Top positive review
another enjoyable Iron Druid book
Reviewed in the United States on August 30, 2015
I'm kind of sad that my Iron Druid binge-read is over until the next book comes out. I liked a lot of things about this book. (That being said, don't start here. Start with volume 1. You'll need the background by the time you get to this point.) Please be advised that some spoilers from past volumes may be included here; you can't get around that and adequately talk about this story.
First of all, the pace is toned down a bit from the previous book (which was a nonstop run-for-your-life kind of novel). There was still action and there were a lot of good fights in this one, but there were some of the scenes of everyday life that I've come to enjoy in this series, as well.
We have a new character in this book, Owen Kennedy, who was Atticus's (the "Iron Druid" of the title) archdruid many (many) years ago. His introduction to the modern age is a highlight of the book for me (well, it's more a series of smaller events). Owen is one of the three viewpoint characters and one of his chapters has one of the funniest paragraphs I've read in a book in a long time (it's the one about getting a pet monkey instead of a dog and I'll say no more -- except that someone who had not read any of these books, when shown only that paragraph, also laughed).
Atticus gets Owen settled (kind of) and then goes off on a quest to find who is sending various divinities after him and why. He does get his answer, and it ties back into something that happened in the very early books of the series. I like his interactions with various deities; we are introduced to some belief systems (including Shinto) that haven't appeared in previous volumes.
And Granuaile is off to solve a mystery of her own: the disappearance of her father on an archaeological dig in India. This ends up tying in nicely to the overall story arc, plus I like that Granuaile is considered *able* to go off on her own -- she doesn't need protection from a man. She has been trained and bound to the Earth as a Druid and is considered fully capable. In Granuaile's storyline, we are introduced to some of the Hindu pantheon, as well.
At any rate, I think all the main characters' sections are interesting and do a reasonably good job of balancing the current quest along with advancing the overall story arc.
This book is a little unique among volumes in this series in that it has a theme outside of all the plot events, that of coping with loss. In the previous volume, the Morrigan died and Atticus and others are coping with that. Owen comes back to realize that everyone he knew (except Atticus) is long dead. Granuaile deals with issues involving both her parents. Even Orlaith, Granuaile's dog, has a little bit to say on the matter. And Greta the werewolf also has some comments about loss. It's interesting that this all came to a head at once. And each character deals with it in his or her own way. (Owen has some downright sensible words on the subject.) It's not just loss of relationships, but the consequences of making a choice (say, to become a werewolf or Druid) that is discussed. But it's well-integrated into the story and not at all preachy.
Worldbuilding is consistent with previous volumes in the series, as is writing style. The series' characteristic humor is present, and of course Atticus's dog Oberon has a lot of interjections for comic relief. If you liked these elements before, you'll like them again. They don't radically change.
The only aspect I wasn't totally sold on was the alternation in viewpoints. Each of the main characters had a number of POV chapters. I didn't monitor these to see who got the most page time. I didn't think the split was too uneven. And I didn't hate any of the viewpoints; I actually found them all interesting (wanted to read everything, didn't want to skip to new sections of the story). The problem I had was that it was often hard to tell which character's head we were in, when a new scene opened. All of them were in first-person POV, which is fine, but it was jarring to think I was reading something from Granuaile only to realize it was Owen, for example. It wasn't always easy to tell from the context of the first few lines.
I liked the conclusion as well. There were some surprises, some things I did not expect. But they didn't come out of nowhere -- their foundations were well-laid in this and previous volumes. Overall, though, this was a fun book and I can't wait for the next one. 4.5 stars.