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.
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.
on 12 January 2016
The fourth in the Dresden Files series, Summer Knight has been on my to be read shelf for a while. I fell in love with this series when my boyfriend bought me the first book for Christmas a few years ago and I devoured the first three books shortly after. I don’t know why I took the long break between reading the last book and this one, but I’m glad that I’ve gotten back into it now.
Harry Dresden is back and immediately thrown into the middle of more magical wars. This time around, Harry finds himself the target of an assassin sent by the Red Court of vampires after the events of the previous year, his girlfriend has disappeared and he’s working tirelessly to find a cure for her problem, and the White Council is one step away from taking away his license as a wizard and handing him over to the Red Court just so they can stop the war. Oh, and the faerie Queens are gearing up for a war of their own and Harry has to find out who killed the Summer Queen’s Knight in order to try and stop it all.
Just another day in the office.
I loved this story for jumping back in. I found it a little difficult to remember the details of previous books at first but was soon back in the swing of things. Harry has been a recluse and I wanted to pick him up and shake him because he was just wasn’t acting the way I had always known him too – then again, he’s never been so full of guilt before now.
I had a slight issue with Murphy’s inclusion in this particular book. I love Murphy, she’s a badass when she gets going, but in this one she was an emotional mess. It was great character building for her but she wasn’t around a lot for this one. I understand that, this book was set more in the magical realm of Faerie, but for what little she was in, I guess I just felt like she was put there for show like ‘look, here’s Karrin’ and then shunted off to be forgotten about.
I don’t know, it irked me.
I loved meeting the Faerie Queens, as well as the Lady and Mother of each Court. I found it really interesting. Their individual motivations kept me interested and hooked to what was happening, even when I felt things were moving a little slowly at times.
All in all, I enjoyed jumping back into this world and seeing all the familiar faces again. I’m definitely looking forward to going into book five.
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 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.
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".
on 30 October 2009
This book forms part of an 11 book (thus far) on-going series, read in order for the best results, wherein the main characters are well rounded, the plots, while slightly predictable, are none the less well crafted and and will surprise the reader with what is often an unexpected route to the stories end. Beware starting to read any of them, if you have anything important to do, or a task you are required to complete. It is unlikely you will manage to put the blasted book down.
Not "high" literature, but super mental chewing gum, I await the other 22 volumes.
I will be repeating this review for all of the other 11 books that I have, they are well worth it.
on 20 November 2002
That's what I did, and I didn't sleep until I finished Fool Moon(Book 2) which was at 4am.
I came home from school and zipped through Summer Knight till dawn.
Summer Knight is fantastic.
Since the earlier reviewer talked about the plot, I should tell you that Summer Knight has literally laugh-out-loud bits(Harry's awful latin for example)which really add punch and color to the narrative.
VERY cool to actually meet the White Council in this book. Fans of the previous Dresden books will remember mentions of them but this is the first book where you really find out what they're like in person. And you're always finding out more about Harry's past.
Harry really thinks on his feet. His presence of mind in Oh-No-What-Now situations makes you cheer.
I only wish there'd been a bit more of Mab.
Anyway, these are great books for Laurell K. Hamilton fans who
a)are waiting for the next Anita Blake book and
b) miss the zip and vinegar of the early Anita books( ie before all the complications)
In fact, I read about Jim Butcher on an Anita Blake fansite at first.
Read ALL the Dresden Files!!!!!!