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"Peace Talks" by Jim Butcher Cannoli Send a noteboard - 15/07/2020 06:40:45 AM

Book 16 of "The Dresden Files" is the "Feast for Crows" of this series, in that it came out after an unprecedented (for the series) 5 year wait, and is only half a book.

I should say half a story. And the other half is due for release later this year (Butcher claims to have written both as a two-part novel and turned them in together for simultaneous publishing; the delay for the next book is due to printing & distribution logistics), so even if this is "Feast for Crows", at least the sequel won't be "Dance with Dragons".

Anyway, the story is that the various supernatural polities and powerful individuals in the setting are gathering in Chicago under the aegis of the latest power-broker to join their community, John Marcone, to negotiate and end to the conflicts with the Fomor that have been going on since "Changes". Interestingly, Marcone is all but absent from the book, despite being talked up a lot, especially early on. The titular Peace Talks are hardly even in the story, rather they are simply the background to Harry's own agenda, which is the protection of a single individual. The meetings with various entities, the politics and the decisions of the great powers are simply in the story to provide conflicts and obstacles for Harry's personal quest and set up the big fight coming along in he next book.

As per usual for the series, Butcher lets the new developments introduced in the last book move to the back burner with some quick updates, to shift the focus to other aspects of the setting and supporting cast. Harry's newly-custodial-parent status is a major factor in the early chapters and then shunted to one side. There is limited follow-up on the intellect baby he has been gestating for several books and his daughter Maggie is quickly shuffled off stage so the plot can happen. Likewise Thomas, Harry's vampire brother, is removed, not least, I suspect, to deprive Harry of Thomas' usual service as his physical muscle.

In spite of the marginalization of Harry's closest kin, family is a major theme of this book, and Ebenezer McCoy has arguably his biggest role in a single book to date. Karrin Murphy is also prominent as the relationship she and Harry decided to proceed with in the previous book is ongoing, though the injuries she suffered largely put her on the bench too (again, I suspect for the same reason as Thomas). I would say that as far as supporting cast goes, the big players here are Lara Raith and to a much lesser extent, Molly and the young Wardens who are Harry's closest allies among the council. We still have not seen the Bordens (Billy since "Ghost Story", Georgia since "Turn Coat", not counting short stories), though a couple of their werewolf buddies make a single on-page appearance. The Knights of the Cross show up, but don't contribute to the plot, though we are brought up to speed on Butters' development since the major change he underwent last book(and the fact that Butcher seems to increasingly be making him into a geek wish fulfillment character).

My impression of the story was that it wasn't bad, but there is a lot of buildup for a major conflict, even as Harry spends most of his attention on a relatively low-stakes but personally very important issue. Quite a few characters are brought up, only to not pan out, probably in preparation for a bigger role in the next book, which suggests the possibility of a major status change in the setting, which could be even bigger for Dresden than "Changes". Due to this, the ending could be said to be something of a cliffhanger, and slightly unsatisfying. Another frustrating issue is Butcher leaning on people being unreasonabl paranoid about Harry, while preaching about love and trust and friendship. It was aggravating with Murphy in the early books, though he was smart enough to alter the dynamic after a few books. The new players in the "interpret everything Harry does in the worst possible light" game make little sense, and Harry seems to sometimes pick up the idiot ball to prevent him from resolving the issues. Butter's concerns from "Skin Game" appear to have evaporated so that Butcher can have it coming from a more politically adverse source (though becoming the Knight of Faith is a good enough cover for changing his tune).

Basically, a lot of what one thinks of "Peace Talks" is going to depend on how well the next book works.

“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” GK Chesteron
Inde muagdhe Aes Sedai misain ye!
Deus Vult!
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"Peace Talks" by Jim Butcher - 15/07/2020 06:40:45 AM 183 Views
Ok, so I've read it a couple of times now *spoilers* - 22/07/2020 04:12:12 AM 30 Views
Re: Ok, so I've read it a couple of times now *spoilers* - 23/07/2020 01:59:30 PM 33 Views
Regarding Mac’s bar - 24/07/2020 03:01:31 AM 22 Views
One thing about Butcher’s writing that amuses me. - 24/07/2020 04:29:25 AM 28 Views
Except his girlfriend - 24/07/2020 05:33:23 AM 34 Views
Butters as the ultimate nerd wish fulfillment character - 24/07/2020 05:45:11 PM 22 Views
Surely not just that - 24/07/2020 08:48:04 PM 24 Views
mousey brown hair is just a description of the hair color - 25/07/2020 04:51:47 PM 21 Views
Not a flattering one - 25/07/2020 06:12:37 PM 19 Views
Okay, you’ve convinced me. Most of Butcher’s female characters are gorgeous. Not all. *NM* - 26/07/2020 03:52:08 AM 12 Views
Now, now... don't get grouchy. - 26/07/2020 04:36:09 AM 22 Views
Apparently the story he wanted to tell was "too big," so they split it - 05/08/2020 02:41:28 PM 9 Views
I... have nothing to argue with here. - 06/08/2020 10:39:49 PM 11 Views

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