The Dresden Files: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

Proven Guilty

Bane of Kings reviews Proven Guilty, Book Number 8 in the best Urban Fantasy series out there on the market today, The Dresden Files, written by Jim Butcher and published by Orbit Books.

“Eight Books in and Butcher continues to suprise, enthrall, and entertain. Proven Guilty proves that Butcher is not just capable of writing an awesome novel, but continuing an awesome series.~The Founding Fields

Note: This review presumes that the reader has read at least the first Seven Books in the Dresden Files series, as there is spoilers for previous books.

I’m over the half-way mark in The Dresden Files by now, and if you’ve been following TFF long-term, you’ll be aware that not only have I reviewed all of the series up to this point apart from Storm Front, Book #1, but you will also be aware that The Dresden Files is probably my favourite long-running series out there, not just in urban fantasy, but in the whole fiction related universe. The only other long running, still continuing series that I return to on a regular basis are James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels, The Horus Heresy series by Various Authors, and Gaunt’s Ghosts by Dan Abnett. (Not including Anthony Horowitz’s young-adult Alex Rider series, which ended with 9 fantastic books. Books 8-9 in a long running series such as this one are normally make or break point for me, (with the exception of Patterson’s Alex Cross series which can be read out of order) – where I decide if I stick with the rest of the series or not. However – judging by the awesomeness-factor of the previous Dresden Files novels, it would be safe to say that if Proven Guilty was bad, I would give the next novel a chance.

And was it bad? Well, it was actually the complete opposite. It was a jaw-dropping read, one which I really enjoyed. Proven Guilty has not only kept me hooked from page one right the way through, but is now moving into the top 5 books in the Dresden Files series that I’ve read so far, along with Dead Beat, Death Masks, Summer Knight and Fool Moon. It would probably come in betwen Summer Knight and Fool Moon, if Dead Beat was my favourite of the five, and it went down in decreasing order. So, now you know my reaction, you’re probably wanting to know the plot. So, here it is:

There’s no love lost between Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and the White Council of Wizards, who find him brash and undisciplined. But war with the vampires has thinned their ranks, so the Council has drafted Harry as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City.

As Harry adjusts to his new role, another problem arrives in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend is the only suspect in what looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago, but it’s all in a day’s work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob…

The novel itself is typical Dresden. Something big to draw you in, and then a mystery that streches for the rest of the book. You can expect pop-culture references, humour, and of course, Dresden will get thrown into a lot of sticky situations where Butcher proves that he’s not afraid to put his characters through hard times.

The pacing is fast all the way through, and the novel is action-packed and enjoyable enough to keep you hooked through what is the longest Dresden novel yet. Butcher’s created a likeable cast of characters, with Harry proving once again why he’s one of my favourite male protagonists, and as well as the return of old friends who I won’t mention for spoilers sake, in Proven Guilty they are all well developed – including the villains.

There’s a different system of magic to what most people may be used to, which helps make the story more enjoyable and original. There are loads of magical fights in this volume of the Dresden Files, and Butcher manages to make each of them different and varied, and never once does a fight scene feel dull, repetitive or boring.

If there’s one thing that I didn’t like about Proven Guilty, it’s the fact that Butcher seems to think that it’s necessary to repeat information about stuff that we learned in the previous novels. Whilst it may be helpful if you’re reading the novels out of order, most people tend to read the series in order, and it does bug me that seemingly every novel Butcher continues to describe stuff that we already know.

Once we get to the main investigation, a crime scene at a local convention known as SplatterCon!!!, (which happens to be a horror convention, and apparently, can only be spelt with three exclamation marks) – we are thrust into what very quickly becomes a bloodbath, in which Butcher continues to prove that he can write action scenes well, and at the same time, keep us entertained. The first side of the novel is where it is more humourous, and there are several funny one-liners in this book. If you are looking for serious urban fantasy, this may not be the place for you.  However, one thing is for sure – it still is an enjoyable read.

Harry’s character as developed well throughout the entire series, his character becoming more cynical, and he’s a very different Dresden to when we first saw Chicago’s only wizarding Private-Eye back in Storm Front, which is so far the only Dresden novel that I haven’t reviewed (and read) for this site. The other, side characters such as Thomas have also developed well, and I have a feeling that they’ll develop again by the end of the series.

Another thing that’s positive about Proven Guilty was that it left me wanting more and more Dresden.  The eight novel in the Dresden Files is as awesome as ever, and I really can’t wait to see where Butcher will take the reader next. The novel is fast paced, and I really enjoyed it, not being able to put it down. If you’re a fan of the Dresden Files, then I can safely say that Proven Guilty will be another awesome book. Reccomended.

Verdict: 4/5

The Dresden Files: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favour, Turn Coat, Changes, Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files (Anthology), Ghost Story, Cold Days (Coming Soon).

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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