Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #4
Published by Roc
Published on: September 3 2002
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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HARRY DRESDEN -- WIZARD
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment
Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can't pay his rent. He's alienating his friends. He can't even recall the last time he took a shower.
The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.
And just when it seems things can't get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can't refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him--and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen's right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen's name.
It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case. No pressure or anything...
So here’s the deal . . . I saw a lot of improvement in SUMMER KNIGHT. A LOT.
I was introduced to several new characters whom I instantly loved: Ebenezar, Listens to Wind, the Gatekeeper, Meryl . . . a couple old favorites made appearances: Billy the Werewolf and Toot, but better than the well-loved characters, both old and new, was the dramatic rehabilitation of Murphy.
I know I mentioned in my review of FOOL MOON that I was not a fan of Murphy . . . that was a gross understatement. She was obnoxious and mistrustful. She was violent and irrational. She was just unlikable. I wrote her off as one more attractive female who Harry made himself an idiot over.
Normally when there’s as dramatic a change as what happened with Murphy, it’s unbelievable and feels forced. You don’t trust it and you wait to see what their game is . . . but Butcher made it work. Her brand of snark blends well into the mix that makes up a person who can lose their mind when pushed too far. Her violent response to having information withheld in dire circumstances paves the way to a cease fire when Harry finally begins to reveal the secrets of his world, and even if those things weren’t true, giving us insight into her emotional state made me want to cut her some slack anyway.
Which is good b/c this new, improved Murphy is friggin’ hilarious. And Murphy and Harry together . . . well, I could get used to this:
“You did what?”
“Put on the boots,” Murphy said. “I put on the boots and kicked some monster ass. I dropped the ghoul, and I’m the one who rammed a chain saw through the head of that plant monster thing. Crippled the ogre, too. What did you do? You threw a can of Sterno at him. That’s barely an assist.”
“Yeah, but I soaked him in gasoline first.”
She snorted at me, around more pizza. “Shutout.”
“Murphy three, Dresden zero.”
“You didn’t do all of it.”
“I put on the boots.”
I raised my hands. “Okay, okay. You’ve . . . got boots, Murph.”
She sniffed and took an almost dainty sip of Coke. “Lucky I was there.”
And we all know that I love the Fae. The Dresdenites who already make a habit of telling Dresden noobs that the series starts “getting good” at book 4 were full of Harry-like glee in anticipation to my reaction to Butcher’s Fae.
And they were good Fae. They were. I liked them.
Butcher somehow managed to make them wonderfully tricksy Fae . . . without making much use of their tricksy Fae-ness, and Harry, despite having years of knowledge from study and experience with the denizens of the Nevernever . . . seems quite hapless about them in many ways.
I mean, COME ON. An unbelievably beautiful woman with WHITE hair (who isn’t old) and WINTER coloring who smells of flowers and WILDNESS walks into your office, and you don’t figure out she’s Fae until you cobble together something about your office door being unlocked, and ultimately it’s built on suspicions about your Faerie Godmother?
He should have just looked at her and thought, “FAE.” He didn’t need to make up reasons why, who cares why? An obviously Fae woman is in your office. The end.
But that was just irritating. The real problem was the plot line.
Not only was Bad Guy a seriously lame choice for the Bad Guy, but the reason behind he/she/its Bad Guy-ness . . . didn’t hold water for me. View Spoiler »I mean, sure, you can blame just about anything on madness . . . but there’s a reason the insanity plea rarely works. « Hide Spoiler <------b/c it's lazy and a cop out. Basically, I'm loving the characters, but the lack of a truly great plot line . . . even a character-driven reader like myself can only give a series the benefit of the doubt for so long. So far only one of four (FOOL MOON) has been really good. Maybe I wouldn't be so burned out if it weren't for the occasional rearing of Butcher's inner-adolescent on the humor front:
“You are, I take it, Harry Dresden?”
“If I’m not, he’s going to be upset with me when he catches me running around in his underpants.”
*rolls eyes* And don’t even get me started on View Spoiler »“I don’t believe in faeries!” « Hide Spoiler <------riddikulus. So yeah, without the teenage boy humor, maybe the characters would be enough to keep me going. As it is, you've got one more book to convince me that this series is worth it, b/c so far . . . I'm not seeing it.
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