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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 20 June 2011
This must be my year for discovering new urban fantasy, though to be honest, I haven't read that much urban fantasy to begin with, so maybe that should be discovering urban fantasy period. After reading and loving Ben Aaronovitch's The Folly series, when I heard about The Iron Druid Chronicles, I had to read Hounded. It's a completely different form of urban fantasy - where The Folly is a magical police procedural, The Iron Druid Chronicles is what seems to be the more classical supernatural kind of urban fantasy - it is just as good.

Hounded is told in a first-person narrative. The success of this sort of story depends on the strength of its narrator and protagonist. Luckily Atticus is a great one; he's a fun mix of old soul and modern kid by choice, trying hard to blend in by learning the vagaries of modern language and technology. I would have loved to have learned more of his history and what he's seen in his long life, but that might be the historical fiction fan in me coming to the surface. In Hounded we only get tantalizing glimpses and hints, hopefully they'll be explored in future books. The same goes for some background history on the werepack and Leif. I thought the idea of Viking werewolves and a Viking vampire is very cool, especially them teaming up to start a law firm. And their payment plan is quite interesting as well!

Women are Atticus' kryptonite. Let's say our favourite druid has a very healthy libido, perhaps fitting for his seeming age of twenty-one, and it leads him into all kinds of trouble. On the one hand, I found this amusing, as you'd think that after twenty-one centuries, he'd have learned to deal with this by now. On the other hand, it was rather annoying to have him be distracted by every bit of skirt walking by! However, the irritation was smoothed away as we learn how there are several goddesses who happily exploit this weakness to manipulate him into doing what they want. You can't help but groan every time Atticus let's himself be led astray by his baser urges and misses some pertinent facts during these exchanges, not just with the goddesses, but with mortal women as well.

Oberon, Atticus' hound, was fantastic! A hound who quotes Star Wars, what can be better than that? I like that Oberon's voice is still quite doggy and not some all-wise familiar's, where it is even hard to discern you're still dealing with an animal companion. For example, when he sees Atticus coming home, he goes all mad with happiness as dogs are wont to do. He has some of the funniest lines in the book and his desire to be the canine version of Genghis Khan, including a harem of French poodles, is classic. I adore Oberon and I can't wait to read more of him.

The plot centring around Atticus' conflict with Aenghus Óg about the sword Fragarach is quite interesting too. While it could have been rather straightforward, it is anything but, and it's the intricacies that make it engaging. At the heart of these intricacies are the Tuatha De Danann and their manipulations. I roundly fell for some of their schemes right along with Atticus. Add to this a coven of witches, who Atticus isn't sure he can trust, a disgruntled across-the-street neighbour, the lovely Mrs. MacDonagh from up the street and a witch-possessed bartender wishing to become his apprentice, and you can see how Atticus might be feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. However, with the help of both Oberon, and his friendly Viking laywers, Atticus manages to keep his head afloat and manages to come through this conflict, if not unscathed, at least alive.

Hounded was so much fun, I raced through it. It'll be interesting to see where Hearne will take his characters next in Hexed. Once the book-buying ban is lifted I'm definitely getting Hexed and Hammered! Good news for Hearne (and the reader) is that Orbit has snapped up the UK right to the first three books and even better news is that Del Rey has signed Hearne to deliver three more books in the Iron Druid Chronicles. So it looks like there will be plenty more Atticus and Oberon to enjoy in the future. If you're a fan of urban fantasy, of the different mythologies out there or just looking for a fun read, Hounded is definitely a book to pick and give a try.
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on 14 June 2012
I bought this series as most people state that it was like the dresden files, while i can see a tenuous connection i would have to disagree. The story for me lacked any sort of suspense however the interaction between the characters was excellent. While the book does have some laugh out loud moments the main story was lackluster and a slog to read. As i have purchased all the books in this series i am hoping that this really is just a prologue for a better story to come.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 20 September 2011
All you need to know about this book, and I assume the next couple in the series, is in the product description. I cannot imagine that the author will never admit to reading the Dresden Files, because this is so similar as to be almost, just almost, a rip off. To be fair what I think the author has done is take the best parts of Jim Butcher's series, transplant them elsewhere and add enough new detail and characterisation to allow this series, or certainly this book at least to stand on it's own two feet. The humour is very well done, laugh out loud at times, and there are enough thrills and spills to induce the "just one more chapter" feeling. On finishing I am left waiting impatiently for the next volume, so there must be something good going on here.
Approach this with an open mind and any fans of Harry Dresden, the Discworld novels, or even the likes of Joe Abercrombie will find enough here for a light read and a pleasant page turning experience.
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on 17 June 2013
Nice setup and good character. Liked Atticus and his world, was hoping for a thrill-ride a la Dresden. Read the first three novels and was disappointed. Seriously lacking in suspense. Seriously lacking in subplots, or Dresden-style threat escalation.

