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Furies of Calderon, by Jim Butcher Book Review | SFReader.com
Furies of Calderon, by Jim Butcher Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Ace Published: 2004 Review Posted: 9/21/2006 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10
Furies of Calderon, by Jim Butcher
Book Review by Kate Savage
Have you read this book?
The Furies of Calderon is the first in Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series. Alera is a quasi-medieval land in which the inhabitants typically hold sway over one or more furies. Furies are natural elements or spirits that enable people to influence their surroundings. A time of peace and prosperity is about to end because the First Lord of Alera, Gaius Sextus, is aging. His son was killed years ago in battle and it is unlikely his loveless marriage will produce another heir. Well respected for his fairness and competency as a ruler, he swims among sharks. Ambitious nobles plot civil war and go so far as to hire the Marat mercenaries, an old enemy responsible for the death of the First Lord's son. The Marat are a race apart from humans. A bloodthirsty race, they kill all men, women and children in their wake. They are known to feast on their defeated enemy in front of family members.
Tavi is a freak and an orphan. He has no connection to any furies. His dream is to make enough money so that he can leave his rural valley for life at an urban academy. There, Tavi hopes to blend in and to learn something useful to make up for his lack of an innate talent that sets him apart. Being nanve, he screws up tending the sheep he hopes his uncle will give him to fund his dream. He is forced into the wilderness to try to recover them. Tavi's Uncle Bernard believes Tavi is too young to survive the wilderness, so he goes with him in search of the errant sheep. After a long hike, the sheep are found but not all are alive. Some have been eviscerated by a herdbane - nasty 8' birds of prey kept by the Marat as pets. All hell breaks loose. Bernard is injured by the lurking herdbane and in turn, the herdbane is killed. Tavi knows that the only hope Bernard has to survive is if he tricks the Marat into chasing him further into the wilderness in the face of an on-coming supernatural storm.
The story builds and builds. Tavi joins forces with Amara who is an agent of the First Lord but is passing as a slave. Her mentor Fidelias betrayed the First Lord because he believes to do so will shorten the inevitable civil war. As a patriot, he is loyal not to the First Lord but to the realm. He is part of the alliance employing the Marat mercenaries and makes for one of several excellent villains. Ordinary people like Tavi, his Uncle Bernard and his Aunt Isana become pivotal players in the tension building toward the onset of a war.
There are so many reasons to recommend the Furies of Calderon that I was surprised that it was not nominated for any of the major awards. There is a great deal of action but it is not that irritating phenomenon of action for action's sake. I joke with my husband that my tombstone should read "Just one more page!" because while reading a book like the Furies of Calderon, I struggle to stay up turning pages into the wee hours. Like a first rate play, one of this book's best points is that it is built on a strong ensemble of characters. There is not just one superstar character; nearly every character is compelling. There is warfare, compassion, romance, bravery, foolishness and magic all in good measure. The plot is complicated but not to the point of being dry. If the rest of the books in the series are as good as this one, it is a series well worth investing the time to follow.
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