The Retribution is a suspenseful, gripping thriller. The serial killer Jacko Vance was one scary villain. His ruthlessness, his methodical approach to...moreThe Retribution is a suspenseful, gripping thriller. The serial killer Jacko Vance was one scary villain. His ruthlessness, his methodical approach to his vengeance, and how well he knew those he sought to take vengeance on came together to create a truly scary killer.
However, there were a lot of characters minor characters I found easily blended together. Or rather, they didn't distinguish themselves from each other much. They were generally one of the crime investigation team members. Occasionally, the author would try to hint who the killer was after by describing them or where he was, but I couldn't tell by the description who they were talking about. I'm not sure if this was because it took me a while to read (only because of time constraints and not because of the book) or because of a lack of connection with the characters.
The other thing that bothered me was the tendency of the author to head-hop. Sometimes it would only happen at the very end of the scene. Other times, the narration would slip into another character's head midway through, then return to the original character's point of view. Head-hopping never fails to be annoying and confusing.
With those two problems, this potential four-star story dropped down to a three-star. And yet, it left me wanting to know more about the main characters. And if the author can create such a suspenseful story and gripping villain, I'd read others in this series.(less)
Just a quick review here. The Kraken Project was full of fun and interesting characters. But I felt there was not enough time spent on any one charact...moreJust a quick review here. The Kraken Project was full of fun and interesting characters. But I felt there was not enough time spent on any one character to get really connected to them. I ended up feeling most connected to Jacob, whom we didn't meet til later. And at first it felt like another story. I knew it would connect eventually, or else why was it part of the story? But the supposed main character, Wyman Ford, didn't feel like a main character, even less central than Melissa Shepard.
Still, I enjoyed seeing how Dorothy behaved. I was curious how that would play out. It was interesting to see. All in all a fun story. And nice ending! Set up for the next one?(less)
Picks up right where the last left off. Continues the relentless pace, gets a bit more brutal. Still, the characters intrigue me and engross me enough...morePicks up right where the last left off. Continues the relentless pace, gets a bit more brutal. Still, the characters intrigue me and engross me enough that I can't put it down.
(view spoiler)[I got a few questions in this book answered I had been wanting in the first. The world they live in now makes more sense. What had been nagging me was that it didn't seem like a complete world, a self-sustainable world. It seemed there was an endless yet mysterious supply of "new" stuff, simple stuff, like new paper towels. They had functioning things like watches. Who made the watches? Where were the paper towels made? For that matter, where did all the weapons come from, the computers, etc. There were no factories, no plants. They did provide their own food, but the rest was a mystery. I'm still not sure the rest is supplied by the outside, but now I know there is an outside.
I started getting inklings that this was all an experiment early on, when they started talking more about the fence, and about secrets, what was out there. But that their memories were wiped, that they were the hope for the rest of them? That the Divergents especially were the ones to save them? Did not see that coming. Or that ending. No doubt people will be suspicious of Tris, knowing that her mother was the one in the video, even though everyone's memory has been wiped. There's a bit of irrationality and suspicion built into everyone's reactions, it seems.
Can't help comparing this series to Hunger Games. Which means comparing Tris to Katniss. The main difference I feel as I read is that Katniss was more mature, so it didn't really feel like I was reading a YA book. The characters here are a bit less mature, despite what they're going through. So it feels a bit young for me.
And yet, Tris's reactions feel very genuine. The ambivalence, inability to make the "right" choice, lingering on what she shouldn't or can't afford to think about. Sounds like an adolescent to me. (hide spoiler)]
I've enjoyed this story, curious as it is, and will definitely read the final installment. Don't know if it'll live up to the promise of the cliffhanger, but it'll be worth finding out.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Rating: 3.5 stars I didn't know this author when I got this book. I might have gotten it as a free download, I'm not sure. I was pleasantly surprised -...moreRating: 3.5 stars I didn't know this author when I got this book. I might have gotten it as a free download, I'm not sure. I was pleasantly surprised -- I tend not to have high expectations for free books. But the characters, the story, and the writing are strong. And not your ordinary fantasy story. If you enjoy fantasy, but are looking for a change, a change of setting, characters, situations, and motivations, you'll enjoy this.
The story concept is interesting. I haven't read a story like this before. It made it unpredictable, which kept the suspense high.
(view spoiler)[The mystery was fascinating as it evolved and developed. The twist with Sarmin seeing through another's eyes was unexpected -- it seems he gave himself the pattern and changed things. Many unanswered questions kept me reading. Very well done.
As the story continued to complicate, I got a little confused about who was on whose side, but that's probably because I read in bits -- reading too many books at once will cause that -- and sometimes I lost the thread. I became uncertain of Tuvaini's allegiance, but I think I was supposed to be. At first it seemed he was on the prince's side, then expressed loyalty to the emperor. Then he was after the emperor's mother and the emperor's throne himself. I was always on Mesema's side myself. I love her character. Strong, even when she's afraid, she did the best she could.
And Eyul is a great character. Killing the two assassins while blind, with help from a voice, which he couldn't identify or place, impressive. He's an honorable assassin, and I love that gray area for the character.
Then people started dying! I thought Sarmin was dead for a moment, which was upsetting, as I had hopes for him coming out on top at the end. But Eyul killed Amalya because she had the pattern! Grr, I hate when the good characters die. Eyul's doing his assassin's job as always, killing her because it's the law. I thought he'd changed, though.
Sarmin's control over the pattern was exciting but also frustrating. I wanted him to do more, and I couldn't see what he intended to do. (hide spoiler)] In the end, things began to make sense as people's loyalties became clear, and things came together quickly. I will definitely be reading the sequel.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I have read other Fairstein books, and one or two with the Alexandra Cooper character. But this one was so focused on the relationship between Alexand...moreI have read other Fairstein books, and one or two with the Alexandra Cooper character. But this one was so focused on the relationship between Alexandra and her French lover, Luc, who came off as an ass, to be honest, I felt like I was reading a romance rather than a mystery or thriller. Cooper was constantly contemplating her relationship, while at the same time putting up with Luc brushing aside her opinion and concerns, belittling her career, and giving her the cold shoulder when she dared to obey her boss's call to return to New York. Some romance. It's too bad, because the story this lame romance was obscuring was actually interesting. I kept pushing myself to listen for a few more chapters because I wanted to know what happened. But the characters irritated me too much. And so did the reader. Yes, I listened to the audiobook. The narrator is one I've heard before and I do not like her style of reading. I hadn't checked the narrator before getting this book, though. She reads so slow, with a couple of seconds between sentences sometimes, it actually kills any momentum a scene might build for suspense or tension. It doesn't sound like much, but when you hear a pause that long you think at least there will be a switch in speaker, and possibly the end of a scene, or some time passing. But no, the same person's talking, with the same thought, in fact. The narrator was just taking another long (and loud) breath (yes, you can hear her breathe, and it's annoying. Sure, you need to breathe, but other narrators clearly manage to do it silently.). It may seem that the bad narration turned me off the book, but I found enough reasons to stop reading aside from that. The bad narrator was simply the last straw. (less)
The Hunt for Xanadu is a gripping, fast-paced story, right from the opening scene. The characters are refreshing and don't act predictable. The main c...moreThe Hunt for Xanadu is a gripping, fast-paced story, right from the opening scene. The characters are refreshing and don't act predictable. The main character, Kelsey Porter, is a fascinating mix of skilled hero and vulnerable young woman. Events throw her together with Detective Desmond Gisborne, but because they share a common goal does not mean these two are happy to work together. The elements of Buddhism woven with fantasy created a unique story set in modern day that stayed with me after I put it down for the night. Multiple story threads came together in a wonderful web that took the characters around the globe and by the end had me breathless. Just don't plan on stopping in the middle of the last chapter! It's a doozy!