Dresden style: There's an assignment. Then a threat. Then a bigger threat, and a bigger one and a bigger one. Then they all wail on Harry for a while until he figures out how to beat the whole lot of them, or get them to beat each other. Meanwhile characters develop and surprises happen and we learn a lot.

Atticus style: Basically, there's a threat. Atticus deals with it. Someone dies. End of story.

Each Iron Druid book seems to me a novella stretched out to novel length.
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on 3 February 2012
Well, it's not every protagonist that's over two thousand years old, but that's what we're presented with here. Atticus O'Sullivan is a practically immortal druid currently living fairly unassumingly in modern-day Arizona. Trouble comes calling when the powerful sword he carries becomes once again the target for his nemesis, the Celtic god of love...

Series injecting ancient mythology into the present day are not particularly rare these days, but Hearne tries to inject a few twists into the formula. Atticus (and the author) treat important figures of legend with a cavilier air, whether it's sleeping with goddesses of the hunt or slicing deities to pieces without breaking a sweat.

Atticus himself is slightly oddly drawn; for an ancient druid he does not exhibit much in the way of wisdom, and he is strangely passive, only reacting to situations rather than taking control.

The real value lies with the supporting cast, including Atticus' wolfhound Auberon; due to the druid's powers, Auberon can 'talk', and he is frequently hilarious whether idolising Genghis Khan or demanding sausages. Add in a group of viking lawyer-werewolves and you have some real invention.

The novel certainly breezes by in violent, exciting fashion, and I would be happy to drop in on the universe again, if only to see how the characters and world develop.
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on 15 April 2015
A great start to the series with many possible adventures to come. I enjoyed the story and the writing style. If I did not know Kevin Hearne was a huge Star Wars fan after reading his book about Luke Skywalker in Heir to the Jedi, the many references\quotes in this book would have given it away. The action is plentiful and great at keeping the story going, the only reason I had to take a star away are the fight themselves. Hearne is great talking about the tactics of a battle but the battle\fights just seem to be a formality now that everything is in position so the fights seem to be over before they even begin.

Meet Atticus O'Sullivan with whom nothing is what it seems. He looks like a 21 year old Irish American, with all the attitude and charisma that goes along with it. Really his 21 year old look is an inner joke as this is the number of centuries old he is. He is the last real Druid for most of his life he has been on the run from Aenghus og the Celtic "God" of love. Though he seem more of an evil barbarian then any god or poster boy of love anyone can imagine.

Atticus has acclimated to the 21 century so well if he did not own his own business he would more often than not be mistaken for a slacker. Though his has a great knowledge about mythology and history (in his case most seen first-hand), his speech and though patterns all seem to be pop couture references. Though in "hiding", Atticus does not lack for company apart from the many mortals drawn to his charms he is also friends and a number of deals\relationships going with a few different "Goddess", as well crack team of nomadic Vampire and Werewolf lawyers. Though his most loyal companion is his Irish wolfhound whom he can talk to telepathically. As you can see the book has a great set of characters.

Despite his seemingly easy going attitude Atticus take threats agonist himself and his friends very seriously. He says it be saying just because he tries to avoid a fight that is not should not be taken as a weakness that he won't fight to the death. This is how most of the fights in the book go towards fatality. This is a very enjoyable book and I am looking forward to reading more of the series.
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on 17 October 2011
I approached this with caution as I have read and enjoyed the Dresden Files and looked in vain for a worthy substitute until the next Butcher book comes out. What a pleasant surprise, therefore, to find a pacy tale with plenty of Irish and Celtic myths and magic to while away the hours. Going to download the second book now. Love the dog.
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2011
Kevin Hearne's series has been receiving quite a bit of buzz on the internet, so I decided to order a copy of this first novel in the Iron Druid Chronicles. Just as it arrived, Orbit Books announced that it had bought the UK rights. So, does it live up to the hype? Well, yes, actually, it really does.

Long-time readers of the site might have noticed how little Urban Fantasy I review. This is because I seem to have an abiding apathy toward the sub-genre. Even Dresden Files hasn't fired my interest in any particular way. So, I turned to Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles to find out if maybe this could be the series to open up the sub-genre as a whole for me. Interestingly, I think it sort-of has.

Hounded is about Atticus's attempts to protect the sword from falling into the hands of Aenghus Og - the Celtic god who has hounded Atticus for centuries. As Aenghus manipulates those around Atticus in search of the sword, events spiral quickly out of control, so contemptuous is Aenghus of the mortal plane and its inhabitants. This contempt puts extra strain on Atticus's attempts to blend in to modern American society - not easy at the best of times, when you're perhaps the oldest human on the planet. With some help from unexpected sources, along with his devoted wolfhound Oberon, Atticus slowly discovers what the greater conflict is about, and realises that things will get a whole lot more difficult before he's safe once again.

