The Codex Alera

Jim Butcher is relatively well known for his long-lived series, The Dresden Files, but he has written many other books along the way.  Top of that list: The Codex Alera.

What?  You say that’s a series and not a book? You’re right!

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Furies of Calderon Cover art (Ace Books)
The first book of The Codex Alera published by Ace Books.I know I typically review books and not series as a whole, but I feel this one is best served by recommending the whole bunch.  Butcher is a fantastic author, and The Dresden Files is still one of my favorite reads no matter my mood, but it wasn’t until I picked up The Codex Alera that I realized just how skilled a writer he actually is.

I devoured The Furies of Calderon within the first day.  Your main character, Tavi, is a true outcast in his society as one of the only people without any control over the furies of their land. Through a series of events (not too unexpected for those who are familiar with fantasy as a genre), Tavi is thrust into a quest to save the land he knows and loves.

I know.  It’s interesting, but that doesn’t mean Jim Butcher is an amazing author by any means.  I mean, it’s a fairly standard fantasy plot line! True.  This actual genius of the series isn’t something you’ll really catch until the third or fourth book.  Butcher shows his skill along the way through the carefully woven plot lines that span the entirety of the series.  I remember being shocked in the fourth book at one major reveal, and even more so when I realized he’d hinted at it in the first few pages of the first book.  Either he’s a master of planning, or he’s just really good at catching little details and running with them!

Who should read this?

Well, pretty much anyone who loves your traditional fantasy novel.  Tavi is really the underdog and it’s so easy to root for him as he grows and finds his place in the world.  If you’re a fan of Butcher’s other stuff, you will likely enjoy them and his writing style, although this series is less humor-filled (or rather, more subtly humorous) than The Dresden Files.

If you’re a fan of well-woven series, and ones that have a defined story arc with a known ending, this is also a great choice.  You know exactly what you’re getting when you start the series…no worries of the author dying off before you get to finish the tale (*cough * cough*).

Who shouldn’t read this?

It’s a fantasy novel that fits very firmly in its genre, so if you want something that’s going to bend and blur the lines between genres, you probably won’t enjoy it as much.  Honestly, though, that’s about all I can think of.  With this series, you get what you expect, so you’ll be able to quickly decide if you’re not interested.

And with that….get reading! Curl up with a warm beverage and a blanket for a solid fantasy adventure.  Cheer for Tavi as he fulfills his destiny.  And then let me know what you thought!


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2 thoughts on “The Codex Alera

  1. I really enjoyed the series, though it’s been years now since I’ve read it. Two criticisms of it. 1. The first book is definitely the weakest, not only of the series but of all Butcher’s work. If I hadn’t read any of the Dresden Files, I might not have read the rest of the Codex Alera. 2. There’s just something a trifle….off? in how the female characters were handled long-term. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it, but two of the three start out awesome, and then they fall in love, and…something seems to change in how they’re handled, like they flatten out?

    1. That’s a good point. It’s been a while since I’d re-read it last but now I feel like I’ll need to just to see if I notice that too. And you’re right, I did feel the first book was easily the weakest of all of his, but I’d personally attributed that to the fact that he was going from something a little more modern day paranormal etc to a full on fantasy novel. It’s just so different and not easy to shift gears like that.

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