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119 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odi et Amo
It seems this is the year for both of Jim Butcher's fantasy series to come full circle. First it was Turn Coat, wrapping up the first half of the Dresden Files, and now it is First Lord's Fury resolving the story of Tavi of Calderon. Codex Alera began with a young shepherd boy losing his sheep and subsequently being caught up in the larger political machinations of a...
Published on November 28, 2009 by Timothy Fitzgerald

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71 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lots of battle scenes, little surprise
As usual with Jim Butcher, this is a compulsive page turner, but it seems the author lost interest in this exciting and original series in the final two books. He certainly stopped committing himself to the themes and arc he'd so beautifully developed in the first four. Maybe he got weighted down by too many characters, plot lines and too many enemies. The vord are way...
Published on December 2, 2009 by genre lover


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119 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odi et Amo, November 28, 2009
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It seems this is the year for both of Jim Butcher's fantasy series to come full circle. First it was Turn Coat, wrapping up the first half of the Dresden Files, and now it is First Lord's Fury resolving the story of Tavi of Calderon. Codex Alera began with a young shepherd boy losing his sheep and subsequently being caught up in the larger political machinations of a treasonous High Lord attempting to usurp power from the First Lord in the Calderon Valley. It is, therefore, only fitting that the Calderon Valley is the backdrop for the final act of the Codex Alera.

Eight years later, in Alera, and that shepherd boy has grown into an Academ, a Man, a Cursor, a Captain, a Princeps and finally The First Lord. However, one thing has not changed: the fate of Alera still rests on his shoulders.

Tavi, now known as Gaius Octavian, returns from his journey to Canea to find his land under siege from the deadly Vord. Already having conquered the Canim, the Vord Queen has now turned her attention towards Alera. In Princep's Fury we saw her armies march on Alera Imperia, causing Tavi's grandfather, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, to sacrifice himself and Alera Imperia to slow the march of the Vord Army. Sextus' sacrifice allowed the Aleran Legions breathing room, but was ultimately just a delaying tactic that made it possible to set up the dramatic last stand of Alera.

One of the more unique aspects of the Codex Alera series is that while it is told in 3rd person limited (which I failed to initially identify, thank you Christopher), it feels, to me, very much like a 1st person fantasy series told from several different character viewpoints. Unlike Dresden, where we are in Harry's head the whole time, we are privy to the thoughts of anywhere from four (Tavi, Isana, Amara and Fidelias) to six (+Ehren and Invidia) characters as Butcher tracks the progress of the story on several different fronts. After the first book, we have been spending more and more time tracking Tavi, which has been a great boon to the series. Gaius Octavian is every bit as interesting as Harry Dresden, and the more time dedicated to him, the better. With so much going on, and so many variant story-lines folding together across continents, it was inevitable that Butcher would have to dedicate more time to other characters in this final act. While this is somewhat disappointing, nearly every character is as or more interesting in this installment than they have ever been.

I really feel the addition of Ehren ex Cursori's viewpoint has been the best addition to the series since Cursor's Fury altered the character of Fidelias to Valiar Marcus. He has another fine role in this book, and as in Princep's Fury, Ehren allows us to be privy to the thoughts of a First Lord from an advisor's POV. We experienced more Gaius Sextus in PF via Ehren, and Sextus is easily the second best character in the series, and is a large part of why I like PF so much.

First Lord's Fury sees the addition of Invidia Aquitaine's POV , and she is well done, but I feel she would have been more interesting to explore before she was taken by the Vord. While her arc is pivotal and works well within the story, it would have been more effective if we had more of an insight into her mind in earlier books. She was always a good character, but seeing her fall from the inside could have been even more tragically satisfying.

Surprisingly, I would honestly consider that it is Attis Aquitaine who, in the end, proves to be the more interesting character. Butcher explores Attis in much more detail, and I honestly feel that of the ancillary characters, he has the most memorable character progression. I found myself honestly touched reading the last scene between he and Amara.

