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Alera - Bk 5 - Princeps' Fury - like/dislike pulled from 'Book i read' thread - spoilers, no blocks

#1 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 03:08 PM

Pulled this from the 'Book i just read' thread'...
POLISHGENIUS: suggest you finish book before reading past this post.

View Postpolishgenius, on 09 September 2011 - 11:03 PM, said:

Currently reading Codex Alera book 5 and getting impatient with it which is a shame, ...


View PostBriar King, on 10 September 2011 - 01:16 AM, said:

Impatient with it how? Book 5 is one of the best most people think.



View Postpolishgenius, on 10 September 2011 - 08:13 AM, said:

It's badly paced, imo. It's been a problem for the whole series- good pacing needs rhythm, not just stuff happening fast, and sometimes a breather is as important as getting on with it. Butcher understands this, because he uses it brilliantly in the Dresdencrack to the point where he spins it to his advantage by, when he really wants to crank shit up, fucking with those points of respite that are a steady presence in the series, but Alera has been all hectic all the time. And this one doesn't even have that break between books- I mean obviously there's the break by not reading it but it just launches straight into BIG IMPORTANT EVENTS as soon as it begins. Which makes it kind of hard for me to care about any specific one.


I agree that Bk 5 has a different pace from the previous books. It does the 'build and build to huge massive HUGE finish' thing that previous Alera books didn't, and the tension level on the characters pretty much starts high and escalates. I agree with PoGenius that there really aren't any pauses in the book.

That said, I thought it worked. As a general rule i dislike fantasy books where major events only happen at the very end. One of the things i enjoyed most about GotM, DG and MoI is that there are at least four 'climax's' before the actual end of the book... and previous Alera books mostly followed that pattern. But what i thought Butcher did well here was set the tension level right at the start for most of the characters... Gaius/Ehren and Bernard/Amara are thrown right into the Vord invasion, and Isana/Araris have that as a backdrop to their negotiations (which go off the rails IMMEDIATELY). Tavi and co. aren't initially in as much jeapordy but at the halfways mark where we realize what's gone wrong in Cane-ville.


Quote

Plus, the main character annoys me.


really? i mean, farm-boy-with-ham-handed-mystery-past aside, i really enjoy how Tavi is at a disadvantage to pretty much everyone yet manages to brain his way through progrssively more fucked up situations. Sure, it's all very D&D... gain experience, level up, gain followers, etc, but unlike say, WoT's Rand, Tavi didn't have the weight of seventeen prophecy or massive power-ups
to help him.
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Posted 13 September 2011 - 08:23 PM

View PostAbyss, on 12 September 2011 - 03:08 PM, said:

Pulled this from the 'Book i just read' thread'...
POLISHGENIUS: suggest you finish book before reading past this post.

View Postpolishgenius, on 09 September 2011 - 11:03 PM, said:

Currently reading Codex Alera book 5 and getting impatient with it which is a shame, ...


View PostBriar King, on 10 September 2011 - 01:16 AM, said:

Impatient with it how? Book 5 is one of the best most people think.



View Postpolishgenius, on 10 September 2011 - 08:13 AM, said:

It's badly paced, imo. It's been a problem for the whole series- good pacing needs rhythm, not just stuff happening fast, and sometimes a breather is as important as getting on with it. Butcher understands this, because he uses it brilliantly in the Dresdencrack to the point where he spins it to his advantage by, when he really wants to crank shit up, fucking with those points of respite that are a steady presence in the series, but Alera has been all hectic all the time. And this one doesn't even have that break between books- I mean obviously there's the break by not reading it but it just launches straight into BIG IMPORTANT EVENTS as soon as it begins. Which makes it kind of hard for me to care about any specific one.


I agree that Bk 5 has a different pace from the previous books. It does the 'build and build to huge massive HUGE finish' thing that previous Alera books didn't, and the tension level on the characters pretty much starts high and escalates. I agree with PoGenius that there really aren't any pauses in the book.

That said, I thought it worked. As a general rule i dislike fantasy books where major events only happen at the very end. One of the things i enjoyed most about GotM, DG and MoI is that there are at least four 'climax's' before the actual end of the book... and previous Alera books mostly followed that pattern. But what i thought Butcher did well here was set the tension level right at the start for most of the characters... Gaius/Ehren and Bernard/Amara are thrown right into the Vord invasion, and Isana/Araris have that as a backdrop to their negotiations (which go off the rails IMMEDIATELY). Tavi and co. aren't initially in as much jeapordy but at the halfways mark where we realize what's gone wrong in Cane-ville.


