Jim Butcher’s second installment of the Codex Alera series is Academ’s Fury. Again, I listened to this story as an audiobook, which was a bad idea. The annoying nuances of Kate Reading’s narration are twice as bad. I didn’t realize there could possibly be that many consonants in the word “Freak”—I’m sure she added a few Qs in there somewhere, and trust me, it begins to grate on the nerves early on. The character voices also start melding together, and because of other reasons which I’ll get into a little bit later, if you tuned out for a few minutes and then start paying attention again, you don’t remember who’s talking.
This book continues the story of Tavi, his aunt Isana, his uncle Bernard, and the cursor Amara. Tavi is now studying at the academy to become a cursor, Bernard is Count of Calderon, and Isana has taken over the stedtholt which is now known as Isanaholt. With this new title, Isana has now also gained citizenship—the first woman to do so without marrying into it—which increases political tension between the First Lord and some of the other nobles of Alera. The tension is already high beforehand (as seen in the first book), and civil war is on the horizon.
Beside all the political turmoil, there’s a more imminent threat. When Tavi and Kitai ventured into the wax forest in the first book, they awoke something, and now it’s after them—a Vord Queen. This alien-like creature has multiplied and is wreaking havoc all over Alera.
There are many fights between the Alerans and the Vord—Many, many fights. Too many fights. Too many long, drawn out fights. There were so many times that I just completely tuned out for 5-10 minutes during these scenes, and when I started paying attention again, I had not missed anything. And then, every fight had at least two “And then!” moments where one of the main characters was facing death and giving up hope of ever seeing their loved ones again, BUT THEN! something would happen, or another character would come along and save the day. It’s something that could be turned into a drinking game, it became so routine.
Also, don’t worry if you forget what the Vord are. It’s explained at least three times, and the same exact information is repeated each time. The repetitious exposition is something that happens multiple times on multiple subjects. Also, things that could easily be inferred are explained to an excruciating degree.
Again, none of these factors are helped by Reading’s slow and dispassionate narration.
And yet, with all these annoyances, I still find myself wanting to read more. I want to know what’s going to happen with these characters, what lies ahead for them. The characters are deep and intricate, and really so is the over-all story. It’s unfortunate that this complexity gets lost in the pedantic fight scenes and recurring explanations.