This review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books
I have yet to actually like any of the books in the Codex Alera. Why do I keep reading them, you ask? Good fucking question. I guess at some point I couldn't tear my eyes away from the train wreck and I love a good groan as well as the next bloke. At this point I'm in gaped mouthed awe at how angry these books make me, and I just have to know if they continue to be so bad. Prepare for maximum bitchiness.
I'll begin with the title. Once you figure out the naming scheme for the Codex Alera books, where the series is going becomes pretty obvious. The sixth book is called First Lord's Fury
. Damn Jim Butcher, spoiler that shit! At this point I can only hope I'm wrong, but I really do hate nothing more in the world than being spoiled so I'm not going to read the synopsis of the last book to find out. I'll come back and edit when I get there.
For now though, Tavi is a Cursor in the aptly named Cursor's Fury
. This is the farmer-turned-savior trope taken to a whole new level, as from the first chapter
, Tavi does not go to the First Lord. No no, the First Lord comes to him
. Like Tavi is seriously busier than the First Lord? Come on now. And what does Gaius Sextus immediately do? What every good emperor would. Ask about his agent's LOVE LIFE. "Hey Tavi I thought I'd come to see you since you're obviously a busy man, hey by the way how goes shagging the ambassador?" What?! You, my good sir, were just written off as ever being a viable leader. I could now care less that the rest of the book is all about people throwing their lives away to protect YOUR kingdom, when you obviously do not deserve as much. You spent the last book complaining about being overworked, and your brief foray in this book you come personally to give a soldier orders any old servant could have done, thoroughly destroying any sympathy you might have had from me in the process.
That is what begins what I eventually realize is a complete lack of a chain of command or any sort of military knowledge. Tavi is always able to go directly to the top with no repercussions. True, this is not a modern day army, but if there was ever an army that loved discipline, duty, and knowing your place, it was the Romans. He can waltz into the general's tent and no one bats an eyelid, even though we're the only ones who are supposed to know he's not actually
that low on the totem pole. He is placed as a logistics officer, assisting in keeping the army running smoothly, well geared, and well fed. This is a RUSE so that we are cowed into believing one iota of thought went into how a army is run. He is sent to go buy grain off local farms but as SOON as the battle started, the problem of feeding the army was never mentioned again. "An army marches on its stomach" is a saying for a reason, and supply lines are serious business when it comes to defending a town. They're never mentioned.
Then, HOW CONVENIENT, the entire officer's corps is wiped out. WHOEVER WILL SAVE US?! Thank God one officer wasn't there. Yes, TAVI TO THE RESCUE. At this point, he has only been in school for two years, and he's going up against soldiers, sometimes with years of battle experience, and they just shrug it off and say, "Boy is that kid clever." He manages to come up with several deus ex machina; particularly I'm thinking of the Knights Aeris bending light to make a gigantic lens of fiery death. No one has ever thought of this before? Seriously, you left it up to the kid with no furies? Any battle that does not employ this tactic from now on is wasting lives. And I'm positive the world is going to pretend like it never happened, and this innovation will be forgotten. If it does continue to get used, I'll eat my words, but there's basically nothing an army can do against that, which doesn't make for very interesting battles.
Let's take a look at how the battle was laid out. I never fully understood it, and even after looking at the Butcher approved map
over at his website, it made even less sense. The entire battle was over a city that spanned two sides of a river, and the bridge connecting the two. Based on the map, you can see the town, Elinarch, over on the western side. Ok. Let's think about this. The Canim had a fleet that was hundreds of ships, and they all landed in the same place. Let's make our best estimate and say it's about 50,000 troops because I can't find anywhere that says how many it was. They all make landfall in Founderport, to the southwest, and they all head for Elinarch. That bridge doesn't even look that important to me, especially because it's to the north, when everything important to the kingdom is to the east. Now, why, WHY, if they really wanted the bridge, couldn't they have landed half the forces up the coast 50 miles, and surrounded the town? Or send a few thousand troops up river 10 miles, so that they can cross over and start attacking the other side? Maybe mess up those supply lines that didn't exist? It is even mentioned at one point that directly below the bridge, Canim troops try to swim across, but are thwarted by a defense Tavi put there. So...go a mile up river where that defense doesn't exist? I simply don't understand. The entire battle was completely useless because the Canim obviously should have won. Of course I want the good guys to win, but if the only reason they did so was because of a bad setting and bad writing, then the victory is senseless.
The women...ah the women. I don't like any of them. Kitai is barely ok, but the whole "bonding" thing with Tavi completely turned me off her. How about Isana, who doomed who knows how many soldiers to death because she selfishly chose to only help Fade? And she is busy healing him for literally over a month, the entire time a battle raging a mere mile from her apartment. Seriously, there are so many things wrong with that picture. Isana gets absolutely no sympathy from me ever again. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, that's just how it is.
Certain things started to annoy me so much I thought about keeping a scoreboard of how many times I rolled my eyes. The word "crow" shows up 132 times, according to my Kindle search, including all instances of "crowspawn" and "crowbegotten," and this book is only 450 pages. That's a crow at least every three pages. I HATE the word crow SO MUCH now. I seriously never want to read or hear it again. Everybody has flashes of insight, instinct, intuition, and amazing eyesight to see movement out of the corner of their eyes so they can roll away at the last second. If there's a swordsman, he will always be "the best" or "one of the best" in the realm. All the women arch their back whenever their kissed, and Bernard always kisses Amara on the eyes and "full on the mouth." UGH.
I was interested in discovering why Tavi has no furies until we actually do find out, and that was a major let down.
For the first time, I could not find any redeeming features in this book. The best thing about it is that it is very readable. I openly admit to not being a fan of the first two installments, and this book is more of the same, but even worse. There are so many good fantasy series out there, don't waste your time on this one.