Tavi has a number of insanely awesome moments - in the first book, he befriends and allies with a rival chieftain of the attacking Marat horde, saving his family from a numberless army of barbarians by providing a friendly numberless army of barbarians.
And the first time we really get an indication of how smart Tavi is: he deliberately gives in to panic to make it impossible for a watercrafter to focus on killing him.
While it's topped later, Tavi setting the Wax Forest ON FIRE gave us an idea of what to expect from him...
Isana throwing Odiana out of the river in order to stop her from killing Tavi
Her final showdown with Kord.
Doroga lifting and throwing a coffin sized boulder.
Fade dropping the facade and taking on Aldrick, and defeating him by "thinking in curves."
Throughout the entirety of the book, Aldrick has been telling everyone who has tried to take him - a Cursor, Knights, soldiers - that the only man who could beat him was Araris Valerian, and that they aren't Araris. And then a slave shows up with a sword. Yes Aldrick, he is Araris Valerian. Go cry now.
Amara returning Fidelias' knife to him.
Amara gets another, easily missed one: mention is made of straw being thrown around the courtyard when the Garrison is preparing for battle. Amara says nothing on it, except that it's important. Then, during the attack, enemy Knights Aeris descend into the Garrison—only to be suddenly shot down by woodcrafters using the hay to make them invisible. That's a Tavi-level gambit right there.
Even Lawful Stupid Pluvix gets one, when we learn that he killed a herdbane with his ledger to save some kids.
Mix of Crowning Moment of Funny and CMOA: Tavi arriving with Doroga and his gargant: "Uncle Bernard! Uncle Bernard!" he shouted pointing at Doroga. "He followed me home! Can we keep him?"
A minor moment of awesome for Amara; as she's flying in to visit Bernard, she flies fast enough to create a peal of thunder. That's right, she flies faster than the speed of sound.
In the second book, Tavi fights and kills what is essentially a zombie werewolf while defending his friends and the First Lord; given that he is just a teenager with absolutely no special powers this is particularly impressive; he instead uses guile, mobility, and the terrain to keep the Canim off-balance until he can finish it off. When Araris, Miles, and the Royal Guard burst in moments later, they are shocked that a boy without any furies at all was able to kill one of the taken Canim in single battle, and stare at him with open mouthed amazement. Even Kitai is impressed.
Tavi and Kitai breaking into the Grey Tower to rescue Max. That officially trumps every other Aleran who ever existed - including the First Lord.
Proceeding to do so again in Captain's Fury, after the improvements Tavi suggested were implemented, proving that Tavi can trump himself, too.
Tavi gets Varg to back down. An entire squad of legionaires wasn't doing much more than irritating him, but Tavi figured out the body language issue, pulled imaginary rank, and refused to back down when Varg threatened him; in fact, he pulled a knife on the wolf and told him that attacking would mean they both died. This is from a tiny seventeen-year-old who hasn't eaten or slept for more than a day. He also tells Varg he has bad breath.
Becomes Fridge Brilliance when we learn in Captain's Fury Tavi is Octavian, Gaius' grandson and that Canim can tell who an Aleran is related to by smell. So when Tavi pulls rank on Varg, he's telling the truth, and Varg knows it- even though Tavi doesn't.
Invidia cleans out a garrison full of the aforementioned zombie werewolves and creepy Yeerk-spiders almost singlehandedly, rescuing the First Lord's bodyguards and indirectly saving his and Tavi's lives.
Doroga and Walker the Gargant matching an entire unit of legionares against the Taken.
Varg gets an off-screen moment: "Two Canim warriors were seen dueling in an alley. The winner was almost certainly Ambassador Varg."
When it becomes clear that the door separating the Canim from the group protecting the First Lord will break soon, Max helps it along by knocking the thing off its hinges, causing the unfortunate Canim to get hit by the wreckage.
At one point, Kitai is standing on top of a dresser while fighting Varg. He responds by smacking the dresser out from under her so fast that inertia makes Kitai stay behind. Varg is buff.
Amara taking down the Vord queen outside the nest cavern, hitting it so hard she breaks her arm.
