Tag: furies

First Lord’s Fury

by on Jul.17, 2010, under books

I finished reading the final volume of this fantasy mini-series.  I read the first book borrowed on multiple recommendations.  I went out and bought myself the second and third books as I worked through them.  The fourth and fifth I bought simultaneously while on a recent business trip out west.  And this sixth and final tome was my first ebook purchase for my Nook.  I’ve been a fan throughout the arc and I am a steadfast fan to the last.  But if anyone wants to borrow the series, well I can only really partially help out.

Before I even started this book, I noted something that struck me about the series. As I was finishing the fifth volume, I noticed that Tavi did not end up in the role represented by the subsequent title prior to the end of the book (which tended to be the case in the previous books).  As I found, Tavi ends up having multiple struggles to face through the sixth arc in order fulfill said destiny.  As previously established, the realm is in peril of being overtaken by the Vord and the odds are severely stacked in the invader’s favor.  But Tavi proves to have so many tricks up his sleep you wonder where he must keep his arms.  What also bears out is that many of those faithful to him have pretty keen heads on their shoulders as well.

What I find most fascinating about this series is the way that Jim Butcher weaves such a vivid world with so many well developed races and creatures.  On top of that, he has woven in a subtle stitching of narrative and history to suggest that the origin of the story’s human population could have been a lot roman legion – that a full legion and its follower camp mysteriously came to in this strange and hostile land.  And over the course of the millennia that passed  on Earth where we developed advances in technology, they instead came to harness these elemental furycrafting abilities and used them to similar ends (transportation, communication, etc.).  This narrative also bears the subtle suggestion that societies constantly at war could have the tendency to stagnate and to demur progressive ideas.

First Lord’s Fury proved to be a more satisfying ending to The Codex Alera series than I had anticipated.  And while I’m was happy to enjoy a series with a definitive run, part of me wonders what the fictional future could hold for the people of Alera (not that I’m suggesting a continuation or another mini-series is needed, but if Butcher has any such designs already in mind I know I would enjoy the reading).  I guess I’ll have to get my fantasy kicks elsewhere now (at least for a while) and look forward to more Dresden Files novels.  In the meantime I will keep reading something (there is always something to read).

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Princeps’ Fury

by on Jun.30, 2010, under books

Five down, one to go (for me at least – Jim Butcher finished his work quite a while ago).  My only dilemma now is whether to go out and drop the cash for the hardcover of book six so I can start reading right away, or drop hints all over the place for someone to get me a Nook for my birthday so I can download it for half the price … I guess I can attempt to practice patience – perhaps read something else in the meantime.

So far in this series, we’ve seen Tavi progress from a 15-year-old shepherd’s apprentice to a student, a spy for the crown, a captain of an entire legion and finally the heir to the thrown of the realm.  And in that time he has managed to foster peace with factions with whom their realm has been at war for in some cases centuries, defeated foes arguably several times more powerful, and managed to luck his way through some tight spots with little more than quick thinking and good instincts – most of the while doing so without the advantage of the magics that the rest of his kind seem to be able to wield.  In this volume, he has finally come into his power (on multiple levels) and is aims to take on challenges even larger than any so far.

While the previous volumes have all had their degrees of suspense and conflict, this one takes things to a new scale.  Not only are the battles and struggles massively larger and on multiple fronts, but there are many more nail-biter moments.  Many of the main characters seem to play some dangerous gambits which in some cases nearly bring them to deadly ends.  But as usual, the suspense pays off with dividends and in the end Butcher sets the stage nicely for the concluding chapter to come (which only drills home my itch to go read it).

I can honestly say that I would love to see this series realized as a series of movies.  It would likely be difficult to do full justice to the source material, but I think that it is fare that a broad audience would enjoy.  Plus on a practical note, the fact that each book has a built in gap of about 2 years, consistent casting shouldn’t be an issue (easier to manage than the cast of the Harry Potter series who seem to be aging faster than their characters, or the cast of twilight who mostly shouldn’t appear to age at all).  But that is just a dream.  I’m just as content with the reality of the fiction in the form of written word.

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Academ’s Fury

by on May.10, 2010, under books

In case you are wondering why I’m reviewing the second book in a series for which I reviewed the first book last week, if isn’t because I finished the second book in a week.  It was more like 2 weeks.  I just realized partway through the second book that I never wrote a review of the first.  Now that I’m done with the second, I will share my thoughts on it with you.

