Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1)
May 3, 2011
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Actually the last of the Druids and tens of centuries old, Atticus is hiding from Aenghus Og. Depending on which of them you ask, Atticus either stole or relieved Aenghus Og of his magic sword. Aenghus Og, despite being the ancient god of love, doesn't have particularly loving ideas in mind when it comes to getting it back - or what to do to Atticus.
In the meantime, Atticus plans to spend his days running his bookshop, staying hunder Aenghus Og's radar, shapeshifting into a hound to hunt with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon . . . and the occasional dealings with witches, goddesses (including the Morrigan).
He's going to need the help of all of them - including the vampire and werewolves he's come to know through their legal expertise, a bartender, a Hindu witch in possession of someone, and maybe even the tough Irish widow down the street - when Aenghus finally tracks him down after centuries and comes for the sword.
Hounded is, I believe, the first book I've read where the character was a Druid - at least a real one. The secondary characters this introduces as well as the actions taken by Atticus because of this make Hounded different right from the beginning.
Having so many different supernatural characters - witches, werewolves, vampires - also a part of the story was a nice change of pace from most urban fantasies (at least that I've been reading) where there will be one or two beings and the others won't exist or won't be a part of the characters world.
One thing that I didn't know about until I started Hounded and worked for me in the audio version but may not for everyone (and may be different in print), Atticus can communicate telepathically with his dog. Oberon's not like Chet in the Chet and Bernie Mysteries, either. He doesn't lose his train of though or get distracted by sausages, have random word associations, ignore halves of conversations, etc. In other words, Oberon doesn't think the way you'd expect a dog to - or doesn't talk to Atticus the way you'd expect a dog to.
Their conversations are pretty human-like. Oberon's very easily excitable like a dog, has an interesting fascination with Genghis Khan and French Poodles but his sentence structure, etc is more human. On an audiobook, however, it's more than amusing.
The thing I'm still unsure about with Hounded is the female characters. The witches seemed to be looked at negatively and are trouble. The goddesses are naked, looking for sex, having it, etc. The Morrigan is supposed to be scary, intimidating. Naked women can be intimidating, but that wasn't the case in Hounded it felt like they were there to be sexy, be hot . . . and then maybe fulfill any other role. I'm hoping Hearne's portrayal of the opposite sex (at least the 'attractive' ones - he did very well with Widow MacDonagh - though she's not supposed to have sex appeal) improves as the series continues.
As an audiobook this was enjoyable. Later in the book a few of the characters did sound somewhat similar, but the action was enough that it was always possible to easily tell the characters apart. (And Oberon's voice was, of course, great fun.)
You may also enjoy: Storm Front (Harry Dresden #1) - audio of this series is win!! by James Butcher and Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas #1) by Dean Koontz