This is the second in the six-book Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. While this is the first Butcher book I’ve reviewed for this blog, I’ve mentioned before how good I think he is. And yet, the first book of the series, “Furies of Calderon”, left me flat. This one was much better.
Mostly it came down to pacing and already being past the world-building. The events in this one seemed to come much faster, and instead of struggling to understand how the people interacted with their elemental spirits (aka their “furies”), I was able to simply accept it and move on. Also, this one simply felt tighter with fewer extraneous threads pulling me in different directions. I imagine by the time we get to the end, all of those loose threads from the first book will be important, but I’m glad that for this one, we didn’t need to keep up with them.
So, this one mostly focused on battling a nasty spider-like monster that was spreading forth from the nest we saw in the first book, as it spread out, sending its children forth to multiply. It proved quite nasty and its particular powers were pretty squicky – not I-stepped-on-something squicky but please-kill-me-before-the-alien-impregnates-me squicky.
In and around the monster battles, political intrigue advanced, secrets were revealed, and several characters made some hard choices that I suspect they will later regret. Specifically, there was one of those “for want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost…” things that probably won’t reach the level of losing battles and wars until book five, but it’s troubling to see that chain of loss start.
Anyway, it probably took me two years after reading Furies of Calderon to give this series another shot, but now that it’s picking up, I’ll probably be back before long.