Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Spoiler Free review of Codex Alera - it’s good!

One of my goals for 2018 was to finish reading the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher. Made on a bet that there weren’t bad ideas, only bad writing, Butcher took the ideas of Lost Legions and Pokémon and created a masterpiece. The Codex Alera fights with the Dresden Files for my favorite Butcher series.

Admittedly, that is partially because the Codex Alera is one single story, not an open-ended series. I love the Dresden Files and I like ongoing series but there is something to be said for a definitive beginning, middle and end.

The series is very hard to discuss since any discussion of the second half cannot help but spoil the first three books. Let’s go general.

Part of what makes the books so fun is the setting. The humans are descended from Romans and basically have super powers from nature spirits that are called furies and based on Pokémon. The Marat are essentially the elves from Elfquest on massive steroids. Plus blood magic wolf men and empathic ape men and alien bugs. Tons of political intrigue and comic book style battles.

Our hero Tavi starts off the series without any furies/nature spirits, making him the only normal human being we ever meet in the series. So, in order to survive and thrive, he has to become a phenomenal trickster hero. I refuse to google it but I am sure there is fanfic out there of Tavi and Miles Vorkosigan teaming up.

Actually, that’s how almost all the conflicts in the books go. The heroes are never nearly as powerful as their opponents but they are always way more clever. Tavi just does it the best and the most cool.

Anyway, the Codex Alera is a whole lot of fun. On the one hand, it’s a discussion of determination under strife. On the other hand, it’s a wild ride full of exciting action scenes with the descendants of Roman legionaries as super heroes. So glad I read it.

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