I was just about to start reading the Game of Thrones series, when a friend in Denver asked me if I had read the Codex Alera series. I must be easily distracted, because I picked up this first volume of the series and started reading. Although I am sure that Game of Thrones makes for excellent reading, I am quite happy that I got my nose into the land of Alera.
The book starts with Amara, who is a young “Cursor” and a leading character in this excellent story, riding atop a gargant bull into enemy territory. She is accompanied by her wise coach and mentor, Fidelias. They are on a dangerous spying mission to find out who is making treasonous plans to overthrow their lord and master, the “First Lord.” Events rapidly turn ugly and life-threatening. The tension builds from the early pages of the book and maintains itself all the way through.
Cursors, along with most of the people of Alera, possess magical powers, which are aligned to earth, air, water, fire, wood and metal. These magical powers are called “Furies”, hence the title of the book. I have no idea why Jim Butcher chose to call them “Furies”, but one gets used to it after a while, and being baffled by this quandary is longer a distraction.
Meanwhile, young Tavi is setting off from the Valley of Calderon, with his uncle, to find a small flock of sheep which he was supposed to have been tending but has let roam free. Tavi is unusual in the land of Alera, in that he has grown into adolescence with no sign of development of his own fury. This makes him a bit of a freak, and the object of ridicule for teenage bullies. But this boy becomes the second leading character in this book.
Tavi and his uncle also find themselves in great danger, when they are attacked by a strange beast and its owner. They fight, but Tavi eventually has to flee, abandoning his uncle, in order to save his own skin.
Butcher does a great job of developing the many characters and their relationships throughout the book. There is much sinister and malevolent background activity, which adds to the excitement. The twists and turns mean that it is sometimes difficult to discern the good from the bad, which I loved.
The creativity and inventiveness, which one would expect from a good fantasy novel, is there in bucket-loads.
I can’t tell you much more without starting to give the plot away, but I do highly recommend this book.
The foundations are laid here for a cracking series, and I will definitely read on. I will also thank my friend for her splendid recommendation.