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Headscratchers: Codex Alera
  • There's a throwaway line at the start of either Academ's Fury or Cursor's Fury about using Furycraft for contraception (someone mentions that Tavi and Kitai can't use it). This begs the question of where all the bastards are coming from, particularly Max. Even if we run with the premise that High Lord Antillus doesn't have any Watercrafting (we only ever see him use Fire, Earth, Metal, and Wind; some credence is leant to this theory by Crassus' apparent lack of Watercrafting, despite his mother's great talent), Max is at least a competent Watercrafter, so we can assume his mother had it.
    • Actually, during the first time Tavi rides out to the Canim during the battle for the Elinarch, he gets pushed back into the river and saved by Max and Crassus. At this point, we are shown two things. Firstly, both Max and Crassus have significant powers of Watercraft (since they can make huge water lions), and we are told that Lord Antillus taught Max no Watercrafting. So, both of them could have still inherited some of that power through their respective mothers, but Antillus could very well still be a strong Watercrafter.
    • Most likely, like real-life contraceptives, it's not 100% foolproof. Especially if it requires concentration, considering that people having sex will have their minds focused on lots of other things while in the process.
    • Max's mother might have not used it deliberately—she might have thought bearing a High Lord a son would elevate her status and expected him to marry her. Hell, he wanted to marry her. He only didn't because he was pushed into the arranged marriage.
    • I always assumed that it was specifically the mother who had to have watercrafting in order for it to work (see Attis' comment to Isana about it being her choice whether or not to bear him any children when he proposes marriage to her in the last book). If Max's mother didn't have any watercrafting, it wouldn't matter if Raucus did or not—she couldn't stop herself getting pregnant. Also, I don't remember any conclusive proof anywhere in the series that abilities with specific elements are genetically linked. Yes, Araris and Miles are both strong metalcrafters, but that could be coincidence. Bernard and Isana are brother and sister but are talented in completely different areas of furycraft, and Aric and Bittan are wind and fire, respectively, while their father is earth. Raucus probably passed his high level of ability with furycrafting in general on to his sons, but there's no reason that it couldn't have manifested in Max as a particular gift for watercrafting even if neither of his parents were particularly skilled in it.
    • People about to have sex almost by definition are not perfectly clear headed, simple explanations are usually best.

  • Why didn't they just amputate Fade's hand in Cursor's Fury? It's made clear that the infection was concentrated in the original wound, so wouldn't it have been a lot easier for them to just cut it off and have a watercrafter seal it? Isana would have been free to help with casualties for the next month, and Fade, being the badass swordsmaster he is, would most likely still be able to fight just fine.
    • Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the book say that the poison had already been spread through his bloodstream by the time anyone could even catch it. I believe, Isana even uses her watercrafting to see that the poison, though concentrated at the source of the wound, had already spread to the rest of his system.
      • And she proceeds to chip off bits of the main infection and loose them into the bloodstream, because he can fight it if it's not in huge amounts.
    • So remove the hand and let the body take care of the remainder.

  • Really Minor, but its starting to get on my nerves. How do you say "Canim". is It "cain"im or Caanim, and for the first person, is it "Cain" or "Caaney"
    • "Cain"im. Like "canine" is pronounced.
    • "Canem" (KAY-nehm) is one variant of the latin word for 'dog'. So.
    • My Latin dictionary informs me that 'A' is always an 'ah' sound in Latin, so I'd assume that they're pronounced kah-nim and kah-nay respectively.
    • If you get the audiobook from Audible, the narrator's heavy British accent makes it sounds like "Carnem."
    • Given the singular "Cane" used in the book, I always assumed that the "a" in "Canim" was used with the longer "ay" pronunciation. And in response to the Latin dictionary reference, take into account the implied intermingling of Germanic elements with the Roman and the linguistic drift of a thousand years
  • I was never really clear on Isana's rank, especially after Sextus dies and Tavi becomes FL. by the same question, once married to Isana, What the hell is Araris technically?
    • Isana is a Citizen, and Araris is her husband. That's it.
    • As of the end of First Lord's Fury, they're apparently a Count and Countess. Araris is apparently considered a Knight Ferrous even though he's not officially part of a Legion, since everyone calls him Sir Araris.
      • Anyone who served as a Knight earns the honorific "Sir" even after they muster out, e.g. Sir Nedus in Academ's Fury.
    • Isana is also the Aleran equivalent of the Queen mother. An honored lady and conduit to Tavi.
    • Given her performance in the last book, she ought to have been dubbed "Dame Isana, Knight Aqua" at some point.
    • Why did they call Isana "The First Lady of Alera" after Tavi's status is revealed? In Captain's Fury, it seemed like a nickname, but then she is sent as an ambassador to the Icemen under that title in Princeps' Fury. I had assumed that Sextus' wife had died offscreen at some point, since she hadn't been seen since Academ's Fury, but then Aaron bumps into her halfway through Princeps' Fury. Why isn't she the First Lady of Alera?
      • She is. (Also, it's Ehren). But Isana, being the mother of the actual heir and wife to the heir's father, kind of supercedes her.
      • It's like there being two First Lords after Sextus' death - it all depends on whose interpretation you listen to. Sextus should have stepped aside years ago and allowed his heir to ascend, which would have made Isana First Lady, as the wife of Septimus. That Gaius never actually stepped aside is something of a sticking point, but her title really comes down to a matter of interpretation and political allegiance.
      • I always viewed 'First Lady of Alera' as being like 'First Lady of the United States'. A position of respect and social importance normally filled by the wife of the First Lord, but if not filled by a wife filled by the next closest female relative to the First Lord or the heir. Caria was First Lady by dint of being Gaius' living wife, but when it was revealed that Septimus did have a wife and an heir then Isana became the First Lady because she was the most senior wife to a member of the royal family—her marriage pre-dating Caria's, it meant she had higher precedence
  • In the books most of the Alerans explicitly refer to the Marat as not Human. Yet the Marat are 2 armed intelligent bipeds just like anyone else. Is that technically true or is it Fantastic Racism ?
    • "Two-armed intelligent biped" != human. Otherwise, elves, Klingons, Na'vi, Asari, and ghouls would be considered human too.
    • So the Marat are in fact, not human? Why exactly?
      • Because they're obviously not. Humans don't have white hair, white skin, canted eyes, and the biological ability to bond with other lifeforms. That's enough for the Alerans to identify them as not human.
      • Some humans have white hair, asians have canted eyes, the only thing that really differentiate them is their higher body temperature and the ability to bond to animals, which I am willing to overlook, because at some point they might not have had it, just like the Early Alerans were heavily implied to not have furycraft. Besides, if they weren't at least close to human, then Tavi and Kitai's son would have been Biologically impossible.
      • This is also likely more a matter of cultural perception than anything. Remember, the Alerans have been exterminating sapient species on Carna for a LONG time. It's likely that anything not explicitly Aleran is labeled as "Not human," no matter how biologically similar they might be.
    • The Marat also have a distinctly different metabolism than humans. They're both hotter and have shorter gestation times, and they seem considerably stronger and less vulnerable to exposure.
    • Kitai getting pregnant from Tavi might not be as solid an indicator of genetic similarity as it seems at first glance. Remember that when a Marat bonds, they gain many of the physiological characteristics of their bondmate creature. Bonding fundamentally alters their biology and physiology, causing Gargant tribesmen to become huge and heavy and muscled, or Wolf tribesman to develop sharpened canines, etc. Kitai remained an otherwise-normal Marat save for the fact that she developed furycraft, but I suspect the changes she underwent were more subtle and internal than they are for most Marat.
    • I don't know the source, but I've seen several places on-line where it's been said that Jim Butcher has officially confirmed that the Marat are descended from Neanderthals, which is why they're almost-but-not-quite human. Like I said, I've never seen this source first-hand, but it might explain how they're not exactly human, but still close enough for all practical purposes.
      • That's correct; Marat are supposed to be Neanderthals, which were a related species but not quite humans. They were, however, close enough to interbreed with the cro-magnon, who were humans. There have been several genetic studies revolving around this. So in a scientific sense, Marat are not humans. But realistically, in a world that has humanoid dogs and insectoid brain-eaters, they're more-or-less humans with different powers and funny hair — so in the story's context, yeah, it's more Fantastic Racism than anything else.

