The Dresden Files series is well-known for its wholesome reputation among the readers of the urban fantasy genre. The author of this beloved series, Jim Butcher, weaved elements from detective fiction and supernatural horror together into the fabrics of the story, and veiling it in the atmosphere of neo-noir. The resulting product, is a series of books that enchant readers with exciting actions, and stylish suspense.
Jim Buther has published 15 The Dresden Files novels up to date. I have read the first four books. Although I felt these books were a bit repetitive, but I still enjoyed them, because the characterization and the world building in these books are top notch. In my previous blog entry, I shared my thoughts about Grave Peril, the 3rd entry in the series, where the story concluded with a bittersweet ending. In Summer Knight, the 4th book in the series, the story of Harry Dresden continues, as he faces a new challenge with a stake of the highest caliber. I noticed as this series goes on, the size of Harry Dresden's challenge grows as well. Does a bigger challenge translate to a better story? Today, I would like to review Summer Knight, the 4th book in The Dresden Files series.
Harry Dresden is a gifted wizard. In fact, he makes a living, as a professional wizard for hire, providing services such as: finding lost items, paranormal investigation and consultation; all these services can be purchased at a reasonable rate. In the past, Harry undertook some dangerous assignments, going toe to toe against a dark wizard, werewolves, and vampires, it's all part of a day in Harry's job. Needless to say, there are many occupational hazards in Harry's line of trade, the most recent one, was when Harry's girlfriend was turned into a vampire during one of Harry's assignment.
Since then, Harry became a desperate man. He worked day and night, abandoned his business, researching a cure for his girlfriend's vampiricism. Nine months later, Harry still hasn't found a cure. Worse still, Harry's business revenue has become a desert wasteland, all his bills are overdue, and he is about to be evicted from his office and apartment.
As Harry reached an all time low in his life, Winter Queen of Faerie approached Harry with an offer he can't refuse. Apparently, Summer Knight, the right hand man for Summer Queen, has been murdered. Winter Queen's contract to Harry is simple; find out who murdered Summer Knight. This seems straight forward? If only life can be so kind!
Soon, Harry found himself entangled in a web of faerie politics, and he also discovered, it just happens that the fate of the world depends on him solving this case. So yep, speaking of stress at work...
What I think about this book:
I think Summer Knight is a solid entry to The Dresden Files series, but it is not without flaws. The story in this book is compact, flying at a fast pace. Jim Butcher created suspense in this book, with a masterfully crafted plot around a murder mystery. The tension in this story is taut by the shadows of faerie politics, and the threat of an all out war that will end the world.
Just like other The Dresden Files novels, characterization is a strength in this book. Harry remains an interesting and likable character. Harry is a powerful wizard, but he has weaknesses, and he usually relied on his wits to deal with his opponents. This book also has a cast of memorable, supporting characters. However, I found the supporting characters in Summer Knight, somewhat paled, in comparison to Michael Carpenter, who was a secondary character in Grave Peril.
Summer Knight is a fun book to read. But I found this book to be repetitive, a problem that recurs in the previous 3 novels in this series. Harry often got beaten and wounded by his opponents, but he always survived it somehow, by drawing powers from his “inner reserve” at the last minute. This plot device was used several times in this book (and in the previous installments in the series). While it does create a sense of danger for the main character in the first few times, but as this series goes on, this plot device took a status of permanent residency, and it is cliched, a warrant for eye rolling moments.
When I weight the strengths and weaknesses of Summer Knight on a scale, this book still comes out as more positive than negative. It has a tight, well crafted story, acted by a cast of interesting characters. But there are some recurring plot device in this book (and the series in general), that made Summer Knight feels like just another “The Dresden Files book”. As a result, while this book is fun and entertaining, but I think need to take a break from this series, and read something different. Perhaps in the near future, I will return to the adventures of Harry Dresden. In the meantime, I would recommend The Dresden Files, to people who may be interested in detective fictions with a supernatural twist.