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Codex Alera #6

First Lord's Fury

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For Gaius Octavian, life has been one long battle. Now, the end of all he fought for is close at hand. The brutal, dreaded Vord are on the march against Alera. And perhaps for the final time, Gaius Octavian and his legions must stand against the enemies of his people. And it will take all his intelligence, ingenuity, and furycraft to save their world from eternal darkness.

465 pages, Hardcover

First published November 24, 2009

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About the author

Jim Butcher

277 books46.8k followers
Jim Butcher is the author of the Dresden Files, the Codex Alera, and a new steampunk series, the Cinder Spires. His resume includes a laundry list of skills which were useful a couple of centuries ago, and he plays guitar quite badly. An avid gamer, he plays tabletop games in varying systems, a variety of video games on PC and console, and LARPs whenever he can make time for it. Jim currently resides mostly inside his own head, but his head can generally be found in his home town of Independence, Missouri.

Jim goes by the moniker Longshot in a number of online locales. He came by this name in the early 1990′s when he decided he would become a published author. Usually only 3 in 1000 who make such an attempt actually manage to become published; of those, only 1 in 10 make enough money to call it a living. The sale of a second series was the breakthrough that let him beat the long odds against attaining a career as a novelist.

All the same, he refuses to change his nickname.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,856 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
793 reviews3,599 followers
May 31, 2020
Butcher prepared the end fight by creating the different magic abilities and their military equivalents of a mixed army of the good vs the uniform, endless forces of evil. There is still much room to play with the element of the armies in battles in Sci-Fi and fantasy and this is one of the freshest ideas, as it shows the advantages of both „quantity has a quality all its own“ and highly specialized elite forces.

Subjectively I would use mind controlled, brainwashed clone troops out of a pool of the best of the best of each magic fraction, integrate some random mutation by allowing them to mate, diversify a bit, evolve to newer forms, play with new spells and elemental power combinations, while staying draconian, but it´s each ones´ own choice how to build an individualized dark army.

The magic system evolved in a way that it was first more of a special trait to pimp characters and do worldbuilding and got more and more plot relevant during the series, to become one of the crucial factors for the conclusion.

I liked the badass girl/indulgent boy love that grew over the novels, a great example of how to play with character tropes. Nothing against strong women, but I believe that there are not many who could handle her as he does without being fearful of saying a wrong word with potentially fatal consequences. Not to forget the father in law, holy heck. Imagine what kind of species may evolve after hundreds of generations of mixing dark elves with magic humans.

There is some propaganda use of magic, something I could imagine handy in a dystopian fantasy setting, where earth-, wind-, water-, or fire (might get tricky, dangerous, and hot) magic and elemental powers could be used to spread propaganda or for forced, permanent indoctrination such as the displays and tech in Orwellian police state sci-fi.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
724 reviews1,202 followers
September 28, 2017
I'm so sad it's over!!! The Codex Alera is officially one of my new favorite series.

Since I've gushed endlessly in all of the preceding reviews, I think that's all I need to say to cap it off at this point.

The first one is just okay. Keep reading!!
Profile Image for Anne.
3,917 reviews69.3k followers
April 22, 2022
I put off reading this for as long as possible because I didn't want it to end.
And, well...I didn't want any of my favorite characters to die.

And I'm sure that will probably upset some of you, but I couldn't give less of a shit about things being realistic in that sense. Yell if it makes you feel better, though.


Alright. So those of you who are reading the series already know this, but for those of you who don't know, Codex Alera a mash-up of a bunch of seemingly oddball stuff to put together in one story.

The Roman Legion & Senate:


High Fantasy:




Invasion of the Body Snatchers:


And even a bit of Romance:


That's nuts, right?! I have absolutely ZERO explanation as to why it works, but it does. I loved these characters and I loved this world. And this was pretty much a perfect ending.
Or as close to it as an author can get.
I don't know who the fuck I'd recommend this to in a generic way, but if you're in the market for something off the wall in fantasy? Yeah.
Profile Image for Tami.
Author 11 books2,607 followers
March 11, 2018
ES IST VORBEI. Ich vermisse all die tollen Charaktere jetzt schon. Dafür war es grandios und genial und gehört definitiv zu den besten Fantasyreihen überhaupt!
Profile Image for Nimrod Daniel.
143 reviews258 followers
November 5, 2017
Codex Alera really deserves a bump :)
That's a spoiler-less review I wrote a few years ago that sums up my thoughts of this amazing series. I hope more people read this great series.

It’s a really great book with lots of action and lots of fun. Definitely among the best books written by Jim Butcher, so prepare yourself for this big battle, because most of it is a super-awesome battle. The series ends up while all the loose ends are tied up pretty well, but there’s still an option for one more series, and I really hope Butcher will get back to this world someday.