In the end though, the series begins and ends with Tavi. One of the brilliant strokes of the series is the relationship Butcher cultivates between Tavi and Fidelias, as it means that the two most interesting viewpoint characters now spend so much time together. Their interaction, and Fidelias's own dynamic character arc, is definitely among the high points of this final book. But the growing up that Octavian has done, the way he is forced to deal with politics, betrayal, betrothal and brotherhood while trying to carry the world upon his shoulders has just been well done from start to finish. I would very readily read more books told from the viewpoint of Octavian.

While I love First Lord's Fury quite a lot, I do feel it could have been a little better. Clocking in at 465 pages, it is still not as long as Academ's Fury, and I feel pushing it to 500 (or even the 480 Amazon lists) would have allowed Butcher to finish the series without it feeling quite as rushed. The book still works, and I would say it is comparable to Princep's Fury, but after PF's brevity (presumably penultimate syndrome) I really felt that FLF needed to be the longest book of the series. I am actually mostly disappointed by the fact that we never get to read Sextus' letter to Octavian that he gives to Ehren at the end of Princep's Fury! I was hoping for a nice five page letter full of wisdom, lamentation, approval and just all the things you wanted Sextus to say to Tavi (probably because we are in Tavi's head and we know HE wants it) but was never able to. Anything, really, to have Sextus be a presence in the book.

Still, the action is seriously top-notch. Octavian's interaction with Alera is very well done, as is his continuing relationship with Kitai. Thanks to both, Tavi's furycraft has finally grown to the extent that we are able to see just how potent it can be, as well as how creatively it can be utilized. The Ice Ships at the end of PF were just the beginning! Once he sets his "damned clever little mind" to a task, now accompanied by powerful furycraft to compliment it, the magical action is finally as exciting as Dresden, especially coupled with the fine swordplay.

First Lord's Fury has nearly everything a fan of the series could want, and complaining that you want more (guilty!) is not the most compelling of arguments to claim the book was "disappointing". So I will not! It was a book I could not wait to read, a book I could scarcely put down while I was reading it, and one that I was thinking about or wishing I was reading when I was not. The addition, finally!, of a Map of Alera also squashes one of my major complaints about the packaging of the series. I re-read the Codex Alera prior to FLF coming out, and at this time I know that it is both good enough, and satisfying enough, to re-read it again in the future. Overall I would rate First Lord's Fury comparable to Princep's Fury, slightly better than Captain's Fury and Academ's Fury, but still not better than Cursor's Fury. A fine end to a stellar series so well done I eagerly anticipate anything Jim Butcher has in store for us, even if it is not about Gaius Octavian or Harry Dresden.

465 HC pages 4.5 out of 5 stars
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71 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lots of battle scenes, little surprise, December 2, 2009
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As usual with Jim Butcher, this is a compulsive page turner, but it seems the author lost interest in this exciting and original series in the final two books. He certainly stopped committing himself to the themes and arc he'd so beautifully developed in the first four. Maybe he got weighted down by too many characters, plot lines and too many enemies. The vord are way bad but when they appeared in the series and then took center stage as the big bad, the emphasis shifted from being an adventurous and exciting story of a boy who is true to himself as he learns to realize his potential in a politically and socially dangerous world to being a 6 book long monster battle movie.

This review contains spoilers.

In the first books, Tavi's growing maturity and moral education, and his and Isana's slowly awakening powers are handled with intelligence and with a great, mounting dramatic build. The final two books, though, are mostly just one big battle scene after another. Few unexpected plot twists, no particularly surprising cleverness from Tavi, and sadly, we don't get to see his fury-crafting power as it grows. In Princeps, he's pretty much stagnant fury-wise. In First Lord, there's one scene showing him being clumsy with Alera as his flying tutor, and then suddenly he's super-fury-man. After such a delightfully slow dramatic build-up to Tavi first discovering his potential for fury-craft in first four books, the development of his powers feels ignored, rushed and phoned-in. We never see him manifest his water fury, fire fury, air fury, etc. We never get to see him experiment with them and their potential. He barely continues to find creative new uses for furies in the final two books. His only fury was Alera, who felt like a kind of a short-hand 'trick' so Jim Butcher could end the series faster.