Can't wait for the sequel to see what Kelsey's up to next!(less)
Fast paced, never let you go from the first scene. Liked the relationship between Julie and Will. Baldacci's style of crisp, stripped down language le...moreFast paced, never let you go from the first scene. Liked the relationship between Julie and Will. Baldacci's style of crisp, stripped down language lends itself to an action-packed story. (less)
A nice interlude b/w Clean and Sharp. Getting more of a sense of the main character, a little more of his past. The interaction between him and Cherab...moreA nice interlude b/w Clean and Sharp. Getting more of a sense of the main character, a little more of his past. The interaction between him and Cherabino are as tense as ever and continue where they left off in Clean. I'm liking this character more and more. It's his struggle to do what's right, no matter what it costs him. And it often costs him a lot. Makes you hope he'll catch a break someday. Maybe on Sharp. We'll see. Going straight on to Sharp!(less)
Enjoyed Sharp as much or more than Clean. Poor Adam suffered even more in Sharp - he just cannot catch a break. Things turned from bad to worse to wor...moreEnjoyed Sharp as much or more than Clean. Poor Adam suffered even more in Sharp - he just cannot catch a break. Things turned from bad to worse to worse and worse. And then they got worse! By halfway through the story, his ability to stay clean, his dignity, his freedom, his job, his livelihood, even his life - everything was on the line.
No one seems to notice how hard Adam tries. No matter what happens, he's at fault.
The stakes continued to rise with every chapter! No one trusted him, no one but Swartz. If he lost him, he'd lose everything... (view spoiler)[Adam kept losing ground, with more and more at stake, more clues to follow up, more of the mystery to uncover, with fewer answers, until he literally had a gun to his head. Cherabino was forced to use their link to get to him. Maybe now she'll start to see the good things about the link? She really needs to cut him a break! (hide spoiler)]
And when all was settled, the author dropped something else on us, just enough that I've got to come back for more! Hope it's not to long till the next book!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Really a 4.5 star rating. An interesting and exciting addition to the Pendergast series, though different in some ways. A lot of character time was gi...moreReally a 4.5 star rating. An interesting and exciting addition to the Pendergast series, though different in some ways. A lot of character time was given to Corrie Swanson, especially in the beginning, so that I started to feel like it was her story and not Pendergast's. I like the character Corrie, but I'm reading for Pendergast, so I was a bit disappointed in how much I didn't get of him.
The mystery unraveled slowly at first, then became two mysteries that slowly merged into one. It definitely finished better than it started. More suspenseful, more exciting -- and an ending not for the faint of heart!
The Sherlock Holmes angle was fascinating. At first, it seemed an odd direction for Pendergast to take. And the Holmes story in the middle of the Pendergast story was interesting -- but at the same time, it was in the middle of the story. It did kind of bring the Pendergast story to a halt, killing the momentum and suspense. By the time I'd finished the Holmes story, I'd forgotten what was going on in Roaring Forks. So I'm not sure how successful that was as a device.
There were some great Pendergast moments here, like his entrance to the town. The Pendergast we see here is not the same as we've seen. He went through the harrowing events of the last three books, and had spent time "recovering." So far, that seemed to mean ignoring everyone and drinking heavily. But it seems Corrie's situation may have pulled him out of his funk. We'll have to see what he does for his next trick.(less)
A beautiful addition to the Robicheaux series. The Montana setting was as much a part of the story as the characters, who were as alive as ever. The e...moreA beautiful addition to the Robicheaux series. The Montana setting was as much a part of the story as the characters, who were as alive as ever. The evolution of the characters Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell is heart warming and heartbreaking at the same time. They're acutely aware of their age, and are more often looking back on their life, wondering if they've accomplished enough, if it was all worth it, if they're worthy of what they've gained. Clete in particular goes through a struggle with his accomplishments and deeds, and comes out the other side bruised and battered, but still Clete.
It's unfortunate that I read this story so quickly that I did not take more notes on the aspects of the story I most enjoyed. So I can't give this story the review it deserves. I'm sure I will reread it in the future and be able to add to my review, but I will have to leave it as a must-read for any James Lee Burke or Dave Robicheaux fan, and for anyone interested in a mystery/thriller/crime story that is more thoughtful, has more developed and complicated characters, and is beautifully written. James Lee Burke has managed to outdo himself again. (less)
I only read the short story "Love Hurts" by Jim Butcher. This one is such a tease! It gives us what we've (okay, I've) been waiting for - almost. Then...moreI only read the short story "Love Hurts" by Jim Butcher. This one is such a tease! It gives us what we've (okay, I've) been waiting for - almost. Then takes it away completely. :-p(less)
What fun that was. Considered another prequel to the Dresden Series, this graphic novel was a different experience. Sometimes, seeing the author's vis...moreWhat fun that was. Considered another prequel to the Dresden Series, this graphic novel was a different experience. Sometimes, seeing the author's visualization of a character can be a disappointment, especially if it radically differs from your own. The image of Harry in this graphic novel was nearly on target with how I pictured him. Not as close with Murphy, but not enough to be jarring. Reading a visual story like this was different and a lot of fun. Anyone who's a fan of Harry Dresden will enjoy and appreciate this early story in Harry's adventures.(less)
I'm enjoying this sweeping epic of survival and battle, of secrets, lies, and betrayal. Trying to guess who'll die next. The characters are growing on me. They're complex, complicated, filled with greys and contradictions. And there's the mystery of the direwolves unfolding.
(view spoiler)[At the opening of the book, I wanted Bran to be king. Love Bran. He'd make a great king. Then I wanted Jon to be king. I think I still do. I think this means these two are my favorite characters. Though I do love Arya's character as well.
I was hoping Catelyn's character would have more of a role in this installment. In the first, she was a bit on the sidelines, the mother, the wife. She did affect the storyline with her kidnapping of Tyrion, and she has had a more important role since. She works hard to balance her relationship with her son now that he's king, but she is still the mother, the daughter, the sister. When she went south, she did have a hand in things, and she made all the difference for Brienne, but still, she feels like a secondary character where she could be so much more. But she keeps losing and losing -- what will she become if she has nothing left to lose?
I wonder about the girls, Arya and Sansa. After all they've gone through, who will they be when it's all over? How will their relationship with each other have changed? They are not the same people who left Winterfell. Not even the same as who they were when they last saw each other. Sansa is learning to lie better, to trust no one. Arya is learning to hold her tongue, to hide herself. If they survive, they might not recognize each other.
Tyrion is a puzzle. I can't determine if he's in fact good at heart or as bad as the rest. Likely something in between. He tries to play both sides, so he'll hopefully end up on the winning side. His overall plan is not to do what's right, but to protect his family, though he's concerned first for himself. He wishes his sister dead - because he thinks she's evil or otherwise? - but she's his sister, so he won't kill her -- not out of any sense of guilt or wrongness, but because he'd be cursed. Yet he has honor the others don't have and tries to bring some of that to the court.
The end actually brought me some relief. A well-deserved end for Theon - grr! - and to see Bran with his third eye open, and he and his companions safe, well, can't say the author only lives off our misery. Now if only his mother would know he and his brother are alive!
I can't wait to see what the next book brings for these characters. This one ended with much more of a cliffhanger, with Jon taken, Bran and company splitting off, Sansa waiting for escape, and Arya having just ran off. Oh, and Tyrion badly injured. I guess the only resolution we get is the war ending. But the Lannisters are still in power. And that will not do.
Just wait till they all find out the comet really does mean Dragons. Everything is going to change when Dany makes it to Westeros. (hide spoiler)]
I reread the entire series to prepare to read Skin Game. And it did not disappoint. There is so much backstory now, it's probably impossible to really...moreI reread the entire series to prepare to read Skin Game. And it did not disappoint. There is so much backstory now, it's probably impossible to really properly enjoy this story coming in anywhere but the beginning. But what that creates is a layered, fully formed universe for Harry Dresden. Every action has always had consequences in the Dresden universe. And some of those consequences play out in Skin Game.
(view spoiler)[Mainly, this is the story of Dresden fulfilling his debt to Mab as her Winter Knight. But, as usual, there's so much more to the story, and even Harry doesn't find out the whole purpose of what he's doing until he's in the thick of things. Regardless of her intentions, Mab is true to herself. She found a way to use Harry's earlier refusal to be compelled to do things against him by making sure the circumstances don't allow him any other choice.