Aye, the thing I enjoyed most about the fifth was the tension level was ramped all the way through... straight away your thinking "christ how the hell are they going to get out of this," it reminded me of my feelings whilst reading the third Waylander novel by Gemmell with the mist, instantly on the edge... I figure Butcher had the first four books as the scene setter for the fifth so he didn't need to worry about the build before hand... instant kapow! It also worked for me, heck I loved the book and that leads on to...

View PostAbyss, on 12 September 2011 - 03:08 PM, said:

View Postpolishgenius, on 09 September 2011 - 11:03 PM, said:

Plus, the main character annoys me.


really? i mean, farm-boy-with-ham-handed-mystery-past aside, i really enjoy how Tavi is at a disadvantage to pretty much everyone yet manages to brain his way through progrssively more fucked up situations. Sure, it's all very D&D... gain experience, level up, gain followers, etc, but unlike say, WoT's Rand, Tavi didn't have the weight of seventeen prophecy or massive power-ups
to help him.


... Tavi is one of my favourite fantasy characters... the scene that seals it for me is the defence against the Canim where he heats the floor in an earlier book (iirc) brains over brawn... pure character win! If Butcher had gone with the grain early on you would of expected Tavi to get his own powerful beasties around the second/third book... hah who needed them!

I love the way Butcher does the whole "Whats the worst that could happen" in the 5th book, with a main character like Tavi, backed up by a top supporting cast and the tension, this book is gold!

This post has been edited by champ: 13 September 2011 - 08:26 PM

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 03:23 PM

View Postchamp, on 13 September 2011 - 08:23 PM, said:

... with a main character like Tavi, backed up by a top supporting cast and the tension, this book is gold!


And that's another point... the supporting cast in this series is brilliantly great to read about. Just looking strictly at Tavi's plotline, we have Max and Crassus with their whole messed up history, Marcus/Fidelias who really comes into his own in this book... i thought the character switch back in 3 was a stretch, but he grew on me..., Varg who simply rocks every time he's 'on screen', and Kitai who steals Every. Single. Scene. that she's in. I even enjoy the more background ones like Magnus, Durias, Deimos and so on. You can't help but care about them, and the way this book works, they're all in jeapordy from the start and it amps up right thru.

Amara and Bernard's stealth mission was another one... a brilliant bit of set-up/pay-off with the collars, a few established supporting characters being killed almost out of hand, etc .
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Posted 15 September 2011 - 03:48 PM

I should now point out that my comments were aimed at book 6 (though they apply to all of the series to an extent). I'm not sure where my counting went. I do think that Book 5 was probably the best, mostly because, being largely set in the Canim homelands, the situation is more interesting to me, I think. I like books where the characters are isolated in a strange place or culture. But


As for Tavi; I find him annoying because aside from the whole cliched hidden Princeps thing, I've never come across a character I'm less convinced is going to lose out in a given situation. He has no powers in the same way Batman has no powers; his superpower is winning. Except Batman plans and sacrifices and spends his entire life becoming awesome, Tavi just pulls solutions out of his arse. Brains over brawn is all well and good, but Tavi just makes it silly.

This is made all the more irritating by the fact that the supporting characters are ace, and also do fail, quite spectacularly; perhaps the most interesting thing about the series is that things go to shit in a way I'm not sure I've seen in even the grittiest modern antiheroic fantasy. Because Tavi just rides roughshod over all this. The most painful example is in Captain's Fury where the whole book is spent building up a potential superfight between Araris and Navaris and then that gets dropped in favour of Tavi gaining not only super swordfighting skills but the psychiatric skills of Hannibal Lecter to win. ;) He's a massive Mary-Sue.
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Posted 15 September 2011 - 05:51 PM

@ Tavi's power being winning. ;)

When I first started the series, Tavi reminded me of Bink from A Spell for Chameleon. I appreciated the twist Butcher used later in the series.

The sheer scope of the battles in the last few books got to be too much for me. It's funny. I originally enjoyed the Codex Alera books over the Dreden Files because Alera was written in the 3rd person. After the return of the Vord and Harry's exponentially increasing awesomeness, I'm now a huge fan of the Dresden Files despite it being written in the 1st person.
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Posted 20 September 2011 - 05:19 AM

View Postpolishgenius, on 15 September 2011 - 03:48 PM, said:

... The most painful example is in Captain's Fury where the whole book is spent building up a potential superfight between Araris and Navaris and then that gets dropped in favour of Tavi gaining not only super swordfighting skills but the psychiatric skills of Hannibal Lecter to win. ...



To be fair, he had already been training with Araris for months by then, which basically was enuf to just keep him alive until he could mindfuck her.
And Butcher made it clear she was a raving sociopathic lunatic from the start, so it's not like Tavi being able to beat her with his brain was all that random.

I see your critique, but the whole point of the character is that he lacks the advantages most of the other characters have, so he tries harder, and i found it hard not to enjoy that element.
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