Review: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera #1) by Jim Butcher

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Title: The Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera #1)

Author: Jim Butcher

Publication Date: October 2004

Genre: Fantasy

Overview: Calderon is the only point in Alera where a land invasion is feasible and Bernardholt, a steadhold, lies in the middle of it. When the King’s messenger, Amara, finds out about a revolt that will lead a horde of Marat (animal-bonded warriors) through the valley, the King sends her to “protect his interests” in the valley. With the help of the steadholder, Bernard, his sister Isana, and their nephew Tavi, Amara will have to defeat the traitors and an army of savages.

For Fans Of: Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, Ursula K. LeGuin

World-Building: Butcher does a good job of creating the Calderon Valley. The layout makes sense to persons familiar with stories about settling (Steadholds are pretty much just Homesteads). The furies are really the weakest point of this. There’s no clear distinction on what they can and cannot do, they have directly correlated powers–wood furies can bend and manipulate wood, for example– but they also have some emotional impacts on people and it’s not clear whether there’s a limit to how much they can manipulate people’s emotion. Also, earth and fire furies seem to have actual animal-ish embodiments, but it doesn’t seem to be the case for water, air, or metal, for no clear reason.

Character Development: I really enjoyed Bernard and Isana. Both were strong and very clearly identifiable personalities and voices. Butcher does a great job with having clear, emotionally complex, strong women. Isana, Odiana, and Amara are all clearly powerful, firm in convictions, and clever. I loved this. As a downside, I thought Tavi was overly praised (at least I expected him to be more important and interesting because of the amount of hype he gets on the back cover).

Plot: I thought the plot went well enough. Some of it was more believable than other parts. I thought Tavi and Fade were kind of just there to give Butcher a way out sometimes. Other than that, I was let down with the Isana Odiana side story. It was filled with a lot of near-death savings that didn’t really need to be there, or at least could have been a little less miraculous.

Rating: 3.5

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