It was disconcerting to see how much further -- even more so than when he'd been dead -- his friends have moved away from him. They've stopped relying on him to be there to save the day. That says more than anything about how far removed from their lives he's become. Of course, Mab had a role in that too. Even in keeping Molly away. Their first conversation went far better than I expected it would.
Harry's arrival on Michael's doorstep was heartbreaking, but inevitable. During their conversation, Michael, ever the good man, said what Harry needed to hear. But Harry's Id said what needed to be said. Ouch.
The truth about the parasite - well, Murphy's reaction was priceless! And it raises a lot of interesting questions. Questions we'll now have to wait to have answered...
The heist was nerve wracking in that I kept waiting for it to get worse, for someone to turn on Harry, for something to attack them. Which all happened! Repeatedly! But as a consolation -- Harry made Nick cry... *cackle*
Hades was a great character. And he apparently sees a lot of himself in Harry. Is that a good or a bad thing? Goodman Grey was intriguing. What we find out about him in the end made him more so. I was particularly intrigued that he knew Harry's mother. Are we to take that as coincidence? And he basically compared her to a naagloshii. I can't wait to find out more about this "piece of work." She must have been something.
Butcher gave us a bit more closure than usual in this book. It was satisfying, knowing how long it'll be before we get another book. At least I can say FINALLY for Harry and Karrin. It may be just a kiss, but I'll take it!
Lastly, I must say, WAY TO GO, BUTTERS! There was so much awesome in those scenes, there's really not much I can say briefly. Only this:
"Mister, where I come from, there is no try." (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book is well-titled. Lots of changes. Lots. It may be the twelfth or so in the series, but somehow Butcher manages to not ever get stuck in a rut...moreThis book is well-titled. Lots of changes. Lots. It may be the twelfth or so in the series, but somehow Butcher manages to not ever get stuck in a rut. He doesn't do anything that seems to be done already. There are new problems, although this time not necessarily new enemies. The long-term arc that runs through the series comes more into play this time, with more questions answered, more secrets revealed, and yet, we still get some bombshells. There are a few things in this one I just did not see coming. In fact, neither did Harry! I mean, wow. No spoilers. Just, wow.
Some changes I suspected, some were long overdue. But there was a hint for something else quite unexpected that, if it does happen at some point, I would NOT be happy to see.
(view spoiler)[I had thought, optimistically, most of the changes for this story would be for the better. That perhaps one of the changes might be between Murphy and Harry. Instead, everything else about Harry's life changed. He lost everything: First a daughter he never knew he had, then his office building, his car, which had his staff, so that's gone too, And then his house. Not to mention any remnants of what was between him and Susan. His losses continued when he became paralyzed from the waist down. I was worried for a time that he might lose the bag that was hidden in the Nevernever -- which included Bob. I would never forgive Butcher for that!
But no, it got worse, far worse. The losses kept piling up for Harry and culminated when he gave up his freedom. He went over to the dark side when he pledged himself to Mab -- I mean, the Winter Knight! She's going to own him. I'm thinking that's going to leave a mark.
I wish I could say I'll wait to see how Harry's going to get out of his promise, but one thing Jim Butcher does well -- that's good for his readers but bad for the characters -- is he doesn't just return things to the status quo at the end of each book. The characters live with the consequences of what they've done. Which is going to suck monkey balls for Harry if he really has to be Mab's Winter Knight. I'm betting he will too. Butcher doesn't let his characters off easy. Harry was willing to pay the price of selling his soul knowing full well what he was doing. He committed murder (twice), although he did it for Maggie. He decided he'd give up himself, his principles, his freedom, for her. He was told twice, by Bob and Ebenezar, that this challenge would show him who he was, what his principles were, and what lines he would cross. He certainly found out and crossed those lines. Turns out, there wasn't much he wouldn't do.
I held on to hope to the end for a change between Harry and Murphy. It was clear she would lose her job. I figured that would be what pushed her to take up the sword. But she's still resisting that one. And of course, I want her with Harry. If Butcher puts Harry with Molly that will be a great disappointment -- a first in this whole series. It will be the first out of character move the author has made. It would be all wrong for Harry and for the story arc.
What we did get was a tease of potential between Murphy and Harry, then Harry loses the only thing he has left. He's SHOT and KILLED. Maybe this way he'll get out having to be the Winter Knight?
It's telling also that even when I was nearly at the end, I couldn't say whether Harry and company would succeed in saving his daughter or not. In fact, I was rather terrified that he wouldn't. I didn't think he'd handle it too well. He already had so much rage. He had already stepped a bit over the line of sanity. He gave up so much, made deals with the devil -- then to fail -- it would have been too much.
And I don't think he's getting Murphy ever -- that's my latest prediction. I think they're a couple who will never be, and that's sad. Harry will be the Winter Knight now. He won't be able to be with her. He even told her about his will. He'd never been so sure he wouldn't make it -- or at least, as he said, he won't be around after. I felt real grief for Harry during this story. Yes, for a fictional character. Thank you, Jim Butcher.
Some good lines: Merlin: Uncounted billions now living and yet to be born will be saved if we stop the Red Court from feeding on humanity ever again. No one life, innocent or not, is worth more than that. Dresden: You've got it backward, you know. No life is worth more than that? No, Merlin. No life is worth less. Butcher knows how to use dialogue to express the essential nature of a character.
Sanya to Harry: If you turn into a hideous monster and I am sent to slay you, I will remember this and make it as painless as I can, out of respect for you. Always good to know.
I enjoyed their Lord of the Rings discussion , but it was sobering when Harry remembered Gollum's role. His mindset was clear from his next line: And right now, I didn't give a damn about good and bad. I just wanted a little girl home safe.(hide spoiler)]
Again, I must thank Jim Butcher. Thank you -- with a large dose of hate you, hate you, hate you! thrown in. Thank you for creating characters so full and real I've come to care about them and their fates. I grieve for them and with them. It's what every writer aims for, and I am telling you, you've exceeded your goals. Superb, even though this last story has me out of my mind.
But I DON'T thank you for that ending. Are you out of your mind!!!
On my second reading, a few thoughts: (view spoiler)[ I think the first time I read this, I didn't realize how bad everything was. Now, with every step, every battle, I understand the enormity of what they're doing. Chilling.
And Murphy taking up the sword, the coolest, even if temporary.
It might have made me more sad, knowing how much Harry was going to lose by the end of this book. Knowing that every time he said, "But it's mine," he was going to lose that, have everything stripped away. But there's something to be said for friendship. He never loses those. And they are worth so much more.
Harry did find out his lines were way further out than he would have admitted. That he would break laws, go against his own morality, against what he has forbidden himself to do, work for the "enemy," to save his daughter. I wonder, what does this say about him? Does it mean he's willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done? Does it mean he's not a good person at his core, just someone who's willing to stand up for others? Does it mean he's self-righteous, but not righteous? Is this why he'd never be a Knight of the Cross? Or does it just mean his emotions have a greater hold on him than he'd like to admit?
Seeing this story play out while knowing how it ended, I got the sense the universe, or something very powerful in it, was forcing Dresden's hand so he had only Mab to turn to. The universe had struck out with him, but then found his Achilles heel and knew it had him by the balls. (hide spoiler)]
Ghost Story isn't much of a way to recover from this, but I'm getting closer to Skin Game!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Harry really had himself in a pickle this time. One of the big bads in Turn Coat was actually the politics of the Council, with all its layers and imp...moreHarry really had himself in a pickle this time. One of the big bads in Turn Coat was actually the politics of the Council, with all its layers and implications. While that may sound boring, the Council's politics are nothing to play with. They can be deadly for those who fall into disfavor -- literally. Then there's the potential for civil war hanging over everything. Politics isn't always boring!
(view spoiler)[The situation made Harry's choices harder, and added a bit of irony (I mean, Morgan?). We see sides of Morgan we never expected, and sides we entirely expected. The clash of Morgan and Molly was full of tension, and I loved how Mouse handled them -- faking his injury to show Molly a lesson -- He rocks!
