Friday, 30 December 2011

Review: First Lord’s Fury (Codex Alera 6), by Jim Butcher

The final part of the thoroughly enjoyable Codex Alera series sees Mr. Butcher tying together the various threads of the series to date. Unlike other series of similar size, it has never gotten bogged down in detail so intricate it becomes a vice, and if this sacrificed an element of complexity it did enable a clear sense of clarity and momentum to be maintained from start to finish.

As a result, the threads being tied together are pretty big. More ropes, really, than threads. Tavi returns to Alera with quite a few friends and allies as the nobility unites, for once, to face an invading force from the south. Outnumbered by a critical margin, the Alerans stage a fighting retreat as they make for the fortified Calderon Valley and Tavi tries to reach and reinforce the massive (but still woefully outnumbered) Aleran army.

There is a certain feeling of fate in the book, and (unlike previous instalments) the death toll isn’t limited to the equivalent of men wearing red Star Trek uniforms. A few surprises help to enliven the plot (which is a single, enormous war) and I like the way that the somewhat strange antagonist is portrayed. As has become customary, Tavi comes up with a few innovative ideas, one of which is quite brilliant and unexpected.

However, there was perhaps a slight lack of dramatic tension. I felt there was always a looming certainty regarding the outcome, and whilst that often happens with books there’s some leeway even then (does the hero get fatally wounded fulfilling the quest? Does his best friend die at the last hurdle? And so on). Given it’s the last one and there’s no need to retain characters for book 7 I was hoping for a slightly more murderous death toll. Perhaps I’m being picky.

A word on the Kindle edition: there are blank lines between paragraphs. Whilst it’s not a good look, this doesn’t bother me too much, but if it would irritate you then you might prefer the physical version.

In conclusion, I liked the final book of the Codex Alera. Buying it should be a no-brainer, as to get this far you’d have had to already buy five books in the series. It isn’t quite as good as the fifth (Princeps’ Fury), which is the best of the lot, but is still a decent book.


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