Written by: Jim Butcher
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Roc Harcover
April 2010, $24.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Book Twelve of the Dresden files
As Chicago's only professional wizard, Harry Dresden has faced demons, vampires, werewolves, dark sorcerers, and hosts of horrors from beyond the mortal realm.
But nothing could have prepared him for this....
I answered the phone and Susan Rodriguez said, "They've taken our daughter."
Long ago, Susan was Harry's lover - until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her body and soul torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. For both her sake and Harry's, Susan disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.
Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered the secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it - against Harry. The Duchess blames Harry for the death of her husband, and she has desired revenge ever since. Susan's secret is the key that will force Harry to take the battle to her, on her own ground, where the might of the Red Court holds sway.
To prevail, he may have to do the unthinkable. For the raging fury of Harry's untapped power has always proved to be his greatest temptation. And now he may have no choice but to embrace the darkness within himself.
Because this time, Harry's not fighting to save a client, the Council, or the world...
He's fighting to save his child.
I remember why I picked up the first Harry Dresden book. It was because James Marsters (aka Spike from Buffy/Angel) was doing the audio book. As a big James fan, I was immediately pleased as punch to get my James fix. It helped that I got hooked into the series. It’s been 12 books and while the series has good and bad outings, above all it has been a very enjoyable ride. The Dresden Files are those books that even though I have piles and piles of to be read books, I still go out and buy the latest installment. I can’t help it. I am hooked.
The book opens up with a simple phone call, a phone call that will change Harry Dresden’s life forever. Not only does he have a daughter, by old flame Susan Rodriguez, but she has been kidnapped. How to process all of that? Harry’s life is already a bit complicated with the war with the vampire Red Court, the Black Council and its machinations, and training ‘grasshopper’ Molly Carpenter. This is of course on top of trying not to piss off Marcone enough that he decides their ‘truce’ is far too bothersome and making sure the rest of his life doesn’t get too chaotic. But Harry’s the White Knight and no one messes with family.
Changes are a coming and they are big. Holy cow are they big.
I have one word that summed up my reading of the last chapter one afternoon….What? That’s all I could think. That was it? NO way. That being said I cant review this without giving something away as subtle as I may try to be. It is the book for Changes after all. So read no farther unless you are a spoiler whore and read the last pages before reading the whole thing (this being that you haven’t read this one yet)
Things I loved: There are some things you never mess with. One of them is children. Now I have grown to love Harry over the series. He is infallible, gets his ass handed to him quite a lot, but in the end he is one of the good guys. Even if it hadn’t been his daughter in danger. Even if he had the chance to choose all over again. I think he would make that same choice. His decision came out of nowhere, but it was a decision that needed to be made. Harry is hella powerful, but not that powerful. He needed that extra boost to save everyone (his brother, his daughter, his grandfather…and all of those wacky people he is loyal to and calls friends), his own well being didn’t factor in. He knew he had to do it to fail only marginally as far as he was concerned. Just enough to save his daughter, his own life didn’t matter in the end. I think maybe he believed that Mab would send in the cavalry if she even remotely thought that her new little toy was not going to make it. Or maybe he is just that crazy. He just knew that he had to save his little girl the way a mama bear protects her cobs. No one hurts family. No one hurts his child.
I liked Susan. I liked the somewhat normal life she represented before things turned to utter shite. I admired her that she was keeping her blood thirst in check, that she was keeping her distance as much as I felt like it tore both her and Harry apart. But to deny Harry his daughter? Like Harry I cannot forgive her for that not matter how much I liked her. Then again what was Harry going to do. She would always be a liability for a man like Harry who makes a living and life out of making the bad guys lives a living hell. She would be a weakness, just the way that Murphy can and will be once their feelings are revealed (though problematic since they cant even reveal those feelings to themselves let alone each other). I hope someday he can know his daughter, that she is a force to be reckoned with in her own right and that Molly will be one wicked cool aunt.
Harry knows he cannot have that normal life. The one with the wife, white picket fence, 2.5 kids and a dog named Spot. Harry is always going to be the hero. It is what he is programmed to be, in his DNA. He sees people, good people in bad situations and cannot help but…well help them. He’s helping keep the Council on their toes, training other young wizards that maybe the Council isn’t infallible. Harry is the teacher now as much as he still the student. He’s learned a lot, grown a lot in these few years (okay I guess it is about seven or eight). He’s made allies, *gasp* friends, and certainly his share of enemies as well (which tends to happen when you are too snarky for your own good with the baddies and yet who would Harry be if he weren’t mouthing off?)
