I see, looking back, that the third book of the Dresden series is when I really got sucked in to the point of no return, and it’s probably not a coincidence then that Jim Butcher’s Cursor’s Fury sucked me into the Codex Alera series.
All the stuff I bitched about in my entry about the first book? Completely fixed, and then some. (I mean, okay, they’re still under-utilizing salt weapons, but at least they’re using them.) And all the virtues that I associate with the Dresden books are present to an increasingly high degree. I liked the second book in the series quite a bit, but this one made me do that “come home and read non-stop” thing for the first time — and when I finished it without having the next one to hand, I was vastly annoyed.
Interestingly enough, the criticism I made of the second book — that everything happens so quickly there’s no time for major character changes — is also addressed here. Not by the book taking place over a long period of time (it ostensibly happens over a month or so, but it feels like a week, tops), but by Butcher leaving big gaps of time between the books in the series. Like the Dresden books, this isn’t covering every moment of the characters’ lives, it’s just hitting the major points.
Anyway, this is now a legitimately great fantasy series, and you should slog your way through the meh first book to get at this good stuff if you like your epic fantasies.