13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2002
I loved this book. I love the series. Harry Dresden is such a wonderful character, with a wry, slightly skewed outlook on life and the ability to look at his own usually critical situation and quietly laugh, even if the laughter might be touched by desperation. The device of seeming to talk to the reader works well for this aspect of Harry's personality. Butcher's short, choppy style suits Harry well, and highlights the best and worst in his characters. I always enjoy the very visual descriptions - I think Butcher creates a series of moving images of Harry in my mind, especially when he dons his long duster coat and strides into battle!
The Summer Knight of the title has been killed, and Harry's faerie godmother has given over Harry's debt (from Grave Peril) to the Winter Queen, who has been accused of killing the Knight. Winter has much to gain by the death of someone who holds a portion of Summer's power, the power which has not travelled to the next vessel once the Knight died, but is no missing, lost. The balance of power between Summer and Winter has shifted, and they are no longer equals. A battle of potentially apocalyptic proportions is about to begin. You'd think things couldn't get much worse for Harry, but you should know better!
I find with each book in the Dresden Files that Harry continues to grow and develop. His girlfriend left some months earlier after being infected by the Red Court, and Harry is obsessed with finding a cure for her. His friends the werewolf pack are worried about him, as is Murphy. Murphy herself retains some damage from the battle with the Red Court - another whip of guilt for Harry to flog himself with. By the end of the book while much is still unresolved, in just a few days Harry's actually at a healthier place, and I'm glad for him.
Harry always seems to perform well under stress, and here we meet more of the White Council. While Harry doesn't consider himself at the top of his profession, it is interesting to see how he is perceived by other wizards and supernatural creatures. I'm glad he's not 'super wizard', but it's kinda sweet to know he's more feared / respected by others than Harry perceives himself. Butcher does not 'talk down' to his readers, but allows them to draw their own conclusions that even Harry seems unaware of.
I highly recommend the book, and the series, to anyone who enjoys good writing, mystery, and the supernatural.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Harry Dresden is in trouble. He's inadvertently started a war between the vampires and the wizards' White Council, his girlfriend has suffered an unplanned magical transformation and he's in danger of being booted out of his house and office. When a new paying job comes along it seems like a great opportunity for Harry to get on top of his troubles...until he finds himself in the middle of another magical war.
Summer Knight, the fourth novel in The Dresden Files, picks up some months after the events of Grave Peril and is the first book in the series to feature extensive continuity call-backs to previous volumes without a huge amount of exposition about what's been going on. Four books and twelve hundred pages into the series, I guess Butcher decided it was time to stop catering for newcomers and get on with business.
Having covered evil warlocks, werewolves, vampires and ghosts in the first three books, Butcher explores the faeries of his setting in this volume (though they showed up in the previous book, there's more revealed about them this time around). Making faeries work as threatening forces is tricky in supernatural fiction due to the cliches that come to mind when they show up, but Butcher does a good job here, defining the Sidhe of Dresden's world in some detail as threatening and sometimes malevolent beings who are dangerous and tricky to deal with. Their addition to the story, along with more information about Dresden's wizardly colleagues, expands the scope of the worldbuilding nicely.
Butcher's prose is as enjoyable as ever, with Butcher continuing a nice line in black humour. This book is notably lighter in tone than the dark Grave Peril, but things are still grimmer than in the first two, slighter novels in the series. The continuation of an over-arcing story arc from the third book (which still isn't resolved at the end of this volume) gives a more epic feel to events, with Harry's mission in the book having larger and more important ramifications in the wider conflict and world. It's good to see returning characters like Billy and his werewolf pack, the Alphas, whilst Karrin Murphy returns to the forefront of the action and, as she puts it, successfully kicks some major supernatural arse in one well-realised action sequence.
At this point The Dresden Files is becoming an enjoyable television series in novel form (which makes the failure of the TV version of the series more of a shame, though that may be down to how much they deviated from the source material). Each novel so far has had a satisfying self-contained narrative, but also added to the mythology and, in the third and fourth books, has brought in larger storylines spanning multiple volumes that bring a more epic feel to the series.