The ending scene. Fidelias is in the Aquitaine household in the Aleran capital, in a room hidden by a secret passage. While talking with Lady Aquitaine, he remarks that he left a particular cloak of his, an almost waterproof cloak that would be good to wear in the southern areas Lady Aquitaine is sure to send him, in the palace before he defected. He then tells Lady Aquitaine to look in his dresser. The cloak is there, and Fidelias didn't bring it back. Gaius did. Meaning that despite being old he is still extremely dangerous and onto them besides. Though Lady Aquitaine doesn't seem to react, as soon as she leaves and closes the door, Fidelias can hear her running away in fear.
Tavi defeats a massive army of Canim (the aforementioned werewolves, though not zombies this time) while commanding a far more smaller force of raw recruits with clever and innovative use of tactics.
And "clever and innovative tactics" means "filling the river full of sharks," "luring his enemies into a town where he's planted sawdust all over the place and blowing it up," and "having his Knights Aeris Pisces make a goddamn Death Ray." And that is how a group of 5,000 magical Roman legionaires can stop an army of 60,000 8-foot-tall Proud Warrior Race Guymagicalwolfmen in their tracks.
And "death ray" means "magnifying glass to focus the sun's heat." A quarter-mile-wide magnifying glass.
And we can't forget the charge that got them the room to put the death ray into action, including Max and Crassus working together in perfect synchronicity, and Tavi easily taking down a healthy Canim by himself (after the previous book featured him barely able to beat one who was badly wounded).
Bernard crippling High Lord Kalarus with a well-placed salt arrow. Some credit goes to Tavi as well, since it had been his idea to use salt arrows against windcrafters in the first place.
Bernard: Senator. If you call my friend a liar one more time, I will take it badly. Arnos: Excuse me? Bernard: I suggest you find an alternate shortsighted, egomaniacally ridiculous reason to blatantly, recklessly ignore an obvious threat to the Realm simply because you don't wish it to exist. If you cannot restrain yourself from base slander, I will be pleased to meet you in a juris macto and personally rip your forked tongue from your head. * Arnos stares at him for a moment, then leaves in a huff* Bernard: All right. Next question.
High Lord Cereus is given an ultimatum by Kalarus to surrender his city. He responds by severing Kalarus' watercrafting connection to his home, as an Ironic Echo of Kalarus doing the exact same thing to Gaius Freakin' Sextus moments before, and responds "Threaten my granddaughter. I'll wring your skinny throat, you cowardly slive. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a city to defend. I welcome any help you might give. But if you don't intend to fight, you should depart the city as quickly as possible. If you can't help, then stay the crows out of my way." Made even better by the fact that the past few chapters had implied that Cereus had little to no watercrafting ability.
On a similar note, Lord Placidus. Kalarus captures his wife to keep him out of the action, and when she's taken out of harm's way, his forces show up faster than anyone expected. Turns out that the moment she was taken he'd marched his forces to the edge of his territory (rather than keep them at his capital like everyone expected), so that the moment she was either rescued or killed he could kick the ass of whoever was responsible for messing with his wife.
Lord Atticus did something not less awesome: As soon as his daughter was safe, he flash-froze an entire floodplain, allowing his legions to force-march over them and arrive in time.
Tavi breaks his own leg to keep his cover in the Legion, after Max refuses to do it.
Amara: You are very wrong. Aquitaine: You are very young. It is almost as though we live in two different Realms. * Amara interrogates Rook, ensures that she knows where the prisoners are being kept, then releases her so they can go rescue them together. This leads to an incredulous Aquitaine: Aquitaine: What are you doing, girl? Amara: I'm showing you the difference, Your Grace. Between my Realm. And yours.
Araris's Big Damn Heroes moment during the assassination attempt against Amara and Isana. He cuts through twenty of Kalarus' Immortals like they're not even there; at one point he kills or maims twelve men in less than half as many seconds, with no real effort. Just goes to show how incredibly lethal he really is.
Tavi singlehandedly fights and kills Phrygiar Navaris, who is the most dangerous swordfighter in Alera, with the possible exceptions of Aldrick ex Gladius and Araris Valerian, and who has a known bodycount of over 200, with a suspected bodycount at least twice that.
