Friday, February 12, 2010

First Lord's Fury, by Jim Butcher

First Lord's Fury (Codex Alera, Book 6)It appears that we have finally reached the end of this sweeping saga, though Butcher has left the door open at least a crack for further adventures in the realm of Alera. As this book begins, Tavi is leading a the remnants of the force he took to the lands of the Canim, and also the remnants of the Canim forces back to the mainland of Alera to face the invasion of the Vord. He has finally fully come into his fury crafting powers, although his status as First Lord remains a bit uncertain.

The action jumps around a bit so that we can experience the battles against the Vord in different parts of what remains of Alera. The situation is pretty bleak, but here and there bastions of hope and resistance remain.

The story is full of wild plot twists and surprises, tons of combat action and adventure.

After a couple of days reflection on this, I really did like the book, but there's a couple of things that I noticed. Butcher has a tendency here to play fast and loose with apparent deaths, of heroes and villains alike. I found myself asking, when someone was brought down by some overwhelming force, whether we were going to see them resurrected, or whether they were going to be totally out of the picture. He also seemed a bit ambivalent, at the end, about whether to wrap everything up tidily, or to drag it out to another novel. It seemed like this one really could have used a "Scouring of the Shire" chapter, but he just refers to it rather obliquely in the "happily ever after" section. The story of how the Vord and the croach are to be eradicated from the length of Alera, and the resistance of the quislings to that effort deserves more than just a couple of lines of dialog.

The final conflict between the Vord queen and Tavi seemed a little rushed and improbable, as well. I was a little skeptical about how Tavi manages to escape the clutches of two elemental furies with the level of power shown by the one First Lord Sextus uses to create a volcano to destroy Kalarus. There was also a sub plot earlier in the book about how Fidelius and one of the Canim manage to neutralize a blood priest of the Canim who was causing Tavi and Varg problems. They were afraid to kill him outright, and make a martyr of him for his minions to rally around, so they disappear him in the middle of the night, and put word out that he went on some sort of spirit quest. I just didn't buy the assumption that the minions would buy the story.

Anyway, it ain't Great Literature, but it was a fun read.

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