Book Review – Furies of Calderon – Codex Alera #1 by Jim Butcher

Furies of CalderonSynopsis (from Goodreads): For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal.

But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir. Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.

Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.

Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos – when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies – Amara will find Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury – one that could turn the tides of war.

Buy on: Amazon

My first impression of this book was that it was a little formulaic. You have a magic system that everyone possesses expect for one person, who is considered a freak for not having that magic. There is a plot to overthrow a ruler and the person who is abnormal becomes embroiled in it.

But, formulas exist for a reason. They work.  Plus, Jim Butcher is an amazing story teller. He may have started off with a formula, but this story quickly took on a life of it’s own, with Butcher’s excellent writing skills.

The magic system in this book (series) is a unique one. People bond with elemental spirits called furies, which then allows them to “craft” in various ways depending on the element of the fury. I’m been an avid reader of fantasy for the majority of my life and I always love the different types of magic that fantasy encompasses.

The world building in this book was somewhat lacking, but I credit that to the story taking place in a valley kind of on the outskirts of the kingdom. We don’t get to see much of the world beyond that valley, so there isn’t much opportunity to expand on the various peoples of this world.

The characters in this book were all very interesting. Indeed, I like almost all of them, even the “bad guys” with the exception of Kord and his son, but I don’t think anyone is actually meant to like those two. Tavi, the main character,  is a fifteen-year-old boy who has no fury and no skills with furycrafting. By most people, he is considered a freak or at least abnormal. What Tavi lacks in fury skills he more than makes up for in other ways. Not only is he clever, but he cares about other people and his willing to put his own life in danger to save others.

Jim Butcher does amazing at descriptions, making the reader feel like they are there in the thick of things. The battle scenes were especially vivid.

This book could have been a stand alone and the reader would be satisfied with the ending. The immediate conflict of the plot is wrapped up, but the author leaves some strings dangling for the sequel to pick up. I have some questions and suspicions that I hope are addressed in book 2.

My rating for this book is 4 out of 5 stars and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy.

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February 2020 Wrap Up

January was an epic month of reading for me! I got through so many books and got a really good head start on my yearly goal. It looked like the momentum was going to continue into February, but then I got sick with a pretty bad cold.

When I get sick, my brain just kind of turns to mush and about all i can do is lay on the couch and watch animated movies. I didn’t even bother trying to read during that time as I knew I wouldn’t remember anything of what I read.

Thankfully, my cold has now cleared up and my brain is functioning at a level where I can read again. I had started reading Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher before I got sick, so I will be continuing with that and hopefully the rest of that series in the month of March. It’s a six book series, which I don’t think is an unreasonable amount to read in a month.

How was your February reading? Any goals for March?

Adventures in Video Gaming #2

If you read my Adventures in Video Gaming #1 you’ll know that I started playing Lollipop chainsaw and got stuck in stage one. Well, not one to give up quite so easily, I tried and tried again. After about 10 attempts, I decided to change the difficulty to easy, and wouldn’t you know, it took me one try to get past that part.

I’m not exactly a great video game player, so I feel no shame in playing on Easy mode. I want to have fun playing games, not die constantly. I’m more the kind of player who mashes buttons and things die.

I’m more than a little proud to say that I finished the game yesterday all by myself, without having to look up anything in a walkthrough online. The only time I got stuck again was at the end with the final boss. Even on Easy that was really difficult to get past. I soldiered on and eventually beat the game.

So, what did I think of it? Well, first of all it is rated M and it has that rating for a good reason. There’s a fair amount of foul language, blood, gore and sexual innuendos. Not to mention the fact that the main character, Juliet, is wearing a cheerleader uniform through the whole game while swinging around a pink chainsaw and doing high kicks. Panty shots abound. This game is clearly geared towards a more male audience.

Normally, scantily clad women in video games annoys me, but in this case it didn’t really. Juliet is a cheerleader and therefore it makes sense that she’s wearing a cheerleader uniform. What really bothers me is when women are supposed to be warriors but their “armor” doesn’t cover their stomachs or half their legs.  anyone with half a brain would know that leaving your midsection exposed in a battle is a really bad idea.

Overall, if I were to give it a rating, I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. the game play was simple enough for someone like me to play enjoyably without having to do really fancy moves. It loses a star for the stupid sexual jokes and innuendos.

Happy with my accomplishment but still feeling like video gaming, I decided to revisit Heavenly Sword. I first started playing Heavenly Sword years ago and did fairly well at first. The main character, Nariko, is a sword wielder, who draws the Heavenly Sword even though it’s forbidden to do so. Playing as Nariko is fairly simple, and suites my button masher style quite well.

Unfortunately, after a while you have to play as a different character, Kai. Although Kai is a cool character, if a bit deranged, she uses a bow and arrow only. for me, that sucks. I have the worst time playing first person shooter games because I cannot aim to save my life. Literally.

So, playing years ago, I stopped at a stage where kai is the playable character. coming back to it yesterday, I was again playing as Kai. feeling a bit boosted after beating Lollipop Chainsaw, I kept playing Heavenly Sword long after I would normally have quite in frustration. I actually kind of got the hang of it and managed to progress back to a stage where I played Nariko again. I even finished the chapter I was playing at the time. There, I chose to stop.

Are you a gamer? Have you played either of these games? If so, what did you think? Are there other games that you like that you would recommend?