Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hounded

Hounded
Author: Kevin Hearne
Del Rey, 2011
320 pages

I'm smiling as I write this review because I feel like I'm one of the first people who's just discovered something really great, although there are already 121 reviews (as of today) of this book on Amazon.com. Hounded is the first of three books (so far!) known as The Iron Druid Chronicles. It was released in May and quickly followed by books two and three, Hexed and Hammered, released in June and July. I predict that I will be reading them soon.
Atticus O'Sullivan appears to be a young Irish immigrant of twenty-one years. He runs a New Age-y bookstore within walking distance of the university in Tempe, Arizona, rides his bike, and hangs with Oberon, his Irish Wolfhound. On the surface, he seems to be a very normal young man with lots of tattoos. In fact he's twenty-one hundred years old, and he's the last of the Druids. Of course, the fact that he doesn't age requires him to move around every so often, but he's found that he really likes Arizona, and he feels safe in his desert haven after centuries of running from an old enemy. You see, a long, long time ago he came into possession of a special sword that Aenghus Óg - Celtic god of love - believes is his. Atticus believed he was safe in the desert. But now Aenghus's Fir Bolg henchmen have found him, and it appears that Aenghus will do anything to get the sword back - including enlisting a coven of local witches, possessing 'innocent' police officers, even getting Oberon into trouble. Hold on, 'cuz you're about to go for a very exciting ride.

Hounded is a mix of urban fantasy and mythology with a dash of history, and at times it's laugh-out-loud funny. There's one scene in particular with Atticus's neighbor (an elderly, whisky-drinking Irish widow) that still makes me laugh when I think of it. She's a hoot, and I hope there will be more of her in future books. Then there's Oberon, the Irish Wolfhound. Atticus can communicate with Oberon telepathically, and the interplay between them is nothing short of brilliant. Oberon may just be the coolest character of all. 

The author's knowledge of Celtic mythology is impressive, but Hounded isn't just about the Celts -- there are Nordic, Vedic, and Native American characters and mythology woven throughout the book. After reading Hounded, I want to know more. I've been reading Wikipedia articles about the Tuatha Dé Danann to try to give myself a better understanding. When a work of fiction leads me down the path of constructivist learning, I say that's a good thing. :-)

I liked Hounded so much that I told my 20-year-old nephew about it on Friday night. (If you read my most recent review of Game of Thones, you'll know that he's a major fantasy fiction fan.) He immediately ordered Hounded for his Nook, stayed up all night Friday night reading, and finished it several hours before I did. He's now well into the second book, Hexed. My guess is, he'll have all three books read by Monday night. Since he doesn't blog, I'll just add his review to mine: "Read this series. It's awesome. You'll love it."