Peace Talks picks up right after Skin Game, quickly setting up the first in a whole new set of challenges. Considering this instalment follows the best book in the series by far and a seriously long break, there were a lot of expectations to live up to. Butcher’s answer is to offer the typical Dresden novel with a few significant twists. It takes some skill to produce something that feels the same AND different, cosy and surprising. I read the whole book straight through, loving every minute back in Harry’s Chicago. As far as I’m concerned, the only real issues were structural. This instalment feels like half of a whole. Whether it’s true or not that Butcher wrote one book and then split it into two for publication, that’s the way it comes across, and it does explain why we have the second part coming in September. Even knowing it was likely to have a cliffhanger ending didn’t stop me from feeling that weird disassociation you get from an abrupt ending, that sense of incompleteness, and I’m betting some people are going to be really disappointed by that. There is more than enough action and tension to keep the story moving forward, but everything that happens here is part of the build up to what’s clearly going to be an epic battle in er... Battle Ground. Clue is definitely in the name, right?! Peace Talks is the book that sets out the problems, Battle Ground will demolish them, one way or another.
Nevertheless, this is not wasted time. There’s a giant dollop of much needed character development in Peace Talks, told via intense and impactful scenes that furnish long running favourites with new dimensions to both their character and backstory. Some are pretty stunning in their ramifications, clearly significant to the next book and beyond. The focus here is undoubtedly on relationships, especially between family, both blood and found, with some getting a fundamental reshaping. These personal issues are interwoven with the larger political and diplomatic nightmare that is the Peace Talks. It’s the kind of shitshow Harry in which so often finds himself but the stakes here are world shattering. The potential consequences hang over the book like a dark cloud, amping up the seriousness and desperation of Harry’s situation. Even though he maintains his classic wry commentary and silly jokes, there’s still a noticeable difference in attitude. Shit Harry, maybe you’ve finally grown up. It’s taken you a hell of a lot of time, but it could change everything. Despite all the throw downs and big wins, Harry hasn’t often felt like much more than an unenthusiastic participant, dragged into various fights, succeeding as much by luck as by judgement. Until now. Oh, he’s still being manipulated by bigger players, but there’s a new certainty to him. This book shows that he’s made some decisions about what and who really matters to him and what he’s prepared to risk for them. He’s also more thoughtful, or perhaps more able to see what his actions look like from the outside. This new perspective provides the opportunity for a fascinating exploration of what Harry expects from himself, and what we expect from him as a result. Grown up Harry is much more dangerous, and that opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
It’s a fun read and a great set up for Battle Ground in September.
Review by Emma Davis
4 positive reader review(s) in total for the The Dresden Files series
Ryan from United Kingdom
Jim hasn't lost his touch. This was a great read, Full of exciting new and returning characters. The plot was fast paced and hair-raising and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. the stakes where justifiably massive and he cliff hanger was SIMPLY SUPERB. Now i can wait to read Battle Ground to find out the conclusion to this well written and exciting story
8.5/10 from 2 reviews