Grave Peril by Jim Butcher – Review [Bane of Kings]


Bane of Kings Reviews the third novel in the popular Urban fantasy series The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher, named Grave Peril, published by Orbit in the UK.

“Butcher keeps managing to impress the reader with his ability to improve throughout each addition to The Dresden Files. Truly, a series not to be missed.” ~The Founding Fields

I’ve been a fan of Jim Butcher ever since I discovered Storm Front earlier in the year, and after enjoying Fool Moon, the second novel in the series, I found myself reading the third book, Grave Peril, and finishing it in a couple of sittings.

Like usual, the plot focuses around Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only Wizard Private Investigator, and in the past novels, we’ve seen such things typical of an urban fantasy novels, with vampires and werewolves. Now though, Butcher takes things up a notch by including not just ghosts, but also vampires and demons.

Set about a year after the events of Fool Moon, the book opens with a bang, and sees Harry along with a friend, Michael Carpenter, one of the Knights of the Cross, who has met Dresden prior to the events in this novel, Grave Peril opens with the two friends ghost-hunting. But, they quickly discover that the barrier between the Nevernever and Earth is weakening and violent and obsessive ghosts are on the loose.

And they seem to be targeting Dresden.

Told entirely first person, this allows the reader to see the events portrayed entirely from Dresden’s view, and again, Harry finds himself on ‘death’s doorstep’, at some point in the novel, which bugged me in the last novel, Fool Moon, and it’s bugging me again here.

Full of fast-paced action, Grave Peril is perhaps the best of the first three novels. Characters are developing more, and we see most of the main stars, Susan, Harry’s love interest, Bob, a sex-crazed skull, Lieutenant Karrin Murphy of Special Investigations, and Bianca, the owner of the velvet room and a cluster of the Red Court Vampires.

But, no Johnny Marcone, and this makes a change, as he is somewhat replaced-ish by Michael, the man of God who is in fact another complete opposite of Marcone, completely dedicated to the worship of God, and the wielder of a sword named Amoracchius.

 Humour is more frequent in Grave Peril than in the previous books, and this is partly why I found the book more enjoyable than the previous ones.

A fault that I found in this novel though, as with all long-running series that you start late, such as The Ultramarines by Graham McNeill and Alex Cross Novels by James Patterson, it really does rob the sense of danger that the main protagonist is in. You know they will be put through some tough times, particularly if you’re reading a book with Harry Dresden in it, and you know that they’ll make it out at the end.

One of Butcher’s strong points is the characters. Dresden is a strong, humour filled protagonist, reminding me of an older, male version of Max from the Maximum Ride novels by James Patterson. He has a joke for most situations, and his jokes don’t feel out of place when they’re used, which was the problem I had with The Age of Odin by James Lovegrove.

By the time you’ve reached the third novel in the Dresden Files, you’ll discover that the pacing is somewhat predictable, for reasons mentioned above, but don’t let that stop you from picking up Grave Peril, for in my opinion, it’s the best so far. Judging from the blogsphere people prefer Fool Moon, but my heart firmly lies with Grave Peril for now, and I’ve heard good things about Summer Knight, so I can’t wait to see where Butcher (and Dresden) takes me from there.

Oddly enough, in Fool Moon, I found the banter between Dresden and Murphy to be annoying, but now that there isn’t any in Grave Peril, I’m somewhat missing it. Although we get Michael instead, who I find to be just as strong as Murphy.

Verdict: 4/5

More 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, Side Jobs (Anthology)

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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