The other big bad, the Skinwalker, was a scary son of a bitch. It seemed strange at the time to see Listens to Wind rescue Harry from the demon, but that's when I realized the Skinwalker wasn't the big villain of the story. It was the traitor and the internal politics of the Council, and Harry had to uncover that traitor to save himself and Morgan.
Molly made a big mistake and I really felt for her. She can't seem to find that right path. Harry had no choice but to find a way out of the situation. The Council might have been a threat to his life, since they'd take his head too, but he'd also have to face the Wrath of Charity. And that wouldn't be pretty.
That goodbye scene between Murphy and Harry... so close! But just a tease. If it were Murphy going, I would have actually been worried she wasn't going to make it back. I saw the end of Luccio and Harry coming, but not quite in the way it came about. It doesn't necessarily give me hope for Murphy and Harry. I'm beginning to think they're one of those who can never have the happiness of being together.
I'm worried about a consequence that was alluded to as an aside and never brought up again -- and given how Jim Butcher works, it'll come back later to bite Harry in the ass. Rashid had warned Harry not to use the power from the island. But he did, perhaps without even realizing it. There was no mention of it after, but I wonder how it will play out in the coming stories. There's a lot we don't know about the island, about how his mother plays into it, and Harry's own power, but it's clearly connected to Harry's future. For now, hints and implications are all we have.
"See, here's the thing. Morgan was right: you can't win them all. But that doesn't mean that you give up. Not ever. Morgan never said that part -- he was too busy living it." (hide spoiler)]
Harry ends this one more scarred than ever, literally. Two scars run down his face now. There were tough lessons to learn. And now there are more conspiracies to uncover. The ending was bittersweet, tough to swallow. I was really hoping for a better outcome. I'm anxious to go on to the next story and see if there's anything good in Harry's future.
And on rereading: (view spoiler)[ (Spoilers for following books) Now this books seems a big set-up for what's to come, Demonreach, the parasite, the Mantle, even Molly...
Roles have changed for several characters. Murphy is further set up for the sword, with her diminishing role with CPD. Thomas is further from Harry in a sense, but still stands by him. He's not the same person, though. The Nagloshi was right. He left nothing of Thomas for Harry. The Thomas he knew is gone.
Making the connection to Demonreach seems to be one of those things that Harry was destined to do. Luccio said that his feeling of familiarity with the island could be his prescience coming to maturity, which could mean the location will have significance for him in the future. I think it's clear there's a link b/w Harry and that island. And I think it's about more than Demonreach's later request. There's an overriding Something we have yet to learn.
Rashid knows something about it, I think. He's definitely involved in time travel. He knew too much, mentioned time quite a bit when talking with Harry, and he seemed to see into the future. He speaks as if he has Intellectus, a sense of everything at once rather than past, present, and future. Perhaps that's all 'time travel' is... I wonder if whatever he did to Demonreach has happened yet.
Rashid, Ebenezer, even Listens to Wind know way more than they let on to Harry. Do they know Harry is about to "die," become the Winter Knight? Perhaps they know even further into the future and know this is what has to happen for a better future than what they've seen. Maybe that's why Rashid warned Harry about Molly's black magic. He was trying to push events toward a better possible future than what he'd seen. If Harry's current life is a better option than what the other wizards have seen, that boy is definitely cursed.
They left hanging a mention of a connection of Madeleine Raith in Algiers. I wonder when that will come back into play.
Now I get to move on to the most traumatic book in the series. Oh joy. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Ghost Story is a very different story than the previous books in the Dresden Files. Which is saying something for the author. After nearly a dozen boo...moreGhost Story is a very different story than the previous books in the Dresden Files. Which is saying something for the author. After nearly a dozen books, he still comes up with something totally different. And, boy, is this one a ride and a half.
The one thing wrong with this story is not with the story, but the audiobook. James Marsters did not read Ghost Story! It wouldn't matter who replaced him, Marsters has become the voice of Harry Dresden in my head, and to have someone else read for him was just wrong. Apologies to Mr. Glover.
We learn a lot more about Harry's past in Ghost Story than in previous installments, both in passing and in full flashbacks. I'm not a big fan of flashbacks -- I feel like they put the story on pause -- so I was torn. We do learn about a crucial time in Harry's life, though: when he had to leave Justin DuMorne and fight his first battle at sixteen, a life-altering event. I'm not sure whether it needs two chapters to give us everything we need to know of the story, though. And I wonder if it could have been positioned differently, so it doesn't seem like a thinly disguised request by Lea for the story in exchange for answers to three questions. Yes, Lea says she doesn't know what happened at that time in his life. And yes, Harry says the Sidhe are ravenous for information. It is their basic currency, in fact. But it doesn't quite feel compelling enough as a reason for the two chapter flashback.
(view spoiler)[ This story, including the flashback, does help bring Harry to understand that much of his life, and the events that seemed to just happen around and to him, have been directed and planned, an idea that's been hinted at throughout the series. At times, he was even led to certain situations, as with He Who Walks Behind. But for all the storytelling, I was waiting for a bigger shoe to drop, a greater connection to Harry's life, his past or his future. Perhaps this will be revealed in time.
Instead of further revelations, He Who Walks Behind and the story of their first encounter act as a window into Harry's earlier life. We've only gotten peeks at that time before, so I enjoyed learning more about younger Harry. It seems this is not the last we'll see of He Who Walks Behind. Whether or not there are larger connections remains to be seen then.
Harry is a bit more introspective than usual throughout the story, which makes sense as a ghost (ok, ghost-ish), so I'm okay with that. Especially since Harry is told that ghosts are made of memories, so it seems right when he slips into a memory from time to time, such as the first time he used magic. And eventually he has to reach for his memories to use his magic, and so we get more background, but these seem to have a purpose, which makes it part of the story. It is fascinating to see these bits of his life we've never seen. But it's so unusual, since we usually just get a tease, a droplet of a peek into his life, it was surprising at first. I realized how much I didn't know about Harry Dresden.
He does seem sidetracked from his mission at one point, but even he acknowledges that. Instead of looking for his murderer, he ends up trying to help Murphy find who shot up her house. When he finds them, he vows to help one of the boys instead. Then he sees Mort kidnapped and tries to free him. He does need him, since it's easiest for him to communicate with others through Mort, but others have found creative ways to get their messages across the life-death line, so he's not essential. What is important for him is that he has dragged Mort into his problems, and he feels he owes it to him to help him. Which is the same reason he wants to help Molly, whose condition is partly if not mostly due to Harry's actions. Eventually, Harry notes that he's not doing what he's been sent to do, even though Lea says he's been doing nothing but. He and we just had to wait and see how all these pieces fit together. It was just a bit more complicated than usual.
For most of the story, I wondered where Thomas was. It didn't make sense -- until we got the explanation at the end. I had considered that Harry might have been doing some memory blocking thing on his brother somehow. But I missed Thomas. I like the character. It's a bit of a stretch that he could block him out of his mind so totally that he would not think of him when he thought of the last time he'd seen Molly, when she was shot at Chichen Itza. That was also the last he'd seen Thomas, who'd pledged to guard Molly with his life. But the author's given an explanation, and I rarely have issues with these stories, so I'll give the guy some slack.
There were a couple of little inconsistencies. For example, as a ghost, Harry has to not only be out of the sunlight, but in a place considered a sanctum, a sanctuary of sorts, to be safe from the dawn. He goes to his grave the first two nights. But when Butters comes for him, he jumps into Bob's skull for safety, then jumps out at the warehouse. Why is he -- and Bob, who shadowed him the whole time -- safe in there? What makes it a sanctum (but without a threshold, which would have kept out him and Bob)? Or is it? Not sure of the explanation for that one.
Now -- that ending? Did not see that coming. Not. At. All. Yes, yes, it made a lot things make sense. But who his murderer was? Not in a million years. And the kicker? For all that planning, for all those gut-wrenching decisions that were made, it didn't work!
