Jim Butcher is kind of fantastic, isn’t he? I was cautious about this book, because while I have adored Harry Dresden from the beginning (and even more once James Marsters was added to the mix) I did not much love the one Codex Alera book I tried. However, it didn’t take long before I was sucked in to this wonderful steampunk world, involved in the characters and happily waiting for what would come next.
The narrator always has a lot to do with how much I love a book; Marsters raised Harry Dresden from being something I was a fan of to something I pounce on as hard and fast as possible. (The books. I mean the books.) Euan Morton is almost as great. He’s a delight to listen to, particularly as he adds wonderful levels of lunacy to the madder characters. It’s funny – he echoes bits of pop culture at times; Sycorax reminded me of Doctor Who’s Missy, and the intonations he gave Folly reminded me strongly of Pinky (as in “Pinky and the Brain”). This is not a bad thing. It was actually, particularly with Folly, quite impressive.
The story was a trip. Non-stop, action-packed, suspenseful (because you never know – Butcher might kill just about anyone), and lots of fun, in a really nicely built setting. Butcher knows how to spin a tale, how to keep information from the reader and how to reveal it naturally, how to slip in a bit of background here and a bit of history there. And how to drop a shocker on you.
The only thing that gave me pause in the plot is that – despite plenty of evidence that she is dangerous and treacherous – there is hesitation to blow Calliope out of the skies. I don’t care what her past is; I don’t care who she used to be, shall we say, connected to – she’s horrible. Exterminate.
Overall, though, what a great start to a series.