Summer Knight (****) is another well-written entry in a highly enjoyable fantasy series. It is available now in the UK and USA.
I have just started reading the Dresden files because of the great things that I heard about them and after really enjoying the brilliant Codex Alera series by the same author. The first three books left me really underwhelmed and I didn't think much too them. There was however enough there to keep me reading and after finishing this book I am glad I did.
Jim Butcher has left behind the silly police procedural that this series started out as and has opened this series into something far more epic. From the outbreak of war between the vampires and wizards, the other new war between the god like fae and finally dark secrets returning from Harry's past, this book simply was wall to wall tension and action.
The story was great and I was glued to the pages almost from the start. More than half the time I was genuinely worried about the main character which is no small thing in a series of books that still have at least ten or more already written.
This book really expanded upon the characters in the novels, doing a great job of covering their history as well as fleshing out their characters. Harry has always been likable and funny but it was good to see the other series regular, Murphy, slip into a more 3 dimensional character in this novel.
Overall this was an excellent read and certainly worth slogging through the earlier books to get here. I am now not just excited about the rest of the books in this series but I am probably hooked as well.
on 19 September 2013
When one thinks of fairies usually what springs to mind is Disney-esque, wasp-winged Marilyn Monroe types or 1920 styled nymphs hanging out at the bottom of the garden. One doesn't usually think of bloody vicious creatures with a taste for pizza and an aversion to iron. Jim Butcher does, however. Big time. In fact in 'Summer Knight', he not only gives them an enormous depth of character, but a fairy (or faery) hierarchy that Shakespeare would be proud of. There's queens, ladies, Queen Mothers and various nobles and dignitaries which makes the UN seem like a youth club.
The book stats off with a mopey Dresden who's in a bit of a state since his girlfriend got bitten by a vampire and left town. He then gets hired to investigate the death of an elderly man who was an agent of the Summer Faery Queen called the Summer Knight. And then he gets mixed up in pretty complex faery politics, complex plots and a massive war.
Just to bring everyone up to speed with the faery thing, there are - according to Butcher -two faery (or Fae) courts: Summer and Winter. Each has a queen, a lady and a queen mother. Butcher describes these as 'The Queen that is, the Queen that will be, and the Queen that was'. The Summer Court is ruled by Queen Titania (see Shakespeare, he was taking notes), her daughter, The Summer Lady Aurora, and Mother Summer, probably Titania's mother. These are sign posted as 'the good guys'. Winter, on the other hand is under the rule of The Queen of Air and Darkness, Mab, the Winter Lady Maeve, and the Mother Winter. These have a massive flashing neon sign indicating they are 'The Bad Guys'.
Got it? Good. Now it gets interesting. Each Fae court has a mortal odd job man called a Knight. He has super powers and carries out various errands for their queens. You know the sort of thing: take out the rubbish, pick up some milk, kill that annoying person. That sort if thing. Anyway, somebody has killed the Summer Knight, and Mab (The Winter Queen. Remember, the Evil One) asks Dresden to investigate. And it gets more complicated from there.
Butcher weaves a solid whodunnit between the delicate wings of faerie politics, mixing in some werewolves, changelings and the inevitable Murphy. This is a good read and presents a sound framework for future novels. The characters are strong and as an adversary Mab is one to watch.
I believe in fairies! I do! I do! I do!
on 27 February 2012
Poor Harry, he's a bit down in the dumps at the start of this one. He finds himself pretty much responsible for starting a war between the Red Court of the vampires and the wizards' White Council, plus his girlfriend has been infected by the vampires and just one taste of human blood will put her over the edge. So not surprising that he's wallowing in self-pity really. Now the vampires have a contract out on him and the White Council - fearing the coming war - are ready to sacrifice him to save their own necks. So it doesn't really help when Mab, the Winter Queen, turns up and tells him that she's bought his 'debt' from his godmother, Leanansidhe, and basically owns his ass. She promises to release him from this debt if he'll carry out three favours for her, the first of which is to clear her of the murder of the Summer Knight.
