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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, witty, and entertaining
A well crafted fantasy by Jim Butcher. The setting is a Romanesque empire called Alera where the people bond with furies (elementals) of air, earth, fire, water, or metal during their childhood or early adolescence to obtain magical powers and thus defend the land against their foes. Our main hero's name is Tavi. He is a 15-year-old shepherd boy, one of the only people in...
Published on March 29, 2005 by L. A. Kane

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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great beginning...but stumbles in the middle and towards the end
The 'Furies of Calderon' is the first book in the 'Codex Alera' series by Jim Butcher.

I've been a fan of Butcher's Dresden novels, featuring famed vampire fighter Harry Dresden. So when I saw this book was available and it had received generally high reviews, I was eager to get into this book.

When I started this tale I was impressed; I thought I'd...
Published on January 3, 2010 by R. Nicholson


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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, witty, and entertaining, March 29, 2005
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A well crafted fantasy by Jim Butcher. The setting is a Romanesque empire called Alera where the people bond with furies (elementals) of air, earth, fire, water, or metal during their childhood or early adolescence to obtain magical powers and thus defend the land against their foes. Our main hero's name is Tavi. He is a 15-year-old shepherd boy, one of the only people in Alera who has not bonded with a fury. Obviously he turns out to be more than he first appears. Amara is a courageous and resourceful heroine; Fidelias a bold and daring villain. As I've come to expect of Mr. Butcher, the writing is excellent, witty, and very entertaining. His style in this one is quite different from the Dresden novels, however. For example, rather than remaining first-person throughout, the perspective bounces around between the three main players. The pacing is superb, a real page turner. While the Dresden Files are more my style, I very much enjoyed this book as well. Recommended read.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Pokemon meets Lost Roman Legion", September 27, 2008
This review is from: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
According to a video interview Jim Butcher gave, he started writing the Codex Alera series on something of a dare: someone challenged him to write an epic sword-and-horse fantasy based on the two things the challenger found most annoying, those being "Pokemon and lost Roman legions". One would think this would be an awkward combination, but in Jim's hands, it's something new and original to bring to the genre. I love the modified Roman Empire milieu, and the concept of "fury-crafting", of working with elemental beings which can shape the substance of things around the crafter, fascinates me.

That said, I also approached this series on something of a dare: a rather strident teenaged fan of Jim's urban fantasy series, "The Dresden Files", came onto the forums on Jim's website, blasting the Codex Alera series and practically ordering Jim to stop writing it and focus his time and talent on more Dresden Files books. His reason: "Codex Alera sucks because it isn't the Dresden Files". I'd only at the time scanned a few sample chapters of Furies of Calderon and had found it a little hard to tune into (I'm a little leery of epic fantasy since, to me anyway, the bar got set so high by greats like J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard), but I decided to give it another shot and see what the kerfuffle was all about.

I'm glad I rose to the challange set by this otherwise forum troll: In some ways, the book is a set-up for the series to come, but it is still a very worthwhile read. The characters are life-like, complex, and very sympathetic -- even the antagonists: the Marat might, at first glance, seem like mere barbarians who work closely with the totem animals of their tribes, but as the story unfolds, we find they are a complex community of individuals with their own psyches and ideas. Even Fidelias, the ironically named traitor, has his deep-set motives that are still unfolding.

But at the center, perhaps the most fascinating individual is Tavi, a young man who has not yet manifested any fury-crafting talents despite having close relatives who are strong fury-crafters, and who thus must rely on his wits and his courage to navigate a world on the brink of earth-shattering changes. His story and his journey are going to be incredible to watch and I'm already reaching for the second volume to see where his choices -- big and small, for better and worse -- take him...
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77 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff. Don't expect Harry Dresden, though., December 9, 2005
Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series succeeds largely because the wry humor underlying the story is irresistable. Furies of Calderon is good, too; but it has a totally different tone. You'll enjoy FofC, I think -- Butcher is an excellent writer, and he paints a compelling word-picture -- but don't come into expecting Harry Dresden in a Fantasy Universe.

I admit that I found the beginning of the book a little slow. The setup takes several chapters, because there are quite a few characters to introduce: Tavi, the 15-year-old boy with no furies (magic powers of air, water, earth, or fire) to call upon; Amara, the crown's spy; Tavi's uncle and aunt; and a few more. *Do* give the book 50 pages before you decide what you think of it, as that's when the action really starts.

And it's good stuff. If you've been looking for a solid sword-and-sorcery and a nice not-so-predictible quest, you'll enjoy the book a lot. I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, which (thankfully) has already come out.
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44 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good first fantasy novel and a new series, November 5, 2004
By 
All the people of Alera are bonded with elemental furies which come to them in their childhood or early adolescence - except Tavi, who at 15 does not have his fury yet and is considered somewhat of a freak.

