Tag Archives: kevin hearne

A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

I am a very lucky human in that not only did my fabulous aunt attend San Diego Comic Con, she happened to be attending the day Del Rey Books gave away free ARCs of Plague of Giants. This is the first time I have ever been able to read a book before it was officially released. *squee!!*

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Me, when I heard my aunt snagged a copy of the book. 

I have to say the novel is spectacular. I loved it. I laughed, I cried, the book had it all. And I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. Well, OK. I didn’t necessarily doubt that the story would be good. I do love Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. When I saw Hearne speak in Philly a few months ago, he told us about Plague of Giants. He told us it had something like 11 different POVs. I was intrigued, but had serious doubts I would be able to keep everyone straight. And while I did have to cheat and check the character list and (brief) description at the beginning of the book once or twice, each character spoke so eloquently with their own voice that it was not hard to keep track of who was who. And it was a masterful way to tell the story – hearing the same event from multiple perspectives, including battles… But I get ahead of myself.

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In brief, Plague of Giants is exactly what it sounds like – a novel about a land that is invaded by not one but two sets of giants. One group of giants, the Hathrim, are chased from their home by a volcano, and they settle in a land governed by humans without asking permission. Definitely not the best way to win friends and influence people. The leader of this group of Hathrim, Gorin Mogen, is one of the voices for the story. The giants, the Bone Giants, are even less friendly. They destroy everything they encounter, no one has ever seen them before, and no one can speak their language.

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Sophie the Guard Hound felt vindicated when I told her about the meat-eating attack squirrels in the novel. She always knew squirrels are trouble. 

The rest of the characters are citizens of the six countries the giants invade. Each country worships a different god, and each god can grant a specific kenning. A kenning is a type of magic connected to an element. The Hathrim’s kenning allows them to control fire. The Brynts can control water, including the water in the human body. The Fornish are particularly cool – they live in the trees, and their kennings can do things like allow them to move silently, or help plants grow. Not everyone has a kenning – those who do are called blessed. In order to become blessed, a person must go through a trial they will either survive to become blessed, or die in the attempt. Seeking a kenning is not for the faint of heart.

 

Here are a few of my favorite characters:

Fintan, the Raelach bard – Fintan’s kenning allows him to have perfect recall. He tells stories to a city full of people who have survived or fled attacks by the violent Bone Giants. When Fintan tells a story, he becomes the storyteller – he looks like them, and speaks in their voice.

Dervan, the scholar – Dervan does not have a kenning, he is a historian and a scholar. The pelenant, or leader, of his homeland Brynt asks him to keep a written record of Fintan’s stories. Dervan and Fintan become friends as the novel progresses.

Gondel, scholar of language – Gondel is the first person able to translate the Bone Giants’ language, making him a valuable resource in the battle against the invaders. He is the type of scholar who gets so involved in his work he forgets about his husband for weeks at a time.

Tallynd, tidal mariner – Tallynd’s kenning allows her to work with water. She can breathe under water and swim really fast, to describe it in the most simplistic terms possible. She is the first person to discover the Bone Giants’ invasion, and she warns as many cities as she can at great personal sacrifice.

 

These are just a few of the many speakers Hearne uses to tell the story, each with their own voice, personality, and opinions. There were of course some humorous (almost Iron-Druid-esque, if that’s what you are reading for) moments as well. I hesitate to quote any of them, as the book had quite a few warning not to quote anything until the finished book is published. I suppose you will have to take my word for it that though the book contains a dark subject matter, including tragedy and war-related death, the Hearne humor we have come to know and love does sneak in occasionally, lightening the mood and makes the characters more interesting and relatable.

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Imaginary map!

I did miss having a map, which is apparently a drawback to getting an Advanced Reader Copy. I was kinda amused by what I got instead though. I’m sure the map will be lovely in real life. There was quite a bit of traveling in the novel, and that is the sort of thing I am not good at visualizing. Ah well. The important thing is, I got an ARC!

 

There was a lovely moment towards the end of the novel when Dervan realizes he is not going to be able to return to his old job as a teacher and scholar. He has a moment of crisis in which he contemplates the question, “If I am not a teacher, who am I?” This resonated with me, since I recently lost my job as a music teacher. Watching Dervan, along with many other characters, figure out their place in their new world helped me get through a few rough days. Cliche? Probably. But reading and becoming part of their stories made me feel better, and that’s what reading fantasy is all about, isn’t it?

