It isn’t often I can describe a storyline as an irreverent fantasy series, but if ever there was a set of books in the fantasy genre that fits that descriptor it is The Iron Druid Chronicles. This is a set of stories that has its tone firmly set with an attitude that not only gives “the finger” to any authority figures, but laughs out loud at them. All the while running like heck to stay out of their reach. It is refreshing to say the least, and definitely not your run of the mill fantasy series.
Saving an Endangered Species – Your Own!
The unlikely hero of The Iron Druid Chronicles is Atticus O’Sullivan, a 2000 year old red-haired bundle of trouble, and also a druid. In fact, as you quickly find out in any of the books in the series, he is the last druid left standing. How that has happened gets revealed in the story, so I won’t ruin the moment by telling you. But that may well be why Atticus is so determined to be sure that this apprentice, Granuaile, makes it all the way to graduation day. It seems he has had apprentices before who never quite made it that far. The fact he is somewhat distracted by events around him just tends to make him more determined than ever to complete the ceremony of “binding” her to the elements and Gaia, so she can communicate with them and come into her own power. Also, she would then double the number of druids, not a small thing either.
The Iron Druid Chronicles
Trapped is the fifth book in the series, and even if you have somehow missed out on the rest you can still not only follow the story here, but get quite caught up in it very quickly. I will admit that Atticus’s modern commentary against his ancient lineage caught me a bit off-guard. But it isn’t as if he slept through those years, he lived them. And he quite appreciates the modern world and its wonders, even if he is still an elemental magic being.
For anyone looking for a hero to swoon over, he does quite fine thanks. I have always had a soft spot for the rogues in life, and Atticus is definitely in that territory. He is a rogue with a romantic streak a mile wide and a very real penchant for survival. That he somehow manages to steal a magic sword from the Tuatha Dé Danann (the fairy folk to you and me) and then charm them into gifting it to him is just one side of him.
That he also manages to seduce the Queen of the Dead (an act she never quite forgives him for when it turns out he had motives that had nothing to do with love) is just another side to his devilry. But even while searching the planet for a quiet place to complete their rituals, dodging old Greek and Roman gods who seem bent on destroying him and somehow enticing Naiads to hide in a time-stopped island, he always finds time for those important to him.
The Love of a Dog
This definitely includes his Irish wolfhound Oberon. I loved this character; he brought some good humour to the story without it being overdone. Oberon sees everything in terms of whether there is food at the end of whatever they are doing. He is very much a dog – and yet he communicates with Atticus as a close pal. He also loves to remind Atticus with how smart he is, maybe even more practical than Atticus at times.
There is romance in Trapped, but don’t expect it to dominate the story, it doesn’t. Atticus definitely has a thing for Granuaile, his apprentice. I supposed spending fifteen years together studying arcane magic can do that for you. Throughout the irreverent fantasy series we see sometimes just how physical the relationship is, but it never really dwells on it. I have a feeling the author wasn’t that interested in that aspect of Atticus’s life. But now I do want to go back to the earlier books to read how he seduced the Goddess of Death.
I happen to love Celtic Fantasy, and although this is set in modern times I still consider Trapped and the whole Iron Druid Chronicles series to be part of that sub-genre. There is a certain air to the Celtic myths, and taking them into a modern setting like this is a challenge that Kevin Hearne seems to be up to. His ability to mix the fae and the modern make for a delightful and yes very irreverent fantasy series that you will not want to miss.