Tavi, the young hero of Furies of Calderon (2004), is now in the capital, ostensibly serving as a page but secretly training to become a spy. When the first lord falls to a sorcerous attack, Tavi and his closest friends and teachers must conceal the lord's condition lest the realm fall into civil war. In the Calderon Valley, a long--forgotten horror awakens and heads for the heart of Alera, while Tavi's closest relative, the newly appointed Steadholder Isana, faces at least two sets of assassins. This is a fine coming-of-age, fantasy-action novel. The characterizations are excellent, and the plotting is very well developed. The second book of the Codex Alera, though not as exciting as Furies, includes plenty of action, and Butcher provides enough background so that it can be enjoyed without having read its predecessor.