Some books are about their stories. Some books are about their characters. And other books are about the message they're trying to convey, their characters discussing lofty issues or being mouthpieces for particular viewpoints. Though not as frequent as the first two, there are plenty of blatantly philosophical novels around.
None of them have bread dildos and mummy cocks.
(I know, because I've checked)
To say dick jokes abound in Andrew Marc Rowe's Druid Trilogy (The Hammer of The Gods, All Knotted Up: The Price of Fame, and The Flower of Creation: Every Show Needs a Finale) would be an understatement. His books go farther into what might be called raunchy. This isn't some nod-nod-wink-wink humor, firing across the bow of indecency. This is full throated sex positive references to fucking, sex toys, jokes about manhood, lust, and a number of other vulgar topics not even related to sex.
They're also some damn fine philosophical novels.
At the same time as all this unbridled vulgarity and humor is going on, there's some very interesting discussions on life, society, the nature of reality, what it means to want, and what it means to be yourself. Sure, they're in the vehicle of a cross-pantheon conflict of skalds and bards, goblins and faeries, gods vs gods, and Cernunnos waving around his big fat cock. But among their dialog and nestled into the many cases where the fourth wall is broken so bad it might as well be an open window are worthwhile thoughts and perhaps - just perhaps, the thing you need to hear.
We've seen this sort of story before. Whether it's the work of Paul Coehlo, the Bhagavadgita, or the fiction of Robert Anton Wilson, the message is most important. The ending of the story matters less as a great story, but more for the way it shows off the answers to its philosophical questions, for what it makes you think about, and what it might make you feel. The Druid Trilogy could rub shoulders with those other notable entries in this genre, though the others might feel the need to wipe down said shoulders afterward.
The setting for these books is long ago, having a cast of characters both Norse, Celtic, and otherwise. Besides those created directly from Rowe's mind, you'll see such notables as Arthur, Merlin, Loki, Braga, Odin, Brigid, Dagon, and more. But don't think they're anything like how you've seen them before. Rowe's depictions are unique, bawdy, and humanly inhuman - and that's some of the charm. The gods are moving their favored mortals as pawns, but even they realize some of the absurdity of it all as they play out these games.
The Druid Trilogy should be taken as a whole entity. The first book, Hammer of the Gods, doesn't as much conclude as end, needing the reader to continue on to the others. There are also companion books that fill in the gaps, and while not required, the books themselves will highly suggest the reader check them out, to the point of becoming a running joke in the third book, The Flower of Creation. None of those are required for enjoyment, but there will be times where it feels like something significant happened off screen. Many of those times are in companion books, but sometimes it's simply an unwritten event. Rowe's storytelling is more concerned with the characters talking about the results of those events than necessarily what happened. That may disappoint some readers, but that's because the goal and expectations of these are different. Philosophy, not story, is king here.
In the midst of the fourth wall breaking, there are a bunch of references to anachronistic elements of current modern culture. There is an in-story reason, but it's more handwaving than explanation. Some might find that jarring - and if this is the part that jars you rather than much of the raunch, then good on you! - but they often serve as examples that you're taking this all too seriously. If you come out the end of this all quoting, "I came here to laugh, not to feel", then I expect Rowe would be more than pleased.
Who Should Read This?
If you're a fan of Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy or his screenplay, Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, then you'd find much to like in the Druid Trilogy. The content itself is more Neil Gaiman or Kevin Hearne, but the way it's used is much like RAW's works. Dry humor, explicit humor, drug use, and lots of talk about the nature of things, or what they could be.
If you're a fan of Coehlo but are more of a participant in modern North American culture - South Park, Simpsons, and humor both edgy and self-referential, then you'd also enjoy this trilogy. You'd feel perhaps more at home in the vehicle for the messages Rowe is trying to convey than perhaps Coehlo's older, non-English cultural depiction.
American Gods written by Robert Anton Wilson by way of South Park.
If you're still with me, you probably ready to check out these books. They are not for everyone, but this trilogy will push all the right buttons for the ideal audience. If you've been curious at any of the above - which I urge you to not take at all as reviewer's hyperbole - check out the books. When I started reading them, I wasn't sure I was going to like them, the humor maybe too fourth wally. But once I really sunk into what Rowe was doing, I really enjoyed the ride, even through the highly disturbing event in the third book. You're not going to read anything like this elsewhere - whether that's a good or a bad thing is for you to find out.
I bought Hammer of the Gods on sale and started reading it without knowing anything about the author. Since then, I've befriended Rowe and after some lengthy discussions on the topic, I have decided that he is one righteous dude.
The Druid Trilogy on Amazon
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