Tavi manages the most awesome speech ever at the end of the book. Because just when he gets to the good part, a volcano blows up a few hundred miles away, making the sky turn red and the ground shake. He's as surprised as everyone else, but decides to just go with it, leaving them to assume it happened because Tavi is just that badass.
A nameless mook gets a moment by being the only one to stand against an Emotion Bomb of fear crafted by the most powerful man in Alera. Gaius kills him a moment later, of course, but other mooks were dying from sheer terror.
I have no idea how this wasn't included in the first place-Gaius Sextus, after tearing through an army of Mooks like tissue paper, then proceeds to destroy the city of Kalarus and all of the inhabitants by waking the great fury inhabiting the volcano it resides on. Admittedly, it was borderline evil, but enacting your own version of Pompeii? Still Badass
All of this happened immediately after Brencis (very powerful son of Kalare who could possibly hold his own against some High Lords) finds Bernard and Amara, and moans and complains that he's been out in the field searching "For two pathetic sneaks? Two of you? Two!" Then Sextus answers with his Pre-Mortem One-Liner "Three". Then the above mentioned Curb-Stomp Battle occurs as well as Brencis running off in fear.
Bernard takes out three garim (giant monitor lizards) after Amara and Gaius were barely able to kill one.
Tavi engineering another successful breakout from the Grey Tower, after its defenses were improved by his own suggestions after the last one two books ago. This includes MacGyvering some ice swords to take care of the fire furies.
It's hard to really appreciate just how superhumanly strong the Canim are, up until Varg is confronted by a locked portcullis during the aforementioned escape. The metal gate can't be cut by metalcrafting, and earthcrafting can't bend the bars. Varg, however, simply grabs the gate and rips it out of the stone and then chucks it down a stairwell at the guards fighting Araris.
Valiar Marcus takes a Canim javelin to the gut, and continues to rally his men like nothing happened, only seeking help after they've started to push the Canim back.
Isana calmly and rationally talking Navaris out of killing her due to the problems it would make for her boss, and then out of killing Araris by appealing to her vanity.
Crassus' Big Damn Heroes saving Max from a pair of Canim, Dual Wielding his own sword and a Canim sword, which saves him from a magic lightning attack at the same time.
Amara saving Gaius from a group of Kalaran legionaires by giving into her fury's power to an unprecedented and dangerous extent, resulting in her completely destroying the muscles in her arm to do it.
Araris is faced with a problem: he needs to get the hell off the Mactis while fighting Navaris, who is almost as skilled as he is. He needs to tie up her sword for just a moment so he can get to the hole in the hull. His solution? let her impale him with the sword, so that the blade gets stuck in the wood of the ship's hull, and then rip himself off the blade and throw himself out the hole.
Well, that wasn't the plan. The plan was to get her blade stuck without him being pinned on it. But you gotta work with what you have...
Isana challenges High Lord Antillus to the Juris Macto after he tries to stop her from making peace with the Icemen. She's a strong watercrafter, but only that, while Antillus - like all the High Lords - has massive skill with all the elemental furies. She doesn't stand a chance... but proceeds to psychoanalyse him as he kills her, and convinces him that she is right just before he can finish her off. He's impressed even more when he realises that she deliberately did all of this where the Icemen could see, bringing about the peace she wanted.
Tavi dueling a Canim dockmaster towards the beginning of the fifth book, and subsequent taunt to prevent treachery. (By making it a matter of personal honor, so that the dockmaster's buddies will watch an unbalanced duel instead of piling into an unwinnable brawl.)
Tavi: I am the size of a half-grown puppy, Tarsh. You've got twice my reach, three times my weight, several times my strength, you're fighting on your home ground and with your own men all around you. Except for that little hole in your foot, you hold every advantage. Surely only a coward of legendary proportion would be afraid to fight me.
And don't forget the point where the fight starts to shift from force-on-force to mind-vs.-mind.
"Ah, but we have something the Vord do not have." Varg tilted his head to the side. "What is that?" "Ink."
Antillus Raucus single-handedly beating back a massive Iceman attack in the prologue.