  • The Vord Queen in the 2nd book keeps referring to something called "The Purpose" then in the later books the original queen never mentions any such thing. WTF And while we're on the subject of vord inconsistencies, Why is it that the first queen is So Shocked when the Alerans "fail to care about their defeat" and are willing to die in order to kill her. This doesn't really make much sense given the vord's modus operandi. the vord warriors are equally ready to die in defence of the queen, and the taken don't care about dieing at all. Thats part of what makes them such Nightmare Fuel. so What is going on?
    • The Purpose is more detailed later on, but it simply isn't called that. The Vord's purpose is to grow, expand, and consume. As for the Vord queen not understanding why a human is willing to sacrifice him/herself, that because Vord queens are not altruistic and are selfish creatures that are unwilling to sacrifice themselves. Vord warriors and lesser Vord creatures will sacrifice themselves, but they have no minds of their own, whereas the Vord queens do, as to humans, Canim, and so on. The Vord queen does not understand that a creature that is intelligent and thinks for itself would be willing to die for others.
    • But why did the main queen stop referring to "the purpose"
      • Who the fuck knows. Butcher probably just dropped it.
      • The Queens aren't identical, though they are very similar (well, except for the original one after she starts to become more humanlike). Perhaps using the term "the Purpose" was a quirk of that particular Queen, one that unlike the original's interest in humans wouldn't be considered detrimental to the Vord since it's so minor?

  • What stopped Garados and Thana from rampaging at the end of First Lord's Fury?
    • Alera showed Kitai how to control them and calm them back down.

  • In the 3rd book, when Tavi and Kitai eavesdrop on Lady Antillus, They witness her earthcraft an image of Tavi out of the rock and then smash and melt in a rage. Why? what has Tavi done to her up to this point other than thwart her attempts see through his cover as Rufus Scipio?
    • He did exactly that. In case you you didn't notice, Lady Antillius is very petty.
    • She's dead certain that Tavi is who he really is, she just hasn't been able to prove it. She's trying to take out Gaius' agents in the First Aleran. And Tavi is Max's friend and ally, and he was delaying her from getting to his tent and arranging another "accident." He also picked her pocket and took the bloodstone, something else which she has no immediate proof of but clearly suspects. Reason enough for a petty bitch like her to do something that petty to an effigy.
      • It's not exactly petty. Without that bloodstone, the whole plan fell through. It's later revealed that the original setup would have had her being the only surviving officer, so she'd be in control of the legion (if I'm not mistaken). Without the bloodstone she panicked and ran.

