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4.8 out of 5 stars227
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 10 December 2012
Harry is back from the (almost) dead, and is now having to cope with being the Winter Knight. It has to be said, we are kind of used to Harry making lemonade out of lemons, but it's always a great ride watching while he does it. When he accepted the Winter Knight's mantle he never meant to keep it - only Queen Mab has outmanoeuvred him so he's stuck with it. And now he's having to learn to use it without it using him.

And while he's doing that, he's got to stay alive in the Winter Court where killing people counts as after-dinner entertainment.

And he's got to kill an immortal - but which one, though? That's the million-dollar question, isn't it?

And then there's the whole problem of Demonreach.

While Harry is wrestling with his multiple problems and being beaten up by various enemies, Butcher is giving us more to chew on. We learn more about the Winter and Summer courts of the fae, and - hooray! - we learn more about the Gatekeeper. And why's he called the Gatekeeper anyway?

The series has expanded in scope over the last few books. Harry isn't just a wizard PI any more - he's a soldier in a war, and an increasingly senior one at that. The action in Cold Days mostly takes place over about 24 hours, so it's a pretty fast pace, but there's a lot in there that I think we will be seeing more of later. It's clear that Harry is going to be increasingly more important to the war (which war?) and that the stakes are going to keep getting higher. Other characters, too, grow and change - at least one other character getting a major life-change that I certainly hadn't expected.

Butcher has given us what we wanted - Harry's back in Chicago, and back with the old crowd. But the clock can't be turned back - the changes that started with 'Changes' are continuing, and I, personally, can't wait to see where Butcher is going to take us next.
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on 12 December 2012
If I have any complaint about Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series it's that the books don't come out frequently enough.

This is the latest instalment, and after fourteen novels and assorted short stories Butcher not only continues to deliver top notch, witty but gripping urban fantasy, but manages to up the suspense and the stakes and keeps you compulsively turning the pages to see what happens next.

'Cold Days' sees Harry Dresden take on the mantle of the Winter Knight, pledged to serve the seriously menacing 'Mab, Queen of Winter' who's intentions are unclear and possibly maleficent, and he ends up battling the greatest threat he's ever faced.

If you haven't read any Dresden Files, you probably shouldn't read this book. Start at the beginning with "Storm Front" and read the novels in order, because there's a major story arc that progresses through the series. Having now finished "Cold Days", I can't wait for the next novel to see how things will develop from here.

If you like Dresden, you may want to read Kim Harrison's "Hollow" series, Bendedict Jacka's "Alex Verus" novels or Kevin Hearne's "Iron Druid" series. They're good reads and help fill the void while waiting for Dresden's next adventure.
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on 29 November 2012
After a seemingly endless wait (im impatient ok) we finally get the next outing of Harry Dresden, and its worth every mind aching moment that i have waited. Getting Harry back in the saddle after ghost story was one of my concerns but the transition is smoother then i dared to hope for. The gang is present and accounted for with some wonderful tweaks and moments and the return of several excellent supporting characters. The action is ,as always, fast flowing and entertaining and in true Dresden style Harry lurches from managing one disaster to another with barley time to catch his breath and readjust to the new status quo. The end is spectacular reading with to much cool stuff to mention without abusive *SPOILER* tags everywhere.

Brilliant from start to finish, if anyone had doubts after ghost story then this should squash them, Dresden is back! (of course i now have another torturous wait till book 15....)
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on 4 December 2012
Just loved this book. After the torture of waiting 18 months for it I tried to ration myself but read it in two days, now to start the waiting again for the next installment. So many fantasy series get stale after this many books but these are getting better and better. I don't know how Butcher still manages to surprise me after this many books but he had me utterly flabberghasted at the end. If you are new to the Dresden Files don't start with this book, go and buy Storm Front immediatly and fall in love with Harry from the begining, it's a rollercoaster ride that keeps getting scarier.
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on 30 November 2012
Another unputdownable book from the mind of Jim Butcher. Harry is in more than the usual amount of trouble from the get go. Really revved the series back up after the slightly slower Ghost Story. The story pulls you in and doesn't let you go until you've finished it.

Oodles of stuff for any follower of the series to get into - you must have read the earlier books in the series to make *any* sense of this book though, if you are new to the series - this is not the book to start with. Left me a lot to think about and speculate with my fellow Dresden fen. I can't really find anything in the book to be truly critical of - and yes I know I'm doing the literary equivalent of fan girl squeeing but really that's the feeling I'm channeling right now. :) If I could rate this higher than five stars I would.
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on 9 January 2013
Jim Butcher is an excellent writer and I have enjoyed the Dresden Files and his Furies series immensely. However, one of the main attractions for me of the former has been the amalgamation of supernatural fantasy with the wisecracking, noir-detective characterisation. Unfortunately,that connection has been drifting for some time and, with this episode in the series, is no more.

