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258 of 268 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book punches you in the face with a fistful of entertainment.
This is a wonderful novel that rewards longtime Dresden followers with callback after callback to previous events in the series (it especially demands a re-reading of Summer Knight in particular in order to fully understand who's who in its large cast of background characters, both present and deceased), and although it would be a poor idea for new readers to jump in at...
Published on November 28, 2012 by daesim

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78 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Motorcycle revving, ramp in place, shark tank ready...
Jim Butcher's P.I. wizard Harry Dresden has been one of contemporary fantasy fiction's greatest characters, entertaining us through 14 books that have kept up a quality rare among most series of its kind. Without any doubt, author Butcher has set the standard for the genre with this must-read series.

Many fans of The Dresden Files will point to the 12th book,...
Published on December 4, 2012 by Daniel L Edelen


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258 of 268 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book punches you in the face with a fistful of entertainment., November 28, 2012
This review is from: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful novel that rewards longtime Dresden followers with callback after callback to previous events in the series (it especially demands a re-reading of Summer Knight in particular in order to fully understand who's who in its large cast of background characters, both present and deceased), and although it would be a poor idea for new readers to jump in at book 14 of a series as long as this one, the cast of characters are so well fleshed-out, the adventure so intriguing, the story so flat out entertaining, they wouldn't necessarily have to know absolutely everything about what occurred in previous stories to feel let in on the fun.

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files have always contained a wonderfully manic combination of screwball comedy, High Urban fantasy, and the detective genre. As is traditional in a good noire story, our lead is a capable protagonist who finds himself in a dangerous situation that is rapidly spinning out beyond his ability to control, thanks mostly in part to a cadre of dangerous women who run the gamut from murderous matron to femme fatale to a literal Ice Queen. Expounding upon his troubles are Harry's increasing list of character flaws. Although Harry possesses magic, he isn't particularly wise; Although he's intelligent, he's not a very good deductive reasoner; and even though he's become powerful due to deals brokered in previous books in the series, he's hardly an invincible combatant. What he is, is a man as prone to making things worse for himself through accident as well as intent.

But, like any good protagonist worth rooting for, Harry remains a motivated scrapper determined to do the right thing and he isn't alone; like the Harry from those OTHER books, his previous deeds have earned him a collection of friends and comrades as determined to keep him alive as he is to get himself killed through his endearingly self-destructive bouts of suicidal stupidity. Mister Butcher as always chooses to balance moments of fist-pumping triumph for our hero with face-palming groans of disbelief at what he's lumbered into THIS time. As a fan of Mister Dresden, I'm inclined to imagine instances where instead of taking humiliating beatings, and demoralizing lectures, he instead coasts through his enemies with consummate ease, soul-crushing putdowns, and invincible skills; luckily for Harry, Butcher is a much more capable writer than I am and understands that the essences of a truly entertaining story are conflict and risk. If Harry was an undefeated juggernaut who could snark his through every encounter and argument with lazy ease, these stories would lose a rich element of growth and suspense that helps make them such fun escapist fare; (To make an old comparison: we like Superman, but we ADMIRE Batman. After all, if Superman fell off a building, he'd dust himself off none the worse for the wear; Batman would be a cowled smear on the asphalt and yet, it doesn't keep Batman from challenging things comfortably outside of his weight class).

Putting it all together, I give Cold Days my highest recommendation as a humble Reader. The events in this book are as momentous as they were in Changes (book 12), and without giving away any unneeded spoilers, things will change quite dramatically for characters that we've followed for years. The revelation of the purpose of the Summer Knight was genuinely surprising as was the maturation of Fix, a relatively minor background player for years who in this tale steps his game up considerably, samurai style. Sad fates await some (depressingly sad in fact), but the scope of the conflict becomes far clearer. For me, the thirteen hours I spent reading this book evaporated in no time and left me hungering for more. And just like all the times before, I'll have to wait a good long while to see what happens next. ( There's a fresh mystery that'll make your head "split" when your realize it won't get resolved this go-around, hur-hur-hur).

