Besieged: Stories from The Iron Druid Chronicles
by Kevin Hearne
Cover Artist: Gene Mollica
Review by Wes Breazeale
Del Rey Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9780399181733
Date: 11 July 2017 List Price $27.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Over the years, Kevin Hearne has written short stories set in the Iron Druid universe that have appeared in various limited edition collections, as add-ons to ebook versions of the novels, and other sundry locations. With Besieged, Hearne presents readers with his first collection of short stories. All told, the collection will likely appeal exclusively to his die-hard fans, as none of them are essential reading in order to still enjoy the main novels.
Besieged includes a few of Hearne's previously published stories, but most are presented here for the first time. Some of them are good, some are bad, and one is great. Those who haven't enjoyed all of Hearne's narrative side trips within the novels, particularly those in the last few, may choose to be more selective.
The first four stories, "The Eye of Horus", "Goddess at the Crossroads", "The Demon Barker of Wheat Street", and "Gold Dust Druid", are cute, but not essential reading in terms of the overall arc of the novels. For those who have never had the opportunity to read any of these stories that have appeared in other collections or in the ebook versions of the novels, this is a good chance to read them.
"The Eye of Horus" has a clever connection to one of Hearne's other short stories--"The Grimoire of the Lamb"--but otherwise is uninspiring. "Goddess at the Crossroads" suffers from the "main character has run-ins with famous people" syndrome, as does "Gold Dust Druid" to a lesser degree. "Demon Barker", however, is a more enjoyable story that has a greater connection to the ongoing tales in the novels.
The latter half of the book has stories that seem to be more pertinent to the ongoing storyline of the novels (save for "Haunted Devils", told from Owen's point of view and largely pointless). "The Bogeyman of Boora Bog" is another told from Owen's point of view and is a nice story that explains how he came to be Atticus' archdruid. "Cuddle Dungeon" brings us an amusing, and insightful, a tale of Perun, Slavic thunder god, with a side of Tuatha De Danann. It's an odd little story but has a nice tie to everything else.
"Blood Pudding" is perhaps the highlight of the entire book, a great story about Granuaile's training in Poland and it feels like it could have been a chapter in Staked or the upcoming Scourged. Besieged closes with a story focused on Atticus called "End of Idylls". Ostensibly setting things up for Scourged, it misses the mark and is somewhat uninspiring.
In all, Besieged will most likely be well received by fans clamoring for more Iron Druid stories. It is unfortunate that some of the stories aren't quite there, but overall, it is a worthwhile read.