This all makes for another enjoyable Dresden adventure, full of the usual sardonic wit, twists and turns and plenty of action. It doesn't quite hold the tension that the previous novel, Grave Peril, did, and that's maybe because it seems like a pause for thought before the series gets back to the main plot, a bit of light fluff before things get dark again. This one's all about Dresden proving himself to the White Council so that they don't throw him to the lions - or vampires, in this case. It moves at a fairly breakneck pace, which helps a lot, and it really doesn't overstay its welcome, plus it brings back the Alphas, which is good, and involves Murphy a lot more heavily, which is also good.
I'm told that the series gets better and better from here on out, in which case I can't wait to read the next one!
on 16 June 2010
It's so strange. My review of Grave Peril complained about the fact that I was having vampire politics inflicted on me. Yet in this book the fae politics were tremendous. The idea of having two courts - a Summer and Winter court - combined with the idea of Maiden, Mother and Crone which comes from various points in mythology, helped to lend this novel a sense of something both familiar yet unique at the same time.
I did feel as though the Stone Table was more than a little inspired by The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe!
But enough of these idle ruminations...
Summer Knight opens with Dresden in a dark place - he might be fine physically, but his soul has been damaged by a succession of tough cases, finishing up with Susan's predicament. Once again, I deeply appreciated the fact that Dresden is a realistic character, struggling to do the right thing, but finding it hard to cope with the situations that have swept him up. In other long-running urban fantasy series, the author does not seem to realise that the events their character suffers through will have a deep and lasting psychological effect that needs to be dealt with.
In fact, the scene where Dresden meets the Summer Lady of the fae and she takes his pain away for a few brief moments is one of the most powerful and emotional in the series to date:
"Aurora gave me a small, sad smile. 'I'll show you. Here.'
Her palm pressed a bit closer to me, and somewhere inside me a dam broke open. Emotions welled up like a riotous rainbow. Scarlet rage, indigo fear, pale blue sadness, aching yellow loneliness, putrid green guilt. The tide flooded through me, coursed over me like a bolt of lightning, searing and painful and beautiful all at once.
And after the tide receded, a deep, quiet stillness followed. A sensation of warmth suffused me, gently easing away my aches and bruises. It spread over my skin, like sunlight on a lazy afternoon outside, and with the warmth my cares began to evaporate."
I also liked the fact that Dresden's relationships with recurring characters is changing and adjusting according to what has happened in previous books. There is never any idea that the Dresden universe is static and no one develops. For instance, here Dresden finally decides to trust Murphy, which is a complete about face compared to Storm Front, where he cannot bear the idea of putting Murphy in danger with the knowledge that he gives her.
I enjoyed this book mostly because everything that I enjoyed greatly in the previous three books was bigger and better this time round: the action scenes were superlative, with a real sense of tension, and the knowledge (thanks to Susan) that peripheral characters really aren't safe at all); the humour and snark was ever-present, with one of the best lines coming not from Dresden, but from Meryl, a character that I grew to love despite her short cameo in this book:
"Meryl said, 'Someone broke into the apartment. It looked like there had been a struggle.'
I let out a sigh. 'Have you contacted the police?'
She eyed me. 'Oh yeah, of course. I called them and told them that a mortal champion of the fae came and spirited away a half-mortal, half-nixie professional nude model to Faerieland. They were all over it.' "
I just have to mention my enjoyment of Billy and the Alphas (which does sound like some oddball punk band...) I adore the fact that they are so young, and enthusiastic, and have pizza/gaming parties after beating the bad guys. They are rapidly becoming one of my favourite parts of the Dresden series.
I do wonder how valid my reviews are going to be of this series, as I progress through the books! People who have never picked up the Dresden novels are unlikely to be swayed by my review of book four or five or six in the series, while those who have started the series and reach book four are more than likely to move onto the subsequent books with little encouragement from me... I feel a little as though these reviews will be only for those people who have already tackled the books, so that they might think 'oh yeah, I concur with her point' (if anyone actually does use the word 'concur' in their own thoughts!) or 'this girl has no idea what she is talking about!' But I shall continue to review them as I read them, so that I have a decent record of what each book was about, and what I liked about them.
