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Small Favor (The Dresden Files, Book 10) Paperback – March 3, 2009
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Praise for the Dresden Files
“Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Philip Marlowe.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton and Tanya Huff will love this series.”—Midwest Book Review
“Superlative.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“One of the most enjoyable marriages of the fantasy and mystery genres on the shelves.”—Cinescape
“Butcher...spins an excellent noirish detective yarn in a well-crafted, supernaturally-charged setting. The supporting cast is again fantastic, and Harry’s wit continues to fly in the face of a peril-fraught plot.”—Booklist (starred review)
“What’s not to like about this series?...It takes the best elements of urban fantasy, mixes it with some good old-fashioned noir mystery, tosses in a dash of romance and a lot of high-octane action, shakes, stirs, and serves.”—SF Site
“A tricky plot complete with against-the-clock pacing, firefights, explosions, and plenty of magic. Longtime series fans as well as newcomers drawn by the SciFi Channel’s TV series based on the novels should find this supernatural mystery a real winner.”—Library Journal
“What would you get if you crossed Spenser with Merlin? Probably you would come up with someone very like Harry Dresden, wizard, tough guy and star of [the Dresden Files].”—The Washington Times
About the Author
A martial arts enthusiast whose résumé includes a long list of skills rendered obsolete at least two hundred years ago, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher turned to writing as a career because anything else probably would have driven him insane. He lives mostly inside his own head so that he can write down the conversation of his imaginary friends, but his head can generally be found in Independence, Missouri. Jim is the author of the Dresden Files, the Codex Alera novels, and the Cinder Spires series, which began with The Aeronaut’s Windlass.
Top customer reviews
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To fully appreciate SMALL FAVOR, it is vital the reader has read Death Masks, the 5th volume of this series. It is in this novel the reader is introduced to Nicodemus and his lethal gang of Denarians--demons who possess some of the thirty ounces of silver once given to Judas for his betrayal. Nicodemus and his ilk wield enormous power; they're the most difficult adversaries Harry does battle with. And when the Denarians' ultimate plans are revealed (they want to kidnap the Archive and make her take a silver coin), Harry and his allies wage some serious battles--from Chicago's train station, to the Windy City's Oceanarium, to a remote island in the vast expanse of frigid Lake Michigan. All the while, Harry must deal with some agents from the Summer Court of Fairies sent to interfere with his task--primarily a series of Gruffs (supernatural Billy Goats).
At more than 500 pages, SMALL FAVOR is a lightning fast read--and one of the best volumes in this remarkable franchise. Why? Because of the whirling vortex of subplots, including a budding romance with Luccio, sexual tension with Karrin, a life-threatening injury, and Harry's ongoing suspicion that some of the members of the White Council are in an unholy alliance with evil. Yet through it all, Harry never loses his self-deprecating humor ("Oh, look," he quips to Karrin upon observing a sleeping Kincaid, "he's got a teddy Glock."). Harry may be facing a snarling pack of Denarians, but he's never going to take matters seriously. There's always an off-the-cuff quip at the ready. The action starts from the first page and never lets up; Butcher has a knack for telling a fast-paced tale that never takes its foot off the gas. SMALL FAVOR will reward fans of the Dresden Files series with a grand, exciting read, and entice them to be looking forward to the next installment.
~D. Mikels, Esq.
While I enjoyed the book, it's pretty standard according to the Dresden Files formula. That is, we have a self-contained mystery that gets resolved by the end and we have tie-ins to the overall series arc. We take a break in this one from the war between wizards and vampires that has been going on since about book 3, although the specter of the war does hang over our heroes (a villain tempts Harry with an offer that would give him a lot of power relative to vampires, and Harry can't get a lot of help from his fellow wizards because they're spread pretty thin due to losses they've taken in the war). I'm starting to see an even bigger picture than the war, which is interesting. I'm excited to see where that goes.
The background information we get here is not really centered on one aspect of the story. We learn more about the Denarians ("fallen" beings in symbiotic magical relationships with humans; that's an oversimplification, though), more about the Knights of the Cross (faith-fueled warriors; again, an oversimplification) and hints about how they may be chosen, more about the Archive (a little girl who's also a magical repository of human knowledge), among others. We also meet a few new species of Fae -- Gruffs (rather goatlike creatures associated with the Summer Court) and Hobs (sightless creatures associated with the Winter Court). And we learn a bit about yet another form of magic, soulfire, which contrasts with the Hellfire the Denarians employ. It's this last bit that Harry is left thinking about at the end of the book, and I have a feeling we'll learn a lot more about soulfire in upcoming books. Finally, if you'll remember from a previous volume, Queen Mab of the Winter Court was owed three favors by Harry. He's already repaid one and he's charged with the second one in this book.
One aspect seemed like a bit of an afterthought, that of Harry recognizing an area he hasn't been to before. This is given a name and an explanation near the end of the book. I'm fairly certain something is being set up for a later volume, so I'm willing to let it slide for now. However, I do think something could have been done to work it into the story a little better.
There's not a whole lot to say about characterization. While we learn a bit more about Sanya (a Knight of the Cross) and the Archive, and while something we've learned about John Marcone in the past is reinforced (he's the major crime lord in the Chicago area), we don't get to know the characters a whole lot better. I'm not too upset about that, though. Harry's character develops more than I would have expected in some of the other recent books, and the first-person POV limits how well we can get to know secondary characters. Harry is, once again, under suspicion during part of this book, but that's not so unusual for him. Because you're reading along in Harry's POV, you don't really notice that anything is out of the ordinary until someone else calls him on it. And then you find yourself thinking back and realizing yeah, the accusations make sense. It's cleverly done.
It sounds like a lot is going on, but everything works pretty well together, all things considered. Part of the problem is trying to condense all of these events and concepts into a paragraph or two. Spaced out over a whole book, trust me, it works.
The setting is, once again, the Chicago area (including some important events on an island in one of the Great Lakes). For the first time, an explanation is offered as to WHY so many supernatural things seem to be happening in Chicago. I hope this is developed further in future books. This time, it's winter, and a particularly nasty one at that. It seems to be snowing nearly all the time and there are questions as to whether Winter Court Fae are using the snow to further their purposes. It seems to me most of the characters would have a bit more trouble getting around in this kind of weather (Thomas -- Harry's half-brother -- drives a Humvee and Michael -- another Knight of the Cross -- has a truck, but those are about the only practical vehicles I remember), but I guess the people of Chicago are used to nasty winters!
I don't think I've mentioned this in any of my previous reviews of this series, but there are a fair number of pop culture references in this series, overall. Some are pretty blatant (some references to Tolkien's "The Two Towers") and others are subtler (a character named Thomas uttering the phrase "Leper outcast unclean" -- there's a certain, completely unrelated book you'd have to have read to get that one). I haven't paid a lot of attention to this aspect of things before but as I read the next few books in the series, I'll be on the lookout. One thing you can say about Jim Butcher is that he knows his genre very well, and he clearly enjoys it, and I like reading books by authors like that.
The writing style is similar to before. While there are some humorous moments in this book (I like what Harry did with a catnip toy, in particular), it has a serious tone and a somber ending. Once again, be prepared for adult themes (nothing graphic, though), four-letter words, and plenty of violence, both conventional and magical. There are at least three major confrontations in the second half of the book, with little time for rest between one and the next. This is pretty typical for a Dresden book -- the tension is great and you want to keep reading.
Bottom line: if you haven't read any of the earlier books, go back and start with Storm Front. If you're already a fan of these books, this one is more in the same vein and you'll probably like it, as well. I'm sure I'll break down and buy #11 in a few days.