Reviews: Iron Druid Chronicles
Imperfect, but Well Worth Reading
Okay, first things first. Like the other reviewers, I agree that it isn't as good as The Dresden Files, which, in true Follow the Leader style, it is heavily influenced by. However, I don't think that it's bad as all that - indeed, I think it's probably the best of the Dresden imitators, Overly Narrow Superlative though this may be. Key complaints are that Atticus isn't heroic the way Dresden is, preferring to leave things be unless he actually HAS to get involved, or someone's threatening the Earth. This is very true. And I say, "so what?" He's not Dresden. His background, his outlook, his personality (aside from the superficial similarities of badassery, snark, paranoia, and being a great deal smarter than they pretend to be), they're all very different. Dresden is relatively young, Atticus is 2100 years old and counting. Dresden was taught that magic was a force to be used for good, also imbibing the 'with great power' idea. Atticus was taught to focus on the Earth's problems, and deal with problems between Earth/supernatural beings and humanity - which somewhat fell by the way-side when all the Druids were killed off, and even a small use of his magic risked alerting a vengeful god and drawing faerie death squads. Dresden can play hero freely. As for Atticus, even if he wanted to play hero, practically speaking, he can't. And as he explains in one of the later novels, 2000 plus years of hiding from Aenghus Og, plus the fall out of actions when he does stick his neck out and get involved, have left him unsurprisingly disinclined to do so. For all their superficial similarities, he is the anti-Dresden, which, I think, is actually a strength of the series. It doesn't necessarily make him the most likeable, but it does make things interesting. As for the series itself... it's one that gets better over time, evolving its own mythology. Various characters verging on being The Scrappy (e.g. Granuaile) get much needed Character Development, and the supporting cast are by and large very likeable (Oberon's hilarious, the Widow's lovely, Jesus is surprisingly well depicted, and Perun's becoming a favourite of mine). So, it's not Dresden. Read it if you like the genre, and the First-Person Smartass, but don't come in expecting Dresden himself.
This series is routinely compared to The Dresden Files, actually I got it handed to me with "If you like that you will love this too!" ... And my opinion after 2.5 books: I didn't like it I loath it with fiery passion. I can see what they meant as the books have a lot of superficial elements in common: Both are Urban Fantasy Kitchen Sinks running on Postmodern Magik with First Person Smartass narration lots of Crazy Awesome fight scenes, Femme Fatales and backstage machinations. etc. So if you are looking for those these novels might be for you. But this completely misses the point why I like Dresden. It gave me the fantasy of no matter how sucky and hopeless and dark the world is there still might be heroes willing to do good even at great personal cost and sometimes all that it takes. Iron Druid takes the Crapsack World and adds Atticus our hero and viewpoint character, who is the unholy bastard child of This Loser Is You and Power Fantasy. I meet enough jerkasses in real life I don't need to read about a superpowered one, who is cowardly, only fights for selfish reasons, could take "Nice Job Breaking It Hero" as a middle name etc.. If someone wants to say "He is a hero for Earth not humanity!" my only reply is "Poor planet.". I actually found myself revenge shipping° Atticus with The Morrigan, yes, I hate him that much. And it got even worse because I found the supporting cast just as unlikable, the only two I could tolerate were the Morality Pets (Oberon (the dog) and widow MacDonagh), because all other were Jerkasses or Flat. Pushing the series deep into Darkness Induced Audience Apathy. Which is a shame. Yes. I wrote it's a shame. There is an impressive amount of World Building here and interesting ideas how to make an Urban Fantasy world run on radically different rules... Maybe someone could make a Tabletop Roleplaying Game out of it? ° Revenge Shipping is the profound belief that those two assholes deserve each other.
Do not buy the hype
Like the below reviewer I tried this out upon hearing the similarities to the Dresden Files (which is a great series) and glowing reviews. The idea of an already ancient immortal battling other ancient immortals also got around the problem of smart, powerful immortals becoming suddenly stupid and dying like in the Anita Blake series. Despite my high hopes, I could barely get through the first three books. The main character Atticus starts out as a Pop Cultured Badass, but becomes increasingly unlikeable as the stories go on. By the end of book three, he comes off as immature, arrogant jerk who is willing to commit crimes he condemns in others with little thought and quotes pop culture in an attempt to sound clever when it comes across as annoying. The writer also cannot seem to decide if Atticus is a powerful badass who hates to fight, but can bind and dissolve anything (as long as it doesn't kill, but that hardly slows him down) to someone who is not that powerful. Contradictions are a another problem rife in the books. The writer makes a rule only to break it without explanation when it gets in the way. Iron protects Atticus from all magic including fire...except lighting. Fragarach can cut through anything including the armor of gods...except a minor creature from Greek mythology with no noted immunity to weapons. Mortal belief shapes and empowers gods...except Thor is a sadistic thug who is only as powerful as lesser known thunder god Perun while in Asgard of all places. Perun himself is a nice guy and any differences are Hand Waved away. Brigid is in charge of a Deadly Decadent Court, but has the emotional maturity and control of a high school girl. Etc, etc. etc. There are some good things. Many of the basic ideas are still and I find the secondary characters likable. The books themselves are quick reads since they lack the depths of the Dresden files. Christianity is treated the same as other religions which is a nice change. However, I will no longer waste time on this series when there are better ones out there. At best, I may speed read some in the future to see if it improves. But that will be some time from now.