In closing, read this book. Terry Goodkind went mad with power, Robert Jordan died before he could finish things on his own terms, Piers Anthony became a bit lecherous and unpalatable, and we're slowly losing the great Terry Pratchett. If you were to ask me who gets my vote for which popular entertainment writer to sacrifice a few dozen unrecoverable hours of your precious and finite life to, it's not a hard decision to make;

In Jim Butcher, I trust.
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122 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sigh of relief that the series is back on track!, November 27, 2012
This review is from: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (Hardcover)
I had quite a few quibbles with the last volume, Ghost Story, so I started Cold Days with lowered expectations that it more than surpassed them bringing Harry back to form and thrown into the thick of all things paranormal. So my greatest fears that the series was ruined for me are unfounded at this point.

Dresden awakens inside Faerie's Winter Court with new powers and new debts that must be paid. Summer Knight was the volume that made me love the series since it broadened the Dresdenverse so much and Cold Days explores the politics and inhabitants of Faerie deeper than ever before. We see Mab in all her crazy glory along with nearly every other important figure including many unexpected personages of a magical persuasion. And when Harry is given a seemingly impossible task from Mab, of course, he gets drawn into even greater problems and old grudges back in the real world.

Harry has always been thought of a strong power in the past, but this supercharged version would have stomped on the young Dresden. There is still a heavy reliance on past associates including some that might have been better left out, but outside of that the action and detective work was incredible. Harry's magical island, Demonreach, is vividly explored with many of its secrets finally unveiled. Cold Days more than most any other volume has payoff and reveals galore for long-term series fans. Many of the dots that have been tossed Harry's way over the length of the series are connected to great effect and seemingly disparate cases finally make sense.

So if you're still hanging in there for the series, which I expect most are, Cold Days brings the series back to a nice high with plenty of laughs and things are on track for plenty more action.
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79 of 87 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cold Days is a return to form for Dresden*, November 27, 2012
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This review is from: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (Hardcover)
Since the book just came out, I will try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. I've read every book in the Dresden series and I feel that Jim Butcher is really starting to come into his own . . . especially in terms of how he handles the world-building/exposition aspects of the story. Ever since the events of "Changes" forced both the writer and his protagonist to stop relying on a variety of metaphorical (and literal) crutches, I've found the series to be re-energized. Personally, I was getting a little tired of stock descriptions of the Blue Beatle and hearing Harry pontificate on the mechanics of lifting an engine block. However, there are still some minor issues with the pacing - I found that "Ghost Story" dragged a bit, while "Cold Days" is more akin to a relentless steamroller of plot developments.

This installment reunites Harry with a number of his rag-tag band of allies (although a significant portion of the early chapters are devoted to events that take place in the Nevernever). However, a couple of key reunions are left for future books (hopefully). I am still concerned about the issue of "power creep" as Harry continues to gain access to more and more power, to the point that the Outsiders may be the only remaining threat that has any real weight to it. Granted, the mantel of Winter Knight is borrowed power and Harry makes a point of repeatedly mentioning how outclassed he is by his opponent(s), but I think he doth protest too much.

Butcher has repeatedly stated his intention to turn the Dresden Files into a 20-book series, and I have some reservations about his ability to continue to find new and compelling challenges for Harry & company to face. Fortunately, Cold Days is able to do just that, piling on a series of inter-related potential disasters that Harry must navigate and thwart.

The theme of family (especially family dysfunction) has grown more prominent in this series and Butcher does a lovely job of laying the groundwork for developing that theme in increasingly interesting ways. To my mind, it felt like a lot of what transpires in Cold Days is simply setting the stage for future books, but fortunately there is enough pay-off within the story to keep things enjoyable. The familiar blend of pathos and humor is back, and the story feels less bleak than the prior two installments (although Harry's seemingly ever-growing anger-management issues continue to darken his perspective).

Like some of the other reviewers, I particularly enjoyed the pop-culture reference Harry didn't get (to be fair, Harry was pretty busy dealing with problems in the Summer Court when Firefly was on the air, and I assume his magical abilities would prohibit him from watching it on DVD). On a related note, I appreciated the inclusion of Harry's theory on why powerful wizards disrupt technology when other magical creatures do not (which has been a minor pet peeve of mine over the course of the series).

