Jim Butcher does not disappoint in this installment to what should be considered the greatest urban fantasy series! Harry is beat up, grimy and most of all laughing in the face of death. The story building done in Ghost Story pays MANY dividends in this novel. I'm not one for spoilers so I can only recommend this novel 100% to anyone on the fence!!!
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Cold Days marks the beginning of the second half of Dresden's saga. If you are new to the series, stop here, go back to Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1), and read your way through the first thirteen books, then Side Jobs, and then come back. I'll wait here. Now you're up to date, let's go -
Preflight checklist: Jim Butcher, one of the best storytellers in modern fantasy, back in the saddle? Check. James Marsters is back as the Audible/audio incarnation of our favorite irreverent, overwhelmed, put upon, wise cracking wizard? Check. Geek/pop culture humor? Check. A crap-ton of magic gets thrown around? Check. The old crew is back in the fight? Check. Harry's up against something far out of his weight class? Check.
Harry was only "mostly dead" and returns to the realization that he failed to avoid the consequences of the bargain he made with the Queen of Air and Darkness. He is now the Winter Knight, a role that Harry has dreaded for most of the series, and now has to live with. The fae have tortured Harry with their deadly games off and on for 13 books, but it all gets turned up to 11 once he is the Winter Queen's knight.
If that's not bad enough, he will have to explain his 'death' and current role to the White Council - and to be clear, that and several related explanations do get sidestepped in Cold Days - There's too many people Harry needs to catch up with to cram it all into one book. Especially since he's got so much on his hands.
Demonreach, the island he has attuned himself to, sitting on top of a network of magical ley lines, is about to explode, with enough force to cause Google to update it's satellite photos for the entire western hemisphere. Oh, and Mab's first task for Harry? No less than the assassination of the Winter Queen That Will Be - her own heir and daughter, Maeve.
Everything's on the line again, and the only help Harry will find is in the form of his core posse - Thomas, the New and Improved apprentice Molly (now, with less crazy!), Karin, Toot Toot (and the Za Lord's army) and his dog Mouse all sign up for the fight. But the fight is never what Harry thinks it is.
A lot of reveal in Cold Days about the neverending battle in the Fae lands, and the relationship between the Winter and Summer courts, and the Council Gatekeeper. The big picture starts to come into focus, and you, along with Harry, begin to realize the very, very deep waters the series is about to sail into. The stakes have gotten much higher. But with that comes the possibility that Butcher may wind up staging a world-as-we-know-it-ends-here apocalypse with every future installment, and that can wear out the novelty and interest of huge battles that threaten to turn into repeats.
Which brings up what I didn't like about Cold Days. For the first time, Butcher disappoints by retracing territory he's covered before, and fairly thoroughly. Power not wholly Harry's own is used out of necessity, and with it comes the corruption of thoughts also not wholly his own. Dresden spent a number of books with a fallen angel infesting his every thought, giving him power beyond his own (hellfire), only now Lashiel has been replaced by the mantle of the Winter Knight and powers of winter cold and ice. He is tempted with power yet again - not power that he craves for himself, but power he needs to protect the people he loves, and the millions of innocent bystanders who will die if he doesn't. If you remember the Blackened Denarians story arc, this is playing out in very similar fashion so far. Temptation, power, corrupted thoughts, isolation, and distrust all come back in play in Harry's interpersonal relationships. I can't help but feel disappointed at this development. Why revisit this theme and angst again?
Next theme is that Harry, out of fear for his friends, will try to buffer them from a lot of uncomfortable truths. In their emotional reunion, Thomas lampshades this, and seems to accept it as part of his brother's personality, though he works on trying to convince him to open his heart to the people dearest to him (Karin and Maggie).
Finally, the Karin/Harry issue gets sent back through the wash cycle for another spin. With a dash of Molly thrown in to complicate matters. I would be very disappointed if Harry went down the Molly path romantically, for the very reasons that Harry himself has given in several books. However, the spectre of this possibility becomes far more possible in future installments after the dramatic conclusion of the events in Cold Days.