He now has to fulfill his promise to Mab to be the Winter Knight. Sure, he made a great challenge to Mab at the end as a condition to his service to her. But will it work? His experience as a ghost taught him that he was his own. No one can take away what is essentially him about him, what makes him Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Will he manage to remain himself? It's Luke joining up with Vader. Mulder working with Smoking Man. It can't turn out well. There will be some bad moments, maybe more bad than good. (hide spoiler)] This line made me laugh out loud: Murphy: There's a circle made of copper wire in the kitchen. If it gets hot in here, you can run for it. You know how to empower a circle? Mortimer: Yes, of course. Though I can't imagine running for my life and stopping in the kitchen. Meaning no offense to your protective ability, but I'll stop when I'm home, thank you.
That Mort, he's a smart fella.
What I'm more concerned about, really concerned about, is Cold Days, the next book, is the last book! I'll have to wait for the next! How will I do that? Some serious withdrawal ahead...
On my second read: And yes, this was a read -- I didn't listen to the audiobook, knowing it wasn't read by James Marsters. It was too jarring last time, and this time I've gone through the whole series by audiobook, so it would have been worse.
(view spoiler)[I said above I thought that a bigger shoe would have dropped when they linked Harry's first attack by He Who Walks Behind, when he was sixteen, to everything that had followed, hinting that much of his life has been manipulated or at the very least linked. I think instead the information is just coming out slower. That was a big confirmation of what was slowly becoming obvious, but there will be few big reveals here. Although Cold Days has a few of its own in store.
Anyway... Knowing what was coming didn't always make things easier. Watching Murphy try to accept Harry's death was just as heartbreaking. As was Harry's goodbye to Mouse and his daughter at the end. No, I think that was worse, actually.
I realized Molly was way more messed up than I first thought. She's been killing humans, those helping the Fomors, and found it "easier than it should have been." She's not the same Molly that went to Chichen Itza.
And I understand the end, the explanation for it all, a bit better this time. How Harry was manipulated by so many beings of great power: Mab and Demonreach wanted him alive, but Uriel was the one who wanted him to take care of the Corpsetaker, as I understand it. Except he thought he'd been given the choice more clearly than Jack had laid it out. Uriel was still manipulating him in the end, since he didn't tell him he wasn't dead. He just said he had to accept the consequences of his actions. All these powerful beings putting their two cents into how Harry's life works out says a lot about Harry. He must be someone crucial to the future. Or at least with a lot of power to change things, to alter the course of the future, to act where perhaps others can't. Maybe. Something huge is in store for Harry. Even bigger than being the Winter Knight, I think.
I can't wait to find out what that is. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Ok, I'll admit it. I love Harry Dresden. Shocker, right?
Mr. Butcher, you've got yourself a die-hard fan here. Your characters rock. Your battles leave...moreOk, I'll admit it. I love Harry Dresden. Shocker, right?
Mr. Butcher, you've got yourself a die-hard fan here. Your characters rock. Your battles leave me breathless. And the world you created is fascinating -- though I wouldn't want to live there! Just one request: Can you let Harry sleep a little more?
And great lines in this one: "Damn, there ain't nothing like a good entrance."
And an entrance that was. Awe. some.
"I was going for cool and strong, but my voice came out sounding angry and not overly burdened with sanity."
Harry's pretense of being Thomas's boyfriend to get out of the apartment was priceless.
(view spoiler)[Interesting developments with Molly. And Lasciel. I wonder if this is the last we'll see of her. And when we thought they'd saved the women and gotten the bad guy, there was more to do! But the plan for taking down the White Court, well, they didn't reveal much beforehand, but I figured it would be as nuts as Murphy thought. Hah! Possibly was worse than her imagination could conjure up.
During the big battle scene, I kept waiting for Murphy to show up. I knew she had to, since Harry specifically asked if she was "in." I couldn't wait to see how she'd come riding in on her motorcycle or something -- it was so worth the wait! Marcone and his mercenaries added an interesting element to their exit strategy -- kind of emphasized how desperate they were. And speaking of exits, nice one, Harry! I'm sure there was no other way but to kiss her, huh?
This was hilarious: "Welcome, sir," the redhead said. "May I take your coat and...and stick?" "That's the closest I've come to being propositioned in years."
Poor Harry! And right in front of Murphy! Hint, hint! Murphy and Dresden continue their strictly "friends" policy. I'm hoping for a change in that. Thomas sure thinks they should. They have grown on me! (hide spoiler)]
Perhaps the only thing I missed from this one was there was a bit less in the Bob department. But the next story, which I've already started, is making up for it!
On rereading, well, the scene in The Deeps was just as cool. But I picked up on something I missed last time. (view spoiler)[Lash's explanation for why Harry can fight and perhaps defeat Outsiders. The "energies, events, and circumstances" of Harry's birth gave him the ability to fight Outsiders, something Harry took for granted but is actually quite rare. And apparently his mother was aware at least that Harry was special, if not why, and that's why she ran from Raith. I wonder how much she knew. How much was planned, destined? And how much more Bad is in store for Harry? Cuz clearly they're going to keep coming for him! (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Another excellent installment of the Dresden files. Are my reviews getting monotonous? I really have enjoyed every one of the books. They never feel l...moreAnother excellent installment of the Dresden files. Are my reviews getting monotonous? I really have enjoyed every one of the books. They never feel like the same story shuffled around. Butcher finds a way to create new mayhem and near-apocalyptic conditions every time. And if you question that I've rated each with five stars, I'll say that my thinking is to start at five stars and consider what detracts from that. Things like a subplot that doesn't connect well with the main plot would knock down a five-star story to a four-star for me. A character acting out of character would lose a half or possibly a full star. None of those things have happened in any of the Dresden stories. In fact, I had rated the first few stories as four stars, but then realized there were no circumstances detracting from a five-star rating.
So I fully enjoyed this story. But, oh, Murphy, Murphy, Murphy. How could you do that to Harry! Come to your senses! Please!
(view spoiler)[The battle in the Nevernever was one of the scarier ones they've had to get through yet. It wouldn't have surprised me if they'd lost someone. The fact that they made it all back, well, I'm glad, even if it makes it tests one's suspension of disbelief. It didn't reach my limits of disbelief, though, since Harry had help from the Summer fire. Sure loved when he burned up the last Fetch and then yelled "Who's next?" And all the fetches went running. Awesome. I'm sure he would have looked kind of scary at that moment, but from this distance... cool. (hide spoiler)]
I finally figured out how to hide spoilers. Sorry if I've let any slip before this.
Eagerly anticipating the next story, I'm a true Harry Dresden fan now!
On my rereading, I see bits of foreshadowing, and I see the importance comments or actions will have later. (view spoiler)[The fact that Rashid risks messing with time, and with breaking the rule against messing with time hints to the level of danger they face in the future. I can only guess that Molly's future is deemed preferable or even desirable to the alternative.
I now see Murphy's demotion in SI as a setup for a possible future. I'm still holding out for her taking up the sword! Now I see the significance of Michael asking Harry to investigate how the sword was passed on to the next wielder in the past. I suspect he'll discover Murphy's ancestry is linked to it.
I did wonder: if had Harry killed Lloyd Slate like he had asked, would the mantle have passed to Harry right then? Or would it first have had to return to Mab? That would have changed everything. Possibly messing up Mab's and others' plans. Food for thought. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Butcher manages to find new ways every time to create trouble for Harry and not have it seem like 'been there done that.' Implications the White Counc...moreButcher manages to find new ways every time to create trouble for Harry and not have it seem like 'been there done that.' Implications the White Council isn't all it seems, changes Harry's going through, and a hint of romance to boot. Bring it on!
Great evolution of characters in this one. We still get action and suspense, but we also get to know the characters better and see how they've changed. At the same time, the larger arc for Harry continues to develop. But I feel sorry for him sometimes! He continues to get banged up, attacked from multiple directions, and the pace of events is unrelenting. Which for the reader is awesome. For Harry, not so much.