  • Who else thought about how odd Amara and Bernard relationship was? This Troper thought about it when Isana said she stunted Tavi's growth and lied about his age, since Amara just got out of the Academy in book 1, and she was in it since she was 13, if the years Tavi spent on the Academy are anything to go by, it would make Amara 17 in the first book, same age as Tavi. As he would be about 17 but looked younger that 15 due to stunted growth... This Troper thought it was a little squicky that Bernard was interested in 17 y/o girls like that.
    • Don't forget that A) Values Dissonance, and girls in their teens being involved with/wed to older men was actually not that uncommon in Ancient Rome, and B) this is also a setting where any decent watercrafter can remain young-looking for a long time, and thus any stigma against being interested in "young-looking" women would be somewhat mitigated, when its commonplace for Citizens to look like they're in their teens when they're in their mid-to-late twenties or thirties. Also, don't forget that even though Amara is only in her late teens, she is a Cursor, and Bernard singles her out as one very quickly. She's a competent, intelligent, well-trained, and well-taught professional spy; she's plenty mature enough for Bernard.
      • at first that was kind of why I wasn't bothered by it , at the time I thought Tavi to be 15, Amara to be about 21, and Bernard to be about 35-37. but then after "Captain's furies" Tavi is 17 and Amara is lily the same age as him, it just kind of bugged me that Bernard was so quickly interested in her like that though I think other things added to that, such as Brutus earth crafting her in that closet, and possibly before then as well with out Bearnard's knowledge, and she being in an already week emotional state after Fedelias' Betrayal kind of made he a week target so IDK that might be mostly it...
      • Doesn't bother me. As noted above, they're operating under Roman values, where the age taboo is not that severe, and in a setting where even people in their thirties can look like they're in their teens, and Amara is a trained, mature spy. She's more than mentally mature enough, and Aleran values are more relaxed when it comes to both actual and apparent ages.
      • Also, Amara mentions in either book one or two that she would not have refused advances from Fidelius while she served under him. That led me to think that she was at least nineteen or twenty by the time of the first book. I got the impression Fidelius never regarded her that way in part because it would be unprofessional, and in part because she only started her apprenticeship with him when she was around 13 or 14.
      • Amara mentions at one point that she served under Fidelius for five years. Before that she did basic Cursors training for an unspecified number of years. Tavi started at the Academy at 17 and attended for three years, Aria's sons started at 16, so Amara is most likely 24 during the first book. Bernard is under forty. In Captain's Fury, Isana calls him her younger brother and she is recently 40.
      • Could have sworn Tavi was around 20 by Captain's Fury.
    • Though his age is never explicitly stated, Max was in the same year at the academy as Tavi after 2 tours in the legions. Tours are 2-4 years long, starting between 16 and 18, so Max was in his early to mid-twenties when he started in the academy. A relationship with a 40 year old and a 25 year old isn't all that weird.
    • Max ran away to the legions when he was fourteen. If what you say is correct, then he's probably about 20 to 26 when we first meet him (2 to 4 years in the legion plus 2 years in the Academy). At the same time, Tavi is officially 17 and actually about 19. I think we can safely say that Max is at least a few years older than Tavi, because of the letter Septimus sent to Raucus shortly before First Calderon (the one Raucus shows Isana in Princeps Fury). He mentions the 'little snowcrow' and jokingly asks if he's set anything on fire yet - presumably a reference to firecrafting. Since we know that Septimus, another 'high blood' Aleran, was 5 when he came into his furies, I doubt Max could be younger than 3 at the time of the letter, and probably at least 4 or 5. Which would make him at least 4 or 5 years older than Tavi, and therefore at least 23 or 24 in Cursor's Fury. That said, I don't think Max would have come into his furies for another few years, as freemen seem to come into their furies at a later age than that (Isana and Bernard at nearly 15, Odiana at 10 or 11). One would expect it to be sooner for Citizens, so he could well have been younger than them, but as his mother was a freeman and the house of Gaius may well come into the furies especially young because of Alera, I think he'd have been at least 7 when he did. To sum up: he'd have been anywhere between 23 and 26 in his first appearance, and possibly older (a gap year, perhaps?).

  • With all the talk about how Tavi is such a weird name, how has no one mentioned Centurion Schultz? No one thought that was odd?
    • Germanic auxiliaries/mercenaries attached to the legion that got transported. Culturally subsumed into the Roman framework but left a few traces like names such as Schultz and Bernard.
    • The series did confirm that at least some Germans were carried over into Alera; the poem inscribed on a column in Appia, which mourns the loss of Rome, is vandalized by a comment carved beneath it decrying Rome (It calls her a "gluttonous whore") and calling for a German victory.

  • Tavi never actually comes into his furies. Even in the later books when being trained by Alera he gathers up furies in the area to do his crafting, never manifesting his own.
    • And? The majority of the High Lords don't have named furies of their own, including Gaius Sextus. The use of specific named furies is a peculiarity specific to the rural regions of Alera and a very few specific High Lords.
    • Tavi (technically) isn't a high lord, though, and he is from one of the rural regions of Alera where people name their furies. Maybe some of the stronger furycrafters just don't bond furies naturally? It's mentioned that crafters attract furies when they come into their power, and maybe the furies strong enough to match some High Lords and the like are the kind that are in parts of the landscape? (Garados, Thana, the sea, etc.)
    • Technically, Tavi does come into his furies when he begins manifesting furycraft, be it internal or external. He doesn't come into separate, discrete furies, but maybe that's because Alera is his fury.
    • Tavi comes into his furies the same way he does everything else: Instead of a single, strong fury using singular strokes of brute force to get the job done, he gathers together a lot of smaller furies and coordinates them. A lot of small, efficient effort is as good (or sometimes better) than one big effort.

  • How could Bernard have been a Centurion in the 4th Rivan Legion, as stated in Academ's Fury, when the High Lords are restricted to having no more than 3 Legions?
    • It is entirely possible (in fact, even probable) that Legions do not necessarily follow a strict numerical designation. A Legion may be created and then disbanded, but another one is created before it is disbanded. The new one will retain its number while the previous one is removed. This happened in the US Army after World War II. (i.e. a 2nd Legion is created, then a 3rd Legion, but for whatever reason the 2nd is disbanded. Then a 4th is created, and so on.) Alternately, a 4th Legion was created in a time of crisis, i.e. the Marat invasion that killed Septimus.
    • It is likely that a 4th Legion was created while Bernard was serving. We know that about fifteen years before the first book there was some kind of internal crisis, that culminated in the Battle of Seven Hills, followed by the First Battle of Calderon with the Marat invading. That would be around the time that Bernard would be serving in the Legions, so it is likely the Rivans called up a number of previously-serving freemen and holders to form a new Legion during the crisis. The limitation of only three Legions per High Lord is likely only a "peacetime" restriction as well.
    • Also, in Cursor's Fury Bernard talks about the Legion he was in serving on the Shieldwall near Phrygia. It is possible (in fact, even probable) that cities further north but not actually on the Shieldwall would send reinforcements to the Wall during times or crisis or possibly even regularly to support the Shieldwall Legions. Bernard was likely part of such a Legion that was created to bolster the troops on the Shieldwall.