Amara kills a taken grass lion (ie, saber-toothed tiger) running straight at her at full speed, with a bow and arrow. This involves pinpoint accuracy and timing to get the arrow into its mouth without bouncing it off the skull. And she's not a woodcrafter, so it's all down to her own natural shooting ability.
Lord Aquitaine rallying the remaining men outside Ceres, saving as many as he can from what used to be a disorderly rout.
Crassus gets an offpage one, when Tavi sends him to deliver an important message and he's attacked by the Vord on the way. He suffers numerous serious wounds but still manages to reach the rest of the Alerans, having crafted shut about a dozen of his injuries while flying and barely in time for him to be saved from the others.
Varg sneaking three Hunters onto the rooftop prison without Tavi, Max, or even Kitai noticing, followed by methodically explaining to Lararl all the reasons why attacking him would be a very bad idea.
Isana protecting the Icemen leaders from a lightning attack with a giant snow shield.
Tavi kills three Vord in as many seconds, before heading in to try to negotiate with the local Queen. It doesn't work, but he's still fully prepared to go down killing her, giving her a beautiful Oh Crap moment as she reads his mind. And he kills a Vord Keeper with a single punch in the ensuing fight.
A Crazy-Prepared Amara killing Brencis, described as the first person she'd ever wanted to kill personally.
First Lord's Fury
The last book is just one long string of these, really.
Araris fighting the Vord Queen. For those who haven't finished the series, Araris is a very skilled swordsman with magical abilities that work well with swordsmanship - higher pain tolerance, the ability to strengthen or reshape metal - while the Vord Queen is practically a Physical God. She has killed several High Lords at once, any of whom has the furycrafting abilities of Araris plus a wide range of other abilities as well. Araris armors himself by turning his skin to metal, a trick previously only seen by the First Lord himself, fights the queen's elite minions to a standstill, and gets in a few pokes at the queen herself, and survives.
Tavi has to get into Vord-occupied Riva. Riva has some of the strongest defenses in the country, including a gate that even a High Lord couldn't blast down. Tavi decides to make his first real display of furycrafting something to remember: he uses wind to blow seeds into the irregularities in the wall, grows the plants, and then pours water into the cracks and freezes and unfreezes it over and over again, prying the whole thing apart. He meant for the fireball he finished it off with to take down the gate. He apparently misjudged, since it also wiped out the two guard towers on either side, a hundred feet of wall, and several blocks of the city inside. It takes four minutes for all the buildings to finish collapsing, and even Kitai is speechless.
Made better when Tavi's first thought after said awesomeness was basically, "Crap, I'll have to to pay Lord Riva back for that later..."
And there's his line beforehand, when he explains why they're bothering. Not only is it a good test of his abilities, and it'll keep the Vord from having a fortified position behind them but, as Tavi puts it, "It's not their city, is it." With one sentence, he makes it clear: They're taking their goddamn country back one block at a time if they have to.
Attis serving Invidia her divorce papers in the middle of a fight. While mortally wounded, no less.
The Vord have essentially covered half of Alera with the croach. In order to discourage resistance, the vord queen crafts her image to every body of water in the territory and basically tells everyone that they're boned and they should just surrender to the Vord so they can die in peace. She goes on for a page and a half about how they're about to get owned in the face and should just give up. Our heroes' response? Varg borrows Tavi's helmet, walks up to the copy they were watching, and swept it through the image, decapitating the "queen" and drinking the water in the helm. He then turns back to his army and bellows, "I AM STILL THIRSTY! WHO WILL DRINK WITH ME?!!" Hammy and awesome.
Gets better: after this, Tavi does the same thing and one-ups the queen's speech, restoring the hope she was trying to crush.
Gets even better! The Vord Queen was keeping several families in a sort of steadholt-terrarium in the center of the area under her control so she could watch/terrorize them. Tavi used his reply as a distraction while his Knights Aeris airlifted everyone out. The Queen was not a mile away.
They also took the pets and livestock, just because they could. The gesture was such a slap in the Queen's face that they were ten miles away by the time she discovered what had happened... And they could still hear her screaming in rage.
Even better still is how brilliant Tavi's plan was when we learn that not only was Tavi's speech a distraction, but also a means of setting off the traps the queen had in place for intruders, both disarming them and informing the other Alerans of their nature.
