Published 2012 338 pages
Reviewed by Ania Tyburska
Summary (from the book jacket)
After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.
Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge – but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.
Trapped is the fifth installment in the Iron Druid Chronicles, but it actually starts twelve years after the events in Tricked. The druid Atticus is ready to initiate his apprentice Granuaile. Unfortunately, this kind of timeline, though inventive, leaves the reader with a strange feeling of being, well, tricked. More than a decade passed. It may not be much for a druid who is more than two thousand years old, but the world is changing much more rapidly than it used to. The universe in the series, withstanding the magic, is strongly rooted in our reality. And the pop-cultural references are going to be very different in 2024.
The strange time gap messes also with character building. We are supposed to believe that the relationship between Atticus and Granuaile did not evolve outside the teacher- student comfort zone for the last couple of years? Remained in an emotional standstill and then just switched on their feelings so the story can go on? Sorry, I am not buying it.
Speaking about characters, what is wrong with women in this series? From the goddesses to universally beloved Granuaile, they are all insecure bitches, behaving for most of the time like spoiled brats. The only full-blooded female characters were the coven of Polish witches from Hexed and they get less and less of print time with every book.
Why cannot an author who creates so complex and deliciously gritty male characters transfer a bit of this magic to his female protagonists? And do not even get me started about little miss perfect, Granuaile. There is a moment in the book when dryad warns Atticus that he is going to suffer a great deal of pain and I really hope that it means a soon demise for his apprentice. Oberon is Atticus' sidekick not some overeducated bimbo with serious daddy issues.
Thanks for letting me rant for the past couple of paragraphs. Now comes the actual review. Trapped is the weakest book in the series so far, but still better than the majority of urban fantasy novels on the shelf. It has amazingly strong characters, great world building and uses some of the most known myths and legends in a new, imaginative way. My favourite part? When one of Atticus' mottos: “When in doubt, blame it on the dark elves”, comes back and bites him in the ass.
The story itself is a bit fragmented. Atticus tries to bind Granuaile to Earth, he gets interrupted. And so on for 300 pages. The grand finale, when it eventually comes, is a bit anticlimactic. But still we got another cameo by one of favorite vampires, Leif (am I the only one who sees the uncanny resemblance to Eric from Sookie Stackhouse series?) and clown convention in a Greek sports shop. These scenes more than make up for the pages of emotional diarrhea. I am still a big fun of the series and really hope that the next part will be more in the Hexed wheelhouse – Ania
Editor’s Review: For the most part I think Ania has already nailed the strengths and weaknesses of Trapped in her review. Overall I found Trapped to be a more enjoyable read then Tricked (where the Oberon’s constant sausage dialogue went beyond my tolerance level for meat-product conversation, leaving me feeling generally bored and irritated with a substantial part the story.) The pacing is fast and frantic, with non-stop mythical monster and god fighting action interspaced with witty banter and trips to fantastic mythical planes. So pretty much what you’d expect based on the previous instalments of the Iron Druid series... except that no matter how hard Trapped tries it never manages to reach the heady heights of urban fantasy perfection achieved by Hexed or Hammered.
The twelve year gap between the time period of this story and the setting of the previous instalment is slightly odd – a lot can happen in 12 years and somehow I was left with the feeling that I’d missed out on something (Atticus making nice with Odin after the whole Thor-slaying business for starters). Also off-putting it is the way that Atticus and Ganuaile are constantly interrupted during their druid graduation ritual – necessitating them to stop what they are doing and run for their lives – the interruptions acting like speed bumps in the otherwise linear flow of the plot. Still the good points far out-weigh the bad ones so feel free to ignore my petty gripes and enjoy this story for yourself – Amanda
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