Academ’s Fury by Jim Butcher

Posted December 31, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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Academ's Fury

Academ's Fury

by Jim Butcher

Series: Codex Alera #2
Publisher: Ace Books on July 5, 2005
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Magic
Target Age Group: Adult, New Adult, Young Adult
Rating: ★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

For centuries, the people of Alera have relied on the power of the furies to protect them from outside invaders. But the gravest threat might be closer than they think.

Tavi has escaped the Calderon Valley and the mysterious attack of the Marat on his homeland. But he is far from safe, as trying to keep up the illusion of being a student while secretly training as one of the First Lord's spies is a dangerous game. And he has not yet learned to use the furies, making him especially vulnerable.

When the attack comes it's on two fronts. A sudden strike threatens the First Lord's life and threatens to plunge the land into civil war. While in the Calderon Valley, the threat faced from the Marat is dwarfed by an ancient menace. And Tavi must learn to harness the furies if he has any chance of fighting the greatest threat Alera has ever known . . .

 

Academ’s Fury is a basic, genre-following fantasy book.  It has a similar feel to Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, and doesn’t do anything particularly mind-blowing and original with the series.  If you enjoy this sort of structured high fantasy without any surprises but an interesting magical and political hierarchy, then you’ll probably like Codex Alera.

I felt Academ’s Fury was a better book than Furies of Calderon.  I liked the variety of POVs and the way they stretched over a larger space.  The plot piece tied together much better into a single delivered package, and even though there were a lot of pieces setting up the next book, it was still a good stand-alone story and I rarely found myself bored.

One thing I did find is that Butcher’s writing of women from male perspectives is so frustratingly sexist. The beginning of this book, in particular, had me about ready to quit it because of all the male chauvinism against Amara and Isana.  Amara continuously is told to put on a dress and even perceives herself as less of a woman because she cannot bear children, and Isana is seen constantly as a political tool rather than celebrated for her historic rise to Steadholder.  I’m not sure if Butcher is trying to battle the sexism a bit with Deroga in this book, or if it’s just showing that the “barbarian” characters are the only ones who would regard women as worthy?  I guess it depends on how forgiving I’m feeling.

There is one character that absolutely cannot be chained by this sexist society, and that is Kitai, who I love so much.  Honestly, this series would be 10x better if Kitai were the main character instead of Tavi, because despite all the development of all the characters in this book, I still felt that Tavi was a bit flat and uninteresting.  Kitai is delightful and dangerous and remarkable in her own way.  I demand more of her in the future, and if she’s “tamed” to a womanly character as opposed to the impressive, formidable character she is now, I’m going to be so mad.

Another of Butcher’s strengths is his battle-writing.  Writing fight scenes is so challenging because of the knowledge that goes into making them feel realistic, plus the balance between small details and grand sweeps.  Strip all reaction and emotion from the scenes and they become dry, but put in too much and the pacing crawls to the point it doesn’t feel like action.  Butcher balances perfectly.  There’s a moment in a scene where everything’s going quickly and there’s strong movement and chaos, then Butcher cuts to a knife slash that flicked droplets of blood on to the low ceiling and yes it’s those little details.  All the thumbs up for well-balanced, engaging battle sequences.

The beginning was slow and a little iffy in some of the content, but it didn’t take long for me to be wrapped up in Academ’s Fury and enjoying this fantasy story.  Other than the throw-away sexist comments at the beginning, the only thing I’d really change about this book is only a problem at the audiobook level, and that is the narrator.  Like most high fantasy books, it seems, the audiobook is narrated by Kate Reading and I just don’t like her reading.  I had to speed up the narration 2x just to get through it.  This is certainly a personally preference – Kate Reading is clearly a very successful narrator because she reads so many books.  Just don’t care for her reading style.

Otherwise, I really liked Academ’s Fury and plan to continue forward in the series… largely because I want to see more of Kitai and I’d really like her to gain more power and become a more important character.  We shall see!

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★★ 1.2
Characters: ★★★★
Writing: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★

three and a half star rating

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Code Orange Problematic Author History

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Have you read the Codex Alera?  If so, what do you think about the role of women in this series?  Do you feel that they are treated fairly overall, or that there’s a sexist light?  I’d love to hear your takes in the comments!

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