Isana doesn't tend to fight much, as can be seen by the fact that her previous awesome moment involved getting pounded silly. This just made it all the more awesome when she killed six Vord warriors that had her and some out-of-commission friends cornered. When Araris bursts in, all ready to go Big Damn Heroes, he sees her standing in the middle of a pile of Vord corpses.
There's another funny/awesome bit to this scene. The six Vord warriors burst in right after Araris runs out on what appears to be a suicide mission, so the initial implication is that they overran him and are heading in to finish off Isana and the others. It's only later in the book that you find out that Tavi and his Legion had just arrived and those six Vord warriors only went in there because they were running for their lives.
Personally, I prefer the fact that she managed to get the Vord Queen and Invidia—two of the most devious characters in the entire series—into vulnerable positions just by talking to them and using watercrafting. And yes, they knew she was jerking them around. And it still worked. And she didn't have to lie once.
Bernard takes down a vordbulk with one (very special) arrow. The other vordbulk, for reference, was stolidly ignoring a High Lord and every citizen they could throw at it. Ehren, who had worked as a personal aide to persons of mass destruction Gaius Sextus and Aquitainus Attis, was speechless.
Even High Lord Riva gets in on the action earlier on, taking down two of his own by flooding an entire battlefield, making the ground too soft to support the vordbulks and causing them to topple. He even delays retreating to further slow down the Vord advance, crafting the ground until he passes out. Not bad for an architect.
Remember that catapult Tavi was building with Magnus at the beginning of Cursor's Fury? That was just a gag, right?Turns out he wrote home with the instructions to make one and a vague idea that you could make a bunch of little glass spheres full of fire furies and use them as ammo. Even though Tavi thought it was a silly idea, Bernard took it seriously and proved that a bunch of uneducated farmers could build a machine capable of more destruction than 5 or 6 High Lords put together.
The only limiting factor on the above is ammunition. Bernard notes that if they had enough ammo, the catapults would have wiped out the entire vord army by themselves.
The sheer implications of this rocks Amara's world. With a catapult like that, a group of freemen can outdo a High Lord. Tavi and Bernard revolutionised everything fury-based with that one invention.
While the catapults themselves are a game-changer, Bernard's plan took it Up to Eleven by previously having Earthcrafters draw every possible bit of coal and oil deep in the ground up to just below the grass. The results were predictably devastating.
Even Ehren gets one. From the mouth of Attis himself: "No one will ever be able to know for certain, of course, but I think the little man assassinated me."
This deserves elaboration: in his position as Aquitaine's aide, Ehren deliberately manipulates the man into making a target of himself to draw out Invidia, directly resulting in Aquitaine receiving a mortal wound, in order to make sure that he won't live to pose a threat to Tavi. And he does it so subtly and skillfully that Aquitainus Attis, Magnificent Bastard and political gameplayer par excellence, doesn't even realize he's being played until he's dying.
And he follows it by faking his own death in battle until Aquitaine has kicked it, freeing himself from any kind of reprisal, partly through telling his accomplices that it was an order from Bernard. He's left completely in the clear, with the few people who know anything about the scheme perfectly willing to keep it secret.
Garados and Thana awakening - at which point we understand precisely why the Alerans swear by the "great furies".
Garados's waking involves the entire mountain ripping itself free from the ground in the form of a giant humanoid more than twice as tall as the mountain was originally. The thought of anything being quite that large almost breaks one character's brain.
For scale, the book mentions the pine trees on Garados's arms are on the same scale as hairs on a human arm. Look at your arm right now and make that comparison.
Fidelias making his final decision that all the lies have to stop, and not taking the perfect opportunity to let the Vord kill Magnus, after Magnus expressed his suspicions about him.
Tavi inventing ice boats, which initially makes Marcus think he's reshaped a continent.
A blink-and-you-will-miss-it moment of insane awesomeness for Kitai - right in the climax of the series, when Tavi is off fighting the Vord Queen, Kitai manages to bind not one, but TWO great furies in place. Granted, Alera was mentoring her through this, but still - read the above description of Thana and Garados waking and you will understand just how big of a feat that was.