5 stars

A rare five out of five stars from me for Plague of Giants. It is an amazing piece of high fantasy, with deep, well-developed characters, detailed world-building, and an exciting, involving plot. If you are a fan of authors like Brandon Sanderson, Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, or Robert Jackson Bennett, you will love this book. If you liked the Iron Druid Chronicles, you will most likely enjoy this book as well, though it is much darker and more intense than Attitcus and Oberon, and of course lacks the pop culture references that Atticus loves to sprinkle into conversation. Plague of Giants releases October 17th. If you can’t pre-order it, ask your local libraries to buy it for you!

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Authors in Real Life!

This past Friday, I had the privilege to see one of my favorite authors, Kevin Hearne, along with Chuck Wendig and Fran Wilde in a Q&A and autograph session at the Philly library. It was awesome!!

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From left, Fran Wilde, Chuck Wendig, and Kevin Hearne. The lovely lady on the right is the Sci-Fi/Fantasy librarian and led the Q&A. 

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The beautiful Fran Wilde and the cover image for Updraft!

This was my first time meeting authors in person, and it was pretty freaking cool. I went specifically to meet Kevin Hearne, but instantly discovered Fran and Chuck are also hilarious and fabulous and their books have been added to my lengthy To-Read list as well. For those who do not know, Fran Wilde writes the Bone Universe trilogy, including Updraft, Cloudbound (just released) and Horizon (releases later this year…September? I can’t remember. They mentioned so many book release dates…). I haven’t read them yet, but Kevin Hearne described them by saying, “They are great books and you are happily reading them and then all of the sudden you need new pants.” Unfortunately, my local libraries don’t have these so I will have to wait to get them through Inter-Library Loan, but as soon as I read them I will review them!

blackbirds wendig coverChuck Wendig is also a hilarious human who has written a ton of books. I knew he wrote in the Star Wars universe, but he also mentioned the Miriam Black series, about a psychic who sees your death when she touches you. THAT sounds like an AWESOME concept. The first book, Blackbirds, is pictured to the right. I assured him I would be reading it ASAP. His Star Wars: Aftermath series (if I am understanding timelines correctly) occurs between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and is part of the new canon. This isn’t at the top of my reading list, but I am intrigued so I will be checking it out at some point. Like a good little nerd, I do love me some Star Wars.

plague of giants hearne coverAt the signing, I purchased Kevin Hearne’s new book Besieged, a collection of short stories from the Iron Druid Chronicles. Obviously I am going to have to go back and re-read the entire series, with the new short stories in the correct order. I already adore Atticus, Oberon, and the rest of the characters from the Iron Druid Chronicles, but I am very excited for Kevin’s new book Plague of Giants, releasing hopefully in October. Totally new universe, completely different sort of fantasy story (from Iron Druid), and 11 different POVs throughout the novel. I’m stoked. I own the Iron Druid Chronicles books, so I may just pre-order Plague of Giants. If I don’t love it (which I suspect is pretty unlikely) I can always donate it to my library. Kevin also mentioned a new book series he is writing with Delilah S. Dawson. I have not read her work, but intend to now. The new series, which begins with a book called Kill the Farm Boy, is a satiric take on formulas and tropes found in, you know, every fantasy book ever. And I need it. Immediately. I believe Kevin said it comes out in November.

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Look!! I met Kevin Hearne!!

In addition to finding out about what they write, I learned some cool things from these authors, like they did a lot of (sometimes crappy) jobs before they achieved writing success. They also talked about their writing process, and how everyone is different and, as a writer, you need to figure out what works for you – and if what you are doing isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it. Which, when you think about it, is kinda a good rule for life as well. Anyway, I found it inspirational and it makes me want to get off my couch and write more, and hearing “regular” people talk about what they did really helped. If you get a chance to go meet authors, do it!

