Bane of Kings offers his thoughts on the tenth Dresden Files novel, Small Favour, written by Jim Butcher and published by Orbit.
“Ten novels in and Butcher proves he can still make a fresh installment. Action-packed, rip-roaring and amazing, Small Favour may just be the best Dresden Files novel yet.” ~The Founding Fields
Up until this point, I thought that the best Dresden Files novel would be Dead Beat. I loved its zombie action and the way Butcher had written it, and I didn’t think any future installment would be able to top it. And oh boy, I was wrong. Butcher steps up and knocks the ball out of the park with the tenth installment of the Dresden Files, and, proves why Butcher is the best Urban Fantasy author out there today.
Harry Dresden is feeling happy. No one’s tried to kill him in nearly a year, and the worst problem he’s had lately is trying to remove the stains his apprentice bungled into his carpeting. The future looks fairly bright. Unfortunately, the past isn’t nearly so optimistic. An old bargain placed Harry in debt to Mab, faerie monarch of the Winter Court and the Queen of Air and Darkness. Harry still owes the Winter Queen two favours, and it’s time to pay one of them off. It’s a small favour that he really can’t refuse, but it will trap Harry between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, stretching his skills and loyalties to their very limits. It figures. Everything was going too well to last.
The key theme of this book is promises. We get promises made, promises broken. As usual, Small Favour opens in an explosive style that is sure to draw the reader in and keep them hooked. If you’ve already read the first nine novels of the Dresden Files or are re-reading the series then you’ll know what to expect from this book. It’s fast paced, page-turning, action packed, and full of witty jokes from Chicago’s only wizard, Harry Dresden.
We get appearances from cast old and new. Murphy’s back, Molly’s character is expanded upon, Thomas returns, and more besides. Whilst some authors would avoid including such a varied and wide dramatis personae, this is one of Butcher’s strengths. He excels in the characters, and everybody from Bob the Skull to “Gentleman” Marcone each have their unique personality traits and strengths. As usual, Harry will be in his ‘darkest hour’ at one point during this book, but it’s fun to watch us root for the underdog. We want Harry to emerge on top to win, especially as he’s a very likable guy.
Small Favour is classic Dresden, and that’s why I love it. For those of us who have read the earlier novels, the big bad villain that features here is somebody that we’ve already seen before. That doesn’t stop Butcher from making the novel fresh and enjoyable though, and even if he may overload on description and character detail at times, we still find ourselves flicking through the book at a tremendously fast pace. Although not everything may be wrapped up neatly at the end of the novel, this is part of a series – thus allowing for threads to be expanded upon in future books.
Butcher provides a consistent narrative filled with humour to prevent Small Favour from becoming too serious. The novel’s the best in the Dresden Files yet and those of you who are catching up on the series like I am will love this installment. I haven’t seen any negative feedback for it yet, which is always a good thing. New readers may find themselves a little lost out if they start with Small Favour though, so I suggest going back to the beginning and starting with Storm Front. Whilst it may not be the best of the Dresden Files, Storm Front is still a strong debut novel (it was Butcher’s first), and allows yourself to be wowed with how well Butcher can improve his storytelling.
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, Ghost Story, Cold Days (Coming November 2012).