On My Shelves: Academ’s Fury

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The second book in the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher begins with a prologue: the terrifying and alien Wax Forest has turned dead, with no trace of the spider-like Keepers and other creatures that had dwelt within the resin-coated nightmare-scape. The young Marat, Kitai, who Tavi had first competed against and then cooperated with in the Wax Forest to earn the respect and cooperation of the Marat chief Doroga, has also found something else disturbing: tracks leading out of the ruined Forest, and, along those tracks, Tavi's lost backpack. Something has left the Wax Forest… maybe more than one Something.

Meanwhile, Tavi has achieved the goal he sought in Furies of Calderon: admission to the Academy as an Academ, with none other than Gaius Sextus, the First Lord himself, as his patron.

This is … not quite as wonderful as Tavi had perhaps dreamed it could be. Certainly he's being given the opportunity to learn, and his instructors can't fault his intellect… but he is still an outsider, from a rustic, rural district, a commoner, and worst of all, furyless. The latter is essentially unheard of; even Fade, the former village idiot who accompanied Tavi to the capital (and who Tavi knows is something much more than he appears to be), has his own small command of the elemental spirits known as furies.

This makes Tavi a target for bullying by the children of the High Lords, and Tavi often has to spend time either avoiding them, or suffering injury and indignity from them – with intimations that if he were caught too far outside the protected areas of the Academy, the price could be worse than injury.

And then Tavi is present when the First Lord suffers a terrible seizure of some sort, collapsing in utter exhaustion and becoming unresponsive… at a time when it is desperately necessary that the First Lord be seen to be healthy and in control. He helps concoct a desperate plan to keep the deception going… but finds many of the duties of the First Lord thus must fall to him and his very small circle of friends.

Meanwhile, his Aunt Isana and Uncle Bernard find that Calderon has a new, mysterious problem. Bernard, newly-minted Count of Calderon, has help in the form of Cursor Amara, who has become his lover (and soon betrothed). Isana – now Steadholder Isana, and the first woman Steadholder ever – has new problems, for with her position come political implications she had never considered. And Isana has hidden but powerful reasons to hate the First Lord personally, even though she is completely loyal to Alera itself.

But with the First Lord secretly unable to respond, her attempts to gain aid from him fail to reach the right ears, and things begin to grow desperate. Bernard and Amara begin to discover why citizens of Calderon are going missing; plots to topple the First Lord swirl about Isana and her would-be allies, along with assassins; a mysterious thief haunts the capital, evading all pursuit; and why, exactly, is the Ambassador of the Canim – huge wolflike people with a dangerous history – speaking in riddles to Tavi?

Academ's Fury is just as good as the first book, possibly slightly better because it needs spend less time explaining the world and more time showing it. Multiple plot threads crisscross in this novel, some of them connected in non-obvious ways, others not connected yet still vital and with important effects on the other events.

While the story focuses on many people, in this book it is clearer that the thrust of events ultimately focuses on Tavi. Other people are important and have vital tasks to accomplish, but Tavi is ultimately going to be the key to this and later books' resolutions, in ways he couldn't possibly imagine, and even less could most of the people around him.

With my second read-through, I noticed certain commentary and foreshadowing about Tavi that I couldn't pick up on for a number of reasons the first time through; finding such detail is always gratifying, however, because it tells a reader how carefully the author worked it out. Jim Butcher does an excellent job in all aspects of this one.

I strongly recommend Academ's Fury and look forward to reviewing the rest!

Comments

  1. Oh yeah, I loved this one.

    Its plot is a great example of how a character solving previous problems can make new, even worse problems appear.

  2. saintonge235 says:

            Another good one, and Tavi does grow in interesting ways as he deals with his challenges.

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