So what we had in this series:
Great action – check.
Excellent writing – check.
Superb plot – check.
Humor – check.
Compelling characters – Definitely check here. The series has one of the best cast of characters I've ever seen, there’re so many characters that I really like.

It really feels like Jim Butcher wrote this series especially for me, like he knows exactly what makes me enjoy reading fantasy so much:)

The book deserves a perfect score of 5/5.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,027 followers
October 22, 2014
This is the final book in the series & it did sum everything up nicely - too nicely. Butcher is just too attached to some of his characters. While that makes this a fun read, it lacked any depth of emotions for me. It just took all the suspense out of it. C'mon Butcher, grow a pair! Life isn't fair.

There were also a lot of magical fixes & a few things that didn't make any sense at all. So, not a great story, but still fun & a pretty neat world. I've heard that Butcher said he put together Roman Legions & Pokemon as the basis of the world. I can see that. Overall, I give the series a 'pretty good' rating. Certainly not a 'must read' but it would make a good set of books for the beach.
Profile Image for Yodamom.
1,988 reviews195 followers
January 1, 2015
Oh Mr. Butcher, You are so good, you left me in sad/happy tears. I hated to say goodbye to Tavi after spending a year with him and his companions. I loved and hated them, they became a part of me. His story ended so well, so beautifully weaved through horrors, happiness and heartbreaks. I was there riding the moving earth with him and I was there for the signing of the final contract. What an amazing trip it has been.

Profile Image for Derpa.
258 reviews38 followers
November 2, 2017
So I finished this series and I would like to talk about it as a whole for a bit, because I believe it totally deserves more attention than it has gotten.

The thing about Jim Butcher is that I find he writes such approachable, human characters. In some circles he is treated like a literary criminal, who is lowly and offensive and just generally not okay whatsoever. At the same time... I love what he does. I love how during his works his characters become more than just paper thin things he moves for fun, because they are fun ans quirky, they have strong personalities, they have interesting connections and stories. Maybe they are not always the flattering specimens who will make you feel like you idealised fantasy self (which I see as a trend nowadays, especially with certain groups, where every character has to be the most idealised, positive example). I kind of love that.
So Butcher, once again, wrote a series that felt welcoming and familiar, while still action-packed and fun. Because there is no shame in fun, you do not have to read books that are a struggle to get through, just for some sort of an intellectual bragging right. Unapproachable writing doesn't mean it's good writing.

Here we had a story that is a perfect gateway drug for history lovers into fantasy, incorporating the idea of an ancient Roman society getting to a place with all kinds of nature spirits called furies, which they have learnt to work with and ultimately use to extend their own powers. After a few centuries of such life, they are being attacked by the vord, mind controlling, vicious bug monsters of a hivemind, lead by queens with crazy powers.
The protagonist, Tavi is a boy who goes from a furiless nobody to become the first lord of their home, Alera and this is the end of his journey through becoming the leader of a country he needs to save as his first move to even have something or someone to lord over.

So here is the elephant in the room; this is nothing like Mr. Butcher's Dresden Files. Tavi (or Gaius Octavian, because cool Roman names) is not at all like Harry. He has a completely different kind of strength, one he achieved through constant good decisions, always using his wits to achieve respect and to become an esteemed member of his society. He is not at all like the adorable bonehead with a tendency of powering through as his ass gets kicked in all kinds of ways again. Actually... Tavi kind of feels like the opposite of Harry. Hell, social interactions and human relationships come naturally to Tavi, which... we can't say about the chronic loner Mr. Dresden.

It's also written in a completely different way. There is less humour, much less of the quirky crazy time of t-rexes running around and polka music and apprentices with coloured hair at horror conventions. Which is fine, because we are given more political intrigue. More subtle social workings, a completely different way of life, a whole different magic system.
Aaaaand it's awesome.

I would definitely recommend this to everyone who wants to read fantasy that has a bit of a different flavour, something extra. Of course most will still associate the name of Jim Butcher with the style of Dresden Files, but I find he is much more versatile than that, through this series and his new The Aeronaut's Windlass.
Profile Image for Rob.
848 reviews535 followers
August 1, 2016
Executive Summary: A mostly satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable series.

Audio book: Another enjoyable performance by Kate Reading. She really adds that extra something I hope to get from every audio book performance.

Full Review
This series is a lot of fun. My main complaint on my first read still holds true on the reread. I just don't care about the Vord. I enjoy the internal politics of the Alerans. I love the differences of the Alerans to the Marat, Canim and Ice Men.

The battles and interactions with those races seems far superior to the stuff with the Vord. The previous 5 books the Vord while important are more of a setting rather than a large player. A looming threat as it were. In this book unfortunately, they feature way too much for my liking. The scenes where the Vord Queen is talking just felt to go on too long.

