Laura Parkinson (stormfeather) wrote,
Laura Parkinson
stormfeather

In a Nutshell: Books: The Codex Alera series - Jim Butcher

This is probably going to be one of the shorter ones. :p

I've read this series over the course of, well, months, with the last one having come out in November, and me having read it then IIRC.

Anyhow, while Butcher is known for his urban-supernatural series the Dresden Files, this is a more typical fantasy. Well, typical in that it's a non-technological society with magic of a type woven into the fabric of life and society, atypical in the form that the magic takes, and the world-building.

The world itself is heavily Roman influenced - from my own reading, I got the impression that some Romans had somehow ended up in this Other World and been stranded way back in the day, and the society was built up based on them and their influence. So lots of those types of names, military units, etc etc.

The society however is also influenced by Furycrafting - or the main form of magic in this particular little world. Pretty much everyone (or every "normal" human, which is the society most of the main protagonists, especially *the* main protagonist, belongs to) has the ability to use... spirits of the elements, for lack of a better term, known as Furies, usually bonding to one or more of a certain type. Some people can only use Furies of one type, which have a given purpose (water for healing, metal for strengthening swordsmanship and athletic ability, and so on), others can use Furies of many types. People also vary greatly in the strength of the feats they can perform with this ability, giving, well, pretty much as wide a scope as traditional magic.

There are other races within this world though, and this is one of the main driving forces of the stories - the conflicts with the various races and how they're resolved, some peacefully, some very much not so.

Most of all though the stories follow one particular character, Tavi, as he grows to adulthood and comes into his own, along with the characters who have woven themselves into his life.

I generally enjoyed the series, enough that I not only read it all the way through but ended up picking up the last one in hardcover, rather than wait for the paperback. The world is different and interesting, and I enjoyed the characters, who are very much shades-of-grey for the most part. The stories are about forgiveness and redemption about as much as anything else.

There are some flaws of course - for one thing, the books have long periods between them, meaning we don't really get to follow the main character on his road to adulthood so much as we peak in on him from time to time, which isn't quite what I prefer. Also, as with the Dresden books, Butcher likes to torture his characters a bit much for my taste. ;)

But overall, I enjoyed the series enough. Not as much as Dresden, but that might just be because I tend to like the urban supernatural genre a bit more. (In general. Specific books obviously are going to be all over the place on my like-o-meter.) So if you like fantasy, and want to try something a bit different, maybe give these a spin.
Tags: books, nutshell, reviews
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