For nearly two thousand years, there was only one Druid left walking the Earth - Atticus O'Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword kept him alive while pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he's got company.
Atticus's apprentice Granuaile is finally a full Druid herself. What's more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern name Owen Kennedy.
And Owen has some catching up to do.
Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus's chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury's still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki - or merely a pain in the arse.
As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they're hoping that this time… three's a charm.
There is a lot happening in Shattered for each of the characters - Kevin Hearne is giving each hero a chance to branch out and shine in his or her own plot. Atticus and Owen are initially off by themselves; Atticus is teaching Owen the ways of the microbreweries, phones, TV, toilet paper and indoor plumbing. Granuaile is off in search of her missing father.
I didn’t mind this breakup of the story; we get the opportunity to see how Granuaile operates when alone, she definitely lives up to her Elemental name Fierce Druid. Eventually, even Atticus and Owen part ways and we are left with three distinct tales, which, while I can see were necessary for plot development I didn't feel they had the same effect or feel on the storyline engagement. It wasn’t until the characters merged back again into a single arc that you feel involved once more.
The injection of Owen at the end of Hunted was a great idea and we get to see this new personality develop further in Shattered (I am waiting for him to die heroically in a future scene, but I think we will get another couple of books out of him yet). Owen's personality is very different to that of Atticus, who is confident, calm and controlled. I would say he leans a bit more towards Granuaile's fiery temperament.
The differences are more notable when it comes how Owen interacts with other people; he is more straightforward and direct. His exchanges with the wolf pack add a new dynamic I think is needed - if the pack is to play a positive role in Atticus's war. Atticus lately hasn’t made any friends in those circles.
What worked for me and brought some needed humour to the story was Owen’s internal dialogue as he tries to accommodate and acclimate to his new world. Atticus and Granuaile are portrayed as serious and the usual playoff between Oberon and Atticus is reduced as the Loki war progresses, so this social and cultural learning that Owen is going through is very welcome. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some really good moments of humour in the story. Two of the best being Yeti’s wanting a hockey rink built in the Himalayas and the still ever-clever idea of the bacon of immortal health, which I still love.
*** SPOLIER ***
We finally get an insight into who has been manipulating and helping Atticus over the years. We are shown that the power of a single prayer directed to a cabal of Gods, is like a pebble that starts a landslide. Thinking himself clever for a number of years, evading and hiding information from the gods, Jesus, Perun, Oden and Brighid now only to find out they have known all his secrets all along and have been helping him without his knowing was a nice addition, and I'll be honest - I didn’t see it coming.
I was however a little disappointed to find out who the traitor was amount the Tuatha De Danann. The identity of the traitor has been hinted at previously, but I found this person and their reasoning for betrayal to be fairly flimsy and somewhat disappointing. There is a fairly good final confrontation due to this revelation, but I did wish it had been a larger twist.
The epilogue for Atticus, Granuaile and Owen is one of more trouble to come and I like that I can see which way and how it will be shaped in the next book.
*** SPOLIER END ***
If I am being completely honest, I did feel a little unsatisfied with the intensity level of the book. Each part of the story was good, but that’s as far as it went, I was never really committed to the events as they unfolded and didn’t feel drawn in the way I had hoped. I think the best way I can describe Shattered is as a great introduction for the character of Owen.
A nice addition in the Iron Druid series, something to build future stories upon, but it did lack a little of that old spark.
Review by Fergus McCartan
7/10 from 1 reviews
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