Furies of Calderon felt like fairly standard high fantasy. It had a Roman theme rather than the more common (in what I’ve read) Medieval European and elemental spirits for a magical theme, but it still had a fairly standard ‘farmboy saves the day through strength of character and good triumphs over evil’ sort of theme. There were hints of a wider world, but for the most part, it was a fairly self contained book.
Academ's Fury takes all that and really starts to dig into the world building and expand the scope of the conflict. Where we only had the hints of ‘weird’ in the Wax Forest, now we have a fully developed and quite frankly terrifying threat in the Vord. While it’s not the most original concept (the Borg among many many others), it’s well done here. You really get a sense for how alien the Vord are and–worst–how smart. They learn and they won’t stop until everything is Vord. Also, the Canim. Warrior wolf people. Pretty cool.
Character and plotwise, I really like the development of all the characters from the first time around–Tavi is great, Isana does what needs done and has a whole pile of secrets, Bernard and Amara are just wonderful together–along with a handful of new supporting roles with Tavi’s fellow students and teachers and more of a look at Gaius Sextus.
With the changed and expanded focus and world changing threat, this is the make or break for the series. If you were so so on Furies of Calderon but gave Academ’s Fury, now you know if you should finish the series or not. From what I remember (and admittedly, it’s been a while), it just keeps growing from here.
Well worth the read. I look forward to listening to book three!