"First Lord's Fury"
Book six of the Codex Alera
by Jim Butcher
Published November 2009 by ACE
Shakespeare said,"there is no new thing under the sun." and The Bible says the same, (Ecclesiastes 1:9-14 NIV) "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." So I've often wondered if writers will ever run out of material to write about. After some pondering I've somewhat come to agree with Billy S. and the Bible, but I think it's all a matter of how you tell it. The reason I bring this up is that while reading this final book in the "Codex Alera," by Jim Butcher, I found myself comparing the events in this book (and series as a whole) to some of my other favorites in fiction. While the uneducated would call it stealing, I definitely don't see it that way and accepted the fact that Jim Butcher is a master story teller and if he borrows ideas, or just simply comes up with ideas that have been used by others, the bully for him. In fact the real genius in these books is that Butcher takes several different elements in fiction and rolls them up to create a gooey sticky delicious fantasy adventure that should be on everyone's reading list.
Let me first give you my comparisons. First we have the major enemy of the land of Alera, the Vord. The Vord is an unrelenting hive-mind enemy led by a single queen. They assimilate those they conquer (as well as creating bug like creatures) and their goal is total destruction until there is nothing but Vord. I found myself comparing the Vord to a combination of The Borg, from the Star Trek Series' and the bugs from Starship Troopers. They did share qualities but Jim Butcher created the ultimat destructive force when he created the Vord.
The series of books follows the life of Tavi, later Gaius Octavian. A young man that could not control the magic of "furies." The furies are representations of the elements, earth, water, fire, air, steel and those that control them usually specialize in a particular fury element and have powers related to those furies. For example, those that control air furies can fly, steel and earth furies have extreme strength and so on. As the series progress it is learned that Tavi had the power of fury-crafting somewhat hidden by his mother so he would be safe. Also as the series progressed Tavi not only learned fury-crafting but became better at it than any other Aleran. This aspect reminded me of the progression of the powers and secrets behind J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
During the telling of the tale of Tavi, and as he grows stronger, he must travel to other lands and recruit help from many forces and races to bring a war to the evil that is the Vord. He recruits the Murat a fighting race that take on the resemblance of the different animals they "bond" with. He recruits the Canim, a wolf like race that, as it turns out, was run out of their lands by the Vord. this aspect reminds me of the entire "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Once again I have to say, yes they have similarities, but Jim Butcher finds a way to meld these ideas into an entertaining series. So while there may be nothing new, Jim Butcher has found a way to make it seem new in this wonderful tale. Therefore, it's all in the storytelling.
Now to talk about this book. Basically there are three fronts for the final battle between the Alerans ( now including the Canim and the Murat); The hive itself where the Vord Queen has taken Tavi's mother hostage, and directs her swarm of Vord alongside Lady Invidia, a traitor to her kind. The northland and into the city of Reva with Tavi and his forces of Aleran Legions and Canim warriors. This one is constantly moving to what will be the final battle in the third and final front in the war Calderon. This is the safest place in all Alera and the battles from the fortified city are some of the best in the series.
As the three fronts merge into one final battle site the characters all grow stronger and as the reader I became completely immersed in their lives and at times kept wanting to put the book down, only because I did not want it to end. After all this is the final book in the series. Tavi learns Kitai is pregnant, traitors are exposed and dealt with and assassination attempts are thwarted.
So with all the melding of great ideas and the super storytelling ability of Jim Butcher, the Codex Alera comes to an end with one of the greatest battles ever and leaving the reader wanting more.
Thank you Jim Butcher.