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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Academ's Fury

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

This was a morning read with the boys. There was one point at which I was reading this in the morning, Cursor's Fury had just arrived from Dog Eared Books' virtual signing, so I was reading that, and then critiquing chapters of Captain's Fury... well, it got a little disorienting.

Academ's Fury takes place two years after Furies of Calderon. Tavi is at the Academy (hence the title), still fury-less, training to become a Cursor, and working as the First Lord's page. It's finals time, and as his final exam as a Cursor, he's to catch the Black Cat--a thief who's been plaguing the capital but is inexplicably able to avoid the watch furies. He has other finals as well, which should be enough pressure, but then the First Lord collapses, and Tavi has to get him aid while keeping it a secret to prevent the realm from falling into civil war.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch steadholt, Tavi's aunt Isana is attacked by an assassin as she's preparing to go to the capital for Wintersend, where she's to make public appearances as the first female steadholder.

And then the Marat arrive, led by Doroga, a small band who've survived a battle with a foe called the Vord. Cross the Borg with zombies, maybe, and throw in some horror movie spiders, and you'll get an idea of what they're up against. Oh, and it seems that one of the three Vord queens is looking for Tavi.

So now Isana has a bigger mission for her trip to the capital--alert the First Lord to send aid to the Calderon Valley, and warn and protect Tavi, while Bernard and the cursor Amara stay back in Calderon to fight the Vord there.

We're introduced to Tavi's new friends, the powerful but tormented Max and the weak but wily Ehren. And we're introduced to the Canim, huge wolf-like creatures.

The story is exciting and fast-moving, and the boys were never happy when we had to stop reading for them to get ready for school. The book, as do the others in the series, alternates between story threads, and Jim has a habit of leaving readers on a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter, which could make one skim through some threads, if they weren't all so exciting.

In addition to the book-long plot of the fight against the Vord, there are also dramatic developments in the ongoing series plot. Tavi's growing both physically and mentally and gaining confidence through his Cursors training, as well as making important friendships and learning to wade through the politics in the capital.

We learn more about the other races on Carna, and through them, more about the Alerans. And some events occur that will have repercussions for years (and books!) to come. It's all just so tightly written that everything has a purpose, even as its telling a thrilling story.

The boys, unsurprisingly, loved this, and we're now reading Cursor's Fury in the mornings. They didn't even want to consider reading anything else.


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