Thursday, September 14, 2017

Turn Coat, by Jim Butcher

Today I'm looking at the eleventh book in the Dresden Files series, Turn Coat. There's some pretty important stuff plot-wise that happens in this book and I feel like it's a pivotal moment in the series, possibly where things take a turn for the worse and Harry finds himself in deeper and deeper trouble. It's also basically impossible for me to talk about this book without getting into plot spoilers so I'll just have to advise everyone who doesn't want spoilers to go away now. As usual, I will have my red warning

Dear and gentle readers: As this is the eleventh book in an ongoing series and a major shift, it is basically impossible to adequately talk about this book without spoilers. If you wish to avoid these, I advise leaving now. Come back next week for spoiler-free writings.

The book begins with David Morgan, the Warden who was Dresden's parole officer for years and attempted to kill Dresden on more than one occasion, Coming to Dresden's door badly wounded and himself on the run from the Wardens. Morgan reveals that he's wanted for the murder of one of the seven members of the High Council but the entire set up is a frame job and Morgan's completely innocent. And knowing that Morgan is loyal to the White Council unto death and this can't be anything other than a frame job, Harry believes him. However the Wardens are now launching a global manhunt for Morgan and Harry only has a few days to find evidence proving Morgan is innocent.

The situation gets even more complicated when a mysterious party sets up a Craigslist ad offering five million dollars for Morgan, clearly not the work of the White Council but possibly that of the Black Council. Which means Harry could find himself fighting against every cutthroat and mercenary in the magical community to protect Morgan, and very soon gets in over his head.

There are a ton of big events in this book which move the plot forward and set up conflict for later novels. Most important is the Black Council, the hypothetical force behind the strangeness and discontent upsetting the magical balance of power, is finally unmasked as a real threat. Although factions of the White Council, including the Merlin, continue to publicly deny that anything such as a ''Black Council'' exists, internally the White Council has no choice but to accept that this is a real and credible threat. Dresden and McCoy also start putting together the idea of a Gray Council, their own secret faction preparing for when the Black Council inevitably strikes again. I'm thinking that wizard politics are going to play a much larger role in later books.

There's also a major shift with Thomas, Harry's vampire brother, who's been working to combat his biological need to feed on other people's life force and exploit them. I've actually liked Thomas quite a bit, partly because I've joked he seems to be using the family brain cell, and partly because I like that he's not happy with being a vampire and is trying to find a way to be better than what the demon inside him wants him to be. Unfortunately in this book Thomas goes through some torture and anguish and by the end he's fully embraced the demon and become just another White Court vampire, seeing people as food. This upsets Harry quite a bit, and it upsets me as well.

Something which has annoyed me greatly, ever since the third season of Heroes, is when a character goes through a redemption arc and then decides, ''No, being good's too hard. I'm just going to go back to killing people.'' I'm not sure why this annoys me so much but it's something I absolutely hate seeing. And I'm seeing that with Thomas here as well. Thomas has been fighting against his need to consume people's life force and be a better person, but it's been difficult because he still has to get energy as a vampire somehow. And he managed to come up with a clever solution with his hair salon. So I'm not exactly thrilled that Thomas has decided to just embrace the demon and eat people. I am hopeful that Harry will be able to reach through to Thomas and bring him back, so I'm not totally sworn off, but that remains to be seen.

Other than that there were so many things I liked about this book. Toot, who is turning into quite a badass, is hilarious and awesome and I'm hoping to see more of him and his little buddies. Listens to Wind also gets a really awesome scene, even if it was pretty stereotyped, not to mention all the other cool stuff that happens in this book. Overall I think this book is a mix of good and bad, serious and silly, and I think Butcher does a pretty good job of striking a balance. The series may be getting a little darker in its tone, but Dresden still snarks like the best of us.

- Kalpar

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