Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Small Favor, by Jim Butcher

(great plot synopsis here) Small Favor picks up Harry's story a few months after White Knight. An early winter has settled on Chicago, and all of the action seems to take place in snowdrifts, adding some fun logistics and mishaps to the plot. Things begin with a bit of a triple threat; Harry is attacked by gruffs, minions of Summer, visited by Mab, Queen of Winter, and called to a bizarre crime scene by Karrin Murphy, which turns out to be the site of John Marcone, crime lord's, kidnapping by forces unknown, or perhaps merely unidentified at present.

Of course, nothing is really coincidence when it comes to Harry's life, and we begin to learn how things tie together pretty rapidly. From previous events in the series, Harry owes Mab two favors, and she's calling one in now (hence the title), requiring him to find and recover Marcone, and the attack by Summer is just a necessary response to Winter's appointing Harry its Emissary.

It becomes apparent fairly quickly that the Denarians are the ones behind Marcone's kidnapping, despite a significant number of folks within the organized crime community who would more obviously benefit from his removal. Any time the Denarians are involved, you can bet things are going to get twisty - layers upon layers of twisty. If I told you all of the plot twists, it would remove too much fun of discovering things for yourself.

I will say, however, that not all of the truly twisty plots are fully resolved in this book, so Butcher's setting Harry up for way more fun in future novels.There's a fun reference in the book to the story of the Billy Goats Gruff - remember them battling the trolls under the bridge? The gruffs attacking Harry somewhat resemble
bipedal billy goats on steroids. When he defeats the first set, then the "big brothers" of those gruffs show up for the next attack, and when he survives that attack, the "bigger brothers," and so forth, with a fun little twist when the biggest baddest brother of all shows up.

This book reunites just about all of Harry's friends from previous books, with a few notable exceptions, and it's interesting to see how Butcher manages the interactions between them. The book has some great wizardly battles as well as physical ones, and Harry gets to know himself and his friends a bit better than before, as well as gaining some unexpected talents of his own. As always, Butcher left me wanting more.

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