Posts Tagged With: Jim Butcher

Review: Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Book review of Jim Butcher’s Furies of Calderon

fantasy books Jim Butcher's Furies of CalderonJim Butcher is one of the hottest names in urban fantasy right now, but how does his writing style translate into the epic fantasy genre? This was the main question I wanted to answer when approaching Furies of Calderon. I’ve only read the first novel in Butcher’s Dresden Files series, Storm Front, and enjoyed it thoroughly, but I wondered how Butcher’s knack for writing fast-paced mystery in an urban setting would transfer to a classic epic fantasy.

The characters in Furies of Calderon are good, if not as memorable as Harry Dresden and crew. We have Tavi, a boy who is handicapped by not having matured into his fury – what Butcher describes as magic – when everyone else his age has already gained their fury. We are introduced to a fairly standard cast of characters: Tavi’s uncle and aunt, keepers of Bernardholt, Amara, a girl in the king’s employ, and a great villain in Fidelias. Butcher has created a great people in the Marat – savages that have trained ostrich-like birds to do their bidding, and we even get to see some flying knights in Furies of Calderon.

Magic in Furies of Calderon is something that everyone just has by their nature of being human. Each individual has a connection with some element of nature: some draw from the air and storms, others from the earth, and others still from water. It was interesting to read Furies of Calderon and immediately follow up by reading Sanderson’s The Way of Kings; these are two novels that contain storms that are more harsh than normal, and both have a connection to the magic system, Sanderson’s albeit a bit more inventive.

Furies of Calderon moves along at a good pace; I did not once feel like the novel was dragging. There are plenty of action sequences, and the plot moves along like a good epic fantasy should: characters identify problems, embark on adventures to resolve said problems, and team up with other forces to accomplish goals that might not have been possible to accomplish alone. It seems that Butcher’s craft that has been honed writing urban mystery novels has translated well, at least in format, to the epic fantasy genre.

Furies of Calderon is a good stand-alone novel. The main character Tavi starts out with many doubts, and by the end of the novel he has a real sense of accomplishment. In this, Furies of Calderon works well as a self-contained novel, but does leave the door open for future tales, as he has already demonstrated by publishing five subsequent volumes in the series.

For me, Furies of Calderon just didn’t pack that extra punch that pushes some fantasy novels into that upper tier. Being Butcher’s first time out in the epic fantasy genre, this may have been the intent: get a good, solid first novel out there to serve as the foundation for future volumes where he’ll be able to take more risks and be a bit more inventive in the epic fantasy genre. I’ll be interested in seeing where he takes the series next, and if he ups the ante with the following books in the Codex Alera series.

You can purchase Furies of Calderon over at Amazon.com.

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 6 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

Categories: Jim Butcher, Reviews, The Codex Alera | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 10 Fantasy Books of 2010

Like I did last year, I’m going to recap the top 10 fantasy novels of 2010. Unlike last year, this time I’m splitting the difference. Five novels in the top 10 are the favorites I read over the past year, and the other five are novels that I haven’t read, but spent a good deal of time on the Amazon top 5 fantasy bestseller list. If you’re looking for a gift, its likely that any book from this list will delight the recipient.

This is the first in a series of Top 10 posts covering the fantasy industry. Next week, we cover the Top 10 Fantasy Book Trends of 2010.

Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Lamentation was one of my favorite fantasy reads of 2010. A vibrant new world, painted with colorful, unique characters, all wrapped into a story with heart, makes for a fantastic package. This first installment promises a quality series to come in The Psalms of Isaak. Check out my full review of Lamentation.

fantasy books Lamentation

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie was the best fantasy novel I read in 2010. Gritty, fast-paced, and filled with action, this first novel in a new epic fantasy series solidifies Abercrombie as one of the premier new authors in fantasy literature. The characterization isn’t just top-notch, the characters in The Blade Itself are unforgettable. Not only does Abercrombie deliver a quality novel, but there are moments of hilarity contained in these pages. Abercrombie is an honest, open-minded author, and these qualities shine in The Blade Itself. Check out my full review of The Blade Itself.

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Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Yet another fantastic first novel in a series discovered in 2010. Empire in Black and Gold kicks off at a frantic pace, in the middle of a battle, and doesn’t relent for the rest of the novel. Absolutely blistering pace is combined with a truly original idea for characterization: all the characters in this novel are some derivation of what Tchaikovsky describes as kinden, which are half-human and half fill-in-the-insect. This makes for some truly unique elements in fighting, and opens up the opportunity for all kinds of historical backgrounds among the different kinden in novels to come. As if to match the blistering pace of the novel itself, Pyr has been releasing the novels in The Shadows of the Apt series every three months or so since this novel’s original release date. Looks like I’ve got some catch up reading to do. Check out my full review of Empire in Black and Gold.

fantasy books

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Daemon was, hands down, the most addictive novel I’ve ever read. While blending elements of fantasy and sci-fi (something I normally don’t enjoy), this techno-thriller beats the pace of a Dan Brown novel into a quivering pulp and delivers a novel that you can’t help but devour in a week or so. The hook: a computer game design company founder writes a code that monitors news headlines online. When he dies, it triggers a series of events that attempt to takeover the economy and portions of the government. Oddly, the DDOS attacks on large corporate web sites recently in relation to the WikiLeaks site are eerily reminiscent of the themes discussed in this novel. Scary. Check out my full review of Daemon.

