By: Jim Butcher
Series Run: 6 books (Furies of Calderon, Academ's Fury, Cursor's Fury, Captain's Fury, Princeps' Fury, First Lord's Fury)
Where to Start: Furies of Calderon
Jim Butcher's been on my mind lately--he's got two new entries to the Dresden Files coming this year and I'm excited for that but, you know, the man's written some other decent stuff. Butcher started writing Codex Alera to win an argument on the Internet. No, really. He did. The challenge was to write something good with two 'lame' ideas as the prompts, and he was given the prompts of "the Lost Roman Legion" and "Pokemon." I'd say he won the bet.
The Codex Alera is six books spanning about ten years of the life of Tavi, the hero and the events that happen on his world during that time (His world isn't Earth. The Lost Roman Legion got really lost). It starts off in roughly his middle teens and he comes into adulthood as he goes. In his world, everyone has elemental spirits--furies--bound to them, and a person's strongest furies can manifest into animal shapes. Society is harshly stratified, with the Citizens (and above them, the high nobility) and then the commoners--but even a peasant can win Citizenship if they're strong enough with their furies. The High Lords are the very best, like no one ever was, if you catch my drift, and wield enormous personal and political power.
Upsides: The books really are a wild mix--action, mystery, romance, political intrigue, military battles, personal drama, epic fighting, it's all in here. There's also some strong internal logic and it was pretty great to see some of the applications of it. There's lots of long-term character growth and sometimes characters develop and become people who surprise you. There's some dark stuff that happens in here and there's some stuff that will leave you hyped up and cheering.
Downsides: Jim Butcher, though I like him, doesn't homerun everything he tried his hand at, and there's a few subplots that fall flat for me. I don't want to spoil stuff for people, so I'll leave it with that.