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Friday, January 12, 2007


*****+ Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher. Fantasy. Re-read.









Oh, geez. There is no way I can do this book justice. I tend to babble when I love a book, and waffle between fangirly squeeing and a dry synopsis. I've been a fan of Jim Butcher's writing for 6 years--hard to believe it hasn't been longer than that. The books have always been good, but each book is just a little bit better than the one before, making Cursor's Fury his best book yet. Captain's Fury will be even better--trust me on this.

Cursor's Fury is the third book in the Codex Alera. And before the dingbats on Amazon get their panties in a twist--the Codex Alera is not a trilogy. It was never intended as a trilogy. But neither is it an open-ended series. It's a 6-book series. Quit getting pissy about what-ifs just because some authors don't know when/how to wrap things up. This one does.

Heh. I knew I'd wind up on a soapbox sooner or later here.

Anyway. The series is mostly about Tavi. If you've read the other books (and you really need to read this series in order, because each book builds on the previous ones--though enough details are given so a newcomer wouldn't be completely lost), you know that Alera is a world of magic, where people use elemental furies (air, earth, water, fire, metal, & wood) the way we use technology. And Tavi can't use furies. At all.

In Cursor's Fury, Tavi is now a cursor (secret agent for the Crown)--hence the title--and as such, he's sent to the newly-formed First Aleran legion as a junior officer (think butterbar). It's composed of soldiers and officers from every part of Alera, and they're sent off to the far reaches of the realm where, presumably, they'll all just spy on each other and keep out of trouble. Instead, they find themselves facing an invasion of Canim (huge dog-like creatures), and nearly the entire command structure of the First Aleran is killed, leaving young, fury-less Tavi in charge of once again saving the realm.

Meanwhile, High Lord Kalare is attempting a coup, and fellow cursor Amara has to team up with the scheming Lady Aquitaine to rescue the hostages he's taken; and Isana is busy fighting for both her life and that of the slave Fade, as she tries to heal him of a poisoned wound he received in Kalare's attack on the city of Ceres.

The characters are very complex--none is entirely good or entirely evil, and their personalities are backed up by their histories. Cursor's Fury gives us not only the external plot, but also developments in the character's emotional lives, and their emotions are clear and affecting without being manipulative or sappy.

One of the things I like best about this series (and it applies to the Dresden Files as well) is how deceptively simple it is. I've been reading a bit more fantasy again lately, and the contrast is marked. For me, reading an average fantasy book is like wading through thick mud. Reading the Codex Alera is like running on a track. It reads smooth and clean. There's plenty of atmosphere, and the worldbuilding is first rate, but it's not hidden in a dense tangle of oddly-spelled words and long passages of dull description. Conversely, the plot of the average fantasy book is really rather straightforward once you get to it, while the Cursor's Fury's plot is just full of twists and turns and tiny details that turn out to be major clues to future events. The closer you pay attention, the more complex the book gets.

I loved the military setting, particularly Tavi's assuming command. You could see hints of his future in the way he dealt with it.

Amara's thread of the story was mostly exciting action, but there was also a bittersweet emotional content to it as well that put a lump in my throat.

Isana's thread was the most emotional, and through it we learned a lot of the history we'd previously surmised. That one had me in tears more than once.

A note about the cover. It's been the wallpaper on my monitor for months now. It's not perfect, but the scene it depicts is one of my favorites in the book. It's an exciting life-or-death moment, and an emotional one for two different reasons. It makes me smile every time I see it.


...more

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Comments:
I have been hearing lots about Jim Butcher's books lately! One of these days I will read one of them and see what all the fuss is about!
 
I'm going to have to check out this series too!
 
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