First Lord’s Fury

In Calderon it began and in Calderon it will end, one way or another.  The last defence and hope of the realm against the Vord Queen and her endless horde.  If Gaius Octavian and his scattered army can’t win through, it will be the end of all things.

It’s bittersweet picking up the last book in a series.  I know, no matter how it turns out, it’s going to be the last one.  I try and read slowly, take it all in but as usual I get caught up in the story, progress at my usual pace and all too soon I am on the last page.  After I closed First Lord’s Fury, I sat there for a good fifteen minutes just staring in to space to absorb it and think it through.  It’s simply that good.

Some books I finish and while I might have really enjoyed it, I am straight on to another.  Others, like this one, I have to wait, reflect and in some respects grieve a little that it’s finished.  I didn’t expect it to have that much impact.

Jim Butcher is a master at creating characters you really care about, a story that is compelling and extremely engaging and this book takes both of those into overdrive.  It’s a bit of a dizzying cast, but with the Vord taking Alera apart piece by beloved piece, her defenders also have to be numerous.  Having said that, you get to see all the characters you’ve come to love fight for the realm that they loved, or those you hate continue their work to betray it.  It’s harrowing and grim yet moments of hope, love and laughter lighten your heart and keep you glued to the pages.  So many heart in mouth moments, heroic feats, sacrifice and sorrow for those that are lost are matched with the fast pace of battle.   At times I felt as if I was in the character’s shoes, not knowing what emotion is going to hit you next.

If there is anything negative I have to say about this book is that not quite as much use was made of the alliances as there could have been.  Then again, I had to remind myself that while there were a considerable number of Canim present,  that was all that was left of their race and at the end of the day, it was the battle for Alera.

A breathtaking end to an amazing series.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Princeps’ Fury

After managing to engineer peace with the Canim, Tavi holds to his promise and escorts them home.  Widespread devastation meets them and the belief that all would be well once Varg and his countrymen had set foot back on their own soil vanishes as they realise the dreaded Vord had laid waste to their entire country.  Back home, his loved ones are fighting their own battle with the Vord and go far and above the call of duty for the love of Alera and her Furies.  Alera must prevail.

So far, this series has been nothing short of amazing and yet Princeps’ Fury still manages to step it up a notch.  It has been a while since I read book four but I had no trouble at all diving right back into the story and greeting old friends.  Some authors tend to have a few major characters that I love intensely, but Butcher manages to sneak an entire legion into my heart.  Tavi, Kitai, Isana, Bernard, Max, Amara, Varg, Nausag – the list just goes on and I have no idea how he keeps them all straight or devotes as much intense attention to them all as he does.  With so many central characters I wouldn’t fault you for thinking it would be too many for them all to be so well rounded. Honestly though, the characterisations are just so good. I even felt I got to know the people better than before as they acted and reacted to the events unfolding in their lives.

The plot itself for this book is very different to what I was expecting.  Shocking, emotional, harrowing and heroic.  In between it all there are still shots of humour and love.  I found this book deeply emotional and I can’t say more than that without spoilers but if you are at all like me, have some tissues handy.  The pace chopped and changed a bit but that was dictated by the story and didn’t detract at all.  In fact it would have been a bad thing had certain scenes been rushed as it would have lost all impact and emotion, and that is where the quality of the storytelling lies.

A truly engaging and entertaining book by a master storyteller!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jim Butcher

About Jim Butcher

Jim enjoys various diverse hobbies – martial arts, fencing, singing, riding, roleplaying and while that should make him seem like a fairly scary individual, all reports suggest he is a very nice man.  He also does LRP (Live Roleplaying) which in my book makes him fairly awesome!  He lives with his wife, son and dog and is without a doubt one of the best writers of urban fantasy and fantasy I’ve come across in a long time.

http://www.jim-butcher.com/

My Comments

I managed to start the Dresden Files right at the beginning with Storm Front and was blown away (no pun intended!) by Harry Dresden.  As a character he is brilliant, sarcastic, enigmatic and often downright hilarious.  You also see him develop a more sombre, angry side which adds more depth to the character and just helps you empathise with him all the more.  The books themselves are a bit like riding a runaway horse.  You can’t get off, you have to just hang on and keep going and eventually it will stop but you also know you just had the ride of your life.  They are pure entertainment and just get better with each book.  There was a short lived TV show which was a lot of fun and it was a crime when it was cancelled.

The fantasy side of his writing talent comes with the Codex Alera, a series based in a world where the ordinary is extraordinary and it’s down to a boy without the talents everyone else has, to use his wits and intelligence to get by.  I wasn’t reading much fantasy at this stage but since it was a Jim Butcher book I thought I would give it a go and again, it was fantastic.  Very different in theme and even writing style to the Dresden Books which I thought was good because we didn’t need another Harry Dresden but in a fantasy setting.  All I can say is give the first one a go!

Bibliography

Dresden Files

Short Stories

Codex Alera

Furies of Calderon

The Realm of Alera is a civilized and beautiful place, where the average person has furies at their command, elemental beings of earth, air, fire, water and metal, bonded with those who have an affinity for them.  Out in the harsh frontier of Calderon Valley,  Tavi is an ordinary boy in an extraordinary world.  The nephew of Steadholder Bernard and his sister Isana, both with powerful furies of their own, he is seen by his peers as a freak as he commands none.  Stumbling into the start of an invasion by the savage Marat, he meets Cursor Amara, one of the King’s spies and is thrust into events that could lead to the fall of Alera or the very least, the assassination of the King.  Using his wits and intelligence where others would use their furies, Tavi fights to keep his family, people and ultimately Alera safe.

I’ve been a big fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files for a long time and was really interested to hear he was writing a fantasy based series.  Fantasy was my first love but for a while now, I hadn’t found anything new that had caught my attention and imagination.

First off, I absolutely love the unique magic system Butcher created for his world.  Elemental beings that bond with the Alerans, almost like pets and are used in everyday life.  Fire furies that keep lights and torches burning, water furies that allow water to travel along pipes or be used to heal wounds, earth furies that can raise walls, track prey or imbue their people with greater strength and so on.  The furies take on a personality of their own and become supplementary characters that enhance the story as you meet them, however briefly.

The characters are superbly written, the main cast all have depth and detail that lead you to care about them right from the start, even the ‘bad’ guys who have their own stories and reasons for choosing the path they have taken.  You also have the Marat, a tribal people who the Alerans consider savages with ways incomprehensible to them. Their characters are intriguing, vastly different to the Alerans and their society rich with tradition and beliefs.  When the two begin to mix, it produces often amusing exchanges as they try to learn how to interact with each other.

The story itself is wonderful, flows easily throughout the book and the pace is just right.  Exciting action alongside somber, tender moments, sharing a character’s dread at something that just happened and at times I was moved to tears.  It has all the elements of a story I love – heroic endeavours in the face of overwhelming odds, clinging to something you believe in no matter how futile it might seem and finding love at the bleakest of times.  These are all things that capture my heart and imagination.

By the end, I was in love with the world and it’s characters and left with a feeling of having read something truly remarkable.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jim Butcher
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)