My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I thought this was a pretty solid conclusion to Butcher’s first foray into epic fantasy. Overall, it was consistent in quality with the other books in the series, which puts it at about 3 or 4 stars out of 5.
I read this series because I love the Dresden Files, Butcher’s ongoing urban fantasy series. Those are some amazing books. I really liked the first in this series as well, but, after that, I thought they lost something. Furies of Calderon was fun and suspenseful, with great characters–typical Butcher mastery. The second was pretty similar, but the rest just got a bit too down to earth.
I’ve always felt that Butcher’s greatest talent is his ability to write amazing characters–the Dresden Files is loaded with them–and a second, only slightly lesser talent, is his ability to write highly suspenseful action scenes. The Codex Alera series has both of those in droves, but perhaps not up to the same standards as the Dresden Files.
The main problem is Tavi, he’s just nowhere near as cool as Harry Dresden. Tavi is a character you can respect, but he’s a Luke Skywalker and Dresden is Han Solo. Tavi’s just so inherently good, there’s never any real surprises in his decision making. The only real surprises are in the plot (and there really are a good amount there).
But, if you ask me, there are two primary reasons why the series loses momentum:
- Starting with the third novel, there’s too much emphasis on war, first with the Canim and then with the Vord. Four books of nearly incessant battle is just too much. There’s not enough time for the human element.
- *Spoiler alert* Once Tavi started to get powers, he became a much less interesting character. I really enjoyed seeing how Tavi would overcome villains and other problems without the advantage of magic. Once he had magic, really, really powerful magic, that was gone.
Overall, First Lord’s Fury was pretty good. There a number of suspenseful battles, both small in scale and massive. In fact most of the novel was battle, which I suppose was fitting.
If you have made it through five novels, please do yourself a favor and finish the series. If you are partway through and you’re not sure if you should continue, I would say if you liked the third novel, then keep going, but if you didn’t, then you should probably quit, because all of the novels are really about the same quality from that point forward.