Most fantasy readers are familiar with Jim Butcher because of The Dresden Files. That's one of my favorite series in its own right, but I also love the Codex Alera series, his epic fantasy.
One of the most interesting things about the series is the history behind it. At one point, Butcher challenged someone to give him the two stupidest ideas he could think of, and then Butcher would write an epic fantasy combining those ideas. The ideas were the lost Roman legion and Pokemon.
So Butcher came up with the land of Alera, a Rome-inspired nation where the magic system revolves around furies (his adaptation of the Pokemon idea). While the furies are elemental in nature, Butcher's version of elemental magic felt fresh and exciting. The most refreshing part of it is that the main hero, Tavi, lacks the ability to use this magic when everyone around him can.
I won't go into too much detail here, but I will say this is a strong contender for my favorite epic fantasy series ever. I loved rooting for the characters. There was a ton of action, as you'd expect from Butcher. Some people think the pacing was a bit off in the first book (too fast at times), but I didn't mind it. I have no issue with frenetic pacing. It keeps me reading.
The stakes are always high in this, and it's just plain fun to read. Maybe it's not the deepest fantasy out there, but if you're looking for some fun fantasy with a lot of battles, magic, and military action, this is a great read.
Rating: 10/10 (Yes, I loved the series that much.)