That said, I ended up enjoying this book more on my reread than I did the first time. As I said, it's a lot of fun. If you're looking for something deep or complex you'll be disappointed. On the other hand if you want some great characters, a pretty cool magic system, and some really excellent action scenes you'll find plenty of that here.

While Tavi is clearly the main protagonist one could also argue that it's just as much Amara's story as well. It's her POV that opens the series and she plays almost as significant a role in the events of the series as Tavi himself. So it's no surprise that she plays an important role here.

In a genre overrun by male characters, it's a nice change of pace. I can't speak to the accuracy of her as a woman, but she's certainly not your stereotypical female character whose only job is to seduce or annoy the male characters. Some of her stories/scenes got a little slow for me in places, but when they were good I was just as excited to get back to her as I was for Tavi.

Overall I think this is a pretty good conclusion to a pretty good series that will probably always be overshadowed by Mr. Butcher's more popular Dresden Files. Most things are wrapped up pretty well, but I'd love to get a sequel book/series where we catch up to how things play out 20 or 50 years down the road.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
December 19, 2018
A great end to the series! Over all, it was fun to read, despite the narrative to have veered from time to time in directions more distracting then actually adding to the story . The characters were fun and likable, the Fantasy had a bit of Science Fiction thrown in it, and the tendency of the author to put our protagonists through the ringer and up to the edge of despair, was consistent from book one to the end. I am glad I had the time to read it and enjoy another Fantasy World!
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
April 16, 2017
A great ending to a good series. The books got better as they went along. The first two were weak but the last four all very good. The magic system built around the Roman legions was well done as were the characters, deceptions and intrigue.
Profile Image for Tosh.
163 reviews38 followers
June 1, 2018
**possible spoilers**

After Princeps' Fury I thought I might be experiencing a bit of series overkill since I was reading the books back to back in a matter of weeks. I was starting to be disappointed in the characters and the movement of the plot, so I decided to step away for a few months hoping that I would return refreshed and ready to finish the series.

But I discovered it wasn’t me after all. It was the VORD. I don’t like them. Ever since they invaded Alera my enjoyment dwindled. I’m not a huge fan of killer insects for one, but that really wasn’t the problem. What most bugged (hehe) me about them was that, besides the Queen who guides them, they lack personality. They’re like adaptable, powerful, numerous robots. They just kept attacking, kept getting killed and kept multiplying. I felt like I was reading so many long battle scenes, where these creatures were being crushed by the thousands only to return in greater numbers with no hope of an end in sight. There was no triumph and no glory - just stab, crush, sweep, repeat. It all seemed very repetitive.

I had some other minor problems with this series, in general, that only seemed to be more obvious in this final book. First, no one ever really dies. To be honest, I don’t like when an author kills off main characters, but I also don’t like when characters who should clearly be dead don’t die. In this case, Furycrafting saved so many people from deadly wounds I never had to worry that anyone would die. Of course, I don’t WANT them to die, but there’s no suspense in knowing that they’ll be healed no matter how close to death they are. And it seemed that every main character was close to death at least once. :/

Araris, who was a favorite of mine, was pretty much out of commission for most of this book. He had so much potential from the start of this series to be someone awesome, and for a time he was, but towards the end he kind of lost that awesomeness. Even after he displayed his new talent, it just wasn’t as exciting as it should have been. It was almost ridiculous. Or maybe I was just taxed by that point and couldn’t appreciate it.

Also, this book was missing some of the emotional depth and humor that made the other books great. There were a few instances when we see Kitai showing a softer side, the several couples in the story sharing brief intimate moments, or the Canim reminding the Aleran of their fragile alliance, but for the most part it just wasn’t there. There were a few funny lines in the beginning but as things got more serious so did the characters – expected I guess. A lot of time is spent on getting in position, planning tactics, fighting off the enemy and planning the next defensive position or plan of attack. I love battles and tactics, but I love seeing the emotional and lighter side of my characters too.

…I have been changed…I do not function in the manner which their instincts tell them I should.

I know I kind of picked this one apart, but there were still things that I really enjoyed. The Vord Queen became even more curious this time around, adapting, and forming a different mindset that I thought was very interesting. At first, I couldn’t quite figure out if she was trying to manipulate her captives, find a weakness or if she really was changing, but it gave her a personality and something close to emotions. She analyzed and questioned the people’s daily habits looking for strengths, which in turn began to develop some interesting internal conflicts for her.

Tavi, clever as usual, really developed into a great leader, though I still couldn’t help but see him as the young boy from the steadholt. I actually found myself liking Isana again. I like her better when she’s put in tight spaces and forced to use her emotional connections to affect her circumstances rather than her authority or watercrafting. The Canim have been, and always will be, my favorites of the series. I love that they have a strict sense of honor and duty that they extend to their most respected enemies, as long as they stay within the strict lines drawn for them, of course.

