Tag: magic

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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Dresden, Wizard

by on Jan.07, 2009, under books

I stated previously that I may post reviews of The Dresden Files books here some time ago.  Since then, I’ve read four of them and just started the fifth.  So I’m thinking I should make good on my previously implied intent.  This, however, is not going to be that review.  I will collect my thoughts on each one and review them separately in due time. (continue reading…)

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