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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Grave Peril: The Dresden Files, Book Three: 3
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on 4 May 2014
I was quite confused when I started reading this, the third novel in the Dresden Files series, as it reads like its a sequel to a book you haven't read. Set some 12 months after the previous book, there are a lot of references back to an adventure that Chicago wizard Harry Dresden went on in the interim, and a character, who it feels like we should know, who went on this adventure too.

Once I got past the feeling of having missed out though the pace seemed to pick up and I got really into this book. The plot twists with satisfying regularity and Dresden feels like he's in actual peril throughout.

The new characters and aspects of the universe are all interesting and we learn some more of the main character's backstory, though it remains sufficiently shrouded in mystery to make me want to dive back into the next book (and the ten plus that follow that).
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on 26 August 2017
These stories are not highbrow literature and not meant to be. They takes you on a rollicking fantastical adventure and let you leave your mind and worries outside. This one kept me entertained from start to finish!
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on 25 July 2017
I love this series, I enjoy the humour and the whole idea that magic is real so get over it. It's a very good satisfying read
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on 11 July 2017
Again, don't really know why I'm reading this series - rubbish, but well written.
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on 7 April 2014
I read a lot of bad reviews about this instalment of the dresden files, but I really enjoyed the book! An enthralling story with believable characters.
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on 21 October 2014
A bit jumpy in parts, but that keeps you guessing all the way to the end. Great for a long journey
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on 19 August 2004
(After Storm Front and Fool Moon)
Harry Dresden wizard PI (paranormal investigations) is back again. I do feel that to get the most out of the book you need to have read the previous 2 books.
This book has the most complex story so far, Harry is now seeing Susan Rodriguez who has an interest in Harry's invite to a vampire party to celebrate Bianca's (a vampire met in book 1) promotion.
Meanwhile Harry with the help of his sword wielding very Christian friend Michael is trying to find out who is stirring up and torturing the ghosts in Chicago, plus there is something attacking humans that are close to Harry.
Harry's faerie godmother puts her oar in just to complicate things further.
We also learn a lot more about the different paranormal groups in Harry's world.
As usual there is the odd bit of humour dropped in to lighten the load my favourite is Harry's costume when he goes to the vampires costume party.
The more I read of Harry the more he strikes me as being like Jim Rockford in the TV Rockford files but in a paranormal setting (poor, beaten up, sucker for the damsel, has a love/hate relationship with a particular cop etc).
A complex and serious detective story just set in a paranormal world
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on 3 June 2010
Harry Dresden's faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. It comes with the territory when you're the only professional wizard in the Chicago area phone book. But in all Harry's years of supernatural sleuthing, he's never faced anything like this: the spirit world's gone loco. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble - and not just of the door-slamming, boo-shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone - or something - is purposely stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc. But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn't figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself...

I was rather partial to the second book (Fool Moon) in the Dresden series, and started this novel with great eagerness, but found myself somewhat underwhelmed. I think this was for a number of reasons, which I shall endeavour to explain below.

The first reason is no doubt the hype and expectation. Everyone I know universally loves this series (in fact, I genuinely don't know a single person who has found it boring or insipid - a danger with a lot of urban fantasy) and states categorically that each book improves on the last. Because I loved Fool Moon, I was expecting Grave Peril to blow me away - but it didn't.

The second reason is no real fault of the book or the author, but I feel it bears mentioning. When you join a long-running series so late, and there are so many books ahead of you, there is no real tension about whether the hero will live or die. Sure, the peripheral figures might be in some danger (depending on the author - some never kill of any people, despite an ever-expanding cast; LKH, I'm looking at you!) but your main dude isn't going to die, no matter what gets thrown at him. So, despite ever-escalating levels of danger in this novel, I felt comfortable that Harry would survive.

My third reason is a matter of writing: after three books, I can confidently state that I don't like the pacing that Jim Butcher employs. For the first hundred and fifty pages of each book, I've found it very easy to put them aside. The last hundred pages is usually barn-storming, tension-filled and extremely gripping - so I guess they all finish with a bang! - but I wouldn't mind a more evenly-spread level of excitement.

Reason the fourth: bloody vampire politics. I am so sick of vampire courts, with back-stabbing and covenants and home advantage and things like that. They pop up all over the place in urban fantasy, and seem so generic. Although Butcher's vampires present a couple of surprises (in appearance, mostly), in other areas they are tiresomely generic. Which is quite unlike the werewolves from the previous book, which felt quite refreshing to me.

Lastly, I didn't like Dresden's faerie godmother. I think the fae in the Dresden series have the potential to be chilling and unique, but I don't feel they're well represented by Lea. The reason I didn't like her is the way she popped up in a "plot device" moment usually. She felt tacked onto the main thrust of the storyline.

This is all making it sound as though I have nothing but gripes - but I did enjoy the book! Just not as much as the previous book!

The main reason for enjoying this book and loving the series as a whole is Harry Dresden. In Grave Peril Harry gains a lot more emotional depth and throws around some bad ass magic. His sense of honour and inability to leave a woman in peril is a facet of his character that I adore, no matter how chauvinistic it may appear. It sort of reminds me of Marty McFly in Back to the Future who is unable to be called 'chicken' without taking a person up on a stupid challenge!

