Friday, February 26, 2010

First Lord's Fury (Codex Alera, Book 6) by Jim Butcher (4/5 stars)

This is the final book in Butcher's Codex Alera series.  There is a lot that happens in this book from a detail point of view; overall it is an excellent conclusion to the series.

Tavi, now First Lord Octavian Gaius, is steering the ships full of both the First Aleran and the Canim to land.  From there they are hoping to march across Alera and meet up with the Aleran Legions making their final stand at Riva.  Of course things don't go quite as planned and Riva falls, forcing the final battle between the vord and the allied Alerans, Marat, Icemen and Canim back to where it all started...Calderon Valley.

This book is about war.  If you thought book 5 was about war, well you were right, but this book is even more about war.  So, in general, I am more of an epic quest lover than an epic battle lover...the topic of this book wasn't my favorite.  That aside it was very well written.  Butcher continues to do an excellent job balancing epic battle scenes with personal scenes; these personal scenes lend more depth to the characters we have already grown to love over the last five books.  The action scenes are very well done, as always.  The conclusion of the book is also well done and wraps up most of the loose ends.

Additionally it is nice that Butcher is able to do an epic fantasy with epic battles that still lends time to relationships.  Kitai demands a proper courting from Tavi and this theme weaves in and out of the story, at times providing with a lot of humor.  The dialogue is snappy (if not realistic at times) and added enough humor that you will find yourself chuckling despite the thousands of people dying.

There were a few things I didn't like though.  The book is awfully drawn out.  At first all the engineering details behind Tavi's schemes are fascinating, but as the book goes on it gets to be too much.  The scenes get drawn out by the massive detail that is put into explaining both war strategy and engineering; if you really dig this stuff you will love it.  I loved it for a while and then just wanted to get the story moving.

This book also has the same flaws I have complained about in previous books.  Tavi, it seems, can do know wrong.  Every hair-brained scheme he comes up with is a wonderful success; which is heroic but unbelievable given the craziness of most of his schemes.  A number of times characters are left for dead, but then miraculously make it.  Basically the book ends in an unrealistically cheery way, at least for the main and side characters.  Common soldiers and civilians are sacrificed by the tens of thousands; which got to be a bit depressing but was probably the most realistic part of the book.

I thought it was fascinating how drastically Tavi has changed in this book.  I know he changed some in book five, but in this book he is 100% First Lord with very few of the uncertainties that used to plague him.  Kitai is also seemingly immortal, as she escapes most danger and succeeds at all missions; again a bit unrealistic.

Overall I enjoyed this book and thought it was a good wrap-up to the series.  There is one major loose-end that makes me wonder if Butcher is planning another series set in Alera, but a century or so into the future.  The only things that bothered me about the novel were the drawn-out strategy scenes and some unbelievable successes.   Still, I am always impressed with how enjoyable it is to read Butcher's writing, it is just so readable and engaging.

This book went towards the following reading challenges:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
First Lord's Fury (Codex Alera, Book 6) 

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