cold-days-dresden-filesJim Butcher
ROC
2012

After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard. He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill. Guess which Mab wants first? Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday. Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…his soul.

Here we are, the fourteenth entry into the Dresden Files, and we’ve seen our hapless wizard detective warden take on vampires, werewolves, rogue FBI agents, dark wizards and warlocks, various members of the Nevernever, cantankerous teenagers, unrequited love, and even death itself, to name but a few. Now, having been brought back to the land of the living, Dresden is now taking on perhaps the greatest challenge in his life: fulfilling his duties as the new Winter Knight in service to the Winter Fae without losing his humanity in the process. Does he succeed? Like it’s going to be wrapped up in the course of one book, silly human.

Dresden has been back in the land of the living, and has spent considerable time recuperating in the Fae Court of Winter, preparing for his official inauguration as Winter Knight. Of course, this being the court of the Winter Queen, things aren’t really as cut and dried as a formal party. The festivities include several attempts to kill Dresden, set up by the Winter Lady Maeve, which Dresden takes care of with the help of his physical therapist and Kris Kringle. I’m not making that up. Thus, Mab gives Dresden his first directive as the Winter Knight: kill the Winter Lady. You ever try to kill an immortal? Not as easy as it sounds. But, thanks to some advise by Bob the Skull, there’s a chance…on Halloween, which is a mere few days away. Also, Demonreach–that mysterious island that Dresden is spiritually tied to–is building energy and may be in danger of exploding. This may be due to the various supernatural entities entrapped underneath in a kind of metaphysical prison. In the meantime, after some consulting with various individuals, turns out Maeve may be quite insane (well, more-so than normal…whatever that amounts to), which leads to an obligatory showdown at Demonreach, which ends up with some unexpected promotions.

Tell the truth, it’s a bit rough trying to follow up Changes, but as with Ghost Story, Cold Days doesn’t really concern itself with top that one, and instead forge ahead with a story all its own that continues the journey that Dresden is making. And logically, we’d have to see how he handles his new title as the Winter Queen’s enforcer, which seems to be better than the previous Winter Knight had handled things. Dresden may be operating within the belly of the proverbial beast, but that just helps enhance the delicious mystery that he has to figure out. He’s come a long way from a mere wizard trying to get by as a supernatural detective in Chi-town, and by the time we get to the end of the book, the changes to some of the key characters in Dresden’s life come as quite the surprise. At least to me; I have a tendency to get so wrapped up in the story I’m not paying attention to how things may end. Recommended, as always.

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