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YMMV / Codex Alera

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Surprisingly enough, Ehren. Lord Aquitaine opines he's a master manipulator and assassin. Amara suggests that Ehren is a loyal servant of the Realm. Aquitaine notes that the two options are not mutually exclusive.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Kord is a brutal and sadistic thug who turned his steadholt into a Wretched Hive. Practicing slavery in a region where it's illegal, Kord sees his slaves as animals and prefers them, particularly the females, broken, so that he can prove his power over them. In a bid to assert his dominance over Isana, he forces her to watch his men gang rape Odiana. When that doesn't work, he reveals his preferred method of breaking slaves: the discipline collar. These devices force slaves to feel intense pleasure or agonizing pain based on whether or not they obey their masters. After showing off the collar on Odiana, he tells Isana that the next night he'll rape Odiana, using the collar to make her like it, then do the same to Isana. Violent and short-tempered, not even Kord's flesh and blood is spared from his wrath. Disgusted with his son, Aric's, natural kindness, Kord physically abuses him, forces him to assist Kord in his crimes, and threatens him with death should Aric refuse.
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    • High Lord Kalarus is a despicable despot who built his realm upon slavery and systemically strips his subjects of every possible resource in his constant plans for war, ensuring their continual poverty. Cruel and power-hungry, in his quest to conquer all of Alera, Kalarus commits one atrocity after another. He keeps his top intelligence agent in line by regularly having her raped and holding her child, Masha, captive, despite the fact that Masha is probably his granddaughter. Kalarus built up his army by attaching discipline collars to children, then conditioned them with the collars for all their lives, ensuring that they would be a mindlessly loyal killing machines once they reached adulthood. When he decided to launch all out war on Alera, Kalarus had his legions slaughter most of the female Citizens in the Realm, and personally carried out attacks on orphanages to draw out defenders. Crippled and defeated in war, Kalarus retreated to his realm and rigged up a Taking You with Me scenario in the case his lands were conquered. He began provoking the great, volcano-dwelling fury, Kalus, and then bound the fury's wrath to his life. His plan was that if he died, the volcano would erupt and kill millions upon millions of people within the region. Unable to disarm the fury, Gaius Sextus is forced to set it off to minimize the damage, killing everyone within Kalarus's realm.
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    • Invidia Aquitaine is a Machiavellian plotter that desires to obtain as much power as she possibly can. When she found out that Princeps Septimus was marrying a commoner instead of her, she arranged for his assassination, triggering the entire conflict of the series. As in, she destroyed the stability of the Realm just because the most powerful man in it wouldn't marry her. Devoid of empathy, Invidia has a habit of betraying anyone if it suits her needs. In order to oust a beloved military officer from his command, she orders her pawn, Senator Arnos, to have a town filled with innocent people executed for the crime of peacefully complying with a more powerful, nonhostile enemy force. She ordered this believing that the commander would refuse, allowing her to label him a traitor and have him removed, thus eliminating him as a potential political threat. Afterwards, the civilians were going to be executed anyway to "set an example." Invidia later joined the Vord in order to save her own life, and voluntarily aided them in their mission to exterminate all non-Vord life on the planet. Hundreds of millions died due to her efforts and, when offerred the chance at redemption by teaming up with the remaining High Lords, Invidia threw it away by attempting to kill her allies the literal second it looked like the Vord Queen had been killed. She did this in order to seize complete control over the wasteland she had helped create.
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  • Crazy Awesome: Tavi. I mean, good lord. He stops in the middle of a battle to sit in front of the gates and play chess with the enemy commander.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Many over the course of the series.
    • Any and all of Tavi's tactics as captain in the third book, take your pick from filling the city with sawdust and then setting it on fire when the invading army took it, dumping blood from the slaughterhouses into the river to attract sharks and the like from the sea, or having his Knights Aeris fly up and focus the air itself into a giant magnifying glass and proceeding to roast the enemies like ants.
      • Most of Tavi's actions in books three and four count, actually. Particularly when he finally declares himself in front of his friends and enemies and challenges Arnos (and by extension Navaris) to a duel.
