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Friday, December 7, 2012

Cold Days by Jim Butcher (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order Cold Days HERE
Read the first two chapters HERE & HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Changes
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Ghost Story
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Welcome To The Jungle

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Jim Butcher is the bestselling author of The Dresden Files, which has been adapted into a SyFy television show and a series of comic book adaptations produced by Dynamite Entertainment. He is also the author of The Codex Alera epic fantasy saga. In addition to writing, Jim Butcher is a martial arts enthusiast and live-action gamer. He currently lives in Independence, Missouri with his family.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?

Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own… His soul.

CLASSIFICATION: The Dresden Files is an urban fantasy series that boasts of a fun mix of fast-paced supernatural action, humor and a dash of mystery/thrills.

FORMAT/INFO: Cold Days is 528 pages long divided over fifty-three chapters, an Author’s Note and an Acknowledgments page. As usual, narration is in the first-person, exclusively via the private investigator/wizard Harry Dresden. Cold Days is the fourteenth volume in The Dresden Files and it is highly recommended that new readers start at the beginning of the series since this book has a lot of revelations and builds up on the characters and plot arcs introduced in the preceding books.

November 27, 2012 marked the North American Hardcover publication of Cold Days via Roc Books. The UK edition (see below) was published on November 27, 2012 via Orbit Books. The cover art is done by Chris McGrath.

ANALYSIS: Since Jim Butcher debuted; his books have gained a cult following of sorts. As with all cults, his following began small but over the last dozen years the number of followers increased exponentially. All of this was due to Jim’s terrific storytelling abilities and the fact that he delivered twelve awesome titles one after the other. The thirteenth title however stopped the juggernaut and was widely considered by many to be the title they didn’t enjoy the most so far. So with Cold Days many fans had huge hopes and anticipation for twofold reasons:

a) To see whether the series would regain its earlier glory?
b) What would Mab do now she had Harry under her thumb?

The answer to both queries is that Jim’s back to his earlier strengths and expect the unexpected when it comes to Mab. The story begins after the events of Ghost Story and we are re-introduced to Harry and his new life as the Winter Knight. Just a world of caution, in talking about the plot points of this book, there might be spoilers for the previous books so be warned those who aren't up to speed on these books. First up is the physical rehabilitation courtesy of Mab’s imagination that Harry survives just barely and soon he has to learn the duties and responsibilities of his new role. The author makes sure that as a reader we are thoroughly fascinated by this process and with Harry’s constant stream of thoughts, the chapters go by and then Harry gets his first task as the Winter Knight which is to slay an immortal, nothing more or less. Harry Dresden then has to return to the mortal plane of Chicago and thus begins his first task as the emissary of winter.

I can’t reveal much more than this as everything else will be spoiler material and of course will lead to further questions but I can say that readers will be in for a terrific read for the following reasons. Primarily we get a nice return to the feel of the earlier books when Harry was often struggling to solve the case/problem with his lucky/scrappy band of allies. The situation is similar but the level of power involved is way jacked up due to the presence of Sidhe. Thematically and plot-wise this book shares a lot with Summer Knight and readers will find that there’s much more to this statement when they read the book. Harry as a character has gained a lot of power however has not lost his humanity, his sense of humor or stupidity that has endeared him to many readers and characters. The story has a lot of revelations about a lot of characters, situations and world secrets. I think Jim is slowly trying to lay the background for the bigger metaphysical picture and the some of the revelations have some serious implications about the major players (human and non-human alike).

The main plot is action packed and humor laced as were those of the earlier stories, we get to know about a slightly different side to Mab, meet certain characters from the past and basically Harry learns how deep in trouble the world really might be. The climax however takes things to another level as certain plot twists occur that might perhaps share the same shocking potential as say Changes or even Small Favor. All of the fan favorite character cast is back with some minor changes as well (in regards to recent events). The humor level is back at optimum strength and lastly there are some terrific hints allayed in this book that give certain strong clues in regards to future books. The prose levels are top notch as they can be and the author showcases deft talent as he delivers the twists and yet manage to keep the reader hooked onto the next one.

Going on the drawbacks of this volume after the deluge of positives, the main point of contention between Harry and Karrin is still not resolved and to see a repeat of events that have been done before was majorly disappointing. At this point I would think the author would have resolved this situation but no we get a repeat of the same “will they or won’t they” situation. There’s also some of the same Harry-gets-his-ass-kicked-till-the-very-end variation of the plot, which has been seen, in the past books. I expected with the mantle of winter things might be a bit different but the author doesn’t seem to equate the status change with his plot format. So readers can expect some of the same and after 13 books maybe some readers might be justified to expect that its time to try something new.

CONCLUSION: Jim Butcher is back and with a bang if I may add. Not only does he serve a whole lot of revelations, he writes a twisted tale with aplomb. Readers familiar with the series will definitely be entertained and shocked by the plot twists. Beckoning readers with a mix of some old tricks and new revelations Jim Butcher easily proves that he’s still the master and when it comes to conjuring literary magic, he’s as talented if not better than any wizard known to mankind.


Unknown said...

I really like to buy book from online book sellers uk and i think we all must have to buy books by online, so really thankful to you for posting this blog.

Nayan said...

I finished the book yesterday as well and have similar thoughts about the previous book. It just somehow felt off. I always thought that the law of averages finally caught up with Mr. Butcher.

Elfy said...

I actually enjoyed Ghost Story, although I did think Cold Days was better. Pleased to see Toot Toot get a bit of expanded role.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with the critics comment about the lack of resolution between Harry and Karrin. It's human nature and does not seem repetitive to me.


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