Hammered, by Kevin Hearne

May 22, 2023 Book Reviews 4

Hammered, by Kevin HearneHammered by Kevin Hearne
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #3
Published by Brilliance Audio on July 5, 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble | Audible
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Also in this series: Hounded, Hexed, Tricked, Trapped
Also by this author: Hounded, Hexed, Tricked, Trapped

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plane of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.

Review

The series abruptly takes a darker turn in Hammered, book #3 of the Iron Druid Chronicles. Atticus continues making poor decisions (despite warnings from several deities), and this time around, his choices lead to more serious consequences for several of his friends. As in the first two books, Atticus shows little character growth, but there’s a hint toward the end that he might start reassessing his choices.

The levity in this book sometimes feels more forced than in the previous two books, but I still found myself laughing aloud at times. The pacing falters mid-book, however, interrupted by several backstory chapters in a row told from the perspective of other characters. I found those chapters interesting, and they certainly gave me a deeper insight into the motivations and histories of Lief and Gunnar, as well as several newly-introduced characters. But they halt the buildup of tension for far too long, essentially serving as a reset rather than a brief breather in the overall arc of the book.

That said, urban fantasy fans will find plenty to enjoy as Atticus and his friends take on Thor (and a sizeable chunk of the Norse pantheon), from a daring foray to steal one of Idun’s golden apples to a near-epic battle scene. We learn more about both vampires and werewolves. Atticus once again encounters the Hammers of God, the Russian-based demon-hunting group seeking to kill him, and this time he barely escapes with his life. The Morrigan and Jesus both put in appearances here and there. But Oberon, Granuaile, and the widow MacDonagh appear only briefly, essentially sidelined—in part for their safety and in part because much of the action takes place outside of Arizona and indeed, in another plane altogether.

One final caveat: don’t expect Asgard, Thor, Odin, or anything else in Hearne’s Norse plane to resemble their counterparts in the Marvel movies. Hearne’s Norse deities and their realm hew more closely to the original myths (or at least certain versions of them), with the result that the gods are neither admirable by modern standards, nor even particularly likeable. In fact, the entire book is premised on Thor being, in more than one character’s opinion, an a**hole… a description the character amply lives up to.

As in the first two books, Atticus shows little character growth, but there’s a hint toward the end that he might start reassessing his choices. There’s also far less of Granuaille and the widow McDunnough than I would like, in large part because most of the book takes place outside of Arizona and indeed, outside of our world altogether.

You really have to read the Iron Druid series in order, so if you haven’t read the first two books, go back and read them before reading Hammered. Not only are the books written chronologically, but the situations and conflicts often arise from events and character choices in previous books.

One final caveat: don’t expect Asgard, Thor, Odin, or anything else in Hearne’s Norse plane to resemble their counterparts in the Marvel movies. These Norse deities and their realm hew more closely to the original myths (or at least certain versions of them), with the result that the gods are neither admirable by modern standards nor even particularly likeable. In fact, the entire book is premised on Thor being, well, an a**hole.

Audio review: As in the previous two books, Luke Daniels narrates brilliantly. His voices for Atticus and Oberon in particular have become head canon for me; even when I read one section on my Kindle, I could hear Daniels’s narration in my head.

Challenges: Audiobook Challenge 2023; COYER Upside Down, Chapter 2 (one point); Iron Druid Readathon; COYER “Catch Up/Finish What You Started” readathon

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Audiobook Challenge 2023
  • COYER Upside-Down 2023: Chapter 2
  • Iron Druid Read-Along 2023

4 Responses to “Hammered, by Kevin Hearne”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      My sentiments exactly. Though we have talked in several of the chats about the fact that Atticus is, essentially, in a 21- or 22-year-old body because of the Immortali-Tea he drinks. (Forgive me if I have misspelled it; I’m doing the audiobooks this time around.) It’s now known that the brain doesn’t really finish maturing until the mid-twenties. So despite the wisdom you would think he would have garnered in 2000+ years, he’s still working with a 21-year-old-male brain and body, with all that implies about impulse control, adrenaline seeking, hormonal responses, and so on.