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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

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Jesus Ibarra

Check out details on how to win a copy of Storm Front, the first book in this series, at the end of this review.

I am somewhat conflicted about Cold Days, the fourteenth novel in the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, because while Ghost Story was really slow paced and all about studying who the man was or had become over the course of the series, Cold Days was very much the opposite.

As a refresher the Dresden Files center around the wizard/PI Harry Dresden who protects his city, Chicago, and loved ones from the things that go bump in the night. Ultimately, events in the series led to his death, and this book picks up with his resurrection from the last book.

A lot of the plotlines that have been building in the series return, and a lot of questions get answered. We learn a lot about how the fae work and why they exist. How and why the island Harry connected himself to came to be. And hints that a certain angel might be coming back, which would be great because she and Harry shared a fascinating relationship. Also, exactly why many of the events of the last books have been happening, and why Harry Dresden is such an important element in these events and the future. Which make sense since if you follow the series, the author Jim Butcher stated in the past that he has ideas about roughly twenty something case file style books, capped off with an apocalyptic trilogy. It’s probably why this book wasn’t as strong as the last book for me anyways, because it was laying the ground work for the end of the series. Because although the book may have been light in a lot of character growth or introspection, a lot of big things happened within the book’s universe.

Image source: Roc

Let me get to what was great about the book. Jim Butcher’s great writing is back. The dialogue, pacing, prose, and his character’s quirks just shine through. The cameos of some the wonderful characters he has written were really great. In addition, his expanding universe continues to get better. Thomas, Harry’s brother, is also back and they share the best relationship in the whole book. And the stakes are raised, and Harry is made to see that he no longer can just make decisions for the few.

Now for some of the things that bothered me. First of all, a lot of the character work and wisdom Harry learned in the last book isn’t really on display here. Whether that was intentional by the author or not it was somewhat disappointing. Harry was back in the world of the living asking some of the same questions he asked of himself when he was dead. And like I said earlier it felt like a lot of this book was just setting up the end game of the Dresden series, because the conclusion at the end didn’t feel like a plot twist or some great revelation. It read a lot like an author setting up pieces for a further storyline. And my problem isn’t that Butcher wanted to set up some later plotlines, god knows he has always done that well. My problem was that it felt and read exactly like that: a set-up. There was no subtlety, and it did some things to certain characters that just felt unnecessary, because ultimately the story ended the same. There wasn’t an immediate fallout or sense of urgency from the major ending like previous entries in the series.

However my critiques aside, I really did like this book. Because even a Dresden book with problems is better than a lot of things out there. It was a definite engrossing read. Even if you haven’t read the Dresden files it is never too late start. Considering Jim Butcher has been making us wait a little longer in between books, not necessarily a complaint as the writing feels much tighter with the extra time to polish and refine the story, anyone has plenty of time to catch up with this amazing series.

To enter to win a copy of Storm Front, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Storm”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 15, 2012. U.S. residents only.

Use this link to purchase Cold Days & a portion goes to help support KRL:

Jesus Ibarra is 20 years old and currently attends UCLA; with a love of all media, he's always on the lookout for the best finds.

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