I love this series!
However I do not love the narrator for this series in audio. So very happy that I borrowed it from the library before I bought or added them to my list of books to own.
The Alerans are not alone in this world, but their last confrontation with the Marat was nearly 15 years ago. So when Tavi and his Uncle Bernard go out to find some lost sheep, the last thing they expect is to fend off is a Marat warrior and his deadly birdbeasts. This external foe coupled with internal power struggles puts Alera in a precarious position. Amara in a Cursor, which is not just someone who delivers the Empires mail, but can also serve as information gatherer. She is also wicked good with her wind fury, decent with a blade, and has some of the best lines in the book. Unfortunately, she is up against a foe who knows all her strengths and weaknesses.
Butcher wove together a masterful tale that grabs a hold of you right away and never lets go. The characters are introduced simply and gain in depth as the story unfolds; I even fell in love with some of the bad guys, hoping they wouldnt die before I had learned all their secrets. The magical rules governing furycrafting are well laid out and the author doesnt stray from them for ease of moving the plot along. The Marat make an intriguing external force upon the Empire, with their own code of honor and culture.
Kate Reading surpassed my expectations. I had listened to other narrations by her and had found her speech pattern halting and a little unsettling. I am very happy to say that she performed this book beautifully, with a notable range for male and female characters. I especially loved her rendition of Odiana. This performance not only puts her back on my Listen To List, but also in the top 20.
#1 in the Codex Alera fantasy series, a much more 'traditional' fantasy than Butcher's other modern-day "urban" fantasy Harry Dresden series. The land of Alera is about to be besieged by war, with the barbarians at the gates. While Alera itself seems based in Roman history, it's odd because the barbarians (the Marat) sound like the marauding American Indians of tomahawk and scalping fame with their various tribes and clans. Alerans use magic by bonding with furies, which are elementals based in air, earth, fire, water and metal.
Like many fantasies, this story switches point of view several times to tell the various storylines of the main characters. Tavi, a fifteen-year-old boy living in Bernardhold, nephew to the steadholder, has not yet bonded with any furies, and thus is known as a freak and Amara, a young Cursor (messenger/spy) who is a windcrafter sent by the First Lord to the Calderon Valley (Tavi's home) to seek out information about the invasion, and who finds a traitor very close to hand, are the main characters. Tavi's uncle and aunt and Amara's tutor and traitor Fidelius as well as several other secondary characters also figure heavily in the story. As they trek along, sometimes together and sometimes not, they meet a fairly predictable set of adversarial situations.
I did enjoy the book, but something about it failed to fully engage my interest. Good, but not great, in other words. It was a rather slow starter, and Butcher does a good job of building the world of Alera, although all the various magical rules and the governmental setup were a little confusing for awhile. The tone of the book was completely different than Butcher's Dresden Files series also, missing the wry humor and smart-alecky main character, but if anything it shows that the author is not a one-dimensional writer but can easily expand his horizons, and has done so. I'm hoping that subsequent books in the series will be a tad easier to get through now that I'm familiar with the world of Alera. The reader for this one was good, but not a favorite.