Shattered by Kevin Hearne

shattered coverThe seventh book in the Iron Druid Chronicles, Shattered, was finally published back in June. (It felt like forever!) I’m just getting around to reviewing it now, because this series has become popular enough that it’s being published in hardback first, and I collect the paperbacks, so I had to wait and get it from my library. I’m thrilled for Hearne that his books have become popular and are theoretically making more money, but I was sad that now I have to wait to buy my copy. *sigh* Anyways, onto the Goodreads summary:

For nearly two thousand years, only one Druid has walked the Earth—Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword have kept him alive as he’s been pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he’s got company.
Atticus’s apprentice Granuaile is at last a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy.
And Owen has some catching up to do.
Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus’s chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury’s still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki—or merely a pain in the arse.
But Atticus isn’t the only one with daddy issues. Granuaile faces a great challenge: to exorcise a sorcerer’s spirit that is possessing her father in India. Even with the help of the witch Laksha, Granuaile may be facing a crushing defeat.
As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they’re hoping that this time, three’s a charm.

I really really enjoyed this book. I was nervous, because the previous book, Hunted (reviewed here!) was not my favorite. I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever stop adoring Atticus, Granuaille, and Oberon, but book six was just not my favorite. Kevin Hearne totally redeemed himself with this book. It was fabulous. So many things came together in this book. It’s hard to say much without spoilers but I can say this novel was completely worth the wait.

Hearne set up this novel to be told from three different viewpoints: Atticus, Granuaille, and Atticus’s Archdruid who decides to call himself Owen Kennedy. I particularly enjoyed meeting Atticus’s Archdruid, who had been essentially in suspended animation on Time Island since Atticus was a young man centuries ago. He was not at all what I expected. I didn’t always love hearing the story in his voice, but it was a very different perspective and that I appreciated. I also loved that Granuaille not only had her own voice, but also had a storyline separate from Atticus. We got to see her come into her own as a Druid and live her own life, not always attached to Atticus. Occasionally, this made the timeline a bit difficult to follow. Since Atticus, Granuaille, and Owen were not together, and were each experiencing their own issues and leaving notes and texts for each other, it was sometimes hard to follow. Of course, I’m also OCD about these sort of things, and eventually decided it really didn’t matter and just enjoyed the book. A less particular person may not have even noticed.

I almost forgot! Granuaille gets her own hound! I loved the conversations Granuaille had with her hound, teaching her how to talk. Oberon “flirting” with the new hound was pretty adorable too. And I appreciated the Game of Thrones reference. Hearne knows his readers well.

5 out of 5 stars. Truly excellent. As always, I’m already dying for the next book. Happy reading!

-Branwen

Hunted by Kevin Hearne

Atticus, his wolfhound Oberon and world’s newest Druid Granuaile are back in Hunted, the sixth installment in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.

hunted kevin hearne coverFor a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.

Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.

This book was everything I hoped it would be. It had intense action scenes, tons of mythology from all different cultures, and plenty of unexpected twists and turns. Atticus and Granuaile’s race across Europe is intense and well-written enough that even though it lasts for several chapters it doesn’t get boring. As they hurry towards Windsor Forest, where the Morrigan swears they will be protected, they encounter vampires, dark elves, and even human assassins who are all trying desperately to kill them. Along the way, Atticus and Granuaile try to determine who could be so desperate for their demise. Whoever it is has a ton of power and authority and doesn’t seem to mind that killing Atticus will result in Ragnarok. But before Atticus can figure out who the mystery person out to get him is, he has to stop the Olympians who are on his tail and make peace with those pantheons, so he can focus on stopping the end of the world.

There were many things I really liked about this novel. Parts of it were told from Granuaile’s perspective, which was great. I am always surprised by how serious Granuaile is when you’re inside her head. Listening to her and Oberon figure things out when they were briefly on their own was telling, and we learned a lot about Granuaile in that short time. The relationship between Granuaile and Atticus developed as well. I love that Atticus is continually surprised by how much he loves Granuaile. It’s very cute. I also love how Oberon is always picking on Atticus and Granuaile and telling them not to be too cute, or pretending to vomit. Reminds you that Atticus and Granuaile are still human despite their magic and how much time they spend with deities. Of course this book was full of humorous pop culture references, another one of my favorite parts of Hearne’s writing. Characters I love, mythology, an excellent story, and hilarious pop culture references that keep me laughing out loud makes this one of my favorite book series and Hearne one of my favorite authors.

I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t see more of Herne the Hunter in this book, especially since I identified him the moment the cover was released. What we did see of him was cool, and he was important in that Atticus kept talking about him. And of course the cover image was awesome! But I did wish Herne had a bigger role. Oh well, it didn’t take anything away from the story.

