First Lord’s Fury // by Jim Butcher


//published 2009//

I’m sorry to say it, but I have to say it – this book gave me so many FEELS!

I started the Codex Alera back in June, and was immediately enamored with Furies of Calderon.  I loved the hero, Tavi, but I also loved all of the side characters.  The plotting was great, the world-building fantastic, and there was just so much to really enjoy about the setting and story.  And it just hasn’t stopped – I’ve loved every book of this series.  The pacing has been perfect, and the connections and build between the books really well done.  It feels like one big story, yet each book reads as itself very well.

Throughout this series, the core group of characters have had to, individually, make critical decisions.  I love the way that Butcher has written books where those decisions – the ones that seemed large and the ones that seemed small – all have an impact on Alera’s future.

Butcher also does an absolutely amazing job writing a story where the reader sees how every coin has two sides – and yet he does it without coming across as wishy-washy, or as though he is making excuses – it’s more of a reminder that everyone has their own perspective that leads them to make the choices that they make.

In a way, that’s what this whole series is about: choices.  Virtually every decision that we make every day impacts the way that our character is growing and changing.  And while one small bad/selfish decision may not immediately turn us into bad/selfish people, the accumulation of many of those small decisions is what shapes us.  The justifications that we use for the selfish decisions that we make also say a lot about us.

All in all, I highly recommend this series.  It was completely engrossing and very well written.  The only reason it has taken me so long to finish is that I was reluctant to start the last book (I finished book #5 back in August!) … because that meant that the series was going to be over!  Plus, I’m always scared to read the final book when I have loved the series – what if everything falls apart in the end??  But this series concluded perfectly, and I closed the book with a deep sigh of genuine contentment.

Full of action, intrigue, and well-drawn characters, the Codex Alera has been a fantastic series to read, and is one that I am sure I will visit again.  5/5 for this book, and for the series on the whole.

Princeps’ Fury // by Jim Butcher

And here, my friends, is the long-awaited Book #20 for 20 Books of Summer!!!

“But wait!” you say.  “What happened to Book #19?”  For those of you who are crafty and wise will remember that Sea Star was #18.  Well, #19 was The White Flower by Grace Livingston Hill, and, if I’m honest, was so incredibly forgettable that… well… I’ve forgotten most of it.  It was a fine, if boring read, about a Beautiful Girl on a train, and blah blah these Bad Guys are kidnapping her and then this Handsome Young Man rescues her, but the Bad Guys are like totally unwilling to give up on this Beautiful Girl so they continue chasing her around and there are many Narrow Escapes and Harrowing Adventures.  So wildly impractical!  Perfectly fine when I was reading it, but just not enough material to give me a full review.


//published 2008//

So…  #20!  This is the fifth book in the Codex Alera series, and I honestly put off starting it, not because I didn’t want to read it… but because I get nothing else done when I am reading these books!  They are completely action-packed, with different stories happening in different places, but all coming together in beautiful harmony.  The Vord are THE CREEPIEST EVIL FORCE OF ALL TIME and it’s all perfect.

The characters in this series are fantastic.  Tavi is just an amazing hero, not perfect, but also not content unless he striving towards perfection, and I love that.  I don’t mind having protagonists who aren’t perfect, but it annoys me when people act like having a character be “flawed” is what makes them a great hero.  No – what you need is a protagonist who is “flawed” but who is also striving to become better, something more than they are.  For me, that’s the difference between a book I enjoy and a book I don’t.  Books where the protagonist just sits around being flawed and whining about how hard their life is (98% of contemporary YA, I am looking at you) just aggravate me to no end.

ANYWAY.  The other characters are also fantastic.  I love Tavi’s girlfriend, his best friends, Bernard and Amara, Isana, and a whole host of other characters who have really, really grown.  In this book, Amara and Isana were especially AMAZING, with both of them totally willing to die for what they believed was right.

