I am a big fan of the Dresden Files series, and I occasionally like sword-and-sorcery books, so one day when I was waiting impatiently for the next Dresden book, I started the Codex Alera series. I picked up the first one in the series, Furies of Caderon, I read it, and I thought, "Well, what a good book, that Jim Butcher is a talented author." Then I went about my business for a while, without any burning desire to read book two. I checked bookstores when I passed the fantasy section, but for some reason bookstores never stock book two, and it was almost a year before I finally bothered to order it.
So I finally read book two, Academ's Fury. And by the time I was done, I was totally hooked on the series. The first thing I did after I finished the last page was order book three, Cursor's Fury, even though it was only available in hardback. I couldn't help it. I had to know what happened. Cursor's Fury was even better than Academ's Fury - Butcher has this truly incredible ability to get a series off to a good start and then make each book better as it goes along.
I think it's only now, at the end of the third book, that this series is really ready to begin. All of the characters are on the brink of major changes, all of them are well developed, there are incredibly complex relationships between them, conflicts between personal and political goals, between feeling and principle. Characters must choose between good and evil, but they must make even more difficult choices between different goods, which cannot both be obtained, and different evils, which cannot both be prevented. We know who the (many) main characters are, what they're up to, and how it came to be so.
I love the character of Tavi, and I really love that Butcher has written against the genre and created a character who can be a hero in a magical world without ever using magic. And I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment of the series to appear.