Having now read four of the Dresden books, I can see a little unevenness in quality: some books have definitely been better than others. Happily, this is by far the best of the novels so far. The conflict between the Winter and Summer Courts played out against the backdrop of a murder mystery, with Harry racing against time to try and ensure that no imbalance of power exists in the world of the Fae. The tense and exciting events were matched well with some introspective moments, where the character of Dresden is explored in a deeper fashion. All I can say now is bring on the fifth book!
on 11 February 2015
Book four: Faeries. Jim Butcher's series about. Chicago-based wizard detective Harry Dresden feels by this point to be cycling through the list of available magical creatures to put the protagonist against.
It's an enjoyable trip into this world again and it's nice to see that the characters are living with the repercussions of the previous story rather than being like toys taken back out of the box for a new day.
A good chunk of back story is also revealed for the main character, although I couldn't tell if all of it was a sudden surprise revelation or something that I'd read before in the earlier books.
There were elements though that didn't grip me as much. I'm not sure if it's just that the genre doesn't quite excite me enough, or whether it was that there are a few similarities to other books that I've read from other series. I think that the naming of some of the characters didn't help - there are a set of six new characters here that all seemed to have similar names and I kept getting lost as to which the narrator was talking about.
Overall, I thought that this was okay. I'm not sure I've got enough invested in the series to make it really gripping, and perhaps I need to ensure I don't leave such a long gap between episodes in future.
on 21 November 2011
So, Butcher's tackled the usual supernatural suspects in his previous books; werewolves, vampires and demons aplenty. Where then to take his wizarding gumshoe Harry Dresden without the series becoming stale? Well, how about into the depths of Faerie to battle trolls and centaurs?
Harry's a bit of a mess at the start of the book, due to the tragic events of his last case. But then he's thrust into a conflict on a global scale as t forces of Summer and Winter gear up for war.
This allows Butcher to throw in a whole mess of new characters and threats, from seductive faerie queens to killer unicorns, ghoul assassins and raging plant monsters. Harry also has to deal with the reappearance of a major figure from his past he thought long-dead.
As ever, Butcher's strengths are to the fore. Not only does he bring some massive setpieces to the table, including a fraught siege in a department store and the cataclysmic end confrontation, but the interactions between his well-developed characters are the usual mix of wisecracks, banter and genuine pathos.
It seems that Harry is facing ever bigger threats as the series progresses; I don't know how long Jim can keep up the breathless pace he's set himself, but hopefully his run of quality will long continue.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Of all of Butcher's Harry Dresden novels I have read to date Summer Knight is by far the most enjoyable. Reducing the horror quotient of the previous book in the series, Grave Peril, and upping the insights into the workings of the worlds of magic and the 'faeries', the universe that Harry Dresden inhabits is becoming increasingly more rounded and interesting. Even the character himself is becoming more agreeable company. By the end of Grave Peril his world weary cynicism had been replaced by depression and sadness, and we find him is a similar state at the beginning of this story. During the course of Summer Knight however, he undergoes something of a change and by the end is back to his former, sarcastic, non-conformist wisecracking best.
I just hope that Jim Butcher maintains this standard with the next book. Having become a little disenchanted with the series post Grave Peril after Summer Knight I will once again be keen to find out.
Oh, and as always, word to the wise; if you're new to Harry Dresden buy Storm Front first and work through the series in order. The central stories of each book might work in isolation, but understanding what has gone before is important to the enjoyment of the books.
on 19 July 2014
I have to admit I wasn't going to write a review and then I saw that overall the book only had 4.5 stars! What's that about?
I am slowly replacing my paperback and hardbacks with the kindle books. So overall I have spent quite a bit on this series. Why? Because they are great! Read them in order is my advice! If you find them slow or struggle, persevere because these are some of the best fantasy books around and Harry is a hero you can really get behind.
This particular novel finds Harry between a rock, Mab, Winter Queen of the fairies, and a hard place, the White Council who he has dragged into a war against the vampires. Basically you may be about to step into a world with a hero whose battle cry, on a fairy battlefield, is "I don't believe in fairies".