Well. That was a sequel. Published 4 years after The Rook, we have a weird combination of following the events of the first book (Stiletto takes place perhaps a few months later as the Checquy and Grafters are coming together for peace meetings) but with two completely new main characters (a Pawn Felicity and a teenager Grafter Odette, descendant of one of the leaders).

Plotwise, it’s an interesting enough story, with two organizations that have been taught from early ages to hate one another for centuries having to come together and at least pretend to play nicely. Throw in a third (ish) party trying to throw a wrench into the situation? You have a pretty solid core for a plot.

Captain's Fury

Captain's Fury takes the ‘Alera at war’ feel of Cursor's Fury and really turns it up a notch. Tavi has done the impossible and fought a war against the Canim for two years now, holding them in place and building the trust of his followers to impressive levels. But now a new foe is coming for him–a foe far more terrifying than the Canim, or even than the Vord (who are much less interesting when you don’t see them on screen for a book or two)… politicians.

Characterwise, Tavi remains among the best part of these books:

The Tangled Web: A Guide to Securing Modern Web Applications

The Tangled Web: A Guide to Securing Modern Web Applications is a fairly solid introduction to computer security in the context of web sites/browsers with one fairly major downside: it was published 7 years ago. In the context of the Internet, that’s… quite a while.

Which this book was published, IE had a 40% market share, followed by Firefox with 30%, and Chrome with only 20%. Given that more recent numbers show Chrome with 70%, FF with 10%, and IE + Edge together only at 10%… the Internet has changed. Since it was published, Flash is the next best thing to dead. HSTS and CORS are everywhere now (mentioned as future technologies in the book). Some issues just … aren’t any more, while a whole new kettle of worms is about.

Magic Bleeds

I can’t give you the white picket fence, and if I did, you’d set it on fire.

Oh Kate.

Cursor's Fury

Were Furies of Calderon introduced us to the world and the Marat and Academ's Fury gave us a taste of the politics of Alera along with the threat of the Vord, it’s Cursor's Fury where we really shift to the military focus that defines the rest of the series.

A civil war in Alera plus an invasion by the Canim? Oy.

Magic Strikes

Norse and Hindu mythology (on top of what all we’ve had before)! Magical gladiator fights TO THE DEATH! Giant fight scenes! ACTUALLY LEARNING WHAT’S UP WITH KATE’S BACKSTORY!

That’s quite a book.

Magic Burns

“The vampire stared at me, his mouth slack as Ghastek assessed his options. I took a couple of forms from my desk, put them into the vamp’s mouth, and pulled them up by their edges.

“What are you doing?” Ghastek asked.

“My hole puncher broke.”

“You have no respect for the undead.”

Academ's Fury

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.

Magic Bites

On one hand, Magic Bites was pretty much what I expected. Urban Fantasy with a strong female lead (this time a mostly stock standard human mercenary albeit with some sort of so far unspecified magical bloodline) finds some trouble, things go badly, things get better, lead saves the day.

On the other hand, Kate Daniels is a solid character to read. Despite not knowing whatever it is that gives her a bit of extra oomph, it doesn’t really matter. She has a cool sword, a lot of training, and can handle herself even in the presence of some big bads. That’s more than enough for me.

2019 Reading List

Another year, another reading list.

This time around, I’m aiming for 120 books. 10 per month. One every 3 days. It’s more than I’ve ever done. Probably won’t make it. But it’s worth trying, no?