~~Moved from GR~~
Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles #3)
by Kevin Hearne
I enjoyed a lot of this. I mean a lot. I continually laughed out loud, and since I read at the gym and and sniggering is viewed as rather odd, that shows just how funny it was. I also had really strong (negative) feelings about certain parts. Hearne is iconoclastic in his treatment of religion and mythology, and although I found it hilarious, I also think that the cheap shock trick is overused here. I love urban fantasy because it is usually based on mythological traditions, and originally, I loved that Hearne stuck so closely to the original myths. But at some point, I expected Hearne to build his own characters instead of just killing everyone else's. Hearne capitalizes on the reader's knowledge of mythology: he doesn't build characters for the various religious figures he involves; he names them, briefly describes them, and then depends on readers' previous knowledge to make these changes, or the figures' deaths, fun or funny. That's not worldbuilding. It's entertaining in an OMG-I-can't-believe-he-did-this kind of way, but it's also cheap and shallow and lazy...come to think of it, just like the pop-culture jokes that practically make up the remainder of the book. The humour and shock comes from changing or destroying characters that have been built by other people. I'd prefer it if an author took the trouble to build them himself.
But what actually bothered me: part of the plot involves Atticus agreeing to assist a bunch of giants to capture and rape a goddess. That's right, this is our "hero." IMO, nothing any of the antagonists have done has been worse than this, and (unlike the Greek myths), rape is not a norm in either Norse or Celtic stories. Yeah, Thor may be a jerk, but in my opinion, he's nothing to Atticus. I didn't like Atticus too much from the start; I tried to forgive him by arguing he's just like the Tuatha De Danann: immature and violent. But he goes far beyond them, and at the same time, we're expected to believe that in those 2100 years he's had a wife and 25 children and somehow still never matured. GRRR. Anyway, this whole rape subplot is clearly meant to be just another gag, because apparently nothing is funnier than a bunch of savage men planning to rape a woman.
Some handy quotes of why I think (a) Atticus agrees to this, and (b) it's supposed to be funny.
"[Atticus:]Help us slay Thor, and the spoils of Asgard will be yours to take. The goddess Freyja, for example."
"All the male frost giants took up the name [of Freya] in a sort of horny echo...the males were turning red with arousal. The women were rolling their eyes and trying not to vomit."
"Suttung snatched [Freyja] out of the open back of her chariot and instantly caused a sheath of ice to freeze her from head to toe; she was a goddess Popsicle...'Graah!' Suttung bellowed jubilantly, holding his prize above his head. 'I got her!'"
"The frost giants tore their gazes from Freyja and stopped grunting long enough to listen."
"I felt sorry for her...I didn't like to think what a tribe of horny giants would do to her once she thawed out."
Oh, and what's with all that homophobia? Guess there must be some rule somewhere that (male) urban fantasy isn't complete without a few gay slurs. Currently my anger about all this is clouding my entire opinion of the book and series.
However, even I found lots of fun moments. How could I not? The book starts with a pronunciation guide with sections such as "Adorable Animals of the Norse", "Cool Norse Weapons," "Sweet Norse Halls and Furnishings," and "Icelandic Town Name With Which You Can Win A Bar Bet". Plus, Ratatosk (massive squirrel of Norse legend) gets quite a bit of pagetime, plus, Hearne utilizes elements of the Canterbury Tales, and I'm a sucker for that type of allusion.
Despite my anger, I'm pretty sure it's a five if (a) your fury triggers aren't the same as mine, and (b) you feel that some lack of depth in characters and worldbuilding are fully made up for by a fun, outrageous, and totally hilarious read.
...annnnd I just looked through other reviews and I am apparently the only person who was bothered by the rape thing....huh.
Got that weird "it's just me" feeling now.