Seth's Reviews > White Night

White Night by Jim Butcher
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's review
Mar 08, 2008

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bookshelves: modernfantasy, sf-f-h
Read in March, 2008

Basically more of the same from Butcher. If you like the series, this one is an enjoyable entry: nice set-piece action, almost no character development (on Harry, that is; his apprentice Molly is growing up quite a bit), and a complex interaction between several people's independent plots for our wizard-cum-P.I. to unravel.

This book focuses a lot of Thomas, Harry's vampire half-brother, as Harry and Thomas try to keep one another alive, use one another to further their own interests, and avoid actually talking to one another. The Harry/Thomas relationship has taken over the driver's seat of the series now that Harry and Sgt. Murphy are pretty much settled as a non-item, and the series is no worse for it.

In fact, the characters' sex lives are a recurring theme of the book. Harry's four-year dry spell, Molly's we-don't-talk-about-it wild teenage years, Warden Ramirez' "Spanish lover" bragging, and Harry's and Thomas' desire that Thomas not return to using sex to feed his vampiric hunger are all played off against one another. In the Dresden universe, magic is fueled by passion more than cold will, and the relationship between love (of several kinds), need, and passion is the undercurrent.

Molly's story continues to advance. This is a great way to replace the pages of navel-gazing the earlier books had regarding their moral dilemmas with instruction and challenge, which makes it not only palatable but interesting. All in all, White Night has about three pages of Harry just rambling to himself about his ethics, which is a big improvement.

Molly has to face a big question in this book: Is she willing to get involved in as messy a business as her father and Harry do? We're pretty certain of the answer (after all, her father is called by God Himself to fight evil), but she's going through the uncertainties and test-of-faith that should accompany the decision. It's also a good chance for Harry to re-examine his own involvement. His cooperation with the demon he buried in his basement, his anger over the vampires' destruction of his last healthy relationship, and his knee-jerk partiality when his brother is implicated in a string of murders all lead to some good questions and reflection. Murphy, Ramirez, and Holly all take him to task on how caught up he's getting and how he's starting to believe his own savior complex. How he handles it is the stuff of this (and hopefully the next few) books.

The actual plot addresses some great points that have been outstanding in the story: Who is the hypothetical Black Council that's working against the wizards and the vampired equally? How are the White Court vampires handling Laura Raith's covert usurpation of her father's will? How will Harry's conscription into the Wardens--a group widely feared by the less-powerful supernaturals--affect his reputation and business as Chicago's hero of the little guy? And just how tough is Mouse, his stolen magical Temple Dog, anyway?

The stuff of the plot is spelled out all over the place: someone is killing female magic practitioners, limiting off the pool of potential White Council members down the line (magic is often passed matrilinearly). The evidence increasingly points to Thomas as a "person of interest" and Murphy asks for Harry's help on the case--unofficially, since she's been demoted. Harry's first complication is the other evidence in the case: it looks like a tall, thin Warden is involved in the killings, and Harry himself is the only tall Warden in the Midwest. The more Murphy and he investigate, the more it appears that no one theory can explain all the killings, especially when Elaine, Harry's teenage love, comes back into his life with information about similar killings in three other cities, leading Harry, Elaine, and Murphy to unravel a complicated case of multiple murderers using and manipulating one another while deftly using Harry as their pawn.

Pure fluff. Pure fun. Nice entry into the series. Well worth the three or four hours it takes to read.
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