Harry is definitely the flawed hero, and at times even a dark hero. His choices can be questionable. He has weaknesses that get him into trouble -- too often. But why oh why, Harry, did you say yes? No spoilers here, but dear Harry, you know that's going to bite you in the ass, and probably sooner than later...
A fantastic, wild climax, everything you want, and still laugh out loud funny. The wrap up was a bit briefer than I'd like, but that's mainly because I'm waiting to see what happens to certain people. I know they'll be addressed in the next book -- I hope!
I must say--and I should have said this in one of my earlier reviews for this series -- that I highly recommend starting this series from the first book. While Butcher does give brief reviews of the basics of the story world and how Harry's magic works, etc., there is a larger story arc that unfolds gradually, a little bit in each book. If you started a few books in, or say, in book #6, you'd miss a lot of the implications of what was going on, you'd be missing an understanding of the characters and how they developed, and certain revelations or events wouldn't have as much meaning for you. It's even possible you wouldn't understand what's going on -- though I can't say for sure, since I'm reading them in order. So, do yourself a favor and start from book #1. You'll enjoy the series all the more -- and I bet you won't be able to stop there!
And on my second read: (view spoiler)[I appreciate Butters so much more this time around. His attempts to reconcile his scientific knowledge with the magic he's seen is quite believable, even though this second time around it felt like it took a while. And his sarcasm is priceless. He's a trooper!
I have tons of questions about Malcolm Dresden. He wasn't allowed to visit before "others crossed the line" - what line? Necromancy? That he knows about his brother? And Malcolm refers to the beast in the woods as "the Demon." Does he mean Lasciel? She's not really a demon. I had thought it was He Who Walks Behind. Is that a Demon? I supposed they all could come under the general term of Demon. And by what power is Malcolm appearing? And who sent him? Or was it his idea?
Calling up Lea and getting Mab was even more scary now that I know how scary she really is, how badass she is. [Unless you've read through Cold Days:] (view spoiler)[And her certainty that Harry will one day take up the mantle as her knight is nothing less than creepy. Ominous, seeing as she's right. (hide spoiler)]
Even Captain Luccio bowed deeply to Mac. Can't wait to find out who and what he really is.
A reanimated Tyrannosaurus Rex named Sue gets the prize. And polka will never die. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault." Now that's an opening line.
Number six of the Dresden Files and I'm still as excited to read it as t...more"The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault." Now that's an opening line.
Number six of the Dresden Files and I'm still as excited to read it as the first. Some major revelations here. No spoilers, just, wow.
This tale was a tad lighter one than previous stories. It seems Harry has gotten himself contracted by a porn filmmaker. Completely by accident, but Murphy's not convinced. Harry's due for a bit of a breather, though. So the lighter mood is welcome, though as the story progresses, things do become more serious and potentially deadly for Harry.
We learn more about Murphy in this story, which I enjoy. I like seeing how her friendship with Harry develops. I'm glad to see Thomas taking a greater role in this book, too. He's great fun as a character.
Not as all-encompassing doomsday scenario as previous stories, but plenty of danger, trouble, and enemies around Harry. We learn some good stuff. And the larger story continues to unfold. And Harry is as lovable as ever.
On my second read: I mentioned Murphy and Thomas, but failed to mention Mouse! What a great character he turns out to be. He looked after Harry right from the beginning. And I also failed to say anything about Kincaid. (view spoiler)[He said he was as human as Harry, and yet, he's not. Don't know if it counts as just being ambiguous, since Harry's not your average human, or outright lying, since Kincaid is actually just half human and half ...Hellhound or something. At least I know Harry doesn't trust him. (view spoiler)[ Don't know what gets into Murphy's head though, later. (hide spoiler)] I also don't think it was a great idea for Harry to reveal the connection between him and Thomas to Lara. But as he sees it, he has something over her too, so he seems to feel on equal footing there.
I was left with a lot of questions too. I was surprised by the level of fear Lara showed for the Black court vamp when it attacked her and wondered: what would happen if a Black court vamp bit a White court vamp? Does Black + White = Black? Or something else?
I wonder what kind of magic it takes to plant such a message in a soul gaze as Margaret Le Fey did. I would think it was no trivial thing. Which means the woman was powerful. And what sort of business could she have had with House Raith? Why did she turn from her allies and go on the run? Did she piss off Lord Raith? Some of the Fae? Ebenezar said she met Harry's father when she was on the run. But what if she went on the run because of Harry? Could she have known something about Harry's future? Everyone else seems to. And DuMorne was one of her allies - why? Is that how Harry ended up with DuMorne? (hide spoiler)]
Ah, tons of questions, but the answers have to wait! On to Death Masks!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After the tremendous all-encompassing conflict of the last book, I wondered how Butcher would top it, or if he could.
Well, he did. In Death Masks, ins...moreAfter the tremendous all-encompassing conflict of the last book, I wondered how Butcher would top it, or if he could.
Well, he did. In Death Masks, instead of end-of-the-world catastrophe, Harry is attacked on all sides. At once, of course. In fact, at chapter eighteen or so, I noted that Harry had yet to sleep! And it had been two days. He'd already been challenged to a duel by a powerful vampire, shot at by the mob, attacked by one of the Fallen (and still his day was to get worse). Oh, and there's a prophecy that if he tries to find what he's been hired to find, he'll die. But if he doesn't, everyone dies.
All that without a nap.
Harry finally slept when it was over. I think he slept for a couple of days.
This story was just as fast paced as the previous ones, if not more so. It grabs you immediately and doesn't let go till the end. Harry was confronted with so many threats that a duel with a vampire warlord actually took a backseat.
On to the next. Can't wait to see how Butcher tops this.
Observations on my re-read: (view spoiler)[I'm now curious about Thomas's tapping as Ortega's second. Was he really sent by his father? Or was this orchestrated by Thomas? Or by someone else? Lea perhaps? Thomas could have arranged it in an attempt to protect Harry. Lea, also. I'm thinking Thomas.
I noticed Ortega bowed "slightly" to Mac when he entered his bar. What is Mac that 600-year-old vampire warlords bow to him? I can't wait to find out.
I don't think I really understood what Shiro had done the first time I read this. He and Michael had understood that Harry was in danger, that there was a curse on him. Shiro took his place with Nicodemus to save him. They must have an understanding that Harry is very important, in general or in the future, for Shiro to give his life for Harry's.
I always wondered why Harry picked up the coin instead of picking up little Harry. But I think the reason for that is in his admission that he feels a darkness in him, one he struggles to ignore or at least control. That darkness reached for the coin instead of Harry. (hide spoiler)]
As I re-read the books, I actually feel like I need to read them again - there's so much in each, so much detail, hints, foreshadowing, I'm sure I'm missing some even the second time around. I guess I'll have to sacrifice and read them a third time... :-D["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"I was scared. Not in that half-pleasant adrenaline charged way, but quietly scared. …It's a rational sort of fear that puts a lawn chair down in the...more"I was scared. Not in that half-pleasant adrenaline charged way, but quietly scared. …It's a rational sort of fear that puts a lawn chair down in the front of your thoughts and brings a cooler of drinks along with it."
There's an image to start a story.
Harry's not in good shape at the start of this book. It's interesting to see the level of continuity. Considering the end of the last book, he shouldn't be in good shape. But many authors would just give their main character some recup time and move on to the next adventure. Nope, we get Harry in the midst of crisis, obsession, assassination attempts, and generally being on everyone's bad side.
We learn even more about Harry here. His story is more complex. The trouble he's in is deeper. There's war brewing -- on two fronts. Truths are revealed. Alliances made. It's actually the biggest trouble Harry's been in. And the consequences are bigger, with potential to affect the whole mortal world.
Harry's character is summed up well towards the end when the Gatekeeper tells him he's accomplished his task, he can stop. But he doesn't, though he desperately wants to, "because I'm an idiot. And there are people in trouble." Harry puts others before himself every time. Not in a saintly, holier-than-thou way. Reluctantly, with regrets at times, with dread often. But he does it because it's the only way he can live with himself. And when he wins, it's just barely, and always at a price.