Overall, Cold Days was a satisfying and well-told story and I am excited to see how the consequences of the climactic events will unfold and reverberate in future entries of the Dresden Files.

*Note - The title of this review is a pun that will only be understood by those familiar with the plot of "Ghost Story"
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78 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Motorcycle revving, ramp in place, shark tank ready..., December 4, 2012
This review is from: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (Hardcover)
Jim Butcher's P.I. wizard Harry Dresden has been one of contemporary fantasy fiction's greatest characters, entertaining us through 14 books that have kept up a quality rare among most series of its kind. Without any doubt, author Butcher has set the standard for the genre with this must-read series.

Many fans of The Dresden Files will point to the 12th book, _Changes_, as a high-watermark, with the following _Ghost Story_ an intriguing change-up. But everyone's favorite wisecracking wizard works best with a corporeal body, so _Cold Days_ has been highly anticipated, especially since 16 months have passed since the release of the 13th book.

Now that Harry has returned to the land of the living, new title and responsibilities in place, he faces not only the usual threats to his person and the good citizens of of the Windy City, but perhaps a good chunk of the Midwest will vaporize if the wizard doesn't scry the latest supernatural unfolding drama correctly. Someone/something is attempting an assault against Harry's personal island refuge, the fae Winter Court threatens to erupt in world-changing violence, Harry gains yet another title and responsibility, discovers a biological timebomb ticking inside him, and it's almost that wackiest/wickedest day on the calendar, Halloween. No time. No options. No way out. In other words, whatever is about to be unleashed on the unsuspecting, Harry will have to do another magic act to keep a lid on the crazy.

In other words, a typical Dresden Files novel.

Butcher visits dozens of past events in the series, drops many character names from prior books, and adds retrospective narrative throughout _Cold Days_, so the book feels familiar to fans. The usual cast of Chicagoans is here, plus some new fae friends and foes. Butcher does a good job maintaining the worlds he has built. But given that the series is at 14 books, this latest is NOT the place to start within the Dresden universe. Anyone attempting to connect with the series will be bewildered by all the aforementioned references. Start instead with _Storm Front_ and read through.

So what's the skinny on _Cold Days_ as a novel of The Dresden Files (and as a fantasy novel in general)?

{NOTE: Some minor spoilers may follow...}

PROS:

* Jim Butcher writes some of the best impossible situations in modern thrillers. No hero in fiction today faces the onion-like layers of threats poor Harry Dresden must contend with on a daily basis. _Cold Days_ unfolds over a mere two days, yet it's 500+-pages long. That's a lot of action packed into less than 48 hours.

* Harry Dresden is not only a badass, but he's a geek badass, which adds that connection to their demographic that the many geek fans of this series love. Harry is one of their own. He plays RPGs and LARPs just like they do; his gaming group just happens to be real werewolves. That connection and the enormous number of geek culture references that author Butcher drops in the pages of this book will keep fans smirking and connecting.

* _Cold Days_ gets the series back on track from the (needed) departure of _Ghost Story_. That previous novel garnered some criticism for its entirely different feel and narrative arc, but it served as an excellent place for rebooting--or taking the series in a different direction. This latest book gives us a glimpse into new vistas for Harry and may keep the series humming for another 14 books.

* Butcher does an excellent job, as usual, of creating a world in the minds of readers. Descriptions of scenes, characters, and events are vivid and root the reader in the story. That's a gift, and few fantasy authors today have the abundance of that gift that Butcher possesses.

CONS:

