Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Book: Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Series: Book One of the Codex Alera


Extras: None

Plot (Goodreads):For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies - elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal. But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir. Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.

Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans' most savage enemy - the Marat - return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.
Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos - when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies - Amara will find Tavi's courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury - one that could turn the tides of war

My four-sentence or less take on the plot: Tavi is a 15-year-old boy who is essentially stunted by his lack of power to control the elements (furies). He stumbles in to a treacherous plot to kill the First Lord (a sort of King, I gather) and, along with his aunt and uncle and a few other assorted characters, must try to avert (or win) a war.


What worked: Jim Butcher is an amazing writer. I could go on for hours about how much I love the Dresden Files. His excellent writing made this book readable for me--his characters were slightly one dimensional (to be expected in the first of a series) but likable and the action was exciting. The book was fast-paced and kept my interest.

What didn't: I don't like high fantasy books. I never have. I hate talking animals, distant worlds, made up languages, and entire chapters filled with description of a far-away world. To be fair, "Furies of Calderon" really didn't include any of those pet peeves, it's almost more of an alternate history (with a few animals that don't exist in this world--well,that and the furies). Still, there are plenty of swords and horses, like any good epic fantasy. The good are good and the evil are certainly evil, with very little crossover. I have never read a high fantasy book I've liked.

So why did I read this book? For the "To-be-read challenge". I realized recently that March was almost finished and I hadn't read a single book on my list. I don't do well with these books, I kept imagining that the strong and savage Marats looked like JarJar Binks, even though they are certainly never described that way. None of my problems with the book are fair, I just really don't like the genre. Back to the Dresden Files for me! I don't even feel I should be scoring this book.

Keep reading?
Sure. So many of my friends have told me that they love this series that I want to have read it too.

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