Cataline Recommends: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Been a while since we’ve seen a new Dresden Files book and we will be getting two this year. So at least 2020 isn’t a total write off.

Butcher’s last addition to this series was in 2014. He had been rather productive up until this time. Usually producing one or two books a year. I’m not sure why there was a prolonged interrupt, possibly it was his divorce. This period wasn’t completely unproductive, he published a couple of Dresden anthologies during this time.

And if you haven’t read them, you might want to before diving into this one. A lot of potential emotional impact will be lost otherwise. I was rather sad about the fate of the fae king who is also a Cubs fan. I wouldn’t have felt that way if I hadn’t read the short story.

Normally I’d be worried about taking money out of a fellow author’s pocket by saying this but I rather doubt that my blog has that big of an impact: if you are a fast reader you may want to hold on this one until the next book comes out in September.

Yep, it ends on a cliff-hanger.

But if you are a slow reading Butcher fan, then fine go ahead and get it now.

Butcher’s twenty-year series has finished it’s second act and is now escalating to its climax. The setting is now pretty much in stone, the character’s conflicts are all known, so now its time to finish the story…. which may take another eight books.

This book is kind of heavy on the fan service and I suppose that is necessary given the six-year gap since the last book. His biggest worry at this point has to be fan disengagement.

At end of Changes, Butcher handed himself a major problem with Harry Dresden, he made him a father. At first, his plan for Maggie Dresden was to send her away to be with a loving family (the Carpenters) but the problem was that he would be drastically subverting the character of Harry Dresden if he did that. Dresden had spent fourteen books bitching about having been an orphan in the “foster system.”

Consequently, he couldn’t maintain the integrity of his main protagonist and send away Maggie at the same time because no matter how dangerous it was for her to be with him, Harry Dresden simply couldn’t send his daughter away.

He. Would. Not. Do. It.

So now Harry is a Dad and that changes everything about a man’s world.

By the end of Changes Dresden had also been stripped of just about everything. His office, his apartment, his Volkswagen bug, Bob the Skull and even his life.

The journey to the underworld is very much required for the Hero’s Journey and interestingly, after coming back from the dead, he went back to underworld in the next book, apparently having forgotten he was supposed to bring some gifts for all mankind during his previous trip to the land of the dead.

With those corrections made and after a six-year wait Harry is ready to begin the next part of his life. He has gone from a nothing, gumshoe wizard to a nearly legendary figure in his world. Wealthy (or at least comfortable) and powerful.

We start with a quick slice of his new life and then the plot kicks off pretty quickly.

The Fomor have called for a convocation of the Unsealy Accords signatories to discuss signing a peace treaty with them. As a Warden of the White Council of Wizards, Harry has been drafted on to the security team and as the Winter Knight, he is also liaising with the Queens of the Winter Fae.

And the problems quickly pile-up on him. A big faction of the White Council wants to expel him. His brother finds himself in some very serious trouble with a very powerful nation. The other Wardens want Harry to pick sides and so does his legendary grandfather Black Staff McCoy and Dresden is in no position to do that.

This book is a strong come back effort after a long hiatus.

If you like The Dresden Files then Cataline Recommends with Enthusiasm.

UPDATE: If you like Dresden and prefer audio books, now is the time. The books in the series are currently selling for a little under ten dollars a copy at audible.

8 thoughts on “Cataline Recommends: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

      1. Okay. This is the first book where Harry finally leaves the noir detective behind and embraces the magical superhero, in a world of powers and intrigue. And I have to say, I liked the detective better.
        Sam Spade got out of impossible jams by being smart, noticing small things, lying up a storm, and bluffing, and also by facing up to the consequences if he failed. By being a man, in other words.
        Harry Potter, on the other hand, solves problems by pulling some new spell out of his ear, which no one saw coming and which fixes the problem. it’s what I call a “Kirk trick” in which Jim Kirk wins again by the writer introducing new facts no one saw coming. By cheating, in other words.
        I’m on record, somewhere, as saying CHANGES was a huge mistake, a reset like Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls. I liked GHOST STORY, was okay with COLD DAYS, and thought SKIN GAME was a fun ride but a weird step back, because now that he’s the Winter Knight and the Black Council is working behind the scenes, who really cares about a heist caper?
        Back before CHANGES, Harry would have done the best he could manage, taken his chances, and taken a tremendous beating if he guessed wrong. In this book, both of Harry’s impossible dooms were met by coming up with a cool spell no one has ever seen before. Is this going to be the go-to from now on? Is this how Harry’s going to overcome the cliffhanger, which I loved? It’s as if in this book, the setup is way better than the payoff, twice.

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  1. In preparation I reread 1-15 again during the past month and it’s thrown the consequences of the hiatus into sharp relief. Peace talks is a slog, and I keep finding excuses to put it down.

    Hopefully the second half is more satiating, and that Butcher has it in him to finish out this masterwork series.

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  2. The cliffhanger is that bad? Damn. Well, the next one comes out this year too, so either he figured it’d be okay, or he had to split a single really long book into two, and figured that was the best place for it. My best guess, at least.

    Thanks for the heads up! God I hate cliffhangers. “Changes” almost got thrown against the wall…well, not really, but I thought about it.

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