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Customer Review

277 of 288 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
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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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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 12, 2012, 2:24:55 AM PST
Kirsten says:
What a great review - summed up my thoughts on the book exactly.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2012, 2:45:05 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 27, 2013, 4:00:32 PM PST
Wulfstan says:
Well written review, quite a bit better than mine, I bow in your direction!

Posted on Feb 13, 2013, 12:07:54 PM PST
David Adams says:
Your excellent review would inspire anyone to snatch this book up. I certainly enjoyed this entry. Cold Days, though, did not demand a re-reading of Summer Knight, as there were not a complicating number of background characters.
Now, Peter F. Hamilton does employ a complicating number of characters in his novels. :)

Posted on Feb 23, 2013, 6:13:02 PM PST
Adam Senft says:
"Piers Anthony became a bit lecherous and unpalatable"? I used to be to a fan of the Xanth series.. up until about Nightmare (#8 or so in the series)after that there were just too many puns and I lost interest. But as remember he always was pretty lecherous, and I guess unpalatable to some folks.

Posted on Feb 25, 2013, 9:42:17 PM PST
Bala says:
I enjoyed your review almost as much as the book. What a succinct summary of the devolution (is there such a word) of Goodkind! Bravo.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 8, 2013, 11:21:05 PM PST
Kate McMurry says:
Terrific review! Thank you!

Posted on Mar 27, 2013, 6:10:31 PM PDT
You don't need to write a book. ALL I've got to say is I love Harry Dresden.

Posted on Mar 8, 2014, 7:20:28 PM PST
What a wonderful review!!
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