October 07, 2011
Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
Harry Dresden is a wizard. Really, he's even got an ad in the yellow pages. However, lately he hasn't been to much of a wizard sleuth. After the disappearance of his girlfriend (which he believes is partially his fault) when she is half-turned into a vampire, Harry has sunk into despondency. He's finally drug out of bed when a werewolf friend of his wants him to investigate some raining toads. If its really raining toads they are in trouble.
While there though, an attempt is made on his life and it shakes him up a bit. Also shaky, there is a meeting of the White Council (the wizarding rulers) and its about Harry and what to do with him. Add in a Faerie queen and Harry's definitely got trouble. The Council wants him dead, but they also want safe passage through the Nevernever (faerie realm), Queen Mab wants him to find a murderer for her, and still others want him to help search for a missing half human. He's got a lot on his plate and only a few allies to help him. But if he fails, a war between the faerie courts could destroy Chicago and the world.
Harry as a character is only ok. He is always a guilty mess, somewhat more emotional than one would expect in a hardened wizard, and he is very gullible. After the events that have happened in his life I sometime have trouble believing he could persist with these attributes. He does have his redeeming moments when he actually stops being afraid and start kicking monster butt, but those scenes are hard to come by. I absolutely loved the faeries in this book. They were all interesting and widely complex The difference between the faerie Summer court and Winter court was well done and while they had shades of similarity, you could definitely tell there was a complete different approach to things in each.
Butcher as a writer is way too descriptive. He can take a whole page just to tell you what Harry is wearing; which is kind of strange considering Harry's the narrator and I don't know many people who are that inwardly focused. I was relived to see that in this book there was finally girls who were merely average looking or even a few not attractive ones. In the first three books I think every woman he encountered was astoundingly gorgeous. It was refreshing to have that change in this book. For dialogue the book does pretty well at making real conversations (well as real as you can get regarding magical things). But Hell's Bells Butcher stop having Dresden say Hell's Bells every page! The phrase Stars and Stones is little better as well.
I'll keep reading the series because I did like the overall plot and writing of this book. If Butcher could just iron out the few things that annoy me this series would quickly move up to a five star rating from me. Hopefully they improve as they go.