With the Dresden Files, Jim Butcher is doing the impossible–writing a series that gets more entertaining with every book. Easily the best fantasy series on the market today, I’d even go so far as to say that the Dresden Files novels are as good as, if not better than another series of books with a guy name Harry in them.
The fourth book in the series “Summer Knight” is one that will not disappoint readers. Picking up a few months after the events of “Grave Peril” in which Harry lost a girlfriend, made a deal with his faerie godmother to save himself and his friend and precipiated a war between the White Council and the Red Council, Harry starts the novel in a bad place. He’s obsessed with finding a cure for his lost love Susan, he’s barely been in the office in months, he’s aliennating his friends and he’s got a price on his head by the Red Council. And that’s even before he finds out that his faerie godmother sold the favors he owed her to another and the White Council is coming to town.
The story unfolds at a natural but rewarding pace. Butcher has a natural ability to have events build on each other and he pays off hints from previous novels as well as dropping in hints of things to come. And this book feels like just a snapshot of a few of the big events in Harry’s life over the course of a couple of days from the grander scheme of things. The strength in these stories is they’re rewarding to read just as stand-alone novels, but taken within the greater context of the series, they add even greater layers. And while I will recommend reading them in order, Butcher does enough to bring in new readers that you can drop in on Harry at this point and not feel hopelessly lost. All the while, he doesn’t aliennate long-term readers with pages of recap.
A great series of books that only gets better. This is the best I’ve read in the series and I can’t wait to start the next one.
Oh one word of warning: Don’t start any of the Dresden books if you’ve got things to do like sleep, go to work, spend time with the family. These are the types of books that will consume you, demanding your attention to savor every page and anticipating what will come on the next.