Series: Codex Alera
Author: Jim Butcher
Genre: Classic fantasy
Copyright Date: 2004
Cover: A guy in a cape, holding a sword, is flinching back from spectral female figures that appear to be part of the thunderstorm above him.
First Line: "'Please, Tavi,' wheedled the girl in the predawn darkness outside the steadholt's kitchen. 'Just this one little favor?'"
Best part: The characters are amazingly vivid.
Worst part: You know how sometimes you see awesome things for the author to do with the plot, and then they don't?
Recommended for: Fans of the Dresden Files series. People who want something a little different in their fantasy.
Tavi is a shepherd. Alone of everyone he knows, he has no magical ability. Amara is a newly trained Cursor, or agent of the Crown. Yet all that she holds dear is about to be betrayed. These two characters will be brought together in a swirling miasma of magic, violence, treachery, and bad weather. Will either of them ever find a way to return to what they know?
I already told you about the characters and their amazing vividity. Now, let me also tell you about the worldbuilding. The magic in this world is not like other magic that I've read about. It's not a thing where everyone is psychic, or everyong has at least a small amount of generic magical ability. Every Aleran (except Tavi) has one kind of magic or another, but they work in different ways and to different degrees. It would almost be worth it to keep reading the series just to find out more about how the system works, and the different kinds of magic, but happily there is lots more to read for. An engaging plot, good description, and those characters again. It's a solid contribution to the fantasy genre. Fans of Butcher who haven't already read it shouldn't miss it. B.