Scourged: A weak ending to a great series

Scourged by Kevin HearneScourged by Kevin Hearne urban fantasy book reviewsScourged by Kevin Hearne

Scourged (2018)is the ninth and final novel in Kevin Hearne’s IRON DRUID CHRONICLES. This has been a great series and I have looked forward to the release of each book as well as all of the related novellas and short stories. The IRON DRUID CHRONICLES is especially wonderful in the audio versions (Random House Audio) performed by the fabulous Luke Daniels. I’m absolutely certain I enjoyed them even more in audio than I would have in print format.

Scourged begins with Oberon, Atticus’s adorable canine familiar, helpfully giving us a quick but detailed recap of the story so far. (Thanks, Oberon!) Then we get down to business. Ragnarok is finally here and Loki is letting loose all sorts of chaos all over the earth. Atticus and his supernatural colleagues (e.g., Granuaile, Owen, Coyote, Flittish, Laksha, the Morrigan) each have their parts to play in the impending war. During the story they are usually fighting outbreaks of Loki-inspired evil on various fronts in different parts of the world. Atticus, at least, doesn’t plan to survive. The story ends with some things tied up and others not. Some readers may be disappointed that everything doesn’t turn out perfectly for Hearne’s characters, but I admire him for surprising us this way.The Iron Druid Chronicles (9 Book Series) by Kevin Hearne

As I said, I loved this series, but Scourged was my least favorite book in the IRON DRUID CHRONICLES. Part of the problem is that once the outbreaks start, they feel random and relentless. That is probably what Loki intended, but it doesn’t make for the best story. Atticus is over here dealing with this monster, Owen is over there dealing with that monster, Granuaile is somewhere else dealing with some other monster…. it’s chaotic and not particularly exciting. Then there is the unsubtle way that the characters frequently lecture us about the evils of greedy humans (read: white men) that feels so teachy. I’m not objecting to the sentiment (though I found it over the top at times), but just the messagey-ness of the story.

But the biggest problem with Scourged is that the best part of this series (ask anybody!) has always been the bond and interaction between Atticus and Oberon. They are so funny when they’re together and their love for each other is endearing. It’s what makes the stories so much fun to read. However, in Scourged, at the moment of his greatest personal peril, Atticus (for good reason) decides to leave Oberon at home when he goes off to deal with Ragnarok. Atticus is not nearly as entertaining when Oberon is not around. This is a huge disappointment and I feel certain that this is not just my personal opinion, but that nearly all of Hearne’s readers will agree with me on this. (Though it may be especially noticeable in the audio version because Luke Daniels does such a great job with the back-and-forth banter between Atticus and Oberon.)

So, yeah, I was disappointed and sometimes bored with Scourged. Nevertheless, I feel confident recommending the IRON DRUID CHRONICLES to readers who love urban fantasy, especially when it involves Norse mythology, or to readers who love books with animal familiars. I expect (and hope!) that Hearne will continue to write more stories about Atticus and Oberon since he has a spin-off series called OBERON’S MEATY MYSTERIES (also performed by Luke Daniels) that’s been successful. I will not be missing a single one of them.

Published April 3, 2018. Unchained from fate, the Norse gods Loki and Hel are ready to unleash Ragnarok, a.k.a. the Apocalypse, upon the earth. They’ve made allies on the darker side of many pantheons, and there’s a globe-spanning battle brewing that ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan will be hard-pressed to survive, much less win. Granuaile MacTiernan must join immortals Sun Wukong and Erlang Shen in a fight against the Yama Kings in Taiwan, but she discovers that the stakes are much higher than she thought. Meanwhile, Archdruid Owen Kennedy must put out both literal and metaphorical fires from Bavaria to Peru to keep the world safe for his apprentices and the future of Druidry. And Atticus recruits the aid of a tyromancer, an Indian witch, and a trickster god in hopes that they’ll give him just enough leverage to both save Gaia and see another sunrise. There is a hound named Oberon who deserves a snack, after all.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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3 comments

  1. Troy Thomas /

    Scourged was a difficult read and ultimately unsatisfying. For me it was such a let down in the series that I returned it to Audible as I never want to revisit that series again. Before each book came out I would read the series again and assumed I would be enjoying it over the years after the finale. Boy was I wrong this ending has soured the entire series for me and I will delete these from my app. Thank you Kevin!

    • I haven’t looked at the reviews on Amazon or GoodReads, but I’m guessing this is a common reaction. It was such a great series and this ending was disappointing.

    • Scott MacIntyre /

      Agreed 100% with all your comments. I would add that I have changed my initial assessment from never recommend the series to read but stop after book 8.

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