The Dresden Files: White Night by Jim Butcher – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

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Bane of Kings reviews the enthralling ninth Dresden Files novel, White Night, which sees this long running urban-fantasy series continue in fine form, published by Orbit in the UK and written by Jim Butcher.

“You’re not a fan of the urban-fantasy genre until you have read Jim Butcher. His books are easily the strongest novel series in urban-fantasy, and White Night is no exception, being one of my favourite Dresden novels so far.” ~The Founding Fields

Note: This review presumes prior knowledge of all previous books in The Dresden Files, but there are no spoilers for this installment.

My catching up of The Dresden Files continues with White Night, and I must say that Butcher’s Ninth is a brilliant read, one of the best books in the series so far in fact. Whilst not quite matching Dead Beat or Summer Knight, White Night is still an enthralling tale and one that should not be overlooked. It’s action-packed, fast paced and a very strong installment to the series.

A series of apparent suicides rings alarm bells with the police. And before he knows it Harry Dresden, professional wizard, is hired to investigate. At the first crime scene he finds an unmistakable magical taint – and a message specially designed for him, referencing the killing of witches. Harry is desperate to hunt down his tormentor and halt the killings, but instead finds evidence implicating his half-brother, Thomas. To Harry, this just doesn’t add up, so he must add clearing his brother’s name to his expanding list. Something that didn’t make the list is subtlety, and Harry’s search attracts the attention of the White Court of vampires …Soon, whichever way he turns, he faces a power struggle that will render him outnumbered, outclassed and dangerously susceptible to temptation. And if he screws up, his friends will die.

Harry Dresden is no longer the same person that we encountered in Storm Front, and it shows in White Night. He’s undergone a massive change in character development throughout the series, and as well as trying to stop the crisis in question, Harry must also struggle against Lasciel, a fallen angel that has been in his head for a while now in the series, having first begun to contact Harry in his mind in Dead Beat. He’s a fantastic character and although White Night is more darker and gritty than its predecessors, it’s good to see that the humour is still there, which is a good thing as The Dresden Files isn’t really The Dresden Files without Harry’s first-person, engaging narrative.

White Night is a bad place for a newcomer to start, as the ninth Dresden Files novel expands on the established conflict between the Red Court Vampires and the White Council, which is explored in more depth in this book as we actually get to see Harry fighting on the front lines in the war, taking him away from Chicago. We also see Harry teaching Molly, his apprentice after the events in Proven Guilty  and we get to explore their relationship as master/apprentice in this book more. There are a wide variety of characters present in White Night, and each gets a lot of page-time, which is good to see, especially as the dramatis personae for this novel is quite full indeed, making it one of the most character-packed Dresden novels yet.

If you’re wondering that by Book 9, the series has lost its strength and shouldn’t be picked up, then you shouldn’t be. It’s excellent, and continues to up the ante for the next book in the series, Small Favour, which promises to be awesome. The novel is action-packed, page-turning, and although it may seem in places to have a similar style to the previous novels, the difference in this book to the previous ones is that Butcher has now given Harry an apprentice to deal with, in the form of Molly.

For those who are fans of vampires and have been disappointed with the lack of them in the more recent books, then never fear – as White Night mainly revolves around the creatures of the night, and we get a mix of White Court and Red Court vampires in this one, as well as the Black Court, which are the third type of vampires in the Dresden-universe. In case you’ve forgotten the roles of the three courts, then I’ll inform you here. The White Court are vampires that out of all the three can most easily pass as humans (although they don’t sparkle), and then they’re split into three different sub-factions from there. The Raiths feed off sexual energy, the Skavis drain pain and dispair from their victims, whilst the Malvora go for fear. The Red Court are the vampires that resemble bats, and are probably the closest to the stereotypical vampire that Butcher presents, as they feed off blood. Finally, the Black Court, who are the most nasty of the bunch, and as well as that – are undead. All three Courts feature in White Night making it a must for any vampire lovers, but those who aren’t big fans of them shouldn’t give this novel a miss because of that – I found it to be really enjoyable.

You can tell that this novel was plotted before Butcher started writing, and it shows as you’re reading it. There aren’t any plot holes, and the book manages to be well-paced, making you not want to put it down with the amount of cliffhangers that you’ll find at the end of every chapter. Although you know Harry will emerge on top (especially if you’re a latecomer to the series), the novel manages to be as unpredictable as it can be despite that, and there are numerous twists and turns throughout the novel that I didn’t see coming. Superb stuff, and highly recommended.

Verdict: 4.5/5

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: 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 (Anthology), Ghost Story. 

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and a prolific reviewer who can be found on many places on the internet usually under the same username – when he’s not trying to catch up on the many seasons of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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