    huffs

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to “Holy Ground” by Wolfstone, “Eirinn” by Runrig, and “God Be With You Ireland” by The Cranberries. Oh, and “Saint Dominic’s Preview” by Van Morrison. All excellent songs, all about the Troubles, and all respectful of the subject. I need to get that bilge out of my head.

    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.

    Personally, I’d prefer it if they were Kinky Boot Beasts. (You’ll have to click on “next clip” to get the full effect of the joke.)

    And more bad guys are showing up.

    Don’t tell me: Either they all decide that Aengus is a poop-head and Atticus is a pretty froody dude and come inside for some craic and delicious strawberry smoothies, or Atticus wipes the floor with them with little to no effort expended, not even disturbing the Leprechaun’s Wheel of Fortune watching. Am I warm?

  6. TMary on 28 February 2019, 04:13 said:

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

    shooing those who have not read it in the direction of FFN Go, go read it, go look at it, go, it has a sympathetic protagonist with goals outside of staying alive and powers that have drawbacks, go, go!

    Now then.

    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.

    THIS.

    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)

    sporfles

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

    sporfles again

    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.

    I’d read that book. Heck, Susan’s life sounds more interesting and relatable than Atticus’s.

    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.”

    OK, that one really cracked me up. XD

    sidhecat: 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.

    I second Juracan’s opinion that this sounds awesome and I’d totally read it if you wrote it. :D

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

    You know, J. R. R. Tolkien managed to get that across without any erotica in his stories, or even very much romance. That was probably because he crafted a story that was adult in scope and plot and characters and visions and world, and he wasn’t insecure about it.

    And finally, because I haven’t talked enough:

    Smith: 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.

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

    goes for her flint and steel Let me see if I can’t light a spark for you guys.

    As I stooped to pick up Bres’s body, a shadow passed over my head and I jerked upright. A large crow had landed on the grass in front of me, its feathers so jet black that they shone blue in the sunlight, and it met my eyes in a distinctly intelligent, human fashion.

    “O Suileabhain,” the Morrigan said through her crow’s beak. “I must speak with you.”

    I was a little surprised that she hadn’t called me “A Shiodhachain”, but I nodded anyway. “Hold on a minute. I have to put this in the backyard.”

    I bent down again to pick up the body, but instantly felt a hand close inexorably on my shoulder, the fingernails digging into my flesh like bird’s claws. I looked up to see that the Morrigan had changed to human form, tall, black-haired, beautiful but ghostly pale, and with a cold fury in her dark eyes.

    “We will speak,” she said, “now.”

    I could feel her power seeping into me; the Morrigan’s power felt like doom when she wanted it to, as if I were, no matter what I did, fated to die on the spot. Ordinarily I did not feel this way when she spoke to me. I softened my tone and tried to sound reasonable. “I can’t be caught out here in the street with a dead body.”

    “That is your problem and not mine, O Suileabhain,” she answered evenly, letting me go and stepping away from me slightly, though she kept her head cocked to the side and watched me in a way that reminded me of her crow form. “If you did not want to be seen with a dead god at your feet, you should not have put one there.”

    “He attacked me,” I said.

    “You cannot die!” she shouted back, and her hair and long black dress fanned out suddenly so that she looked as if she had wings. “Have you forgotten so soon the bargain we made, what I did for you – what I did for you,” she added, sorrowfully, looking down at Bres. For just an instant she looked quiet, vulnerable – then in a flash it was gone and she was the Morrigan again, staring at me with eyes as inescapable as the grave.

    “I gave you ample warning,” she hissed, and stalked towards me – I involuntarily took a step backwards. “I foretold this, I told you that Aenghus would be coming, or one of his servants, and I told you that it would be best for you to move on, and you—” She raised a hand and pointed at me. “You asked me for immortality and I aided you, believing that with that power you might be kinder to your foes, you might spare them, might have mercy…what a fool I was, what a blind fool I was!” she cried out suddenly, in anguish, seized her hair, and shook her head back and forth violently. “I had a terrible feeling when I returned to Tir na nÓg, and when I cast the wands again I saw this.” In her despair her voice turned almost as harsh as the crow’s.

    Speaking at all was dangerous, I knew, but I wanted a chance to defend my actions. I still didn’t see that I had done anything so wrong. “In fairness, you promised not to take my soul if I were killed,” I said. “That doesn’t mean I can’t still be killed, and pardon me if I don’t feel like wandering the earth disembowelled for all eternity.”

