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"Furies of Calderon" is the first book in The Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher and is a fantasy novel set in the land of Alera. The Codex Alera series totals six books in all. I picked up this book as I had read "The Dresden Files" series also by Jim Butcher and had really enjoyed them. "Furies of Calderon" is more traditional fantasy as it is set in another world but, like "The Dresden Files" is very easy to read and become immersed in.
The book begins with a short prologue which introduces a young man named Tavi and also with a piece of writing by the First Lord of Alera. The story then continues with a young woman, Amara, travelling with her instructor in order to spy on enemies of the Crown.
We learn that the people of Alera have strange powers - referred to as "furies" - these powers allow them to control certain elements, i.e. earth, water, fire and air. The furies also seem to be individuals, named by the people who control them and appear to be bonded to them. Each fury will do as its person bids it and each element has particular talents.
Tavi, one of the protagonists, is unique in Alera in that he does not possess a fury of his own. He is looked down upon as simple due to this lack and is not taken seriously by the people although his uncle is their steadholder (basically the local landowner).
The land of Alera is threatened by traitors to the First Lord (Amara's storyline) and the help they have provided to the Marat (an ancient enemy of the Alerans) in order for them to invade and cause confusion. Tavi becomes caught up in this by accident and soon after meets Amara.
This book was a little confusing at first as there is no explanation of what "furies" are and you are left to figure it out as you read on. There are also no maps of Alera provided and there is no real explanation of where the story is set. However these setbacks aren't too major and you soon get involved in the story.
Butcher's characters are generally interesting and Tavi as the main protagonist is shown to be clever and resourceful even without a fury to help him. The people of Alera are shown to be somewhat lazy and complacent and rely on their furies a great deal. Tavi is regarded as handicapped without one and has to work twice as hard as others to be accepted.
Amara is shown to be brave and loyal to the First Lord but also quite impulsive and often throws herself into danger. Several other characters are introduced - Tavi's aunt and uncle (brother and sister); the band of villains that Amara is tracking and several of the Marat - the ancient enemy of the Alerans. Some of the characters and plot developments are a bit predictable but are still enjoyable.
Butcher has a habit of jumping from character to character and place to place in order to keep the action going and the suspense up. This can be a bit annoying when you're enjoying a particular storyline but overall it does keep the plot interesting.
I enjoyed this book for what it was - an enjoyable fantasy romp that wasn't terribly taxing to my brain. If you enjoy a bit of light fantasy that is easy to read I would recommend having a look at this series.
This review is also posted on Ciao.co.uk under my username.