  • Given that Alera is on its seventh First Lord over eight generations, and Alera is supposed to be 1,000 years old, how long does the average First Lord live? Does this longevity also apply to other nobility-grade furycrafters?
    • Watercrafters can extend their age significantly. Most High Lords are strong watercrafters. IIRC, Gaius was supposed to be about a hundred and fifty.
      • No, he's in his eighties.
      • Where does it say that strong watercrafters have significantly extended lives? They don't show their age, and it's logical to assume that people whose magic involves healing abilities would live unusually long and healthy lives, but the only thing I can recall which supports this hypothesis is the fact that Gaius is still able to function as High Lord despite being in his eighties. And this is hardly definitive proof - retaining that level of abilities at that age may be rare, but it's not impossible, and therefore explained simply by the beneficial effects of said healing abilities.
    • Word of God has stated that that the house of Gaius will sometimes shift to an off shoot family if no heir is alive, and the new first lord will take up the name Primus and start a new order of names. so say if Sextus had a younger brother and after Septimus died when Sextus died of gave up his crown it would go to Semtimus's uncle or cousin and so on. but yeah there would have been more than just 6 previous first lords.
    • In support of the above, if you read carefully Alera's founder is always called the original Gaius Primus. That implies there has been more than one person of that name.
      • And the Senatorium was built by the original Gaius Secondus.
    • Word of Jim is that this is the case. Previously, if a Gaius had died and didn't have a direct heir, the throne would go to a nephew or cousin, who would start fresh as Gaius Primus. According to Butcher, Sextus is the fourth First Lord by that name, and most of the time they never made it past Quintus, though one house made it all the way to Gaius Dodecandorus, which he described as a "lumpy mouthful," even for the First Lord.

  • Butcher's explanation of the origin of the premise doesn't make much sense to me; there's nothing inherently bad about Pokemon or the Lost Roman Legion as a premise. OK, the Pokemon anime is pretty bad, but the essential concept is sound.
    • Butcher didn't choose the ideas, someone else did. That guy probably felt these ideas were bad, and didn't realize that Anything + Jim Butcher = Crazy Awesome.
    • Neither of the ideas are that terribly bad. It's just that attempting to fuse the two together would be difficult except for a particularly talented writer. Butcher basically combined the two concepts flawlessly.

  • For that matter, the series doesn't have much to do with Pokemon. The Alerans are really benders, not Pokemon trainers. The Marat could be considered Pokemon trainers, but they aren't the main focus of the story.
    • I think it's most obvious in Furies of Calderon, where almost everyone can summon a manifest fury with a distinct appearance, personality, and attributes. Later books seem to move more away from the idea, as we learn that most city-born and Citizen crafters use "generic" furies that come across more as invisible spirits that give their summoner superpowers.
    • There is mention throughout the series of actual discrete furies. Pretty much anytime Amara or Bernard or Isana are working, they use their own named furies, and even the High Lords seem to use specific furies. For example, Aquitaine has probably a dozen individual furies under his command that appear as discrete entities, and the the Vord Queen's entire strategy for attacking Riva hinges on the use of thousands of wild furies. The interaction between urban Citizens and their furies is more like Avatar-esque bending, while interactions between rural Citizens and their furies is much more in line with Pokemon.
      • It's a writer's problem. With the independent fury idea - how do you place characters in peril? If furies are independent and at least somewhat intelligent there's very few situations in which you couldn't have asked "Why didn't his fury save him"? Everyone's fury should logically be acting as an intangible immortal superpowered Heroic Dog guardian at all times. Butcher had to go far out of his way with complicated fury traps (like rings of fire or floating cages) in the first book to place Bernard and Isana in peril. And those only work on people who are specialized in Poor, Predictable Rock. Anyone with mastery of more than 2 furies would be very hard to stop if those furies were all intelligent and semi-independent. It also complicates the cast because you need to develop personalities for both crafters and furies. TLDR - the independent bond creatures idea was cool but probably beyond even Butcher's capabilities to develop it as much as it should have been. Developing all the extraneous alien or prehistoric fantasy races like the Canim, Marat, and Vord and so on also probably took away time that could have been spent on developing furies better.
    • Not to mention, Furies of Calderon came out roughly 5 months before the first episode of Avatar the Last Airbender aired. If there was any cross contamination, it was long after the premise was set. Plus, read through the fridge brilliance/horror page. There's quite a lot of hidden pokemon themes.

  • On a related note, why do people keep calling the Alerans benders? They both have Elemental Powers, but that's where the similarities end. They control them through very different methods, have different limitations, and Alerans have a bunch of extra powers to go with them. The non-elemental tricks and summoning fit Pokemon much better, even if they don't incarnate their furies all that often. Furycrafting is more a combination of pokemon's rules and types with Jojo's Stands.

  • What I have trouble understanding is why non Steadholders are not citizens and therefore treated like crap. The given explanation is that holders have weaker furies and are less powerful, But we later learn that the furies of the domesticated cities are in fact weaker than the wild ones, and that holders tend to be very powerful crafters. ex: Bernard, The hightening of the wall at 2nd calderon. So what the hell?
    • Incorrect. Steadholders are Citizens just like any other Citizens. This is explicitly stated when Isana is made a Steadholder by Gaius. Steadholders also have rule of law in their own property over non-Citizens who enter and have other rights regarding their holts.
    • oh sorry. As the troper who wrote the original question, I made a mistake. I meant holders and other non citizens (particularly in the calderon valley) not just steadholders. Bernard is like you said, but is mentioned many times in Fo C that the holders have very strong furies: example: The communal raising of the wall at first calderon where as many women and children participated as soldiers, Fidelius implies in the beginning that(about 18 year old in Fo C)Fredrick's calming of the terrified horses is a significant earthcrafting. Isana, born and raised in Calderon is an incredibly powerful watercrafter (although it is arguable since it is theorized that Septimus gave her some furies when he died).
    • The main reason is because they're not Citizens like the nobility, therefore the nobility that make up the Citizenry can look down on them for not being like them. This is standard fare across pretty much any setting that uses nobility. Non-nobility gets the shaft because of their station in the social strata, irregardless of their respective crafting strength, because that's how their society evolved.
    • Not Really. Remember, becoming a citizen (which is not always the same as a noble) is actually quite easy in Aleran society as I understand it. You just need to beat a citizen (any citizen) in a duel, by means of furycraft. If you aren't a strong enough furycrafter, it's impossible. If you are, then you can become a citizen. Any adult aleran freeman can do it.
      • No. You can earn Citizenry by dueling a Citizen, yes. But you have to find a Citizen willing to do so and a ruler willing to recognize that. You can also earn it through distinguished military service, marriage, or appointment by the First Lord. All of these are more complex than they seem; you can be an extremely strong crafter like Isana but can't earn Citizenship because the local ruler won't arrange a Citizenship duel. There's a reason why relatively few women are Citizens. Also, most steadholders have little reason to desire Citizenship because that places greater responsibilities on their shoulders when they already enjoy the rights granted a Citizen on their holts and they don't want to get involved in politics.