One of the biggest reasons I had to finish this last book was to find out about the revelation at the end of Princep’s Fury. I can’t say I was thoroughly satisfied with how things went down in this book, but a little more light was shed of the furies themselves.

So this wasn’t all I had hoped, but it wasn’t a huge disappointment. I enjoyed it for the most part, but this is not a series at the top of my recommendation list - based on the last two books
Profile Image for Duchess Nicole.
1,258 reviews1,527 followers
June 4, 2012
Well, me and my nerdy, fantasy loving self simply adored this entire series. Tavi is all grown up, the First Lord of Alera, and it has been such a fascinating journey. This is (so far) my favorite fantasy series, EVER!!!! Jim Butcher simply floors me with his imagery and skill at finding just the right way to write something as to keep me completely absorbed during the ENTIRE SERIES. Truly, in the fantasy world, there seems to be a handful of standout authors amidst a freaking TON of so-sos.

The world building in the Codex Alera series is like nothing I've come across. Once again, I'd compare it to L.E. Modessitt's Saga of Recluce series. But Modessitt's characters were harder to relate to and lacked the humor and humanity that Butcher's characters do. The timeline, also, is very easy to follow, as it starts during Tavi's fifteenth year and stays with him well into his adulthood. It has been a fantastic (haha) journey. And I realize that this may have been more a review for the series that for First Lord's Fury. But the series deserves a glowing, shouted review.

I listened to the audio version of this. The narrator, Kate Redding, did just as good of a job reading the words as Butcher did writing them. I am truly in awe of Jim Butcher. Imagine living inside his head!
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews256 followers
March 16, 2020

My fav book in the series. I may raise the rating to 5 but I have to think about it. This is the last book but there's so much more that could be explored in this world! I'm glad the story doesn't finish when you get to the end of the book but it does make me wish that more books are slated to be made to tell those stories.
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
642 reviews78 followers
April 25, 2021
This was the last book in the six-book Codex Alera series. This was a really good epic fantasy series, and I’m glad I read it. It was consistently well-written, with characters I cared a lot about, and an interesting story.

I do think I started to experience some “battle fatigue” by this last book. The whole series has quite a lot of action and it’s written well, focusing on the characters so that it stays interesting and doesn’t get repetitive. However, by this book I more or less knew how everything was going to end up and I was just ready to get the last climactic battle over with. It seemed to go on forever. This is probably partly because my work schedule really slowed my reading down, so it seemed to go on forever because it took me (almost) forever to finish the book.

It was still a very good story, and I was mostly happy with how everything wrapped up. I would have preferred though for the main action to end sooner and for there to have been more pages focused on the aftermath. I also rolled my eyes a bit at the end where . There’s a decent section toward the end in which we learn about future plans, and that part made me happy, but I would have liked something more substantial. I also would have liked some last moments with some of the other recurring characters we didn’t see again near the end.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, this isn’t the twistiest of stories, but it’s never so predictable as to be boring. It’s good fun with great characters, funny banter, and other occasional humor. It was a satisfying epic fantasy series within a reasonable six-book series size. There’s definitely room for more stories, but I would worry that the next obvious direction the story would take would be too repetitive with what has already been written, so I think I’m glad it ended here. Although I know it’s a very different sort of a series, I’m now more interested in trying the author’s Dresden Files at some point to see if his writing works for me there, too.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,901 reviews18 followers
November 8, 2017
This whole series by Jim Butcher was wonderful and entertaining. I enjoyed the characters the most. They were all so intricately woven in and attached to each other. They were all easy to like and better yet, they were characters you could root for. The battles between good and evil were strong and this pulled me in.

This book is the last in this series and the author brought closure to everyone. The ending was a little too sweet and somehow, even with all the battles, everyone (meaning the main characters) all survived relatively unscathed. If one had met their demise, I might have been a little more emotionally tied to this, but still.....all in all..... a well crafted creative story by one of my favorite authors. So 4 stars.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,330 reviews29 followers
September 25, 2017
Told in 3rd person POV from several perspectives, the dialogue is sound, and sometimes humorous. I chuckled several times. Yes, a fun series ends here, with some unfinished business but on a feel-good footing. I'd read another continuing novel.

It's clear that Butcher had a good sense of where his series was going from the beginning. Many events and characters from book 1 come full circle here in book 6.

Having read all six books, I'd classify this series as fantasy light, although there is apocalyptic death and destruction, grim murder, rape, slavery, treachery, betrayal, mind control, and zombie-like creatures. However, the good wins out, the fellowship holds hard to one another with a prevailing feeling of esprit de corps, camaraderie, romance, and redemption.

I tagged this series as alternative history, with a fantastical bent. There are many parallels to historical Rome: the rights of the Roman / Aleran citizen, enslavement, siege weapons, shield walls (aka Hadrian's Wall), crucifixion, legionaries and centurions, emperors (Gaius), and high lords and senators, "juris macto" dueling, etc. And there is the Aleran Empire, where "all roads lead to Rome" (aka Alera Imperia).

