From Publishers Weekly
At the start of Butcher's absorbing fantasy, the first in a new series, the barbarians are at the gates of the land of Alera, which has a distinct flavor of the Roman Empire (its ruler is named Quintus Sextus and its soldiers are organized in legions). Fortunately, Alera has magical defenses, involving the furies or elementals of water, earth, air, fire and metal, that protect against foes both internal and external. Amara, a young female spy, and her companion, Odiana, go into some of the land's remoter territories to discover if military commander Atticus Quentin is a traitor—another classic trope from ancient Rome. She encounters a troubled young man, Tavi, who has hitherto been concerned mostly with the vividly depicted predatory "herdbanes" that threaten his sheep as well as with his adolescent sexual urges (handled tastefully). Thinking that Amara is an escaping slave, Tavi decides to help her and is immediately sucked in over his head into a morass of intrigues, military, magical and otherwise. Butcher (Storm Front
, etc.) does a thorough job of world building, to say nothing of developing his action scenes with an abundance of convincing detail. This page-turner bodes well for future volumes.
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This first book of a series, the Codex Aliera, is a real page-turner, with the classic plot of a kingdom threatened by both an outside invader and internal treachery enlivened by an abundance of original details and sheer storytelling gusto. For centuries, the ability of the people of Aliera to bond with furies--elemental spirits of earth, air, fire, water, and metal--has allowed them to defend their land against invaders. But the current lord is old and lacks an heir. So Aliera's traditional enemies plot with treacherous lords within the country to seize power. Far off in the mountains, the young lad Tavi struggles with his inability to attract and bond with a fury--and with sensual adolescent urges. He saves the life of a young girl he believes to be a slave, but who is actually an agent of the king, looking for traitors. Tavi is himself drawn into battle and war before he can say "lost sheep." A promising series launcher. Frieda MurrayCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved