For some reason, I could never get into Butcher's more popular Harry Dresden series. But if he writes those books as well as he wrote Codex, I'm in.
What attracted you to this book? The magic system. I've always had a thing for elemental magic. The concept of a people (the Alerans) being able to "bond" with the elements of earth, fire, water and air was fascinating.
What do you think of the story? To be honest, Butcher tale isn't anything new. It's the standard "farm boy finds himself through an adventure" tale that I've read/watched in a dozen fantasy books (Wheel of Time!) and films (Star Wars).
So we have a boy - Tavi - who is an oddity of sorts. He is "fury-less", unable to bond with an element. Therefore, unlike his fellow Alerans, he has to rely on his wits most of the time. One day, while going after some wandering sheep, he ends up trapped in a violent fury storm (where the elements literally rip you to shreds) and encounters a slave girl - who isn't really a slave girl at all - called Amara who's actually a Cursor (a kind of spy).
Apparently, the Marat are planning an attack, aided by rebels, and Amara is there to stop it. Tavi ends up holding the key to the empire's salvation (of course!).
Describe Alera. It's a Roman-esque world with legionnaires, togas and with people named Gaius and all.
Flaws? Well, towards the end, the book became a Battle of Helm's Deep clone. I was both amused and a little annoyed. But it is not bad at all - in fact, Butcher writes action scenes very well, and the book is just one big action scene after another - but I kept having flashbacks to Aragorn storming the orcs!
And this is probably not Butcher's fault, but I kept imagining the Marat as the blue Na'vi folks from Avatar. What with the whole 'native American-esque' thing they have going there...
Also, we didn't really get to know Tavi very deeply in this story. And then there's the whole thing with the Marats that seemed so ... convenient. But hey, we have five more books after this one to find out more about our fury-less hero...
What did you like? How Butcher just doesn't let up on the action. I felt exhausted just reading it - the characters are plunged from one drama after another. It sucks to be them.
On the whole, I did enjoy Furies of Calderon, even if I was sometimes annoyed with its flaws and clichéd plots. Butcher is a great yarn spinner, that's for sure.