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on 1 June 2017
After the tiniest of wobbles Dresden is back on form. Battling the supernatural forces while showing the human weaknesses only a smart ass, conniving wizard can.

I'm off to read the next book.
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on 31 May 2017
See my review on goodreads!
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on 26 June 2017
great book exactly as described
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on 27 April 2017
It is hard to imagine it, but to make good fantasy you need a touch of realism. It is far too easy to lose your reader in a world were anything is possible – why should we believe the story, when the writer can change the rules at any point? The best fantasy sets some ground rules and sticks to them. For a while this is what the Harry Dresden novels did, but by the eighth outing in ‘Proven Guilty’ things have begun to unravel.

Harry returns and this time the case is personal when the grown up daughter of his friend Michael (the warrior of God) is under attack by a series of famous movie monsters. Meanwhile, now that Harry is part of the Wizard White Council he is tasked with investigating exactly what is happening in the world of the faye and why they have not intervened to stop the rise of the vampiric Red Council.

As the synopsis hints, by now the Dresden series has become a little convoluted. The overarching world of the books is increasingly complex and takes away from what made the early books so fun; Dresden getting on with solving supernatural crimes. A fleshed out universe is not always bad, but in this case it is like the wider world dictates what happens in the story, rather than anything that Dresden can do.

This is a shame as ‘Proven’ opens up strongly. When Jim Butcher is concentrating on the slightly simpler story about fighting creatures that take the form of movie monsters it captures some of the old magic. However, Butcher seems incapable of having only one storyline in a book and likes to have at least two running in parallel. In this case the story of the fairies. The book takes a turn for the worse when this story begins to dominate, once more we are into the realm that anything can happen, so little actually matters. Dresden becomes so beaten in these books that he should be liquid in a skin bag. He has become some sort of demigod, rather than the grouchy wizard that he is meant to be.

The one element that manages to hold the book together is the theme of family; Dresden and his brother or the plight of Michael’s family. The motivations that lead Harry on his quest are perfectly valid and the relationships developed in this book suggest that some there are interesting times ahead. It is just that like with some many of the books, the narrative seems to fall behind Butcher’s need for incessant action. Explosions and gore may sate a reader for a few years, but by book eight the audience, like the characters, should have matured and they require more from their fiction than just blood and glory. It is time for Butcher to reduce the pace a little and actually fully explore the world he has designed, rather than just throwing in yet more elements into a confused mix.
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on 21 April 2017
great story.
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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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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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I read this feeling as though I'd missed a book somewhere along the line. Butcher casually deals with a number of things that happened off-page, which turn out to have a certain level of importance for this plot-line. For example, there's a scene where Dresden meets up with the Winter Lady, Maeve and he talks about something that Maeve tried to pull at Billy the Werewolf's wedding, using it as a bargaining chip. Because we haven't seen what happened at the wedding, it's something that has no power or air of credibility to it and it feels like a desperate attempt by Butcher to pull his plot along.

Butcher also continues the Murphy/Dresden romance angle, which irritated me in Dead Beat. The whole thing is shaping up as one of those Tragic Romances That Were Never Meant To Be and it is such a cliche.

Female characters are still a big problem for Butcher, and I was particularly disappointed with what he did with Molly Carpenter. Previously a bright, somewhat precocious teenager in Death Masks, she's now become the stereotypical teenage cliche - running away from home, having tattoos and piercings, blah blah blah. Her mother, Charity, fares a little better - her opposition to Harry at least gets an explanation now (albeit one that's somewhat radioed in) and you see her as a warrior woman in her own right, but then Butcher has her succumb to the 'everyone likes Harry' theme that pervades the books because really, we're all supposed to believe that Harry is a wicked cool guy and no-one on the side of right can dislike him without being an obvious schmuck.

It's Murphy however who gets the roughest ride because what happens to her is obviously supposed to fit into the wider story-arc, but it's been handled in a way that's so utterly lame that I came close to throwing the book at a wall in disgust.

The plot itself rambles. Butcher's trying to do two things - firstly, building on his backstory by fleshing out Harry's new role as a warden and his discomfort with his involvement with the White Council whilst pushing him further into it; and secondly by developing the war between the Red Court and White Council by showing the involvement of the Faeries and other entities whilst at the same time hinting that there may be an uber-villain behind it all who's pulling everyone's strings. The way he chooses to do both these things is by having a main plot strand of someone bringing horror movie villains to life to scare and kill horror fan patrons. The problem is that this main hook isn't fat enough to sustain Butcher's aims and in fact, he seems to lose interest with his main plot as he confuses it by bringing Molly into his backstory. The result is that whilst Butcher carries the reader through the book at his usual breakneck pace, the story itself is unsatisfying. Once again, Butcher is trying to jump-cut his main story arc so that he can take you to the next significant segment and once again, he's doing it in a lazy and unsatisfying way.
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