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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Captain's Fury

*****+ Captain's Fury by Jim Butcher. Fantasy. Reread.

This is the fourth book in the Codex Alera series. Only two more to go.

Tavi is now 22 (see the timeline on the forums) and has been leading the First Aleran in the war with the Canim for the past two years since the end of Cursor's Fury. But with the realm fighting two foes--Kalare's rebellion is still going strong despite Lord Kalarus's incapacitating injuries, the Senate decides to take a hand, and Senator Arnos arrives with the two Senate Legions to take over.

Arnos is a wonderfully complex villain. It's dangerous enough that he's conspiring with Lady Aquitaine, but he's also an academic, certain of his knowledge and impressed with his own power. He runs the Legions according to textbook (the one he undoubtedly wrote), regardless of the realities of the battlefield. Tavi, with the loyalty of the legion behind him, and his unconventional tactics, is a threat to Arnos's leadership, and he must go, one way or another.

Meanwhile, First Lord Gaius Sextus has determined to take matters with Kalarus into his own hands, and sets off on a cross country trek with Bernard and Amara.

That's as far as I want to go without risking spoilers. There's so much in this book, it's just as well--I'd be typing for days. There's lots of political intrigue, which I always love, and even better in this book, it's understandable from both sides. Arnos is an ass, but he's an understandable one--and, sadly, a familiar one.

There's also a lot of action, all done with Jim's nicely vivid style that allows even an action-scene-challenged reader such as myself to follow along. Not simplistic, just very clear. There's edge-of-your-seat suspense, and breathtaking risks, and spectacular swordfights.

There are also scenes that filled me with dread, and kudos to Jim for writing about a tedious trek without making it boring.

There's much about the responsibilities of leadership, and making hard choices, and living with the results, nicely contrasted between the way the good guys (Tavi, Gaius, Bernard) and the bad guys (Arnos, Lady Aquitaine) make their decisions and why.

And there's a lot of humor, but there's pain as well. And there are a couple of scenes (four, I think) that absolutely took my breath away, they were so emotionally intense.

Princeps' Fury will be taking it up a notch higher yet.

If you haven't read these, start with Furies of Calderon.

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