There was quite a pause for me between reading the first three Dresden books, and finally getting back into the universe with book #4 (and we’re up to fifteen now, with a sixteenth still on the horizon… somewhere). Fortunately, Summer Knight had just enough reflection on the previous books to jog my memory, but really, a new reader could jump right in with this book and not miss a beat.
Save for some deep insight behind the depth of Harry’s brooding, backstory on his werewolf comrades, and more understanding of why so many people seem to want him dead, Summer Knight is basically a self-contained adventure.
For those unfamiliar with the series, the Dresden Files books are urban fantasy set mostly in and around modern day Chicago. With the first book written in 2000, there’s a solid argument to be made that it was one of the series at the forefront of what has become a very popular sub-genre. Our main protagonist, Harry Dresden is Chicago’s only advertised wizard, and is something of a supernatural detective noir who compliments his pistol with a blasting rod and staff.
Summer Knight revolves around a fae-world mystery – the Summer Knight, the Summer Queen’s right-hand, has been murdered, and the Winter Queen wants the murder solved before the imbalance of power forces both sides to war. Since, in the Dresden world, the fae are actually the ones who control the weather, having Summer and Winter rebalancing their power in a knock-down, drag-out war would be a Very Bad Thing for every human hanging around Planet Earth.
Naturally, Harry has to solve this murder in three days, while dodging murder attempts, a Wizard’s council that mostly also wants him dead, and dealing with the re-appearance of his first love as the Summer kingdom’s representative in the investigation. Naturally things do not go smoothly. But then, it would be a pretty short book if they did.
As always, I enjoyed Jim Butcher’s foray take on the unseen world. The Dresden universe is well thought-out, with details that feel perfectly plausible. Harry is an excellent main character, skilled at what he does but hardly hyper-competent. The action scenes fly fast, and I came to the end of the book far sooner than I would have liked. Then again, a Dresden book is one of those series that will get me to stay up late reading just one more chapter.
For those who’ve never gotten into the Dresden Files, Summer Knight is a great place to start. Perhaps better, actually than Storm Front, the first book in the series, since Butcher’s style has evolved and gained polish as the series goes on. Any way you choose though, the series won’t disappoint.
I was not compensated in any way for this review. Amazon links are affiliated, I will make a small pittance back if this review motivates someone to buy the book.