Reviews: Grave Peril, Summer Knight and Death Mask by Jim Butcher (Orbit)
Sometimes when you read you want a bit of familiarity or at least I do. I guess you could call it comfort reading. I’d read the first two Dresden books (Storm Front and Fool Moon) last year and I’ve been putting off reading any more. I’ve been saving them. I bet it’s just me that waits to read books they’re looking forward to.
Well over the last couple of weeks I’ve indulged myself and read three in a row and the only reason I’ve stopped is because Amazon are being slow in delivering the next two!
The Dresden Files is a brilliant way of describing the series. Each novel reads like a case file but only selected cases as there is always the sense that things have been happening between whilst we’ve been away. So the world has a life of its own when the reader isn’t around.
Take Michael Carpenter introduced in Gravel Peril. He’s helping Harry Dresden defeat the ghosts that are rising up all over Chicago and their interaction and relationship is natural like old friends even though this is his first appearance, which is striking in itself. Michael carries around a bit sword and Knight of the Cross apparently.
He plays an important moral role in all three stories – as not only does he do what’s right – he does so with God by his side. And that faith or lack of it is something that Harry falls down on quite a lot.
The cliché is that, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, and Harry is always caught in that trap as doing the right thing seems to constantly get him into trouble when he could easily give in the power that a Wizard can control.
Power though has its limits and in The Dresden Files it’s well grounded. The gritty realism of both Harry’s reactions and the consequences of his actions keep everything in perspective so when there is a big battle, and each book has their own ones, they don’t seem fantastical; they seem natural.
In Summer Knight Harry is hired by a Faerie Queen to find the killer of a Knight but the agreement takes Harry back into the Nevernever and mingling with Faerie politics which has a strong emphasis on balance and it’s Harry’s job to correct the balance by finding the murderer or bad things will happen.
And this leads on from the introduction of the Faerie realm in Grave Peril and the affect of making a deal with a Faerie.
What Jim Butcher is amazing at is putting a twist in everything. He makes connections that you don’t see until the pay off. He’s cruel to Harry for the good of the story, though Harry seems to come through end though he always pays a price.
And he usually has to deal with those when something is going on like in Death Masks as the consequences of Grave Peril and his meeting with vampires comes to a head just as he’s hired to find the Shroud of Turin and lots of people don’t want him to take the job including Michael.
The Dresden Files is a series that evolving at a pace of knots. Jim Butcher is brilliant at grounding both the Wizard Harry with the world he inhabits. What probably helps that both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys have shades of grey and they live in the world rather than just people created to move the plot forward.
I’m looking forward to Blood Rites (Christmas post!!) and finding out what trouble Harry Dresden gets into next.