      • When he declared his true name, the earth shook and the sky turned red. The reader knows that's because a powerful furycrafter hundreds of miles away just made a volcano erupt, but as far as the characters know it's because he's just that awesome. He even thinks something like, "I have no idea what that is, but there's no point letting it go to waste, is there?" It did add something to the delivery, after all.
    • Amara outmaneuvering and then leaving the scheming noblewoman Invidia and her retainers stranded, in the middle of the wilderness... sans clothing.
      • Bernard shooting down High Lord Kalarus from atop a moving air coach. Kalarus then proceeded to fall into the forest below at a speed probably upwards of 100 miles an hour. No wonder he doesn't show up in person after that.
    • Book 6: Lots of them: Starting with when Tavi successfully has several of the Vord Queen's prisoners rescued from right under her nose, and progressing to Tavi tearing down the walls of Riva, Amara killing Invidia, and the final battle with the Vord Queen.
    • A mortally wounded Attis Aquitaine serving Invidia her divorce papers in the middle of an intense duel.
    • Or how about this scene in the climax of book five. Tavi needs boats. He doesn't have any boats. So instead, he carves entire glaciers into boats, and sails them into the Shuaran harbor.
    • Isana is not exactly a fighter. Which makes her slaughtering 6 vord warriors at once when cornered in the sixth book that much more awesome.
    • Bernard taking down a vordbulk that had been shrugging off the concerted efforts of the entire Herdbane Clan with one (slightly modified) arrow.
      Bernard: "Anyone could have done it."
      • And then High Lord Cereus tops Bernard by doing the same thing. Except instead of using an arrow, he uses himself - literally hurling himself down the maw of the vordbulk and triggering a furycrafting that destroyed its entire head, taking himself along with it, to protect his daughter and grandchildren. Manly Tears.
    • Catapults.
    • On a Meta level, Jim Butcher for writing a series based on the concept of Pokémon and making it awesome. (And on a bet no less.)
    • The fleet of sledding ships.
  • Crowning Moment Of Funny - Has its own page.
  • Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming - Has its own page.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Invidia might be a total bitch with an addiction to backstabbing, but she's well-acknowledged as a Raven Hair, Ivory Skin beauty. At least until her duel with her husband leaves her heavily burned and scarred, removing most of the beauty.
    • Brencis. When the person who you've kidnapped and are about to rape, and is about to straight-up murder you, notices how handsome you are, I believe you fufill this trope (though the mind-control collar helped).
    • The Vord Queens. Amara straight-up notes that that the Calderon Queen is very pretty, the Canea Queens look like green-skinned versions of Kitai, and the Awakened Queen looks almost human (except for her eyes).
  • Growing the Beard: While the first book is by no means bad, most fans seem to agree the series gets significantly better starting with Academ's Fury. The first book has some Early Installment Weirdness and a more straightforward high fantasy feel to it and many institutions and facets of the setting are only alluded to without being fully displayed yet.
    • Starting with the second book, Aleran politics plays more of a center stage, and there is more of a focus on well-intentioned characters conflicting with one another over their mutually contradictory ideals.
    • In the first book, Tavi is a child who barely manages to survive and is mostly dragged along for the ride, though it does of course set up his character. In later books, he grows into an adult with responsibility, competence, and insight, and does more and more to arrange his own fortunes with guile and intelligence rather than seizing opportunities that coincidentally show themselves to him.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The Realm of Alera is a hotbed of political intrigue, so it stands to reason that it's full of clever schemers, but two of them cement themselves as head and shoulders above the rest:
    • Gaius Sextus is the aging but still formidable First Lord of Alera. Dedicated to maintaining peace and stability in the Realm by any cost, Sextus uses his powerful abilities of furycrafting and equally sharp political mind to stay several steps ahead of his enemies. Generally considered the only thing standing between Alera and all-out civil war, he uses his expansive intelligence network to keep abreast of events across the Realm and even on the rare occasions when he's blindsided, he still keeps his cool and never loses control of the situation. Even in death he succeeds in sacrificing himself to deal a heavy blow against the Vord and arranges for his grandson Tavi's most dangerous enemies to be killed so he can survive to take the throne. Ultimately, even Sextus's enemies have a great deal of respect for his power and cunning, and know they underestimate him at their peril.
