Book Review: SMALL FAVOR (The Dresden Files)

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Book Review: SMALL FAVOR (The Dresden Files)Jim Butcher
ROC
2008

Wizard Harry Dresden’s life finally seems to be calming down. The White Counsel’s war with the vampiric Red Court is easing up, no one’s tried to kill him lately, and his eager apprentice is starting to learn real magic. For once, the future looks fairly bright. But the past casts one hell of a long shadow. Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, calls in an old favor from Harry. Just one small favor he can’t refuse—one that will Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally and strain his skills and loyalties to their very limits. And everything was going so well for once…

It’s the tenth book in the ongoing Dresden Files series of novels, which means we’re two-thirds of the way through with what’s out there at the time of this writing. Just a little aside: On the Good Reads entry, there’s one reviewer that’s been keeping a tally of how many times the proclamation of “Hell’s bells” is made by Dresden. Here in Small Favor, it looks like it was said 21 times. Anyway, how goes this installment in the series?

Another year has passed, and here we start as Harry Dresden receives a visit by Queen Mab of the Winter Fae, calling in one of the favors Harry owes her. And this one entails being her emissary and protect John Marcone, the “gentleman” crime boss of Chicago that has played some considerable part in Harry’s life since the first book. This is no easy task, as he’s constantly attacked by the goatlike soldiers of the Summer Fae called the Gruffs. Then the Denarians show up again, as does Ivy the Archive, and then the party really gets started. The Archive is kidnapped, and everyone shows up on an island of really dark mojo for yet another explosive and wacky showdown. And not everyone gets out unscathed.

Aw, yeah, the Billy Goats Gruff. While the first couple make for some rather tense action scenes, the showdown (in a manner of speaking) with the third Gruff uses more of Dresden’s gift of wit in a way that’s just downright hilarious. That aside, though, the book hits all the standards that the series has, which at this point would normally mean things getting a bit stale and predictable. But, as reading Small Favors proves, things are stirred up in the narrative to keep things fresh. And the fate of one of the major side characters is quite shocking, to say the least.

Overall, another fun read, the momentum not slowing a bit. On to the next one…

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Book Review: WHITE NIGHT (The Dresden Files)

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Book Review: Dresden Files 9 - White NightJim Butcher
ROC
2007

Someone is targeting Chicago’s magic practitioners—the members of the supernatural underclass who don’t possess enough power to become full-fledged wizards. Some have vanished. Others appear to be victims of suicide. But now the culprit has left a calling card at one of the crime scenes—a message for Harry Dresden. Harry sets out to find the killer, but his investigation turns up evidence pointing to the one suspect he cannot possibly believe guilty: his half brother, Thomas. To clear his brother’s name, Harry rushes into a supernatural power struggle that renders him outnumbered, outclassed, and dangerously susceptible to temptation. And Harry knows that if he screws this one up, people will die—and one of them will be his brother…

Ninth book in the ongoing Dresden Files series, this one involving a murder mystery and the White Court Vampires again. Also, that pesky fallen angel that’s been stuck in Dresden’s head. I can only imagine how annoying that would be. I already have enough trouble with voices without having a fallen angel taking up residence inside my noggin. Anyway, considering the book itself…

Someone, or something, is killing magic practitioners in Chicago and making them look like suicides. While investigating, Harry discovers his former love Elaine is in town banding the other minor practitioners together for safety. He comes cross a mysterious gray cloaked figure with tries to one of the surviving necromancers from Dead Beat, and a branch of vampires who feed off fear are responsible for the suicide-looking murders. Meanwhile, Harry’s half-brother Thomas has been smuggling magically talented women out of the city to protect them, they’re attacked by ghouls, and Harry saves Elaine from an attack. Seems Madrigal Raith–the Lord of the White Court of vampires–is behind all of this, and so Harry rallies the troops to confront him about his shenanigans of late. Things go boom.

Overall, White Night was a pretty good supernatural mystery that continues the overall drama and story of Dresden’s life. There’s some further development and a bit of insight into just what kind of dog Mouse really is, the whole White Court vampire dynamic makes for some amusing soap opera drama and such. Also, there’s a surprise resolution of an arc that I thought was going to be stretched out a bit longer, maybe the next couple of books or so. Long story short, though, another action-y urban fantasy noir mystery with just a hint of cheese goodness.

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