  • Is it just me, or do metalcrafters seem to get the short end of the stick, power wise? Their abilities all have seemingly more drawbacks than other crafters, are learnable by non-metalcrafters (if to a much lesser extent), or require one to be ridiculously good at metalcrafting, if not some combination of these. Additionally, they have very little, if any, use outside of combat, no discrete or wild furies are ever seen, and they can't manipulate their element like other crafters. They could be able to, say, turn metal into a semi-liquid state and "mold" it. This would allow them to repair armor, keep swords sharp, work with earth- and woodcrafters to make rebar for buildings and wagon wheels, make really complicated locks, sculpt beautiful statues, make dazzling jewelry, or simply make silverware.
    • They actually do all of the above. The best smiths in Alera are metalcrafters who retired from the military. (Fade, for example, spends most of his time in Bernardholt working the smithy, before coming out of retirement). Also keep in mind that being able to actively serve in the military in Alera has a much greater meaning than in our world; the heavy emphasis on and prestige of serving in the Legions means that any metalcrafter is going to be highly-valued, especially as all able-bodied males serve a term in the Legions, where skilled metalcrafters will get noticed. It's no coincidence that nearly every single metalcrafter in the series is a soldier.
      • Oh. I must've missed it. The Other Wiki also mentions some stuff like because they can sense metal, they can fight in absolute darkness. It still seems a bit odd that we never see any metal furies, though; when the feral furies invade Riva in First Lord's Fury, metal is the only fury that doesn't appear, when they could've been, say, creatures made of scythe-like blades.
      • I agree that it is odd that we never see any discrete metal furies, or even any metal furies that are named. The closest we get is when Gaius and Araris go Chrome Champion. Then again, metal furies are probably pretty rare in and of themselves, considering that most metal is generally deep underground. They certainly appear to be the least common.
      • I would like to add that metal crafters can shape metal, do remember the fake slave collars that Aldrick made so they could sneak into Kalarus's palace? also I think metal is pretty damn useful, how about when Fade cut through rock on Fo C when fighting Aldrick?
      • In Academ's Fury, Gaius is mentioned using metalcrafting to fashion new gates at Garrison by calling up and shaping solid slabs of steel from underground.
      • Also in Academ's Fury, one of the soldiers (Giraldi, I think) says that he has some metalcrafting, but it's not something he ever had to do anything for. I believe they were discussing the possibility that the taken couldn't use furies unless an Aleran manifested one before them, which implies that there aren't manifest metal furies, or if there are, only the powerful crafters can call upon them.
      • Ultimately, metalcrafting may not be as cool as, say, windcrafting, but it has many practical applications. The Alerans couldn't really do without them.
      • They also display the ability to reinforce metal doors at one point, and it seems likely that swords get more awesome when wielded by metalcrafters. Notably, in the duel between the Garrison commander and Aldrick their swords produce sparks, then Fade cuts through solid rock later.
      • Keep in mind that Metalcrafters can also use it to suppress pain, which seems like a pretty useful secondary ability.
      • Metalcrafters also have some form of ability to telekinetically control metal, though you apparently need to be a powerful crafter to pull it off. Lady Antillius used metalcrafting to launch Schultz's sword at Max, and Gaius was able to kill an entire army of Immortals by simply constricting their slave collars and choking them to death. So other metalcrafters can readily shape metal and become very effective smiths. IIRC, when Alera was engaging in emergency mobilization, metalcrafters were working their asses off to crank out enough swords, spears, arrowheads, and armor to outfit half a million troops.
    • It's really the Woodcrafters who get the short end of the stick. What does absorbing their fury do? Makes them invisible but only near plant matter but who cares since Windcrafters can do the same thing. What does it do when manifested? You get a little man made of leaves, no useful or impressive. It's basically a one-trick fury, and that trick is archery. The instant someone invents a gun, woodcrafting will become obsolete. It doesn't even need to be a good gun, since Fire and Steel crafters can concievably make up for the flaws of real-life early firearms. They don't even get the power to make a damn plant monster.
      • They totally do have the ability to make a plant monster. They also get to phase through wooden structures, and their archery is such that they shoot people in the neck from the far side of a shieldwall, which is the sort of thing modern guns have trouble managing.
      • Woodcrafters don't need to manifest furies to create plant monsters when they can just have a tree reach down and rip you in half.
      • They're also ludicrously accurate. As in, can headshot a taken soldier by firing through the slit between two shields in a shieldwall. A good woodcrafter is capable of making accurate shots with a bow at ranges that most firearms can't manage; Iris the Hawk, for example, is able to accurately plug sailors on one ship from another ship, while both are moving at full speed, at about four hundred meters, at night. Even with the invention of firearms, woodcrafters would still be very, very effective.
      • They also have the ability to directly influence wood and plant matter. Max uses a pile of firewood as a barrage in a fight and in the same book a random legionare is torn apart by a tree controlled by the Vord Taken. Bernand uses it to make things such as a club from a chair and a raft from various branches. Tavi destroys Riva's wall with wood and water crafting. It might not be the most directly powerful but it has a wide range of both combat and non combat uses.
      • And Lets not forget Captain Demos! He's an expert sailor, and a Powerful woodcrafter, even better His entire ship is a giant Wood Fury! HIS giant wood fury!!
      • Woodcrafting allows for other methods of controlling plant matter. For example, woodcrafting allows for extremely quick growth cycles for food plants, to the point that a city can use its woodcrafters and rooftop gardens to sustain itself during a siege or rapidly produce enough food to recover from a famine.

