First Lord’s Fury, by Jim Butcher

-pout- So it turns out that this is the last book in the Codex Alera series. After the last book I was all, oh no, I’m going to be caught up and then I’ll have to wait for books, but no, there’s no waiting, ’cause it’s OVER. Blast.

I’m sort of miffed at how the series went out, though. From that last book link above, you know that the big vord fight hadn’t really ended and I was miffed then; well, if you’re looking for a really long novel that’s all about a big vord fight, this is the book for you. Seriously, nothing else happens in this book. Tavi’s fighting the vord with his troops and the Canim, Bernard and Amara are basically leading the rest of Alera to fight the vord, Isana and Araris get kidnapped by the vord but still manage to be fighting them… everyone is fighting the vord except a few freemen who surrender early so as not to die. The book is 400-plus pages of various people fighting the vord in various ways.

Now, the fighting is as well-written as any other fighting the series has seen, so it’s good, I’m not against that. But a lot of what I liked about the series was getting to know the characters, and there is just no character development at all in this book. Everyone pretty much ends up the same way they started, but with some extra babies thrown in and some new neighbors as well. I guess we get to learn more about the vord queen, but not enough to make me really care about her or [spoiler alert? probably not] the fact that she gets all killed and stuff in the end.

All in all it was a good, engaging, entertaining novel, and if you’ve read the rest of the series you pretty much have to read this one, but I’d say don’t spend hardcover money on it if you do. The library is your friend!

Rating: 6/10
(A to Z Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

Princeps’ Fury, by Jim Butcher (23 August — 25 August)

More Codex Alera! I really do love this series.

So let’s see. This book picks up not too long after the last book. The Canim are on their way home with Tavi, except that when they get there, there’s not much home left, because the vord are back, and have taken over some ridiculously large portion of the Canim lands, which are themselves ridiculously large. Yaaay.

Meanwhile, back in Alera, the vord are back! Yaaay. This is sort of good, because the Citizens stop bickering about the First Lord for a while, but bad because, you know, there are lots of people dying. It’s also bad because the vord have figured out how to furycraft. Lame. There are a couple stories here — Bernard and Amara go off to do some skulking and figure out things like where the queen is and how the vord are getting around; Isana goes north to negotiate a truce between Alera and the Icemen, a fight which has been going on apparently needlessly for years.

I was a bit miffed with this book because the story doesn’t get all neatly wrapped up as it does in the other books. I mean, all of the storylines I described above are completed, but the overarching battle isn’t done yet. It’s not a big deal, but I’m glad the next book comes out in a couple months! Except then I’m caught up with the series and will have to start waiting for books again! Oh no! I’m gonna go cry in a corner now… or just read some more books…

Rating: 7/10

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

Captain’s Fury, by Jim Butcher (3 July — 4 July)

I took a long (for me, anyway) break from the Codex Alera series because of the “little tiny major thing that happens at the very end and makes me want to scream in frustration” part of the third book. I was like, no way. Uh-uh. And then I was in the library, and the fourth book was there, and I was like, who knows? Maybe it could be okay.

And, well, you know, I’m glad I did. Because the thing that could have been frustrating was actually very well-handled and blah, blah, if I had a hat I didn’t care much for, I’d eat it. And since it’s not really central to the plot, I will just move along now.

So it’s been two years since that big battle with the Canim, and Tavi is still leading his army under the guise of Rufus Scipio. Things are as they ever were, except that an Aleran senator called Arnos thinks that fighting is easy-peasy and brings in a couple of legions of his “First Senatorial” to complement (read: take over for) Tavi’s First Aleran. Arnos is ready to lead his troops to their death, which was not on Tavi’s agenda for the year and as such Tavi does what he can to thwart Arnos’s plans. Of course, then Arnos thwarts Tavi by catching him at “treason” (read: talking to the head of the Canim troops to attempt to declare a cease-fire) and gets Tavi thrown in jail. Oops.

Meanwhile, the First Lord has decided that being passive is for losers and recruits Amara and Bernard to help him walk into Kalare’s stronghold (literally; Gaius Sextus’s furies are being tracked so he can’t use them) and stop Kalare from a) destroying his own people and b) destroying the Aleran government. This is a good plan until Sextus injures himself but good and walking becomes limping becomes riding a sled through a swamp.

As usual, there is lots of fighting and lots of furycrafting and a little bit of sexing and some double-crossing and maybe triple-crossing but I can’t keep track of all that intrigue. This series is definitely back on my good list.

Rating: 7.5/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2007, Chunkster Challenge)

Cursor’s Fury, by Jim Butcher (17 February)

The third in the Codex Alera series.

Tavi gets into yet another scrape in this book! Surprised? With the First Lord still thinking about kicking the bucket maybe someday in the future, the high lords of Alera have been bickering about who will succeed his heirless-ness. The First Lord wants to just get the whole uprising thing out of the way, so he chooses one of the two front-runners to become his legal heir in an attempt to draw out the other, Kalare, and force him to fight early. It works far better than the First Lord intended, and soon there are a lot of dead people lying about.

Tavi is away from the fighting this time, serving as the First Lord’s spy in the military even though there’s no way Tavi can fight (no furies, remember!). Luckily, he’s assigned to a prototype Legion made up of soldiers from all parts of Alera, a Legion that is not meant to see battle. Except… Kalare is not just fighting on his own. He’s brought in a race called the Canim (dog-like creatures, naturally) to do some of the dirty work for him and it falls on the First Aleran to fight them, mostly under the unexpected command of Tavi.