Also, in the final book plot developments crop up for no reason other than to keep things moving. Things spin out of Tavi's and Isana's control and at the end of too many chapters they are reduced to vowing victory or vengeance or determination to vanquish their enemies. Unlike in the earlier books, the plot is not moved forward by Tavi's plans or deviousness. For the most part, he reacts rather than acts. And things just seem to happen for no reason - I'm thinking right now of the vord queen's gratuitous attack on the encampment at Riva. And the way the vord queen is finally defeated feels anticlimactic. Tavi neither outsmarts her nor outmaneuvers her nor even overpowers her. It was confusing to me that on the spur of the moment Tavi awakens the great furies Garados and his wife, and we are told that if they are left unbound or unclaimed they will devastate nearly all of the continent. Then Tavi kills the vord queen simply because she inexplicably flies away into a storm of wind-manes and lands wounded, while Tavi, after pursuing her, somehow remains unharmed. And the unleashed Garados and his wind-fury wife are never mentioned again. What did I miss?

Jim Butcher is talented and capable of so much. As eagerly as I look forward to his books I wish he'd write fewer and take more time to make each one more special, with lucid characters and compelling themes instead of relying so heavily on fight scenes and action. (Not that I mind fight scenes and action! Love 'em! But without something to say about the human condition, action scenes that make your adrenaline flow are just so much porn - you enjoy them while you're reading them but then feel sort like you wasted your time at the end.) Sometimes prolific artists seem to enjoy writing (or they enjoy paycheck? no idea - tho that's certainly anyone's right) so much it's almost like they get high on the volume of their output. So maybe Jim Butcher is happy writing as he does - more power to him, we need happiness in the world. But as someone who appreciates genre fiction that is a cut above the rest - I have to point out that there are some prolific writers - Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse come to mind - who manage to make nearly every one of their books something special.

Butcher writes page turners, he understands that conflict=drama. The first books in this series are among my favorites in fantasy. They were about something. In Furies of Calderon, when at the end Tavi didn't show up to receive his reward from Gaius Sextus because he was gathering his sheep on the mountainside - something he'd promised to do in the first chapter of the book - I knew I was reading more than just a book about battles of magic and swords. It resonated. I felt there was something Butcher was getting at about the human condition, about growing up - something with emotional power. It's sad that the last two books didn't fulfill the promise of the first four. I look forward to Jim Butcher one day writing a truly outstanding book or series in which the whole is even greater than the sum of its parts.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking series end, November 26, 2009
I was disappointed in the previous book in this series, "Princeps Fury", but, as it felt like a 'bridge', I suspected this one would be much better. I wasn't wrong. It ends the series with a major bang. Not a moment of down time.

No, it's not a perfect story. The ending leaves questions and the epilogue feels like a hasty wrap-up. But the rest of this book is one gorgeous, bloody, exciting, suspenseful, heart-wrenching moment after another.

Characters who should die, do. Characters who should die, don't. And other characters that we've come to love aren't safe at all. There is some genuine heartache along with the fast-paced action. And, even in the darkest moments of the book, it never feels bogged down by tedious hopelessness. Yes, I find hopelessness in fiction to be tedious. Heads up to many fantasy/sci fi writers who think it's hip and challenging to go bleak. It's not. Jim Butcher can rip your heart out, but you never feel like you won't get some satisfaction out of the story, and that's a rare talent when exploring such incredibly dark tales.

Again, my only complaint is that a few things might have been wrapped up better at the end. I don't know if Butcher is planning to revisit this world at all, but there are plenty of questions he could answer for the readers.

I'm trying so hard not to give any spoilers that I think this might be the most cryptic review I've ever written. I guess I should just recommend the whole series and be done with it. I'm very thrilled to have been taken on this ride. Thanks Jim. :D
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great wrap-up for this seriesl a bit drawn out at times, February 26, 2010
This is the final book in Butcher's Codex Alera series. There is a lot that happens in this book from a detail point of view; overall it is an excellent conclusion to the series.

