Title: The Furies of Calderon
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: that The Codex Alera #1
Rating: 3/5 stars
The Overview: 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.
I am a huge Dresden fan and loved the unconventional means by which this series came into existence –
It’s basically a series of half a dozen books set two thousand years after a lost Roman legion travelled through a rift to a world where pokemon exist, and now the legionnaires live and work with pokemon, except they’re called “furies” (I’m not even making this up, he did it as a dare after being called on one of his assertions by a crowd at a convention: He said everything in writing is about execution. They said prove it. He said give me three crazy horrible topics and he would make something out of it. They said lost Roman Legion, Pokemon, and the Zerg. A year later he released Furies of Calderon).
-D.R. Sylvester at www.drsylvesterfiction.com (who was kind enough to clue me in with this comment on one of my posts. You should check out his blog – it’s one of my favorites).
Needless to say, I knew I had to at least give it a try. And I liked it!
It’s probably not the strongest series starter I’ve ever read, but it was at least consistently entertaining from start to finish. And the characters were fantastic – so many great POVs, and each brought something special to the story. I liked all of them pretty equally and am most excited to see where their paths lead next. Great characterization is definitely one of Butcher’s storytelling strengths, and Furies of Calderon was no exception.
It’s a good thing the characters were good because their minor, interpersonal conflicts are what got me through the story when I found the overall arc a bit too narrow. Butcher kept this first book on a fairly minor scope, which I didn’t like, but I have a lot of hope that its potential will be realized in the next few installments. There just wasn’t enough focus on the handful of things that initially drew me in. For one, the furies (Butcher’s interpretation of Pokémon) didn’t play as big of a role as they could have, to the point where it felt almost as if the wielders were controlling elements rather than elemental beings. Also, there were strong references at the beginning of the book about an academy for these fury-wielders, which wasn’t expanded on it all throughout the rest of the story. There’s plenty of time for these things to become the focus in a six book series, so I’m not too stressed, but they’re definitely the things I will be specifically looking for going forward. How well they are brought to life will ultimately determine my overall satisfaction with the series.
At the end of the day, Furies of Calderon had great characters, good writing, a somewhat narrow focus, and some excellent ideas that were a bit under-realized (but with colossal potential). Incidentally, this is almost identical to how I felt about the Aeronaut’s Windlass – the first book in his newest fantasy series. I’m very hopeful that both will dazzle me in books to come. After all, even the magic that is Harry Dresden took a couple of books to really get going.
Other books you might like: