Captain’s Fury: Vaguely enjoyable

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsCaptain’s Fury by Jim Butcher fantasy book reviewsCaptain’s Fury by Jim Butcher

Warning: Contains spoilers for previous books, though probably nothing you didn’t already guess.

Captain’s Fury, the fourth book in Jim Butcher’s CODEX ALERA series, takes place two years after the events we read about in Cursor’s Fury. Tavi is still the captain of the Alera’s First Legion which is still fighting a war with the Canim who have sailed to Alera and burned their ships behind them. While Senator Arnos, who has arrived to take command of the war, wants to destroy the Canim, Tavi hopes to negotiate a peace. The Senator and Lady Aquitaine, his ally-of-the-moment, want to get rid of Tavi, too, and they’ve got a variety of plans for that.

Isana knows it’s time to tell Tavi who he really is: Gaius Octavian, son of Princeps Gaius Septimus, who died the day Tavi was born. She worries that Tavi will be angry when he finds out how she deceived him and stunted his powers. Meanwhile Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera and Tavi’s grandfather (though they don’t know this yet), is on his way to Kalare to stop the rebellion. He has Count Bernard and Countess Amara with him. One of the most interesting characters in this installment is Fidelias, the cursor who seems to have divided loyalties. He’s taking orders from Lady Aquitaine but he’s obviously fond of Tavi.

My feelings about Jim Butcher’s CODEX ALERA series have been lukewarm so far but finally I can say that I vaguely enjoyed (but didn’t love) the fourth book, Captain’s Fury. With a couple of years and a lot of action behind him, Tavi is more credible in his role of army captain now. (This was completely unbelievable in book 3 but I came into this book deciding to leave behind my feelings about how he got here and just go with it.) Learning that he is the princeps changes the game and makes all the stakes seem higher. The story is full of action — prison breaks, sharks, giant lizards, leviathans, storms at sea, a duel to the death, and a volcano. Most of this focuses on Tavi and the people he’s with. This is a good thing because Tavi — and, in fact, all the men in the story — are more interesting and usually more likeable than any of the women are. The story is better when the women (especially Isana and Amara) are not the lead characters in the plotline.

The writing is better this time around, too. For example, there was not a single instance of the word “bodily” which made me cringe every time I read it in the first three books. There’s a nice bit of humor in Captain’s Fury, but most impressive was that there were some truly moving scenes and my eyes even teared up a bit.

Still, with all the good points I mentioned, I can’t say that I loved Captain’s Fury. It merely diverted me for a time and didn’t manage to annoy me too much. Captain’s Fury was an improvement but, overall, CODEX ALERA is a run-of-the-mill fantasy epic. Its main problems are lackluster characters (especially the women) and a slipshod plot that makes it impossible for me to lose myself in the story. I’m listening to the audio version narrated by Kate Reading. I think most readers will like her narration well enough, but she’ll never be my favorite reader after I listened to her for hundreds of hours during WHEEL OF TIME. All of her women sound like Aes Sedai.

Release date: December 4, 2007 | Series: Codex Alera (Book 4). After two years of bitter conflict with the hordes of invading Canim, Tavi of Calderon, now Captain of the First Aleran Legion, realizes that a peril far greater than the Canim exists-the terrifying Vord, who drove the savage Canim from their homeland. Now, Tavi must find a way to overcome the centuries-old animosities between Aleran and Cane if an alliance is to be forged against their mutual enemy. And he must lead his legion in defiance of the law, against friend and foe-before the hammerstroke of the Vord descends on them all.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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