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Furious Series in Fantasy

Image 1If a reader likes one book in an author’s series, chances are that he will like another. Or if he likes one series from a given author, then chances are he’ll like a second series by the same author.

This was actually my reasoning to offer Past the Event Horizon free on Kindle Select for the first time ever, and put an ad on Freebooksy. Today it is listed in Freebooksy, but it will be free for a few more days through Amazon. Hint. hint.

So, with this cunning insight, why did it take so long for me to read Jim Butcher’s stepchild series, The Codex Alera? This series has lived in the shadow of the hugely popular Dresden Series. This was supposed to be Butcher’s main series, but Harry Dresden took off with the popularity of Urban Fantasy, and the rest is history.

I’ve read every single one in the Dresden Series in spite of being a sci-fi reader. There are times that I slip up and slide into fantasy.

Okay, I’ll admit it. Mea Culpa.

Furies of CalderonSo with the enthusiastic endorsement of a Powell’s bookstore cashier, I bought and read Furies of Calderón by Jim Butcher.

While I like new and fresh, I still take comfort in old tropes. The orphan boy, the cunning aging king, twists and plot turns, loyal sidekicks, budding romance– all these are favorite story elements for me.

I’m not into zombies or werewolves. So, fair warning.

I was surprised to find the book was written on a dare. If you are expecting Harry Dresden, he isn’t here. However, like the Dresden Files, once you get past the setup, it ‘s page turning action. So, wear a seatbelt or tie yourself down.

Tavi is a shepherd boy living in the sleepy Calderón Valley of Alera. In this world, children bond with elementals of air, water, fire, metal or earth. But Tavi ‘s parents are dead, and he lives with his stalwart uncle who runs the homestead and amazing spinster aunt. They both wield strong magic. Tavi, however, is the only one in the whole homestead who has no elements to do his bidding. He herds the sheep. But don’t count him out.

Far away at the palace, an heirless king faces plots to dethrone him and sends a newly graduated young female spy to the Calderon valley where he suspects treachery is afoot. There is a strong flavor of Rome in the story starting with the king’s name of Gaius Sextus. Other Roman elements also appear throughout the story.Princep's Fury

It was part of the dare.

The king is right to suspect wrongdoing, as his longterm trusted advisor has thrown in with a powerful Lord to depose him through collaboration with a barbarian horde–the Marat. They plan to invade the valley and take over the kingdom.

Amara, the royal spy, gets caught in a storm brought on by Furies while traveling to the valley. Tavi saves her life, thinking that she is a mere slave because she has disguised herself by wearing a slave collar and tatty clothes. Sometimes men don’t look past surface appearances.

Soon Amara uncovers the plot and is dismayed to find her old mentor, Fidelias, is a major player in treason against her king. Butcher portrays him as a vicious villain. Grab a tomato.

But no one has accounted for the brave shepherd boy who controls no furies, yet proves that courage and right action contain the strongest of all magics.Academ Fury

Cursor's furyThe first few pages introduce the characters, and then the action plunges forward and doesn’t stop until the end.

For writing a book from a dare, then turning it into a series, Jim Butcher did very well, and I recommend this to start.

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Superstar science fiction/fantasy Author

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In spite of the tsunami of new books, certain authors are managing to make quite a splash in the current world of fantasy and science fiction.

When I tried to think of who was creating a lot of buzz, the name Brandon Sanderson came to mind. His works range from a large first novel in an epic series to a short story series based on a video game.

So width and depth.

And recognition is coming…Elantris

A 2013 Hugo for his 168 page novella The Emperor’s Soul.

But I expect he is only just starting to gather momentum and awards.

He debuted in 2005 with Elantris and followed up in 2006 with his first book in the Mistborn Series: Mistborn: The Final Empire. This is an interesting series that I recommend, not only for a good story, but also for its complex rules of magic.

The series is set in an ash covered, mist-shrouded world ruled for over 1,000 years by the Dark Lord who reigns terror and pain on his subjects.

Mistborn by Brandon SandersonKelsier suffers in the deepest most hellish prison where he discovers allomancy or the power that comes from burning certain metals. Each metal offers different super powers and Kelsier finds he is able to burn up to ten. He organizes a ragtag group of rebels and begins to set in motion a plan to take down the dark lord.

Vin is a street urchin who trusts no one, and for good reasons, but she has undiscovered abilities as great as Kelsier’s. He trains her and uses her to infiltrate the great houses where at a ball she meets prince Elend Venture and a shy romance develops.

What follows is a story of the usual rough rebels against the awful oppressor, but with an interesting metallurgical twist…and a sweet romance between a street urchin with super powers and a philosophical prince.Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The series continues with The Well of Ascension, The Hero for Ages, and most recently, with new characters, and generations later, The Alloy of Law. (November 2011)

Memory of LightAt the death of Robert Jordan, and with the blessing of his estate, Brandon Sanderson  took over completing the wildly popular Wheel of Time fantasy series. Just as recently as April, 2013, Memory of Light:  book 14 was published by TOR.

In addition, he has several Young Adult books coming out. Steelheart in the newReckoners Series released September 2013. Also available is the short story series based on the video game Infinity Blade: Infinity Blade: Awakening (128 pages) September 2011 and Infinity Blade: Redemption just out September 2013. (147 pages).Steelheart

With the powerful publishing house TOR  behind him, Sanderson has recently brought out his own series, which he had been working on for many years called, The Stormlight Archives Series. The Way of Kings is book 1 and Words of Radiance is book 2  with a publication date of March 4, 2014.

Again Sanderson has created a unique complex world of hard rock, violent storms and intriguing magic. The thousand page novel…

Way of KingsYes, I said  a thousand pages…

…is told from several viewpoints. One is from the oppressed Kaladin who finds himself a branded slave, another is the struggling war hero, Brightlord Dalinar Kholin who has visions that many call madness. Also his sister Jasnah, a renown scholar takes on a troubled young student, Shallan who tells her story of sudden poverty and intrigue. The world is rich in characters, setting, magic and myth.

Remember The Lord of the Rings, The Name of the Wind, and other grand fantasy epics, and you’ll have a sense of this challenging and rich new series by an author that is hitting his stride and becoming a superstar in the world of fantasy and science fiction.

You’ll stay up way too late promising yourself, “Just one more chapter, and I’ll stop.”

…but you won’t.

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