    The Morrigan jerked her head up, stared at me for one instant, then stormed over to me and seized the chain of my amulet, so harshly that it jerked against my neck and drew blood. I winced, but only for second; the tiny wound was already healing. In half an hour there would be no sign of it.

    “Look at that,” she growled, pulling on the amulet again. “Do you see that, O Suileabhain, amadáin? That is called healing. You have been able to do that for centuries now, so don’t pretend you forgot in your fear of Bres. Disembowelled?” She gave a scornful laugh. “You would heal from that in a month or less. You were never afraid for yourself. You simply wanted to kill.”

    I backed away from her, trying to avoid strangling myself in the process. “I don’t understand what you’re so worked up about,” I said. “From what I remember, Bres betrayed the Tuatha. I thought you’d all be happy to see him dead.”

    “Ancient history!” she cried. “History that we dealt with in our own time and our own fashion. It was not your concern then, and after you have spent two millenia running from the Tuatha it is especially not your concern. And that has always been your trouble, you know,” she added, more softly. “You never have been able to look beyond the past and see people and things for what they are now. You carry grudges we would have willingly forgotten hundreds of years ago.” She shook her head and looked at me in disgust. “And anyway, whatever Bres did to us, he was husband of Queen Brighid. He was a god, one of the Tuatha, necessary for the balance of things and for the balance of power in Tir na nÓg. And you in your mad arrogance have murdered him.” She stared at me, no longer even looking angry but just resigned, and tired, and somehow, despite there being no sign of age on her face, very, very old. “What devastation have you wrought on us, O Suileabhain?”

    “Maybe Brighid won’t mind,” I said. “After all, he was being an idiot.”

    “You know nothing,” she said, again in that harsh crow’s voice. “You know nothing and you refuse to know more. You do not deserve the power you have. I cannot take it all from you, but I can take what I have given you.”

    Suddenly I felt all the centuries catch up with me. “What?” I asked.

    “Our deal is off,” she said, flatly. “Not only the one we made two days since, but the one we made in the old times, before all this. You may die now, O Suileabhain. I do not want your amulet, if the price I pay for it is creating a monster.”

    I went cold with those words. True, I still had my healing powers, and my iron amulet, and all my other magic besides, but the loss of my immortality was a blow nevertheless. “You’re letting me die?” I whispered.

    “I think it is high time you did,” she replied. “But I do not see death in your immediate future. I foretell…” She smiled darkly. “A different fate for you.”

    And suddenly I heard police sirens coming from around the corner. I swivelled in their direction, then back to the Morrigan. She was still smiling, coldly, almost cruelly. “You called them?” I asked.

    “Oh no,” she said. “I simply saw that they would come. The calling was done by the woman in that house.” She nodded and I looked behind me at the widow’s house…come to think of it, she had been a long time with that lemonade…

    “She said she wouldn’t,” I heard my own voice saying.

    The Morrigan snorted. “She saw a madman murder an unarmed man in front of her home with a sword. She’d have said the sky was yellow if it convinced you to let her live.” She looked over her shoulder in the direction of the sirens. “They are getting quite loud, aren’t they? In another thirty seconds, I’d say, they’ll be round the corner, and all the protection from magic in the world will not avail you. You could run, I suppose, but Mhic Dhonnchadha will have given them a description of you, I expect, and you cannot hide in animal form forever. And murder will only make your troubles worse.”

    I could see the lights now; they reflected off the Morrigan’s hair as she turned to me. “Our association ends here, O Suileabhain,” she said. “Is seacht mallachtaí ort.” And then she was a crow again and she took off, just as the police cars rounded the corner and the officers demanded I put my hands up.

    That does feel better.

    And apologies once again for this ridiculously lengthy comment. My brother said it ought to have a table of contents. Also, “amadáin” is the vocative form of “amadán”, which means “idiot”, and “Is seacht mallachtaí ort” means “And seven curses on you”.

  7. The Smith of Lie on 28 February 2019, 04:30 said:

    [Juracan] I am… intrigued. I look forward to future installments!

    Well, I hope they will actually happen. Some real-life stuff picked up the pace and with my never-too-stellar work ethic it’s a challange to start on chapter 2. But I’ll try to actually stick with it.

    ‘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.

    At one point I thought I might have been a little overboard with how bad I made him. But then I remembered what I learned about his doings in Hammered and decided that I can’t actually make Atticus more evil than he already is. So yeah, for all I know my version of him is canon accurate.

    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.

    Ok. It’s petty but I am going to assume Atticus is in the business of making and selling date-rape drugs.

