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Tag: The Dresden Files

Changes

by on May.03, 2010, under books

I will try my best not to spoil anything with this review, but it will be difficult.  I am going to assume, though, that if you are reading this review you already read the previous books.  So if you haven’t I apologize if I spoil anything from one of them.

When we left Harry last, the wizarding world was still deeply entrenched in a war with the vampire Red Court, he had helped bring the existence of the Black Council into the light, and had the White Council, some of his close friends, and himself from grave peril.  But it was not without costs and consequences – Thomas (Harry’s half-brother and ally in the vampire White Court) ended up embracing his demonic nature, Murphy ended up in even thinner ice than usual in the CPD, many White Council members died including the warden that Harry had committed to exonerate, and Harry and McCoy set out to start a Gray Council (a secret subset of the White Council that acknowledges the Black Council as a force to be reckoned with).

Now in the midst of the maelstrom that follows the previous events, something comes up that drags Harry away from all of it for something even more personal (spoiler here:   a daughter that Susan had kept secret from him who is now being held by the Red Court – not much of a spoiler since it is revealed in the first few sentences of the book).  And Harry goes to all lengths to deal with this threat – calling on every ally and asset, calling in every favor, and even makes personal sacrifices he wouldn’t otherwise have considered.  He also ends up making an array of sacrifices that he would rather have avoided.

As I read this and as I’m now reading the second book in Jim Butcher’s other series, The Codex Alera, I can’t help but be increasingly impressed and enamored with this author.  In this series, he has a great and subtle way of peppering in a few pop culture references that only readers of my generation are likely to pick up on (which you have to pick up on them or you’ll miss them as they are not at all explained).  And with both series’ Butcher shows as they progress that he had clear long-term plans in each, yet neither include volumes that are too incomplete to enjoy on their own or too reliant on past story to follow without pretext.

In a word, this latest book was brilliant.  I enjoyed every sentence of it from start to finish (even the ending that left me in shock and ready to cry).  I really hope that there will be more in this series.  I know that Jim is releasing a collection of all of the Dresden short stories that he has written over the years (including a new one related to this latest volume) which I will definitely be purchasing and reading when it hits the shelves in November.  But I cannot except that this story might be over – especially with so much still unresolved (e.g., the Black Council still at large, some of the swords still unallocated).  There has to be more in store for Harry and his intrepid companions.  So I will be waiting patiently, Mr. Butcher.  The ball is in your court.

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Turn Coat

by on Jul.01, 2009, under books

In a world where magic is secretly all around us and an entire kingdom of dark, supernatural elements live in realms both parallel and beneath Chicago, one man is fool enough to stand against his allies to defend his foes … wait, what?  It seems that that turns out to be the plotline of the latest volume in The Dresden Files series.  In Turn Coat, Harry finds a battered version of his long-time antagonist, the Warden Morgan, at his door looking for help and asylum.  It turns out that the White Council is hunting him down for the murder of one of their senior members.  Hmm, turn the man in who spent years trying to have him killed and be a hero, or hide him away and undertake the task of proving Morgan innocent without getting his own head lain on the chopping block (literally).  Tough decision.

It turns out that despite Morgan having been found standing over the victim holding the murder weapon and having recently gotten a bank deposit of several million dollars into his account, Dresden opts to give him the benefit of the doubt.  And in the process of trying to gather evidence in Morgan’s favor, Harry finds himself facing off with White Court vampires, White Council wizards, an army of men in gray suits, a skinwalker (one hell of a powerful and scary immortal creature, believe you me), and an island (you’ll have to read it to understand it).  In the scuffles that ensue, there are no shortage of casualties on the home team – both physical and otherwise.  But the prize at the end of the day is the posibility of revealing the identity of one of the members of the “Black Council”.

As usual, Harry manages to pull a lot of aces from the deck from which he is dealt (which is generally stacked against him) and manages to shake up the status quo with his own personal flare.  But I have to say the Jim Butcher went above bar with this one.  Turn Coat is one of the most exciting volumes of this series I’ve read to date – I got it for Father’s Day and finished it last night (that may not seem like much, but for me it is – I don’t read fast).  I don’t know what I’m going to read now that I’m up to date on the series.  I may have to see how Butcher fairs with his pure fantasy series.

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Small Favor

by on Jun.17, 2009, under books

In this book, the tenth in The Dresden Files series, Harry finds himself facing down some surprisingly powerful new foes as well as some incredibly powerful but familiar ones.  And as usual he has to get through the day using a blend of cunning planning, quick thinking, and deadly improvisation.  But this time around, not everyone comes out the other side unscathed (well … I guess it’s not like everyone does any of the other times either).

