Review of PRINCEPS'S FURY by Jim Butcher
BOOK FIVE OF THE CODEX ALERA
Ace, November 2008
Tavi, now recognized as heir to the throne of Alera, has accompanied his former enemies, the Cane, to their home continent leaving Alera unsettled but ruled by his grandfather. A horrible threat rises both in the land of the Cane and in Alera--the Vord are intent on overrunning both. Unlike human enemies, who seek only wealthor power, the Vord destroy everything, using human and animal flesh for food and breeding huge numbers of warriors--so many even Alera's famed magic cannot stop them all. Worse, now the Vord seem to have access to that same magic. Alera's legions have suffered defeats, but they've defended the empire for a thousand years. Now, they're being destroyed--often with no survivors at all. It's a bad time for Tavi to be gone, but Tavi discovers that the Vord have destroyed most of the continent formerly home to the Cane--and are intent on completing their conquest. Still, ancient feuds run strong and a united front seems impossible.
Author Jim Butcher (see more fantasy by Butcher) puts a bit more focus on armies and fleets and a bit less on the people of Alera, and PRINCEP'S FURY suffers slightly as a result--but only in comparison to the really strong efforts in the other books in this outstanding series. Tavi continues to mature and has discovered the ability to call on fury strength--something he needs desperately. He's not unwilling to fight, but he's always anxious to look for other paths. Still, is there an alternate path when an enemy is looking only for your destruction?
Fans of the series won't want to miss this one. Without Tavi's strong but subtle hand, Alera totters on the brink of complete destruction. Too many nobles have reason to resent Emperor Gaius, and the aging emperor is still horribly strong, but lacks the stamina he needs to call on all of that power. Still, Tavi's allies rally around Gaius, doing their best to prop him up a bit longer--at least until Tavi returns--even though many of them agree with Gaius's enemies.
Students of history will find close parallels between Alera and Rome--with the introduction of magic. Indeed, The CODEX ALERA can be seen as an alternate history where Rome discovered magic in time to save itself from the German, Persian, and Turkic invaders who destroyed the Western Roman Empire and nearly did the same to the Eastern. Butcher's strong writing and intriguing characters definitely add to the interest.
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