    [TMary] I keep asking myself this question about a lot of books with uninteresting protagonists and a plot that does nothing. (…)

    That’s a pretty interesting perspective here. I am certain that at least part of the book’s popularity is due to it being a power fantasy. Hell, the lack of any distinctive drive might make it easier to project onto Atticus and have him act as a reader’s insert. In a way this would make Iron Druid Chronicles the more masculine equivalent of Twilight (though as it has been stated before, Bella at least had some goals, shallow as they might have been) or 50 Shades of Grey – a book mostly focused around setting up and awesome scenarios for readers to live vicariously through, without much in the way of actual story. Which in turn makes it weirdly porn-like experience (with a literal porn possibly included, depending on the level of detail in descriptions).

    If we treat the series as such its popularity makes certain kind of sense. Just because it has no merit as a story, does not mean it has no merit as a product.

    drifts away into a happy daydream

    If only someone would shoot atticus with a Flak 88 anti-air canon…

    drifts away into a happy daydream

    Or she could…do humiliating but ultimately harmless magic to him.

    She could make his manhood forever shrivelled and flaccid. Yes, yes I am being childish and petty. But considering the whole confrontation came about due to impotence potion and given that it is Atticus we are talking about it would be a fitting and well deserved punishment.

    Also it would save us from the chance of reading any more about his bedroom exploits.

    You know, I feel like it would be interesting if the head witch didn’t care.

    I think it would be a logical stance. I mean it’s not like there are any laws or regulations we heard about, binding the magical community. So what does it matter who attacked firts? The only relevant thing is who attacks the last. And that should be witches. Unleashing upon Atticus unspeakable wrath, the likes of which he can’t even begin to imagine.

    I’m curious, is there any reason all these witches appear to be Eastern European?

    I’m venturing a guess here, but maybe Hearne tries to connect the witces with Baba Yaga? There is no reason to do, given that she is just one, if rather famous, example of witch in folk lore, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind. Which, if it ever gets framed as such and possibly explained, I’d be ok with. It might be a weird and irrelevant piece of worldbuilding but at least it’d be sort of original.

    I think Bugs Bunny gets thrown off his guard more often than Atticus does, and the whole point of Bugs Bunny is that he’s supposed to be cool at all times and in control of the situation. And, y’know, warp reality to do his bidding.

    But Atticus is too awesome for that. He only looses control over himself when in presence of attractive women.

    Except it probably still would be (well, at least in Dumbledore or Gandalf’s case) because they’re interesting characters who do interesting things and, despite all their skills and know-how, still sometimes run up against obstacles.

    And a book from the perspective of the mentor character has some potential. Where the main challange for the protagonist is not to overcome the problem themselves, but to make sure the next generation is ready to do it.

    Spontaneous spitefic time!

    That was pretty nice. I think I’ll join in on the fun, if you don’t mind.

    Bres shrugged. “To be honest I don’t care about the sword that much, though it’ll be a nice conversation starter when hanged over the fireplace. I just wanted an excuse to end your miserable, overlong life.” Atticus smirked at that. “Oh really? And how did you plan to do that? Make me die of laughter upon seeing your armor?” “That old thing? That’s not my armor for our fight. I just came here straight from costume party.” He snapped his fingers and changed. He stood over three meters tall in an armor that had looked like nothing Atticus ever seen outside of science-fiction. All blue, with a golden eagle on the chest and white letter Omega on one of pauldrons. “They won’t come into use for about 38 milleniums yet, but you won’t live long enough to see that.”

    There wasn’t much of a fight afterwards. With inhuman reflexes and strenght boosted by his power armor Bress simply grabbed Atticus by the head and crushed it between two of his fingers, like an egg-shell.

    I completely agree with everything you said about the Troubles and how it is treated in this book. (…)

    Now that I thought about for a bit I think I have a good alternative scenario, I’m curion on the scale from 1 to “WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?!” how offensive would it be if we went with it instead of what Hearne did.

    So imagine that a character killed a person of middle-eastern apparition (tan skin, dark hair, maybe some items of clothing associated with the region) right in front of his friend from US. And then said “He was an Arab.” followed by that friend gladly helping to hide the body, because of 9/11.

    Yeah…

    …Juracan, tell me she doesn’t sleep with Atticus. Even if you have to lie to me, tell me she doesn’t.

    A very quick search of series wiki is inconclusive, but what it revealed about her role in the book events would point towards “probably not, in a sane world at least”. Yeah, that’s not much hope.

