Home > Scourged (The Iron Druid Chronicles #9)

Scourged (The Iron Druid Chronicles #9)
Author: Kevin Hearne

The Story So Far

atticus O’Sullivan, born in 83 B.C.E. as Siodhachan Ó Suileabháin, has spent much of his long life as a Druid on the run from Aenghus Óg, one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Aenghus Óg seeks the return of Fragarach, a magical sword that Atticus stole in the second century, and the fact that Atticus has learned how to keep himself young and won’t simply die annoys the heck out of Aenghus Óg.

When Aenghus Óg finds Atticus hiding in Tempe, Arizona, Atticus makes the fateful decision to fight instead of run, unwittingly setting off a chain of consequences that snowball on him despite his efforts to lie low.

In Hounded, he gains an apprentice, Granuaile MacTiernan; retrieves a necklace that serves as a focus for Laksha Kulasekaran, an Indian witch; and discovers that his cold iron aura is proof against hellfire. He defeats Aenghus Óg with an assist from the Morrigan, Brighid, and the local pack of werewolves. However, he also severely cripples a witches’ coven that wasn’t exactly benevolent but was protecting the Phoenix metro area from more-menacing groups of predators.

Hexed, book two, forces Atticus to deal with that, as a rival and much more deadly coven tries to take over the territory of the Sisters of the Three Auroras, and a group of Bacchants tries to establish a foothold in Scottsdale. Atticus cuts deals with Laksha Kulasekaran and Leif Helgarson, a vampire, to earn their help and rid the city of the threats.

In book three, Hammered, the bills come due for those deals. Both Laksha and Leif want Atticus to go to Asgard and beard the Norse in their mead halls. Putting together a team of badasses, Atticus raids Asgard twice, despite warnings from the Morrigan and Jesus Christ that this would be a terrible idea and it might be best not to keep his word. The carnage is epic, with heavy losses among the Æsir, including the Norns, Thor, and a crippled Odin. The death of the Norns, an aspect of Fate, means the old prophecies regarding Ragnarok are now unchained, and Hel can begin to work with very little opposition from the Æsir. However, a strange coincidence with the Finnish hero Väinämöinen reminds Atticus of a different prophecy, one spoken by the sirens to Odysseus long ago, and he worries that thirteen years hence, the world will burn—perhaps in some altered form of Ragnarok.

Feeling the heat for his shenanigans and needing time to train his apprentice, Atticus fakes his own death with the help of Coyote in book four, Tricked. Hel does indeed make an appearance, thinking Atticus might like to join her on the dark side since he has killed so many Æsir, but she is brutally rebuffed. Atticus is betrayed by Leif Helgarson and narrowly escapes death at the hands of an ancient vampire named Zdenik but ends the book with a modicum of assurance that he will be able to train Granuaile in anonymity.

In the novella Two Ravens and One Crow, Odin awakens from his long sleep and forges a truce of sorts with Atticus, enlisting the Druid to take on Thor’s role in Ragnarok, should it come to pass, and perhaps take care of another few things along the way.

After twelve years of training, Granuaile is ready to be bound to the earth, but in book five, Trapped, it seems as if the Druid’s enemies have been waiting for him to emerge. Atticus must deal with vampires, dark elves, faeries, and the Roman god Bacchus, and messing with one of the Olympians draws the attention of one of the world’s oldest and most powerful pantheons.

Once Granuaile is a full Druid, Atticus must run across Europe to avoid the bows of Diana and Artemis, who took exception to his treatment of Bacchus and the dryads of Olympus in book five. The Morrigan sacrifices herself to give Atticus a head start, and he is Hunted in book six. Running and fighting his way past a coordinated attempt to bring him down, he makes it to England, where he can enlist the help of Herne the Hunter and Flidais, the Irish goddess of the hunt. There he is able to defeat the Olympians and negotiate a fragile alliance against Hel and Loki. At the end of this volume he discovers that his archdruid was frozen in time in Tír na nÓg, and when he retrieves him, his old mentor is in as foul a mood as ever.

In Shattered, book seven, archdruid Owen Kennedy finds a place among the Tempe Pack and assists Atticus and Granuaile in thwarting a coup attempt in Tír na nÓg against Brighid. Granuaile is sorely tested by Loki in India and is forever changed, and an emissary of the ancient vampire Theophilus strikes down one of Atticus’s oldest friends.

In the novella A Prelude to War, Atticus consults a tyromancer in Ethiopia to discover how best to strike back at the vampires, while Granuaile meets Loki for the second time—but this time she’s the one laying the ambush.

Anxious to defeat Theophilus once and for all, Atticus teams up with Leif Helgarson to make sure the ancient evil is Staked in book eight. Granuaile learns that Loki is making deals with dark powers around the world and is consulting an unusual seer about when to begin Ragnarok; she teams up with Perun to defeat an old foe of his and deny Loki his foresight. Owen starts a new Druid’s grove in Flagstaff, receives a magical pair of brass knuckles from Creidhne, and has a distressing encounter with a troll that goes poorly for both of them. The Treaty of Rome is established wherein vampires agree to evacuate Poland and North America west of the Rocky Mountains.

After the events of Staked, Oberon and Atticus solve a couple of mysteries in and around Portland, detailed in The Purloined Poodle and The Squirrel on the Train, known together as Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries. They befriend a man named Earnest Goggins-Smythe who winds up looking after the hounds while Atticus and Granuaile are out of town, and they also adopt a new doggie as a result of the investigations, a Boston terrier named Starbuck.

In Besieged, a collection of Iron Druid stories, we learn of several events that bear directly on the story to come. Flidais makes a woeful mistake by taking Perun to a “Cuddle Dungeon” in Edinburgh; Granuaile must enforce the Treaty of Rome against some rogue vampires in Krakow, led by Kacper Glowa; the Druids are called to Tasmania to save Tasmanian devils from extinction, and Owen’s grove participates; and Atticus learns from the Morrigan that Loki is about to begin Ragnarok, prompting him to tell Oberon the story of what happened to his wolverine companion centuries ago.

Also, along the way, there may have been some talk of poodles and sausages.

i had a cup of wine with Galileo once. He remains one of the greatest examples of human genius I’ve ever seen over my twenty-one centuries of life, and one of the bravest. Think of the giant, hairy stones he must have had to stand up to the Catholic Church back when they routinely toppled monarchs and killed people for the glory of their god (who let me buy him a shot of whiskey in Arizona once, by the way, and who did not feel particularly glorified by any murders, let alone the ones committed in his name). To look at the whole of Christendom and call bullshit on their geocentrism despite their threats took some iron guts. And he didn’t give a damn that nobody wanted to believe him at first. “I have math,” he told me over the rim of his cup. He gestured to it as he spoke. “And the numbers are like this fine vintage we are enjoying. Verifiable, observable, existing independent of us, and caring not one whit about human faith.”

Stellar guy, that Galileo! Ha! My puns remain execrable, alas.

Eventually the Church had to admit that Galileo was right—and admit also, long after his death, that his life and work had been a fulcrum on which the world pivoted. The flourishing of the sciences that used his methods brought many wonders to humanity. Many evils too.

I am beginning to wonder now if I might not also be such a fulcrum for good and evil, even if I have labored to remain anonymous. I have endeavored for much of my long life to keep myself out of histories, all the while putting more and more history behind me. For much of my two-thousand-plus years, I did not feel I was building to some grand climax or accomplishing anything but my continued survival, but recent events have caused me to reevaluate.

According to a nightmarish visit from the Morrigan, Ragnarok will begin in the next few days, and it won’t end well for anyone, because apocalypses tend not to include happy endings. Perhaps I can still do something to minimize the damage; no matter what I do, though, it cannot erase the fact that it wouldn’t be happening at all had I not slain the Norns and unchained the Norse pantheon from their destinies. I am almost entirely to blame, and the guilt is already a nine-ton albatross about my neck. I don’t think I’m going to get an easy gig afterward like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner did either. Telling your tale to random wedding guests is a pretty mild punishment for economy-size cockups.

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