Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Princep's Fury Book 5 of the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher

Princep's Fury
Book 5 of the Codex Alera
Jim Butcher
Read by Kate Reading
Penguin Audio, 18 Hours

Jim Butcher has created an epic series of magick, swords and mythical beasts in the Codex Alera, and he's approaching the finale of the series according to his website book six is to be titled First Lord's Fury and will end the series. Knowing this and having listened to all the previous four installments, I listened as slowly as possible not wanting this relationship I have developed with the land of Alera and the born leader in Gaius Octavian, Tavi to his friends. Jim Butcher's creativity has created a world that I had hoped be able to visit forever.

Once again Kate Reading provides a great auditory escape into Jim Butcher's world of Codex Alera. Her vocal characterizations are simple enough to put sound to the characters and to be able to inflect emotion into those same voices.

The beginning of this series brought us the character of Tavi, who has a secret, the secret is slowly revealed throughout each book that Tavi is the son of Gaius Septimus, son of the First Lord of Alera and heir to that same title. Septimus was killed in a major battle between on of Alera's enemys, the Marat. Tavi's mother, Isana, hid Tavi's fury crafting abilities so that he would be safe from those that would assassinate him and the first lord to take over the crown. Tavi grows up without the ability to fury craft, making him a freak among the Alerans.

The Alerans use a special magic/sorcery called fury crafting to call upon the furies of the elements to perform functions from the simplest tasks of lighting lamps, pumping water or building homes from wood or earth to military uses of flying, increasing strength, healing, or functioning at super human speed. Everyone in Alera can perform some fury crafting to some degree, the most powerful of which are leaders of the separate states in the land, and the First Lord being the most powerful of all.

In Princep's Fury Tavi has been accepted as the Princep's (heir to the crown of First Lord), however the recent civil war in Alera has left many citizens disgruntled and wanting for something more than what Gaius Sextus, the First Lord, seems to offer. Alera has had many enemies surrounding the land The Marat to the south, the Ice Men to the north and across the sea to the west the Canim. Through diplomacy and kindness has created an ally through the Marat. While not so much of an ally, the Canim have agreed to cease hostilities as Tavi and his legion assist them in building ships and returning to their homeland. Tavi has earned the respect of the Canim Leader, Varg and through that a working relationship with the Canim.

One other enemy that has come to Alera from unknown origins is the Vord. The the first book in the series Tavi awakend a Vord Queen while proving himself to the Marat leaders. The Vord is an insect like species that are extremely powerful. They take forms similar to the people in the lands they invade. They can takeover a living being body (animal or human) through a small taker that eats its way to the brain of the "host" and then controls the "host's" every move. Also the Vord Queen can read minds thus making her a dangerous enemy. Many people in Alera do not believe the Vord to be real, until now.

The Vord have begun to attack Alera, this time around they are using fury crafting, which only Alerans have been able to do. This makes the Vord even more dangerous. To save Alera the First Lord, Gaius Sextus, has plans. The first of which is to send Count Bernard (Tavi's Uncle and a powerful fury crafter) and his wife Countess Amara (former cursor/spy for the First Lord) to discover how the Vord are able to suddenly use fury crafting. Next, in order to bring in more legions Gaius sends Tavi's mother Isana to the Shield Wall in the north, where the perpetual war with the Ice Men is waged, to form a truce so that the Legions there can come fight the Vord, and finally the First Lord lures the Vord to the Aleran capital where he can fight the Vord Queen. Killing the queen is the only way to stop the Vord.

While the possible destruction of Alera goes on, Tavi has arrived with ships full of Canim in their homeland, only to discover that the Vord have destroyed all the people and lands save for one small faction fighting a never ending war with the Vord. Tavi must then fight the Vord side by side with the Canim to escape back to Alera.

Once again, with Princep's Fury, Jim Butcher has created a masterpiece of high fantasy with excitment from many factions that will sweep you up in the excitement that is Codex Alera.

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posted by Gil T. @ 1:47 AM Comments: 0

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cursor's Fury: Book 3 of the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher

Cursor's Fury: Book 3 of the Codex Alera
Jim Butcher
Narrated by Kate Reading, unabridged
Penguin Audio, 20.5 hours

Jim Butcher has yet again created a memorable masterpiece in the Codex Alera series. The story is set in the mystical land of Alera, whose residents seem to be descendants of Roman Legionnaires. As befits legionnaires of any time or place, there are plenty of stunning battles, heroic characters, and menace from both ingenious alien races and treacherous allies. Add to this the ability of Alerans to control different aspects of the forces of nature (fury crafting) and you have the ingredients for an exciting piece of literature that spans five books. Each title builds toward the conclusion of this saga, with the sixth and final book in the series scheduled for publication later this year.

Narrator Kate Reading keeps the audiobook alive with a delicate command in her voice that demands attention. She accurately conveys excitement and danger, providing a good read that will lock in listeners and keep them engaged throughout the battle-filled story.

Cursor’s Fury continues the adventures of Gaius Octavius, or Tavi, the only Aleran who cannot perform magic by controlling a part of nature. But Tavi is the grandson and only heir to the First Lord, Gaius Sextus. His true identity is kept secret to avoid assassination by those seeking to overthrow the First Lord. Tavi’s mother uses her water-fury crafting skills to prevent Tavi from developing what would no doubt be extremely powerful fury crafting. As a result, Tavi is forced to rely on his wits to overcome many serious tests that come his way.

Recognizing his leadership skills and seeing through the veil created to hide Tavi, the First Lord, Gaius Sextus, realizes Tavi is his grandson. To protect him, Tavi is sent to train with a legion of recruits who are far away from civil strife. Because the First Lord has not named an heir to the throne, some of the major houses of Alera feel the need to overthrow the powerful First Lord and place themselves on that throne. The most ambitious of these is House Kalare. Lord Kalare has made it known that he will do anything to capture the throne, and in Cursor's Fury he makes his move.

To help insure his victory, Lord Kalare allies himself with the Canim, one of the sworn enemies of Alera.
The Canim are a humanoid/wolf race that live across the ocean from Alera. Lord Kalare asks the Canim to invade at the same time he attacks the First Lord. The plan seems to be working until it’s discovered that the Canim have something else in mind. They don't come over with merely an invading army, they come over with most of their population in order to take Alera themselves. And to emphasize the point, they burn their ships so they cannot return to their homeland.

Meanwhile, instead of being out of harm’s way, Tavi's 1st Legion of "fish," finds they must fortify and hold the bridge to the city of Elinarch. The bridge is a strategic point where the Canim threaten to invade Alera. The young legionnaires are called fish because they are new recruits and, instead of knowing how to battle, they flop around like fish. Through a series of unplanned events, Tavi is forced into the rank of Captain and must use only his wits to lead the legion of "Knights Pisces" into a major battle that may decide the future of Alera.
With a war on three fronts, this book is full of exciting action and a great cast of characters. Codex Alera is one series that is worth reading, or better yet, hearing again and again.

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posted by Gil T. @ 1:11 AM Comments: 0