Chapel Perilous does not count as a book review since it is just a short story that falls within Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. I have read the first book in the series Hounded, and greatly enjoyed it and when I found the short story on line I downloaded it and then of course waited months to read it.
The basics of the books follow Atticus O’Sullivan, a 2,000 year old druid, the last of his kind. He has survived the Roman persecution of druids as well as the Roman Catholic Church’s efforts to stamp out hearsay in his long lifetime. He lives in modern Tempe, Az. running a small tea shop/occult store. The Irish Pantheon of gods is alive and still active. So are all of the other pantheons, Roman, Greek, Chinese and variations of them.
On the face of it this is not the type of tale that would appeal to me. Aside from the gods there are witches, werewolves, giants and a host of other mythical creatures. But Hearne really makes it work and the books are interesting, fast paced, humorous and educational. I knew nothing about Irish folklore and would look up each mention and found that he has done a great job bringing these ancient stories to life. There are a few issues I felt. The title character is a bit too good looking, clever, powerful etc… Everything seems too easy for Atticus as well. But I suspect that is part of this genre as a whole.
Anyway in Chapel Perilous, the story revolves around the search for an artifact of the Irish gods called Dagda’s Cauldron, something which in later years would become in stories the Holy Grail. Atticus, who is being pursued by an angry Irish god (although he does not appear in this book) is asked by Ogma, another god, to retrieve the grail, in return for a favor. However in this adventure Atticus uses the name Gawain as an alias, which is how the whole grail story starts. If you are a fan of Le Morte d’Arthur you should be forewarned that it does not really have the same plot.
This is a short, (30+ pages) story and a great introduction to the Iron Druid series. It should be noted that the telling takes place sometime after the first few books although the events are hundreds of years earlier, so keep that in mind if you like it and go out and read Hounded.