James Marsters, much missed in the previous installment, is indeed back. He does the most marvelous voices for the multitude of beings in the Dresden-verse. I have 'read' all but one of the Dresden books in audio only, and he was a superb choice for a narrator, that only gets better and better. But among my favorite are his voices for Toot Toot and Captain Hook. I can listen to these books over and over, and still be entertained.
Ghost Story was the middle of the Dresden series, so I anticipate that Cold Days should set the stage for the plot lines that follow.
Buckle up. Or, as Murphy says "Get on the back, *itch!"
It's going to be a helluva ride.
I set my alarm last night and started this book the instant it was available for download..
I'm well into the 2nd file, (about 10 hours) and it was WELL worth the wait. Another FANTASTIC Dresden book...
The only thing wrong???? That it'll be over sooner than later...
THANK YOU Jim Butcher..!!!
This is a little difficult to answer. I have a wild imagination and easily get lost in books, whether in print or recorded voice. It is not a matter of it being better, a good book will be great no matter what.
I LOVE BOB! He cracks me up and is loyalty is unparalleled!
This is easy, life. James brings the books to life like no one else can. I actually refused to even buy Ghost Story in audio format because he did not perform it. Yes, perform not read. I can see the story when he performs.
Thomas and Harry seeing each other again.
I told my boyfriend about 2 years ago that he should try these books, he was hesitant. Now he is addicted. Anyone who picks up one of these books should be prepared to read all of them and Side Jobs as well. They always leave you salivating for the next installment.
Epic in scope and feel, this is easily Butcher's best work. And Marster's narration is pitch perfect. Glad he's back!
The story is tight, the characters feel almost like family, and the twists and turns will leave you breathless.
Everything. The Story, Charaters and Imagination.
Mr. Butcher #14 is his best - Hand Down.
I hate waiting for any book to be published but when I read Chapter 1 & 2 at
Mr. Butchers Website. I knew that the "wait/pain" was all worth it.
Mr. Marsters performances are Masterful, Personable and Memorable.
With " fairies voices " He must have being doing helium.
Bob - Spirit of Air with a Britt accent -- I want one.
Masters "is" Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden.
To Mr. Butcher: Thank You for a great story. Will never rush you to write a story.
To Mr. Masters: You are simply Masterful.
The danger with any long running series like the Dresden Files is that it will fall into a formula where the variations from book to book amount to little more than moving the pieces around through the same story on different days. In contrast, Butcher continues to deliver unique stories that reveal new aspects to the universe he has created and new dangers and possibilities for the characters. The only frustrating thing, and this is not a criticism, is that the universe created over 14 books has grown so rich and complex that some books cannot contain all the characters that you would expect to see. I wanted to know where several of them were and what they were doing but I’ll now have to wait a couple of years to find out.
It’s not possible to say much of anything about the story not already included in the description. It would be too easy to include a spoiler. Suffice to say that rather than getting tedious, this series keeps me wanting more. On a side note I, too, was glad to have James Marsters back. I have to agree with those who say that he is Harry Dresden. John Glover did an outstanding job with Ghost Story but, after 12 books read by Marsters, it just wasn’t the same.
My single favorite audio book to this point.
First and foremost this is a worthy successor to changes. Not that ghost story did not have its moments but the sheer scope and brilliance of this work compares to Changes as Butchers best. It is tough to compare Cold Days to another author, as Jim Butcher is currently the definitive Urban Fantasy in the world today.
Everything, I have already laughed out loud numerous times. His willingness to do voices for the dew drop fairies were of particular note.
Yes, several but hard to describe without spoilers.
I have finished the book and am about 10 hours into the audio book and felt I had enough of a base to give the audio book a review. Put simply this is the best audio book released this year and among my favorites of all time. I would recommend to anyone.