Tavi, now First Lord Octavian Gaius, is steering the ships full of both the First Aleran and the Canim to land. From there they are hoping to march across Alera and meet up with the Aleran Legions making their final stand at Riva. Of course things don't go quite as planned and Riva falls, forcing the final battle between the vord and the allied Alerans, Marat, Icemen and Canim back to where it all started...Calderon Valley.

This book is about war. If you thought book 5 was about war, well you were right, but this book is even more about war. So, in general, I am more of an epic quest lover than an epic battle lover...the topic of this book wasn't my favorite. That aside it was very well written. Butcher continues to do an excellent job balancing epic battle scenes with personal scenes; these personal scenes lend more depth to the characters we have already grown to love over the last five books. The action scenes are very well done, as always. The conclusion of the book is also well done and wraps up most of the loose ends.

Additionally it is nice that Butcher is able to do an epic fantasy with epic battles that still lends time to relationships. Kitai demands a proper courting from Tavi and this theme weaves in and out of the story, at times providing with a lot of humor. The dialogue is snappy (if not realistic at times) and added enough humor that you will find yourself chuckling despite the thousands of people dying.

There were a few things I didn't like though. The book is awfully drawn out. At first all the engineering details behind Tavi's schemes are fascinating, but as the book goes on it gets to be too much. The scenes get drawn out by the massive detail that is put into explaining both war strategy and engineering; if you really dig this stuff you will love it. I loved it for a while and then just wanted to get the story moving.

This book also has the same flaws I have complained about in previous books. Tavi, it seems, can do know wrong. Every hair-brained scheme he comes up with is a wonderful success; which is heroic but unbelievable given the craziness of most of his schemes. A number of times characters are left for dead, but then miraculously make it. Basically the book ends in an unrealistically cheery way, at least for the main and side characters. Common soldiers and civilians are sacrificed by the tens of thousands; which got to be a bit depressing but was probably the most realistic part of the book.

I thought it was fascinating how drastically Tavi has changed in this book. I know he changed some in book five, but in this book he is 100% First Lord with very few of the uncertainties that used to plague him. Kitai is also seemingly immortal, as she escapes most danger and succeeds at all missions; again a bit unrealistic.

Overall I enjoyed this book and thought it was a good wrap-up to the series. There is one major loose-end that makes me wonder if Butcher is planning another series set in Alera, but a century or so into the future. The only things that bothered me about the novel were the drawn-out strategy scenes and some unbelievable successes. Still, I am always impressed with how enjoyable it is to read Butcher's writing, it is just so readable and engaging.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful world to immerse into!, December 1, 2009
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J. B Kraft "lonestargazer" (Palestine, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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I like the style, as well as the content, of Jim Butcher's books. The characters are fascinating (and the minor ones often especially so), the plots intriguing and the pace is fast.

If you haven't read the previous five Alera books, you could start with First Lord's Fury, but then you would deny yourself the delicious pleasures of letting this story unfold. Each book in the series is enjoyable on its own, but they tell an absolutely epic tale together and in sequence.

Alera itself is a continent / world (seem to be used interchangeably in the books) which is an object of desire to several competing groups of humanoids -- the Alerians, who have a culture derived from Earth's Romans, but the exact connection is left decidely vague. They use latinisms for their names, but the chief unique characteristic, is that some of them (citizens) practice "fury craft", which is the art of gathering and focusing and controlling various (natural or supernatural) elemental factors called furies (hence the names of the books). Like the ancient Romans, the Alerans are high disciplined, highly greedy, generally quite conservative and ruthless, and very hard to get along with in general. They are ruled by an emperor called the First Lord, who is shakily above the usual unsettled pyramid of great lords, nobles, petty nobles, serfs, etc. Their presence seems to be about two thousand years old in this world, and they have conquered most of their continent. However, there are other humanoid groups -- the Marats, the Icemen, and a race of lupine warriors called the Canim who have had lengthy (and usually hostile) relations with the Alerians. The Great Lords are continually scheming to supplant the family that has ruled as First Lords for at least seven generations, and make and break alliances in ways that would make the ancient Romans blush.

