Where in the heck is that post... (aka Search)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

I am a huge fan of Butcher's "The Dresden Files". He has created a fantastic character in Harry and it's the charm of Harry that helps smooth out some of the rough edges with the rest of the series.

The same is true of the first of the Codex Alera books. I found Tavi to be a winning, endearing character and, from very early in the book, I really cared about him and wanted him to succeed. I liked that he was emotional and sensitive and I especially liked that he was resourceful. The idea of a character without furies who lives in a world defined by furycrafting is a concept I found very appealing. This makes Tavi something of an unconventional character in the realm of fantasy. Sure, he is at the center of events that threaten the future safety of his world, but this does not mean that he comes into awesome powers that make him nigh impossible to kill. Instead, he has to rely on his wits rather than brute strength or awesome furycrafting powers.

I'm not always fond of Butcher's female characters, but, for the most part, I liked the women in this novel. I initially wrote Odiana off as a sort of typical villain, but I was pleased to find that Butcher gave her facets I hadn't anticipated. Isana was also nicely drawn. Amara, though, is certainly the most well-rounded female character in the book. She is very believable as a capable, strong, and brave women who still sometimes finds herself frightened by the events unfolding before her. The biggest problem with Butcher's female characters, though, is the sort of misguided chivalry he shows them. The men in general tend to be pretty sexist, and whenever a capable female is in their presence, they are compelled to sneer and say, "But she's just a girl!" Maybe this is a device on Butcher's part, intended to show that his female characters overcome the obstacles before them. Still, it struck me as annoying that the male character automatically assume that the female characters are inferior, especially when there are so many examples of powerful women in the novel.

All in all, Butcher has created an interesting world that is people with various creatures and cultures, most of which I found to be well-realized. I found the concept of furies and furycrafting to be an interesting change for the sword and sorcery-type fantasy, and I also liked the pseudo-Roman world in which the novel takes place.

What I did not like were the villains. I didn't think that Fidelias and his cohorts were interesting enough to have chapters devoted to them and, moreover, I thought it would likely be more interesting if the reader didn't know exactly what they were planning. I found Aldrick particularly unappealing as he came across as little more than a stock character. The reader learns hardly anything about him, and what is learned about him is very insignificant and doesn't serve to give the reader a real sense of the character and his motivations.

My other real problem with the novel came about during the prolonged ending battle scene. In the interest of not giving any spoilers, I'll simply say that I found it very hard to suspend my disbelief when I found out who had survived and who had not. I think it would have been a lot more interesting if Butcher had made some different choices in that regard.

While I did like the book, if I were to recommend a Butcher book to a friend, it would definitely be a Dresden novel over this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment