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First, if you've never read a Dresden File novel and you're contemplating buying Proven Guilty then don't. This is not a series you can simply dip into at any point and pick up the story so far. Over the previous seven books (this is number eight) Jim Butcher has created a fully realised, deeply detailed world with a wealth of back-story. Trying to follow the events of this or any of the other Dresden Files without knowledge of everything that has gone before will be almost impossible. You will also miss out on some hugely entertaining stories and some wonderful character development. Go and read Storm Front, the first in the series, and work through the rest in order until you reach this latest adventure. You will not regret it.....

....because Proven Guilty is yet another excellent trip into the world of Harry Dresden and friends. As this series progresses and matures I am enjoying it more and more. The wealth of carefully crafted back story and characterisation lends this book, like Dead Beat before it, great depth. You feel fully immersed in the world Butcher has created, and its a wonderfully colourful and textured place to visit. Its a shame when you have to leave.

Its not as if Butcher is resting on his laurels though. Like the books the precede it Proven Guilty has its own identity. There is less of the bombast or large scale action of Dead Beat, and not as much outright horror as some of the other novels. This is very much a book aimed at progressing characters, relationships and wider plot elements. At times this makes it feel like something of a transitionary effort; intended to get wider events from point A to point B as quickly and with as little fuss as possible, but even if that is the case it does it well and entertainingly. The central plot, dealing with black magic & teenage rebellion, may be slight compared to Dead Beat for example (there's no world saving for Harry to do this time) but its engaging. It also carries far greater significance than it apparently slight and intensely personal nature at first implies.

Something that the book as a whole also does. As it unfolds Proven Guilty becomes a chance for Butcher to pick up on a lot of the plot elements he has put in place over the past seven novels. Seemingly disparate elements, some of them going right back to the earliest days of the series and almost forgotten now, are suddenly brought up and given far greater significance as a result of seemingly low key events during the course of the book. Pieces of a larger and hitherto unseen jigsaw, including the war between vapires and wizards and the politics of Faerie, begin to slot into place, until by the end a whole new backstory has emerged that will give Harry's adventures a entirely new spin.

Harry himself also undergoes some significant character development during the course of the book, as do some of the other key players in his world. He also finds time to 'resolve' some critical personal issues as well as developing some completely new and interesting ones.

So overall Proven Guilty may not have th glorious action set pieces to rival some of the earlier Dresden Books and may appear far more low key, but for fans of the series it is revealing, exciting and fascinating. It also sets up a protentially great new phase in Harry's adventures and one I can't wait to experience.
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on 22 May 2006
In this one, Harry is warned by the gatekeeper that there is black magic in Harry's neighbourhood... or their will be very soon. Messing around with time is forbidden, but that never really bothered the gatekeeper, so Harry takes the warning seriously.

The war with the vampires is getting serious now with no quarter asked or given. The white council, of which Harry is now a member, gives their newest warden (Harry) a job to do. He must find out why the summer and winter courts are not helping the council against the vampires. They need the help badly. The problem is, every time Harry gets involved with the never never and its politics, he ends up over his head and in debt to someone too powerful to live with. Literally!

He asks help from his friends the summer knight and summer lady, but they are under a geas not to help directly. So who walks into the bar and into their meeting? The winter lady!! None other than the wife of the winter knight, the man Harry destroyed in recent times and the opposite to his friend the summer knight. Things go from bad to worse when his best friend's daughter is kidnapped and taken to the winter court, leaving Harry no choice but to mount a rescue. Things come to a climax in the Winter Queen's stronghold, where he slaps Queen Mab in the face (not literally thank god) by unleashing summer magic at the very heart of her domain. To top it all, the girl he is looking to save might be the very black magic user he is oath bound to kill!!

A must read for all Dresden fans.
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Don't start here if you are new to this series - each book adds to the previous ones to build a full and complex story and you would be losing out considerably if you didn't start at the beginning.

Harry Dresden is now a Warden of the While Council as a result of the casualties during the War with the Red Court (vampires). It isn't a role that he wants and it isn't one that he appreciates when faced with some of the hard decisions that have to be made but this is a war between good and evil and Harry is also facing that in his own head as he has has a demon living in his mind who wants full control of him. There are rumours of black magic happening in the city when Harry is called by a young friend to a horror convention where dreadful things are happening. Harry has to fight the evil at the convention, determine who has been doing black magic and bring them to justice, look after the daughter of a dear friend and try and work out why the faeries won't help in the War. Pretty much the usual sort of thing that Harry does.