This book is about Changes and boy are there changes aplenty. It is more than the knowledge of Harry’s daughter, of the tides of war, of allies and enemies and how those relationships are changing because of the events of this book. It is about the decisions Harry makes to protect those he cares about and how it will indeed change his life, it is knowledge that maybe people way more powerful than you (oh lets say like Gods!) have an invested interest in you and may have been pushing pieces around you. And of course it is the ending which is a game changer all on its own. For Butcher, he gets gold stars for this. While remaining true to Harry’s character he has changed the game entirely. Nothing will ever be the same. Nothing can be the same. How could it? All I know is that the first chapter of the next Harry book has a lot riding on it and I cannot help but sympathize with Butcher for the pressure that is on that. I have faith. Harry has his battle scars. He’s lost as much as he has won. It wont be as simple as pulling a Gandalf (which Harry would find immensely humorous me thinks) Things aren’t this simple. They never are with Harry. He has the potential to be a scary bad ass as much as he is the white knight in tarnished armor. And that makes him a threat to a lot of people in both this world and those we pretend don’t exist.
This booker is darker, but how cannot it not be. What wouldn’t you do for your child? How far would you go? But the snark we have grown to love is still there, it is just razor sharp sometimes. I feel like we are about to head down the rabbit hole and scary things are on the other side. But I love that Jim Butcher isn’t pulling punches. There is no continuation from Turn Coat. No linear plot line. It just happens and you are left hanging on for a breathless ride hoping it will stop and you’ll go back to the old Harry where there are still occasionally puppies and rainbows, but praying that it doesn’t stop. That clever little formula that you had and enjoyed from the previous 10 books, yeah, doesn’t count anymore. This changes everything, the turning point that made a good series into something more. In a way Butcher just pulled a Joss Whedon on me. No one is safe and anything can happen just when you least expect it. Bravo, good sir! Bravo!
I know I keep prattling on about the holy frak of it all, but that is all I can say. The book was wicked awesome. All you can say is WTF. What the Frak. And shake your head. Possibly a lot. Kind of like me. Still. Not only is he the Winter Knight, a position that will change everything, but well…that other thing. And then the explosions. Sigh. There are eight books left in the series and this book has me more excited about those final eight than I have been about a book series in a long time. This book more than lived up to its title. It invigorated a series and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Please sir, may I have some more?! I guess we will have to wit until ‘Side Jobs’ which is an anthology that comes out later this year. Apparently there will be a novella called ‘Aftermath’ which will deal with the events of Changes, 45 minutes later.
Other little loves: Loved loved Vadderung (yeah Norse gods!), the final battle scene (yeah, cinematically in my head it was epic), the ending (holy cliffhanger of all cliffhangers Batman!), Harry’s costume (love you for that Miss Leanansidhe), The ErlKing (Yeah!), Mouse (Oh how I love you and want you to be my puppy, sadly I don’t speak Mouse though), Toot ( I have pizza and am willing to share), Murphy and Fidelacchius (whoo hoo, Karin with a holy sword, grinning like a schoolgirl), The Beetle (sniff), the voice (whose is it? Hush now) and all of the usual suspects that make me happy.
Things I didn't love so much: Yeah, I got nothing. Except that it ended the way that it did. Curse you Mr. Butcher. Curse you. And your damned awesomeness.
Buy or Borrow: Buy. Buy. Buy. I cannot recommend this series enough. It starts off slow, but not only does Harry grow as a character, but Butcher’s writing grows as well. What is there not to like after all. No borrowing. Just buy it. You’ll like it. And if you don’t I would love to have a long thorough discussion on why the hell not. Especially when you look at it as a whole.
Part of: The Dresden Files
Storm Front (Book One)
Fool Moon (Book Two)
Grave Peril (Book Three)
Summer Knight (Book Four)
Death Masks (Book Five)
Blood Rites (Book Six)
Dead Beat (Book Seven)
Proven Guilty (Book Eight)
White Night (Book Nine)
Small Favor (Book Ten)
Turn Coat (Book Eleven)
Also Recommended: Simon R Green’s Tales from the Nightside or Christopher Golden’s Shadow Saga or The Menagerie.
5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks (Because lets face it he just turned it up to 11)
Have your own review? Let me know and I will post it.