Where I Got It: The Library
Who I Recommend This To: People into epic fantasy with strong world-building and character development.
Narrator: Kate Reading
Publisher: Penguin Audio (2008)
Length: 16 CDs
Series: Book 1 of The Codex Alera
This was such a fun book. As a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, this was quite a different pace but every bit as good. Tavi is a teenager, a shepherd, and lacking in judgement when it comes to women. He also has no furies of his own, a bit of an oddity in a world where everyone has at least one fury they can call their own. Furies are the spirits of various natural elements of the world of Alera – water furies, fire furies, earth furies, etc. Calderon has some of the strongest furies, and hence some of the strongest furycrafters, in all of Alera.
The Alerans are not alone in this world, but their last confrontation with the Marat was nearly 15 years ago. So when Tavi and his Uncle Bernard go out to find some lost sheep, the last thing they expect is to fend off is a Marat warrior and his deadly birdbeasts. This external foe coupled with internal power struggles puts Alera in a precarious position. Amara in a Cursor, which is not just someone who delivers the Empire’s mail, but can also serve as information gatherer. She is also wicked good with her wind fury, decent with a blade, and has some of the best lines in the book. Unfortunately, she is up against a foe who knows all her strengths and weaknesses.
Butcher wove together a masterful tale that grabs a hold of you right away and never lets go. The characters are introduced simply and gain in depth as the story unfolds; I even fell in love with some of the bad guys, hoping they wouldn’t die before I had learned all their secrets. The magical rules governing furycrafting are well laid out and the author doesn’t stray from them for ease of moving the plot along. The Marat make an intriguing external force upon the Empire, with their own code of honor and culture.
Kate Reading surpassed my expectations. I had listened to other narrations by her and had found her speech pattern halting and a little unsettling. I am very happy to say that she performed this book beautifully, with a notable range for male and female characters. I especially loved her rendition of Odiana. This performance not only puts her back on my Listen To List, but also in the top 20.
What I Liked: The story begins and ends with sheep; the Marat are so alien to the Alerans; the side romance of Amara; Amara’s word duel with a cocky knight; the bad guys are complex; the good guys are complex; everyone has secrets and a past.
What I Disliked: I took far too long to pick up this book.