Harry is a Faerie Knight not a detective and the result is that this book, while maintaining writing standards, is nowhere near as entertaining as the earlier novels. Butcher needs to find a way of getting Harry back to his own "normality" as he is in danger of sliding into a kind of generic urban fantasy and losing his unique qualities.
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on 28 November 2012
I cannot recommend this book and this series enough. Jim Butcher has created a fantastic world within our own world and Harry is a hero who kicks ass. Cold Days pushes the series along nicely and you finally get to know who and what Harry is really up against (well sort of). Once again has to gather his allies and save the world all within a couple of days which results in Harry having to go from one crisis to another involving lots of mayhem along the way. I will not give out any spoilers but at the end something happens to one of the main characters that I don't think anyone who has followed the series will have ever expected - something that I assume is going to lead to a lot of trouble and heartache for Harry in subsequent books. If you have not ever read this series and you like magic, wizards, vampires, ghost, fairies (the homicidal kind) etc then start reading today.
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on 29 November 2012
I will keep this short and simple. Love the book, it pushes the story forward while leaving you guessing for what will happen next. Jim, I know you are planning to write just up of twenty books, but please don't stop there, if you keep writing such quality work then you should keep milking it. On behalf of all your fans, we wont complain one bit. Amazing book, buy it, read it, love it. That's all I have to say.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 November 2013
This is a wonderful series of books and undoubtedly very popular now. I suspect because they contain a bit of everything in the fantasy genre - enough to keep every type of fan happy. There are literary references alongside pop culture jokes and it's always a great romp with action and humour, around the main character, whose internal monologue is part Chandler detective, but always a recognisable "voice".

This latest installment of the series is perhaps more serious in nature, but also takes us farther into Jim Butcher's imagined universe. Although we eventually get back to Harry's beloved Chicago, this starts to be more about a huge inter-dimensional war, than a local wizard 'stroke' P.I. making a living from his basement. We have the recognisable "crew" of friends and acquaintances, who help and hinder Harry as well as newbies like the Cat Sith, who is a hilarious construct and not what you might think!

But this is now broadening out to see Harry installed as the Winter Knight and a chesspiece in the great game between faeries and their war with the outsiders attacking our reality. This is an idea that seems quite like the struggle taking place in F Paul Wilson's "Repairman Jack" series - with added faeries. Butcher has now created a very complex backstory for Harry, involving Queens and Ladies of Faery, as well as Wizard's guilds etc. This is probably not the best time to pick up the series - although Harry is re-inventing himself, after "dying" in previous episodes.

This might all sound too complicated and far-fetched - but that's where a lot of the humour comes from. Harry is just and ordinary guy, who is as bemused as we are, about all this complexity and the hopelessness of what he is faced with. But rather than giving up and cowering in a corner, he faces all his demons (sometimes literally) with humour and wit. It's a tale of the indefatigable human spirit, which makes you feel positive and uplifted, even if you can't always quite believe it - but then neither can Harry!
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After so many 'Dresden Files' novels two things have occurred to me.

1. They are now pretty much critic proof. Jim Butcher has got the formula pretty much perfected, so if you're already a fan of Harry and his world you'll almost certainly enjoy the next volume, whatever Amazon reviewers or other critics might say. You might enjoy some marginally more than others, but overall if you liked all the previous books you'll like this one too.

2. The 'Dresden Files' sub-title really makes no sense any more. The books are now so far beyond their fantasy private-detective origins that I can barely remember the days when Harry was working out of a shabby office in down town Chicago.

'A Dresden Epic' would probably be a better sub-title now, because that's what they've become. Ghost Story: A Dresden Files novel was a bit of a return to smaller scale story-telling, but Cold Days ramps up the scale once again. If Ghost Story was a chance to pause and reflect after the destruction of the Red Court and the end of the vampire/wizard war, then Cold Days marks the start of an entirely new phase in the Dresden series; one where the stakes are even higher than before.

Butcher reveals this fact with a truly epic scene in the Never-Never, which expands the reader's understanding of the wider universe and makes him or her realise that all the books prior to this have only uncovered a tiny part of the bigger picture. Its a great way to expand the Dresden universe and send the series off in a brand-new direction. In fact the whole book seems to be setting up new plot threads and dynamics, but Jim Butcher is skill-full enough by now to weave all the developments into a satisfying and compelling story.

If I have a complaint about Cold Days its that the finale does become a slightly overblown affair that risks veering towards the ridiculous, with characters undertaking feats that are almost superhuman at times. It doesn't quite trip over that line but it does come close.

I would also say that, as the Dresden universe expands and focuses less on Chicago and the 'real world' and more on the Never Never, the series also risks losing the human scale that grounded it and made it so compelling. Wars against creatures from parallel dimensions are all very well, but a bit more pounding the pavements of the Windy City, uncovering supernatural crimes, and fewer massed battles wouldn't go amiss. May be then calling the series 'The Dresden Files' wouldn't seem quite as ridiculous.
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