Furies of Calderon is the first book in Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. The high fantasy series bears little resemblance to the more popular of Butcher’s books, The Dresden Files, though a bit of the familiar witty humor seeps in every once and a while.
In Furies Butcher has tried his hand once more at world-building, and what a rich world it is! The inner workings of the world are run by elementals known as furies. There are furies for air, water, fire, earth—sadly missing are the heart furies. The Aleran people on the world of Carna are able to bond with the furies and in doing so, the furies grant them power over a particular element. According to the internet, “The inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The ‘lame’ ideas given were ‘Lost Roman Legion,’ and ‘Pokémon.’”(Wikipedia—and it’s actually cited!).
Tavi is a young man who lives on his Uncle Bernard’s stedholt. Tavi is unusual in that he does not have a bonded fury. Amara is a Cursor who is betrayed very early in the novel by her mentor and friend, Fidelas. Fidelas, Amara learns, is part of an uprising against the First Lord of Alera. Eventually she escapes and meets Tavi, who has just survived an attack by Marat warriors. They meet in the midst of a fury storm, a metaphor for the bigger storm that’s about to happen. Tavi and Amara learn that Fidelas and his rebels are working with the Marat and are planning on attacking Alera and taking control away from the First Lord. Aided by others (Bernard, Tavi’s aunt Isana, and a simple slave named Fade), Tavi and Amara set off to warn the local count of the pending Marat attack.
Butcher has created a rich and interesting world in this first book, and there’s potential for so much more history and story. The story itself, while not ground-breaking, is still interesting and exciting. The fighting gets a bit pedantic at times and slows the story’s progress, but once you get past these bits, it’s quite engaging. The slogging fight scenes may have something to do with the fact that I am listening to this story as an audiobook. Kate Reading is the narrator, and while she’s not a bad reader by far, her voice does lack a bit of the excitement needed to narrate a good fight scene.
If you’re looking for more Dresden-like stories, then I suggest looking somewhere else (My long-time readers will know that I highly suggestion the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne). But if you’re looking for a unique take on high fantasy, then the Codex Alera is definitely worth a try.
Now on to the second book!