I read and listenend, alternating between the two formats. As usual, Kate Reading brought the story to vivid life. However, infernal blaring trumpet fanfare occurred repeatedly throughout the audiobooks, diminishing the audio experience.

There's a good map of Carna, showing the Realm of Alera, the Land of Canea, the Land of the Marat, and the Land of the Icemen. It's all over the web, and at Butcher's website. One problem is the map of Calderon Valley. Ratio / scale is off, according to Tavi's description of miles between places, in ch 49 of First Lord's Fury.

Some quibbles. I wish Butcher had allocated fewer pages to battles and more to the aftermath. The main story abruptly ended after several lengthy battle scenes, portrayed from several viewpoints. The epilogue felt like a reporting of events, and some of Tavi's political decisions are debatable, or at least felt precipitous.

Contents are clean, with no swearing except "bloody crows" and no overt sex (but it's implied, and once or twice a bit more than implied).

A flaw in the writing: The characterization of Fidelius is problematic for me.

Spoilers below!!!!

Butcher successfully portrayed Fidelius as a total fiend in book 1. I cannot buy into anything else. I wouldn't trust him, and Butcher did not convince me otherwise.

About a dozen characters play key roles, showing up in each book across the series. Butcher focused largely — and successfully — on the hero's character development, from harmless but highly intelligent shepherd boy to unforeseen savior of the realm. In book one, Tavi is 15 years old. In this book, he's about 24, I'd say.

Writing style is fun to read but sometime not as strong as it could be. I grew weary of "wolfish grins" and "arched eyebrows" and repeated references to "the burned woman" (why not use her name?).

Also, eating the croach?? Cannibalistic. Use it for fertilizer, or to feed the omnivorous livestock. Sharing the fury wealth? Hmmm...

For me, there's a bit too much introspection and internal moralizing. Scenes hop from one place to another, often at cliffhanger moments, and characters pause the action (and slow the pace) to mentally philosophize about the morality of their actions, especially regarding war and the painful necessity to kill in self-defense. These ethical convictions became transparent, repetitive, and not particularly interesting, since they are predictable, and commonly found in fantasy novels.

Still, I loved this series, especially book 3, Cursor's Fury.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Gabriel.
22 reviews3 followers
September 5, 2012
Gaius Octavian. Suuuuuper Genius.

I wonder how many people think of Wile E. Coyote as possessing significant heroic qualities. Jim Butcher certainly does. No matter how crazy the plan or how painful the results, once restored, the coyote finds himself undeterred and ready to strap himself to a giant rockets and light the fuse. This is a quality enjoyed by the heroes of Alera who are always ready to try a crazy plan that never fails to leave them a bloody mess. They pay the price for their super genius in pain but thanks to the water crafters they are soon restored and ready for another round of punishment.

Butcher has shown throughout this series and the Dresden Files that his characters are extremely vivid and his writing is driven by them more than by a meticulously crafted plot. The characters were consistent enough that some reactions are predictable which allows the reader to feel a certain sense of familiarity which I find satisfying. That consistency is decidedly missing from several recently popular books in which characters act entirely out of line with their previous behavior simply to serve the plot. Lazy writing is all the rage.

Bottom line: I enjoyed this series a great deal and recommend it enthusiastically to fans of epic fantasy.

Last item: Steak and New Boots. Brilliant.
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.8k followers
June 2, 2015
It all came back to Calderon.
The furyless boy who stopped a barbarian invasion ,the Academ who saved the First Lord's life,the Captain who fought for years the Canim and inspired everyone to follow him to death ,the Princeps who forged strong alliances became the First Lord who led his people to victory and the reason the Realm survived.
To say that this book was intense is an understatement, but I can't find words sufficient to describe it. Nor can I describe my sorrow that it is over,or the relief that my heroes are safe,or the grief about the anonymous Alerans and Canim and Marat who perished trying to defend their world;I even cried for people I scarcely knew (Cereus gave a whole new meaning to the word sacrifice).
I won't rumble about what a great hero Tavi is,that's pretty obvious.What I do want to share,is how much I came to like Fidelias,it surprised even me! From the first book I prayed for his death,a very agonizing one;he was a traitor, a murderer, the person who caused so much suffering, yet he redeemed himself,and his struggle to make things right was more touching than I could ever hope for!
Having said that,I'll need to find out how to move on with my life, now that Codex Alera is over.Re-read it perhaps??
Hail Gaius Octavian, First Lord of Alera!
Profile Image for seak.
429 reviews473 followers
October 3, 2019
This is a great series, I really enjoyed it, enjoyed the characters, etc., etc. But there's a but.

I think it would be so much better if it were half the length.