I was initially a little wary when it seemed that the Fae were going to play a large part in the novel. I've never been particularly interested in them as characters or nemeses in novels (even Jim Butcher's aren't particularly interesting, in my mind). However, it quickly became apparent that they were only a small cog in the mythological wheel that Hearne has drawn from for his novel, and the gods are far more important. This suited me perfectly, and I loved how they were woven into the plot and back-story. The Celtic gods are not overly familiar with Arizona (or the mortal realm as a whole), which requires Atticus to sometimes play the part of guide, which can sometimes feel surreal (such as the time he has tea with a goddess). We also learn a good deal about Atticus's magic, but only snippets of his backstory - something I assume (and hope) will be revealed over the course of the series.

Hearne's writing is tight and well-crafted, and for the most part you will just whip through it. However, there were a few times that felt like Hearne spent a little too much time explaining and re-explaining certain things (why Atticus is OCD about cleaning up his blood, for example, or why he takes off his sandals to connect with the earth). It's not a very long novel, and I can't imagine anyone being able to put this aside long enough to forget these things, so it seemed a little odd that Hearne repeated certain things so often in the first few chapters. In certain respects, Hounded has the feel of a debut, with a fair amount of (necessary) scene-setting; but at the same time, Hearne's characters, prose and the pacing are very assured. At times, it's hard to believe this is a first novel.

Hearne's greatest strength is his skill at characterisation. Each of the heroes and villains in Hounded feels fully-formed and engaging. Atticus is awesome, and Oberon is a great companion. Atticus is a very common-sense hero, and not one that's above doing what's necessary. He does not have the modern man's squeamishness to cold displays of necessary violence, but he has acquired a wealth of pop-culture references that he deploys with relish and great timing (the comments about Field of Dreams on p.65 were great). There were many lines and passages that led me to alternately laugh, chuckle, smirk or at least smile. Hearne has a great sense of humour.

Peripheral characters are also well-rounded and realistic - including the widow MacDonagh, Atticus's shop-assistant Perry, his werewolf and vampire attorneys, and also the Morrigan. With snappy dialogue and plenty of witty banter, it's impossible to dislike any of these characters, and next to impossible to put the book down. Even though we know Atticus will save the day, we still become invested in his and others' plight as Aenghus gives every indication of being willing to deploy any and all means necessary to take back Fragarach from the druid.

Even if, like me, you're usually wary of Urban Fantasy, I would strongly recommend this series just for the characters. I loved them, and I will definitely be reading the rest of this series. Indeed, on the strength of Hounded, I shall definitely be checking out anything else Hearne writes, probably ever.

This novel is entertaining, steeped in a ton of mythology, populated by awesome characters, and feels fresh and original. Best of all, I think it doesn't take itself too seriously, which only made it all the more enjoyable. After I got over my initial reservations (I am eating humble pie, I promise), I thoroughly enjoyed this. Urban fantasy at its best.

Very highly recommended.

For Fans of: Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, M.L.N. Hanover, Rachel Aaron
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on 9 January 2016
Hounded seemed to be TrueBlood tv series with all the paranormal and supernatural characters living in a quiet small town spot in Arizona but they've removed the majority of vampires and all the sex and replaced it with the much forgotten aspects of Irish mythology and a brilliant sparkling sense of humour. And you know what? It makes it ten times better than the Trueblood books and the TV series combined. Even the author seems to have a natural humour in that the start of the book he specifically mentions he doesn't mind how the reader pronounced the variety of celtic names in the book. You can't help but smirk, giggle and laugh out loud at some of the fanastic dialogue between these very unstereotypical paranormal/supernatural characters includin an ancient druid, a goddess of death, a lord of the fae with a drudge, some snotty witches, a lawyer wereworld and a very out-of-synch with the times vampire and my favourite - an irish wolf hound with a mind as delightful as a ten year old. It is also packed with magic, battles, challenges and drama that will grip the reader chapter to chapter. It is a highly entertaining and enjoyable and recommended read for those who fancy a light refreshment of the paranormal/supernatural genre.
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on 25 March 2016
The first book in Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles was recommended to me on the basis of similarities to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files novels which I've recently started reading. I would argue that it's not only similar but better.

The book introduces Atticus O'Sullivan, a druid living in the modern-day USA, where he's hiding from a God with a chip on its shoulder. A variety of fantasy tropes come into play in a surprisingly rich and well-constructed world. The plot flows neatly throughout and the action is kept to a strong pace with plenty of chapter-ending cliffhangers.

Hearne's first-person narrative really helps move the story along, and unlike the aforementioned Dresden Files books it doesn't feel awkward or jolt the reader from the narrative. The book is filled with humorous lines that somehow feel natural and unforced, and I found myself almost giggling out load on the train as I read.

Great plot, great characters, great world-building, and I've already bought the next book in the series.
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