  • On a related note, why does everyone think that metalcrafters like Araris and Aldrick are invariably so deadly in a fight? I mean, if it's purely a swordfight, then sure, they'd kick ass, but in a real fight, wouldn't a firecrafter be much worse? I mean, they'd just hurl a bunch of fire at them, roast them to cinders. No contest, right? Araris would never get a chance to show off his fancy fencing skills. If Lord Antillus had been the one who was challenged in their duel, and had therefore had his fire available to him (remember, the challenged gets to choose what weapons will be used) do you really think he couldn't have done exactly that? I mean, okay, so he probably wouldn't have wanted to kill Araris, but you can't deny that he could have if he'd chosen to do so. Similarly, a windcrafter could raise him off the ground and either strangle him or just lift him several stories up and then let go (splat), a watercrafter could drown him on dry land ... it just doesn't make sense. I'm tempted to think that the hype about how metalcrafters are so good at killing people comes down to Jim not wanting them to be too obviously inferior.
    • Incorrect. Metalcrafters have never been stated to be the be-all, end-all in combat. They're explicitly stated to be the best swordsmen in the setting, but their limitations are made quite clear. They dominate in a close-quarters battle, like in a Legion shieldwall or in a fight indoors or in alleyways. No one has ever even begun to seriously imply that a metalcrafter could beat a firecrafter in open combat, and Araris has been beaten in multiple instances by earthcrafters or the Vord Queen making use of his limitations.
      • It also seems like metalcrafting is the most reliable form of crafting. You pretty much never see someone rendered incapable of metalcrafting, unlike earth, air and wood, which can get nullified by circumstance all the freaking time. Fire and water tend to be usable except in the case of specific efforts to shut them down, but firecrafting is much better at killing absolutely everyone in the room than at killing only those people in the room you don't like, while watercrafters have an unfortunate tendency to faint, lose control of their furies, or similar whenever any large-scale fighting is going on. Metalcrafting, meanwhile, is always pretty much precisely as effective in all situations.
      • Metalcrafting has been shown to be the most effective form of crafting in close-quarters battle. Sure, you can do an enormous amount of damage with firecrafting, but when a Legion shieldwall is in contact with the enemy, you can't exactly go dropping fire blasts on the front line. On the other hand, in tight combat a metalcrafter will rip massive holes in a shieldwall or other enemy formation. That's also why Knights Ferrous are used in the Grey Tower, because the tight corridors make it an ideal place for close combat. In modern parlance, firecrafters are the artillery, whereas the metalcrafters/earthcrafters are the infantry who breach and clear buildings. At a distance, firecrafters will always win against metalcrafters, but in close combat the firecrafter will get cut to ribbons by the metalcrafter.
    • Metalcrafting is also the most sustainable form of crafting in the setting. With the exception of airborne windcrafting, metalcrafters don't tire out anywhere near as fast as anyone else, and even windcrafters get exhausted when flying far and fast enough. Firecrafters are explicitly stated as only being able to perform major acts of firecrafting in limited amounts before being worn out. Earth- and woodcrafters face similar constraints in terms of their more impressive abilities. Watercrafters don't tire out as easily as other crafters, but their abilities are not particularly oriented toward offense. Metalcrafters, however, can quite literally keep fighting for days, nonstop.
    • Metalcrafting gives three big advantages and no disadvantages. Metalcrafters can manipulate their own blades into being supernaturally sharp and durable, can ignore pain to stay focused on the fight at hand, and can sense the enemy's blade (And presumably do something about, as implied by Kitai ambushing Nevarrus specifically with stone-headed arrows). The other disciplines all have disadvantages that mitigate their usefulness in combat. Fire is difficult to control and prone to backfiring as a result (you don't want to burn down the building you're fighting), as well as exhausting. Wood's offense is focused around archery and its defense is focused on stealth—in a fair fight, all a metalcrafter needs to do is close. Air's only real offensive trick (aside from archery, just covered) is Bullet Time, which Amara shows to be draining and dangerous for the crafter, since the speed it gives you doesn't come with proportionate toughness to avoid damaging your own body. Earthcraft allows for powerful brawling attacks that lack finesse—since most metalcrafters are gifted swordsmen (owing to their supernatural bond with their blades), this is easy enough to mitigate. Plus, fighting on a wooden floor cuts the earthcrafter off from his power (Sextus even comments that Earthcrafters are better for fighting monsters, but metalcrafters are better for fighting other men). Watercrafters have a problem with interference from the emotional state of those around them. Watercrafters are repeatedly shown to baulk or even recoil at intense negative emotions in those around them; in a pitched battle, a Watercrafter is either going to be overwhelmed with all the fear and pain around them, or going to be distracted by consciously suppressing that input. Even in a one-on-one duel, they're going to be nearly choking on all the hatred and pain coming from the opponent.
      • It's not entirely true that metalcrafters have no disadvantages—chiefly, all their tricks are close-range. A master metalcrafter might be able to knock all the arrows you fire at him out of the air, but given what we see, there's no way for him to counter attack until and unless he can actually close the distance.

  • Why doesn't the Vord attack on Sextus get described as such? It seems almost like it was covered up, which just plain doesn't make sense. There were actual Vord warriors engaging an indeterminate but probably century-strength unit of royal guard, so it's not like there was a shortage of reputable witnesses. All the later mentions seem to indicate that the attack was portrayed as simply being an assassination attempt by the Canim, with no clear explanation of why.
    • The Senators were deliberately downplaying the Vord threat. They did not want to admit that the Vord were a threat at all. Sextus himself still seems to consider the Vord a serious threat (which is why he sends Ehren after the Vord in Kalare) but with the Senate basically sticking their heads in the sand and shouting "CANIM!" over and over again, it's going to be hard for the Vord to be taken as a serious threat.
      • Except, there were actual Vord beetleform warriors and keepers involved, not just taken Canim, but that aspect isn't even mentioned. Even when Bernard is talking about the Vord threat, he doesn't mention the capital queen's escape.
      • Again: the Senators have their heads up their asses. They're deliberately downplaying the Vord because they don't want to accept them as anything but particularly vicious animals. Arnos basically throws the entire inquiry out and lays it all on the Canim, which, judging by his behavior in Captain's Fury, is pretty much standard for him. It's kind of a recurring theme throughout the series that all but the most open-minded Alerans are excessively conservative, have their heads up their asses, and generally have an extremely hard time accepting and adapting to new threats. After all, this is a society that has been using virtually the same military doctrine for two thousand years.
    • Also, another thing that is easy to lose in the kerfluffle here is that just about all of the Aleran officers and Collegia Tactica staff and faculty who were present for Bernard's briefing on the Vord were killed when Kalarus sicced his Immortals on Ceres. That wasn't his intention, but the Immortals killed them all the same, thus dramatically undercutting the number of Alerans who considered the Vord to be a threat.