In Small Favor, it is about a year after the events of White Night and things are going well – Molly has been progressing well with her training, The Para-net has been very successful, and Harry has even learned some new tricks by virtue of his own tutelage.  But it seems neither court of the Sidhe are content to let him rest for long and it seems that Murphy brings him a case that has fallen angels written all over it.  Through the course of dealing with these issues, he manages to take down a handful of gruffs (large, strong fairy creatures that look like, well, bipedal goats), an obscene number of hobs (violent monkey-ish creatures that are adverse to light), and a half a dozen Denarians – all without using a lick of fire.  And while Harry rarely goes through these things alone, this time around he calls in almost the entire Scooby gang – Molly, Michael, Murphy, Thomas, Kincaid, the Archive, Luccio and the wardens, as well as several of Marcone’s associates (since it seems that it is Marcone playing the part of damsel in distress this time around … again) – he also ends up getting some unlikely and unique forms of help along the way.

In the end, Harry hands the bad guys their collective asses and gets the girl (for real – on multiple levels).  And while a certain Knight of the cross finds himself compromised, an unexpected candidate becomes apparent.  If you’ve read the series up to this book, this volume is a must-read.  If you’ve stopped some number of bookx back, catch up.  If you’ve read this already, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

I’d like to note that (in case you hadn’t noticed) I’d gotten into a pattern of doing book reviews on Wednesdays.  Unfortunately this one will likely be the last one for a while.  I have yet to even pick up book 11 (I’m cheap) nonetheless read any of it (btw, if you want to get it for me as a birthday present – it is called Turn Coat by Jim Butcher and my birthday is in mid July).  I also haven’t picked up anything else to read, so this column will be shelved for a while.  I’ll try to fill in the gap somehow, but likely by starting some other regular pattern (say on Tuesdays) so this slot can remain open.

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Proven Guilty

by on Jun.03, 2009, under books

In case you haven’t been keeping up, Harry Dresden – the same that has been on watch by the White Council for years – is now a Warden.  It seems the war with the Red Court (a particularly powerful brand of vampires) has hit the wizard justice league pretty hard and run their numbers thin.  So now Harry is charged with protecting the citizenry of Chicago and the surrounding region from supernatural threats … officially (he has been doing so the whole time anyway, now he just has jurisdiction).  But wearing that grey cloak is not a simple charge and as usual there are those who would see him fail.

In Jim Butcher’s eighth volume of The Dresden FilesProven Guilty – Harry finds himself helping out a friend in need.  But what starts as simply bailing a friend’s daughter’s boyfriend out of jail evolves into a struggle with a number of fairy creatures who look like horror villains and feed on fear and ultimately into a battle in the heart of the Winter Court in the Nevernever.  And all the while, Harry still is struggling with his own inner demons (or more specifically an inner fallen angel) as well as some conniving behavior by some White Court vamps who seem to leech onto the fear-feeding action.  And in the end Harry finds himself facing some tough decisions that may change the rest of his life.

Once again, Butcher places Harry in some thrilling and precarious positions and as usual Harry always seems to have another card up his sleeve.  Harry continues to grow and surprise all the while continuing to be himself without apology.  There is little else I can say besides queue up the next book.

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Dead Beat

by on May.27, 2009, under books

What is the ultimate weapon against necromancers?  I don’t want to give it away, but it is as tall as a 2-story home, as long as a bus, and eats zombies like they are animal crackers.  To find the whole answer, you will need to read Jim Butcher’s seventh addition to The Dresden Files – Dead Beat.  In this volume, our intrepid Harry finds himself thrown into the middle of a conflict between several wielders of the dead.  And in the midst of dealing with the drama associated, he does not go without being accused of going a little nutty.

As usual, Dresden finds himself dealing with a case he can’t turn down regardless of the risks involved.  Harry also comes to find himself getting tangled up with the wardens again, but in a way entirely different than even he could have suspected.  Plus he has to contend with an annoying roommate in the form of Thomas Raith (his half brother, half incubus), a lead weight around his neck (paranormally squeemish medical examiner Waldo Butters), and a puppy that grew a lot bigger than anticipated (the name Mouse would be more accurate if the u were to change to an o).

As expected, Harry deals with the punches and manages to win the day a number of times against enemies bigger and badder than him.  He also manages to do a good job protecting a number of people who need it along the way.  But if the twists and turns of figuring out who the bad guys are and what they’re up to aren’t enough, Harry finds himself dealing with some unusual internal issues.  And in the end, Harry wins the day, but very few good graces for the path of destruction it took to do so (collateral property damage seems to be one of his strong suits).

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