Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Format read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Dresden Files #14
Length: 528 pages
Publisher: Roc
Date Released: November 27, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

HARRY DRESDEN LIVES!!!

After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?

Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…

His soul.

At the beginning of Harry’s story, all the way back in Storm Front, Harry wasn’t all that much. He was a wizard-for-hire. A private investigator. And hanging on to his life and freedom by his fingernails, because the White Council was pretty damn sure that he was much too loose of a cannon.

Well, Harry has always been a loose cannon, but he’s acquired one hell of a lot more firepower. Some of it literally from hell. But he’s not small potatoes any longer.  Harry Dresden is one of the Great Powers, now, whether or not he remains the Winter Knight (that’s not a spoiler, that’s this reviewer speculating on Harry’s ultimate future).

Magic is often written of as “the will and the word”. In Cold Days, it’s about Harry’s will and Mab’s word. Mab tells Harry to kill an immortal; her daughter Maeve, the Winter Lady. While Harry is required, as the Winter Knight, to obey, Harry never meekly obeys. Ever.

Harry’s magic is all about mastering the force of his will. His will, no one else’s. And even though the mantle of the Winter Knight raises, often literally, every base instinct Harry, or any man, every had, he knows how to suppress those instincts. Even if it hurts.

No matter how tempted he might be to give in. Molly is very pretty, and very willing. But taking her is the first step to becoming a bastard like the last Winter Knight, and Harry will not give in.

Besides, Karrin is still there. Even if she has to come find him. And even if they are both afraid of the monsters that live inside them.

There are too many monsters, and too many games being played. The Winter Court has always been a place where things go down their natural cycle to die, but that is not the game being played now. Too many people, too many agencies, too many beings have changed their behavior all out of recognition because someone, or something, on the outside has changed the game.

And Harry has been made the Winter Knight to stop them. No matter what, or who it costs.

Escape Rating A+: Cold Days lived up to every scrap of shivery anticipation that I had invested in it. I lost myself in this story at every opportunity, no matter what insanity was going on around me, and there was plenty of insanity.

The stakes of Harry’s world have gotten so incredibly high, but it has happened so naturally, that it feels natural and not forced. It’s marvelous and awesome, in the original meaning of the word awesome, full of awe. Harry started out small-time, and now he consorts with gods and legends, and he has become a legend himself. Yet he’s still afraid to see his daughter again. He’s still the same guy inside. That’s why we love him, and that’s why we keep following his story.

I can’t wait for Harry’s next adventure. I’ll say this right now, I wonder how long before he finds a way out from under Mab. We’ll see.

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