This book works at two levels. Firstly there is the convention and the immediate danger to Chicago. Then there is the war and the strategic importance of getting the faeries involved. Overarching these is the suspicion that there is something bigger and more evil happening that Harry has begun to glimpse. There are lots of exciting fights against evil especially at the convention and in the NeverNever but the best fights are in Harry's head and when he has to face the White Council and plead for the life of a child, There are casualties in the war too and it is not easy being Harry's friend, acquaintance, dog or brother.

Harry Dresden is one of my favourite literary heroes. He is a man who has significant limitations and is often overwhelmed with fear but has decided that neither of these matter you are doing the right thing. The right thing is so important to him that Harry will risk death or worse to ensure that good triumphs over evil. He also has quite astonishing bad luck and a habit of speaking his mind (the two may be linked). This book is written with great wit and imagination and brings in details from lots of previous books so that you begin to see the way that the series is going. Harry is on a journey of discovery - I want to join him as the story progresses.
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First, if you've never read a Dresden File novel and you're contemplating buying Proven Guilty then don't. This is not a series you can simply dip into at any point and pick up the story so far. Over the previous seven books (this is number eight) Jim Butcher has created a fully realised, deeply detailed world with a wealth of back-story. Trying to follow the events of this or any of the other Dresden Files without knowledge of everything that has gone before will be almost impossible. You will also miss out on some hugely entertaining stories and some wonderful character development. Go and read Storm Front, the first in the series, and work through the rest in order until you reach this latest adventure. You will not regret it.....

....because Proven Guilty is yet another excellent trip into the world of Harry Dresden and friends. As this series progresses and matures I am enjoying it more and more. The wealth of carefully crafted back story and characterisation lends this book, like Dead Beat before it, great depth. You feel fully immersed in the world Butcher has created, and its a wonderfully colourful and textured place to visit. Its a shame when you have to leave.

Its not as if Butcher is resting on his laurels though. Like the books the precede it Proven Guilty has its own identity. There is less of the bombast or large scale action of Dead Beat, and not as much outright horror as some of the other novels. This is very much a book aimed at progressing characters, relationships and wider plot elements. At times this makes it feel like something of a transitionary effort; intended to get wider events from point A to point B as quickly and with as little fuss as possible, but even if that is the case it does it well and entertainingly. The central plot, dealing with black magic & teenage rebellion, may be slight compared to Dead Beat for example (there's no world saving for Harry to do this time) but its engaging. It also carries far greater significance than it apparently slight and intensely personal nature at first implies.

Something that the book as a whole also does. As it unfolds Proven Guilty becomes a chance for Butcher to pick up on a lot of the plot elements he has put in place over the past seven novels. Seemingly disparate elements, some of them going right back to the earliest days of the series and almost forgotten now, are suddenly brought up and given far greater significance as a result of seemingly low key events during the course of the book. Pieces of a larger and hitherto unseen jigsaw, including the war between vapires and wizards and the politics of Faerie, begin to slot into place, until by the end a whole new backstory has emerged that will give Harry's adventures a entirely new spin.

Harry himself also undergoes some significant character development during the course of the book, as do some of the other key players in his world. He also finds time to 'resolve' some critical personal issues as well as developing some completely new and interesting ones.

So overall Proven Guilty may not have th glorious action set pieces to rival some of the earlier Dresden Books and may appear far more low key, but for fans of the series it is revealing, exciting and fascinating. It also sets up a protentially great new phase in Harry's adventures and one I can't wait to experience.
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on 19 April 2015
Onto number 8...
Same as before really; if you've read this far, likelihood is you'll keep doing so.

A few notes on the differences from book 7 -- Karrin and Michael are back (though the latter only gets a few scenes); the White Council appears a lot more now, since Harry was made a Warden in the last outing, which has a lot of potential moving forward; Michael's daughter, Molly, is the "chosen" supporting character here; no Butters, and no Mavra (thanks be).

Main plot revolves around black magic users in Chicago and a wave of fear demons. This all is designed to link into the Faeries being involved in the longer storyline of the White Council's war with the Red Court vampires.

