I thought Codex Alera was going to be like a Tamora Pierce series, BUT IT’S TOTALLY NOTTTTT – it’s WAY scarier and more action-packed, and it’s like the usual hero-discovers-magic-and-grows-up series but on steroids. That certain trope has been done over and over again, but Jim Butcher is a beast and made this series into something beyond my imagination. Just a warning, there are topics in this series that are potentially not suitable for younger readers, such as slavery, sexual/physical abuse, and a lot of gore.
I found this series a while back when I was looking for authors similar to Tamora Pierce (because frankly, I have an obsession with her books), and Jim Butcher showed up on the literature map. And because JB writes paranormal stuff too, that’s how I got into paranormal. (And eventually into paranormal romance… are you counting the degrees of separation yet?) Pretty sure that was how I found new books/genres to read before Goodreads and book blogging community came on my radar! Anyway, okay, the books…
Alerans have created a special bond with classic elementals (earth, fire, water, air, and metal), called furies, and fifteen-year-old Tavi seems to be the only person in Alera who can’t furycraft. When Alera starts being torn apart due to political conspiracies and the savage Marat tribes are found in the Calderon Valley where Tavi lives, he becomes a surprisingly key player in the chaos. Tavi is the underdog of underdogs, because in this world, him not being able to connect with furies is the equivalent of missing a limb or having a disability. It makes it easy to root for him through this story and onwards, because he just keeps growing! I really liked the different narratives, since it makes me more involved and committed to the political scene and learn how this world works from different POVs, even when it’s from the “bad” guys. The worldbuilding is magnificent, and the action scenes just suck me in.
After Tavi’s help in the turmoil in the first book, Gaius Sextus – the First Lord of Alera – pays for Tavi’s schooling at the Academy, since going to school was something Tavi had always dreamed of. Him being furyless results in bullying from students (which is why I was reminded of Tamora Pierce books, because there’s always bullying!), but the Tavi we’re presented with has gained a lot of confidence and intellect since we last saw him two years ago (in book years). There’s a new enemy in town – who was actually cleverly introduced in the first book – that is totally creepy and gross because they’re BUGS. 🐜 The Vord is the one prevailing enemy throughout the rest of the series, and I won’t tell you how they attack because you should just go read it and be terrified. (I don’t want to deprive you of the feels!)That, along with the failing health of Gaius Sextus, leads to what seems to be the climax of the series in the next book – war!
If I had to choose a favorite book from this series, THIS ONE is it! Again, two years after the last book, Tavi is a much-improved version of himself. A rebellion is now “officially” happening, and the civil war is on. The head of the rebellion has allied himself with the Canim, another terrifying species that decimates Aleran legions with ease. The First Lord has placed Tavi in one of these legions, and in a way that brings back good memories of Kel in Lady Knight, Tavi starts to show and develop his leadership skills. Throughout this book and the previous ones, other key characters (such as one of the First Lord’s cursors/messengers/spies, Amara, and Tavi’s aunt, Lisana) are brought in with their own narratives, which allows me to see the war from all across Alera.
You know what else I like about this series? It’s funny. War-ridden, epic fantasy stories deserve some humor, between all the deaths and gory details. Here’s the opening line for Captain’s Fury:
“My ass hurts,” said Antillar Maximus, Tribune Auxiliarus of the First Aleran.
“My ass hurts, sir,” Tavi corrected him.
This story feels like a brand new adventure, and I think this story arc is a wonderful and exciting extension of the original storyline. The overarching goal and enemy remain the same, but there are issues that Tavi and co. face in a new land, with new languages and cultures. Again, excellent worldbuilding – I see no end of the brilliance that is Codex Alera.
Uhhh, EVERYONE DIES. Does this count as a spoiler if I don’t tell you who? I mean, it’s a war, so people will die, right?? 👀 This book, in particular, reminds me of The Game of Thrones, but much easier to digest!
FINALLY, the end is in sight! Unlike some series that fade away in terms of plotlines and character development throughout the course of multiple books, First Lord’s Fury still retains the vigor and the anticipation that’s seen in the very first book in the series. At this point, it is purely a story of Good Versus Evil, and Evil just gets more twisted and disturbing as the story goes on. Like in all the other books, Tavi is only one of several major characters, and we get to follow each of those characters in their final adventures.
Overall, Codex Alera is an awesome, action-packed fantasy series that paints a vivid picture of magic, different species, and an empire in the midst of war. One important part of the series that I didn’t get to mention above is that there’s a lot of great relationships that are developed, between parent and child, subordinate and superior, lovers, strangers, enemies. The stress and desperation in a war-like state makes these relationships invaluable, and I really did cherish those interactions.
Have you read Codex Alera?
I don’t know what else to say except AHHHHH GO READ IT IF YOU HAVEN’T.