‘Summer Knight’ by Jim Butcher

Overall Rating: Recommended  (How I Rate Books)

Personal Rating: Fun, fast paced, don’t think too hard about it

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Genres: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, Dresden Files

Similar books:

Previous books by the author/in the series I’ve reviewed:


This is a re-read for me, after about a decade. I’m reading it as a part of the Legendarium Podcast bookclub.

SPOILERS BELOW!

TL,DR: This is the (so far) most consistently good story in the series. It had some high points, but very few low points (unlike prior books). However I don’t think it does a good job standing on it’s own.

Plot/Mystery: I liked, but didn’t love this book’s plot. This book had a kinda iffy mystery story. The premise was ‘find out who killed a guy.’ The mystery reader in me was looking forward to reading a Dresden mystery. Unfortunately the author took this story in a more ‘thriller’ direction. The mystery wasn’t solved until the very last minute, and when it was solved there was basically no way for us(the reader) to figure it out. This made the mystery feel extraneous to the plot.

Pacing: Good-to-great. Fast paced, thrillery. As mentioned, this is a thriller story. Thriller stories are fast paced. That made this book a quick read.

Characters: Getting better and better. Dresden and Murphy are at their best in this book, compared to the prior three. They are improving and growing, as are Butcher’s skill at depicting nuanced characters. Still, they’re nothing to write home about (yet anyway).

As mentioned in my prior review, the bad guys aren’t compelling. Same there as here. They’re 2D cardboard cutouts of villains, not proper villains. They barely appear in the book at all. Slate appears in maybe three scenes, while Aurora appears in three. They’re basically barely characterized at all. I barely get a hint of why they are the way they are before we fight them.

Spoiler: The villains want to break the cycle of the seasons so it’s not always Spring-Summer-Fall-Winter. The villain is the Summer Lady Aurora (she’s basically the princess of the Summer fairies). Aurora wants to make it eternally Winter, betraying her nation to the enemy nation of fairies.

Why? She says it’s because the constant changing of seasons hurts people. Well, why does she care about humans? What makes her think seasons are bad for humans? What caused Aurora to decide to break from the cycle now?  She’s been participating in the cycle of seasons for hundreds if not thousands of years. Why try this ploy in early 2000’s Chicago, and not a thousand years sooner?

In later books the author sorta explains it (spoiler: eldritch horrors drove her mad). But in this book we didn’t get that explanation, and that made her actions feel like ?????????. This is a big plot-hole for me.

(Additionally, I don’t like the explanation of ‘eldritch horrors drove her batty.’ Why are the eldritch horrors corrupting things now as opposed to thirty years prior to the events of the story? Or a thousand years beforehand? Even with the insight that the horrors are behind her actions, the complaint holds up. (And honestly corruption by horrors isn’t very compelling anyway.))

Setting/worldbuilding: I liked the worldbuilding in this book. The author takes the ‘fairy’ characters from prior books and does a good job of fleshing them out and giving them lore.

Prose: Decent, but nothing special. I’ll say, though, that Butcher does THE BEST job of writing asshole protagonist dialog. Dresden’s dialog isn’t ‘realistic,’ but it sure is fun to read him taunting the bad guys.

And finally, I’m going to rank the series. I’m coming at this as a re-read, so bear that in mind.  Here we are so far, ranked from best to worst:

  1. Grave Peril
  2. Summer Knight
  3. Storm Front
  4. Fool Moon

None of these are miserably bad… but I don’t think I’m going to re-read Fool Moon again. That’s the only one which I’ve never quite clicked with.

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