DNF Review – The Furies of Calderon

Furies of Calderon
Jim Butcher
ACE Fantasy

Epic Fantasy

This book was lent to me by my sister Alice, who touted it as one of her favorite fantasy series ever, which she re-reads every once in a while. Kind of like me with Dragonlance. If you’ve already read Furies, you probably know what the rest of this review will be like.

I didn’t read the blurb before I accepted her much-treasured copies of the entire series, and if I had I would have saved her book the wear and tear. Here goes:

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.

I cannot believe an author as prominent as Jim Butcher would be burdened with such a terrible blurb. Adjectives and adverbs and cliches abound, and we are supposed to have sympathy for a boy who can’t use furies to fly or light his lamps. Aww, poor baby. And the metaphors? Wars loom. Caught in a storm. Erupts into chaos. Plus, it is a coming of age novel. Ugh! I set the book aside for a week.

On the strength of Alice’s recommendation alone, I finally started reading it.

Tavi is a fifteen year old boy who has lost his sheep. And since he does not have furies, his mighty uncle Bernard decides he must accompany him in order to protect him. We are at first quite impatient with the uncle, but his instincts turned out to be dead-on. And when Tavi ends up saving his butt, it’s a pretty good start to the novel.

The next character is introduced, Amara. In short order, she finds herself betrayed and on the run. The betrayer, Fidelias, unfortunately gets his own point of view. I don’t mind villain point of view, but they have to be compelling. I did not find Fidelias or his companions anything other than contemptible.

Then Tavi and Amara get thrown together and the furyless Tavi saves her butt as well. But by this point, I have been noticing problems. The point-of-views are shallow, with very little character immersion. Therefore, I only felt the most tepid engagement with the characters. They had my sympathy for their predicaments, but I didn’t particularly like them. Tavi was whiny, Amara was a bland beauty.

A third POV character, Isana, had some potential. She is plain, thirtysomething, never married, and her fury powers make her an empath. However, I did not get enough of her, and I got too much of the other two. If the book was mainly about her, this would be a very different review.

The plot went on and on, and I got over halfway through the novel. Additional points of view were added. Stuff happened. Bad guys kept doing bad things. Good guys kept trying to keep ahead of the situation.

Then, I hit Chapter 28, where a minor villain makes Isana watch another woman get gang raped while he gives Isana his impressions of the proceedings. It is clear that she was next, but I didn’t read on to find out if she got away. The rape was a book killer for me. I set it aside without caring about Isana’s predicament, the upcoming savage/traitor invasion, or anything else.

I am sorry, Alice. Maybe we can read Dragonlance together.

11 Thoughts to “DNF Review – The Furies of Calderon”

  1. Oh dear. I feel a little guilty now for saying how much I enjoy the series when you mentioned that you were thinking about reading it. (Not that I feel bad for enjoying the series -only for helping to pressure you into reading something you turned out to hate.) I had completely forgotten chapter 28. Not sure what that says about me besides that it’s been over a year since I read the book. I hope the next thing you pick up is more enjoyable.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Hey–to each his own. Don’t spend a thought on it. I didn’t feel pressured at all.

      1. Good. 🙂

  2. I love Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books so much, I finally broke down a while ago and bought this one, even though the blurb didn’t appeal to me.

    I was feeling bad about not being able to get past about chapter 6 until you told me about chapter 28. Now I’m kind of relieved 🙂

    I know Jim really loves this series, and I wish I could have loved it too. Other folks have told me that it gets better after the first book, and maybe it does (although the gang rape thing would discourage me anyway). But I just couldn’t get into it.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      This has not discouraged me from reading the Dresden Files one day. It is a good lesson in the risks authors take when they write multiple genres. Hmm.

  3. Thanks for the warning. I tend to get very frustrated with fictional rape. When I see the problems it causes, I want to help, and I can’t do that if it’s fiction. {lop-sided smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    1. That’s one of the frustrating things about biographies. You know it all really happened, but it’s too late to do anything to help.

      1. True, tho with biographies of recent folks, at least I feel like I could help them or their loved ones deal with the aftermath. Major disturbing events are disturbing in part because repercussions go on for decades afterwards. {lop-sided smile}

        With biographies of historical figures, however, you can’t do any more than you can with fiction because it’s that long-past.

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

        1. Tia Nevitt

          It has been a long while since I read a biography. I used to read a fair amount of history–the Crusades and the ancient world are two areas I have obsessed on, but it has been a while. When I was into Rome, I read a biography of Hannibal.

          1. I’m currently reading a biography of Ghengis Khan. Unlike other biographies I’ve read recently, it has some pretty exciting sections. I had to stop reading it before bed after it kept me reading to the end of an exciting section for the second time before I finished chapter one. {SMILE}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  4. I enjoyed the Codex Alera books, but I can understand your opinion. I heartily disliked a few of the POV characters and rolled my eyes at the philosophical underpinnings of the very ending of the series, but the books came at the right time to fill a big fat adventure fantasy void in my life. 🙂

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