However, it is Tavi and the escaped Cursor Amara who will set off a chain of events that will change their world and help foil an invasion attempt of their home instigated by traitors. This is an action-adventure fantasy novel that moves along at a brisk pace with a fairly wide cast of characters.

Jim Butcher has created an interesting world with this novel and it is obvious that most of the secrets of Tavi's family have yet to be explored, but thankfully there will be another book which may flesh out some of the lingering mysteries.

My only slight disappointment is that Butcher succumbed to the fantasy cliché of using an orphaned 15 year old boy as his central character - but that did not stop me actually liking Tavi. On the whole I'm glad I've read this book and will be looking forward to book 2 when it is published.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great beginning...but stumbles in the middle and towards the end, January 3, 2010
This review is from: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
The 'Furies of Calderon' is the first book in the 'Codex Alera' series by Jim Butcher.

I've been a fan of Butcher's Dresden novels, featuring famed vampire fighter Harry Dresden. So when I saw this book was available and it had received generally high reviews, I was eager to get into this book.

When I started this tale I was impressed; I thought I'd finally found the holy grail of fantasy books...that being a writer that was possibly equal to, or at least comparable in fantasy writing skills as George R.R. Martin ('Ice and Fire' series). However, my initial enthusiasm quickly fell away, replaced by the realization I'd stumbled upon a very good story, but unfortunately, supported by mediocre story telling.

First, the good:

All the ingredients for first rate fantasy were there; magic, unique characters and creatures, deceit, treachery and some perilous treks through dangerous territories. There was even a hint of romance and some subtle erotic moments. The plot for the story itself was noteworthy with the classic good vs evil motif. Then coupled that with Butcher's proven ability to weave magic through the written word (as he's done so many times before with the Dresden Files) and you should have an outstanding tale...should have.

However, I have a principle regarding fantasy writing, as defined by the following statement...'TO HAVE GOOD (OR GREAT) FANTASY, IT MUST BE, WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF FANTASY WRITING, BELIEVABLE'

And with my statement in mind, these are my concerns: ***No specific spoilers, BUT, read at your own risk***

1.)There was one mode of travel, that seemed utterly unrealistic; unrealistic, even given the fact that magic was a factor. (and exceedingly advantageous to the party(s) involved)

2.)Grievously injured characters that were able to keep going on and on and on.

3.)One character kept popping up, unforeseen and unexpected and usually at the most unlikely and inappropriate time. I remember one instance where I said to myself 'not again, this is unbelievable'.

4.)Battles (both large and small) throughout the book, that seemed destined to end in gloom and doom, had outcomes reversed at the last moment by someone or something arriving in the nick of time to save the day.

5.)Many of the characters appeared to be too nice, too fair, too forgiving...too much alike. Several of the 'good guys' appeared 'squeaky clean'; just unrealistic traits for so many different personalities, especially in this perilous setting.

6.)And finally, no map! I realize some readers don't care if a map is provided in stories such as this, but I do. This book was the perfect example of a tale where a map could have been so useful to define distances and geographic locales.

Conclusion;
A very interesting first book in this series and it does hold promise for future installments. The story had an excellent beginning, but ultimately succumbed to some writing techniques that were of questionable benefit. 2 1/2 to 3 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average means average--let's not over do it., September 21, 2005
This review is from: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
I am suprised that this novel has gained so many 5 star reviews. Dont' get me wrong, it's a good read but it doesn't deserve to be at the top of the class.

Overall, the story is interesting and essentially "fresh." Although, most fantasy authors these days strive to do things differently. Personally, I find that annoying because I never get what I'm expecting. How can people continually compare new fantasy to Tolkien when it doesn't even distantly resemble his novel?

Most of the dialogue in "Furies" is cheesey at best. Not to mention they speak in modern english rather than an older dialect, which is odd if you ask me. It's also incredibly annoying.

I have to say though, that the battle at the end had me on edge. Was is the best battle I've ever read? No.

Thus, 3 stars. Because the novel doesn't suck (1) and it's not great (5).
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars decently written book with over used plot devices., November 3, 2010
This review is from: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is pretty good. Your typical fantasy story. A young kid on the verge of becoming an adult wrestles with being different. At the same time, the world is coming apart. Evil forces are on the verge of destroying an age old empire. The kid is the only one who can save the day. He's helped by his motley band of... well... this is definitely nothing new.

I guess why I might be tempted to give this book a half way decent review is that it is readable. What makes it unique is the 'Fury' aspect. Furies are 'spirits'. Everyone in this world has a Fury except for the main character, that kid I was talking about, Tavi. People use the Furies mostly for war it seems.