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Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve read a few Sanderson novels at this point, and Elantris is, if not tied for favorite with Mistborn, my favorite Sanderson novel. This novel contains similar themes as Mistborn, but was written prior, and I believe Sanderson had an insatiable appetite for writing fantastic fiction at the time. This is a beautiful story, self-contained in one volume, that is definitely worth going back and reading for any Sanderson fans who have tasted his more recent work. Check out my full review of Elantris.

fantasy books

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Fantasy Blogosphere: December 6, 2010

The biggest news of the week for me is definitely the first real action promos for the HBO Game of Thrones series. Its great to see Sean Bean and crew in action, I’m so pumped for this series! Also really excited to see that Sanderson has sold another Mistborn novel, definitely looking forward to seeing that series extended. Reviews this week of newer novels from some of my favorite authors: Joe Abercrombie, Tad Willians, Jim Butcher and more. And please don’t miss the hilarious xtranormal video on publishing. If you have anything you’d like to share here on FBN, feel free to create a group and post your thoughts.

Game of Thrones HBO Series Trailers

Absolutely Hilarious XtraNormal Video on Publishing

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, November 28, 2010

Towers of Midnight continues to place first, while World War Z makes a return for the holidays. Breaking Dawn, Side Jobs and Vampire Moon round out the top 5, but the real story here is that during the busiest online shopping weekend of the year, hardcover books have replace what has been overwhelmingly a majority of digital books that have been ranking in Amazon’s top 5 for the past year. This speaks to the notion that when purchasing something for ourselves, we tend to not purchase the upper tier, but when giving a gift, we want to give the best quality gift possible.

  1. Towers of Midnight (Hardcover) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  2. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (Hardcover) by Max Brooks
  3. Breaking Dawn (Hardcover) by Stephanie Meyer
  4. Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files (Hardcover) by Jim Butcher
  5. Vampire Moon (Kindle) by J.R. Rain
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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, November 14, 2010

Towers of Midnight holds strong yet again in first place, with urban fantasy by J.R Rain and Jim Butcher filling out the 2 through 4 slots. A sci-fi novel about the apocalypse, Mercury Falls edges in at number 5 this week.

  1. Towers of Midnight (Hardcover) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  2. Vampire Moon (Kindle) by J.R. Rain
  3. Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files (Hardcover) by Jim Butcher
  4. Moon Dance (Kindle) by J.R. Rain
  5. Mercury Falls (Kindle) by Robert Kroese
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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, October 30, 2010

Thankfully Towers of Midnight and Side Jobs hold on the the first and second slots, because two of the top 5 slots have been filled by Vampire for Hire novels that are selling digitally on Kindle. Oh, cruel world, please make it stop.

  1. Towers of Midnight (Hardcover) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  2. Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files (Hardcover) by Jim Butcher
  3. Vampire Moon (Kindle) by J.R. Rain
  4. World of Warcraft: The Shattering (Hardcover) by Christie Golden
  5. Moon Dance (Kindle) by J.R. Rain
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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, October 23, 2010

Towers of Midnight holds strong in first place, with a Warcraft book: The Shattering, entering in second. Jim Butcher’s Side Jobs comes in at number 4.

  1. Towers of Midnight (Hardcover) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  2. World of Warcraft: The Shattering (Hardcover) by Christie Golden
  3. Vampire Moon (Kindle) by J.R. Rain
  4. Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files (Hardcover) by Jim Butcher
  5. Mr. Shivers (Kindle) by Robert Jackson Bennett
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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, October 16, 2010

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson hold first place, with Side Jobs by Jim Butcher making a first appearance in the 2nd slot. Charlaine Harris bumps her share of the top 5 back up to 40% with both Dead in the Family and Dead and Gone making the cut, and Breaking Dawn rounds out the top 5 for the week. Worth noting just outside the top 5, is A Game of Thrones, (Kindle), which while written in 1996, is seeing a resurgence in digital format.

  1. Towers of Midnight (Hardcover) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  2. Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files (Hardcover) by Jim Butcher
  3. Dead in the Family (Kindle) by Charlaine Harris
  4. Dead and Gone (Kindle) by Charlaine Harris
  5. Breaking Dawn (Kindle) by Stephanie Meyer
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Fantasy Blogosphere: July 25, 2010

This week we’ve got a review of one of my favorite fantasy reads so far this year: Lamentation by Ken Scholes. Also check out the interview with Jim Butcher over at SciFiNow. A classic Frazetta sold for 1.5 million over the past week, and Tor made the cover art of Brandon Sanderson’s A Way of Kings available as desktop wallpapers, so grab ’em while they’re hot!

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Fantasy Blogosphere: July 4, 2010

A great bunch of reviews this week, from Grave Peril by Jim Butcher to Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton. We’re also seeing more authors get into the habit of not only running their own blog, but creating guest posts on other blogs, as Mark Charan Newton has done with Amazon.com’s Omnivoracious blog.

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