* Everything mentioned as a PRO above has a caveat.
- Yes, _Cold Days_ is filled with typically impossible situations for Harry, but most of them resolve with a little too much deus ex machina. It's as if author Butcher's impossible situations are too impossible for even him to resolve in any satisfying way.
- Yes, Harry is a geek badass, but the geek references in this latest book feel increasingly like intrusions rather than a natural flow in the narrative, shoehorned in to keep the fanbase smirking. Plus, the references and wisecracks feel increasingly distanced from Harry's character, since he's not really the down-on-his-heels P.I. schmuck he was when the series started.
- Yes, _Cold Days_ is a return to series form after the different _Ghost Story_, but it feels incomplete, like it's a waypoint between stops. Butcher does a good job establishing some new directions for the series, but _Cold Days_ itself doesn't stand alone well. Readers get 500+-pages of establishing and not much real meat of a story. Heaven help readers if Butcher takes 16 months to get the next book in the series out.
- Yes, Butcher is a fine writer, but _Cold Days_ seems rushed and less technically adept than prior books. More holes. More storylines that don't conclude. Forgotten backstories. Confusing character statements. More than any prior Dresden novel, this one necessitated rereading large chunks of the story to understand what the author meant, and even then several portions of the narrative remain confusing. _Cold Days_ is simply less well crafted than most of the earlier novels, and this is not a good trend. (Oddly, I've seen a number of established authors with strong series lately appear to take a step backward in the quality of their books. Perhaps with publishing houses ditching editors right and left, even good authors are suffering for that lack.)
- Most of those PROS above are general to the series and not specific to _Cold Days_. Sadly, this latest Dresden novel doesn't have enough peculiar to it to merit any particular notice, which is a shame given that Butcher largely burned the series to the ground in _Changes_ and _Ghost Story_ and had every opportunity to take us someplace new.

* It took 14 books to mention the war waging between Faerie and its foes? While this was one of the great revelations of _Cold Days_, that it is so critical to the series and yet was never mentioned previously makes it obvious that the author probably never intended this series to go where it has. New ideas are always welcome, but this seems like too much to have ignored. Worse, this war signals more attention to the Fae and Faerie, and honestly, the series feels freshest when it is NOT visiting those lands and their inhabitants. Harry needs to get out of Chi-Town and stay out of Faerie. And for all the mention of the White Council and the wizarding world, almost nothing of them appeared in _Cold Days_, and they are far more intriguing than the one-dimensional Fae. _Summer Knight_, the fourth book and released 10 years ago, was the high point for the Fae storyline. To keep flogging it is not helping the series.

* The relationship between Harry and Karrin has become a chain yank. And despite some fan desires, Molly and Harry should never get together. Truthfully, Harry as a celibate is more interesting. Really.

* One of the strongest aspects of the Dresden Files series is that Harry feels like a character from a bygone era rather than modern day. He maintains a level of chivalry. He's not foul mouthed. He is a genuine crusader for the little guy and for what is good and right. His altruism shines through again and again. All that seems diminished in _Cold Days_. There's a sense that all the rottenness around Harry is finally getting to him, and that's a shame. This book contains more "gray," more F-bombs (and coming from Harry too), and just more of a downhill trend that may make some fans less enthusiastic for the future. The whole book felt sleazier. On a personal note, I felt less connected to Harry after reading this book, like he is becoming just another conflicted, morally degraded pseudo-hero, who looks more and more like the foes he opposes. If that's the direction for the series, I for one will need to rethink my reading it.

In short, if _Cold Days_ is not a full-on shark jump for the Dresden series, it's an approach to the ramp. With this latest effort, the series feels tired. What could have been a fine, jumpstart transition from _Ghost Story_ is an incomplete and unsatisfying read. Every previous Dresden book merits four or five stars, but 14 books into the series, I can't rate this one higher than three. One hopes Jim Butcher hasn't turned on the cruise control, but it appears as if he has. And that's a shame, because contemporary fantasy needs a champion, and Harry Dresden still has enough life in him and his series not to lay down just yet. If only author Butcher can regain the spark before the shark is fully jumped and we readers must remember The Dresden Files for what it was and not for what it became.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Miss Harry Dresden, December 2, 2012
This review is from: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (Hardcover)
I just finished the book, and thought it was very entertaining. The series itself continues to proceed in a coherent fashion, and the writing has improved over time.

My one complaint, perhaps not directed at "Cold Days" specifically, is that these books are no longer "detective novels". I miss the detective stories and the pulp-y, sarcastic nature of Harry. Now Harry is more self-indulgent then self-deprecating, and the humor has taken a backseat to the action.