Loved the first 3, probably 4. Five and six just became a bit of a rough slog for me. It might be that, (1) it was relatively forgettable, but also, (2) maybe it's just me and I'm getting tired of very traditional fantasy.

And this is very traditional fantasy. It's well-done and enjoyable, but I think it just wore me down after a while.

I really don't love this review, I'm sorry, I just can't seem to get pumped for this one. I enjoyed the book, the characters are fun (though Kitaii gets wearing), and it was all kinds of epic, but in the end I really just finished it to be done. I know I could have waited longer to finish, but by then I'd have to reread and I really really don't have the energy to do that.

3.5 out of 5 stars (possibly more for the previous love of this series)
Profile Image for Benjamin Thomas.
1,953 reviews271 followers
April 29, 2019
The world of Alera is facing its greatest enemy, an enemy so powerful and unstoppable that it simply can’t be beaten with the power of opposing armies. It calls for innovative solutions, creative thinking, and sheer guts to be able to surmount the odds. Perhaps a little insanity would also help. Who better than Tavi (Gaius Octavian), as he has shown time and time again, to be the one to lead the Alerans and their allies to victory?

The final volume in the 6-book ‘Codex Alera’ series manages, somehow, to achieve what it needed to in order to bring this epic story to a fitting conclusion. Each of the previous five books had upped the stakes, so much so as to make it nigh impossible to ramp up the epicness any further. But somehow, Jim Butcher managed to do so. It’s always fun to read depictions of heroic battles where every time the good guys think they might have a way to get ahead (or at least not be blasted into oblivion), the plan crumbles under the weight of the bad guys’ superior ability. That happens many times in this one novel so that everything seems hopeless.

The battle sequences are many and long and I missed the non-battle type scenes that made the earlier books so good. I suppose I didn’t need more characterization because I feel I already knew all the main characters well after the previous books, but I need a healthy balance of strategy and discussion as well as old fashioned conversation mixed in with the action. There are a few such scenes here but they are overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the war taking place.

Overall, this is a fine epic fantasy series that I enjoyed immensely. I would rate the series as a whole with a solid five stars.
Profile Image for Tom Andry.
Author 5 books20 followers
February 17, 2012
This review covers the entire line of the Fury books. I can't honestly believe I made it through all of them. It must be some sort of perverse thought that they would end better. Butcher is in love with these characters. All of them. Even some of the minor ones. No matter how hard he kills them, they always seem to come back. It seemed that every third or fourth chapter ended with a "cliffhanger" of someone dead or almost dead just to have them resurrected in the next scene.

I thought, "Well, it's the last book. Surely he'll kill someone in this one." Nope. He just couldn't manage it. Even toward the end when it seemed someone finally did manage to get killed, he couldn't help but bring them back. I literally exclaim, "Oh, COME ON!" when I read that part.

Now, I have to say that the story, as a whole, is a good one. I love the setting, the handling of magic (even if some of the powers seem a bit random), and the characters are well fleshed out and interesting. The plot is clear and concise and, as a whole, interesting. But you can't have characters get in the kind of trouble these people were getting in and not have a fatality.

In his defense, Mr. Butcher usually foreshadowed his "outs" well. You would skim over them not knowing what exactly they meant until you got to the point where they were used and you'd think, "Okay, that's why they were all wearing backpacks" or whatever. But still, that is no excuse. No on who takes as many risky chances could survive for long. Plus, it isn't fair to the reader. It quickly becomes clear that any danger the characters encounter aren't really dangerous to them. To the people around them? Sure. But the reader knows that all the main characters will be fine.

I rated the first book four stars, this one two, and the rest three. Really, the writing is fine and probably deserves about a four but my frustration with the lack of danger in the world and the plot devices to keep the characters alive had me slamming my head against the wall by the final book. If you are fantasy lover (or liker), this is a decent series. Just be prepared to be frustrated by the end.
Profile Image for Richard.
1,139 reviews1,026 followers
April 2, 2017
I finished all six volumes in Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series, so I’m writing one review to cover the whole set. Regardless of which of the books this review is attached to, if you want to read this epic saga, start with the first book: Furies of Calderon . I’ve also read all fourteen of the full-length books in his Dresden Files , and there are some interesting points of comparison.

First and foremost, this is a well-crafted and engrossing tale — definitely worth reading.

The tale follows the life of young Tavi of the backwater province of Calderon over the course of several years, as his world is riven by existential threats and as he grows up and plays a larger and larger role. There really isn’t anything fundamentally innovative here — most of the elements of the plot are echoed in other epic fantasies. The system of magic plays a large role and is well thought-out, but while it is fresh, it isn’t radical. What makes Codex Alera an excellent addition to the fantasy shelf is in the story and its telling. The characters are engaging and adequately complex, the plot starts well and grows satisfyingly convoluted, and there is plenty of action to drive things forward.

Because the story begins when Tavi is still only fifteen, the first volume is weaker than the sequels. His relationships and option for acting aren’t as complex as they soon become, and his circle of acquaintances is also more limited. Starting with the second book, the scope of story broadens dramatically, with a wider range of characters getting in-depth treatment. Eventually, Butcher brings a small measure of romance into the mix, with even a little non-puritanical treatment of sex. Considering how poorly these last topics are dealt with in the Dresden Files, that’s a nice change.

Fans of the Dresden Files will still find some aspects of the tone and style very familiar. Since the new series is set in a completely fictional world (as opposed to contemporary Chicago), the ironic sarcasm is toned down dramatically, but there is still plenty around. All the clever characters still banter and tease, especially in times of mortal peril. This isn’t exactly a rare device in genre fiction (and probably anachronistic here, given the period is a rough approximation of feudalism, to the extent that can apply to fantasy), but Butcher does it pretty well.

Codex Alera is a more mature effort, though. The earlier series is locked into a first-person narrative, for example, which means the voice of a single character is loud, flaws and all. Here, instead, there are several point-of-view characters, although unfortunately Butcher only lets us hear the thoughts of his protagonists. As limiting as that still is, there is more psychological depth. A major theme that grows more pressing through the series is the inevitable compromises a leader must make between opposing values, and how horrifying it is to be required to make decisions whose outcomes are all nauseating. Because the various viewpoint characters are at differing points in their understanding of this “dirty hands” dynamic, Butcher can simultaneously illuminate a ruler’s imperative for pragmatism as well as the revulsion towards apparent amorality felt by those not confronted with the need for decisive action.

Unfortunately, there is also still a bit too much untimely introspection and moralising. The multiple viewpoints ameliorate this a bit, but we’re still treated to characters pausing in the middle of a tense situation (a battle scene, for example, or a political debate) and expounding on their personal convictions — which aren’t particularly interesting, since they are fairly predictable. This is another aspect that makes the first book weaker — because Tavi is still growing emotionally, there are too many opportunities for the author to indulge himself with the self-righteous attitudes of adolescence.

Butcher has a long way to go before he can honestly portray real nuance in personality types. Judging by both series, I’d bet that he’s what I’ll call a “heartland liberal”. His heroes are socially progressive multiculturalists, without much tolerance for faiths or creeds that require uncritical obedience. Religions are frequently portrayed benevolently, but religious leaders seem to be corrupt even more often than other powerful characters. Butcher portrays political and military institutions in a somewhat more favorable light. While both have plenty of power-hungry and venal characters, he depicts kings and generals as responsible people struggling to do the right thing.

Where the nuance is missing is in a genuinely sympathetic portrayal of those that don’t fit his morality. For example, late in the series there is a conflict between the secular leaders of a military group and its religious leadership. The flaws of the latter group are quite plausible, but make things morally simplistic. Instead of having two groups both of which are honestly striving to do the right thing, one of the two has already made choices that signify their corruption. Even though Butcher doesn’t fall into the common trap of casting the whole story into a good-versus-evil conflict (a la Sauron of Mordor, or the Dark Side of the Force, or the Death Eaters, et cetera ad nauseum), he still relies on evil at the individual level. The good might be complex, but his villains really aren’t.

Granted, that’s asking a lot. The much more experienced George R. R. Martin has humanized a few of his villains in his Song of Ice and Fire series, but he generally still makes it hard to like them. Martin’s real strength is that he makes it harder to actually decide who is a villain. Butcher’s stories are still morally unambiguous, even with his gradually growing skill at giving us characters that struggle with their choices in increasingly realistic ways.

Oh, by the way: this might help. There was, frustratingly, no map in the editions I read until the final volume. But Butcher’s website provides this one (click through to a larger version):
The first book in the series was the fantasy selection for the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club for the month of July 2010. Visit this link to see all of the discussions, group member reviews, etc.
Profile Image for Kostas.
302 reviews32 followers
June 6, 2018

“All things must come to an end. It is the way of the universe.”

With his first journey in traditional fantasy coming to its completion after five consecutive books, managing from the beginning to overcome every challenge that was set before him, Jim Butcher immerses us in the First Lord’s Fury, the sixth and final installment, into the greatest war that has ever appeared in the Realm, into a story of ice journeyers and Great Furies, of troops, bloodspeakers, and deadly queens, and into an adventure of conquest and elimination, of redemption and forgiveness, and of unity and hope, that will bring the people Alera against their extinction.

