Turn Coat

Well, I'm running out of positive things to say about Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files. This series has definitely become one of my favorite SFF reads and it keeps getting better!

If Dead Beat turned out to be the point where the Dresden Files shifted into high gear, for its part Proven Guilty did build on the storylines introduced in basically every other volume and pushed the envelope even further. Far from losing steam like so many other speculative fiction series, the Dresden Files continued to grow in size, scope, and inventiveness. Having matured as an author with each new book, Jim Butcher has definitely hit his stride and he definitely became more confident, more ambitious. And with so many plot threads coming together to form an impressive tapestry, the potential for what came next was indeed enormous. But with the bar being raised with each new volume, the possibility that Butcher would somehow lose control of his tale, or allow himself to lose focus and simply milk his popularity for all it's worth, remained risks that could become all too real if he did not avoid certain pitfalls that had plagued some of his peers also writing bestselling urban fantasy sequences.

As a matter of course, White Night had lofty expectations to live up to. But even if it was a fun and entertaining read in its own right, it was not as good as its last few predecessors. The novel was not as intricately plotted and satisfying as Dead Beat and Proven Guilty turned out to be, yet it nonetheless set the stage for another chapter in the Dresden Files. One that would undoubtedly raise the series to another, deeper and more complex, level. And Small Favor was definitely a return to form for Jim Butcher. The book elevated the series to an even higher level, with several hints of an even bigger and more ambitious story arc that is gradually becoming more and more discernible.

Given its predecessor's quality, Turn Coat had big shoes to fill. But Butcher upped his game yet again and came up with his best effort thus far.

Here's the blurb:

When it comes to the magical ruling body known as the White Council, Harry keeps his nose clean and his head down. For years, the Council has held a death mark over Harry's head. He's still thought of as a black sheep by some and as a sacrificial lamb by others. But none regard him with more suspicion and disdain than Morgan, a veteran Warden with a grudge against anyone who bends the rules.

Like Harry.

So when Morgan turns up asking for help, Harry isn't exactly eager to leap into action. Morgan has been accused of treason against the White Council, and there's only one final punishment for that crime. He's on the run, he wants his name cleared, and he needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog.

Like Harry.

Now Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less than agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake may cost someone his head.

Like Harry...

I was hooked by the premise of this book from the very beginning. Given the history between Morgan and Harry, how could I not? Turn Coat captivated me from the first page and never let go. I mean, when a battered and injured Morgan shows up at Harry's doorstep, asking for his help because he's accused of a murder he did not commit by the White Council, you immediately know that the proverbial crap has hit the fan. Given that we've suspected for a while that there is a traitor working for the Black Council hiding in plain sight within the inner circles of the White Council of Wizards, you know it's going to get interesting. And since no one will think that the Warden would seek out Harry to help clear his name, that gives the only wizard in the Chicago's phonebook a bit of a head start to discover what truly happened. Because if the Council finds out that Harry is hiding and helping Morgan, he will surely share the Warden's fate. A death sentence.

As always, the novel features the first person narrative of Harry Dresden. Harry's voice as the only POV remains witty and irreverent, filled with dark humor that makes you chuckle every couple of pages or so. But this one was the darkest installment yet. As has been the case with the majority of the last few Dresden Files volumes, it's the supporting cast which helps make this one another memorable read. The usual suspects are there for the ride; Murphy, Thomas, and Molly Carpenter. Never could have expected Thomas' transformation following his ordeal at the hands of the Skinwalker. I'm really looking forward to see how this will affect his relationship with his brother in the future. Speaking of Harry, the heart-breaking aftermath of the endgame with Anastasia Luccio must have profoundly hurt him. One of the most fascinating aspects of Turn Coat was that it shone some light on the politicking and the inner workings that are at the heart of the White Council. Seeing some senior members in action was also quite a treat. Listens-to-Wind, especially, can certainly kick some ass.

In my Small Favor review, I claimed that it was hands down the most convoluted installment so far. It was, no question. And yet, Turn Coat took it up a few notches. Once again, what begins as a relatively straightforward mission quickly turns into an extremely complicated and intricately plotted ensemble of storylines that links this one with plotlines from past volumes. Like most of its predecessors, Turn Coat is an elaborate and interesting self-contained stand-alone story. Still, no other installment in the series was this complex and unveiled that many secrets which keep readers begging for more. The ending raised the stakes even higher, and it appears that the Dresden Files will now enter a new phase. One that keeps growing and growing, taking readers along unexpected paths.

Turn Coat is another fast-paced affair. Butcher really paced this one close to perfection. No doubt about it, this novel is a page-turner from start to finish!

With Small Favor and Turn Coat, the odds are definitely stacked against Harry and his few allies. New developments with Michael Carpenter, Thomas, and Anastasia will likely have grave repercussions on the poor guy. Not to mention that the list of entities and people wanting Harry dead keeps growing with each new Dresden Files book. It will take a lot of self-control to not forgo reading anything else and simply read the remaining volumes in this series.

Jim Butcher is awesome and Turn Coat was his best work to date! I wish reading could always be this fun!

The final verdict: 9/10

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2 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

I'm REALLY excited to see your review when you read Changes. Just... I can't say anything at all, really, due to spoilers, but I'm looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

On Amazon.ca, I just noticed the Kindle collection of books 1-6 is on sale for $7.99. Heckuva deal.