This book ended a little more on a cliffhanger than the rest.  While some of the immediate storylines were wrapped up, there is still a lot going on, as this book is really ramping into the final installment.  I was really, really tempted to jump directly into First Lord’s Fury, but if I had done that…  well, we wouldn’t have had any clean clothes, the house would be even more of a disaster, and my husband would begin to wonder if this whole “stay at home for the summer to completely projects around the house” is really just a cover so I can read more books…  shhhhh…

#20 for #20BooksofSummer!!!!20booksfinal

Captain’s Fury // by Jim Butcher


//published 2007//

Okay, first off, you know all those old sayings about not being proud and all that?  Well, after patting myself on the back in my July Rearview because I have read 19/20 of my books for 20 Books of Summer, I find that I have really stalled.  My final book is Princep’s Fury, the next book in the Codex Alera series, and I just haven’t picked it up!  While I am absolutely loving these books, it always takes a few chapters to really get into the groove, and then when I do – all I want to do is read more!!!  And I find myself putting off that initial start because I don’t have time to do nothing but read right now!  So in the meantime, I’ve found myself revisiting my non-fiction assignments method, where I give myself a certain number of chapters to read each day, and can’t read anything “fun” (or play mindless games on  my phone!) until they are checked off the list.  However, my non-fiction reads right now are really good, including as they do John Cleese’s autobiography and a collection of Wodehouse letters, plus A.W. Tozer on the book of 1 Peter, and the classic The New Way Things Work.  

Anyway.  All that to say that I still think I will read my official Book #20 before time runs out, but for now I’m finding myself in a bit of a reading drought, possibly because summer is almost over and I still have SO MANY PROJECTS around the house that I want to accomplish!

So!  Captain’s Fury!  In this installment, set two years after Cursor’s FuryTavi is still leading his bit of the army.  They’ve been working to hold off the Canim invasion with the assistance of a newly-created Marat cavalry division, but now a new man has been put in charge of the military.  He doesn’t like the “barbarian” Marat, he doesn’t think that anything can be gained by attempting to negotiate with the Canim, and he doesn’t really like this upstart kid who is leading the First Alera Legion.

Tavi was initially sent to the First Alera under an assumed name in the last book.  His rise to captaincy there was not part of the plan, and it has forced him to continue his fake identity.  He’s not the only one operating under disguise, though, and the book is full of twists and turns as the true names of various characters are revealed.

Meantime, there are always plenty of other things going on.  Tavi’s uncle, Bernard, is helping his wife, the Cursor Armana, and the First Lord as the First Lord sets off on a secret mission to quell the rebellion of one of the other high lords.  Tavi’s aunt Isana is making a journey of her own – to Tavi, to confess a huge secret that she has withheld from him his whole life.  Tavi is desperately trying to protect Alera from the Canim, but believe that the best way to accomplish that may actually be to work with them instead of against them.  Butcher manages to keep the separate stories going at a good pace, and always brings things together in the end.  There is still an over-arching theme throughout the series, but each book concludes its own particular intensity, while managing to set things up for the next round.

One thing I don’t think I’ve particularly mentioned is how Butcher uses our culture from ancient Rome as a basis for the Aleran culture.  Many of the terms and concepts are Roman, and it’s rather intriguing, seeing as how there really aren’t a lot of other ways in which this world looks like ours.

All in all, Captain’s Fury is a solid installment to the series.  And despite my procrastination, I’m actually genuinely excited to delve into Princep’s Fury and see what happens next!

Book #14!!


Cursor’s Fury // by Jim Butcher


//published 2006//

Well, this series is kind of getting to that point where I don’t even know what to say because I’m enjoying it SO MUCH but it is ridiculously involved.

One thing that I really like is the way that the books are spaced – about two years between each one, which means that our main character, Tavi, has a chance to grow and develop even when we aren’t around.  It makes the events far more believable, because by Cursor’s Fury, even though Tavi is still young, he isn’t a kid any more, and he’s had several years of education and training.

Butcher has created a really intricate but understandable world.  There are layers of culture, but nothing disproportionate or jarring.  Tavi is intelligent, industrious, loyal, and kind, but he isn’t perfect.  I really, really like how there are different types of creatures in this world besides humans, and how Butcher uses the inherent prejudices the humans have against these other creatures to build his story, especially as Tavi is one of the few who are willing to meet and understand them on their own terms.

