What I forgot to mention in the last post about The Furies of Calderon: two more linguistic oddities, besides the grammatical and cliche issues. First, there was the weirdness of the touches of Rome throughout. Centurions. Legionaires. Latinate names like Gaius and Pluvus Pentius – and then others that felt less Roman. It took a lot of getting used to; it was just so out of keeping with the rest. The magic was nothing out of Roman legend; the structure of society, such as it was, didn’t strike me as particularly inspired by Rome; Amara was a countess, which isn’t very Roman, I don’t think. It was just peculiar.
The other thing was something that always irritates me in fantasy: the commingling of mundane animals with creatures completely specific to the writer’s world. It bugs me no end to have horses and gargants on the same page – especially when, to me at least, it’s completely unclear what a gargant is supposed to be. At first I was picturing something like huge oxen – water buffalo, only moreso. Then later they seemed more like elephants. Dunno. So, there were horses and sheep and crows – and the latter were reviled, used as a curse, and that was nicely done and well explained within the context – and there were the gargants and slives (lizard-y things, and nasty), and then, on page 335, the sudden appearance of velites. Which – I don’t know.
The furies themselves are a bit of a conundrum. It’s a clever idea; he gets most of the information about them across pretty well… And I understand it’s a glancing blow at Rome after all: “Furies in Roman mythology were female chthonic deities of vengeance or supernatural personifications of the anger of the dead” … but these aren’t, er, those. These are more like elementals – and Jim Butcher sure should know from elementals. I like the way they’re used, is the upshot here; I just kept getting distracted by the fact they’re called furies. Partly because there’s the whole other definition for the word “fury” – I kept expecting them to be, you know, angry.
There’s hope for the next book; there’s something between Tavi and the Marat girl whose name I can’t remember. Hopefully there will be more information about Tavi’s parentage, and why it’s secret, and Bernard and Isana’s past lives. And, of course, Fade’s, though that may have a fairly simple answer. As I said, it’s not what I hoped for – but there’s plenty of room for improvement. Fingers crossed.