Other stuff happens, too, of course, but I think the Canim battle is the most interesting part, especially with Tavi leading the way. The book also finally settles Tavi’s lineage (which made me go, “Duh! Should have seen that one!”) and shows you much of the First Lord’s cunning, something that the characters are always just arguing about. Well done, all in all, except for this little tiny major thing that happens at the very end and makes me want to scream in frustration. Bah. We’ll see where Butcher goes with that in the next book…

Rating: 7.5/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2006, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

Academ’s Fury, by Jim Butcher (26 January — 28 January)

This is the second novel of the Codex Alera series wherein elements can do awesome things if you know how to use them.

Tavi is now at the Academy, training to become a Cursor but still getting his butt kicked by bullies since he doesn’t have the ability to furycraft. When the First Lord falls ill, it falls on Tavi to figure out a way to keep the warring factions from finding out and declaring a civil war.

Meanwhile, Tavi’s aunt, Isana, is headed to the capital with news for the First Lord — creatures called the vord have begun to take over Calderon and are probably headed for the capital city as well. Her brother, now Count Bernard, and his men are fighting them off as best they can, but it might not be enough.

Certainly as good as the first book. Butcher adds in a few more puzzles that make me want to keep on reading the series and starts slowly answering the questions I had before. I’m very curious to find out just what’s up with Tavi’s heritage.

Rating: 7/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2005, Chunkster Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

Furies of Calderon, by Jim Butcher (20 December — 27 December)

This is the first of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series, not about wizards for hire but about a fantasy world where people can control the elements through spirits called furies.

In this first book we meet Amara, a Cursor (still not clear exactly what that means) of the First Lord of the Aleran people. She is performing her Academy graduation exercise of infiltrating a rebel camp and finding out what they are planning when she is thwarted by an unexpected source — her mentor, who has been by her side in planning the investigation but also by the side of the rebels in leading Amara into a trap. She escapes to the Calderon Valley, where…

Tavi, a teenager who is well past the age for coming into furies but who does not have any. Tavi has let some of the sheep from his uncle Bernard’s farm stay out all night, impressing a girl instead of herding them as he is meant to, but when he and Bernard go to find them in the morning, they find instead a Marat soldier, something not seen in the Calderon Valley for years. Bernard is nearly killed and Tavi must figure out how to survive a violent storm and return to the farm to warn everyone of the impending danger.

Along the way he meets up with Amara, she explains what’s going on, and adventures are had, as they are in any good fantasy book.

I quite liked this book. The pacing was decent, the plot connected well, and the characters were interesting. There wasn’t any of the “and then Tavi comes into his furies right when he needs them most!” that I was expecting, and little details fell into place really well. I especially appreciated the fact that the book was only 450 pages long, because those epic novels (see next post) can get a little tedious. Butcher cut out the fat but left in all the tasty protein (whoo metaphor!) I was looking for.

Rating: 7/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2004)

Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher (16 November)

Man, what a crappy weekend for reading. I mean, it was a good one in that I read about 700 pages and finished two books this weekend, but I was really disappointed by those books.

This one especially! Grave Peril is the third in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, and I very much enjoyed the first two books. Sadly, this one just did not work for me.

The plot here is that Harry Dresden, a wizard for hire, gets drawn into a case where ghosts are attacking people, someone is probably attacking the ghosts, and there’s a demon that attacks people in their nightmares. Not a bad premise.

But! There are about eleventy bajillion red herrings in the book that don’t all sort themselves out in the end, there’s at least one continuity error, and in the end everything is solved by love or something stupid like that. Butcher is an engaging writer, for sure, and I definitely wanted to know what happened in the end, but then it was stupid and I was sad. It’s sort of like when VeggieTales is on TV and you know that there’s going to be a corny tie-in to God at the end of the episode, but those vegetables are just so darn cute that you keep watching it anyway.

I’ll probably pick up the next book in the series in the hopes that it will get better, but if it doesn’t I guess I’m done. Sigh.

Rating: 6/10

Fool Moon, by Jim Butcher (30 July − 3 August)

This is the second book of the Dresden Files series. The supernatural culprit this time is werewolves, as you might have guessed by the title. A few people show up dead, ravaged by not-quite-wolves, and Harry is called in to figure things out. He is first lead to a gang called the Streetwolves, nerdy college types who have decided to become werewolves and who are led by a not-at-all-human werewolf called Tera with a proclivity for walking around naked. He also finds a businessman who is cursed to become a wolf at the full moon and who has irked the mob boss from the previous novel. Also, a misunderstanding leads his cop friend to arrest him as an accomplice, making finding out which wolf did it a little more complicated.

Rating: 8/10

Storm Front, by Jim Butcher (4 July − 6 July)

This is the first book in a series called The Dresden Files, about a wizard who investigates paranormal crimes. It was recommended to me by a librarian, and I quite enjoyed it.

The wizard is called Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, and he’s got a lot of baggage − he has killed a few people in his time, had some uncomfortable interactions with black magic, and has a pretty crappy love life. In this book, he’s out on two weird cases: in one, people are dying by having their hearts explode, and in the other, a guy who is sort of into magic disappears and his wife wants him found. The Chicago mob gets involved, and also demons, and a skull that contains a spirit who knows all about potions. It’s a little bit all over the place, but it’s totally fun. I’ve got the next book in the series lined up on my shelf.

Rating: 8/10