The Chapel Perilous: An Atticus origin story

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne urban fantasy book reviewsThe Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne has written several short stories and novellas set in his IRON DRUID CHRONICLES universe. These make a great introduction to the series for new readers and they give fans (like me) a little fix while we wait for the next novel to appear. Who wouldn’t want to spend an hour or two with Atticus O’Sullivan, the world’s oldest druid, and Oberon, his trusty Irish Wolfhound on a lazy afternoon?

“The Chapel Perilous” was originally published in Shawn Speakman’s Unfettered anthology and is now available as a 99₵ ebook. The lovely cover art was painted by Galen Dara. In this story, which is only 33 pages long, and which takes place (or at least the frame of the story does) between Tricked and Trapped, Oberon and Granuaile, Atticus’s apprentice, have asked for a story while they sit around the campfire. Atticus has been around for thousands of years, so he has lots of stories to tell. It’s a little surprising that he has never before mentioned that he was Sir Gawain, but so he claims to be.

“The Chapel Perilous” is the story of how, back during the Dark Ages, Atticus, as Sir Gawain, went seeking the Holy Grail. It’s not the Grail you’re thinking of. This is Dagda’s Cauldron and it’s been stolen by a king who is blighting the land. As a Druid, it’s Atticus’s responsibility to fix the situation and heal the land. As he goes looking for the Grail, he happens upon a small chapel in a graveyard. Here he experiences a trial which knights traditionally must undergo when discovering the Chapel Perilous on their quest. This one involves a necromancer.The Iron Druid Chronicles (9 Book Series) by Kevin Hearne

“The Chapel Perilous” is short and straight-forward. Oberon is only in the frame story, not on the quest, which is a little disappointing, but Oberon came along centuries later, so what can we expect? Fortunately, there is a talking animal in “The Chapel Perilous.” (Which makes me start to wonder a little about Kevin Hearne.)

Fans of the series will see Atticus when he was a lot less powerful than he is now. They’ll discover how Atticus learned to communicate to animals (which is how he speaks to Oberon), where he got the idea to store his magic in metal charms and talismans (which is why he’s called the Iron Druid, in case you were wondering), and how he is able to hide from Aenghus Óg. Oh, and of course, we learn the real story of Sir Gawain’s quest for the Holy Grail!

So, yeah, “The Chapel Perilous” is totally worth 99₵.

Publication Date: January 24, 2014. Ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan has had plenty of adventures during his long life, and in “The Chapel Perilous” he shares one of them with his apprentice, Granuaile. He lays out the true story of the quest for the Holy Grail, in which he was personally involved—and the events of which are quite different from the Christian tale most people know today. While on an errand for Ogma to recover the Dagda’s Cauldron, Atticus confronts evil at a mysterious chapel, takes the first steps to becoming the Iron Druid, and learns the shocking truth about goblin fashion choices. He was, of course, in terrible peril. Originally published in 2013 in the Unfettered anthology edited by Shawn Speakman, now offered singly with cover art by Galen Dara.

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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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2 comments

  1. Oh cool! Atticus as Gawain makes sense, now that I think about it!

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