Audiobook Junkie... Love all types of Science Fiction
This isn't a great work by Jim Butcher. I did not find it completely without redemption and I may eventually get the sequel if a deal comes along. This book came out in 2004 before the Dresden books took off and became good (I gave Jim Butcher some poor reviews for his earlier work, but he does improve significantly as a writer). So, I am not sure if I would cast this book aside because of my past experiences. However, this is NOT like Dresden Files so do not expect anything of the sort. This review contains my impressions only having read Book 1 in this series.
The Furies of Calderon is a adventure fantasy book that presents fury crafting as a system of magic. In a medieval society where lands are populated by lords, land holders, slaves, and barbarian hordes, times are hard and conflict over succession of the kingdom has arisen. Those with the ability to fury craft may become citizens and seem to hold power. Fury crafting simply seems to be the ability to control a specific type of element like fire, water, earth, or air. These elementals take upon their own life and are used to heal, strengthen or fly their owners away. The story starts off with a girl named Amara who is on her graduation test to become a cursori (agent to the first lord ruler). She finds herself in trouble when a plot comes afoot involving an assassination attempt on the high lord. Traveling the outer parts of the kingdom she must rally the people in time for an invasion while facing those that do no respect her for being a women and resisting others who wish to stop her for what she knows. There are several other characters we switch perspectives from frequently. Tavi, a 15 year old boy, is another main character. He has not come into his fury crafting like those around him and is thrust into danger as events unfold. He is forced to discover bravery and use his wits to stay alive and save those he cares about.
I would skip the next paragraph and go to the one after if you want to avoid some spoilers.
I wasn't very motivated to care for the characters in this story. We get a good look at a society full of over the top evil villains and follow issues involving slavery, gender rights, and privilege through rank and title. Yes, the characters that we follow along are likable in their convictions and purpose, but it is hard to understand some of their motivations and rationals. Amara seemed like a weak hero in parts and her taste for older men becomes apparent when Jim Butcher tries to add a little romance to the tale. Some of the barbarians who eat humans end up befriending the youngest of our heroes, Tavi, becoming a force of good in this telling, which really stretch the imagination. Yet, some of it was a bit formulaic and predictable. The young boy must prove himself in a trial to win love and respect and save the day. You kind of see a bit of Dresden's selflessness and irresistible urge to save the girl in this part.
So, you got slavery, torture, talk about/almost rape, mindless killing, cannibalism, gender biases, a bunch of unjustified high privileged characters, some rather weak fearful heroes along with some over the top bad guys and this some times reads like a bad children's book. I realize that seems like a lot of reasons not to get this book, but I still did enjoy it in some parts and we get a some what satisfying conclusion with a big battle in the second half. Although, now that I think of it, not much was accomplished for all the grandiose rewards that are given off in the end. For spoilers sake I won't include why here.
I can only give this story 3 stars. I didn't like the reader, Kate Reading, especially with her masculine voices. I didn't care for the voice of Tavi in particular and I would give that performance 2 and half stars overall.
This is definitely not some of Jim Butcher's best work. I'm left wondering if this is one of his earlier novels that he was unable to get published before the success of the Dresden books. The quality of the writing improves steadily after the first third or so. Enough, for me, to make it worth it to get the next one. I had put off getting it for some time because of an earlier review that made it sound like the book was full of graphic rape and bestiality. That was definitely an exaggeration. The reference to bestiality was a single line and the scenes involving the rape were not graphic - although I think the book would have been better if they had been left out altogether. I've certainly read worse books from other well established authors. If the rest of the series is up to Jim Butcher's usual standards, then I will be happy to have read this one.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
This is warmed over but still tasty at times. Butcher is a better than competent story teller and gives us a wide spectrum of engaging characters along with an interesting and fairly satisfying central conflict. Probably the best thing about this series is the world the author has created--full of well crafted surprises and well integrated. With one exception...
For me, the greatest weakness of this book was the inconsistency in the use of magic. Other reviewers have already mentioned this, and it is a definite problem. Fury craft only gets used by the major players, and then only when the author is ready to extricate them from a very difficult situation. Just one for-instance out of scores of these slips--an assault on a defensive wall which relies on climbing poles which should have been destroyed quickly and easily by the wood crafters among the defenders. As a result of these lapses, the magic in the world becomes a device rather than a convincing and reliable aspect of Butcher's otherwise solid creation.
