Saturday 4 December 2010

Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher

(Okay, I just want to put out there that I'm disgusted the second entry on auto-complete in Google for Cursor's Fury was "Cursor's Fury torrent" - just buy the damn book, you thieves!!)

With that out of my system, let's crack on to the proper review. Cursor's Fury is the third novel in the Codex Alera sequence by Jim Butcher. We return to events following Tavi, orphaned child - or, rather, young man by this stage - as he takes up a political position within the First Aleran Legion at the request of the First Lord. Gaius intends Tavi to learn the process of legion life, while trying to keep him away from the actual fighting - the First Legion is newly created and going through a drilling process. However, events conspire against the First Lord, when Tavi gets caught up in leading the Legion against an invasion force of Canim, massive dog-like warriors with a curious code of honour. Can Tavi manage to hold the inexperienced Legion in the face of overwhelming odds until aid can be sent?

I don't really think I am revealing a big shock when I say yes, he can. These novels are not designed to present too many surprises, or dark endings - it is more the journey to the end of the book that provides pleasure and unusual events. If you have followed my reviews of this series, you will know that I deeply enjoyed the first novel, but was a little disappointed in the second. I am pleased to report that the third novel is better than both combined. Here, it seems as though Butcher finally hit his stride - he was no longer merely poking fun at fantasy cliches; rather, he was telling the tale of Tavi and doing it incredibly well.

Why did I enjoy this one more? For one reason, there was a deal more humour in this novel. We no longer had the poker-faced, quasi-serious delivery from Butcher. Instead we had the same delightful comedy moments that imbue his Dresden Files. There was one particular scene that made me laugh out loud, which is something to be treasured when reading a fantasy novel (I do find that sometimes they take themselves a little seriously!).

I also appreciated the shift in scene to the Legion. It provided excellent value in terms of relationships, new characters, and some brilliant dialogue. Having spent time so far in the Steadholt life, and then in the city of Alera, I am finding that the Legion is where Butcher does his best writing.

Butcher's prose is generally no-nonsense with flashes of pure poetry, and this was something I greatly enjoyed as well. It was surprising to me that this came mostly in the arena of romance! Butcher might well have a career as a romance author in front of him *grins*. The growing relationship between Tavi and Kitai is just beautiful - very touching moments as they hold each other before battle, and also very prosaic moments when Kitai will puncture Tavi's times of pride, just because she can.

Finally, I just want to mention that I was actually surprised by a particular reveal at the end of this novel concerning one of the characters - and that was just fine with me too. I like being surprised thanks to good writing, and this one made me want to go back through the novel to see whether I could spot any hints towards the character being more than what he seemed.

In fact, the only point of criticism I wish to make is that the novels are starting to feel a little formulaic. Not in terms of a central conflict being solved in the overall arc of the series, but more because each book has featured a main storyline, and then a subplot where some of the key protagonists end up going off on their own adventure. It allows Butcher to skip between them and create cliff-hanger endings to chapters, but it feels very artificial in this third novel. I look forward to seeing if he changes this formula in the fourth, since it is getting tired in my opinion.

Overall, though, an incredibly strong entry to the series and my favourite to this point. Butcher has created a memorable protagonist in the form of Tavi of Calderon and the fact I keep picking up the next book in the series when I really have commitments to read other novels shows, I think, how compelling these are. A highly under-rated high fantasy epic.


  1. I don't know what Cursors Fury torrent is - but I take it it isn't good.

    You're making me want to not only start this series but go back to the point in the Dresden Files where I paused for a break a while back. Am beginning to miss him.

  2. Torrent is downloading a book for free - piracy, in other words. Not good.

    I really like Jim Butcher - his books are great when you need a break from the serious stuff, because he definitely doesn't take himself too seriously!

  3. I read this entire series last year. As a huge Jim Butcher fangirl (and proud of it), I found the Codex Alera to be a fun, fantastical romp. It's not as good as the Dresden Files, where I think Butcher was able to capture something unique in Harry Dresden's voice. But the Codex Alera is still well worth the read.

    I look forward to seeing the rest of your reviews!

    Scribbler to Scribe

  4. Hi,normally I don't post comments but I found myself somewhat offended by being called a thief.

    I am a huge fan of Jim Butcher, and I've BOUGHT and read ALL of his books in printed (and sometimes ALSO audio) format, but then again I've downloaded them from from torrents as well.

    I guess that could be called piracy but then again the prices for e-books could be called idiocy, highway robbery and profiteering in the worst way possible.

    Why I did that? Because I couldn't wait for the books to get my corner of the world...because I couldn't afford them at the time (and I had to work hard and save a lot to buy some books in my life)...and number of other reasons which not only, in my opinion, doesn't make me a thief but also gives me a right to tell you to get of your high horse and consider that there might be people in the world without money or access to public libraries (especially in other countries) who would like to read that book...and also the most important part that most of the people who will download a pirated BOOK are also the people who spend the most money in bookstores...

  5. Anonymous - funny how you can't afford a book, but you can afford access to quite advanced computer technology.

  6. Curious what part of stealing doesn't make you a thief ?

  7. Oh, the anonymous comment was deleted? I was just about to post a wee tirade :)

  8. So Mr Anonymous, by your reckoning it's not theft if 1) you can't afford it and 2) It's not available in your corner of the world.

    I wish i'd known that they are perfectly valid reasons to take something without permission or payment.

    I can see a really nice Lexus out the window of my office, I can't afford it and I know you can't get them in my little corner of the world, does that mean I can get it? Fantastic yey, free car!

    Reality check, it DOES make you a thief (at least in most countries) and it never, ever, ever gives YOU the RIGHT to steal someone else's work hard earned work. So you can't afford it, that's life doesn't give you the right to steal.

    People that download pirated material don't spend more in book stores, that's actually an urban myth brought about to make those pirates feel better about what they are doing.

    The simple fact is if you download copyright material without permission from the copyright holder you are a Thief and no excuses about the ebook being too expensive (some publishers do actually sell the ebook versions for a very reasonible price) is going to justify the action of theft.

  9. Wow Anonymous, I don't think I could ever list myself a true fan of an author if I illegally obtained a copy of a book regardless if I've purchased dozens of hardback, paperback, and all the audiobooks. I've got all the above incluiding ebooks for the wheel of time series but still would not ever download a torrent of a scanned copy of Towers of Midnight. You are stealing money from the author by doing so. You are one of the most shameful and despicable types of " fans." A fan is someone that will do what ever it takes to get the material. Cost is a non-relevant matter. If you have the ability to download torrents just fine then you should have the brain power and ability to purchase the book from an online book seller. You can not nor deserve the title of Fan. You deserve the title "Thief of Mr. Buthers Money." Enjoy the new title you inconsiderate puke.

  10. Codex alera is better than the dresden files . Codex alera is better than the dresden files . You have it backwards the writing in the dresden files is getting stale the dresden files should have ended already and codex alera books should still be going on. I mean it is obvious butcher used the same phrase in the last dresden files book changes more than a dozen times