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Monday, January 05, 2009

Turn Coat

*****+ Turn Coat by Jim Butcher. Contemporary fantasy.

This is the 11th full-length novel in the Dresden Files series about Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book.

Turn Coat opens with Warden Morgan on Harry's doorstep, seriously injured and asking for Harry's help. Seems the uptight, by-the-book Warden who's been hounding Harry for much of his life has been accused of killing a member of the wizards' senior council. So it's up to Harry--with a little help from his friends--to find the traitor who framed Morgan and not only save Morgan's life but Harry's own as well.

That's about as far as the blurb on B&N's website goes, so I feel pretty safe saying that much.

I also feel pretty safe saying that, true to form, Jim has once again outdone himself and ratcheted up the stakes and the emotional intensity yet another notch. Of course, I laughed aloud several times--pick up any Dresden Files book and open to a random page: at a minimum, you'll find one quip that'll make you smile, and Turn Coat is no exception. I also found myself in tears at a few points. Part of Jim's genius is knowing just how far to wring the reader's emotions, and when we need to laugh.

The characters are very real, and Jim does a masterful job of including only the recurring characters necessary to the plot, which means that we don't see all of them in each book, but those we do see are developed more fully. We get to know a great deal more about Morgan, of course, and also about a few other characters we hadn't known very well before.

There are also the various denizens of the supernatural world, inventive and frightening, yet with a firm basis in folklore and the logic of the series universe.

No discussion of one of Jim's books would be complete without me raving about the action scenes, which are, hands-down, the most vivid and easy to follow that I've ever read. Lacking a Y chromosome, I have trouble following most authors' action scenes. Not these.

For me, though, the real star of Turn Coat is the emotional effect on Harry. I'm getting a little concerned. We're not even halfway through the series (20 case files and then an apocalyptic trilogy, for 23 books total), and if they keep getting more intense....

Turn Coat is due out April 7, which gives you time to catch up on the series if you haven't read the previous 10 books and 6 stories (8, if you count the two short-shorts on the website). A complete list is here. Although there's enough background information that a newcomer to the series wouldn't get lost, I heartily recommend reading the series in order. There's at least one clue that could have been figured out from information in previous books (though I didn't figure it out myself until after the fact), and of course the ongoing and changing interpersonal relationships through the series make more sense when read in order.

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I am slowly working my way through this series.
I am so jealous that you have already read this one! Waiting impatiently. I finally caved and started the Codex Alera books. Read the first two and had to order the rest of the series. Don't know why I waited so long.
What do you think of the series, Marg? As you can tell, it's one of my absolute favorites.

Nancy, the Codex Alera books are good, aren't they? I'm currently re-reading the latest one, Princeps' Fury, with my son. The only sad thing is that there's just one more book to come in that series. I'm already missing it, and the last book hasn't even been written yet. :(
I was a bit underwhelmed by the first one, but I think that the series will get better for me going forward.
As you can tell from my comments, I think the series gets better with each book. There's certainly a lot more complexity and emotional content in the later books.
Yes, I'm enjoying the Codex Alera books. I don't usually read fantasy other than urban fantasy. However, I had to pick up Patricia Briggs backlist of fantasy after reading her urban fantasy and they were good! I see you just read the first Mercy Thompson book - good stuff.
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