Publisher: Del Rey (2011)
Format: Mass Market Paperback | 289 pages
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy
Description (Goodreads): "Tempe, Arizona is as far removed from paranormal activity as is possible. And that's where Atticus O'Sullivan, rare book salesman, herb peddler, and 2,000 year old Druid - the last of his kind - has decided to set up shop. He's been on the run, guarding a very powerful sword from a very angry ancient Celtic god for over two millennia now. But while these years have been good to him - Atticus has become more powerful than he could have possibly imagined - The Morrigan, a very old god of death, has predicted death and doom for our hero, and it's up to Atticus, with help from a pride of werewolves, and a gorgeous bartender with a secret of her own, to stay alive, hopefully for another thousand years."
WARNING: Contains some SPOILERS!
"Hounded" is the first in a new series featuring a 2.100 year-old Druid as the main character. I've seen many a video and read a few reviews raving about this series and how it was awesome so, as a lover of all things urban fantasy and wanting to read a few more books with male protagonists, I promptly bought all the books available.
And yet again my high expectations were shot down. This isn't a terrible book, no, but it's not brilliant either. Although I liked the general concept I felt the author crammed way too many myths, religions and supernatural creatures into his universe. You have werewolves, vampires, fairies and every god from every pantheon running about. It's too much and honestly it was confusing. Hearne doesn't explain much about this and there are references to several ancient deities, although only the Tuatha Dé Danann appear in this first book (since the hero is a Druid and all). Still they are depicted as "people who know a lot of magic and thus are very powerful and immortal" so the reader is left wandering if all the other pantheons are the same (which, mythologically they aren't) or if it's just the Tuatha Dé Danann.
Basically Hearne's world building needs fixing and urgent development. In this first book we are thrown into the world of Irish mythology but the author fails to clarify many of his ideas and views to the readers. And that is never good.
I also didn't care much for Atticus, the protagonist. He was too smug, too sure of himself. If he is 2000 years old I think he should be wise enough not to be too smug. I disliked him from the beginning and throughout the book the character didn't really grow in a positive way. He was just so powerful and magic and all-knowing and the action was lackluster at best because of it.
Another thing that bothered me (yes, a lot of things did in this book): Oberon, the wolfhound. I liked the fact that there was a talking dog and the discourse was hilarious some times, but I doubt a dog would speak like that even if he was taught to speak English. His thought processes were just... too human.
Even with all of these (major) flaws and the slow start (I considered stopping at first, it was boring) of the book, "Hounded" wasn't that bad. I've read worse Urban Fantasy debuts. It needed more character and world development and the plot wasn't exactly super original, but it was an interesting read (once the pace picked up, about 100 pages in) nonetheless. I've started the second book and it's much better so far, so I'd say that if Hearne can develop his world and main character properly the "Iron Druid series" does have potential.
Cover Commentary: Pretty standard UF cover overall. But the model annoys me. I think it's the beard. I really don't like it. Plus, the guy looks about 15... not the image you want when depicting a 2100 year-old druid. Even if he's meant to be totally hip!