Book Four of the Codex Alera
By Jim Butcher
Audiobook produced by Penguin Audio
Read by Kate Reading
Approx. 20.5 Hours.
Jim Butcher has created a Lord of the Rings series for today’s generation. The Codex Alera series takes place in a mythical/mystical land called Alera. The Alerans are humans who have a special ability known as fury crafting. In fury crafting the Alerans manifest the spirits of the elements to create magic and maintain life. From simple fury lamps, which use fire furies to provide light, to earth furies which can create shelter and gain extra strength in battle, all Alerans control their elements. All Alerans except for Tavi (a.k.a.Gaius Octavian/Captain Rufus Scipio). Tavi is forced to live with his "disability" by using his wits. Later in the series (about book 3) Tavi learns some limited fury crafting, but nowhere near the abilities of the regular Alerans.
Before we get into the meat of this audiobook review let me first say I may be a little biased due to my huge fanship of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books. I love his characterizations in those books and have declared myself an official Jim Butcher fanboy. I have read his other novel which is based on the Marvel Superhero Spiderman, another of my favorites, and have been interested in reading the Codex Alera series. I wanted to first finish the Dresden books but when the opportunity to review this book came up, I more than jumped on it. I did want to read the Codex Alera books in order, but the opportunity began with Book Four, so I did some quick research and got the gist of the series to prepare myself for book four. In retrospect the research helped, but I didn't really need it. Jim Butcher continues the series but when needed, he recaps what has happened enough to keep the reader in the know, but still enough to make you want to go back and read the series, which I will.
This review is for the audiobook version of the book and I'll tell you right off that I'm glad I started this series with an audiobook. First of all there's the convenience of an audiobook, you can listen while commuting, while exercising, while doing housework or heck, even while showering. Second, this audiobook was so well read by Kate Reading. (I think her last name is very fitting, but I should say it's pronounced RED-ing.) There are many characters throughout this book and series and Kate Reading makes the subtle changes in her reading that the voices of the different characters really stand out. Another aspect of her reading is the portrayal of emotions of the characters and the excitement of the action. The emotions and excitement are subtle enough for the listener to still maintain their own interpretations but also enough to capture the mood created by the author.
The audiobook production of Captain's Fury is very well done in that the pace of the reading is kept up with the pace of the written material, when needed the excitement is allowed to carry the action with a fast pace, while during times of the book when explanation of past events are needed the reader and the direction slow to allow the listener to absorb the information.
Okay, let's talk about the story.
In this book Tavi's mysterious origin is discovered. It seems Tavi has more in store for his future than simply being a captain of the First Aleran Legion. This book is the turnaround book where Tavi becomes more as well as many other characters in the series. The beginning of the book finds Tavi in charge of an attack on the invading Canim, a race of wolf-like humanoids that have invaded Alera by crossing the sea. This book also explains why the Canim came to "invade." It turns out not to be an invasion, but rather an escape from a force that is also a threat to the Alerans.
One of the reasons I referred to this book as, "Lord of the Rings series for today’s generation," is that the book is part of an ongoing series with mythical creatures that are battling separate wars but you can tell a central battle between good and evil is forthcoming. Also that the book covers characters that start out with one central mission and branch out into several side but related missions, and from what I can see will be regrouping to fight the main battle. However, Codex Alera has already gone more than Tolkien's 3 book series to this 4th book and more. And finally to justify my comparison, Jim Butcher's writing is not only fun and adventurous but also has a great literary feel that could easily be studied by scholar's for years to come.
On a final note, an interesting aspect of this book is the constant reference to the Roman Empire are great and not accidental. The most obvious references to Rome and its era is the use of terms like Legionare, Legion, patriserus, and other such terms. Also, the names of many characters are Latin styled. Maximus, Gaius, etc. Jim Butcher had this to say about his fascination with the Romans, "There's plenty of Lost Roman Legion stories out there. Mostly, the stories are about where they went, and what they did when they got there. This one just happens to be about the world they got lost on, and the society that developed there over the next couple of thousand years."
So do yourself a favor and pick up the Captain's Fury, by Jim Butcher, audiobook and jump ahead into the Aleran world. Good news comes via Jim Butcher's website that the other books will be released soon on audiobook so you can go back and listen to the history of Tavi.