If there's any justice left in this world, Hearne's inclusion of a 3 page "The Story so Far" recounting the main events from every book in the series should earn him many 5 star ratings, it's something that more people should do. The last two lines of his retelling should earn him a few more.
I'm not going to be one of those, I really want to be -- I spent most of the novel thinking I would be -- but in the end, I have to settle with a 4-star. In the end, I think Hearne tried to do too much in too little space, hurting the overall book -- think Spider-Man 3. The use of multiple POV characters might have contributed to my problems -- having spent 5 (and most of the next) inside Atticus' head, spending as much of this book outside of it gives added distance to those events not from Atticus' POV in a way it wouldn't have if we'd been bouncing between Atticus' and Granuaile's viewpoint from the beginning. That said, I'm not opposed to it -- and I really liked the Granuaile chapters, and would've been willing to do a whole book from her POV. Even the Owen (Atticus' Arch-Druid who was introduced at the end of Hunted) chapters were fun, but again, it made it hard to get attached to Atticus' story.
That said, I think the Granuaile story is probably the best part of Shattered, but it would've been better if we hadn't taken off to see what Atticus was up to, or laughing at Owen trying to figure out how to make his way in the 21st Century. Laksha Kulasekaran calls and asks her for help, so Granuaile and the hounds are off to India for an adventure. One that pushes Granuaile to the edge of her abilities, and to her emotional breaking point -- so much so that you wonder why Atticus isn't around. Not that she's not capable on her own, a strong, independent woman and all that -- but because she's a rookie druid and could really use her mentor's guidance -- and as the guy who loves her, he should've been there to support her in this trial. Along the way, she learns a bit more about magic in general, and meets some supernatural creatures that are about as odd and fun as you could ask. If the whole novel had been this story, I'd have loved it. But the power and impact of it were dented.
While Granuaile is running around Asia, Atticus is looking into who exactly is up to no good in Tír na nÓg, stirring up trouble (rebellion?) amongst the Tuatha de Danann, trying to take out our favorite Druid and generally causing all sorts of trouble. As investigations go -- it was pretty weak, and pretty easy for Atticus to suss out what's going on. What he found on the other hand -- well, that was pretty big. And Hearne capped it off with a big ol' Celtic can of whoop-ass. It wasn't quite Hammered's level of insane fight scenes, but it was close. And (tiny spoiler) neither side came out unscathed.
What exactly the ramifications of this for the Tuatha de Dannan, the druids, and the various and sundry deities we've met (and probably will meet)? Well, obviously, we'll have to wait and see -- but it's going to be big.
Still -- and again, sing along with me -- take out a lot of the Owen goofiness and Granuaile's story, devote that space to Atticus' story -- and this is so much better. It's so frustrating to read something that's so close to be great, but falters.
Enough complaining, I really did enjoy this book. What positive things can I say? Hardcover! Yay. That's a sign of success for the series, right? I even got one signed. Doesn't mean anything to the review, I just like to see that.
I really liked Orlaith, it's good for Granuaile to have a companion like this. I also appreciated she's not just a feminine Oberon, but she has a distinct personality and is the proverbial Lady to Oberon's Tramp. Owen Kennedy is an amusing addition to the cast -- and potentially a powerful ally for Atticus and Granuaile as things heat up -- and I look forward to something more substantial from him. While she's not my favorite character, I'm glad to see Laksha hasn't been abandoned -- nor are other folks from earlier in the series (not sure why I'm so protective of this relatively minor spoiler -- but it tickled me so to see Atticus deal with ______ at ______ I don't want ruin it for anyone else).
Oh, and of course -- Oberon. Really, for people who've read the IDC, that's enough to say, right? Oberon. Read that and try not to smile.
At the end of the day, when it comes to wise-crackin', magic-throwin' dudes, The Iron Druid takes a backseat to almost no one (there is that guy in the Chicago yellow pages . . . ), and this book almost lives up to its predecessors. Any complaints are really just a sign of how good Hearne's been before this. Bring on IDC #8!!