" 'For the sake of one soul. For one loved one. For one life.' I called power into my blasting rod, and its tip glowed incandescent white. 'The way I see it, there's nothing else worth fighting a war for.' "

His resigned sense of humour when it comes to landing himself in dangerous situations is alive and well in Grave Peril as well, and some of his dialogue with both friends and enemies fairly snaps along:

" 'Hell's bells, Kravos,' I muttered, sitting up again. 'Do they produce a Cliched Lines Textbook for Villains or something? Go for broke. Tell me that since you're going to kill me anyway, you might as well reveal your secret plan.' "

Since we're talking about characters, Butcher introduced some really vibrant new cast members this time around. Michael, in particular, is a very powerful character - providing morality and an abiding faith to Harry over the course of Grave Peril. His quiet gravity and admonitions towards Harry for his swearing lend a calm centre to this novel that I felt was missing in prior instalments. I also *loved* Ferrovax - I demand to see more of this Dragon. His brief appearance in Grave Peril lit up the pages.

Another part of the novel I really liked were the references to the fact that life continued in between the end of Fool Moon and the start of Grave Peril - in other long running series you feel as though the characters are frozen in time until you return to their universe. Here we are aware that Harry has taken a number of jobs and his relationship with Susan has deepened - and it all happened off-screen, as it were.

In conclusion, this was not the strongest novel in the Dresden series for me and I am hoping for better from the next. Harry Dresden is still entertaining and I adore the little details of the world that Butcher is weaving into the tales; even though I was slightly disappointed with Grave Peril, I would still be happy to recommend the Dresden series.
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on 9 July 2017
Harry goes full on ghostbuster as he try's to keep Chicago safe from some seriously mad and bad spirits!
We meet his friend and co warrior for good, Michael carpenter, a bonafide knight of God, with a holy sword!
Harry leads his usual life on the streets of Chicago, fighting the forces for evil as he gets further behind on the rent.
At least Harry is starting to settle down a bit with reporter Susan Rodriguez, we have to wonder how badly can it go wrong?
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After two good-but-not-great urban fantasies, the Dresden Files suddenly rockets into the "great" category with its third. "Grave Peril" sees Jim Butcher radically change his now-bestselling series into a far more complex and tragic affair, as well as introducing a slew of likable new characters and a long-ranging arc that promises to be very nasty for our wizardly hero.

Harry and Knight of the Cross Michael Carpenter (a sort of knight working directly for God and the angels, with a sacred sword) are working hard to exorcise a sudden surge of violent ghosts -- even taking a trip into the Nevernever, where an old enemy is waiting for Harry. They're being stirred up by a particularly evil spirit called the Nightmare, who is targeting people near Harry. Oh yeah, and he's been "invited" to a vampire ball and his amoral fairy godmother (no, really) wants an old debt repaid.

But the situation becomes far more grim when Harry discovers that it's not just one enemy but many that are conspiring against him -- evil ghosts, malevolent vampires, and the Leanansidhe. Cornered on every side and with a bunch of innocent people threatened (including Michael's newborn son), Harry is faced with a terrible choice that has no good outcomes. And he might lose the person he loves best in the process...

"Grave Peril" is the point when the entire Dresden Files series blossoms like a black rose. The relatively simple storylines of the first two books abruptly give way to a complex tangle of intertwined enemies, conspiracies and magical creatures (ranging from fae to vampires). And rather than a standalone mystery/fantasy, this book is the start of a massive arc that promises to span the entire Dresden Files series.

Butcher's writing has matured as well, becoming a more polished brand of hard-boiled fantasy noir with some nasty stark details (such as barbed wire on the soul. Lots of snappy dialogue ("Vampires on a diet?" "Yeah. Make hers a Blood Lite"), sudden plot twists and detailed explorations of a nighttime world. But no matter how dark and bleak the book becomes, Butcher still manages some funny quirky moments (such as Harry attending a vampire ball in a cheap vampire costume).

And having also introduced multiple kinds of werewolf, Butcher does the same for other supernaturals here. There's the undead Black Court vampires, the alluring incubi of the White Court, and one of the more powerful and frightening Fae.

And poor Harry has a pretty rough time in this novel: chased by a sociopathic faery and a vengeful ghost, vampires intent on taking him out, locked in a dungeon with a crazy woman, and he suffers a terrible loss that upturns his entire life. Even worse, the poor guy is obviously going to feel pretty guilty about what happens to people close to him.

Butcher also introduces a bunch of new characters -- the pious and righteous Knight Michael, who seems to be one of the few people to gain Harry's deep respect; the lovable and sexy White Court vampire Thomas Raith; and the kindly old Catholic priest Father Forthill ("I've never had anyone ask me to bless a five-gallon drum into holy water before, Mr. Dresden"). Not to mention Lea, who promises to cause more trouble in future.

"Grave Peril" is the point when Jim Butcher's considerable talents began to fully bloom, in an urban fantasy full of grimy horror, tragedy and wit. Definitely a must-read.
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