Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review: Summer Knight

Written by Jim Butcher, The Dresden Files is a series of fourteen fantasy/mystery novels starring the private investigator and wizard Harry Dresden. Each novel is told from a first person perspective where Dresden recounts one of his investigations into supernatural disturbances in modern-day Chicago.

Summer Knight is the 4th book in the series and takes place two years after the events in the 1st book Storm Front. After loosing the person closest to him, Dresden just hasn't been himself. He's having trouble paying the rent, alienating his friends, and not taking very good care of himself.

Just when it seems like things couldn't get any worse, the only professional wizard in the phone book is approached by the Winter Queen of Faerie and she has an offer that Harry just can't refuse. She wants him to figure out who murdered the Summer Queen's right hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen's name. However, Harry should know by now nothing is as it seems, especially when fairies are involved.

To be perfectly honest, Summer Knight left me with rather mixed emotions. On one hand, Butcher's writing remains top-notch. Like the three previous entries in the series, Butcher knows how to bring each character to life and make them pop off the page, even if they are just a secondary character who only shows up once or twice.

Butcher also does a fantastic job at introducing the new details surrounding the Faerie Courts of the Nevernever. Some of my favorite elements in the book were the details about fey culture, the hierarchy of the Summer and Winter Courts, and the political intrigue and power struggles happening between them. As someone who enjoys building and crafting their own fantastical worlds, it's always entertaining for me to read these details about the world.

However, the book isn't flawless. Like the other books in the series so far, there is a large dump of information near the end of the book to make sure everyone knows what is actually happening feels kind of clunky in its execution.

The biggest problem I had with Summer Knight is the somewhat messy nature of the narrative. While on paper the plot makes sense and I was still satisfied with the book overall, I felt the book's plotting could have been a lot tighter.

With that being said, Summer Knight is still an entertaining book in an entertaining series. If you are a fan of The Dresden Files and "Urban Fantasy" stories in general, I suggest giving Summer Knight a read. However, you might be lost if you haven't read the three previous books (Storm Front, Fool Moon, and Grave Peril).

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