J A Garrett

Curiously nerdy posts.

Jim Butcher: Worst to Best, part 2.

And now it’s time to resume my series of ranking the works of Jim Butcher… or, more accurately, The Dresden Files.


#11. Summer Knight

Logline: Private detective/wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden is suckered into tangling in the affairs of Faerie, where the fate of the entire world-and his soul-are at stake.

What I like: The concept of a White Council of wizards that regulate magic users world-wide is mentioned before this book, but this is the first time we really get to meet them, and get a feeling for how they’re different from most other notable organizations, and yet the same when it comes to politics and petty grudges. It also has really compelling stakes, considering that basically, Harry and company are trying to prevent an ice age that will essentially destroy the world. Not to mention, this book sets up a LOT of major plotlines, some of which are still very much important in the books that haven’t even come out yet. Also, this book introduces Ebenezar McCoy, a major father figure to Harry, and a badass wizard to boot.

What I don’t like: This is probably just me, but for some reason, I have a hard time getting excited whenever I run into a Dresden books centered around fairies. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still superb compared to most offerings in the genre. I guess it’s because I find the other villains and creatures in this series to be just THAT much more interesting. It’s all stuff most readers have seen before when it comes to fairies… they make bargains, they never tell the truth outright, they hate iron, etc.

Favorite moment: I actually have a tie on this one. It’s a toss up between the Lady of Winter offering Harry a deal where he would compensate her by giving her his first-born child – as in, impregnating her. Harry responds by pouring ice water on his crotch. The other one is when Harry and Murphy are attacked by assassins in a Wal-Mart, and Harry uses Looney Tunes tactics to try and beat them.

Original rating: ****

#10. Cold Days

Logline: After being murdered and then brought back to life, Harry Dresden soon realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Chicago’s only professional wizard.
He is now Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. Her word is his command. And her first command is the seemingly impossible: kill an immortal. Worse still, there is a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could mean the deaths of millions.
Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent an apocalypse, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound infinite powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…
His soul.

What I like: After the last book’s housekeeping of the series, this book really returns to major plotlines, and gives you a sense that the series has entered another major act, completely different from the previous books. It tells you what Harry got himself into when he claimed the Island of Demonreach as his own. It tells you what everyone has been up to since he’s been gone, moreso than Ghost Story did. But most of all, it shows you a whole aspect of the series that has been hinted at before, but now is brought to the forefront of Harry’s problem: the Outsiders. We’re probably going to start seeing some H.P. Lovecraft allusions, folks.

What I don’t like: Remember what I was just saying about fairies? Yes, this book is again all about fairy politics. In fact, it begins with a ponderously slow party in Arctis Tor (Queen Mab’s winter fortress) where Harry is put through a bunch of social tests where every fairy wants him dead. I didn’t really care for that. Luckily, the book picks up after that, but the plot of this specific book is curiously similar to Summer Knight. Also, I’m not sure if I like one of the lasting outcomes of this plot. We’ll see. Jim Butcher typically knows what he’s doing.

Favorite moment: When Harry meets Santa Claus. No, really.

Original rating: ****

#9. Turn Coat


Logline: The Warden Morgan has been accused of treason against the Wizards of the White Council-and there’s only one final punishment for that crime. He’s on the run, he wants his name cleared, and he needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. Like Harry Dresden. Now, Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less-than-agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake could cost Harry his head…

What I like: This book really starts digging into the parts of the White Council that are just wrong. It’s almost like a thriller with wizards, and also part murder mystery. It’s also really cool to see a few of the notable council members more in depth. Also, this book has one of the most dangerous villains in the entire series in it: The Skinwalker. It’s brutal, it’s ruthless. It attacks the good guys, it attacks the bad guys. It tortures them, it stalks them. It makes the final showdown that much more interesting. “Injun Joe” is pretty flippin awesome in that part. Also, the climax on Demonreach with the whole of the White Council bearing down on Harry is epic.

What I didn’t like: I really, really didn’t like how Harry’s relationship with Luccio was resolved and ended. The whole “I was under a bit of mind control, and that was the only reason I was attracted to you like that” just felt cheap. It felt unfair, and rushed. I understand the real reason for why it was wrapped up so quickly (the plot of Changes would have gotten a lot more needlessly complicated if she was still around), but geez. Have Harry dump her and say it didn’t feel right anymore or something. Have her say she can’t handle being around such a loose cannon. But having it be magic mind control? Ick.

Favorite moment: Another one with two. When the Gatekeeper, a member of the council who can see the future and possible events, talks with Harry about how he is fighting a battle he cannot win. Then Harry steps on the island he just bound himself to, and asks “How about now”? The Gatekeeper’s reaction is classic.

Also, the numerous times Harry returns to his apartment and finds Morgan and Molly at odds, with his dog Mouse being the only sane one to keep the peace.

Original Rating: ****


Two more of these to go! I really am getting the itch to go back and read these yet again, but I want so badly to read new stuff, too. The life of a bibliophile… it’s tough.



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This entry was posted on August 1, 2013 by in Book recommendations, Books, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , .
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