Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…
Today is the 27th of May. It’s the last Friday of the month, which means it’s also time for this month’s book reviews post, and I have something terrible to confess: I have abandoned a book halfway.
Since the start of the year, I’ve gone back to the average of 4-8 books a month that I had in middle/high school, but this month I slipped back to laziness. It all started after I finished Skin Game last month. I didn’t know what to read next, but I saw that Jim Butcher, author of the excellent Dresden Files series, had written another series, so I went for that.
Furies of Calderon – Jim Butcher
Furies of Calderon is the first book in the Codex Alera series. What got me interested in the series (besides its author) was hearing the backstory behind it: apparently, Butcher had been dared to write a story combining Roman society and Pokémon. Yeah, I know.
It was such a weird concept, and the series was so well-reviewed on Goodreads, that I decided to go for it.
It was… eh. It wasn’t bad, not really, but it wasn’t remotely good as well. Having become used to Jim Butcher’s excellence with Harry Dresden, it was very disappointing to see something so mediocre. Perhaps it’s not fair to compare; I always get angry when people criticise JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike books by bringing up Harry Potter.
So without bringing up Jim Butcher’s other significant work, here is a brief explanation of why I found Furies of Calderon disappointing: it was the same story I’ve read dozens of times before.
Furies of Calderon reads the way Eragon probably would if I were to read it today for the first time. As a reader of fantasy you have a great period, usually in middle school, where everything you pick up is fantastic, because it’s your first exposure to a really fun genre. Does it have dragons, elves, magic? Then it’s going to be great!
After a few years though, you start to notice the same exact tropes. The same ‘twists’ and uninspired uses of magic, and just… soul-draining plot. It starts to become a chore, and many of us become disillusioned with the whole genre. A Song of Ice and Fire had been a breath of fresh air a few years ago, but since then I’d lost all interest in magic and dragons and elves again.
Then came The Name of the Wind. What an excellent example of fantasy. God. I recently listened to an interview with Patrick Rothfuss where he talked about how he wrote the series exactly because he was tired of the same stories being told over and over.
Anyway. Name of the Wind rekindled my love for fantasy, and books in general. Since reading it, I started reading at least a book a week again. I’ve been exploring different books, staying up late reading, having breakfast with my kindle in my hand…
It was great. Wondeful. I loved being hooked on books again.
And then… Codex Alera.
Maybe I’m being too harsh on it. I’d love to write a book as ‘mediocre’ as that. Plenty of people love the series, and that’s ultimately all that matters. However, as far as my opinion of it goes, I wish I’d never read it. I read through Furies of Calderon and started on the next book in the series, and… never really did anything after that. In one month, I read one book and two fifths of another one. That’s it. After reading 10 books last month.
Codex Alera is not bad. It’s something I’d be proud of having written. It is also, sadly, just not my cup of tea anymore, and it froze me from being able to continue my previous reading habit.
I mention all of this to make up for the fact that I didn’t really have anything to review this month. I’m sorry. However, I started a nonfiction book yesterday and I’m already halfway done, so fortunately this seems to have only been a temporary stumble to my goal of reading at least 50 books this calendar year.
Anyway, I’ll see you next month, when I’ll definitely have a more thorough post for you 🙂
For this month, I’d particularly appreciate book recommendations of any type, though original fantasy would be particularly nice.