In this book, the main enemy are the Canim, a sort of wolf-human creature.  They come from another continent and have raided Alera off and on through the years, but this time they have come as an invading force, and they couldn’t have chosen a better time (from their perspective) to strike, as one of the High Lords has incited a rebellion against the First Lord.  Resources and military units are stretched thin, and tension is high.  Butcher does a really excellent job of giving us a few chapters with one character, and then a few chapters with another.  While Tavi is the main focus, many of the secondary characters are well developed, especially Tavi’s family and Amara, the Cursor we met in the first book.

We also get the official reveal of who Tavi really is, something I guessed basically in the first half of the first book, but it was nice to have it officially confirmed and to get all the details of the story.  It also gave a lot more insight into the minds and motives of some of the other characters.

All in all, this has been a solid series.  I just started book four today, and am excited (and a bit terrified) to see the action continue!

#7 for 20 Books of Summer!!!


Academ’s Fury // by Jim Butcher

Greetings, friends!  It is time for 20 Books of Summer – review #2!


//published 2005//

Academ’s Fury is the second book in the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, Furies of Calderonand was excited about this sequel – and it did not disappoint!

“If the beginning of wisdom is in realizing that one knows nothing, then the beginning of understanding is in realizing that all things exist in accord with a single truth: Large things are made of smaller things.”


Absolutely GORGEOUS fanart of Doroga the Marat on his gargant, Walker. LOVE IT. By Sandara on DeviantArt

Like I mentioned in my review of the first book, I really appreciate Butcher’s emphasis on the idea that huge things hinge on small, seemingly insignificant decisions.  He goes on to say, “Significance is cumulative – but not always obvious.”  It’s the perfect way to introduce his story, which is actually several stories that interconnect and weave together, each one made up of individuals who do not appear to be important in the grand scale of things, yet each of them makes a decision that will impact their entire world.

The main thing you need to know about this book is that it is HIGH ENERGY.  There were multiple times that I would literally have to set it down and go do something else because it was making my blood pressure rise.  This was an incredibly intense story, told with perfect timing.  It’s a hefty book – the paperback weighs in at 702 pages – but it did not feel like it was too long or too slow.  When we were kids, and the family was watching a movie, if the movie got too intense, my littlest brother would have to get up and stand behind the couch so that he could literally jump up and down with nervous excitement.  There were times during this book that I almost reached that point, despite my 33 years!


More fabulous fanart by Sandara – we meet the Canim in this book as well – wolf-people warriors, another intriguing race of creatures.

We continue to follow the stories of our main characters from the first book – Tavi, the young shepherd boy who is now attending school in the capital city; his uncle Bernard; Bernard’s sister, Isana; a young cursor named Amara; and several of the bad (???) guys.  This book picks up two years after the last one ended, which I also liked.  Everyone has settled into their new roles, the bad guys that were defeated in the last book have taken some time to regroup and try a different angle this time around, and it all felt really reasonable and natural.


Just because I can, a third picture by Sandara – this one is of Bernard and his earth Fury, Brutus. I love how in these books, many of the Furies are in the shape of an animal and are named. And this is a FABULOUS picture of Brutus!

However, I can’t even begin to describe the plot, and I’m not sure that I want to.  Suffice to say that it was brilliantly done and that the Vord are some of the most terrifying creatures I have ever come across in fiction.  I LOVED the way that Butcher is greying the lines between good guys and bad guys, really bringing up some excellent questions about loyalty, duty, and honor.  It’s also great to have a hero who is at an actual disadvantage in his culture – everyone else can call up a Fury except for Tavi.  The way that he works to compensate for this lack is great.

