If you follow my reviews, you know that I like to roll the dice, to randomly buy a series on a whim, on the luck of the draw. Sometimes, it's a bust...Show More »
This time, it's a definite win, but if you go by how the series was created, you'd probably run in the opposite direction.
Here's one for the books: Jim Butcher is well-known for his "Dresden Files" series, created a fantastic fantasy series on a BET. Yep, a bet. Read on.
To quote the Codex Alera Wiki site, "the inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion", and “Pokémon”.
It DOES sound lame.
Well, Butcher makes it work. To the nines.
I've finished this first novel, and I'm enjoying this unique story line of humans with Roman similarities binding with elemental furies. Add unique races, backstabbing, politics, military battles, duels and an interwoven story line that pulls it all together, and you get a fantastic story that's simply put, a VERY VERY good listen.
The whole concept of fighting alongside elemental familiars used here is wonderfully executed. It's deep, well-thought magic-based partnership of man and magical creature is a pleasure to experience.
So, what about the writing?
Again, if you follow my reviews, you know that I love ENGAGING fantasy or scifi writing. Anything less won't do. And this is definitely engaging. There's great characters that plot, backstab, challenge, fight for their beliefs, devour their enemies, and celebrate their victories. You're taken on a great romp of a story, and in the end, isn't that what we all want in a good listen?
I know I do, and I so enjoyed this first audiobook in the series, that I bought the entire series. Yep. And I'm not disappointed with the decision.
Who knew that Lost Roman Legions and Pokemon could knock it out of the park?
Academ's Fury picks up about two years after the conclusion of the previous book, Furies of Calderon. Our hero, Tavi, is now a student at Hogw--oops! ..Show More »Um--at the Academy in Alera Imperia. Along with his new position as the High Lord's page, Tavi is making new friends and new enemies right and left. There's treason in the air and assassins around every corner. Meanwhile, back in Calderon Valley, the nastiest enemy of all is taking root. Not the strongest book in the series but not the weakest either. I love Jim Butcher and I enjoy his style--warts and all--and this book certainly does nothing to change that. It introduces some great characters who will play important roles in the books to come, so it is a must-read for that reason alone. Some events feel a bit contrived, and there are plenty of Harry Potter parallels; don't let any of that dissuade you. Lot's of fun to be had here, so I suggest you ignore the minor bumps in the road and just enjoy the ride.
The larger story arc of the series so far is wonderfully fascinating and intriguing. I have enjoyed following the main characters' arcs through the st..Show More »ory. It is a bit black and white in some ways with the Very Bad being Very Bad and the Very Good... well, you get it, but there are a lot of grey areas and characters (Lady Placida is fantastic!) The story involving Fade and Isanna is beautifully written; Lady Aquitaine (et al) is fascinating...
My biggest problem with how the series is developing - and it's a major issue for me, is that at least 1/3 of the book is taken up with battle tactics during the war which seem much like a fantasy version of a History Channel documentary. Hours and hours are spent in detailed battle plans and execution. Nothing there there, just details of swords/arrows/spears/etc. While I can see how probably many fantasy fans find this exciting, to me, it became extremely tedious. Every battle or development in the war, over time, started to sound exactly the same in every respect. There's absolutely nothing creative or of interest for me in this kind of war documentary. To quote from the book: "And the battle went on, and on. And on." And it does.
This incidentally was why, of the Dresden Files, "White Knight" is probably my least favorite (huge battle there, which, compared to this Alera book, makes it seem short....)
Jim Butcher remains a favorite author of mine, but I'm not sure that I'll continue on with this Alera series, just because of these endless, tedious battle-upon-battle scenarios.
Last word: I sincerely wish that there was more actual story and development here. Mr. Butcher's creative imagination is strong, unique and wonderful. If you love battle scenes, you have a lot to love in this book.
This series has kept me hooked for months, not only through a flowing story of strong characters but also with Kate Reading. She captures every aspect..Show More » of the characters without the slightest hesitation, through her the emotion that black type couldn't fully throw out was felt through tone and depth. The Romanic spin about the stories were also clever, Jim didn't over exert his skill by placing unmemorable places and objects within his world. Not to say other Fantasy writers have this as a fault, but this material is laid out for anyone to pick up and immerse themselves without little effort. From beginning to end, you grow up with Tavi, you begin to understand the Highlord's decisions, and you just can't help but to wish harm onto the enemies of the Realm.
The book itself is great fun, and I'd listen to Kate Reading read the phone book, but there is something wrong with the editing of this audiobook. In..Show More » a few places there are very abrupt and noticeably short intervals between words and in at least one place, some text has just been skipped over. This is the first time I've experienced such a strange problem with a downloaded book.
This book was an excellent conclusion to the series. It's so good to see an author stick to his guns and tie up a series on time! He's left enough r..Show More »oom for future books in the series. Looking forward to seeing some new books in the next few years; however, I'm also really looking forward to Jim's new SciFi series :) If you're a fan of the series this book will not disappoint!