Academ’s Fury, by Jim Butcher, is the second installment in his Codex Alera series, and it is a clear improvement over his first novel in the series, Furies of Calderon. With a predictable but strong story and harder, better, faster writing, I found this novel to be more enjoyable than the first after I got over the hump at the beginning. Despite the improvement in his writing, there are still some problems with the book as a whole. If you’ve taken the time to read Furies of Calderon (and enjoyed it), I would be comfortable saying that reading the second book is a sound choice.
- The powers related to fury crafting felt fickle to me. At times it seemed insanely more powerful than it was in the first book, and at other times it seemed like Butcher was deliberately ignoring the potential of some characters’ crafting in order to make the story seem more perilous.
- I feel like Butcher draws his battle scenes out to the point that they grow wearisome and tiring.
- The pacing is off. I’m not sure what it is; perhaps it’s the way that Butcher jumps away from tense moments to visit another character within the story. Perhaps it’s just the way he writes, but the pacing in the book was very hot and cold for me.
- His character writing, dialogue, and character interactions have improved vastly from the first book.
- Pacing aside, Butcher presents a strong but predictable story that is mostly fun to read.
- I actually mostly enjoy the political machinations and maneuverings that take place in this book, and that is very high praise coming from me. Heavy inclusions of politics within a novel are one of the quickest ways to make me dislike it.
- This goes in the Meh because there is an instance of it happening, and then a chance for it to happen later and it doesn’t. Butcher’s description and writing of sex/love scenes or thoughts related to them (in the first book) just felt hamfisted. There is a place where this weakness shows itself again in this book; however, he does recover from this and avoids making the mistake again later in the book.
- There are some really silly discrepancies that go on in the book. For example, at one point you establish that after a certain thing has happened to a character within the book, they lose the ability to speak. Earlier in the book, a character who has had this same thing happen to them definitely speaks.
- Tavi is such a Mary Sue that it hurts me at times. I really enjoy his character overall. However, the fact that he is saddled with no fury crafting (for now, I’m fairly convinced this will change later), but manages to frequently out-perform people with abilities that transcend his own by several magnitudes makes him feel a little too perfect for me.
Tavi’s dreams of attending the Academy have finally become true; he is now Tavi Patronus Gaius. Beyond that, Tavi’s quick mind and near inhuman resourcefulness have earned him a place training to become a Cursor. But, as you would expect, not all is well for Tavi. He is constantly harassed by those around him with powerful furies, and a terrible new threat has woken near the Calderon Valley that threatens to destroy Tavi and everything he holds dear.