Not that action is terrible. I finished this book in a weekend and cannot wait for the next; however, I question whether moving the story further and further from "reality" is a wise move for this character. For many books now Harry has not been the "only wizard for hire", and "Cold Days" continues that trend.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm not dead yet! I'm feeling better! I think I'll go for a walk..., November 29, 2012
Cold Days marks the beginning of the second half of Dresden's saga. If you are new to the series, stop here, go back to Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1), and read your way through the first thirteen books, then Side Jobs, and then come back. I'll wait here. Now you're up to date, let's go -

Preflight checklist: Jim Butcher, one of the best storytellers in modern fantasy, back in the saddle? Check. James Marsters is back as the Audible/audio incarnation of our favorite irreverent, overwhelmed, put upon, wise cracking wizard? Check. Geek/pop culture humor? Check. A crap-ton of magic gets thrown around? Check. The old crew is back in the fight? Check. Harry's up against something far out of his weight class? Check.

Harry was only "mostly dead" and returns to the realization that he failed to avoid the consequences of the bargain he made with the Queen of Air and Darkness. He is now the Winter Knight, a role that Harry has dreaded for most of the series, and now has to live with. The fae have tortured Harry with their deadly games off and on for 13 books, but it all gets turned up to 11 once he is the Winter Queen's knight.

If that's not bad enough, he will have to explain his 'death' and current role to the White Council - and to be clear, that and several related explanations do get sidestepped in Cold Days - There's too many people Harry needs to catch up with to cram it all into one book. Especially since he's got so much on his hands.

Demonreach, the island he has attuned himself to, sitting on top of a network of magical ley lines, is about to explode, with enough force to cause Google to update it's satellite photos for the entire western hemisphere. Oh, and Mab's first task for Harry? No less than the assassination of the Winter Queen That Will Be - her own heir and daughter, Maeve.

Everything's on the line again, and the only help Harry will find is in the form of his core posse - Thomas, the New and Improved apprentice Molly (now, with less crazy!), Karin, Toot Toot (and the Za Lord's army) and his dog Mouse all sign up for the fight. But the fight is never what Harry thinks it is.

A lot of reveal in Cold Days about the neverending battle in the Fae lands, and the relationship between the Winter and Summer courts, and the Council Gatekeeper. The big picture starts to come into focus, and you, along with Harry, begin to realize the very, very deep waters the series is about to sail into. The stakes have gotten much higher. But with that comes the possibility that Butcher may wind up staging a world-as-we-know-it-ends-here apocalypse with every future installment, and that can wear out the novelty and interest of huge battles that threaten to turn into repeats.

Which brings up what I didn't like about Cold Days. For the first time, Butcher disappoints by retracing territory he's covered before, and fairly thoroughly. Power not wholly Harry's own is used out of necessity, and with it comes the corruption of thoughts also not wholly his own. Dresden spent a number of books with a fallen angel infesting his every thought, giving him power beyond his own (hellfire), only now Lashiel has been replaced by the mantle of the Winter Knight and powers of winter cold and ice. He is tempted with power yet again - not power that he craves for himself, but power he needs to protect the people he loves, and the millions of innocent bystanders who will die if he doesn't. If you remember the Blackened Denarians story arc, this is playing out in very similar fashion so far. Temptation, power, corrupted thoughts, isolation, and distrust all come back in play in Harry's interpersonal relationships. I can't help but feel disappointed at this development. Why revisit this theme and angst again?

Next theme is that Harry, out of fear for his friends, will try to buffer them from a lot of uncomfortable truths. In their emotional reunion, Thomas lampshades this, and seems to accept it as part of his brother's personality, though he works on trying to convince him to open his heart to the people dearest to him (Karin and Maggie).

Finally, the Karin/Harry issue gets sent back through the wash cycle for another spin. With a dash of Molly thrown in to complicate matters. I would be very disappointed if Harry went down the Molly path romantically, for the very reasons that Harry himself has given in several books. However, the spectre of this possibility becomes far more possible in future installments after the dramatic conclusion of the events in Cold Days.

Supposedly, Ghost Story was the middle of the Dresden series, so I anticipate that Cold Days should set the stage for the plot lines that follow.

Buckle up. Or, as Murphy says "Get on the back, *itch!"
It's going to be a helluva ride.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If _Changes_ was a season finale, this one's a Season Premier, November 28, 2012
By 
T. Simons (United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (Hardcover)
If you haven't read the prior books in this series, and especially if you haven't read Ghost Story and Changes, stop reading this review now, go back, and start at the beginning with Storm Front.

