Oh my God, this one was a doozy!

I've said this many times, but I'm running out of superlatives regarding Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files. This series has definitely become one of my favorite SFF reads and Changes was the very best one yet!

As mentioned in past reviews, 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.

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.

To all ends and purposes, Changes proved to be the culmination of all these interwoven plotlines. It raised the bar higher than ever before and nothing will ever be the same for poor Harry Dresden from here on out. Doubtless, this is a major turning point for the series and its characters.

Here's the blurb:

Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden's lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.

Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it-against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry's not fighting to save the world...

He's fighting to save his child.

Once more, I was hooked by the premise of this book from the very beginning. An unexpected phone call from Susan Rodriguez, Harry's ex-girlfriend who was turned into a vampire by the Red Court earlier in the series. He is shocked to discover that he has a daughter, Maggie, kept secret from Harry for the child's protection. And Arianna Ortega, a Duchess of the Red Court, somehow learned of her existence, kidnapped her, and now plans to use Maggie against Harry as revenge for the death of her husband. Arianna also managed to manoeuvre the White Council into an uneasy truce that could end the war, which means that Harry finds himself without powerful allies. With his back against the wall, he has no choice but to make decisions he knows he will later regret. But he was dealt a bad hand and his options are few and far between. Needless to say, Harry will risk everything to save his daughter.

As a matter of course, the novel features the first person narrative of Harry Dresden. Harry's voice as the only POV is usually witty and irreverent, filled with dark humor that makes you chuckle every couple of pages or so. But this novel was by far the darkest installment yet and an oppressive pall hangs over everything. Striking at the heart of the Red Court in an attempt to stop a formidable ritual from taking place with nothing but a few allies, Harry is acutely aware that he might not survive to tell the tale. And even if he does, his life will no longer be his own. As has been the case with the majority of the last few Dresden Files volumes, it's the supporting cast that helps make this one another memorable read. Even though it's a matter of life and death, the usual suspects are there for Harry; Mouse, Murphy, Thomas, and Molly Carpenter. There are some truly touching moments involving them. Jim Butcher played the emotional impact card rather well on a number of occasions, which really made you feel for Harry and the rest of the gang. Add to that Suzan and Martin and Harry's faerie godmother, as well as a slew of familiar faces from past installments, and you have all the ingredients for an unforgettable read.

Changes was hands down the most convoluted installment so far. As usual, it began as a relatively straightforward mission but quickly turned into another extremely complicated and intricately plotted ensemble of storylines that links this one with plotlines from basically every other volume that came before. It does take a while for everything to come together, yet no other installment in the series was this complex and unveiled that many secrets which keep readers begging for more. Not even Turn Coat. Revelations about the White Council, the Red Court, the Winter Court, other deities and immortals, the war, and Harry's past make for some compulsive reading.

Changes is another fast-paced affair, no doubt about it. And with each new chapter getting you closer to the showdown at Chichen Itzá, Butcher made this book impossible to put down! True, the groundwork had been laid over the course of over ten installment, yet the author made it all come together with panache in a grand finale that will leave no one indifferent. I wish reading could always be this amazing!

Changes delivered on all fronts and it will be a tough act to follow. The unanticipated ending signaled that the series will take an abrupt turn in the next book, aptly titled Ghost Story. I know that fans were not as enthused by that sequel, but I'm not sure that anything could live up to the potential showcased in Changes. One thing's for certain. Nothing will ever be the same for Harry and company, and I'm looking forward to see where Jim Butcher will take them next.

Believe you me: It doesn't get much better than this!

The final verdict: 9.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

1 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Changes is so good, it's crazy how much happens and... well... 'changes' in it.

Interested to see how you view Ghost Story. It's probably the most divisive book in the series. At least if you aren't a huge fan, know that Cold Days is often cited as one of the best!