Book & Shorts Review: Tricked and various shorts from the Iron Druid Chronicles, by Kevin Hearne

As I was checking the order of novels on Goodreads, I found a few short stories in the series. This review covers book #4 (Tricked) and the short up to that point.

What to Expect

Tricked sets Atticus up against creatures from Native American (Navajo) mythology. Coyote (who appeared in the previous novel) helps him out of his predicament with the Norse gods, and in return asks for a service. As can be expected from a Trickster god, this ‘service’ is rather tricky and Atticus gets dragged to further mischief against his better judgement.

Expect the usual urban-fantasy romp, mixing mythologies and adventures, pop-culture references and quips amidst the action. A lovely read, even if not particularly taxing.

There is a twelve years gap between Tricked and the next book (Trapped), at least in the series internal time if not in publication. There are also a lot of short stories that Hearne has published for those years, so I read them plus a few that happen before the series starts.

Shorts – before the series start

Grimoire of the Lamb is a novella that happens before the main series. As with the novels, this story pits Atticus against a new pantheon of myths and gods — this time, Egyptians. The story is a bit darker than usual for the series, a little less of the flippant humour. I also found the interactions with Oberon (Atticus’ dog), slightly less appealing than the usual. It’s still a nice story, but I’d recommend reading it after Hounded, once you know you’re a fan and want to read everything for completeness.

Clan Rathskeller and Kaibab Unbound are short stories in the time just before Hounded. Their style is much more introductory, with built-in (but not annoying) explanations of Atticus’ druid powers and world. Clan Rathskeller pits him against gnomes and kobolds, both creatures with a magic greater than his. Kaibab Unbound builds up on a comment about history from an earlier book, and set Atticus up against a small coven of witches.

Shorts – after Tricked

Two Ravens and One Crow is another good novella in the series. It helps fill the 12-year gap between Tricked and Trapped, catching us up on some of the healing Atticus needed and the preparation for the impending Ragnarok (or world doom of your choice). A bit of a tousle with Norse gods and some story-swapping about Irish mythology and Atticus’ past make for an entertaining blend.

Carniepunk: The Demon Barker of Wheat Street is a dark fantasy short, taking place right after Two Ravens. Not quite horror, it’s still much darker than the usual stories — Caniepunk is an anthology about the dark side of carnivals, for those with coulrophobia.

The Chapel Perilous takes place around the 6th century CE in Wales, and places Atticus with events and myths commonly associated with the Arthurian legends. The setup is Atticus telling the story to his apprentice and dog, but we get a glimpse as well into the his early centuries and pre-Saxon Britain.

What I liked

I love the characters, all of whom are well drawn and realistic. Atticus’ attitude that neither growing old nor growing up are mandatory – leads him to have Shakespeare quote duels with vampires and lose a pun context to his dog. The odd story from an alternate POV (A Test of Mettle after Hammered from Granuaile’s and a later story from Oberon’s) add excellent depth to both character and world.

Hearne has done a wonderful job in crafting the Iron Druid’s world, with its seemingly conflicting pantheons and creation myths living together in a way that does not clash but rather interacts nicely. He’s got a cool magic system – systems, one should say – where the limitations are just as interesting as the powers, varied monsters and gods, and light adventures; everything you’d want from urban fantasy, even if the setting isn’t particularly ‘urban’.

What to be aware of

Tricked is book 4 of the series, and references past events. Though there is a bit of closure and break from the previous three novels, it’s still best to read from the start. As for the shorts, again — read Hounded first, see if you like it, and then everything else. If you’re in a rush, the two shorts of Clan Rathskeller and Kaibab Unbound might provide a better introduction than the Grimoire of the Lamb novella, but might be harder to find. None of them introduce anything that would affect or change your enjoyment of the main novels.

Felix’s Review

Felix is enjoying the series as well. He can see why Atticus is willing to tackle gods and monsters, what with his great powers (particularly the quick healing granted to him by the earth). He’d definitely like to share a drink with him, and suspects there would be many stories they could swap, as well as discuss some fine points about herb lore.


Highly recommended entertainment for urban-fantasy and mythology fans. The main novels are highly entertaining, with good characters, humorous banter, and plenty of action. The shorts vary a bit, but still mostly a fun complement to the main series.

Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He’s the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.

Come meet Felix and his world on the free short stories and novels!

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