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Captain's Fury: Book Four of the Codex Alera
Jim Butcher
Read by Kate Reading
Penguin Audio, 20.5 Hours

Captain's Fury
Jim Butcher
A martial arts enthusiast whose resume includes a long list of skills rendered obsolete at least two hundred years ago, Jim Butcher turned to writing as a career because anything else probably would have driven him insane. He lives with his wife, his son and a ferocious guard dog.

The Jim Butcher Fan Attic
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: White Night
SF Site Review: Proven Guilty
SF Site Review: Dead Beat
SF Site Review: Blood Rites
SF Site Interview: Jim Butcher
SF Site Review: Death Masks
SF Site Review: Grave Peril
SF Site Review: Fool Moon
SF Site Review: Storm Front

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Gil T. Wilson

Jim Butcher has created a Lord of the Rings series for today's generation. The Codex Alera series takes place in a mythical/mystical land called Alera. The Alerans are humans who have a special ability known as fury crafting. In fury crafting the Alerans manifest the spirits of the elements to create magic and maintain life. From simple fury lamps, which use fire furies to provide light, to earth furies which can create shelter and gain extra strength in battle, all Alerans control their elements. All Alerans except for Tavi (a.k.a.Gaius Octavian/Captain Rufus Scipio). Tavi is forced to live with his "disability" by using his wits. Later in the series (about book 3) Tavi learns some limited fury crafting, but nowhere near the abilities of the regular Alerans.

Before we get into the meat of this review, let me say I may be a little biased due me being a huge fan of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books. I love his characterizations in those books and have declared myself an official Jim Butcher fanboy. Although I would have preferred to read the Codex Alera books in order, the opportunity to review this series began with Book Four, so I did some quick research and got the gist of the series to prepare myself. In retrospect the research helped, but I didn't really need it. Butcher moves the story forward, but when needed, he recaps what has happened enough to keep the reader in the know. Yet, he leaves out enough information from the previous books that you want to go back and read what you missed, which I will.

In this book Tavi's mysterious origin is discovered. It seems Tavi has more in store for his future than simply being a captain of the First Aleran Legion. The book is a pivot in which Tavi begins his transformation, as do many other characters in the series. The beginning of this story finds Tavi in charge of an attack on the raiding Canim, a race of wolf-like humanoids that have invaded Alera by crossing the sea. It turns out not to be an invasion, but rather an escape from a force that is also a threat to the Alerans.

One of the reasons I compare this book to The Lord of the Rings is that it is part of an ongoing series with mythical creatures that are battling separate wars but you can tell a central battle between good and evil is forthcoming. Also, the book covers characters that start out with one central mission and branch out into several side but related missions. And from what I can see, they will be regrouping to fight the main battle. However, Codex Alera has already gone beyond Tolkien's three volumes as Butcher completes his fourth book, with more to come. And finally, to justify my comparison, Butcher's writing is not only fun and adventurous but also has a great literary feel that could easily be studied by scholars for years to come.

On a final note, another interesting aspect is the constant references to the Roman Empire with the use of words like Legionare, Legion, patriserus, and other such terms. The names of many characters are Latin styled, such as Maximus, Gaius, etc. Butcher had this to say about his fascination with the Romans, "There's plenty of Lost Roman Legion stories out there. Mostly, the stories are about where they went, and what they did when they got there. This one just happens to be about the world they got lost on, and the society that developed there over the next couple of thousand years."

I'm glad I started this series with an audiobook because this work was so well done by Kate Reading. (I think her last name is very fitting, but I should say it's pronounced RED-ing.) There are many characters throughout this book and series, and Reading uses subtle changes in her voicing of the different characters to make them really stand out. Another appealing aspect of her reading is her portrayal of emotions of the characters and the excitement of the action. The emotions and excitement are subtle enough for the listener to still maintain their own interpretations but also vivid enough to capture the mood created by the author. So do yourself a favor and pick up the audio production of Captain's Fury, by Jim Butcher, and jump ahead into the Aleran world. Good news comes via Jim Butcher's website that the previous books will be released soon in audiobook format, so you can go back and listen to the history of Tavi from the beginning.

Copyright © 2008 Gil T. Wilson

Gil T. has spent a quarter of a century working in radio and has lots of spare time on his hands and reading or listening to books takes up all that time. Check out his blog to find out what he's up to at any given moment.

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