I'm getting the sense there's a larger tale going on, being revealed in small doses, with hints and insinuations at times, sometimes more overtly. We learn about his mother a little bit each book, and it's becoming clear there's more to that story than even Harry knows. There was a huge revelation in this book I won't mention to avoid spoiling anyone. But I can now see how there's over a dozen books and counting. Along with the crisis du jour, there's trouble brewing in the background, secrets threatening to rise to the surface.
I can't wait.
Observations on my second read: (view spoiler)[This story held a lot more foreboding for me knowing how he will become embroiled with Winter later. I felt bad for Harry, actually. He thought this was a one-shot deal, aside from owing Mab two more favors. But he was just beginning.
I was able to pick out more specific foreshadowing now, though I don't know what many of them refer to yet. Such as the reference to him as a Starchild. I'm thinking that's what Martha Liberty might have been referring to when she said to Ebenezar, "You know what he was meant to be." And it has to be connected to his mother. I was intrigued by Lea's statement that someone Harry did not know will pay his price. Harry guesses she was referring to his mother, but he doesn't question her further. My question is, how can someone pay the price if they're dead? So -- is Margaret Le Fey really dead?
Everyone seems to know things about Harry he doesn't. They expect his moves, they vie for his loyalty, and he's pursued by all sorts of beings. Everyone wants a piece of him. And it's only going to get worse. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"Wow," Bob said. "You're dying. What a great plan."
Bob always knows how to put things.
Still loving Harry Dresden. The third installment offers a broad...more"Wow," Bob said. "You're dying. What a great plan."
Bob always knows how to put things.
Still loving Harry Dresden. The third installment offers a broader picture of Harry Dresden's world, and like before, he starts playing with the line between good and bad magic.
Jim Butcher is teaching me a lot about writing, about story, and storytelling. How to continue to make things worse for your character. Don't just put a time limit on him saving everyone. Make him take poison that puts a time limit on his life-saving! How to unfold backstory: in dribs and drabs. He mentions the Nevernever nearly immediately in the first book. But I don't think he ever outright explains it. Harry will mention, say, Faeries, and Bob will elaborate: "Either we get the Disney version of Faerie, with elves and tinkerbell pixies and who knows what sugary cuteness, or we get the wicked witch version, which is considerably more entertaining, but less healthy." He drops bits of information only when we need them. And sometimes even then we have to wait. It makes for a smoothly flowing story that seems to unfold effortlessly and keeps you turning the pages.
I like the character of Michael, though I don't know exactly what he is. I don't know if we'll see him again, but I hope so.
And Harry continues to make mistakes and pay the price for them. He loses people. He makes enemies. He starts wars. And he doesn't even get paid.
And I love him even more for it.
And upon my rereading: I can now see how well Jim Butcher does his foreshadowing. Rarely is anything we read for nothing. (view spoiler)[In some small ways, like when he's hit with some nails in Faerie. Or his taking the poison to avoid fulfilling his bargain with Lea -- won't be the first time he tries to use suicide to avoid becoming a lackey of Winter.
I can see how in this book the Big Bads stepped up their game a bit. Harry had go bigger and badder. But he only sees it in the context of the current situation. I'm thinking something was afoot overall, even from this early on. And earlier, likely. Lea bargained with Harry for his fealty when he was a kid. Even then, people/beings were trying to get a piece of him. There's a reason for that.
I'm so glad this wasn't the last we saw of Michael or Thomas. They were great additions to the cast. I really wish Susan hadn't been so obstinate about going to that ball, though... (hide spoiler)]
Oh, such torture, and loving every minute of it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The second in the Harry Dresden files was just as fun as the first. I'm getting to know Harry a bit better. He's awkward, sincere, inept, a terrible l...moreThe second in the Harry Dresden files was just as fun as the first. I'm getting to know Harry a bit better. He's awkward, sincere, inept, a terrible liar, not all-powerful, has a weakness for women in distress and women with long legs, wickedly sarcastic, flippant, irreverent, arrogant, sometimes slow on the uptake, worries about the little guy, hates bullies, tries to be responsible, doesn't always succeed, cries, worries about his cat, will puke after seeing a torn-up dead body.
Harry takes risks, usually to help someone else, and this time, comes too close to magic he shouldn't play with. We get to see him go up against werewolves and mobsters, and it's not clear who he's more intimidated by. He succeeds in stopping those who would do nothing good, but he pays a price.
An oft-misunderstood wizard, blamed for many things he's usually trying to stop or prevent, Harry Dresden is perhaps unlike any character I've read. Certainly one of the most memorable. I had instant affection for this character, especially how he's read by James Marsters. I'm moving on immediately to the next in the series.
On rereading, I have greater insight into Harry's personality, his character arc, and what makes him tick. A few observations: Harry's got anger issues. His anger is right below the surface, which makes it easy to access with his magic, making it easy to misuse his magic. He always feels the dark side lurking behind him, close by. Perhaps it's because of his anger. No wonder Lasciel and him got along so well.
His subconscious-not-Evil Harry seems like a future Harry - leather duster instead of canvas, wiser, the beard - he notices the similarity when he gears up to fight, except for the growth of beard. Maybe he was mistaken in making this connection and that wasn't a picture of him in the near future, but of years later. When else did he have a beard? Only after Susan died, and he didn't look so put together. Perhaps he grows one on Demonreach. Could totally see that. Except his duster is gone. I think.
That he called Susan for help after being shot and stranded outside Chicago without a ride, losing McFinn, seems a little contrived now. He couldn't call Mac? I don't know if he considers him a friend. But he's reliable. And he fretted so much about calling on Susan and bringing her into it. So why not call someone else, like Mac? He's really the only other one he could have called. Harry literally had no one else. Maybe his mind went to Susan because he wanted her there. Or maybe that's how Jim Butcher wanted the story to go. (less)
I understand why this book is so long. It's not just a story. It's an apocalyptic epic of the struggle between good and evil. Like Lord of the Rings,...moreI understand why this book is so long. It's not just a story. It's an apocalyptic epic of the struggle between good and evil. Like Lord of the Rings, and that took three long books to tell that story.
The variety of characters Stephen King creates is impressive. There are so many different players, from so many walks of life, appropriate for an apocalyptic story as this. I've seen warnings of overelaborate character development, but the character development doesn't drag -- it's simply *deep*. His characters come to life on the page. And the menace of the plague spreads as we learn about the characters, so the plot develops at the same time. It's actually kind of creepy how gradually the disease has developed, as part of the story. Yet, in the story, it's developing like wild fire. Neat trick.
Although it was updated to the 1990s, the updating was minimal. It's still clearly written in the late 70s. The story feels like the 70s, from references to music, the dialogue used, attitudes, etc. But I suppose it would have meant rewriting rather than updating to really make it feel like the 1990s.
And the villain - the Dark Man - creepy doesn't even begin to describe him. King managed to balance developing his character with a lack of description that resulted in maximum creepiness.
(view spoiler)[It's interesting that those who are drawn to the Dark Man are not evil people by definition. I would call them weak. A lot of them are just afraid. Others are looking for something they thought they've found in him. The Dark Man knows this. He gathers weak people he can seduce into believing what he's selling. He's searching for people who've given up on second chances, salvation, goodness. Cynicism, despair, hate, these are what feed the Dark Man. And he's hungry.
Well-written, great characters, building up with lots of tension and creepiness.
Except the climax ...wasn't.
I was actually disappointed with what was supposed to be the big climax scene. It was supposed to be The Stand. The battle between good and evil.
Instead, it was a brief conflict, and the heroes weren't even the active parties in the villain's destruction. They came to the West, to Las Vegas, to make their Stand. They knew they'd probably die in the process, and one of them was killed right away. The odd thing was that the villain, Flagg, was already losing it. Not really losing his power, but his ability to See, his focus, and his minions were leaving him, defecting, abandoning him. As a result, his overall badassery was diminishing already.
