My review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Posted on December 26, 2012


I have not been reading the Dresden File books from the beginning.  I have read all of them, but I started with Dead Beat, because, you know, a T-Rex in downtown Chicago.  After that I started with the beginning of the series.

That is probably where everyone should start.  Butcher may be trapped by his own success with these novels.  It’s a trap that I would dearly love to be caught in.  But Cold Days is the 14th novel in the series.  A series that also includes at least 10 short stories and has spawned an RPG.  Butcher has created a rich and deep fantasy universe that the uninitiated might find themselves drowning in.  He does a good job of providing context and background but there is simply too much to go over.  The book would be twice the length and terribly boring.

Harry Dresden, the focus of the stories, is one of the most powerful wizards on the planet.  He doesn’t consider himself one, but considering the weight classes he keeps fighting in, the evidence is fairly obvious.  That said, Butcher has established that wizards do MUCH better when they have time to prepare.  To get around that, Harry Dresden never has time to prepare.  In Cold Days, he has twenty-four hours to solve the latest crisis.  That is somewhat shorter than normal but I don’t think I’ve read one of these novels where the timeframe of solving the case or saving the victim has been more than three days.

That’s the formula.  And it is a formula.  The same forumla in every novel.  The variables change.  Dresden has grown and changed through the novels but the format never does.  I don’t mind the formula.  Butcher executes it well.  He has mastered it.  He keeps it surprising even though you know something has to be coming.  And he always uses the gun shown in act 1.  In this case, that gun was the training his apprentice, Molly Carpenter, was receiving from the faerie court of winter.  Which brings me to the only spoiler I will put in this review.  The next part will be written in white text.

Butcher provided the out for Molly and Harry already.  The whole thing about being able to hand mantles to others on Halloween is the out.  I don’t know how many novels it will be but Harry and Molly will have the opportunity to pass being the Winter Knight and the Winter Lady to someone else.  That may make the novels until it happens less enjoyable.  But I suspect Harry will only have 1 more birthday until he is no longer the Winter Knight.

I enjoyed Cold Days.  More than I did Ghost Stories.  Ghost Stories was a transition novel.  Necessary, but with all the weaknesses of a transition novel.  Cold Days stands on its own.  It follows the formula but is well executed.  If you have read the Dresden novels and enjoy them you will be well served by this book.  If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and try the early ones.  By the time you get to this story you will be happy with it as well.

That is all.

Posted in: Books, Fantasy, Reviews