In Academ’s Fury, the second book in the Codex Alera series,  Jim Butcher jumps 2 years forward from the end of the first novel.  In it we return to Tavi being 2 years into his training to become a Cursor, we find his uncle and former steadholder, Bernard, comfortable and confident in his new role as a count, and we find his aunt Isana artfully navigating the trappings of steadholding and citizenship.  We also find some new enemy’s threatening these heroes, their ways of life, the First Lord, and the realm of Alera itself.

I have to say that within a chapter or two I found myself nearly incapable of putting this book down.  I spent many nights reading later than I intended to and many spare moments stealing a page or two more.  Butcher has an interesting style of writing in that every chapter manages to be a cliffhanger.  I noticed this trend in the Dresden Files as well, but it nearly always paid off since those books were in the first person.  These being in the omniscient third person, I often would read forward due to a suspenseful ending only to have to wait 2 or 3 chapters to be satisfied (and in the meantime have 2 or 3 more elements hanging that I’d want to read more about).  To be clear, I say this as a compliment as it is very fitting and the story well structured.  I commend his ability to pull it off so well so often.  I also greatly enjoyed the author’s complete sense of the realm he has constructed – down to the details of having historical and theoretical discussions and debates.

After finishing this second tome, I am confident that I am going to need to continue the series – most likely to completion (assuming there is and end in sight).  While the book certainly had a compelling set of arcs including riveting climaxes and satisfying denouements, there is clearly a longer arc at work here that one cannot simply abandon.  And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to find that 2 of my hunches I’d formulated in the first book were revealed to be true by the end of the second (at least one very subtlely).  I’m happy that Jim did not try to hide these revelations through to the end of the series – to do so would have been an underestimation of the audience.  It is good to see that Butcher does not think so little of us, but rather gave us the gift of acknowledgement.  I look forward to what will come in the next volume (once I find the time to purchase it).

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Furies of Calderon

by on May.04, 2010, under books

After receiving pressure from numerous sources and finding myself in a mood to read more but without anything of interest to read, I finally relented to read the first book in Jim Butcher’s The Codex Alera series.  I have not typically been a huge fan of the traditional fantasy genre – usually preferring contemporary sci-fi/fantasy or near-future sci-fi.  But I hve to say that this experience has turned me around on that stance.

For me, the introductory segment kicked off a bit slow – though this may be due to some of my own ambivalence rather than the writing.  And to be fair, most novels that are part of a series can seem to start slow in order to thoroughly build the environment and character-base (both of which are inherently larger when a longer series arc is to be expected).  But once events started moving along, I was hooked.

The realm that Jim Butcher creates in this series is an interesting one:  one which exhibits a human populace with technology on par with the Roman Empire, but where some more modern conveniences are enjoyed via an interesting form of sorcery; one where each member of this society has the ability to wield some forms of magic by way of ethereal companions known as furies; and one where the main commonwealth is in a tenuous peace with various volatile forces from every direction – many of these groups being very similar to human themselves.  In the course of this first volume, the tenuity of this equilibrium is challenged from a few angles, and an unlikely protagonist in the middle of these events is a 15-year-old boy named Tavi who is unique in his complete lack of ability to wield any furycrafting.

To elaborate on the nature of the fury magic in the series, it seems that there are 6 types of furies that one can wield:  fire, water, air, earth, wood, and metal.  Each of these types includes the ability to manipulate objects of that element as well as other abilities related to it.  For instance, a watercrafter can not only manipulate water (change its state, move it at will, manipulate it within other things), but also can feel the emotions of others around him/her and heal wounds with this craft.  Woodcrafters have the ability to camouflage themselves, aircrafters the ability of flight as well as the ability to use air to buffer sound around them or magnify distant objects.  And many people have the ability to wield more than one type of furycraft.  Though most types also come with weaknesses (e.g., aircrafting can be damped by earth such as mud or salt, earthcrafting requires access to the ground).

Among the contending forces to their realm are a group of human-ish people to the east called the Marat (which seem very much like albino Native Americans).  The Marat have no ability to wield furies, but instead bond to animals and align themselves in tribes related to the animals to which they are bound.  And while these people are largely enigmatic and most know of them mainly by reputation due their involvement in a major battle a generation prior, they are not the worst enemy the realm of Alera seems to be facing.

I have to say that this book, much like Jim Butcher’s other works, has piqued my interest to continue reading.  The story was often riveting and in the end well encapsulated, but with all the makings of a continuing saga that one would want to follow.  And it has definitely changed my view of the traditional fantasy genre.

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