Trapped by Kevin Hearne (2012)
Trapped is the fifth book in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. It features Atticus O’Sullivan, a 2,000-year-old druid, his faithful (and talking) hound, Oberon and his apprentice, Granuaile. The series is set in a world exactly like ours, except magic and supernatural creatures and gods exist within it. At the end of the fourth book, Tricked, Atticus and Granuaile faked their deaths, and its ending marked the start of the twelve-year period of Granuaile’s training to become a Druid. So Trapped takes place approximately twelve years after the end of Tricked. Hearne has written three short stories that give a glimpse into events that took place during the time jump. “Two Ravens and One Crow” is a must read because it sets up some of the events that take place in Trapped. The other two stories–“The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” and “The Chapel Perilous”–are fun but not necessarily essential, though they are fun reads and I recommend them. The Iron Druid Chronicles is one of my favorite urban fantasy series and I highly recommend it. Start with the first book, Hounded, which I have reviewed here.
The story begins with Atticus and Granuaile searching for a place to start the process of binding Granuaile to the earth, the culmination of the twelve year period of her training to become a Druid. Before they can choose a location, one of Brighid’s heralds demands an audience with Atticus and his appearance at the court of the Tuatha de Danann. This news means that Brighid knows that Atticus is alive and he has to wonder who else might know that he faked his death. Practically at the same time, Perun–a god of thunder and an old friend we met in Hammered–appears with news of death and chaos in his realm caused by Loki, the Norse trickster god who has been awakened and escaped from imprisonment. Loki’s escape is to mark the beginning of Ragnarok, and because of the promise Atticus made to Odin in “Two Ravens and One Crow” this event also puts trouble on the horizon. Atticus, Granuaile, Oberon and Perun shift to the plane of the Tuatha de Danann and appear before Brighid, and there they learn that indeed, lots of other people know that Atticus is alive, including Bacchus, the Roman god with whom Atticus did battle in a previous book. Of course, Bacchus wants to see Atticus dead, so now there is a three-pronged set of challenges for the story line of the book–the battle with Bacchus, the necessity of dealing with Loki’s rising and the signal of the beginning of Ragnarok, and completing the ritual of binding Granuaile to the earth. For good measure, Hearne throws in a fourth problem in the form of Theophilus, the oldest vampire alive who happens to spend part of his time in Greece, which is the place to which Atticus and Granuaile are driven to complete building. Hijinks and shenanigans ensue throughout the book, and the story is fast-paced and builds to a climactic finish while also setting the stage for the next books in the series. This book also has an epilogue that is of vital importance because it sends Atticus, Granuaile and Oberon running (literally) across the Continent in a mad dash to relative safety in the British Isles. I can’t help writing about the epilogue here because it starts off with a fuzzy warm feeling and then ends with our characters being in mortal peril, and by the end you kind of feel off-balance and you look up from the last word from the sentence and want to cry, “What just happened?”
I have read that this is going to be a nine-book series, so Trapped is basically the halfway point of the larger story arc, and it definitely feels that way. A lot happens in this book, and several characters from previous books return and give a sense of how they will be important for the remainder of the series. Although the Morrigan is still on Atticus’ side, there are the new threats of the Svartalfar and an unknown enemy within the realm of the Tuatha de Danann that is plotting against Atticus. The most important development in the book, though, is the development of Granuaile into a strong character. Hearne does not hesitate to put her in the position of saving Atticus’ life more than once in the book and showing that she has the skills and strength to take care of herself. Thankfully, she is not characterized as the lesser female sidekick but rather she is powerful in her own right. Though the book is told from Atticus’ first person point of view, this thread of the story is very much her story, or at least focused upon her coming into her own as a Druid. There are multiple times when Atticus could have made completing the ritual the last priority, but it is always the main priority until it is complete, and this shows how important Granuaile is, to the story, to Atticus and on a larger scale within the story world. It’s also interesting to read it from the standpoint of Atticus effectively doubling the number of Druids in the world. He doesn’t achieve this through procreation but through a mentor-student relationship.
I know you must get tired of reading this but I don’t tire of typing it–this is a fantastic series and highly recommend it. The dialogue is witty and snappy, and now that Granuaile is a Druid she can hear and speak to Oberon, and that just makes the exchanges between hound and humans even more entertaining and an excellent source of comic relief. None of the books has let me down and each one keeps me invested and looking forward to reading the next one.