Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t even recall the last time he took a shower.
The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.
And just when it seems things can’t get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can’t refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him — and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.
It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case.
No pressure or anything… – Book description on cover
It is deeply satisfying to read a series that gets better with every new book, and that is exactly what Jim Butcher has achieved with Summer Knight, the fourth installment in The Dresden Files. In fact, he’s upped the ante so much with this one, I wonder if I shouldn’t just stop reading the series, for it can go only downhill from here. Warning: This review contains spoilers regarding the first three books in the series.
This time around Dresden starts on the floor. Since Susan’s visit with Bianca in Grave Peril he had been pouring all his energy into finding a cure, letting everything else go in the process. To make matters worse, the White Council is in town and several of them believe Dresden should pay for starting the war between the Council and the Vampire Courts.
To complicate things even further Mab, the Queen of Winter and one of the most powerful Sidhe, has bought Harry’s debt from his Godmother and she has a job for him: he must find out who had killed the Knight of Summer before war breaks out between the realms of faerie. For whoever killed the Summer Knight also took his mantle of power which means there is an imbalance between the realms. And the last time they went to war it triggered an ice age on Earth.
This novel is very different from the previous three. There are many more characters. Murphy, who had spent most of the third novel unconscious, is back and kicks ass as usual.
Remember Toot-Toot? That pizza-loving fairy from Storm Front? He’s back, and he’s brought some friends. And in this novel we see the return of the Alphas. They’re no longer the awkward bunch of teenagers from Fool Moon, but a fighting force to be reckoned with and Dresden’s most loyal an most powerful new allies. Add a bunch of fae, some nice, some not so nice, pain-in-the-butt Morgan who still thinks the White Council should just let him kill Harry and be done with it, a few very mysterious wizards, and someone from Harry’s distant past he did not expect to see. Oh, and Bob. I cannot fail to mention Harry’s talking skull, can I?
The great cast of characters is not just there as window dressing, but every single one turns out to be crucial to the story.
The scale is also much bigger. This time Dresden isn’t up against a sorcerer or a werewolf or demon, but against the very powers that govern nature. During the build-up to the battle between Summer and Winter Butcher never lets up the suspense. The battle itself is masterfully written – if any Dresden novel is to become a movie my vote is for this one because I’d love to see the scenes Butcher wrote here in the hands of someone like Spielberg or James Cameron.
But most impressive is Dresden himself. In each of the previous novels Harry spent most of the time beaten up, at the edge of death and drained of most of his power, mostly thanks to trying to do everything himself. And it always bugged me how, right at the end, he would somehow rally strength that a moment before he didn’t have and save the day with one big last spell.
Not this time. In this novel Dresden relied on his friends and victory was gained through some very unlikely allies. Which is not to imply Dresden did nothing. But this time he uses his head and he reveals heights of power that explain why some on the White Council would sleep easier at night if he were no longer around.
Who am I kidding? There’s no way I’m going to stop reading this series. Not when it’s only just now really getting interesting.
More reviews of Summer Knight
- Summer Knight – Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #4) (theserpentsquill.wordpress.com)
- Review: “Summer Knight” by Jim Butcher (knitewrites.wordpress.com) Contains significant spoilers
- Summer Knight (The Dresden Files book 4) by Jim Butcher REVIEW (teenagebookcritic.com)