Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

This is the lastest novel in the Dresden Files series featuring the wizard private eye Harry Dresden. More so than some of the other books in this series, this one is aimed at people who have been keeping up with the series, thought you could still enjoy it if you aren't as familiar with all the characters here and their relationships.

It starts out with a bang and keeps the momentum going. As I've said before, Butcher does a good job of keeping the tension building in these books. The Warden Morgan, who has been a long-time thorn in Dresden's side, shows up on Dresden's doorstep asking for shelter and help in clearing his name. Morgan has been accused of murdering a senior member of the White Council, the big collective of wizards that set and enforce the rules about magical behavior that mortals must follow.

In keeping with his character but struggling against his personal feelings toward Morgan, Dresden agrees to help out. And because lately Butcher feels compelled to throw everything and the kitchen sink from his setting into each story, the novel brings in the White Court of the vampires in addition to involving the White Council. And Butcher shows that his monster-building chops are still sharp by bringing a really scary skinwalker into the story. This isn't a Navajo witch-style skinwalker so much as it is one of the ancestral, supernatural beings that inspired such creatures.

The novel brings about some significant changes for Dresden's relationship with Warden Morgan and Warden Anastasia Luccio, as well as a potentially big transformation for Dresden's vampire half-brother Thomas. Dresden also establishes a sort of psychic bond with an unexpected entity, perhaps filling the void left behind by the fragment of a fallen angel with whom he shared his consciousness for a couple books.

Dresden's police detective buddy Karin Murphy isn't in the book much. We get some more insight into the different senior members of the White Council and more hints, though pretty vague ones, about the supposed Black Council conspiracy that Dresden has been trying to convince people about for the past few books. At least he gets some people to agree with him this time around.

I admit that at times Butcher's tendency to bring all the various factions together in a single place for major battle royales gets a little familiar. It's as though he's a action-film director whose movie budgets keep increasing, letting him stage bigger and bigger blockbuster finales. There is a good shapechanging duel in this clash, however.

Another book that I felt compelled to finish in a few days. Not a good place for those new to the series to jump in, but a good mix of action and character development. If it is formulaic in places, it is a reliable formula.

No comments: