“For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races than inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water and metal.”
What I liked best about Furies of Calderon is the every-day-good-kid nature of the protagonist. As political intrigue threatens to throw his world into chaos, we are introduced to Tavi, who “struggles with his lack of furycrafting.” In fact, our fifteen year old hero is the only individual in all of Alera who does not have a connection with the furies and therefore cannot access their power.
This “handicap,” doesn’t stop Tavi from being smart, courageous and intrepid; all great characteristics in a hero. Like any teenager, Tavi struggles with angst – made worse by his so-called disability. But we find quickly that there is no need to feel sorry for him. Though not above the occasional pity party, Tavi is a quick thinking, clever young man bent on doing the right thing no matter what the cost to himself. He is also moody and self-doubting enough to avoid falling into the “perfectly annoying” category.
Jim Butcher goes further than an engaging hero though. The underlying theme in Furies of Calderon deals with the price of pre-judgement based on treacherous ground of “what everyone knows to be true.” He demonstrates the value of respecting other cultures without ever crossing the line into preachiness.
Add to this the fact that Butcher has a deft hand for characterization and setting, and the result is an excellent read. The fight scenes alone are worth the price of admission, though possibly more detailed than they need to be. The minor glitches in the writing don’t detract from the story as a whole. All in all, Furies is an enormously exciting, fun ride. I liked it enough to plan on reading the entire Codex Alera series in the near future and recommend that you do the same. Meanwhile, live well and happy writing.