This might be the first book I have ever read where I was saying "ok already, just die". There are 3 bad guys who are chasing the kid, a young lady and the kids uncle/aunt. By the time this book is over, every single one of them has been on the brink of death many many times, has narrowly avoided death, has taken part in a battle and been spared death... on and on. So at a certain point, your not sighing with relief at the close escape, but cursing the author, saying "Common now".

I don't want to go on and on. Butcher is one of the most popular authors out there today. At my local bookstore, I swear there are a couple hundred copies of his books. I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Let me tell you, this is no where near the George RR Martin books. It reads more like that massive Robert Jordan series, 'Wheel of Time'. In fact, I might be too generous with 3 stars.

The characters are ok. the plot is rehashed, the writing is above average, and the concept is (other than the furies themselves) old school. I wouldn't go running out to get a copy of this if I were you.
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79 of 104 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hits and Misses - mostly hits, June 12, 2005
Spoilers - just so ya know. Oh, and snark.

Furies of Calderon is your standard fantasy story. The novel takes place in a quasi-medieval past time on an alternate Earth or some kind of Earth-like space populated by humans. Everyone in this world has a Fury, which is some kind of sentient elemental power that attaches itself to a person when they're hitting puberty and allows them to do elemental magic. The stronger your Fury, the stronger magic stuff you can do. Some people even have more than one.

There is a boy protagonist (Tavi), teenaged, who is an outsider (sort of) because he doesn't have a Fury. He is special in some other way that is hinted at yet never revealed in the book because this is volume 1 of who knows how many and there has to be some way to make you read the next 6 books, right? Right. So, he's special and doesn't know it, is considered a freak by some and a pity case by others, wants to leave the "homestead" and go off to the "city" to study at the "university" so he can make something of himself. And, by gum, his dreams are gonna come true! (cue Disney music)

And, of course, we have the familiar set of Kings and Queens and Knights and nobles and Homesteaders and serfs and all that jazz. You'd think that people with such wildly different everyday circumstances from regular humans would find some wildly different way to organize themselves and structure their society. Nope. Damn humans, always the same.

To go along with this standard worldview is the standard political intrigue plot. Some noble somewhere doesn't like how the King runs things. He thinks he can do things better. He gathers up his forces - folks with strong furies, another noble or two, one of the King's own best Cursors (spies), and all the dark-skinned savages you can shake a stick at - and starts plotting to take over the kingdom.

Luckily, the king has a good subject in Amara, a Cursor just out of training. She knows all about the plot and has the mad skills to escape her teacher (a dirty traitor!) and the noble's best knights to warn the King and save the kingdom. But first she has to run into Tavi, entwine his plot with hers, fall in love with Tavi's widowed uncle, and participate in the Battle at Helm's Deep. You heard me.

==The savages are coming! Let's go to this heavily fortified garrison and fight them. Yay, we beat some of them! This will be easy. Oh crap, there are now a million billion of them out there and only a few hundred of us. We are screwed. And there is no escape. No hope. No light. Oop, here comes Gandalf with the Rohirim - I mean Tavi with some other group of savages to turn the tide of battle and allow us to win the day.==

Along the way some other stuff happens. The small-time bad guy (tm) rapes a minor character who is slutty and therefore deserves it, but not the major one who is not slutty, (a virgin, in fact) therefore we know he cannot touch her. He comes to a bad end, as we all know he will, because someone has to and neither the traitor Cursor nor the noble with aspirations will in this book because, drumroll please, it's Book 1 of. There's also some crap about noble savages and Tavi getting soul bonded to a girl who is so feisty that she will either end up being a Strong Woman (tm) or a banal piece of plot furniture in subsequent books.

Another minor nit - names. Too many damned same enough sounding/spelled names to drive me to distraction.

My last issue with this book is about how much stuff is described in painfully specific detail. There is so much detail that I couldn't really get a good image of what stuff looked like in my head -- if that makes any sense (and it might not). I felt bogged down in a lot of irrelevant detail, thus clouding my mental image. The description spilled over into the ridiculous when, in an early scene, Tavi is in the wilderness, being chased by a savage and his pet Big Bird, during a storm in which wild furies try to rend one into tiny pieces, and freaking out because his uncle might be dead. He finds Amara in the middle of all this and takes the time to notice the following: Her skin color, her 'generous mouth' (can we call a moratorium on this phrase, please?), the condition of her hair, her build, her striking features, the fact that she is not precisely lovely, her cheekbones, the shape of her nose, what she is wearing down to the item and the state of her clothing.

I'm sorry, no.

There were other moments like this in the book. Moments where the author decided to tell us some stuff despite the fact that the character whose view we are currently dealing with would not notice or think about or comment mentally on. This is the evil of third person limited - at least the way it is currently used. I can't totally blame Butcher for it, but I can be all snarky about it for a minute here.