    • Aquitainus Attis, High Lord Aquitaine, is one of the most powerful nobles in Alera and Sextus's main political rival. Though he presents himself publicly as a drunken playboy, he's incredibly charismatic and his hedonistic façade hides a keen political mind. Rather than seeking to usurp Sextus directly, he instead focuses on gathering influence so that when the old man finally dies, Attis will be the only one in a position to succeed him. Furthermore, he also works against the conspiracy of his fellow nobles who assassinated his friend Septimus, the First Lord's son - a group which includes Attis's own wife, whose skills he also makes use of to advance his own ambitions. When Alera is invaded by the Vord, Attis puts himself at the forefront of the fight and holds his people together through one of the greatest disasters in their history, and upon his death even his enemies mourn him and must acknowledge that though he may not have been a good man, he was a great leader who used highly dubious means but always worked for his vision of a better Alera.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Brencis, son of High Lord Kalarus crosses this when it turns out he's using his father's brainwashing technique (already Nightmare Fuel) to turn his fellow humans into slaves for the Vord.
    • Kalarus pole-vaults over it with a titanic massacre in his first appearance and keeps running from there. No second crossing.
    • Senator Arnos crosses the line from "overly ambitious Smug Snake who is The Neidermeyer to his men" to "borderline Complete Monster" when he sends his troops to massacre innocent Steadholts full of civilians of both genders and their children for the sole purpose of provoking the slave rebellion into open war, all so that he can claim credit for crushing them and bolster his career. This act enrages the Canim (a ruthlessly predatory race of Blood Knights,) so much that they would prefer to reject an offered ceasefire than let him go unpunished.
  • Nausea Fuel: Plenty of the effects of Canim ritual sorcery. Of particular note is the fate that befalls a ritualist who tries to challenge Marok, a ritualist of the less-morally-bankrupt old guard: a couple of droplets of blood and a gesture cause the offending canim to vomit up his entire digestive tract.
  • Never Live It Down: Kitai has no intention of letting Tavi forget that he woke the Vord. Tavi tries to counter frequently that it's her fault he did so in the first place, but she has her ways of defusing that argument.
  • Nightmare Fuel
    • The Vord, especially in the second book, before we know much about them. Also the discipline collars and Lord Kalarus's Immortals.
    • The Canim are pretty creepy when they're introduced in Academ's Fury, though they become significantly less so as Tavi (and by extension the reader) becomes more familiar with them. The Ritualists are still fairly disturbing, though, even the decent ones- Blood Magic and all.
    • In First Lord's Fury, Amara serves us up this gem, noting that she seems to be in shock:
      "I saw an earth fury that looked like a gargant bull knock down a building being used to shelter orphaned children. I saw a pregnant woman burned to black bones by a fire fury. I saw an old woman dragged down into a well by a water fury, her husband holding her wrists the whole way. He went with her." She paused, musing over the placid, inflectionless calm of her own voice, and added, "The second minute was worse."
  • Nightmare Retardant - Intentional. At the end of First Lord's Fury, Ehren reads Tavi a series of reports saying that unrest has arisen between steadholders who surrendered to the Vord and the army. The farmers keep complaining that the soldiers are killing "their" Vord— spiders and other creatures that they are using to tend their crops and livestock. Painted in different colors so that no one confuses whose is whose.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: The very concept that led to the series' creation was crossing two ideas: The Roman Legion and Pokémon. Some fans describe it as Avatar: The Last Airbender with the Roman Legion instead.
  • Stoic Woobie: Araris seems to get injured a lot, and that's not even counting his motivations behind his alternate, Obfuscating Stupidity persona. But he really doesn't show his emotions to anyone but Isana, and that's after some serious empathic prodding. Even as Fade, he couldn't catch a break; he tends to get picked on a lot, despite the fact that he seems to be pretty helpful around the house. Even Bernard was pretty curt with him.
  • Tear Jerker: Has its own page.
  • Too Cool to Live: Pirellus of the Black Blade in book 1, and Gaius Sextus himself in book 5.
  • Uncanny Valley: Most of the Vord Queen's attempts at acting human in the final book fall squarely into this, particularly her little "dinner parties" with Invidia.
  • The Woobie: Rook gains a lot of sympathy points once we find out her motivation and past.


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