Flashback Friday is my own little weekly tradition, in which I pick a book from my reading past to highlight — and you’re invited to join in!
Here are the Flashback Friday book selection guidelines:
- Has to be something you’ve read yourself
- Has to still be available, preferably still in print
- Must have been originally published 5 or more years ago
Other than that, the sky’s the limit! Join me, please, and let us all know: what are the books you’ve read that you always rave about? What books from your past do you wish EVERYONE would read? Pick something from five years ago, or go all the way back to the Canterbury Tales if you want. It’s Flashback Friday time!
My pick for this week’s Flashback Friday:
Furies of Calderon
(Codex Alera, book 1)
by Jim Butcher
In the realm of Alera, where people bond with the furies — elementals of earth, air, fire, water and metal, fifteen-year-old Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. But when his homeland erupts in chaos — when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies — Tavi’s simple courage will turn the tides of war.
From Publishers Weekly:
At the start of Butcher’s absorbing fantasy, the first in a new series, the barbarians are at the gates of the land of Alera, which has a distinct flavor of the Roman Empire (its ruler is named Quintus Sextus and its soldiers are organized in legions). Fortunately, Alera has magical defenses, involving the furies or elementals of water, earth, air, fire and metal, that protect against foes both internal and external. Amara, a young female spy, and her companion, Odiana, go into some of the land’s remoter territories to discover if military commander Atticus Quentin is a traitor—another classic trope from ancient Rome. She encounters a troubled young man, Tavi, who has hitherto been concerned mostly with the vividly depicted predatory “herdbanes” that threaten his sheep as well as with his adolescent sexual urges (handled tastefully). Thinking that Amara is an escaping slave, Tavi decides to help her and is immediately sucked in over his head into a morass of intrigues, military, magical and otherwise. Butcher (Storm Front, etc.) does a thorough job of world building, to say nothing of developing his action scenes with an abundance of convincing detail.
Want to understand the vibe of The Codex Alera series? Think Dresden Files thrown into a blender with Game of Thrones. Kind of.
Jim Butcher, known for the ongoing (and totally awesome) Dresden Files series, here creates a fantasy world full of magical powers, human and non-human races, and heavy doses of military adventures and escapades. His characters come with family legacies, inherited struggles and feuds, and secrets galore. There’s a ton of scheming, ruthless manipulation and political maneuvering, and scenes of magical occurrences that practically beg to be filmed and loaded with CGI.
Tavi is a terrific main character, immensely likeable, funny and brave, with the smart-ass attitude we’ve come to expect from Butcher’s heroes. The supporting characters are strong and well-defined, and the action never flags. Plus — romance! Secret identities! Evil forces! Potential destruction of the world!
I love that I was able to read the entire series (six books) straight through, so I could really live in the world of Alera for a sustained reading experience and get to feel that I truly knew the characters, understood the stakes, and was invested in the outcomes.
By the way, Codex Alera has an amazing (and very funny) origin story, which Jim Butcher explains in this clip from 2008’s Comic-con:
Happy Friday, and enjoy your flashbacks!
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