    You know, I’m fed up. Wait through this comment and the one responding to other comments, and I might leave a suprise at the bottom.

    Good. I tried to do something about all that irrational armor hate in my spite fic, but I’d love to see something better done with the topic.

    Am I warm?

    Nah, you’re hot.

    (I couldn’t leave such a perfect set up alone and I regret nothing!)

  8. The Smith of Lie on 28 February 2019, 04:44 said:

    goes for her flint and steel Let me see if I can’t light a spark for you guys.

    Since this got published between me starting to write my previous comment and me finishing it, pardon the double post.

    And now for my reaction.

    It is a thing of beauty. I might have cornered the market on absurd ways to ruin the protagonist’s day (or life. or end said life), but when it comes to serious consequences of their actions, your spite fics are in the league of their own.

  9. Juracan on 28 February 2019, 18:02 said:

    Oh, happy belated birthday!

    Thank you!

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever read a story in which the main character had no motivations at all. Like, at all. I’m sure I’ve encountered characters who had no particular desire to do anything beyond keep living from day to day, but they weren’t the people the story was about, or if they were, they started wanting things as soon as the plot started rolling. And even before the plot started rolling, they usually had something – they wanted to move back to their old town, they wished they knew who their parents were, they were mourning their pet goldfish – something that informed us about who they were as people and where they wanted to go! And they also were, as far as I can remember, not sitting on an artifact of great magical power!

    Exactly. Like I said, this seems to be going for something like John Wick in which a badass is pulled out of retirement, but it doesn’t work because he’s not actually trying to kill the bad guy as much as just dealing with baddies as they come.

    Angelopolis as bad as it was, at least didn’t have this problem, because its characters all wanted things. Mind you, it was unclear what they wanted at times, and the book was bad at worldbuilding, dialogue, consistency between pages, and many of its lead characters were genocidal…

    …look, that’s not a fair comparison. Angelopolis is a whole other level of BAD.

    Anyway, my point is that if there’s enough happening, I totally understand having the illusion that you’re reading something good, or at least decent. And I guess it’s possible that for a lot of people, it seemed like things were happening in this book; I mean, there’s constant mention made of exciting/dangerous stuff happening on the periphery. I do recall seeing someone say on some sporking or another that a lot of people read what they think is there, or what the author says is there, and they don’t necessarily read what is there. I don’t mean to sound elitist saying that, because as I’ve just proven, if I’m not paying attention, or if I really, really want a book to be good, I can be just as guilty of that as anyone. So I feel like that could easily have happened here for a lot of people, and they came away thinking they had read an interesting, exciting book when they actually hadn’t. It’s almost like a weird kind of hypnotism you do to yourself.

    I think this strikes at the heart of the matter, as most readers aren’t really looking for something that’s going to challenge them and make them think, so more often than not they don’t really dig deep into it. And that’s fine! But I feel as if even as a shallow wish-fulfillment urban fantasy, this book isn’t very good and pretty bad at points.

    Second, did Emilya see him do this casting? Because if she did…wouldn’t she have realized what he was doing and not curse him? I mean, she’s a witch. Surely if anybody would realize him having her blood was probably not a good thing for her and that she should play it safe, it would be her.

    She is trying to curse him as he’s making his counterspell. It’s a bit of a race to see who does their spell first, and he wins.

    First: How the heck does he know her ribs are broken? Did he hear the crack or what?

    I looked up this scene again to be sure, and I was mistaken. Atticus sees her clutch her chest in pain, and he concludes that she probably has bruised ribs rather than broken ones. That’s a bit of a difference.

    I’m curious, is there any reason all these witches appear to be Eastern European?

    Yes, actually. These witches are worshippers/devotees to the Zoryas, Slavic star goddesses of the dawn and dusk.

    They’re presented in these books as a triple goddess, or a trio of goddesses, though as far as I can tell they weren’t originally? They’re presented that way in American Gods by Neil Gaiman (and Neil admitted that he made her up to fit
    the plot better). Hearne admits in the series that he’s a Neil Gaiman fan.

    I just thought of something: Wouldn’t it be interesting if Atticus couldn’t draw as much power as he was used to from the lawn, seeing as it’s a lawn and those really aren’t normal, natural environments and aren’t good for the environment in general? Or better still, what if, what with global warming and pollution and destruction of the wilderness, the earth itself is not as powerful as it used to be, and Atticus’s magic doesn’t work as well? It’s slowly getting weaker, in fact? I understand that would be a hard plot point to pull off, since done badly it comes across as preachy and blind to the complexities of the issues, and also since it’s not really one that can be resolved, seeing as it’s not resolved in the real world, but done well it could be interesting. And also give drawbacks to Atticus’s powers, and give him weaknesses and character development.

