Where's Your Book Today?

That's what people always say to me at work, if I don't have a book or my PDA or my eBookwise Reader with me at lunch. I love to read and I guess it's obvious. So many books, so little time...and so much dust in my apartment.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Proven Guilty" by Jim Butcher

Once again, I've fallen behind in posting comments. Some of the reason is that I made the mistake of reading other people's opinions about this book before I read it, and I filtered my enjoyment of the book through their comments. So I wanted to wait a bit to be sure I knew how I felt about it.

I devoured "Proven Guilty" in two days, even sneaking quick bites at work while my computer was tied up running complicated queries in Access. The ending even left me with a case of warm-fuzzies, which isn't something I expect at the end of a Dresden Files book. These stories usually leave me more with a feeling of "well, do you want the good news, or the bad news?"

I gave it a 4.5 rating, overall.

This book is part of a series, so if you haven't read them all, there will be spoilers here...continue at your own discretion.

In the last book in the series, "Dead Beat," Harry Dresden was reluctantly made a Warden. The White Council has been taking a shellacking from the Red Court, and younger wizards are forced to take on roles they may be a bit unprepared for.

A lot of "Proven Guilty" deals with the ramifications of that ... Harry is exposed to more of the politics of White Council life, and he doesn't like what he sees. The question for Harry is, what can he do about it? He knows his limitations when it comes to going head-to-head with the leading wizards on the Council - they can trounce him in a magical fight.

As in the other Harry Dresden novels, there is a more "immediate" mystery taking place that later turns out to be a piece of the larger puzzle. In "Proven Guilty", that mystery turns out to be the real-life appearance of movie monsters during a horror movie convention. Harry has to battle the nasties, figure out who's sending them, and deal with a couple of curve balls that threaten to knock him for a loop.

This book has all the humor and pulse-pounding excitement of his previous works. So why didn't I give it another 5? Purely personal taste. The idea of setting this story in a horror-movie convention felt a bit too much like an inside joke for readers of sci-fi/fantasy. If you've spent any time on various forums and eLists or chat groups for science-fiction/fantasy writers, you know that these conventions (called "cons") are all the rage.

The other reason is that Harry and company spend some time in the Fairy realm again in this book. One of the things I love about Urban Fantasy is the juxtaposition of gritty urban reality and the mystery of those things that go bump in the night. I tend to prefer when the action takes place in this world. Whenever Harry goes into the Fairy realm, it starts to feel more like a "regular" fantasy novel, and I'm not as interested in those as I am the Urban Fantasy genre.

And that's why I say it's purely personal taste. The setting of a lot of this book just wasn't my cuppa tea. But the things Harry learns, his courage in facing his fears because of his love for this friends...these were very definitely why I love this series and actually remember it after I've moved on to the next book.

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