Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Cold Days by Jim Butcher
Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Cold Days
Jim Butcher
Roc, 2012

Cold Days is another Dresden Files book. If you don’t know what that is you’ve either had your head buried in a hole somewhere or just have zero tolerance for urban fantasy. In either case you should probably do something about that since the Dresden Files is one of the most consistently entertaining series in fantasy today. Truth be told my most major complaint about a book starring Harry Dresden is that it ends and that Jim Butcher should write faster. This sort of complain isn’t really fair to Jim Butcher who has put out one book every six months for many many years. With the end of his Codex Alera series he is down to about one a year now but that is a far more consistent release schedule than certain in the world of fantasy fiction. In truth, along with Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher is an author whose pace and consistent quality make me strongly doubt whether either of them is human or some new superior species.

If you haven’t read any Dresden Files books you should probably stop reading at this point and go pick up Storm Front (heck, if you like pictures, try the graphic novel) and read that. You continue reading at your own risk.

After Harry’s experiences in Ghost Story, where he was well dead, his return to the land of the living as both wizard and Mab’s Winter Knight is not necessarily the smoothest of transitions for Chicago’s only professional wizard. Of course if Harry doesn’t have his previous list of enemies to deal with, not limited to the looming threat of the mysterious Black Council, he is now neck deep in Winter Court politics; not the most auspicious beginnings for the newest Winter Knight. To make matters worse there is dealing with the fallout amongst his friends and allies as Harry reemerges into the land of the living.

Cold Days sees Harry stepping up his game. Typically an independent operator in the world of faerie politics (if one that would occasionally lays the smack down) Harry is thrust headlong and screaming into the limelight. Moreso than in previous books Harry is dealing with powers and beings magnitudes of power greater than himself. Unlike in previous books Harry is imbued with a new level of confidence (and a bit of extra magical juice thanks to his link to Mab and his soulfire). Harry, not always the most emotionally healthy of characters, also sees his newfound power influencing his personality driving his more primal urges to the forefront. Readers have already seen Harry struggle with similar power, resisting the manipulation of Laschiel, but Harry’s recent betrayal in Changes and his guilt over his actions makes his especially vulnerable to the power of Winter he now wields. Despite his constant vows to remain true to himself there is more than a little bit of change in Harry’s character as the novel progresses.

The real juicy bit of Cold Days involve Harry’s island Demonreach and the secrets its hold. The mysteries of Demonreach have been hinted at ever since the island was first introduced and the revelations in Cold Days were definitely worth the wait. It will be interesting to see how Harry handles his Demonreach in future novels. Cold Days is probably my favorite Dresden Files book in years, while I have definitely enjoyed the series from book to book, Cold Days marks some of the biggest changes to Harry we’ve yet to see and I’m hopeful that Butcher will be continuing to evolve Harry’s character as the series progresses. This is another stellar entry in a consistent and entertaining series while it doesn’t ofter groundbreaking change it shakes the game up just enough to breath new life and invigorate the series for future volumes.

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