This does mean the the Sidhe appear once again (both Summer and Winter) -- I think the fae are used a little too often, hardly something I'd complain a lot about, but they are getting stale for me.

Overall, a fun read as normal. Characters develop a bit, talk some things out and circumstances change for Harry, Michael and Karrin. Some discoveries are made and the book ends once again in a good place looking forward to #9.
The action sequences don't work so well for me here -- harder to visualise I found -- so is paced a little slower than Dead Beat.

3.5 stars. I will undoubtedly keep reading.
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on 7 August 2014
There are UF series that start well and morph into something strange and alien, those that promise much and then fail to develop and those that frankly need a certain level of patience while the writer learns their craft, whereupon the books take off. The Dresden Files falls into the last category. The opening few books are not that well written and a little tedious, but they have been steadily improving, especially since Thomas's appearance and the inclusion of the Vampire court. In books 7 and 8 Butcher has finally got the right balance with regard to narrative, pace, humour, supporting characters, world building and style.

Dresden is still prone to frequent near death experiences but hellfire provides some more convincing resilience. Dresden's role as a noir supernatural private 'dick' has developed into an entertaining character and though narrative development can be heavy handed - the resolution to Molly,'s antics were a tad predictable - overall the novel works well as a noir supernatural UF/detective hybrid. It probably works best if you don't take Dresden too seriously.

Some readers that the narrative isn't complete of itself-that is true; Proven Guilty is clearly part of a longer story arc. In previous novels Butcher has placed a stronger emphasis on the novel as a relatively independent unit with just a hint of a larger story arc. The balance is different on this one but I enjoyed this change of narrative structure and will happily move on to the next.
Overall a 4.5.

SPOILER ahead:
I'm not totally sure if I think Butcher pulled off the dynamic between Dresden and Molly, on the one hand I was relieved that he firmly dismissed cliched teacher/student romance which nonetheless appears irritatingly often in novels. On the other hand the set up was suspiciously gratuitous and awkward. (We won't have sex, but lets strip 17 yr old Molly in order to play through a humiliating rejection scene anyway. Hmm.) Given how Dresden always presents himself as a gentleman, I wasn't convinced this was in character; I'm also not sure that Molly would be quite so forward. It doesn't sit well, but assuming Butcher does move swiftly on, I could overlook it.
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on 29 June 2010
Proven Guilty is the eight book in the Dresden series, so I'm going to assume that if you are reading this you've read the previous seven. So there will be some spoilers about the series up to that point, but I won't spoil this book for those yet to pick it up.

By this point in the series, Harry Dresden is a bit of a mess, physically and psychologically. He is effectively holding onto his sanity and his position as a wizard by the skin of his teeth. The war with the Red Court is not going well and he is still at odds with his mentor and surrogate father, Ebenezer McCoy. As such he has lost a powerful ally on the White Council, which he really needs given how much the Merlin hates him. His former girlfriend Susan is still out there somewhere trying not to kill people, so he is on his own in that way, despite the ongoing tension with Murphy. He does have his close friend Thomas living with him, but their bond is not really explored much further in this book, and it's not the kind of closeness he craves. Harry is also still actively avoiding his friend Michael, the Knight of God because of his previous dealings with a fallen angel who is still trying to tempt him down a dark path. So, on the whole Harry is alone, desperately so, and he is incredibly lonely. He doesn't have anyone he can just turn to and completely relax, take off all of his physical and mental armour and be himself, which is really really tragic. He is a good man, painfully so at times, and I appreciate a tortured character makes for a more interesting protagonist than a happy smiley one, but man, I wish the guy got a break sometimes!

There aren't that many overt references to his state of mind until later in the book, but there a couple of very poignant scenes that change his relationship with two people. To me it was obvious in the way Harry reacts in various situations that he is hurting badly and struggling to cope. Unfortunately for me this book isn't about Harry finding some female companionship and a modicum of peace, but it is a bit of a game changer. With each book Harry is growing and becoming a better wizard, but at the same time we are always aware he is not the strongest, or the smartest, and yet he is one of the best because he is a survivor.