Many pieces of Atticus’s life are starting to come together in this novel, as he comes closer to knowing who is true allies are and who is after him. Of course we don’t learn too much, since there are many more books coming, but we learn enough to have some questions answered and  stay interested in what’s happening next. We also get to see almost all the characters we have met in the past. Atticus runs across Malina and her coven of Polish witches, the no-longer-friendly vampire Lief, the werewolf lawyer Hal, and even the thunder god Perun. I love that the fun “side characters” keep coming back, even if it’s only for a brief moment. This was an exciting story that sated my craving for Atticus and Oberon but still leaves me wanting more.

There were several goodies in the back of this book, the first being an author’s note telling us that if you visit www.kevinhearne.com and stop by the Goodies section, you can find a detailed color-coded Google map of Atticus, Oberon and Granuaile’s run through Europe with all the important stops marked. DO NOT look at the map until you read the book, or important plot points will be given away. But do check it out once you’ve read the book, because (like everything else Kevin Hearne does for his readers) it’s super cool. Also at the back of this book was the novella Two Ravens and One Crow, which falls between Tricked and Trapped and Hearne calls book 4.5. Events from the novella are referred to in both Trapped and Hunted, and it was great to finally read this part of Atticus’s story.

guilt ferretLastly, a note about guilt ferrets. Atticus talks about guilt ferrets all the time, which amuses me greatly and is a really good description for a guilty feeling. I used that expression in real life one time, I think around my mom, and was then stuck trying to explain what, exactly, a guilt ferret is. Which I failed at spectacularly, and was rewarded for my troubles by one of those wide-eyed-did-you-just-grow-a-head looks. Happily, Hearne did me the favor of defining guilt ferrets in his novella. Atticus is talking to the Morrigan, and the conversation goes thusly:

“What are guilt ferrets?” [said the Morrigan]

“They’re bastards. They cling to your neck and tickle and bite and generally make you miserable, which is a pretty good trick for a metaphor.” They were also impervious to logic–perhaps their most diabolical power.

So there ya go. When possible, avoid guilt ferrets.

There is no word yet on when the next Iron Druid novel will be released, or what it will be called or anything. So now we all get to wait in suspense to find out what happens to our favorite Druids and wolfhound next!

May Harmony find you,

-Branwen

Trapped by Kevin Hearne

trapped coverWhen these novels arrive on my doorstep, they are always met with loud squees of delight. I can’t get enough of Atticus, Oberon, and Granuaile. It helps that these books never disappoint, and have me laughing out loud constantly. For example, you know a book is going to be fantastic when in the very first paragraph you read “the dude abides.” One of the reasons I love Kevin Hearne is for his pop culture references, and he always surprises me with new ones in every book.

Trapped is the fifth installment in the Iron Druid Chronicles. 12 years have passed since the last novel (well, 6 if you count Two Ravens and One Crow, a novella that Hearne calls book 4.5. Sadly, I haven’t been able to get my hands on the novella yet, but it wasn’t too much of a problem when I was reading Trapped). Granuaile, Atticus’s Druid-apprentice, has survived her lengthy training and is ready to be bound to the Earth. Of course, it isn’t that simple, and much chaos ensues that Atticus must solve before he can fully bind Granuaile and double the amount of Druids on the planet.

I really enjoyed this novel, as usual for Hearne’s books, but specially because Granuaile is my favorite character. She finally gets to talk to Oberon (Atticus’s wolfhound) in this novel, something I enjoyed immensely. We also get to visit Tir na nOg in this novel, and meet more of the Tuatha De Danann. I always liked Manannan Mac Lir and getting to see more of him in this novel was exciting. Perun the thundergod reappears in this novel as well, and he’s just fun. Overall, this was an excellent addition to the Iron Druid Chronicles. This book didn’t seem to feature quite as much action as the previous novels, there was no epic battle like the ones with Thor or the skinwalkers, but I didn’t really mind. I liked reading the interplay between the other characters instead. I was also nervous about the 12 years of time that passed between novels, but I barely noticed. As usual, I am completely stoked for the next novel. If you haven’t read any of Kevin Hearne’s novels yet, go back and start with Hounded. You won’t regret it!

May Harmony Find You,

-Branwen