And the Dresden Files reread continues… In the next five books of the series, Harry’s still snarking it up, collecting allies and enemies willy-nilly with no thought of self-preservation, dishing out punishment to anything that dares to cross the line in Chicago, and taking a fair beating himself, as usual.
The stakes slowly grow higher, the battles harder, and Harry’s personal life becomes more and more entangled with the war he’s chosen to wage against the dark of the night. But he’s still Harry, the wisecracking wizard we love, and I honestly think that this ability to bring a sense of humor and perspective to his dealings with the supernatural is what keeps Harry human above all things.
So the last installment brought the Denarians into the game… How on earth could Jim Butcher top that one? Maybe by bringing back the vampire courts in book 6, both Black and White? Yeah, I guess that’ll do the trick!
***SPOILERING STUFFS WILL COMMENCE HENCEFORTH***
***YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED***
Blood Rites, Book 6 of The Dresden Files
Harry Dresden, Professional Wizard, is back, and this time he’s been hired by White Court vampire and sometimes ally Thomas Raith to discover who is aiming a killer entropy curse at the cast and crew of a porn film production. To further complicate matters, the Black Court of vampires is involved, and Harry plans to take vampire boss Mavra down for good.
This is our first proper introduction to the White Court, and brings the big reveal that Thomas and Harry are half-brothers, children of the same mother. Thomas is one of my favorite Dresden Files characters, so I definitely remember fist pumps of joy the first time I read this novel. It also gives us our first taste of Lara Raith, Thomas’ sister and, by the end of the book, de facto leader of the White Court. Oh, and one of the best villains/allies ever.
In Blood Rites Harry pretty much sacrifices his hand to protect himself and his friends, a sober reminder of the consequences of magic use. The novel ends with Thomas moving in with Harry and marking a whole new level of personal involvement for our hero.
Saving best for last – Mouse! Yes, the Tibetan temple dog that adopts Harry as a puppy in Blood Rites and eventually over the next few books becomes my favorite animal sidekick ever. Ok, maybe barring Robin Hobb’s Nighteyes. But close!
Dead Beat, Book 7 of the Dresden Files
Also known as the one with Butters and the zombie dinosaur.
That’s probably enough of an explanation as to why this is one of my favorite Dresden Files novels, right? This is totally Butters’ book. We’re introduced to the geeky, polka-loving medical examiner earlier in the series, but until now his role has been pretty minor, either as Harry and Murphy’s contact in the morgue, or as unofficial doctor for Harry and his friends.
This time Butters is right in the thick of things as he and Harry attempt to stop a group of rival necromancers from teaming up to complete a Halloween rite that will turn one of them into a minor god. Harry and a handful of White Council wizard Wardens have a zombie-fuelled fight on their hands, and Harry and Butters literally gallop to the rescue on a zombie dinosaur.
Seriously. Zombies, a t-rex, and polka. Only Jim Butcher could pull that one off!
Proven Guilty, Book 8 of the Dresden Files
Harry helps out Knight Michael Carpenter’s teenage daughter Molly when murders take place at the horror convention she’s working at. When she gets snatched and taken to Winter’s stronghold in the Nevernever, Harry teams up with Michael’s wife Charity, Thomas, and Murphy to storm Winter and recover Molly.
By then Harry’s discovered that Molly is in fact a wizard, and she’d already broken the laws of magic. He steps in and takes Molly on as his apprentice to save her from execution by the Council.
Highpoints in the book include getting to see an armor-plated, ass-kicking, war-hammer wielding Charity in all her motherly righteous fury. Oh, and Harry getting auctioned off on eBay by Thomas’ renegade cousin Madrigal. Because nothing beats getting sold off to the highest bidder out for your blood.
White Night, Book 9 of the Dresden Files
More revelations for Harry in this one when he finds out that Elaine, the orphan who was fostered with him as a teenager and was his first love, is still alive. Harry and Elaine work together to help a group of small-time magical practitioners from being targeted by White Court vampires. Along the way, they uncover a plot to take down House Raith, current leaders of the White Court.
The whole thing falls apart in the Raith Deeps, a huge cavern system under Lara’s lands, when Harry and Warden Carlos Ramirez, who we first meet in Dead Beat, challenge the two vampires responsible to a duel. All hell breaks loose, and even with an awesome mixed bag of allies that include his brother Thomas and mobster Marcone, Harry only survives because the shadow of the fallen angel Lasciel, who’s been camping out in his brain, steps in and sacrifices herself for him. Oh, and because of Lara Raith’s kiss that powers Harry’s getaway spell.
Small Favor, Book 10 of the Dresden Files
The book starts with Mab, Winter Queen of the Sidhe, calling in one of the favors Harry owes her. Mobster Johnny Marcone is missing, and she wants Harry to get him back. Harry finds out that the Denarians are behind the abduction, but when he sets up an official meeting, to be overseen by the 11-year-old Archive, he quickly finds out that what the Denarians really want is the Archive herself, and all the power she holds.
The Denarians set up an exchange on a secret, cursed island in the middle of the lake. Harry and his team manage to free Marcone and the Archive, although Michael Carpenter gets badly injured. At the hospital, Harry talks to archangel Uriel, who has gifted him with the ability to use soulfire.
All in all, this is a rather dark novel, although just as action-packed as usual. The capture and subsequent torture of Ivy the Archive is just heartbreaking, although I do understand that it prepares Harry’s mindset for later events in book 12, Changes. One of my personal highlights is the exchange with a janitorially-clad Uriel at the end.
Personal ranking from favorite to less favorite (because there ain’t no such thing as a bad Dresden novel!):
1- Dead Beat (seriously, zombie t-rex!)
2- Blood Rites
3- Proven Guilty
4- White Night
5- Small Favor
Personal top five secondary characters introduced (in addition to those mentioned in last installment):
3- Lara Raith
4- Carlos Ramirez
5- Molly Carpenter