  • This has really been bugging me:Tavi has this totally awesome sunbeam/death ray that he used to route the canim at the elinarch. so why didn't he use it to roast his way through the vord army. it has limitless ammo is enormously destructive, and uses comparatively less effort then most large scale furycraftings. so why not use it to just roast the vord till he can reach the queen
    • Vordknights. The Queens can throw vordknights at the Aleran army like modern armies expend bullets, and they can't maneuver or defend themselves while creating the sunbeams. The vordknights will rip them to shreds.
    • Also keep in mind that the conditions under which Tavi used the sunbeam were very specific. He had an enemy that was bunched up along a narrow bridge which made them susceptible to the beam's attack. Also, this was an enemy that had morale which could be broken, and the process of creating the beam used up all of the First Aleran's Knights Aeris. The Vord aren't bunched up in a narrow corridor to allow him to strike at them, they don't have a morale that can be broken (they'll just keep coming, and the beam can't blast every point along the enemy line) and when the Queen or the Vordknights take to the air, the entire formation will collapse immediately. This is also probably why the sunbeam wasn't used against the Canim, as the Knights Aeris hovering in the air would be perfect shots for the balest-toting Canim.
    • "It has limitless ammo" simply isn't true- like any large-scale crafting, it takes human effort. Also, have fun teaching the Vord to do it.
    • (In reference to the above) I'll bet that in Jim's mind, that's exactly why Tavi decided not to employ that particular trick against the Vord, even when circumstances were somewhat similar.

  • Am I the only one who had to go through four novels before realizing Lady Aquitaine and Lady Antillus were not in fact the same person? They have the exact same personality and physical appearance, and I kept on getting perplexed at how one character could be in two places at the same time. I feel stupid because the names are clearly different, but it feels like the two are copypastes of the same character template.
    • They're not really the same person. Lady Antillius is more short-sighted and petty, prone to unnecessary torture, etc. Whereas Lady Aquitaine is more pragmatic, with a long-term plan and sense of personal honor, with a greater tendency toward Pragmatic Villainy than For the Evulz that Antillius favors. Also, it helps that Lady Antillius pretty much ceases to exist by the end of the third book, being replaced by Dorotea once Sarl put the discipline collar on her.
    • Not quite. While you have described their METHODS right, I would say that Antillus does not do things For the Evulz more like out of extreme love for her son crassus. Also, where on earth did you get the idea that Lady Aquitaine had a "sense of personal honor" The woman is Chronic Backstabbing Disorder on legs
      • Actually, yes, Aquitaine does have a sense of personal honor. This is noted explicitly by Isana in Academ's Fury. If she makes a promise, she keeps it. If she has an obligation, she fulfills it. That's the basis of a lot of her political and personal power.
    • I'm not saying that Isana isn't politically savvy, But I'm going to trust Amara on this one. Specifically, Amara's Comparison to the ethics of Ladies Placida and Aquitane (in Cursors fury after the double body swap backstab fest). Invidia doesn't do anything out of a sense of honor, she does it because she is patient and is the best way maintain a public image, whats more, Amara specifically said that 1: Invidia has no honor, 2: she is completely willing to break her word as soon as convenient without any remorse or regret
    • I always thought of it like this- Invidia doesn't actually believe in honor at all, but she does believe that the appearance of honor is useful. In other words, if you can keep her in the public/political eye, she'll keep her word and promises, but she'll happily break them if she knows she can get away with it without repercussions.

  • Is there any point where it's explicitly mentioned that Kitai has Cute Little Fangs? Clan Wolf does, but I can't track down any indication that the other clans do.
    • Pretty sure I remember fangs (or at least sharp teeth) being referred to in Kitai's description at a couple of points, but I don't have time to look it up specifically.
    • I think I know where the misunderstanding came from, at several points characters refer to her pointed canine teeth, but all humans have pointed canine teeth (Including you and me). The point of those sentences was to say that she was looking particularly mean or predatory, and that peoples eyes were drawn to her pointed teeth, not that she has more fanged teeth than anybody else.

  • How can someone who proudly proclaims to be a friend of Kalarus Brencis Minoris, who at this point was widely known as a traitor who enslaved hundreds of Alerans into the service of the Vord Queen before killed, be assigned to guard the First Lord?
    • Hi there, welcome to Alera. In case you didn't notice, it's not the most rational of countries.
    Tavi: So... I want you gone, and you want to BE gone. Perhaps we can work something out?
    Nasaug: Perhaps that would be possible in a rational world, But we are in Alera
    • On a more serious note, Brencis appeared to have a lot of friends in the nobility of Alera, and his father's treachery occurred more than a year previously, which is more than enough time to assess the true loyalties of anyone who was Brencis' friend. Just because he was Brencis' friend doesn't make him a traitor, just very suspicious, and they've had ample time to judge his loyalty. Also, considering that at that point they're being threatened by the Vord, it makes previous loyalties far less relevant.
    • Also, nepotism. The soldier in question was Lord Riva's nephew. While he was a douche bag of one of the higher orders—if this troper remembers correctly, he was part of the trio that used to bully Tavi and Ehren—he wasn't a traitor.
    • He wasn't one of the bullies, he was a newly-introduced jackass.

