Hammered is the third book in Kevin Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles. This novel marks the end of Hearne’s rapid-fire monthly releases, but also marks the beginning of many more adventures for Atticus and Oberon. Atticus is bound by an old promise to help his vampire lawyer, Leif, take down the biggest douchebag in the world’s pantheons: good old Thor himself. However, this turns into a bigger challenge than even Atticus could have predicted.
So. Much. Darker.
Hexed was subtly darker than its predecessor, but Hammered takes the grit to a new level. There really is no guarantee that the characters you’ve come to know and love will make it through this unscathed—or even alive. The violence and gore are upped in this book, too. Hearne is clearly turning this series into a more emotional, complex ride than the light-hearted Hounded suggested at the beginning. Although Atticus’s sharp wit and references to pop culture and literature remain (in fact, I think the amount of references even increases in this book), his long history is revealed to be frequently sad and painful. His true age—that is, twenty-one centuries old instead of a mere twenty-one years—is a lot more apparent in Hammered. Atticus really isn’t the same happy-go-lucky Irish-American that he seemed to be in the first book.
Some slow or awkward moments, but overall fast-paced
Those of you already familiar with Hounded and Hexed will find the same great qualities to love in Hammered: quick plot twists, battles of strength and wit, and effortless narration of the most complicated action scenes. In Hammered, though, Hearne also experiments with some new elements in the text—and not all of these are successful.
The least successful are the chapters narrated by a series of characters other than Atticus, as each newcomer explains why they’re out for Thor’s head. These chapters are painfully flat. Atticus’s voice is charming, witty, and a pleasure to read—and these new characters are, well, not. Hearne puts a good face on the attempt but all the new characters’ jokes and quirks feel like superficial and last-minute additions to a necessary plot device. The good news is that these chapters don’t run for very long and soon enough you’ll be comfortably back in Atticus’s head, raring to go.
The other awkward addition is more palatable, but still brought my nose out of the story to think, “Huh?” Some very significant experiences in Atticus’s past come up for the first time in Hammered, and it felt unnatural that they only came up now, three books into the series, instead of playing a role since the very beginning. I’ll let you discover what those experiences are for yourself.
A wild ending to whet your appetite
The best part of Hammered isn’t until the very end. Although the immediate challenges faced in Hammered are resolved, Hearne leaves the series with a deliciously scary mystery to keep us hooked until the fourth book is released next year. After being pampered by three releases in three months, I expect to have a really tough time waiting for the fourth! I still have the feeling that Hearne has only scratched the surface of Atticus’s world, and that the adventures in store for our favourite Irishman will only get better. Some secondary characters are solidified into a main cast, and others are sadly dropped by the wayside. The Iron Druid Chronicles is thankfully still developing into a dynamic series unafraid to stay new and exciting.
Why should you read this book?
This has become an ongoing refrain in my reviews of The Iron Druid Chronicles, but Hammered is—like the others—a great read. Hearne’s experimental forays into other characters’ heads may have been ill-advised, but all the same Hammered delivers the action-packed excitement and wit that you’ve come to expect. You’ll be left begging for more at the end. If you’re already a fan of the series, this is a must-read.