Posted on November 11, 2009 by Monica Valentinelli
Available at Amazon.com
FIRST LORD’S FURY, Book Six of the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher, is the final chapter in an epic fantasy tale about the desperate final acts of Alera against the Vord. This deadly, insect-like foe is battled by the Canim, Marat, Icemen and Alerans in order to save the continent from imminent destruction.
This particular book is very combat-intensive and is a bit more linear than other books in the series like PRINCEPS FURY or CURSOR’S FURY. Many of the subplots presented earlier in the series are not as heavily present here as they are in the other novels; subplots that are resolved come in spurts, with the exception of the deadly Lady Aquitaine who had (if you remember) been given “life” by the Vord Queen.
This story highlights the reality of war and the psychology of the alien-insect Vord. The leaders in battle make tough choices, even going so far as to irrevocably change the landscape, in order to survive. Timing, the environment, morale and troop placement are essential to the mechanics of these battles, for although Tavi returned from the coast from the Canim, he still had the issue of getting “to” the attack in a timely manner. Enter characters like Isana, Bernard and Amara, Kitai, the High Lords of Alera, etc. to help highlight simultaneous battle sequences that are extremely rich and complex. For example, in one scene Tavi may make the first move, and in another we spin “off-camera” to see what happened to the other characters during that particular sequence. This technique caused the characters’ fates to be more heavily integrated with one another because there was a direct cause-and-effect.
The Vord are an uncompromising, frightening enemy. Between the sheer volume of Vord, their ability to adapt physical form offers new challenges for the allies banding together to defeat them. Their various sizes, shapes and abilities keeps everyone on their toes; as soon as one solution is figured out, another problem rears its ugly head.
Once Tavi and his allies realize that the Vord will only be defeated with the assassination of the Vord Queen, this story focuses on that singular “end goal.” The more we get to know the Queen, the more we realize she is not someone who can be negotiated or compromised with — she is the ultimate definition of “survival of the fittest.” Interestingly enough, her character is never given a name other than “Queen.” If you’ve read the series from the first book, her character also confirms your suspicions. As the story went on, I found myself caring less and less about her psychology and more about her untimely death.
While this extended battle has many heroes, it also has many tragedies, too. The sheer violence of the Vord attacks forces an abrupt end to the intricate political schemes by several Alerans, because everyone agrees that they must be stopped, which helps unify the actions of most Alerans, Canim, Marat and Icemen. Many minor characters die in this final installment while the main group soldiers on. Even though there is a happily-ever-after feel to the story, Butcher makes it clear that this is not “the end.” While I don’t want to give anything away, the Great Furies do help put the events that have taken place into the larger scheme of things. It’s as if Butcher is saying, “Yes, while these characters survived, it will not last.”
Because of the focus for FIRST LORD’S FURY, I do not feel that this is a book readers can simply pick up if they know nothing about the Codex Alera series. Other than the Vord Queen, these are familiar characters fighting in “the” final battle that we’ve been waiting for.
While I felt that there weren’t any sparkling, new revelations in FIRST LORD’S FURY, I did feel that the pacing was spot on and the story was one that we expected and wanted to read. If you’re engaged in the Codex Alera series, I definitely recommend picking up this conclusion to the story so you can read about the heroic acts of Tavi, Kitai and your favorite characters.
Review by Monica Valentinelli