In the end, what vanquishes Flagg is only partly due to Larry and Ralph, the only two left. After being caged, about to be brutally killed before Flagg's people, the most they can do is try to instigate someone to rebel. To their surprise, it works, and Whitney the Cook defies Flagg to tell them what they're doing is wrong. Flagg is unruffled, since he Saw that this would happen, but he indulges himself in a little payback and produces this little ball of electricity to torture Whitney a bit.
This sets up his demise, but doesn't cause it. It's really the Trashcan Man, one of his own people, who ends it for all of them. His arrival at the camp with a hot nuclear missile essentially ended everything -- Trash was nearly dead himself from radiation poisoning already, and they'd soon be toast too. So in reality, his return is what killed them. Which Flagg couldn't foresee because he hadn't ever been able to See into the minds of those who weren't quite right in the head, like Tom and like Trash. Just driving up in his little cart, with a missile in the back, and it's over.
But Flagg loses track of his little powerball, the ball of electricity, and it's drawn to the missile, which sealed the end of all of them. Even that end was anticlimactic for me. The reader doesn't get much here. Larry sees it coming, and he's glad. He sees the end coming and it comes in a silent, white light.
And it's over.
In a matter of a couple of pages, and then in one line, it was over. I expected more. The story's called The Stand, after all. But I don't see how it was a stand at all. Instead, the heroes go into enemy territory, are captured, and one of the bad guy's minions brings in a weapon that explodes because the bad guy lost track of one of his toys.
When Stu sees the explosion, it's from miles away and that's how we see the climactic moment: from miles away. Not really satisfying. Stu's not involved in the moment. He has survived it, and what follows is a gratifying resolution in their eventual arrival home. But I was left a bit dissatisfied, like it had been an incomplete meal. (hide spoiler)]
And yet, it was worth it. The story itself is like no other. The characters are memorable, and many fulfilled their destinies in style. King ends the story with a twist that adds an extra touch of creepy that is all his own.
There's a reason why he's the King.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I haven't listened to a Harry Bosch tale in a while. The narrator has a distinct way of speaking I've come to associate with Harry Bosch. While engros...moreI haven't listened to a Harry Bosch tale in a while. The narrator has a distinct way of speaking I've come to associate with Harry Bosch. While engrossing enough to listen to during a commute, this story disappointed me on several levels. WARNING: Ahead there be spoilers.
I found Connelly explaining a lot. Things that were obvious he said anyway. A lot of explaining of gestures, for example. The editor in me kept saying 'you just repeated yourself,' or 'that's obvious from what you just said.' It was distracting, interrupted the pacing, and took away from the narrative. Kind of a lesson what not to do for a writer.
I may have forgotten details regarding Harry Bosch's character, but he behaved differently than I remember him acting in other stories I've read. Namely, he is more aggressive in this story, and well, he's kind of an ass. He consciously shuts out his partner, David Chu, ordering him about and outright telling him he isn't going to tell him what was going on. Once he tries the "I'm trying to protect you" line, but it comes off as patronizing and he never returns to the idea anyway. Besides, that's not how partners work. He's working a political case, but he should show Chu how to deal with the politics. Instead, he took control of the investigation himself, ordering Chu about, even though Chu calls him on it and tells him he doesn't appreciate being shut out.
Chu was out of line talking to the reporter, but when Chu confronts Bosch with how he's treating him, Bosch refuses to acknowledge it, insisting on holding Chu to a standard he's not keeping for himself. He treats Chu poorly and has no guilt about it and no desire to forgive Chu. He just writes off Chu as a partner.
Another thing I didn't understand was his reaction to Hannah. They get romantic after knowing each other a short time, and Hannah tells him about her son, who committed a horrible crime. When Hannah asks how he feels about what she told him, he is at a loss to offer anything but sympathy. When Hannah says she can't ignore her feelings, that she has to deal with what her son did and that he was in prison -- a reasonable statement, in my opinion -- Harry suddenly comes to the conclusion he's made a mistake with her and blows her off. It seems a huge leap that didn't have an explanation. There was no connection between point A and B. I don't see how he came to his conclusion just from what she'd said. Maybe it's a guy thing? Hannah starts talking about feelings, Bosch jumps to "this is a mistake"? There's something missing there to me. And somehow, Hannah "knows" she "messed up" with him when they next talk. I don't see how, since he doesn't give any indication except being a little abrupt in how he ended the last conversation. If she can sense he's annoyed, I don't see how she would have figured out why. It seems Connelly was operating with more knowledge than he was sharing with the reader.
By the end of the story, Harry has made a U-turn on his opinion of Chu, presumably because of how he handles their second case. I have to assume that, because he never explains his change of heart, except that he manages to tell Chu he did a good job with the case, and later tells himself he's going to move on and stop holding a grudge. But how did he get there from the deep insult he'd felt? It didn't seem plausible.
Chu was also a bit annoying in his reaction to Harry's behavior. While he tries to stand up for himself and complains to Harry when he shut him out of the case, that's all he does. Then when Harry finds out about the reporter, Chu insists he's going to make it up to Harry and practically begs Harry for a second chance. Repeatedly. The guy needs to grow a pair.
The Hannah storyline is left dangling a bit. But at that point, I didn't much care. With Harry being a general ass, I was less than happy with this story. (less)
I started reading this without high hopes. I thought I'd soon put it down. Instead, I was drawn into the story. And yet, now that I'm finished, I'm tr...moreI started reading this without high hopes. I thought I'd soon put it down. Instead, I was drawn into the story. And yet, now that I'm finished, I'm trying to pinpoint why. The style and voice are unusual. It is written in -- or translated into -- the present tense, which threw me off at first, but that lasted only a page or so. Mainly, the opening of the story made me curious. As the story progressed, it revealed its secrets slowly, without indulging in backstory before its time. It gave just enough to want to know more. So I kept reading.
But soon, I found the number of characters introduced a bit overwhelming. I couldn't see exactly where the story was going, nor did I have a handle on the characters. We slowly learn more about them, such as when it's revealed that Eva is an operative. But it's brief and almost as an aside. Instead of revealing aspects of the characters, only hints were given and often not explained.
This story is written in the omniscient POV. This was also a problem for me when I read Dune. It was again the case with Haystack, especially when the inner dialogue switched between characters in a single paragraph. That is simply annoying and feels like head-hopping. When I start a scene, I orient myself through the character who starts the scene, who obviously has the POV. To have to repeatedly change that is disorienting, and as a result, I get pulled out of the story on a regular basis. It also seems to keep me from feeling close to any of the characters.
In this case, I don't think it was the omniscient POV that kept me at a distance from the characters. There were moments when I got inside their heads and felt some connection with them. But that only went so far. We simply never learned enough about the characters to build a real connection.
One of the major complaints I have with this novel is how the author structured the dialogue. It's in italics, without quotation marks, which just on a subconscious level I think is disorienting (makes me think it's internal dialogue). But what's worse is each speaker doesn't get his or her own line. You basically have to guess who's speaking and when the other speaker starts speaking. No tags, no breaks. Just a paragraph of italic text. It's extremely confusing and forces the reader to do some detective work to figure out what's going on.
Even more puzzling: Only at about page 100 did I figure out that chapter one was actually a prologue of sorts. The next chapter went back in time to before the murder, but there was no indication of this whatsoever. I can't imagine why an author would do that. At chapter fifteen, we get to the point in chapter one, when the man is killed and his body dumped where he was found in chapter one. It does say something about the story that, in the fourteen chapters in between, there was so little attention paid to the the murder the detective was supposed to be investigating, that I sort of forgot about it. Those chapters developed the various characters, mixing backstory with events happening at the time. The characters, what I learned about them, were interesting and often surprising. But the structure of the story is bewildering. You should not find out more than halfway through the book that you'd stepped back in time at the beginning.
In the end, while an intriguing story, it meandered a bit much. Many events seemed unrelated. Many characters were peripheral with little connection to the main plot. Such as Giribaldi's wife and the baby. What was the point of that?
I'm finished, but I'm not entirely sure what happened.(less)