Review: First Lord’s Fury, by Jim Butcher

This is the culmination of the Codex Alera series, and it goes out with a bang. Tavi is coming back to Alera leading a most unusual army, only to find that his fellow Alerans are up against the wall with the merciless Vord crushing their greatest strongholds and killing their strongest furycrafting lords. At least by this point, Tavi is finally coming into his own furycrafting strength, but even he is no match for the might of the Vord. Then again, Tavi has always been smarter than he was strong, and he makes good use of that in this final war.

In addition to Tavi and his crew, we see some fine performances put in by the remaining furycrafters. Even Aquataine puts in a good show. But nothing compares to the rabbits Tavi’s uncle Bernard manages to pull out of his hat. Much of those particular tricks had their origins as wild ideas from Tavi years before, but Bernard has taken them to their most impressive ends. Perhaps the most world-shattering moment comes at the command of Bernard, as a hundred commoners throw down a demonstration of power that would completely spend a High Lord’s power… and then do it again the very next minute, and the next, and the next. It was one of those moments where even as the reader you stick her head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.

I won’t spoil the end, but I’ll just say that it was quite satisfying. Just about everyone got what they deserved, in one flavor or another. In particular, the epilogue was good, tying up a number of loose ends and giving some hint about what was to follow in the years and decades ahead. As one character said, the interesting times were definitely over, and yet it felt the new story of Alera was just beginning.

So, if you’re contemplating this series – particularly if you’re struggling through the slow first book, Furies of Calderon, give it a shot. The road to the payoff is long and fun, and the payoff is definitely worth it.

Review: Princep’s Fury, by Jim Butcher

This is the fifth book in Butcher’s Codex Alera, where a nation of elementalists is struggling through war, infighting, and a difficult succession. In this installment, Tavi is across the sea helping his new allies deal with some problems of their own, while things actually go from bad to catastrophic back home. The First Lord fights a losing battle against the Vord, while others uncover some secrets about what started the whole problematic succession in the first place.

As much as I enjoyed the earlier books, this one rose to the challenge and raised the bar even further. Tavi, who grew up as a poor child without any command of the elements (aka the “furies”), has spent a lifetime learning to adapt. Instead of overpowering his enemies, he has had to outthink them. His talents shone here more than ever before as he faced down the implacable Vord. Even the First Lord Gaius Sextus – the most powerful man in the world — found himself wishing for Tavi’s insight back home.

The ending, while resolving things for the moment, was also an excellent cliffhanger. It would seem that all the cards are now on the table. All the last-ditch heroics have been done. It’s all down to Tavi to rise to the occasion and… well… save the world is not exaggerating. I will be diving into First Lord’s Fury very soon.