Again, these are definitely YA/adult.  They are intense, there is non-graphic sex, and there is violence.  But they are brilliantly written and incredibly exciting.  Hopefully my heart is strong enough for book three…20booksfinal

Furies of Calderon // by Jim Butcher

Book One of the Codex Alera


//published 2004//

So, after a year of reading Pern, I am ready to begin a new series!  And the fates have given me the Codex Alera, a series of six books about a fictional land, Alera, whose people can harness the elements, called Furies.  Everyone is able to work with at least one Fury, and some are able to work with multiples.  Different people’s Furies have different strengths, and an individual’s Fury may appear in a specific form and be given a name.

Our story begins with Amara, a young woman who has recently become a Cursor – the elite group who works directly for the ruler of Alera.  Amara and her mentor, Fidelias, are attempting to infiltrate a camp of potential rebels against the First Lord, in an attempt to determine who is behind the rebellion.

The next story line is about Tavi, a teenage boy with a terrible curse – he has no Furies.  His uncle, Bernard, has a powerful earth Fury named Brutus.  Bernard’s sister, Isana, is a strong water-crafter whose Fury is named Rill.  But Tavi himself remains Fury-less, putting him at a singular disadvantage in a world where everyone else has the ability to call upon earth, water, fire, wind, wood, or metal.

All in all, this was a very credible beginning to what I hope will be a solid series throughout.  The story was completely engaging and the world-building was perfect, with enough information explained (naturally) for Alera to make sense, but without any kind of lengthy lecturing on the whys, wherefores, and hows.  The main characters are well-drawn, with Amara, Fidelias, Tavi, Bernard, and Isana portraying individual voices and characters.  I enjoyed that there was a range of ages amongst the characters as well, although I will say that I was a bit confused as to Amara’s age. At first she felt quite young, Tavi’s age, but later she came across as a bit older, probably into her 20’s.

The villains are very villainous without being over the top – their actions and motivations felt natural and believable, which made them even scarier.  The battle scenes were intense, but not overly violent.  These are, however, definitely in the older YA/adult range as there are some conversations that are sexual in nature, as well as an incidence of rape, which, while not graphic, was still disturbing (as it should be!).

I really enjoyed Amara, who is feisty and independent without being obnoxiously so.  She is a powerful wind-crafter and a natural leader, intelligent, loyal, tenacious, and a good fighter.

Tavi has lived his entire life with the disadvantage (and embarrassment) of not having a Fury, but he is still quick to learn and very determined.  I liked his strong sense of right and wrong, and his willingness to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.

Butcher has created a world where the humans are the citizens of Alera, but Alera itself is surrounded by countries where other creatures, some more human than others, dwell.  In this book, Alera is faced with danger from the Marat, a race of more or less giant humans who do not have Furies.  However, each tribe has a connection with a specific type of animal with whom they bond, and they are able to communicate with their totem animal.

I really, really liked the plotline that involved Tavi getting mixed up the Marat, and how that all unwound.  Without being too spoilery, I’ll just say that some inherent prejudices were eventually overcome, with far-reaching results.

Furies of Calderon did a really good job of setting up things for future books, while still being a complete story in its own right.  I felt completely satisfied with the ending, while still being intrigued as to what would happen in the next book.  However, I will say that I have some strong suspicions as to the actual origins of Tavi.  We will see if they play out!

I’m about halfway through the second book right now.  One thing I like is that for both of these books, Butcher has started with a “quote” (his source being a non-existent book supposedly written by Alera’s ruler), with both quotes focusing on how a small, seemingly unimportant event can lead to huge things.

The course of history is determined not by battles, by sieges, or usurpations, but by the actions of the individual.  The strongest city, the largest army is, at its most basic level, a collection of individuals.  Their decisions, their passions, their foolishness, and their dreams shape the years to come.  If there is any lesson to be learned from history, it is that all too often the fate of armies, of cities, of entire realms, rests upon the actions of one person.  In that dire moment of uncertainty, that person’s decision, good or bad, right or wrong, big or small, can unwittingly change the world.

In a way, I think that that is the point of the story.  Just like that great Dr. Seuss book, Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo, many events can be set off by one tiny, insignificant action.

A definite 4/5 start to the series, and I am excited to continue the story.

PS No, this title is not a part of the 20 Books of Summer.  However, Book #2 is, so progress is being made on those goals!!