October 07, 2011

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

I have mixed feelings on this third edition in the Dresden Files. There were elements I really liked, and then there were elements that drove me crazy. I'm not going to recap the previous stories as there are numerous books in the series and that would get to be a book in itself.

Harry Dresden is a wizard. Not the kind that does cheap magic tricks, but an actual wizard who casts spells and performs other feats of magic, and he just so happens to be listed in the telephone book, but no parties please. He's protected Chicago from lots of evil and this time is no different. Ghosts are going crazy and attacking people outside of the Nevernever (the magical realm). This is causing a flux in the barrier between our world and theirs and is causing some real problems. Particularly when a demon is on the loose and seems to be after Harry and his friends in addition to these problematic ghosts.

If this wasn't enough, Harry and his friend Michael (a Fist of God with an impressive sword) after trying to fight these foes also have to take on some vampires. The lead of the Red Council is mad at Harry and wants to make his life miserable. Another woman who wants to make him miserable is his Fey Godmother. Harry should really learn to stay out of trouble, but unfortunately he needs to solve this mess and rescue the good guys before he finds himself killed. It just seems like he's up again insurmountable odds.

I have some characters I like in this book and some that I don't. Harry's an all around pretty cool character. But for some reason Butcher gives him a new "phrase" in this book and makes him act like someone who's heard a bad joke they like and wants to make sure everyone hears it. In this case, the phrase was "Hells Bells" and he uses it almost every page (and sometimes two a page) in the second half of the book. I may be exaggerating a little bit about the amount, but not much. Otherwise Butcher cuts down on describing every aspect of Harry's clothes and focuses more on the important details, which I think is better since Harry is the narrator and wouldn't be that focused on himself.

A new character in this novel, Michael, I'm not particularly fond of. When he's not talking, he's a pretty awesome guy. However, being the Fist of God, when he talks, it is very preachy. After awhile I got tired of him telling Harry not to curse in front of him. He's married to quite the dragon as well. The rest of the characters in the novel were pretty well done. I especially like the vampires from the White Court.

Butcher is pretty good at description. So much so that at times you feel you're reading the setting for a role playing game because its almost like the story is being set up for you to play. This description can get him in trouble though (at least in my opinion) because when it comes to describing girls in this novel, I don't think there's ever been an ugly or one or even one that's merely average. They're all gorgeous which just doesn't seem very realistic. He does do a good narration though from the point of Dresden, so I'll forgive his flaws.

This was a pretty good story, it was just some of the elements I can't stand. If he had focused more on the plot line then some of the repetitive elements of characters and descriptions, this could have been an excellent story. As it is, I still plan on continuing with the series.

Grave Peril
Copyright 2001
378 pages

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