Into this caldron of conflict come the Vord, who are a collective or hive (insectoid) type of creature, ruled by a queen, and who very aggressively are determined to destroy every other form of life which on the planet. All of the groups are brilliantly individualized, characterized and detailed by Jim Butcher, and each is worthy of significant development and enjoyable in their own right. The threat of the Vord is so overwhelming that each of the other groups suddenly realizes they must unite against the common enemy or be exterminated. The power of the Vord is so relentless, formidable, and collectively intelligent that they are truly frightening.

The hero of the series is now known to be the eigth First Lord, and designated "Octavian", and nicknamed Tavi. He was raised as a humble shepherd and ruthlessly protected by his mother from all knowledge of his real identity for his own protection. As the son of a deceased heir to the throne and grandson of the First Lord, he would be the object of many plots and machinations. At last, he knows who he is and his talents have been trained and honed to the fullest.

What sets this excellent series apart is the inventiveness of Jim Butcher and his ability to bring interesting and diverse cultures to life. The books are violent, but the main characters exhibit worthy virtues with colorful and epic flaws in general. As characters develop, we see increasing complexity in all of the main characters.

So, we have an excellent fantasy series, which is supremely enjoyable. If you like complex plots, you will like this book and this series. If you like action, danger, and intrigue, you will like them also. It's a wonderful world to immerse into.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing..., February 28, 2010
I was extremely excited to finally have a copy of what I presume is the finale of the Codex Alera in my hot little hands. Putting all other reading material aside, I immediately and eagerly plunged in. Two days later, I had completed the book. I was left feeling disappointed and dissatisfied.

One of Mr. Butcher's special talents is the ability to create characters that feel real and completely dimensional. Over the course of the series, we could watch as they grew, changed, related to one another (or didn't) - all of which was communicated with humor, panache and realism. This can be a rarity in a genre that has become glutted with incomplete and/or boring characters and stale plot lines.

Therefore, I was even more disappointed to find that in this book, the interactions between the characters that we have come to know and love is, in large part, missing. We get a taste of this in the scenes between Tavi and Katai. Other couples and individuals didn't fare so well.

I loved the earlier books in this series as well as his Dresden files series. His ability to create fully realized characters means that his books are not only a cut above the pack but also appeal to both sexes. I'm not a big paranormal romance fan, nor do I enjoy novels that are overly macho and hardcore. Usually I find Mr. Butcher's books exciting, rapidly paced with interesting plot lines. I hope he decides to add another book to this series.

On a side note, perhaps Mr. Butcher can ease up on his usage of the phrase "magnitude of force."

All in all I am Jim Butcher remains one of my favorite authors.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying end to the series, November 27, 2009
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Although this book follows the path that one would expect (including the requisite Tavi deviousness and Aleran noble intriguing), this book still manages to deliver a very satisfying conclusion to the series. On one hand, I was hoping for something a little more surprising or epic, but on the other hand I'm glad that Butcher didn't try to strain credulity too much either.

One of the reasons I love this series is because I loved reading about the Hannibal / Scipio conflict during the 2nd Punic War, and their deviousness of tactics and strategy was aptly captured in the character of Tavi (who even went under the name Scipio for a while, making the parallel rather obvious). It was like blending Hannibal AND Scipio Africanus into one character, and then tossing him into the Lord of the Rings. Awesome stuff.

If you don't know the reason why the Codex Alera series exists at all, you should listen to Jim Butcher relate the story some time. Essentially, he wrote it on a dare because of a flame war in an online writers community.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fury-ous over the editing [no spoilers], December 21, 2009
"First Lord's Fury" possibly concludes "The Codex Alera" series for Gaius Octavian, and I state it this way because there are openings for a future series many generations later. The story begins immediately after Tavi and the fleet leaves the Canae lands. The author integrates almost all characters from his prior novels, sufficiently covering histories of characters including Aldrick ex Gladius and Odiana, as Tavi ingeniously displays his furycrafting on a new resourceful level and builds various alliances to battle the vord. Amara Calderon and Gaius Isana are also feature characters with a few others including the vord Queen as secondary views.

