I was initially hesitant to begin the Codex Alera series, partially
because I was certain that it could not live up to the expectations
incurred by the Dresden Files, and partially because I figured that
the action-rich, addicting thrill ride writing style I associate with
him would not translate very well into the fantasy genre. After
having read the newest entry in that series (book five) I have come to
the conclusion that I was wrong on at least one of these counts.
The book, like its predecessors, does a good job of keeping the reader
interested with continuous action, to the extent where I managed to
put it down only after the conclusion of the main conflict in one of
the points of view. Furthermore, the little details added as side
notes, such as the implications of a parallel universe Roman empire
with magic, the conflict between aristocratic Citizenry and the
proletariat Freemen, and the culture and nature of the other races
that strive against the Aleran protagonists, do a good job of adding
flavor and distinction to the universe.
One thing I noticed about this particular entry is that there was
almost no intersection between the points of view. Whereas the other
books (in the Codex Alera) have vaguely followed a formula in which
the actions of one protagonist help save the day for the conflict of
another, Princeps' Fury was more like several different stories that
all happen to occur at the same time. The believability score of the
book is slightly increased by this, but it makes the novel less
cohesive as a whole, so take that for what it's worth.
The predictability factor was slightly less than the previous books in
the series, since the true identity of the main character is no longer
expected to be a secret (which most people figured out in the first or
second book). This allows for new, more elusive mysteries to be
introduced, some of which seem much more original and promising than
the previous one. In spite of this, my original assertion that the
Codex Alera could not live up to the expectations set by the Dresden
Files remains true. By no means are the Codex Alera bad books, and
the fact that Jim Butcher was able to craft an entertaining and
interesting story out of a done-to-death premise is quite impressive.
However, in switching from first person to third person (in Dresden
Files and Codex Alera, respectively) more than a little of the
engaging, riveting, thrill-ride feel of Butcher's writing is lost,
above and beyond what one would expect from simply the loss of the
ever- entertaining Harry Dresden.
In summation, I would say that Princeps' fury, and the Codex Alera in
general, is well written, exciting, and generally good literature. If
you like Jim Butcher and think you can manage to give it a chance
before exploding with exasperation upon hearing that it involves an
orphan with a mysterious background who is the only one of his society
to not possess any magic, than I quite recommend reading it.