Speaking of snarky, I am being overly so, I suppose. The truth is that, despite these many flaws, I enjoyed the book. I'll probably even read the next one. I have to find out what happens to Tavi and his uncle and aunt and Amara and the King and whoever the heck else. There were unanswered questions! Can't have that.

What is interesting and frustrating about this book is that it is a prime example of how it's not about what a book does wrong, but about what a book does right that matters. Enough is done right here that it overpowers the wrong. But damn, you'd think that someone who could create so much right could turn down the wrong just a wee bit more.

What does the book do right, you ask? In broad strokes, the story is pretty engaging, even with its cliché bits. The writing, despite the overload of pointless description, is good. The characters are interesting for the most part. I found myself really caring for them. Tavi is likeable, which he really needs to be. Amara is deal-with-able. Even the uncle is kind of cool. If I had to say what one thing makes this book worth reading, it would be the characters. They save the book completely.

So those are my thoughts on Furies of Calderon. I think Book 2 is out now, so I might try to get it through the library. Hopefully it will also do more right things than wrong things.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars highly entertaining, July 12, 2005
This review is from: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
"Furies of Calderon" tells the story of a valley that comes under surprise attack by barbarians. Several sub-plots add lively interest: a plot to overthrow the king, a shady local's plots to thwart the law, and a young man's striving to change his life. A fascinating and unique magic system adds creative interest: at puberty, the valley people develop magical talents sympathetic to one of the five elements. These elements are also expressed as magical creatures that roam wild.

The author did a good job of developping unique and interesting personalites for the main characters. The writing style and descriptions are well done. My only real problem is that this book is fragmented, split too many ways among too many characters: a young man, his aunt, his uncle, a government agent, and a spy. Butcher handles this better than most authors. Still, each time the book changed point-of-view, I was reminded that I was reading a story and thrown out of flow. Sometimes the new point-of-view could recapture my attention, but alas sometimes it could not.

Lively entertainment, I would say, suitable for to lift your mood and enliven your afternoon.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice framework for a series, but let's be honest..., July 16, 2009
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MSB (California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
... and admit that there are some very annoying aspects to this first book.

The biggest of which was that the book lost any sense of danger or intensity a few chapters in. The recurring theme went something like this:

[Tavi finds out that everyone he loves is either unquestionably dead or facing certain, unavoidable doom. He fights back tears and frustration, but alas, how can the poor lad not cry about everyone being dead? Tavi grieves for several paragraphs, and then his fear/sadness turn to a cold anger/determination and off he goes to do something brave. Turn the page, and.. OMG SURPRISE!!! Everyone is OK, after all. Nope, not a single one dead.]

Well, that can be excused I guess. Let's see what happens in the next chapter...

[Amara finds out that everyone she loves is either unquestionably dead or facing certain, unavoidable doom. She fights back tears and frustration, but alas, how can the poor lass not cry about everyone being dead? Amara grieves for several paragraphs, and then her fear/sadness turn to a cold...]

Err, wait a second. I think I know how this is going to end. Flip a few pages, and what do ya know? EVERYONE is just fine and dandy. Well, at least he won't try that trick again. Let's keep going...

[Isana finds out that everyone she loves is either unquestionably dead or facing certain, unavoidable doom...]

OK, hold on.. I'm not retarded. What..? You mean someone got cut nearly in half, someone else's neck got broken, two others fell and were covered with tons of rocks, another was sliced into little scraps, and another still was poisoned? OK, I'm still skeptical, but let's see what happens..

[OMG SURPRISE!!! Everyone is OK, after all. Nope, not a single one dead.]

At this point, if Jim Butcher wrote that the entire Calderon Valley was leveled with 600 billion nukes, flooded with acid from one end to the other, and then magically lifted off of the planet and thrown into the sun.. I would still know with absolute certainty that no one important died.

The second big issue was cliches/unoriginality. From the rather stereotypical warrior societies, Helm's Deep battle, and so on to the stock characters, government setups, and court politics. Yes, there are furies and all that.. but that's what makes the unoriginality of the rest of the story's universe so annoying. You would think that if everyone had had furies back in Medieval Europe that, well, you know.. things would have been a bit different.

The third is the mistreatment of minor side characters. Look, a minor character who expresses herself sexually and actually thinks of sex as more than a duty to a man. Oh no, she's trapped in a room with a lovable mother type who is all sorts of pure. Their captor HATES the pure one with a passion. Gee, I wonder which one is going to get gang-raped and abused repeatedly? Surely the pure one, right? I mean, she's the one he hates, while the other woman is a stranger. He couldn't possibly be planning on leaving her absolutely *UNTOUCHED* just long enough for her to escape, could he?!?!

This book is decent enough overall, and has laid a decent framework for future books, but let's not pretend that it isn't mostly derivative or doesn't have some serious "believability" problems.
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Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1)
Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1) by Jim Butcher (Mass Market Paperback - June 28, 2005)
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