Title: Cursor's Fury
Series: Codex Alera, Book Three
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Ace, 2007
Sub-Genres: Sword & Sorcery, Military, Other Worlds, Greco-Roman, Boy Who Would Be King
Summary: Tavi, his aunt Isana, and his uncle Bernard, along with their trusted friends, face peril from an invading army of wolf-men and their human allies, who are bent on taking the throne. In a world full of magic, magic-less Tavi is forced to lead an army, while the first woman Steadholder Isana faces down political intrigue. Her brother Bernard, along with his secret wife and spy Amara, mount a rescue of two kidnapped women, in the face of a growing army.
What I Liked: Butcher is always good for a rousing adventure, and he doesn't fail here. The author of the more well-known Dresden Files, Butcher does a great job here of blending high fantasy, tinged with Romanesque ideas, armies, and names, and a military takedown.
Tavi, our hero, and supporting cast members Isana, Amara, and Bernard are still a delight to read about, and Butcher successfully develops several other cast members during this series entry. Butcher made an excellent choice in disgarding the first book's main foe (a rather generic high lord with two much power) in exchange for his wife, Invidia. Invidia steals most of her scenes with her combination of arrogance, brutality, honesty, and delight in atrocity comments. The characters' constantly shifting alliances make the inter-character drama fun to watch and keeps the story moving, while also introducing a few surprises to the series as a whole.
Butcher also doesn't shy away from death, so often missing in these high fantasy books. With so much power being thrown around, somebody's got to die, and Butcher lets them here. It keeps the stakes high, and still allows the book to grow.
What I Didn't: When you have several main characters (although Tavi is obviously the main character), some of them simply aren't as interesting. Isana, who I want to love, is simply too passive and has been for several books. This is more of a plot problem, though, then a character problem, in my eyes. Isana is a captivating character, with a moral code unlike any of the other characters in the series so far. But because she also carries the series' major secrets, her character isn't allowed to do much - if she did, she'd spill the beans on the series' big reveals.
In this book, more so than the first two, I also really felt the impact of the Roman world. Maybe it's because I've been Netflixing Rome, but the allusions seems strange to me and almost out of place. I guess I like my high fantasy to be completely alien, not our world at all. Although you can always find glimpses of other cultures in high fantasy, I like them to be allusions - not something that has arrows pointing to it.
Also, since this is a middle book of a series, I've noticed that I'm getting a little annoyed with the teasing of big reveals already. Butcher has, at least, done away with some of the more obvious secrets in the series, but even the major one he explained here didn't really have that many surprises to it. If you wait a few books to reveal something big, at least make it worth the wait. Give the reader a curveball every once in a while. They'll thank you for it.
Similiar Works: High Fantasy with a Boy Who Would be King: David Eddings' The Belgariad
Other Jim Butcher Series: The Dresden Files
Fantasy with Roman Influences: Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Firebrand
Buy It Here: Cursor's Fury
Last Thoughts: Solid high fantasy with middle book growing pains.