This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“When a Druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he’s bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It’s time to make a stand.
As always, Atticus wouldn’t mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it’s not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki’s mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.
As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won’t come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.”
I hate to say it, but I’ve become less enamored with this series as time has gone on. I still like the characters, and I still like Hearne’s sense of humor, but the novels themselves have gotten the bad habit of meandering all over the place without giving readers much plot. Some of this may be due to the structure of the book: there are three separate narrators here, each with a separate storyline. Granted, the stories are nominally linked, but since the series started with such focus, seeing it wander is irritating.
I am still interested in where the main story is going–in this case, the final outcome of Atticus’s conflict with the vampires–but I think that there are way too many side quests that happen on the way. For example, the novel starts with Atticus confronting an old enemy, and his method of attacking him involves something that has never been mentioned before in the series, and it seems to get resolved too easily. Then Atticus is off to do other things. In the meantime, Granuaile is running errands for a witches’ coven in an attempt to rid herself of Loki’s mark, and Owen is training new Druids and having random troll encounters. It makes for a pretty scattered novel.
I’ve also noticed that Granuaile’s “voice” has changed over the course of time. When she first became a point of view character a few novels back, she was written with a very formal way of thinking, almost as if English was her second language and so she was being very careful with her choice of words. In this book, her internal monologue is a lot less formal and sounds much more like Atticus. I’m not sure if this was a deliberate choice on Hearne’s part, changing how she sounds, but I did notice it.
Overall, though, I still enjoy the books, just not as much as I did at first. Some of the humor has given way to the twists and turns of the plot, but I do still like these characters and this version of the world and am interested in how things will wrap up in book nine. I keep wondering if the series has merely evolved over time and has done so in a way that I don’t like, and I have to say that this is a distinct possibility. I imagine it would be hard to write a nine-book series and constantly keep things fresh and engaging. Lord knows I’ve read enough series that couldn’t manage it! I also think it’s possible that Hearne may be falling victim to the temptation to tell all the stories about these characters that he can think of, instead of focusing on the main plot. They’re good characters, so I can see the allure.
I certainly don’t plan on dropping this series one book before the end, but I do have to say that this installment wasn’t one of my favorites. It’s okay, and fans of the series will find things about it to like, but I do hope that Hearne has a great finish in mind for the final book.