Thursday, July 6, 2017

White Night, by Jim Butcher

Today I'm looking at the ninth book in the Dresden Files series, White Night. This is also the point where I may have run out of the audiobooks the library has available in this series so it'll probably be some time before I get to the next book, Small Favor.

Usual Disclaimer: As I am nine books into this series, it is difficult to talk meaningfully about this book without mentioning at least some plot spoilers. I will endeavor to keep those at a minimum, but some necessary spoilers will be included in the review. Read at your own peril.

This book begins with Harry being called in by now-Sergeant Murphy on a suicide where something doesn't quite add up. With a little investigation Harry is able to conclude that these apparent suicide is a magical murder, in fact one of several incidents happening in Chicago. Someone is targeting female practitioners of magic with almost surgical precision. Some have been found dead, and many more have disappeared, never to be seen again. What's worse, before many of these women were killed they were seen with a tall man in a gray cloak, the symbol of the White Council's Wardens. This has made many in the magical community suspect that the Wardens themselves, including Harry Dresden, are behind these murders making it that much more difficult for Harry to investigate.

What unfolds is a plot of intrigue which includes members of the White Vampire Court and an internal power struggle between the three major houses of the White Court. But more chilling is the prospect that the future of wizards and other magical practitioners might be cut off forever by this unofficial genocide campaign by vampires.

Overall much like the other books in this series, I thought this was pretty good and enjoyed myself immensely listening to it. There's just something weirdly compelling about Dresden as a character despite his various flaws and foibles. Plus characters like his half-brother Thomas, Detective Murphy, Bob the Skull, and Harry's super-dog Mouse make me enjoy the series that much more. I will say in this book, there's more evidence of Harry acting intelligently than I've seen in some of the earlier books so I appreciated that. Granted, Harry still can be kind of an idiot sometimes, and some of the decisions of his apprentice, Molly Carpenter, also leave me rolling my eyes with frustration. I almost feel that magic is an evolutionary compensation for wizards being bloody-minded. But without such behavior there isn't sufficient conflict plot-wise so I guess I shouldn't care as much as I do.

There's also the ongoing sub-plot with Lasciel and it turns out that Harry's had a reason the entire time for not giving up the denarius that contains the majority of Lasciel's spirit. I'm not sure if I agree entirely with the logic because I can't quite see how Harry was following it, even in hindsight. But at least it fits with the larger theme of Harry acting fairly intelligently, which I appreciate.

I also like that this book showed how the war between the White Council and the Red Court has effects on people beyond just the White Council. Sure, they've taken an extreme licking and lost the overwhelming majority of their Wardens, but we haven't seen how this has spilled over into other areas of the magical community. With the attack on non-Council wizards, we and Harry begin to see the collateral damage of the war and why working to protect not just the Council but everyone is important.

As I've said before and I'll probably say again, I enjoy this series quite a bit. Harry's definitely a bit of an idiot, but a lovable idiot as far as I'm concerned. It does make me wonder if I should go back and look at the Hollows series again and if Rachel gets any better at her job as well.

- Kalpar

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