Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

The Dresden files are a great between read. They are engrossing, fast and straightforward. Perfect for when you are looking for a bit of entertainment that won’t strain your brain too far. That’s more or less what I was expecting when I picked up the fourth volume, Summer Knight, but boy was I in for surprise. Butcher really brings out his A game here and really blew me away.

Harry Dresden has been in a bit of a slump. He is feeling guilty that his ex-girlfriend has been turned into a semi-vampire and has been spending every waking minute trying to find a cure for her. This means ignoring things like work, paying the rent and basic hygiene. Then, all on the same day, he is attacked by a ghoul and a pair of hitmen and hired (read blackmailed) by the winter queen of the faerie to find out who killed the summer knight and prove her innocence. If that isn’t enough the white council have decided to hand him over to the red court in an effort to bring their war to a close if he fails. In other words Harry has his work cut out for him.

In previous volumes we have only been given glimpses of the structures behind groups like the white council, red court etc. Here Butcher really fleshes out this with a particular focus on the Summer and Winter faiere courts and does it in a really interesting way. There is also more of an epic feel than previous volumes, lending the story a sense of urgency. Before it seemed that if Harry failed the effects would be localized but now it really seems that if he does the whole world would be screwed. Pacing is something Butcher has always done particularly well and he really out does himself this time. Revelations are well timed throughout the story and are clever enough that the reader doesn't see them coming and yet at the same time make perfect sense. Without giving too much away I also thought that Butcher handled death particularly maturely in this one.

Summer knight is a big step forward in the Dresden Files. Lets hope it just a sign of things to come. Onwards and upwards. 8.5/10

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