If Changes was a season finale for the first major arc of the Dresden Files, this one's the Season Premier for what looks to be the latter half of the series (if Butcher sticks to his planned 20+ book arc). Briefly, Harry wakes up from the (near?) death experience of Ghost Story in his new role as Winter Knight, and promptly discovers that he has to

1) kill an immortal,
2) prevent person or persons unknown from blowing up his personal island and half the east coast along with it; and
3) fend off all the various people who are (as always) trying to kill him.

Not even to mention (4) getting back in touch with the friends and family who might be more than a little upset with him over his suicide. In the process, Harry finally discovers the common pattern that's lurked behind all the various villains in the first half of the series, and (begins) to get answers to many long-term questions.

What I like best about these books is Butcher's talent for "fist-pump moments", and as I read this I lost count of how many times I cheered out loud, or jumped up and down, or shouted out to the empty room; this one's full of red meat, and if you liked the prior volumes you'll love this one. In some ways it's more of a pivotal volume than even Changes was; where Changes burned down the old arc, this one builds up the new.

Butcher's writing is consistently improving with each volume, and this one's no exception, even playing off of and using his prior habits to trick Harry and the reader -- often, just when you think "wait, villain is doing [corny predictable thing they've done before] *again*?", it turns out that said villain is deliberately playing on Harry's expectations to throw him a curveball; similarly, when Harry does something predictable, he usually gets punished for it. There are stylistic improvements too -- the horrible puns and jokes are still there, thankfully, but Butcher's prose steps up yet another notch; one marked improvement is that Butcher does a much better job than he ever has before of grounding this book in actual Chicago streets and landmarks.

Overall, fans of the series will have a lot to enjoy with this volume, except perhaps the always-too-long wait for the next one. The one real flaw in this book is that the denouement is a little short -- another chapter or two of wrap-up after all the _Sturm und Drang_ of the last few books would have been nice.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Layers and Deep Time, December 1, 2012
By 
L. Roth (Ravena, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (Hardcover)
"Cold Days" is the latest in the saga of Wizard Harry Dresden, literally back from the grave. The previous tale "Ghost Story" had been something of a life changing learning experience in the extreme sense; Dresden spent most of the book dead after having been assassinated. As if that wasn't bad enough, he had to come to terms with the effect of his death on his friends, the consequences for his beloved Chicago, and a good hard look at where his choices had taken him, the debts yet to be paid. Dresden being who he is, he didn't let being a ghost keep him from finding a way to "bring it" to the bad guys and coming to the aid of his friends. But... there's a price to be paid.

"Cold Days" is about that price. Dresden has been returned to life through the agency of Demonreach, an enigmatic magical entity with whom Dresden established a bond several novels back and Queen Mab of the Sidhe, with whom he signed on as her Winter Knight in exchange for her aid in rescuing his daughter from the vampires of the Red Court. Her every wish is Dresden's command now; Dresden had hoped his death would have kept him from becoming a monster in her service, but like so many other plans he's made in the past, it's not to be. So, he's got to roll with the changes and try to find a way to keep his soul while in Mab's service.

And that service is not going to be easy. The introductory part of the book involves weeks of physical recovery from his death that merge into deadly attacks which increase in intensity as his health begins to improve; Mab's on the job training just to enable him to survive as a member of her court. Having survived the party in which he's officially introduced to Faerie as her Knight, he's given his first assignment: a hit job on an immortal, by definition not possible. And, as in all dealings with the Sidhe, the information he's given is ambiguous and incomplete.

After the initial set-up, "Cold Days" is standard Dresden in some ways. Author Jim Butcher has him trying to figure out what's really going on while surviving numerous deadly attacks. Dresden quickly discovers the hit job is part of something far larger - Demonreach and a mysterious island in Lake Michigan is at the center of an immediate threat of most of North America, and a longer term threat to both human and magical worlds. New enemies lurk in the dark - and there's a time limit. Dresden discovers he's got perhaps 24 hours to put it all together before it all goes down.