I'm trying to decide whether to pick up the second book in the series. Word is that it improves as it goes on, but I am not sure it is worth a credit. Especially since there is so much superb fantasy writing available these days.
I enjoyed this book; Kate Reading did a lovely narration and great voices while Jim Butcher always makes an entertaining read. Jim Butcher is pretty predictable though. Although the Dresden Files series is a completely different format, the array of expressions his characters can have are all the same, as is the level of hardship and self-battering. Nonetheless, though he is not an excellent or original writer, he is a good storyteller and deserves four stars on his own.
While the narration was wonderful, the editing was not. Throughout the book, sentences were edited right on top of each other which made it seem like there was a lack in punctuation and can lead to double takes while listening. The fanfare was also irritating. It seemed to be inserted in breaks within a chapter, so right after a fairly suspenseful pause your ears will be assailed with fanfare. Though the narration was excellent, these two issues were consistent and the reason I would rate the audio-book four stars.
Epic Fantasy buff who appreciates humor in the story line. Interested in writing. Appreciates a good masculine story line. Also interested in Health and self-help business skills.
I started this series because I couldn't find any more Dresden Files to listen to. Within minutes I was captivated. I stayed up half the night before a work day to keep listening. Villains have heart and fears. Threads of story weave in and out creating a multidimensional world. This has the textures of Pern, the spellbinding intrigue of Shanarah and the depth of Lord of the Rings.
Can't say, I only listened to the book, and have not read the print version.
It is similar to many other fantasy/adventure books such as books by Terry Goodkind.
I thought she did a good job of differentiating characters. I liked her use of inflection and the cadence of her voice. She is easy to listen to, and does not distract the listener from the story.
It's a good book. Not earth shattering, or the next Trilogy of Middle Earth, but interesting and enjoyable. I liked it enough to listen to the 2nd in the series now.
The major thing I would like to change is the ridiculous horns that sound in the middle of the storyline. They seldom seem to have anything to do with the plot, and add nothing to the rendition of the story. The book would be better without them.
Actually, the saga is fascinating and will clearly lead to more books in the series. It stimulates the mind to consider what went before and what will come after - not just in the story, itself, but for humankind.
The characters are well-drawn and engaging, but I find that the author relies too much on battle behavior to expand information about a number of the characters, but left far too many holes in the actual development.
Tavi going back for Kitai
I must admit, I did get bored with all the battles. Each one was extended and highly detailed making it feel like the series was little more than one VERY LONG battle. IOW, there was more battle description than actual story.
But what there was of story and of character was strong and engaging.
The single biggest irritation were those awful fanfares with reason for them - just stuck in from time to time in the middle of a conversation. It was almost as if they were put in to mask an edit-join in the recording. However, instead of masking them, they highlighted them and the sounds were absolutely TERRIBLE and disruptive to the narrative.
I am a big fan of Butcher's Dresden series, so I was hopeful that this would be equally good. It is a very different kind of reading experience from the noir-magic world of Dresden's Chicago.
The fury crafting idea is a good one. I wished that Butcher would have explored its roots and talked more about how it came to be a central part of this world. Instead, it just is. This left me wanting more thought behind the whole concept.
The other thing I want to flag for potential readers of this book (haven't explored further in the series and not sure I will) is there is an important sub-plot/series of events that center around violence against and sexual dominance of women. The women throughout the book are very strong characters and not victims in any usual sense, but I have a hard time reading books that have extensive sexual violence.
Kate Reading does a fine job reading the book. But it is a pale shadow in terms of entertainment for me compared with the world of Harry Dresden (the magic bits in the Dresden files and the traditions and philosophies that underlie them are much stronger and better conceived than what I saw in this first book in this series.)
Kate's versatility with male voices was amazing. I'd love to hear her again. The story was tense, with well-placed cliffhangers and I found myself rooting for ALL the characters, even as I knew they were on opposing sides.
There were a few badly-edited spaces, where the beginning of one sentence and the end of the previous were on top of one another. I did not like the random trumpet-sounds, they were jarring, but they were not irritating enough to cause me to stop listening.
For some reason they have added trumpet sounds at strange places throughout the narration. It's very annoying and really is not not well performed either. The narrator is great. It is just the sound effects that are bad.