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Tag: Jim Butcher

Heat Stroke

by on Jul.20, 2010, under books

Since I ran out of Jim Butcher books to read (for now), I decided to go back to a series I started based on his recommendations.  I picked up and started reading the second book in Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series, Heat Stroke.  I had read the first volume, Ill Wind, a few months ago and rather enjoyed her writing then.

Rachel Caine’s writing style is somewhat similar to Jim Butcher’s style in the Dresden Files series, but a bit more femininely-oriented.  Instead of references to slasher movies, etc., there are references to fashionable attire.  In place of guy-ish sexual tension and subtle female objectification, there is, well, some pretty overt male objectification.  But both deal in some good fights both physical and magical in nature.  And both describe the use of their respective magics as a balance of mystical powers and application of physics.

In this second volume, we see the story line from Ill Wind continued quite literally – as in almost no break in time between the arcs.  It would be nearly impossible to summarize the plot of this book without partially spoiling the ending of its predecessor.  So if you haven’t read the first book but plan to, I suggest you stop reading here.

Ok, for the rest of you – the end of the last book had Joanne Baldwin throwing all of her power into stopping a pretty deadly demon-based scenario from unfolding by absorbing two demon marks into herself and allowing them to effectively cancel each other out … thoroughly killing her in the process.  But her newfound Djinn ally, David, saved her by converting her into a Djinn.  At first this seemed a pretty sweet setup for a happily ever after, but it seems her ‘birth’ as a Djinn was a costly process that had consequences that no one had anticipated – amongst which was a rift into the Void (the realm from which demon-kind hail).  So after having a couple of days to adjust to her new existence, she has to jump right into the fray of fixing some things that it seems no one else has the power to fix – including trying to keep her hair from turning up curly every time she turns solid.

Unlike the previous volume that ended in a sort of serendipity, this one ends with a pretty big cliffhanger.  So naturally I will be continuing to read through book 3.  So far the female perspective appreciation of hunkiness factor hasn’t turned me off to the series yet (I guess I’m that big of a geek that the weather and magic talk drive me to soldier on).  But I sense more of it to come – if it becomes overwhelming I may have to cut my losses, which would be ashame as I do enjoy the overall narrative.  The only complaint I can offer is that the book, while only about 200 plus pages, was divided into only 3 chapters.  I guess to an extent I’ve gotten used to Butcher’s screenplay-esque chapter handling.  Again, I can tolerate this as I will stop where I feel the need to stop, but it is nice to have more frequent clean breaks.  But I will continue on – potentially straight through the whole series … or at least until Jim Butcher releases something else.

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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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Captain’s Fury

by on Jun.17, 2010, under books

Oddly, this fourth volume had proved elusive (though mostly as a matter of timing).  I attempted to run out and pick it up prior to my trip last week to San Francisco figuring – rightly so – that I would finish the other book I was reading before the week was through.  After visiting 3 bookstores in the immediate area around my house, I threw in the towel.  I finally found it while in San Fran at a Barnes & Noble that was not far from Fisherman’s Wharf (they also had the fifth book, so I picked that up too).  I read half of it during train and plane rides home on Saturday.

What I’ve come to respect in the writings of Jim Butcher is his ability to craft a story with a long-term vision in mind.  He knows how to take his time and build the larger arc while constantly including several smaller arcs along the way.  The pace is never too slow or too rushed and I have yet to notice any loopholes or stretches of the natural suspension of disbelief.

In this fourth book in The Codex Alera series, Tavi is continuing in his role as the Captain of the First Aleran legion, but not without challenges on multiple fronts.  The battles with both the Canim and Kalarus’ army rage on.  In addition, Tavi comes to discover a third force in play that seems to be allied with the Canim – a huge legion of freed Aleran slaves.  Additionally he must content with his own ‘allies’ – his own troops are joined by those of the Senatorial guard forces who seem to be led by a pompous, fool-hardy senator who is a puppet for yet another less overt enemy of the Crown.  All the while, he must keep from getting overthrown or killed as well as contend with some startling truths being revealed to him.

As usual, I was buckled in for the ride.  Besides Tavi’s story, I was engaged and riveted by each of the characters’ tales.  And as usual, I’m already on board to read the next volume (good thing I picked it up already).  I am starting to feel like a fanboy, so if anyone has an criticisms I’d be eager to hear them.  I’m curious who well these books might translate to the big screen, though I worry that a larger audience might have trouble buying into such a tangential version of Earth.

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Cursor’s Fury

by on Jun.01, 2010, under books

Wow.  Jim Butcher manages to continue amaze me with his writing.  I’d grown addicted to The Dresden Files, and now I’ve been drawn into The Codex Alera series hook, line, and sinker.  My only hope is the fact that there are only six books in the series, so I have a definite end in sight.

The first book slowly drew me into the canon – having not read a book of this genre in so long, this took a bit of time – but leveraged my sense of intrigue to.  The second book kept pulling me through on the hooks of anxiety and anticipation.  This third book had plenty of intrigue and dramatic tension, but most of the draw through this story came in the form of excitement and elation.  There were so many small pay-offs through the story (and some big ones towards the end), that I found myself becoming outwardly happy and almost giddy as I progressed through the book.

In this volume, we are once more taken a few years forward.  Tavi, the primary protagonist, is studying some ancient Romanic ruins – the reminiscent of a preceding civilization that did not have furycrafting abilities (which sort of suggests that this realm is an alternate progression of Earth history) – and is then retasked to join a newly formed legion as an officer (despite his lack of military experience or requisite furycrafting).  In this he manages to blend in more than well and the turn of events presents him with unexpected challenges.

Cursor’s Fury is an exciting and satisfying read from start to finish.  It is full of compelling twists and turns and is both fantastic and believable.  And the end, in true Jim Butcher form, leaves you salivating to dive into book #4 (which I most likely will do shortly).

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