Monday, December 10, 2012

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is back - in the flesh this time. After his body is preserved by Demonreach and Mab takes care of his physical rehabilitation (wonderful nod to The Princess Bride in how she does it), it's time for a whole new set of challenges. First he must establish his position as the new Winter Knight with the Winter court. He attends a ball in his "honor" accompanied by his lovely nurse, Sarissa, and confronts the lovely yet treacherouse Maeve and her thugs, acquitting himself well - he survives, anyway, which usually counts as a victory for Harry.

Mab gives Harry his first assignment, to kill her daughter, Maeve. He heads back to Chicago to try to figure out the why and how of it. He visits his old friend, Butter's apartment to gain possession of Bob, the spirit in the skull. Parenthetically, here is where I get a little confused, as I was thinking that Bob was a former wizard being punished by being locked in the skull forever, but here, Butcher defines Bob as being merely a spirit of knowledge locked in the skull for centuries.

Harry then has a less-than-tearful reunion with his half-brother, Thomas, down at the boat (where Harry was killed in the first place), and the two of them head to Demonreach so that Harry can consult the spirit of the island, as well. He learns that Demonreach is actually a prison for a vast number of evil beings, constructed by the legendary Merlin long ago, and that he has been chosen as its Warden. The prison is under attack by forces unknown, and if the attack is successful, all of those Chtulhu-spawn or worse will be loosed upon the world, but even if it isn't, the island's defenses may turn Chicago into Krakatoa gone wild.

There is plenty of good action here, as Harry fights with all of the different forces that want to keep him from accomplishing his various missions; kill Maeve, protect Demonreach, save the world. With the help of his minions like Toot and the pixie warriors, his family and friends such as Thomas, Karen, and Molly, and even his dog, Mouse, Harry mostly bulls his way through most obstacles.

But there's also a great exposition in these pages about the greater battles being fought. All of the crazy things that have happened to Harry, the evils he has fought, through the entire series, have been merely symptoms of the larger conflict, which he is finally made aware of when he visits the Mothers of Summer and Winter, and journeys to the outer reaches of Faerie, where the Outsiders have our world under siege. Yeah, Harry's a grownup now, and it's time for him to finally get a real job.

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