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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Empty Shelf/Mad Reviewer #34 and #35 - Academ's Fury and Cursor's Fury

Books 2 and 3 of the excellent "Furies of Calderon" series by Jim Butcher.

Academ's Fury is set two years after the end of Furies of Calderon. Tavi has been at the Academy in Alera Imperia, and page to the First Lord, Gaius, who is suffering from sleepless nights and personal torment, though no one really knows why. Tavi still has not come into his furies but has made some excellent friends at the Academy, including Max and Ehren.

Meanwhile, Alera is set to face a much greater threat than ever before. The Marat tell Bernard and Amara of the vord, deadly creatures that can reproduce at terrifying rates, and destroy whole communities at alarming speed, both from outward physical destruction and possessing humans. Bernard, Amara and co set out to find the nearest vord nest, most particularly to eliminate the queen, without whom the vord cannot continue. The problem is, nests can spread and numerous queens can emerge. The vord are a dire threat indeed.

I really enjoyed getting more into the politics of Alera that Tavi's being in the city enabled the reader to experience, as well as still having the perspective of what was going on outside the main city. Butcher has constructed a world plausible and authentic down to the last detail, the bitter words spoken by two ambitious enemies. Minus the added element of the furies, you could be reading dramatisation of actual history. The politics and the intrigue make this series as entertaining and gripping as the supernatural and fantasy elements.

Cursor's Fury is set another two years after Academ's Fury has closed. This time, Tavi is fully-qualified Cursor, though still fury-less, and sets out on his first project. This is to a legion made up of men from all over the empire, never intended to see battle and one which made of the High Lords use to their full espionage advantage. However, reports come in of a mass invasion of the Canim, and the legion is sent to defend the borders. When the Captain gets severely wounded, Tavi has to take his place.

Meanwhile, through Isana's perspective, we get to know more about Tavi and the mystery behind his fury-less nature. Through flashbacks, we learn of Isana's love affair with a man called Septimus, the late Princeps, and Fade, the branded slave who is not actually a slave but an extremely talented swordsman who has followed Isana and Tavi since the battle that killed Isana's lover.

In this book we get to see Tavi come into his own. He is very good at what he does, which is strategise, look after and inspire the men, and put to use all of his talents that have been emerging since Book 1. Though he still struggles with the shame - as he perceives it - of not having furies, he finally begins to accept it and be grateful for what he does have - which is extraordinary mental skills, strategy, and leadership.

Just when you're beginning to wonder where the vord got to though, never fear. The book ends with Tavi's fear as to why exactly the Canim decided to leave their homeland, and realises it could only be for one reason.

Another excellent edition to the brilliant series. I highly recommend.

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