Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Small Favor, by Jim Butcher

Today I'm looking at the tenth book of The Dresden FilesSmall Favor. I did find myself enjoying this book and I appreciate seeing how Harry's grown as a character because he actually asks for help from people and goes into situations with an actual plan which makes his chances for success all that much greater. Opposed to the earlier books where he just went off half-cocked most of the time. And as much as Harry hates putting his friends in danger, he's finally come around to accepting that he needs their help and he can't do everything alone. So that's definitely some positive character development that I appreciate from the series.

I also remember mentioning in earlier books about how I was kind of confused with all these new characters that keep showing up in different books with backstories already related to Harry in some cases. But at this point in the story I'm beginning to appreciate the work Butcher did in slowly introducing us to a cast of various characters over several books because now Harry has a variety of friends and allies he can call on for aid. It makes the unvierse seem that more rich and complex. Unfortunately, this is where the spoiler-free part of the review ends.

Dear and gentle readers, as has been said before with this series, it has gotten to the point where it's impossible for me to talk about the book at this point in the series without revealing some spoilers. If you wish to avoid these, I would suggest skipping the rest of this review.

On what starts off as a perfectly normal winter day in Chicago, involved in a snowball fight with the Carpenter family, Harry suddenly gets attacked by gruffs, goat-shaped fairies known for slaying trolls and being some of Summer's toughest hit men. Harry can't think of anything he's done to piss off Queen Titania of Summer, at least recently, but since the snow has come earlier than usual it comes as not much of a surprise when he finds out Titania and Mab are up to their fairy power games again. Mab also informs Harry that John Marcone, recently declared a Freeholding Baron under the Unseelie Accords, has been kidnapped by another signatory of the Accords in clear violation of both the letter and intent of the laws. If Harry manages to rescue Marcone, Mab will consider one of his two remaining favors he owes her to be repaid. And since Mab is, after all, a fairy queen, Dresden's not exactly in a position to refuse.

What unfolds is a plot with the Denarians, the fallen angels bound to the thirty pieces of silver given to Judas Iscariot, who have kidnapped Marcone and seem to be involved in a much longer game of their own. Although Harry also discovers that the Denarians themselves are hardly a unified force and separate factions are pursuing their own agendas. Plus Harry learns just a little bit more about the mysterious Black Council, although who they are and what their overall plans are remains highly vague and mysterious and only future books will hopefully reveal what the heck's going on.

As I said before Harry calls on a lot of help, including his fellow Wardens, Murphy, the surviving Knights of the Cross, and Thomas. And instead of storming the enemy's fortress with the haziest of ideas at best, Harry sits down and makes a detailed plan that manages to work more or less as he intended. Of course, we're not told what the plan is ahead of time, that would ruin the suspense and leave us with nothing to read about. But it's good to see Harry using his mighty wizard brain for once instead of relying on brute force.

Overall I thought this was pretty good because I could see how Harry had developed as a character and how the series is progressing. I think we might be turning our wheels a little bit with the overall plotline because the Black Council is still pretty much a mystery, but at least the stakes feel pretty important in this book rather than a sideshow.

- Kalpar

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