Captain’s Fury is the fourth book in Jim Butcher’s series, The Codex Alera. If there is one thing I’ve learned about Butcher’s writing after reading four of his books back to back, it’s that he’s fairly consistent — consistent with the things he does well, and consistent with the things he does poorly. The strange syntax and diction choices continue, the editing is still questionable, and I feel like the characters are all slowly becoming an amalgam of Harry Dresden. (Disclaimer: I’ve never read the books, but several friends have talked to me a length and I’ve developed an idea of what I believe Harry Dresden to be like.) That being said, the book is far from bad. It suffers from a slow start, but once you get through the initial slog the book picks up and doesn’t slow down until it ends. If you’ve read the first three books, I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice by stopping now.
- I kind of feel like I’m parroting myself here, as I’ve complained about this in the last few reviews for this book series, but Butcher makes some very odd diction and syntax choices.
- The editing, again, was awful. I’m pretty sure that it was related to the ebook copy I read, so I don’t really feel that I can 100% say that it’s a problem with the book. That being said, I can remember more than a few instances of sentences missing entire words or lines of conversation that seemed to be completely missing.
- I actually feel like Butcher is slowly losing the individuality of all of his characters. I realize that they are supposed to be growing and changing as individuals, but it feels like they are losing themselves to what I suspect are the beginnings of Harry Dresden’s character. I also feel like his characters are becoming far too stereotypical; his good characters are painfully good, and his bad characters are horribly bad.
- Butcher seems to have abandoned most of his talk of bulging muscles and warm lips while he writes about romance. The romance in the novel still feels a bit silly, and from time to time, a bit forced, but overall, it was a large improvement over the previous books.
- The book deals with another slow build-up at the beginning, but I read the last 70% of it in a single day. The series continues to build steam.
- Butcher does a great job presenting the politics in his novels. I normally abhor politics within fantasy novels (I couldn’t even make it through half of the first Game of Thrones before Martin’s politics became too much for me); but Butcher’s methods of displaying the political maneuverings of the various members of the Aleran elite along with the way he elucidates their motivations is really enjoyable for me.
- I complained about this in book one, and then just tried to ignore it in later books because it was much more infrequent, but it popped up again in this book with a whole new level of unnecessary attached to it. When two badass metalcrafters fight, colored sparks fall from their swords each time they meet. Now that Tavi has come into his Furies, he is among the ranks of badass metal crafters. When Tavi engages in combat, Scarlet and Azure sparks fall from his sword. I won’t explain exactly why this is just silly and, in my opinion, counter productive to the overall story (explaining would require a spoiler, one you’ve probably figured out by now, but I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t.) The sparks just feel like a superfluous throwaway that Butcher included because he thought they would make the fights more flashy.
The First Aleran managed to route the initial Canim assault and has succeeded in holding them at the Einlarch for over two years. Captain Rufus Scipio (Tavi) has played a pivotal role in these victories, and is largely responsible for the transformation of the First Aleran into a powerful, veteran fighting force. As always with Aleran politics, others seek to profit from his victories, and senator Guntus Arnos has arrived at the Einlarch seeking to steal Tavi’s glory and success for his own. Unfortunately, Arnos has the strategic ability of an uncooked piece of pasta and is more than willing to throw away human life if he feels like it could benefit or further him in any way. Tavi must find a way to minimize the damage Arnos will surely inflict while he works to finding a way to save as many lives as possible, even those of the Canim.