Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
Having read all of the currently available novels in The Dresden Files, I decided to turn to Butcher's other series, The Codex Alera. While the writing and the characters are definitely what I would expect from Butcher, it is a very different series than his other, probably more famous one. This is more along the lines of the traditional or stereotypical fantasy, taking place in another world with different types of species and focusing on people that have powers over different types of spirits, such as water, wood, earth, air, fire and metal furies. Also, unlike The Dresden Files, this novel is told from the third person limited rather than first person. As a result, Butcher is able to focus on several different characters, such as Amara, a cursor (basically, a government agent and spy), her former teacher Fidelias, Isana and her nephew Tavi. While all of these characters get their time, Tavi is definitely the main character of the novel, and the series. Tavi, a fifteen year old who is rather small for his age, does not have the ability to manifest or use furies and is the only person in the realm who has this "disability." Given that Butcher's other series is about a wizard in a world of normal humans, it makes sense that in his series about humans with supernatural abilities, his main character would be the one person who does not have them.
The novel begins with Amara and Fidelias on a recon mission to determine whether some of the lords of the realm are indeed plotting against the ruler (who is aging and heirless since his son died in a war 15 years before). They indeed stumble across an army, except Amara finds herself betrayed by her mentor. Tavi, meanwhile, lives in the harsher north area and while searching for his herd of sheep with his uncle discovers Marat warriors in the woods. The last war, in which the heir to the throne died, was a Marat so this isn't exactly a good thing. After Amara escapes the enemy camp, the Princep sends her north to Tavi's family's holdstead. The Marat are involved with the traitors, and Tavi and his family finds themselves in a crucial position as the possibility of a war is all too likely.
While Butcher does a very good job of creating a self-contained story, he also gives enough hints about other events to make it a good set-up for a series. Not everything is as it seems, but Butcher doesn't hit you over the head with it to the point where it becomes distracting - instead it allows the reader to entertain a few theories, and also be interested in how the overall arc of the series is going to turn out.