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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Trapped by Kevin Hearne (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website 
Order “TrappedHERE 
Read chapter one HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Hounded” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Hexed” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Hammered” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Tricked” 
Read my review of “Two Ravens and One Crow” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s interview with Kevin Hearne 

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Kevin Hearne graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in English literature and currently teaches high school English. He is a self-confessed comic book fan and collector. He also collects and paints miniature dwarves in his free time. He currently lives with his family in Arizona and is the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.

Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.

CLASSIFICATION: Like its predecessors, The Iron Druid Chronicles is an urban fantasy series in the vein of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and K.A. Stewart’s Jesse James Dawson series, and features an exciting mix of comedy, action and mythology.

FORMAT/INFO: Trapped is 320 pages long divided over twenty-eight numbered chapters and an epilogue. There’s also a Pronunciation guide for all the names and phrases mentioned in the book and an excerpt for the next book Hunted. Narration is in the first-person, solely via Atticus O’Sullivan. Trapped is the fifth Iron Druid Chronicle and it would be extremely ill advised to jump into the series with this book as the plot has a ton of references to the many events and characters in the preceding books.

November 27, 2012 marks the North American Mass Market Paperback publication of Trapped via Del Rey. Cover art is provided by Gene Mollica.

ANALYSIS: Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles has grown from strength to strength since its publication in 2011. Kevin’s writing style along with his characterization has made him the darling of urban fantasy readers all over the world. He’s often talked as the next-in-line author for Jim Butcher fans to go to and for many he has become an author to be followed in his own right. I was very much enamored by Atticus and Oberon in Kevin Hearne’s Hounded and since then with each previous release has made me love this quirky series even more. After reading Tricked earlier this year and along with Two Ravens and One Crow, the novella released a couple of months ago, the author had laid down the track for the future of his series.

With Trapped, we get to phase II of the journey that Atticus, Oberon & Granuaile have chosen to undergo, the twelve years of Granuaile’s druidic initiation are drawing to a close and finally when Atticus is ready to bind her with the Druidic tattoos. Perun makes a surprising return to the Earthly plane and is followed by a mad Norse god who has recently been released from his captivity. Before he can make sense of things, Atticus finds out that his cover is blown and now Roman gods including Bacchus are actively hunting him. A trip to the Tuatha Dé Danann plane further complicates matters than resolving it and soon Atticus has to juggle Roman, Norse and Celtic deities whilst trying to keep himself and his friends alive. This time it will be tough, as he has no clue in regards to who is friend or foe and every side seems to drag him into quagmire-like situations. Granuaile’s initiation along with her future as a druid also hangs in the balance and it will be a race to get everything right while avoiding all the poisoned daggers and treachery.

Trapped has a terrific premise and even more upbeat pace that refuses to let the reader read at a sedate pace. The book has multiple twists and has a ginormous amount of tie-ins to the previous storylines and lots of past characters make their re-appearance along with previously only heard-of characters & races make their first appearance. The author has been known to indulge himself by playing around with multiple mythologies and in this book that very ability comes to the fore as the readers see characters from multiple mythological backgrounds interact in vicious ways. The story also has an important focus on Granuaile and as with her cover appearance I believe she will be getting center stage after the events of this book due to the changes in her personal, physiological and magical status. Plus in the last couple of books Oberon has been getting a smaller role due to the story demands however he’s back to fine form in this one as we get his usual thoughts on Bacon, Genghis Khan and other such important matters.

This book was also the first book of Kevin’s that I felt slightly disappointed with, on one hand it continued some of the aspects that I had liked in the previous books, but as a whole the book cannot sustain the awesomeness of its parts. My major gripe with the book was that the actual story felt a little bloated, it felt like the plot could have been resolved in a novella form however was stretched to novel lengths and that perhaps hampered the story’s focus. There are also the multiple events and plot-threads that occur in the book and this amalgamation doesn’t quite gel together so well. In the previous couple of books the author adroitly handled multiple plot threads however in this one they become one too many. Secondly the ending of the book leaves a lot of those plot-lines hanging for the next book. This perhaps was done on purpose but as a reader we don’t get the requisite closure from Trapped as we got from the previous titles.

The book though does carry on the saga begun in the previous volumes and leaves the readers with quite a huge cliffhanger of sorts and the title of the next book should provide a strong clue as to what travails await Atticus and company. I’m too enamored by this series to be stumped by this book and so I’ll be eagerly awaiting Hunted next year to see what new plot surprises Kevin plans to spring on us.

CONCLUSION: Kevin Hearne has been a maverick writer who combines quirky plots with inane comedy and excellent characters. His previous books have been swashbuckling page-turners however the law of averages seems to have caught up with Trapped. This book on its own is a good book but after the excellence shown in the first four, my expectations were sky high and this book didn’t quite meet them all. Fans of the series will have to give it a read to decide for themselves and as for me I’m hoping that Hunted brings the series back to its former excellence.


Alexis Marlons said...

This looks like a good read. I wonder if it will be available for ebooks soon?

Mihir said...

Hi Alexis

It will be available in almost all e-book formats on the 27th as well, just check the ordering link in the review above.

imagine stuff said...

It has a great idea. Hope it makes you stick to it until the last page. Will give a chance.

Nayan said...

I really fell in love with the series after reading Hammered. Cant give this one a skip at any cost :) Thanks for an honest review though.

The Reader said...

@ Nayan

Even I couldn't not finish it, I still want to know what happens next. I would like to know how you find it, perhaps you might have a different reaction to it.


The Library Rat said...

I quite enjoyed this, I understand what you meant about the plotlines left hanging, but it didn't spoil the enjoyment for me. I thought the way the story jumped a few years to get over Granuaille's training worked really well.

Thanks for you review!


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