Originally posted on my writing blog which was active from 2010 to 2018.
Published by Del Rey. Read by Luke Daniels. Produced by Random House Audio.
Unchained from fate, the Norse gods Loki and Hel are ready to unleash Ragnarok, a.k.a. the Apocalypse, upon the earth. They’ve made allies on the darker side of many pantheons, and there’s a globe-spanning battle brewing that ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan will be hard-pressed to survive, much less win.
Listen time: About 9 hours, 5/22-23. (At 120% speed.)
This is the ninth and allegedly final book in the Iron Druid Chronicles.
At this point in the series, we all know what we’re going to get, and this book is no different. There is one slight change, however, in that there are three different POVs interwoven throughout the book: Atticus, of course, but also Granny-wail (whose name I have literally no idea how to write, as I’ve never seen it written down), and Owen. It is essentially three different stories woven together into one book, because the three druids each have their own separate tasks to complete.
Previous books have only dabbled with occasional secondary POVs. This one takes them all on full force, and it’s a bit of a shift in tone. Not unpleasant, just different.
Oberon is sidelined for much of the book, for reasons that make perfect sense in the situation, but his perspective is sorely missed. We miss him as much as Atticus does.
As for the story itself, I hate to say it but I found it somewhat uninteresting and anticlimactic. The vast majority of the book describes a gigantic battle on three fronts, and as such, most of the text is about fighting, and that gets old. I honestly don’t care about fighting techniques or which hand is used to block which punch from which direction, in this book, or any other. There isn’t much in the way of character development. It is basically just one last, large-scale battle which brings back many of the side characters we’ve seen in the previous eight books for various cameos. Honestly it felt like a very short book.
Still, I found it to be a satisfactory ending, if not particularly grand or noteworthy. Without spoiling too much, I didn’t feel much of any emotion one way or another at how it ended. In fact, it didn’t really “end”-thanks to the final epilogue, there is no reason Hearne couldn’t pick things up again sometime in the future and keep going. To be honest, I feel like Hearne just got bored writing these books and wanted to do something else, and I can certainly sympathize with that. The latter books felt almost like he was contractually obligated to write them, and didn’t have quite the same zest and zeal as the initial three or four books.
I will say though that I have appreciated how the series from beginning to end has shown a broad and varied view of many different cultures’ religious pantheons, both historical and modern. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from reading these books, and been exposed to a lot of things I might not otherwise have been. The ninth and final book is no different, giving us a glimpse of The Monkey King and the culture surrounding him, something that I might have laughed about as a joke prior to this book, but is actually a real Chinese legend.
Luke Daniels’ reading was, as always, fantastic. Even if the text is not all that interesting, he is able to make it sound interesting with his tremendous array of voices. I can’t even imagine reading these books as plain text now.