In Tricked the last surviving Druid, Atticus, is dealing with the game-changing (and perhaps apocalypse causing) ramifications from the events in Hammered (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon, my review). He fakes his death, he fakes the death of his apprentice and the Navajo Coyote god calls in a favor. Things mostly happen in northern Arizona on the Navajo reservation with Atticus and company dealing with skinwalkers, a Norse god of death, and a tricky situation with vampires. His problems seem to get worse and worse.
In Tricked we finally see Atticus’s apprentice, Granuaile, come into her own as a full, fleshed-out character. The banter with her almost equals the buddy banter between Atticus and his dog, Oberon, but thankfully there is a lack of sexual tension in the man-dog talk. And the humorous back-and-forth between Atticus and Oberon with the Coyote thrown in for spice is top-notch. Hearne also takes some time to explore the legends and religion of the Navajo people, which is interesting and refreshing to see.
Unfortunately, I had some problems Hearne’s portrayal of Atticus and some of the environmental issues of the Navajo Reservation. It’s understandable and appropriate that the last surviving Druid would be a pretty hard-core environmental type. However, I find it very difficult that someone who is supposed to be over 2000 years old, who has managed to live so long among mortals, who has seen human nature and all its complexities play out over and over again, could have such as naïve understanding of the environmental issues faced by the Navajo Reservation. Basically, Atticus shows the nuance of an 18-year old college student in his environmental stance on mining, power generation and the environmental and social ramifications for the Navajo people. And Hearne has clearly never actually visited a working strip mine. Now, this is mostly just sour grapes on my part, since I live here, I am an engineering geologist, I work at mines, I work at power plants, I work on environmental clean-up projects, I know Navajo people, I know people who work for the mine in question and the power plant in question, I’m friends with the NPR reporter who covers the reservation, I know an FBI agent who works on the reservation, etc. etc. While I imagine that Hearne and I probably vote more or less the same, these are issues that I actually know things about, and the way the book treats them was a let-down for me and I found it to be a pretty big break down in the characterization of Atticus. But, thankfully, even though I’ve written more about this than anything else, it’s not a deal breaker for the book. These books are not deep, they are not supposed to be deep, and reading too much into them looses the focus on just what the books are trying to do.
So, even with my reservations that I discuss above, Tricked is another fun entry into the Iron Druid Chronicles. These books have become a fun comfort for me and a must read anytime I receive a new one. It’s a great example of a light-hearted urban fantasy that succeeds well within its bounds and is not set in another generic city.