Book Review: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera #1)

For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water and metal. But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir. Ambitious Lords manoeuvre to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon. Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, young Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, his world will change. Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave. But Amara is actually a spy, seeking intelligence on possible Marat traitors to the Crown. And when the Valley erupts into chaos – when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies – Amara will find Tavi invaluable. His talents will outweigh any fury-born power – and could even turn the tides of war.

×××

Okay so I lied. I feel so bad! You can see on the right there that it says that I’m reading the Great Gatsby. Only I have been so busy and tired that I have not been able to read it at all. I really want to do it justice and to be able to concentrate while reading it and I’ve just not been able to do that. So I’ve been cheating and reading little bits of Furies of Calderon at a time instead.

Now that’s been explained, on to the book itself.

I bought and read this book because it was written by Jim Butcher, the writer of one of my favourite series of all times: The Dresden Files. I expected a lot from this because of his amazing writing but I’m sad to say that it has only partly lived up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong it is an beautifully written book but it didn’t grab me as much as his other series did.

The story sets in Alera, a realm where everyone has furies. These are air, water, fire, earth or metal spirits who can help you in your endeavours.

The story is written from different points of views.

First we have Amara, a young cursor ( spy and messenger for the first Lord) who discovers that her teacher, Fidelias, has betrayed the crown and is trying to overthrow the first Lord. It is Amara’s duty to warn and defend the First Lord in the upcoming battle.

Then there’s Tavi, a furyless fifteen year old boy who lives with his aunt and uncle in their steadholt. One day, Tavi and his uncle Bernard go to look for some sheep that have run away and suddenly encounter one of the Marat, a warrior clan. The Marat and the Alerans had fought a war before Tavi was born but were believed to have been permanently banished the valley. The Marat attacks Bernard and Tavi, seriously injuring the former. Bernard uses his fury to make his way home but Tavi is forced to hide in a serious furystorm in which he meets Amara, who is seeking shelter from the storm as well.

Tavi tells Amara about his encounter with the Marat and her first priority is to report to the nearest authority and prepare for battle. However, her attempts are continually thwarted by their enemies. Will she be able to save Alera? Who will survive?

×××

Oh this book.. It has been in my bookcase for aaaages. As most of you know I’m a very big fan of Jim Butcher and his series ‘The Dresden Files’. Somehow, I didn’t want to read this series, though. It did seem very good but I was such a fan of Harry Dresden that it felt a bit like cheating? Is that weird? I don’t know.. I think I started reading about 3 times before I actually committed.

The book starts with Amara and I’m really glad it did. Overall, I liked the female voices in this book (Amara & Isana) better than I did the male ones. They are all strong women with great powers and I was generally very impressed with their story lines. So it’s a good thing that the book started with Amara who gave us a very exciting first look into this brilliant world.

I do have to say that mr. Butcher has succeeded in creating an amazing world, very different from the magical Chicago that I was used to. It feels a bit middle-agey with magic and spirits. He has created this world with a complicated hierarchy and power schemes,  with a lot of historic details and different kinds of mythical creatures and tribes. It’s really very impressive.

I think I liked the first half of the book best. That was the part where you really get to know this world and the people in it. The last half is mostly a lot of fighting on a large scale (read: war) and I’m not really a fan of that. Somehow I always have trouble imagining battle on a large scale or if there are a lot of different characters involved (thingy was stabbed to my right while thingy 2 took down scary man ahead of me. Then I saw thingy 3 being captured by the scary things and while I ran to him I saw thingy 4 and 5 succumb to the attacks of the other scary things. Like that only written 2639412343297 x better), I tend to lose sight of what’s happening. So that’s not really the thing I enjoy and seeing that that was what a lot of the last parts of the book consisted of, I wasn’t that entertained.

Overall, it’s a really good book and a nice read and I do recommend it if you enjoy Fantasy and action combined with magic and mystery. The characters are great and it definitely is a set up for a very good series but they lost me at the fighting. I think I probably will read the rest of the series although it may take me a while to pick up the second book.

I give this book a 3,5 out of 5 for the beautiful storytelling and landscaping.

(oh my, it’s been so long since I’ve written a book review. Pretty sure this isn’t my best one but oh well. Busy times!)

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Author: EMK

Just blogging away in my free time while I try to make something of my life

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera #1)”

  1. I’ve never read Jim Butcher, but this sounds like something I’d enjoy. I like large battles in fantasy (perhaps it’s a guy thing?) and I’m writing this type of thing myself, after all. Thanks for making me aware of it.

    I’m interested: in general, would you prefer to read something ‘middle-agey’ like this (sans battles) or do you prefer urban fantasy like Dresden?

    1. Hmm interesting question. I think if I had to choose between the two, I would probably pick the urban fantasy one. But it overall it of course depends on what the story is.

      Jim Butcher is amazing. Give it a shot and let me know what you thought! 😀

      1. Will do. Luckily there’s not a decent bookshop in my town, so I’ll have to wait a bit before I can get it. Have actually been considering getting one of the Dresden novels as well.

  2. It’s always tough starting a new series by a favorite author and worrying it will not live up to the original. Funnily enough this post is well timed as I just had the same issue with a book I’ve finished. I guess no author can be awesome all the time? :S

    I find my enjoyment of battle scenes in fantasy varies dramatically on how the author approaches it, they tend to work if they are fast paced or slower with emphasis placed more on the characters emotions, but if they go in between it doesn’t seem to work for me. Trudi Canavan is one of my favourite authors for writing good battle scenes. 🙂

    P.S. My classic book reading always goes down when life is busy with uni deadlines and general stress etc because the same as you I want to give them the attention they deserve, that’s why I’ve barely read any lately. :/

    1. Haha, true, nobody can be awesome 100% of the time. This series does have the awesome potential though. I’m guessing for many other people this was totally amazing.

      I’m more of a fan of the one on one combat scenes. But most of al I like the scheming that happens around the fight scenes, the plots and betrayals and what not.

      Ha, so I’m not the only one then 😛 Poor Gatsby, he’s just lying in my bed wanting attention.

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