  • Did they ever establish the full consequences of Tavi setting the wax forest on fire? or to put it simpler, did said fire merely confuse and agitate the keepers, or is the croach flammable? The croach is described as oily and waxy, and contains a gelatinous version (of itself) underneath the surface, then if it is flammable, then you could simply set it on fire, and it would spread as far as the croach touched, obliterating the vord, who need the croach to survive. The only way I could see for them to stop it would be if the vord Queen evolved some kind of firefighter form vord. or if the queen had used watercraft or employed collared watercrafters, (and that last one wouldn't work on the vord in Canea, since they can't furycraft, and (I think) neither can the Canean vord queen) and even then, the fire would wipe out a lot of vord before it could be put out
    • No, the croach itself isn't really flammable. It can burn but it is very difficult to catch; you need oil and a big fire to have any reasonable chance of burning it. Tavi set the actual forest itself on fire when he burned it.

  • I know this sounds silly, but could someone please explain to me how metalcrafting makes you a better swordsman? It makes perfect sense that metalcrafters would be the best smiths and be able to strengthen weapons or armor mid combat temporarily, but as far as being a better swordsman, I would think that would be better improved with windcrafted speed, earthcrafted strength, or both.
    • I'd think that being able to sense both your and your opponent's sword, not to mention strengthen the metal, would be a decided advantage for a swordsman.
    • I get that, but that doesn't really seem like the sort of titanic advantage that would convince Gaius Sextus that metalcrafters are the unmatched masters of killing(men) (Captains fury, trek to Kalare). Again, as far as skill at arms, superspeed/strength would be better right?
    • Strength won't matter if your opponent can literally slice your weapon apart on contact with his blade, and speed doesn't help when your opponent knows exactly where your weapon is going to go and intercept it. Speed also has the serious disadvantage that if you hit too fast, you're going to break your arm. There is a metalcrafter who is also a windcrafter, as one of Navaris' goons, and is considered one of the most dangerous swordsmen in Alera, but crafters in multiple disciplines are very rare. A metalcrafter's abilities also allow them to effectively be "one with the blade" so to speak and naturally be simply better with the weapon overall; we know that at the very least strong metalcrafting allows for telekinetic control over the blade as demonstrated by Antillius' "accident" involving Schultz's sword flying out of his hands and hitting Max. But really, the power of metalcrafters is their ability to cut apart opponents' weapons, have impenetrable armor, and to detect incoming weapon strikes and intercept them.
      • Also, remember that metalcrafters get virtually infinite endurance, so they can keep fighting for hours or even days at their peak. That is a huge advantage in any kind of sustained fight. Butcher mentions in another series that even half an hour of serious fighting will tire a physically fit human.
  • I know it's more of a pet peeve of mine than a headscratcher, but why is it that Kitai has NEVER refered to tavi by name to his face, instead calling him "Aleran". I checked. The only time in the series when she refers to him as anything else (after they bond) is when she is rescuing Isana and Araris in Captains fury where she calls him Octavian.
    • Its an affectionate nickname. I don't see what the problem is.
    • The way I see it, she started out calling him "Aleran" as an insult, then it gradually morphed into an endearment as she came to have greater respect and affection for him. Kitai calls Tavi that all the time because it's simply her name for him, and the way she uses it reflects her changing feelings.
    • They also refer to each other as chala which is the Marat term for the animal to which they are bonded, as with Aleran seems more a term of endearment between them.

  • Why do they call the Woodcrafter Knights, Knights Fauna? Fauna means animal, not plant. Why aren't they called Knights Flora?
    • They are called Knights Flora. I think there's one part in the first book where they're mistakenly called Fauna, but for the whole rest of the series they're Knights Flora.

  • Is Tavi's name pronounced with an 'a' like in 'tap' (Tah-vee), or with an 'a' like in 'gravy' (Tay-vee)? Keeping his full name in mind it makes sense to be the later version, but it just doesn't really roll off the tongue.
    • I've always pronounced it the first way. It just seems to make more sense that way—that said, given his real name, his mother may have intentionally pronounced the shortened version different from the full name to further throw off suspicion.
    • It'd be pronounced the first way regardless of whether it was openly acknowledged as a diminutive of his real name or not- the rules of stresses and pronunciation ensure that. Even if he'd been openly known as Gaius Octavian his whole life, the shortened diminutive form would be pronounced "Tah-vee". It's not going to be particularly misleading, any more than hiding a Robert under the name Bob would be (or Richard as Dick, or Charles as Chuck, etc.).

  • What is the relationship between the Blessing Of The Night and the Marat bonding process? It's heavily implied in the first book that it's part of the process, and that's one reason they're so willing to go into the wax forest for it. When Tavi uses it on Kitai, that activates the bond, and he becomes her bond-creature. So after the Vord leave the Wax Forest, how do the Marat keep on going? It appears that adolescents still go through adulthood rituals and bond with animals, and after the first book, the Blessing Of The Night is never mentioned again.
    • Blessing of Night is not related to the bonding process. Kitai was simply at the right age to bond and accidentally bonded with Tavi.
    • And point of clarification: It is mentioned again. In the last book, Isana uses it as a bargaining chip with Invidia, then saves Amara with it.
    • I never got the impression the Blessing had anything to do with the bonding process; it's valued by the Marat for its healing properties. Kitai and Tavi's bond was triggered by their going through a life-or-death situation together, and it's simply something inherent in the Marat.

  • Every Marat clan supposedly speaks a different language. But clan is determined by which animal you bond with, and Kitai alone has relatives from three separate clans: Fox, Gargant, and Horse. If marrying someone from a different clan is so common as to be unremarkable, and since the Marat seem to stay in family groups at least some of the time, having separate clan languages would be pretty darn impractical.
    • It's probably language drift; clans with similar languages are likely to be friendlier with one another, simply by virtue of being able to talk, leading to languages between tribes with more animosity to slowly differentiating from one another. Or maybe inter-tribal marriages are quite uncommon?
    • Language difference is not an establishment between clans. Its a natural development between differing tribes. Language drift happens regardless of tribal intermarriage. All that intermarriage would do would be to make for a lot of multilingual tribe members.
    • It's probably more along the lines of dialects than bona-fide separate languages.

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