Nicole's Reviews > Furies of Calderon

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
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's review
Jan 14, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: high-fantasy
Read from July 21 to 31, 2013

** spoiler alert ** It's not you, Jim, it's me. Although my nearly lifelong interest in Arthurian legend means I like the general concept of high fantasy--dashing swordfighters, dragons, magic, quests--I just haven't read a lot of it, and it took me a while to get to this.
The ick-factor is quite high: the brutality of the Marat (among other things, they eat people); the sadistic Steadholder Kord; the wax spiders (geez, Jim, what's with you, Rowling, and Tolkien and the damn spiders?!); and the long and gory Garrison battle.
It takes a while for some humour to turn up--but there eventually is some and some pretty good, dark one-liners at that.
The plot really gets rolling along, and a bunch of the characters really started to grow on me.
Butcher openly admits his longtime fascination with The Lord of the Rings and how it inspired his writing career. The battle at Garrison did remind me of Helm's Deep--but, Hell's bells, it makes Helm's Deep look like a children's picnic. At first, I thought the Marat were similar to albino Uruk-hai; but they aren't. They're a blend of characteristics of various real human cultures with some fantasy elements mixed in. Additionally, there are differences among the Marat clans and characters, and some even become allies of the Alerans. Doroga's and Kitai's interactions with Tavi go from tense and frightening to almost cute. I'm still not sure the Marat really aren't human, but I suspect Butcher will develop that thread more.
The blend of Roman elements with things similar to northern Europe in medieval times is interesting. The furycrafting is very different from the system of magic Butcher created for The Dresden Files. People gain varying abilities in conjunction with elemental spirits, and some of those abilities are pretty fantastic. But Butcher's extra twist here is the fact that Tavi has no furies and he has to rely on other skills and work with others to get things done.
I like Tavi. He's a resourceful boy, decent, brave, imperfect. His interactions with his family are realistic. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I've guessed that he's really Isana's son, not her nephew, and that the near-mythic Araris Valerian is his father.
I like Isana--watercrafter, fierce aunt and sister, and all-around courageous woman. I like her brother, Bernard, a lot, too; he's a good, solid, decent man. I like Amara, agent of the First Lord, and her bravery and spunk and skill. Amara and Bernard make a great couple. I really enjoyed how their attraction is depicted, especially when Bernard tells her, "You're pretty, and you're brave as anyone I ever saw. And I like you." I'm amazed at the level of emotion Butcher works into his stories. For someone male and married, he certainly seems to understand the loneliness of the single. Isana, Bernard, and Amara all suffer from various degrees of loneliness and loss, depicted in ways that ring true.
The ironically named Fidelias, Amara's former mentor but now traitor, is a fairly subtle villain. He thinks he's doing things for the right reasons and has some regrets. But he still deserves a nasty fate. The water witch, Odiana, does some horrible things with such glee, but she has some backstory that explains why she behaves as she does--she's been broken, mind and soul--and Kord's treatment of her makes her more sympathetic. And at least she does Isana a good turn after Isana helps her. Aldrick, the master swordsman, is a killing machine; and I really want to see him die a slow, painful death. Especially after what he does to the awesome metalcrafter Pirellus.
While it's great that magical healing abilities save the lives of several characters I like (in one person's case, twice!), unfortunately certain villains are spared, too. But they'll get what's coming to them, I hope.
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07/24/2013 marked as: currently-reading
07/31/2013 marked as: read

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