This is the first of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series, not about wizards for hire but about a fantasy world where people can control the elements through spirits called furies.
In this first book we meet Amara, a Cursor (still not clear exactly what that means) of the First Lord of the Aleran people. She is performing her Academy graduation exercise of infiltrating a rebel camp and finding out what they are planning when she is thwarted by an unexpected source — her mentor, who has been by her side in planning the investigation but also by the side of the rebels in leading Amara into a trap. She escapes to the Calderon Valley, where…
Tavi, a teenager who is well past the age for coming into furies but who does not have any. Tavi has let some of the sheep from his uncle Bernard’s farm stay out all night, impressing a girl instead of herding them as he is meant to, but when he and Bernard go to find them in the morning, they find instead a Marat soldier, something not seen in the Calderon Valley for years. Bernard is nearly killed and Tavi must figure out how to survive a violent storm and return to the farm to warn everyone of the impending danger.
Along the way he meets up with Amara, she explains what’s going on, and adventures are had, as they are in any good fantasy book.
I quite liked this book. The pacing was decent, the plot connected well, and the characters were interesting. There wasn’t any of the “and then Tavi comes into his furies right when he needs them most!” that I was expecting, and little details fell into place really well. I especially appreciated the fact that the book was only 450 pages long, because those epic novels (see next post) can get a little tedious. Butcher cut out the fat but left in all the tasty protein (whoo metaphor!) I was looking for.
(Countdown Challenge: 2004)