Narrator: Luke Daniels
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #4
Published by Random House Audio on April 24, 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Also in this series: Hounded, Hexed, Hammered, Trapped
Also by this author: Hounded, Hexed, Hammered, Trapped
Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.
But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shape-shifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.
The Iron Druid is dead—long live the Iron Druid
(Warning: Contains some spoilers for book #3, Hammered)
In Hammered, Atticus agreed—despite several divine warnings—to lead an expedition consisting of the vampire Leif, the head of the Tempe werewolf pack, and several other people to Asgard to kill Thor, who was directly responsible for the death of Lief’s family. Turns out, it was a really terrible idea, and things rapidly went from bad to worse. With Thor and the Norns now dead, Ragnarok is uncertain. Leif may not recover from his from (im)mortal injuries. And the remaining Norse pantheon, the Roman god Bacchus, and a number of thunder gods from other pantheons all want Atticus dead. So what’s a 2000-year-old Druid to do? Why, fake his own death, of course!
Tricked opens right in the middle of that fake death scene, then goes back to explain how we got here. It’s not easy to convince the gods you’re dead, especially when they plan to kill you personally and en masse. So Atticus makes a deal with Coyote, the Navajo trickster god: in exchange for Coyote’s aid in faking his death, Atticus will help Coyote with a project to help the Navajo nation. But after his “death,” Atticus rediscovers that dealing with trickster gods is always (ahem) tricky when he is maneuvered into taking on a pair of skinwalkers, against whom he can’t use magic directly. To make matters worse, an old friend betrays Atticus, putting him, his hound Oberon, and Granuaile in deadly peril.
For me, the two best parts about Tricked were finally getting more Granuaile in the story, and Atticus beginning to realize and regret the hubris of his actions in Hammered. No question, he made some really bad decisions in Hammered, and those choices are going to have serious, long-term consequences—and not just for Atticus. To be honest, I didn’t like Atticus all that much by the end of Hammered. It’s where I stopped reading the first time I started this series, and if I hadn’t committed to the Iron Druid Readathon, I probably would have given up on Atticus this time around, as well. But I didn’t, and I’m glad I kept going. Atticus isn’t wholly reformed, and he still makes some choices without considering all the possible ramifications, but on the whole, he uses more forethought and takes more responsibility for his actions in this book. It makes him much more likeable, and the growth gives him more depth as a character. (Especially since he has zero growth in the first three books.)
Granuaile is a wonderful character, and I was glad to see her much more involved in the action in this book. She’s pretty cool now, and she’s going to be amazing once she’s fully trained. Atticus is taking his responsibility toward his apprentice seriously; he protects her from danger as best he can. He also refuses to give in to his very strong attraction to Granuaile, because she is his apprentice. (Kudos to both Atticus and Hearne for that choice.) I’m not sure Granuaile is happy about it, but it’s the right choice for now.
Oberon also gets more page time than he did in Hammered. He is, as always, endearingly loyal, endlessly amusing, usually cheerful… and deadly when necessary. If you could enhance the intelligence and knowledge of a dog to nearly that of a human, I suspect it would sound a lot like Oberon. He is one of the best characters in the series; I adore him.
The pacing of Tricked is better than that of Hammered, and the three braided plots—the faked death and its consequences, the Coyote/skinwalkers plot, and the friend’s betrayal—are skillfully woven together. Hearne writes with cinematic clarity, and his action scenes are tense and gripping. Even the humor was better than in the previous book, and I really enjoyed the pop-culture references.
I also really enjoyed the dive into Navajo traditions and beliefs in Tricked. I’m not sure how the Diné would view it, but from my outsider perspective, the book comes across as both well-researched and respectful of the people, traditions, and beliefs it depicts.
All in all, Tricked really redeemed the series for me, after my semi-disappointment with Hammered. I’m delighted, and looking forward to spending more time in the Iron Druid universe in book #5, Trapped.
Audiobook review: Luke Daniels, the audiobook narrator, continues to do an excellent job with the voices and accents… with one exception. He has changed the voice he uses for Oberon; it’s higher and sometimes more nasal, making Oberon sound more childlike and goofy in ways that don’t really align with his actual dialog. I preferred the previous voicing.
Challenges: The Iron Druid Readathon; Audiobook Challenge 2023; The Backlist Reader Challenge 2023; COYER Upside Down, Chapt. 2
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Audiobook Challenge 2023
- COYER Upside-Down 2023: Chapter 2
- Iron Druid Read-Along 2023
- The Backlist Reader Challenge 2023