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Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
Book Name: Furies of Calderon
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher(s): Orbit / Ace Books
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audio Book / eBook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: June 28, 2005

A single grain of sand can tip the scale. A single beat of a butterfly’s wings can add just enough wind to create a tempest. And the single action of one boy can change the fate of his homeland forever. Of course, that’s not what Tavi was thinking about when he shirked off his responsibilities for the evening to collect flowers at the request of the most beautiful girl in Bernardholt. But even as the ‘yes’ left his lips, the wheels of fate were already turning, propelling him forward towards a greater adventure then he could ever have imagined.

Tavi’s grandest hope for his future was simply to attend The Academy and make something of himself using his brains and wits. No one in Calderon Valley thought he would ever amount to anything. He was fifteen years old and still had no furies of his own. His aunt had a water fury and his uncle had both a wood and an earth fury. Even their simpleton slave Fade had a metal fury and some capacity to use it. But he would show them he could do great things even without an elemental fury helping him, if only he was given the chance.

However, there are consequences for every action, and his uncle’s anger for this one irresponsible act could ruin Tavi’s chances of ever leaving the valley. But how could Tavi have known the trouble that finding the sheep the next day would cause? How could he have known the great plans he was about to disrupt and the powerful eyes that would soon be focusing in on only him?

No one was supposed to be that deep in the pine hallows that day. No one was supposed to see the single Marat warrior that had crossed through the pass into the valley. And no one should have been able to escape him even if they had. However, as Tavi was about to learn, the simplest choices can have far reaching effects, and even a simple ‘yes’ can change history.

* * * * *

This was an interesting book. The plot, while not complicated, was good and the world was typical high fantasy, with just enough uniqueness to make it interesting. But the thing that made this story so hard to put down was the characters. Each person, no matter how small their roll seemed at first, had a greater purpose and their own unique challenges to overcome. They struggled through their normal lives, then when trouble came they faced danger and hardship as best they could, striving to rise above the everyday and reach their goals no matter the odds. And while most stories focus on some highly talented or gifted person destined to bring about great change in their world, the main character in this story was just the opposite.

Not only was Tavi young and inexperienced, he was also the only person in remembered history to not have an elemental fury companion. He was, as far as everyone around him was concerned, completely helpless, someone to be pitied and protected. Definitely not the type of person who normally sets off on a quest to save his homeland, or at least not the type that does so and returns to tell the tale. But it’s always more fun to root for the underdog. While he doesn’t possess the same gifts as everyone else, he still shows time and time again how a little courage and some thinking on your feet can make up for a lot in life. And unlike other books where the main character starts off magicless then awakens during story, Tavi stays furyless for the whole book. That somehow makes him even more appealing as a main character, because it’s easier to relate to him and makes his triumphs that much more triumphant!

The magic system in the story is also very interesting. It consists of spirits called furies, elemental beings of earth, fire, water, air, wood, and metal. They can affect objects of their specific element, giving the owners of air furies the ability of flight or the owners of earth furies the abilities to shape and move stone. Everyone at some point in their early teens or younger becomes bonded with at least one of these other-worldly creatures. Well, every human does anyway. The warrior tribes of the Marat that live just outside the Calderon valley do not have furies. They instead have animal totems, great beasts that they commune and speak with as brothers and sisters. They are not really human, and as such are treated like wild savages by the people of the valley, who drove them out just over fifteen years before the story begins. It is this tension between the Marat and the humans that threatens to erupt the entire valley into war.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, mostly because of the wonderful characters and how easy it was to keep reading about them. They could grab you enough to keep reading in just a few short sentences and not let you go again for chapters and chapters. But by the end of the story it still had not reached 5 star status, simply because not a lot happened in this book. Sure it was 500+ pages long and I would have kept reading past that if it had been longer. And there was plenty going on, lots of danger and intrigue, but the plot portion of the book was very short and you get to the end of the book with a lot of, well, loose ends left. Now granted, this is the first in a series and I am definitely going to read the rest of it, but as a stand-alone book it’s just a little light on plot. But I think if you like character-driven stories and high fantasy, this would be a good book to try. I also have it on good authority that the next few books in the series are just as good, if not better then the first, but that’s a story for another day.



  1. Great review! I agree–the characters made it completely worthwhile. I read it on a trip from Costa Rica to LA to Portland, Oregon, and I was so upset that I didn’t quite finish it….. And then I looked at my husband and said, “I just realized I’m almost done with this book, and only about two days have passed in ths plot.” I think I was holding my breath the whole time…

    Enjoyed your review very much!


  2. Walt says:

    Sounds like an interesting book. I got wrapped up in the story as you gave us the synopsis. When you reached the end, I though to myself Oh no, tell me more!

    I think I’ll be adding Furies of Calderon to my list of books to read. Thanks for the review.

  3. Khaldun says:

    Thanks for the review. I love the dresden files, but I wasn’t sure about this series as I’d been hearing some mixed reviews (most based on whether or not the person had previously read dresden files or not, with those who’ve read Dresden not liking it quite as much). I’m curious, have you read Dresden already?
    In any case, Butcher is a fine author so I guess it’s only a matter of time before I check these out.

    • Autumn2May says:

      I actually read Storm Front right after I reviewed Furies. I think his story telling flows better in the Dresden Files. He seems a bit more comfortable with the setting. But the characters in the two stories are both really good. 🙂 I’m not a big fan of urban fantasy, so I didn’t like the setting in Dresden as much as in Furies. I guess they are both good for the characters and in my mind they both have their drawbacks plot and setting wise. If you liked Dresden, I would suggest reading Furies, especially if you like high fantasy. 🙂

  4. Cozman says:

    I noticed no other books in the series have been reviewed yet and just wanted to say that this book is widely considered the least exciting in the series. So I you loved it the way I did and loved the characters then you’ll find yourself blowing through the rest of the series in short order and loving every book more and more. Butcher has a gift for getting you attached to his characters, I was kind of sad to see the codex alera come to an end.

  5. […] might remember I reviewed Furies of Calderon, the first book of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera, last month. There has been a lot of talk in the […]

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