Read in July 2010
The first half and the end (last chapter or two) reminded me strongly of young adult fantasy fiction. Only the core of the book dealt with mature adult choices and consequences. World building sacrificed to action for the most part. No one character grabbed me. Of the cast, Tavi and Isana rose to the top.
The burgeoning romance between Bernard and Amara stretched my belief. Why would a widower, a decade celibate, pine over a young teenager? Otherwise, Bernard proved to be a steady, upstanding, heroic figure for the plot.
I also became annoyed by video game-like healing and non-death. Basically, if you didn’t lose your head (think Highlander), you could survive even the most fatal of wounds, thanks to the water fury crafters. Without a real death threat for any of the main characters, I quickly became jaundiced to their fates.
Tavi, being fury-less, journeyed the farthest as a character, having the most obstacles to overcome by his wits, skills and strengths alone.
With respect to the Aleran Empire, which bears a shocking resemblance to the Roman Empire even down to the use of Latin names and words, I did not feel the political corruption at a visceral level, like I did in Gardens of the Moon or A Game of Thrones. The epic quality for this fantasy series didn’t manifest for me in this first volume of Codex Alera.
The vilest elements involved the backwater steadholder secretly torturing slaves right under the noses of his neighbors. I’m thankful Butcher restrained himself from showing or telling overmuch about Kord’s obsessions, leaving my imagination to fill in the horrifying blanks.
I may read the next volume, or not, depending on if it falls into my hands easily enough (like, say, through a swap or a mooch). I’m not compelled to follow Tavi through school at the Academy (yet another YA aspect I’m not fond of). The fate of another empire hinging on the seemingly untalented (magically speaking) young ‘chosen one’ lost it’s shine a couple of decades ago with Eddings’ Garion.