My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had some serious reservations about this one but I’ll get to those at the end of this. This novel could have been summed up as ‘the three times Atticus kept his word when he shouldn’t have given it in the first place.’ It opens with the first of those times with Atticus going to Asgard to fetch a magic apple to give to a witch who probably shouldn’t have that much magic at her disposal. He had promised her Idunn’s apple last book in return for her help and I have to admit it bugged me the body count he wracked up doing this, especially when the victims weren’t really evil but rather standing in his way.
This is one of those reservations of mine. Atticus’s willingness to do whatever and damn the consequences but also, the whole thing is escalating too quickly. If he can take on Norse gods and win, it’s going to be hard to find villains that will interest the reader and be believable. It took Butcher and the Dresden Files a lot longer to get to that point, for example.
Once that mission is accomplished, Atticus rightfully decides it’s time to get out of Tempe. People have stated to realize he’s not aging, not to mention the sheer number of gods who want him dead, like all of Asgard now because of what he did to keep his word to the witch and somewhere along the way he ticked off Bacchus. He spends a lot of time wrapping things up with the Irish widow who watches Oberon, his dog and getting his would-be apprentice set up in case he doesn’t come back. While there was no real sense of anything being slow or dull, the pacing seemed weird because this is all tied into the next plot: Atticus returns to Asgard with friends to kill Thor (which really we only have that battle in the last fifty pages of the novel)
And that leads me to the other two times Atticus gave his word and shouldn’t nor would he go back on it because in his day a word meant something. It was a man’s entire reputation etc etc. What he’s promised is to take his two friends to Asgard to kill Thor, both Lief the vampire who holds all of Arizona as his territory and Gunnar, the werewolf alpha want Thor dead. Atticus really has no dog in this fight. He describes himself as ‘the getaway driver’ as he’s the only one who can walk between planes and get them in and out.
As you might imagine, killing Thor isn’t going to be easy and frankly there isn’t much of a happy ending here. They’re joined by three other immortals, which I appreciate that Hearne culled them from folklore we don’t often see in American literature: Väinämöinen, a Finnish wise man, Zhang Gua Lu, a Chinese alchemist and Perun, a Russian thunder god (i.e. Thor’s counterpart). They all have reasons to want Thor dead but to be honest, their reasons are for relatively minor insults in comparison to what Thor did to both Lief and Gunnar in the distant past which was outrightly heinous. Perun refers to Thor as a fuckpuddle which is a delightfully accurate description for this Thor but I would also add sociopathetic narcissist. They head off to Asgard to destroy Thor and the rest I’ll put under a spoiler warning except this:
Okay it IS a spoiler but I think it important enough to do so here because it almost ruined this for me, not just the book but the entire series (yes I will read on because overall I really like Atticus and Oberon but this put a serious dent in it for me). Atticus recruits the Jo tun Ice giants for the battle against the Asgardians and he knows they have a major hard on for Freyja. After the battle the Jotun have captured her and are hauling her off for a gang rape and really Atticus has no problems with this. He makes no move to stop it and that is a huge hell no for me. I’m annoyed it was written, accepted and not edited out and that literally none of the damn men in this novel have an issue with this (granted she does save herself). There was no reason to even have Freyja there. Not all of Asgard turned out for the battle. Yes she is the goddess of war but it seemed like an excuse to serve her up like a pudding. It creeped me out and deeply disappointed me.
So now spoilers: There is something that also truly bugged me. Both Jesus and the Morrigan warn Atticus about doing this, that killing Thor would have a huge impact on the whole world, that he in fact might die but this doesn’t change his mind. Worse, for me he never even bothers to tell his friends this not until half way through the damn battle. I wanted him to be sensible enough to at least tell them before they got to the battle because they were going to insist on it and Atticus would have looked better to me, especially because he has the warning of two gods and the knowledge that there’s going to be a major vampire war and a werewolf one as well if Lief or Gunnar dies but Atticus’s word means more to him than all that collateral damage. Yes, it makes me think much less of him.
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