Here’s the next “Books Off the Shelf” installment. There is a world of books out there. More than anyone could get to in a lifetime. As my favorite mug states so succinctly, “So Many Books, So Little Time”. I will attempt to give you an idea on some books you might enjoy or not enjoy quite as much without ruining it with too many spoilers.
I’m also trying to give the books a one to ten rating with ten being amazingly the best (or let’s be honest one of the best) books I have ever read and you need to go home sick to buy and read this book without delay and a one being please don’t bother even looking at the cover of this drivel.
Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera Book 1)
By Jim Butcher
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening 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 High Lords plot and maneuver 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, the boy 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, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine." Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos - when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies - Amara will find Tavi's courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury - one that could turn the tides of war.
Butcher offers us something fascinating in Furies of Calderon and in all of his Codex Alera. The way Brandon Sanderson tells the story, Butcher wanted to prove the point that the premise is not what makes a story, that an author could write about anything and craft it into something worth reading. To this end, he set a challenge before someone to give him any premise and he would write a story on its bases. They gave him Pokémon and the Roman Legions. From that, the Codex Alera was born.
He may have started this Furies of Calderon to prove a point, but I don’t think anyone, Butcher included could have guessed what a fun and exciting combination he had been given. With Butcher’s skill, it was at least enough to fill all six volumes that make up Codex Alera.
In this book we are presented a fascinating world in which humans live in an odd symbiosis with elementals called Furies. Everyone has at least one fury, everyone except Tavi. As the plot unfolds we see time and time again, it is not just in ones gifts (magic in this case) but in one’s determination, resourcefulness, and all-in-all gumption, that true strength abides.
Furies of Calderon also contains a fascinating element of overlapping magic, in which different races possess different types of abilities coming from different sources. This is fleshed out more and more as the books of the series continue, but it adds a fun twist to the normal magic systems one sees in a lot of fantasy.
Through numerous twists and turns of hope, denial, betrayal, and much hinting at a powerful past, Butcher offers a delightful tale that is well worth the read. I gave this book an 8.5 out of 10. On its own, I may have only gotten with an 8, but the rest of the series pulls this one up along with it. If you like adventurous, coming of age fantasy, you need to pick up a copy of Furies of Calderon.
Have you read Furies of Calderon? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it or any of Butcher’s books. And as ever, if you have suggestions of books to review, please let me know. If it is Science Fiction or Fantasy, there is a good chance it is on my shelf or should be.
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Ryan J. Doughan