Title: Furies of Calderon
Author: Jim Butcher
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: 516 pages
Read: November 3-6, 2014
Summary: Solid escapist fantasy that delivers on the fun
Apparently, Jim Butcher started this novel (and series) after being dared to write about Roman Legions and Pokemon. It’s clear from Butcher’s writing that he has a sense of humor, but in running with that “premise,” he certainly brought the story in a direction designed not to give his agent and editor seizures. The Roman element pretty much ends at some Latinate names, sandals, and officers called Centurions. The “Pokemon” manifests itself as a thoughtful but conventional elemental based magic system.
Furies is normal third person past with a number of specific points of view laced through a medium sized cast. The characters vary, include both genders, a kid, and even a villain (who is reasonable enough in his thought processes that his side, while not exactly sympathetic, makes sense). The prose is that kind of deft, workmanlike style that feels like it isn’t a style. It’s not artsy, but it never gets in the way either — nor is it overwritten. There is less humor and casualness here than in The Dresden Files, but it’s still there, giving this a lightish tone for High Fantasy. Not comic, but informal in a way foreign to heavier traditional fantasy authors like Martin, Jordan, or Sanderson. Nor does the book have the edge found in recent entries like Weeks or Abercrombie. To me, it feels like 90s fantasy: generally safe.
But this novel works, and works well. Kind of A- on every front. No real weaknesses. Perhaps the worldbuilding itself is a little thin, but the characters are good (not Abercrombie’s Glotka good, but good) — and certainly likable. The pacing is fast. The action solid. The magic system quite good, falling into the “hard style” of magic where the rules are fairly well defined. Mystery isn’t central here. Nor is a sense of great wonder. But boy do the characters manage to get themselves into a constant series of predicaments. And just as they do, the point of view changes, forcing us to read along furiously (haha) to find out what happens.
So is this great literature? No. Does it redefine the general? No. But it’s really solid escapist fantasy that delivers on the fun. I already downloaded the sequel.