Two bad ideas equals a great literary series – my review of Codex Alera

QUEZON City, Philippines (December 21) – Jim Butcher is one of the well-known American fantasy writers. During an online writers’ workshop, Butcher was challenged that he cannot write a good book based on a lame idea. Butcher’s epic response was that he can write a good book based not just on one bad idea but two, and the bad ideas would be chosen by the challenger.

Source: Karen Woodward
Source: Karen Woodward

The challenger chose Pokemon and the Lost Roman Legion.

Codex Alera was born.

SFF Book Reviews
SFF Book Reviews

It has all of the quintessential elements of a good fantasy series. The Chosen One? Check! Coming-of-age? Check! A Realm surrounded by inhuman enemies? Check! Politics and intrigue? Check!

Codex Alera follows the story of Tavi, a simple shepherd boy and his rise to become the First Lord of Alera.

Alera is a large continent, with its borders inhabited by inhuman races. When the Lost Roman Legion mysteriously found itself in stranded, they were suddenly thrust in a struggle for survival as the inhuman races tried to annihilate them.

Source: Priscilla Spencer
Source: Priscilla Spencer

What would ordinary humans do?

Fortunately, the Roman legion is well-trained in battle and through their legendary discipline, was able to fend off the enemies for a while but that was just delaying the inevitable because the inhuman enemies have supernatural advantages against the humans.

And with another stroke of luck, the humans discovered the furies.

Furies are elemental spirits that inhabit all aspects of Alera. They represent classical elements like air, earth, fire, metal, water and wood. They usually manifest as animals made out of the elements that they represent. Sounds familiar, Pokemon fans?

With the help of the furies, the humans – now calling themselves Alerans – were able to drive off the other races and claim the large continent for their own.

Now without enemies, the Alerans turned against each other but they put down their swords in favor of political in-fighting and intrigue – after all, they need to remain united as the enemies are still waiting at their borders.

And if you think that the image of a Roman legionnaire with elemental furies at his beck and call already awesome, just picture the other races. We have the Marat – barbaric elves with the ability to bond with animals; the Canim – werewolves with blood magic; the Icemen – bigfoot-like creatures with the ability to control the weather; and their ultimate enemy, the Vord – hive-minded insects that assimilate their enemies characteristics.

And that is just the setting for the wonderful story written by Butcher.

The fantasy series is composed of six books: The Furies of Calderon, Academ’s Fury, Cursor’s Fury, Captain’s Fury, Princeps’ Fury and First Lord’s Fury.

Check it out!

(written by Jay Paul Carlos, additional research by Vince Alvin Villarin)