Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review: Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher

Gaius Sextus’, the aging First Lord of Alera, position has been under threat for some time as the heads of the two largest houses Aquitaine and Ceres attempt to subvert his power. Gaius feeds misinformation to one of Kalare’s spies indicating he will adopt Lord Aquitaine as his heir. This is Gaius’ play to take control of events by forcing Kalare to act openly before he is ready. However unbeknownst to the First Lord the Aquitaines have manipulated political events by pushing for the abolishment of slavery through the Dianic League further eroding Kalare's power. This forces Kalare to take action even sooner than Gausis would have expected. He attacks the city of Ceres and takes a number of hostages which prevents a number of the other Lords from acting. Gaius tasks Amara and Bernard with rescuing the hostages but they have to work with none other Lady Aquitine to succeed. Can they trust her? Meanwhile Tavi and his friend Antiller Maximus have joined a legion on the outskirts of the empire, never intended to see action. When a Canim invasion hits the mainland they are forced into action and Tavi finds himself in the unfamiliar position of leadership.

Over the first two books Tavi has grown as a character and continues to do so here being thrust into the unfamiliar role of leading. He really grows up here and Butcher does an excellent job of building his character. Sadly the same cannot be said for Amara who comes across as unbelievably naive for an agent of the crown. Hers is definitely the weaker of the two main plot lines with too much falling easily into place and feeling rather rushed all in all. While most of the villains have a degree of depth Kalare is too one dimensional and comes across as a children’s story archetypal villain. There is a third seemingly lesser plotline with Isana working to save Fade's life, after he was poisoned while protecting her. During this there are major revelations on their relationship to each and Tavi but I was somewhat disappointed. All of these revelations were simply too obvious from hints the previous two books to have any shock value.

Overall Cursor's Fury is a book of two halves. Tavi's story is excellently done but Amara's is underwhelming. This means what could have been a great book instead becomes a good one. 7.5/10.

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