Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher

Cover Image Furies of Calderon

For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal. But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir. Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.” “Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.” Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos – when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies – Amara will find Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury – one that could turn the tides of war.

***Ani’s Review***

I realized that I’ve been remiss in reviewing this series by one of my favorite authors, Jim Butcher. The Codex Alera begins with the Furies of Calderon. This is a story woven around Tavi, a teen that finds himself in the middle of a potential war. This introduction to the Calderon Valley is where we meet Tavi, a typical teenager who thinks he is more capable than his elders, and who also lands in a lot of trouble. I can’t really say enough how much I enjoyed this book and this series. Jim Butcher writes as if he’s been thinking about this world for a very long time. The characters are well developed, the world is full and rich, and there are plenty of obstacles for young Tavi from the Calderon Valley to overcome. A totally engrossing and entertaining read. The other books in the Codex Alera series (all featuring a growing Tavi) are just as gripping and thorough as The Furies of Calderon. Happy Reading!

The Host

This one by Stephenie Meyer, creator of the Twilight series, came up with the idea of this book while driving in her car so it shouldn’t be that well developed of a story but it is. In fact, in three words or less – it’s totally absorbing!

Imagine an alien race insidiously invading the earth and taking over our bodies and we don’t realize it until the human race as we know it is an endangered species. The “souls”, as the aliens call themselves, are implanted into a “a host” body and will retain all of that person’s memories but the conscience will be gone or rather, should be gone. In this case, the host, Melanie, is so strong willed that she refuses to “go away” and the story becomes a first person perspective from both the alien and the human fighting for survival.

Meyers tells a compelling story about a peace-loving but parasitic alien race and how it functions within the human culture and then gives us the gripping tale of the human survivalists. In the end, the reader becomes sympathetic to the “Soul” as well as the human.

I liked many things about this story but I especially enjoyed the idealized version of society. Instead of doctors, they “healers”. Their medicines were called “Heal”, “cool”, “clean”. Everything was free: food, tools, clothing, even gas! everyone did their jobs politely, peacefully and without payment. They even played professional sports and kept the newspapers and tv the same but you can imagine the content if everyone is at peace with their neighbor. Meyers kept the story moving between the 2 main characters and only glancingly did she mention societal functions but it was enough to put the readers’ imagination to work.

I listened to this book a few years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. The actor who portrayed the main “soul” and Melanie, the human, did a really wonderful job of creating individuals just by varying her speech pattern. I didn’t have any trouble figuring out who was speaking when. So, a few weeks ago, I decided to read the written version and see if there was any difficulties with understanding who was speaking and I did not have a problem there either. I mention this because 2 other people who had tried to read this book did have a problem with that. I think if you can get through the implantation which comes at the very beginning, then you can easily understand the rest of the book. In whatever way you decide to read this book, I think you will highly enjoy it! For my 2 friends that could not, the movie will be out next year! Happy reading!