Overall I enjoyed the storyline and the series but some issues should not be overlooked which detract from the novel's pacing. While I've read worse, the editing stinks. Misuse of a preposition totally changes the sentence meaning, I noticed a couple times "from" instead of "for". In Chapter 10, "She covered her hand with her mouth..." while envision her stuffing her hand into her mouth, I believe in the narrative context she was to cover her giggling mouth with her hand. In addition, Chapter 28 the phrase "He took her hand between hers..." does not make sense. The two best swordsmen Araris and Aldrick join forces not to fight the vord, but to weakly advise on fortifications.

The most confusing part regards the explanation of the vord Queen's command. I interpret a vord is "given instructions, they would follow them to the exclusion of all others unless the Queen changed them" to mean if the vord army is commanded to attack a stronghold or protect an Aleran citizen they will continue to do so after her disappearance or death unless maybe another Queen could change a command. Yet in a particular instance, the vord become chaotic when a Queen disappears and I did not find such behavior consistent with the existing portrayal. And when is it Vord versus vord?

After six books of adventures between various characters and cultures, a comprehensive appendix would be useful.

I cautiously recommend this series to any fan of the fantasy genre.

Thank you.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good ending or new beginning?, November 25, 2009
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I enjoyed this book. I like the creativity Tavi applied to addressing a lot of problems. I am dissapointed in the way some things were not as fleshed out as I would have liked. I would really rather not drop any spoilers in here, but I felt the development of Tavi's abilities were inadequately described, some characters were almost just filler, and others really could have used some more development and closure for me. (minor spoiler) I also am dissapointed in how the resolution of the 2 furies toward the end was addressed.

However, I couldn't put the book down. Like most of Jim's work, his writing is just very easy to read and keeps me entertained enough to go to sleep way later than I intend to. The book concluded the series but there appears to be promise for an offshoot series, or maybe even two. I gave it 4 stars only because it could have used another 50-100 pages for development, but that could have disturbed the fast pace of the story. I have never regretted a Jim Butcher purchase, and this story was no exception.

As a final book in a storyline, First Lord's Fury was better than adequate. I'm not sure if I am keen on the idea of a future storyline, but so far, Jim has not let me down. If you want an entertaining read that does a fairly good job tying up the series, this is a winner. If you had not read the rest of the books before, I would not recommend this as the first one to read. There are far too many references to prior books, which for someone who reads the series, it is great that he does not waste a lot of ink rehashing the past.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Codex Alera ends on a high note, December 8, 2009
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Well, crows, but Jim Butcher sure knows how to end a series on a high note. I would happily keep reading about the adventures of Tavi et al (and it's a pretty huge cast of characters at this point) every year until they all died of old age...but I guess that's not to be.

But, rest assured, this final installment in the Codex Alera is epic. It is tightly plotted, with key characters slowly converging on the Calderon Valley where the whole series started. It's full of big magic, big battles, big disasters and it's likewise packed with sly scheming, witty conversation, and political intrigue. But wait! It also has romance, tenderness, and a new emphasis on the importance of family.

We finally get our showdown with the Vord Queen...not a long buildup to a brief encounter, where Tavi and the Queen meet face to face and two pages later everything's decided. Not at all. All the characters we've grown to love have a part to play, and the battle stretches through half the book.

I have rarely been so satisfied at the conclusion of a series. FIRST LORD'S FURY is a roller coaster, a really good one of the kind readers have come to expect from Jim Butcher, but it makes a soft landing. I'm happy with where we leave the characters on the last page. I'm still curious to know what happens next, but that's a good feeling too: Butcher didn't wring his story dry before drawing it to a close.

Goodbye Tavi, Kitai, Isana, Bernard, Amara, Max, and Fidelias, I'll miss you. I think I'll even miss Invidia.
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First Lord's Fury (Codex Alera, Book 6)
First Lord's Fury (Codex Alera, Book 6) by Jim Butcher (Hardcover - November 24, 2009)
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