reviews

Peace Talks (The Dresden Files #16) by Jim Butcher - Book Review

Write on: Mon, 20 Jul 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 2027

I enjoyed the Dresden Files in the past, so was looking forward to the new installment after a few years' gap. If you've never read them before this is not the place to start, but if you are a fan then this book delivers. 

What to Expect

Peace Talks picks up where the series previously finished (some 6 years ago), and continues on the main story arc. Harry had been fighting the Fomor, which came to power after his war on the Red Vampire Court. Getting into this book is like meeting an old friend again, catching up and reminding yourself of past events. It then continues in a true Dresden fashion, with complications and counter-demands piling up quickly to a nearly impossible situation.

What I liked

I love the series, the complex and rich world that Butcher has built. As usual, there's a bit of new lore to explore, with new threats and more for us to discover about his world. Butcher's plot are thriller-style: fast-paced, with mounting complications and quickly rising odds.

Dresden himself is not without flaws, and is generally a very relatable person (you may not always like him, but at least you could understand where he's coming from). Side characters at this stage of the series are good and complex too, not cardboard cutouts. All have motivations of their own, and in some cases (Marcone and Lara Raith in particular) tend to be very interesting in their own right. In this volume we get a deeper view into Ebenezar McCoy, Harry's grandfather and senior wizard.

What to be aware of

This book is essentially the first half of a much larger work. Butcher usually wraps whatever he started by the end of each volume, leaving just a few hints about things to come when he'll explore the consequences. Peace Talks ends very much on a cliffhanger, and it's obvious that it had to be split into two volumes. The scope of the work might partially explain the time it took to finish and publish. The next installment, Battle Ground, is due out by end of September this year, so make your own choice about reading now or binging when both are out.

As mentioned above, the series has to be read in order. There are heavy references to past events, both from the main arc and from the short story collections. In terms of personality, Dresden has a distinct voice. Just like with regular people, he is who he is (and don't mistake Butcher for Dresden), and you may or may not like him. By this point in the series, you'll know.

Felix's Review

Felix enjoys the series too, enjoys looking at the working of a supernatural world from the point of view of someone who's a top player (he himself is much more focused on occult cases that affect regular people - even when he keeps gets dragged into highly political ones). He has the sense that should Dresden ever have the time for a relaxed drink, they could share many pleasant hours shooting the breeze together over a cup of wine even though Dresden hasn't done any 'proper' occult detective work in a while. He's eagerly looking forward to the next volume, to see how the battle with what, for him, is a mythical god will turn out.

Summary

If you're a fan, why are you reading this review rather than the book itself? If you haven't read them yet, you can see my review for the full series, but do make sure you read them in order. Remember that the first three volumes are slower, earlier works, but from then on Butcher's writing is steadily improving and the series really takes off in scale and exploring consequences.

Assaph

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.

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