    But that would involve much more thought that Hearne put into it!

    Shall we mark that as one more “The gods can’t adapt to the modern era” count? Because it kinda sounds, to me, like Bres is wearing armor that would have been considered fine in his day, but nowadays does look kind of ridiculous.

    I thought about it, but the other god in this chapter also seems to think it’s a stupid set of armor, so I chalked it up to Hearne thinking it witty for them to be insulting his fashion sense?

    [Sees the bit on Irish language, and raises hand]

    All this, of course, assumes that Bres is speaking Irish to Atticus and not English. If it’s the latter…well, you all know my opinion on that, I’m not going to repeat it here.

    [slowly lowers hand]

    That is weird. And you’d think Hearne would want to include Bres’s backstory, considering that it really does paint the dude in an unsympathetic light and gives us some idea why Atticus might be justified in disliking him. Why leave out stuff that actively helps your case?

    This case it baffled me more than other instances of him not telling us about Irish mythology. Because after reading this book, as far as I knew, Bres was Just Some Guy. He’s not a bad pick for a villain, but you wouldn’t know that in this book, as he just shows up with little explanation and is dispatched just as quickly. He almost feels as an afterthought.

    What did I ever do to you, Juracan?

    You didn’t do anything. But I have to share my pain with that accent with everyone.

    He only looks twenty-one? I mean, it’s not impossible, but I was picturing him looking somewhere in his mid-twenties to early thirties. A young man, still, but old enough to not get carded all the time, or seem out of place running his own shop.

    Yes. By all rights someone should be questioning how a man the age of a college student has a nice house in a nice neighborhood, owns his own business, his own dog, has a legal situation figured out and deals in antique books. At no point does anyone even suggest that Atticus is supposed to be seen as a rich man, but he kind of has to be.

    There should be more instances of everyday people being surprised at all he’s accomplished considering he’s supposed to be twenty-one. And has apparently been twenty-one and living in this town for years.

    Not to mention, even if she was okay with it, I feel like she’d still want a little more explanation than “Er, he was a British dude who my dad stole back an Irish sword from and he’s hated my dad and me ever since”. And even if she didn’t, she really doesn’t mind getting involved at all? Even though this could mean a lot of trouble for her if it’s ever found out?

    This is what struck me most about this situation, reading it this time? Because it’s not just that she agrees, it’s that she flips sides at the drop of a hat because Atticus says this man was British. She doesn’t ask any questions after that, when really she should. Because it’s awfully convenient that it just so happens he was the type of person she’d dislike, isn’t it?

    My question, though, is…did he have himself glamoured? Or is she so incredibly near-sighted she didn’t notice the armor?

    He is glamour’d, but I don’t know if the armor was hidden. I don’t think it was…

    …Juracan, tell me she doesn’t sleep with Atticus.

    She does not sleep with Atticus.

    In this book.

    Don’t tell me: Either they all decide that Aengus is a poop-head and Atticus is a pretty froody dude and come inside for some craic and delicious strawberry smoothies, or Atticus wipes the floor with them with little to no effort expended, not even disturbing the Leprechaun’s Wheel of Fortune watching. Am I warm?

    And the answer is B: he wipes the floor with them! To be fair though, this time he has his vampire friend helping him.

    You know, J. R. R. Tolkien managed to get that across without any erotica in his stories, or even very much romance. That was probably because he crafted a story that was adult in scope and plot and characters and visions and world, and he wasn’t insecure about it.

    Sort of in that vein, I’m currently reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and there are very little references to sex at all? Part of it is that it’s heavily inspired, in its style, by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, but it’s a brilliant book that proves again that you don’t need sex in the story to make it good to modern audiences.

    In a way this would make Iron Druid Chronicles the more masculine equivalent of Twilight (though as it has been stated before, Bella at least had some goals, shallow as they might have been) or 50 Shades of Grey – a book mostly focused around setting up and awesome scenarios for readers to live vicariously through, without much in the way of actual story.

    Yeah, pretty much. I’ve met people who said they read 50 Shades for the story rather than the sex scenes, which, uh… there’s not a lot of story there. And as we pointed out earlier, the book insists that there is, and so the reader can kind of accept it even if the Plot of the books is essentially an excuse for porn.

    Also, applause all around for the spitefics!