Along the way he'll have to handle old friends (and enemies) as they discover his return. He'll deal with numerous mundane and magical attacks. He'll have to face legendary beings in his search for answers and aid. And he'll have to cope with his new powers as Winter Knight while fighting to remain true to himself. Power of any kind is changing, but the mantle of Winter Knight comes with a lot of baggage. And, he'll have to do this almost literally on the run while the clock is ticking down...

What makes a Dresden tale different from a standard magic and mayhem adventure tale is the way Butcher keeps peeling back layers to reveal new interpretations of what Dresden has been through in the past. This tale really begins to show how deep in time the roots of this struggle go, how long the forces shaping Dresden and the larger battle have been at work. Revelations are made; implications manifest in surprising ways - and the consequences at the conclusion of Cold Days for Dresden and those closest to him are immense. And, of course, there are some loose ends foreshadowing further Dresden adventures to come, both at the personal level and at a far larger remove.

Dresden is starting to show alarming signs of maturity. While still having a problem with running his mouth at times, he's learning some discretion. He's beginning to think past the surface of events taking place around him, realizing there's a hidden context he's only starting to appreciate. His struggles to control himself as the ingrained character of the Winter Knight seeks to mold him to a long established pattern also force him to take a hard look at his emotional relations to those around him, and how he's been avoiding dealing with them. Fear of intimacy doesn't begin to capture all the nuances, not with the all emotional scars he's received - and inflicted - on those around him.

For any fan of the Dresden series, this is the latest must-read tale. If there's any weakness to it, it's the frantic pace at which everything unfolds. That, and whether or not you can wait till the next installment comes out. It's a trade off. Is it better to have a series in which the story arc from book to book is largely self-contained, or is a series improved by a longer story arc building across all of them? The Dresden tales are definitely of the latter type.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great action, but the structure is starting to strain suspension of belief, December 29, 2012
This review is from: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (Hardcover)
Overall, I did like the book, which was given to me at Christmas. However, after reading it, I found I could've waited for the softcover release.

The book has great action sequences, and Butcher is great at selling the thrill and danger of the moment. You will also not see the surprise ending coming -- and it's a good one. However, Butcher shoved so many simultaneous crises in one plot that it strained my suspension of belief -- not as bad as the last Harry Potter book, but enough that I didn't enjoy it as much as others.

I think the one thing that I'm truly bored with is the relationship between Harry and Karrin. Once again, Karrin sounds Harry again with the "I can't trust you personally but I trust you to save the world" schtick. It's getting nearly as bad as "Smallville" where Lana was doing nearly the same thing to Clark so often that by season 4 or so I was truly rooting for Lex Luthor to kill her. Not so with Karrin -- yet. But would somebody please figure out that if Harry was sexually happier that he would be less likely to go postal?

Anyhoo, I still liked the book, but wait for the paperback. Butcher still uses his same (getting tired) formulas, so it's still good, but nothing you really can't wait for. Save yourself some bucks and wait for the paperback.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This one left me cold..., February 18, 2013
By 
R. Cormier "musicbook1" (Santa Fe, NM United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files (Hardcover)
The Dresden Files is my favorite series of all time since the first book. It is the only book or series that I pre-order the hardcover through Amazon.com, instead of downloading the eReader version. Cold Days left me cold.

It was very wordy... pages and pages of the main character ruminating reminded me of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series after book 5 or 6 when half of the voluminous books did nothing to develop the characters or the plot. I kept reading and reading, hoping for something to actually happen every few chapters. Listening to a fictional character thinking about anything that might come into his head just didn't engage me. Are novelists being paid by the word? Twice in the novel, Harry Dresden even gave us lessons in morality, using his ruminations to preach to us. That was new. This was the first Dresden novel I could walk away from for days at a time, not mildly curious about what Harry's next thought might be.

Plot-wise, I miss Harry the Private Eye working to solve actual cases. Now he's busy with gods and angels and demons and a wide assortment of mythical creatures and their petty politics. Even Santa Claus made an appearance in this one! I have always remarked about how Jim Butcher's Dresden novels got better each time... Cold Days felt to me as though they've peaked. I hope that Harry might rejoin us mortals soon for some real detective work.
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Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Hardcover - November 27, 2012)
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