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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

REVIEW: Codex Alera (Books 1-6) by Jim Butcher

Furies of Calderon marks the first in an epic fantasy series by Jim Butcher and best summed up as a cross between Game of Thrones and Rome. The political structure is much like that of ancient Rome, with aging First Lord Gaius Sextus' rule in jeopardy due to a lack of heirs and other High Lords looking to claim power.

In this world, human have the ability to manipulate elementals they call furies (i.e. air, fire, water, earth, metal). While the people of Alera use these abilities to help combat the often aggressive other races of the realm, young Tavi is unique in his lack of furycrafting. However, what sets him apart from others also means that he must use his wits and bravery to survive when a savage enemy--the Ma'rat--return to the Calderon Valley.

Whilst caught in a wind storm, Tavi's choice to save a slave named Amara sets powerful pieces in motion that will change his life and impact the whole of Alera.

This is the third time I've read book one. I love the unique world-building and fantastic character development characteristic of Butcher's writing. He's amazing at writing an intriguing and likeable underdog.  Tavi's greatest strength is that he has only himself to rely upon and not furycrafting to get him out of dangerous situations.  Despite his 15 years, he's brave, smart, funny, and can think on his feet.

I enjoy the other host of characters including Amara, Isana, and Bernard.  The villains are well portrayed--truly power hungry and deliciously vile!  I love the unique take on building this world, its peoples and the imaginative races and creatures that threaten to upset the peace.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Academ's Fury happens a few years after book 1. Tavi is studying to become a Cursor; however, he still lacks furycrafting abilities. Ever the underdog, he's formed friendships with other outsiders at school.

Alera is still in political unrest but an awakened, mythological foe now threatens the entire realm. The Vord attack on two fronts, splitting the narrative for action driven scenes following Amara and Bernard as well as Tavi doing his best to protect the First Lord. And boy are the Vord warriors and queens SCARY!!

This book has a lot in store for Isana--placed in a precarious political position and forced to make alliances out of necessity rather than her own desires.  Lots of great surprise revelations with her character and connections to other major players throughout the series.

I also adore the two main romantic relationships--Amara and Bernard are just so adorable.  Tavi and Kitai are as well.  I love the verbal banter for each!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In a power-hungry rebellion, High Lord Kalare has challenged First Lord Gaius Sextus. This is again a split narrative following Tavi on one front--sent with a false identity to join a newly minted Legion. It becomes apparent that Kalare has combine forces with Aleran enemies from afar, the wolf-like warriors and sorcerers known as the Canim.  When treachery from within destroys the army's command structure, Tavi finds himself leading an inexperienced, poorly equipped legion-the only force standing between the Canim horde and the war-torn realm. He isn't ready to be "Captain" but he embraces the role readily and leads the soldiers with his tactical ingenuity and intelligence, once again unable to rely on furycrafting like others of the realm.

While Tavi's part in this tale is significant, Isana is a key player. Readers learn more about her past, her connection to Araris Valerian. Butcher weaves in even more narrative surprises. Amara and Bernard's story-line is a bit less impressive during this book; however, their time with Rook and the additional allies they meet will prove important for later books.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Two more years have passed since the Aleran legions have been battling the Canim horde.  Tavi continues to act as captain under an assumed name, fighting the Canin plus deal with power hungry politicians hell bent to relieve him of his command.  In order to put an end to the fighting, Tavi must determine what might appease the enemy to go home, only to then realize that another shared enemy, that's right, The Vord, has forced them from their homeland. Tavi and his allies pull off the prison break of all prison breaks to forge a new alliance and give both sides a chance of survival.

Captain's Fury is a pivotal book for the series.  Tavi learns the truth of his parentage and has it out with his mother about all the lies. He is learning to furycraft. He declares his parentage to all and then has to accept the fallout of his actions.

It is a big book for Isana too. She's much more powerful then she ever imagined. A good portion of Amara and Bernard's story following the First Lord is a bit slow; however, the events at the end are significant and change Amara's role as a Cursor forever.

I adored this book! It is a real emotional page turner. I just adore Tavi and felt so proud during all his moments.  I love Kitai as always too.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Parts of Princeps Fury are a bit of a slow burn.  There is a lot of important stuff happening but this is really the last narrative bridge before the final book of the series.

Tavi, now recognized as Princeps Gaius Octavian and heir to the crown, has achieved a fragile alliance with Alera's oldest foes, the savage Canim. But when he and the legions guide the Canim safely back to their lands, Tavi's worst fears are realized.

The dreaded Vord - the enemy of Aleran and Cane alike - have spent the last three years laying waste to the Canim homeland. And when the Alerans are cut off from their ships, they find themselves with no choice but to fight shoulder to shoulder if they are to survive.

Meanwhile, back in Alera, the Vord are also attacking the realm. What is left of the divided legions must stand together, ignoring feuds and differences in order to fight the enemy. 

Readers get plenty of nail-biting suspense as new alliances are formed, murderous plots are revealed and Gaius Sextus makes the ultimate sacrifice for his people while setting up a few unlikely challenges for those who might succeed his rule.

This was another compelling page turner with plenty of cliffhanger moments. Isana again surprised me as did some other characters. 

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

And now for the epic end. Will Tavi make it back to Alera in time? Will those left be able to save Alera from the Vord?

For years all of Tavi's trials and tribulations have led him to this moment. Now the rightful First Lord, Tavi must lead his Legion as well as their Canim allies on a harrowing journey to face down the Vord in an epic battle.  If they fail in their effort to defeat the Vord Queen, all hope is lost.  All of his skills are put to the test as he'll have to not only prove he is adept at powerful furycrafting but also use his intelligence and wits to outsmart the enemy on his home-turn, the Calderon Valley.

Everything comes together with fantastic action sequences from multiple fronts--Amara and Bernard fighting the good fight on their own, holding out to wait for Tavi's much anticipated arrival as well as a surprising story-line for Isana that fits in with the final battle as well as provides some interesting psychoanalysis time with the enemy queen.

I loved everything about this book. Tavi + Kitai= Forever.  What an epic relationship that never disappoints.  The same for Isana and Alaris as well as Amara and Bernard.  There are a few heart-stopping moments and I adored them all.  It is a bit bittersweet to finally finish these books but the journey was so worth it!

Final rating: ALL THE STARS!

Follow the author on Twitter: @longshotauthor

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