First Lord’s Fury is the sixth, and final, installment in Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera. I considered this book to easily be the least enjoyable book in the series. The entire book felt like a too-long build up to an over-wrought, predictable ending; I couldn’t avoid feeling like Butcher had grown tired of the series and just wanted to be done with it. The most disappointing thing about the book to me was that the most enjoyable elements of Butcher’s writing, namely his world building and the exposure to his non-human cultures, were all but absent. As strange as it sounds, I don’t really know if I would recommend this book (unless you enjoy the way Butcher writes battle scenes; if you do, you’re in for a treat.) The story ends in the way you (probably) think it will, and this entire book is nothing but a prelude to what you already (probably) knew was coming.
- The book was just generally uninteresting to me. I’ve seen this formula six times now, and Butcher follows it almost to a letter in every book. I’ve grown tired of seeing Tavi narrowly escape death, or cleverly outmaneuver an enemy. These books are full of peril, but no one is ever truly in danger. Butcher seems to have neglected to kill his darlings, and as a result, I don’t fear for any of them. All the books in this series have been fairly predictable, I think this one is the first one to really suffer for it though.
- Butcher loves to constantly remind you of relatively superfluous details that should be commonplace to any reader this deep in a series. Yes, I know the Vord have green-black chitin. I know the Vord have green-brown blood. I know powerful watercrafters look younger than they actually are. I’ve been reading your books and paying attention.
- Butcher over uses adjectives in two senses. He will use them repetitively, such as how nearly every male in this book has a basso voice, you also hear plenty of basso growls and basso thumps. Another example would be the color scarlet; dear god, he must love the color scarlet. In the second sense, he is far too liberal with his application of them, preferring to beat you over the head with descriptors, rather than allowing the reader to pull from context clues.
- I can’t put my finger on it, but the way that Butcher writes about combat and warfare is just flat out boring to me. That did a lot to damage my experience with this book; a very significant portion of this book deals with battles being fought.
- I’m not sure if it’s because I’m six books deep in this style of writing and I’ve grown sensitive to it, or if it’s just this book. Nearly every bad writing habit I’ve seen Butcher employ has been displayed prominently, almost proudly, in this book. The jumping cliff hangers are particularly bad at the end of this book, the strange diction and syntax are still present, and the pacing just drags.
- Despite his collection of bad habits and pet descriptors, Butcher writes in a manner that is fairly easy to read, understand, and enjoy.
I’d really like to write more here, but most of the elements I found enjoyable in previous books (exposure to the Canim, Marat, or Iceman cultures and the exploration of Carna) were mostly absent in this book, and there just wasn’t really much that stood out as a shining example of good writing or storytelling between the covers. The book isn’t a complete waste of effort, but it pales in comparison to the previous books and I’ve had a really difficult time finding positive things to talk about.
- The character motivations in the book can be weak, confused, or convenient at times. For example, the Vord Queen kidnaps Isana with the motivation to use her to hurt or manipulate Tavi. She never even lets Tavi know that she’s kidnapped Isana, and that entire line of plot gets handily ignored once Isana is in the Vord Queen’s hands.
- Butcher likes to interject tense moments in the book with witty/comical banter between his characters, but it never really comes off as convincing to me.
- I knew this ending was coming. I knew it at the end of book 2.
Gaius Octavian has returned to the shores of Alera with the remnants of the Canim nation in tow. In his absence, the war with the Vord has raged across the continent, and only a handful of northern cities remain free of the Croach. Nearly every engagement has resulted in a near-rout for Aleran forces at the hands of the Vord, and the Aleran forces have been stretched thin while the Vord forces only continue to grow in number and power. Despite this, the Alerans still suffer from political in-fighting over who the rightful heir to the realm is. Tavi must overcome one last, and possibly the greatest, challenge in order to see the world and people he loves delivered to safety.