Only five months have passed since the battle at Alera Imperia, and the sacrifices they had to make; an unstoppable siege that swept the heart of their very land, bringing in its wake an indescribable catastrophe like no other, and that made their lives a living nightmare, and now, with the Realm’s western side to have been overrun by monstrous creatures, the freemen, Citizens, Senators and High Lords of Alera have sought refuge at the eastern city of Riva, under the protection of their defending Legions - but for Tavi, having come a long way from his childhood’s days in the Calderon Valley, making him in the eyes of many a young man of respect and admiration, these months were the most challenging of all.
Fleeing from the harbor of the city of Molvar, across the sea at the land of Canea, in hope to return back along with the Canim survivors and their Legions before all is lost, Tavi has been filling his excruciating empty days of their voyage aboard Captain Demos’s Slive, gathering information about the movements of the enemy forces, practicing under strict lessons to be able to fully develop his abilities, and trying to deal with Kitai’s daily whims that make him want to be somewhere else.
Yet, with the return of their ships to their homeland to have taken them much longer than they’d have desired, as they’ll debark on the northwestern coast of the city of Antillus - wanting as soon as possible to complete the necessary arrangements for the safety of the refugees and to begin their march deeper into the war - when the Vord queen, in its need for absolute dominance, attempts to crush the spirit of the people of Alera, and an indignant Canim party, seeing their kin being handled with a humiliating for their beliefs way, sets to free their people from their hands, Tavi and his comrades will find themselves amidst a difficult situation that will threatened to breakup their alliance, and the last resistance of the Realm.

In the easternmost reaches of Alera, in the ever-growing fortress of Garrison, Countess Amara, having made a promise she could not forsaken, has spent these months along with Bernard taking care Rook’s daughter, Masha, trying to show her the life through its difficulties, and to give her some joy amidst her sufferings.
But, as an unforeseeable invasion puts the First Lady’s life in imminent danger, when the defending Legions in the city of Riva succumb to the sheer force of the Vord creatures, causing a chaos among the fleeing refugees, Amara will have to make a difficult decision between saving one of the most important members of Bernard’s family and helping the people of the Realm; a decision that, dividing her heart as never before, will force her to find a desperate solution that may endanger everything.

At the same time, Isana, flying back and forth these months in the city of Riva and the fortress of Garrison, when she finds herself in the heart of Vord queen’s hive, bringing her before the deadliest enemy against the Realm, she’ll be faced with her own challenges and dangers that will test her very soul. Meanwhile, Ehren, seeing enemies coming from all sides, will try to serve the interests of the Realm at the best of his abilities; Valiar Marcus, torment by the deeds of his dark past, will seek his own redemption; and Invidia, with her high, full of treacheries life to have trapped her in misery and enslavement, she’ll set her schemes to take something of what she lost back.

However, with the war having brought to the Realm unimaginable costs, when the Vord hordes surge towards the fortified walls of the fortress of Garrison in a final, crushing assault, the First Alera and their allied forces - marching to their last stand - find themselves overwhelmed and outnumbered, and the powerful great furies of the Calderon Valley wake up from their lethargy enraged, threatening to wreak havoc upon all of them, Tavi and his comrades, Amara and Bernard, Isana and Araris, Marcus, and Ehren, will have to unite their forces and to do the impossible to save what they hold dear most, because if they fail at this critical moment, the end of the world will be closer than ever.

Coming at the end of the Codex Alera’s story arc, having build since the beginning a series that won the readers through his imagination and his writing, Jim Butcher brings us once more into the Canim ranks, and the codes of conduct that they follow, showing us the impact that they have among their leaders, the corruption that is instigated by those greedy for power, and what consequences may have upon their people; as well as into the hives of the Vord queens, which, created for a very specific role, are forced - upon penalty of death - to serve under the accepted ideals and interests of their breed for their absolute dominance, making the defective ones a part of their species to be put to death, discarded and quickly forgotten.
But also taking us and into the mythical, powerful wild Furies of this land who, free from any bonds, and capable of causing chaotic destructions if they desire it, reveals their deep knowledge of the universe, their vastly long lives from times now forgotten, and the mysterious purpose of their very existence - a deep world full of both unique, dangerous creatures and different rules and societies that make it even more magical.

And, culminating this long journey that began five books ago in the best way, having proved that he can take the fantasy standards and make them his own, Butcher immerses us in the First Lord’s Fury into the last great war of the Realm of Alera, combining elements and characters that appeared and were loved throughout the series, and traveling us into a story of soldiers, sailors, ritualists, Hunters, Senators, High Lords and Ladies, and nightmarish creatures and Great Furies, and into a final adventure of conquest, redemption, and unity and hope, handling the battles scenes with a great skill and delivering a strong, unforgettable finale, closing it on a high note as it deserves.

Overall, the First Lord’s Fury is one of the best books in the whole series, with Jim Butcher closing our beloved heroes’ adventures in a high note, taking us deep into the great war of the Realm, into a story of troops, Great Furies and deadly queens, and into an adventure of conquest, unity and hope, bringing a combination of all that we loved from the beginning, and delivering an epic final clash of titans that will remain unforgettable for a long time.

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