Something clever I'll change later

I like fantasy. The end.
Academ's Fury - Jim Butcher As seen on Stumptown Books.

Although this installment was easier for me to read than Furies of Calderon (my groans were cut down by about a third, I'd say), I liked this second novel no more than the first one. It has been two years since the events of Furies, and we're plopped right back into the action without so much as an update, which at first had me a little miffed. The problem with plowing through novels so quickly is that proper nouns quickly find their way into the oubliette, so even though it's only been about two months, I was still playing catch up trying to remember who the characters were. On second thought, the names just aren't very memorable. I was 3/4s of the way through this book and explaining it to a friend and I had to grope for the main character's name. T...t...it's T-something I swear! Tavi? No wonder he's powerless, he sounds like a pussy.

From the first page, Butcher sets up the story, and from there on out it is non-stop action. I like a good action scene as much as the next bloke, but in this case it really started to grate on me. The characters are never given a chance for introspection, besides sparing a thought or two for "I wonder where this other character is right now? No matter, off to another near death situation!" So once again, one of my main problems is the lack of character development. I know what the author wants the characters to be, but they never seem to get there on their own. We're just told they do, and I am baffled at people who say these characters feel "alive." Only alive in the sense that fire is alive; expanding the story and going new places but leaving nothing behind to appreciate. Honestly the only character I felt became a little more interesting in this novel was Fidelias, who I hated in the first book, so that's saying a lot. Making bad guys likable is always a plus in my book.

What really interests me about this series is the weak (well, relatively) main character. Tavi uses his brains and quick wit to talk himself out of - or into - situations. Usually in fantasy novels, any sort of magic is regarded with suspicion, à la X-Men. Someone with crazy powers and inhuman strength is usually incredibly frightening to the layman. In these novels, however, Tavi is the only weak character without magic, and he's the weirdo and regarded with suspicion. This flips my thoughts on magic and powers on its head, and I like that. I can't help but be gut wrenchingly involved whenever Tavi is in the middle of the action. I always want THIS to be the moment when his powers manifest.

I could have done without the weird women's right storyline. I know I know, I'm always touting about how sexist fantasy is and give me my strong female characters dammit. But in this case, it just came across as schmaltzy and a thoroughly fake storyline to throw some pretend politics into the mix. Without it, there would have been next to no politics in the novel, and Butcher obviously wants us to be aware of the political situation in the realm.

The love story between Amara and Bernard was uncomfortable at best and gag worthy at worst. Here's my favorite quote from page 453:

Amara let out a nervous little laugh, and her cheeks flushed hot. She took two steps to Bernard and leaned up to kiss him again. He returned it, one hand touching her waist, a possessive gesture.


Please! That's so stilted it made me flush hot too. Hopefully it picks up a little in subsequent books.

Pick this up if you want a fun romp with non stop action, with little consequence but also small reward. It definitely improves on the first novel, but not enough for me to legitimately like it on its own.

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