Things will never be the same again. It's a tired and worn out catchphrase, but after reading Proven Guilty there have been some dramatic shifts both with the War, and Harry's relationships with his friends and allies. So, it was a bit of a crossroads book and things can't go back to how they were before. The next few books might involve the familiar cornerstone of Harry investigating a case with the help of Bob, but the other elements of the book are growing in prominence and at some point they will become the main plot of a book. Maybe it's book 12, which is called Changes. I'm also glad to hear that it is not the last book in the series.

This book was very enjoyable and the main plot revolves around Harry's attempts to uncover who is behind a series of horrific attacks from physical manifestations of horror movie icons. It involves the Faerie world and some familiar faces from previous books, but once again, there has been a progression and a passage of time. The story never stands still and for me this is a good thing as the characters live and breathe in the spaces between the books. They don't stand around waiting for you to pick up the next book.

However, despite the mystery surrounding the attacks of the main plot, I actually enjoyed the sub plots more, as there is a lot of cloak and dagger stuff going on and we get a small peek behind the curtain. A few more clues are dropped and also more layers added to the complexity of the unseen adversary he is facing, but there are also implications that there is a long term plan in operation. There is a suggestion that Harry and a number of other characters are being manipulated as part of a master plan, and that they are merely pawns, being moved around on a giant chess board they can't see. There is a brief appearance by one of my favourite characters in the whole series, Rashid the Gatekeeper. He is the most mysterious member of the White Council, and as ever I get the feeling he is someone who operates on a different level to Harry. Perhaps on the same level as this unseen adversary where the games being played involve much higher stakes than a few lives or the fate of a city or even the fate of the war. I think the Gatekeeper cares about the present, but he actually cares more about what happens to wizards and magic in general in the long term. Butcher has done a very good job of keeping him mysterious, and perhaps that is why I am so intrigued by him, because we are told only tiny snippets of information compared to most.

There are definitely a few ominous echoes in this book, but Harry is a man who knows his limits, and he knows sorting out the shadowy conspiracy is something well above his pay grade. It can't be unravelled alone and I got the feeling this book was the start of him realising that and starting to pull together his own version of the Dirty Dozen for when they are needed.

Proven Guilty has echoes that go right back to Storm Front, to the core of who Harry is and where he came from. At the start of this book a young wizard is executed for dabbling with dark magic and making a terrible mistake. This haunts Harry and will continue to do so for a long time after because that could have been him if he had not been given a second chance. To me it served as a reminder of how far he has come since then, but also how unforgiving some people are as they still expect him to go crazy and slaughter people with dark magic. Harry is a wizard, but he is also human and prone to making. And yet he is still being punished for one mistake he made a long time ago. This is another common theme which runs throughout this book and it is perhaps the source of his conflict with some people.

This book is very much about redemption, forgiveness, family, and making choices. By the end of it Harry, and the audience, are still very much in the dark about what is really going on. Most of his relationships have now changed irreparably, some for the better and some for the worse, and overall he is no better off. There is a lot to be resolved in the next few books and not all of it revolves around the war with the Red Court. Signs and portents are abound and dark magic and unpleasant characters are going to crawl out of the woodwork at the most inopportune moment because he is just that unlucky. Plus there are a few more personal mysteries that need to be solved. The books are growing in complexity and at the moment I am not too bogged down by all of the detail, but I would like to see a few of them resolved so that we can focus and keep our eye on fewer balls in the air. This is just a personal thing for me, but if there were less, it might give them more space to breathe and give us, and Harry, more space to explore them. Overall I am still thoroughly addicted to this series and I really can't wait to read the next four.
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on 18 October 2013
I never get bored of Dresden and his witty quips. This story progresses at a hectic pace with a plethora of interesting and fun characters and Butcher reinforces just how good he is at drawing you into Dresdens world with the world of magic and the ordinary world blending seamlessly. I would heartily recommend it.
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on 26 March 2013
Dresden, the writing goes from strength to strength; as does the hero... excellent series and and excellent addition. The plot is as tangled as ever, with Dresden getting an additional bit of responsibility to boot.
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on 26 February 2015
Despite its supernatural, fantasy basis, Jim Butcher tells an exciting, gripping and incredibly credible tale. The exacting and consistent detail of the requirements, context and procedures for spells make it seem logical that all he writes is fact, but when will he ever get the girl (Susan, Elaine, Lady Summer, Lara or Murph)? I favour Murph.
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