Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hunger for Cold Days

While peacefully minding my own business trying to make sense of Blogger's new interface, I noticed that one of my most recently-viewed posts was in praise of Jim Butcher.  Butcher – whose character Harry Dresden stands in the blog sidebar among my fictional favorites – has just released his new book Cold Days, about which I've salivated since finishing Ghost Story (which I later defended against ill-aimed attack). So folks are searching for stuff on Butcher and a few of them stumbled onto me.

So it's time to come clean:  I bought Cold Days for a relative whom I've infected with the Butcher-reading bug, but I don't have a copy myself.  I've been busy.  I'll read it over the holiday break.

But a friend (whom I also addicted to Jim butcher) sent me the following review I can share in its entirety:
Just finished Cold Days. :) One word... WOW! No spoilers... but it's massively twisted! I'm about to read it again to see if I missed catching anything :)
So, there you have it.  It's a read.  But I can't say much about it yet from personal experience.

On the other hand, I see folks complaining that Jim Butcher "should" have used Ghost Story to give Harry Dresden a "power reset" to keep him from being "overpowered".  Yawn.  These folks haven't been paying attention.  The series is building to an apocalyptic trilogy, and since Jim Butcher is no longer hiding that a major background element is Odin and his einherjar, and they are taking an increasingly obvious position in the scenery of the books, it's pretty clear that this apocalypse is what the Vikings anticipated in ragnarok.  And who knows, perhaps also in Revalation – Butcher's world is, after all, full of Christian background, too (what with the angels and fallen angels).  What does this mean, now?  Well, it should be clear that the problems facing the world are outrageously high-stakes and well beyond even Harry's escalating powers.  Moreover, after the last book, Harry is (or should be!) acutely aware of the serious, imminent, and far-reaching peril of using the powers he's acquiring.  Increasing power doesn't make the conflict easy for Harry;  and that's the real fear in "overpowered" protagonists, they will just turn on the Big Power and obliterate enemies without giving the reader reason to feel concern (or care) about the problem.  Instead, increasing power means increasing consequences for everything he does, even when he does things right.  And with the whole world coming to an end – and presumably, big decisions to be made as that occurs – Harry will need all the power he can get if he's to nudge things in the right direction.

So it is that the books are not yet cooled from the printer, and the armchair quarterbacks are already out with their opinions on what "should have been" done with Butcher's main character.  Bogus, so very bogus.  Butcher is one of a very few writers who's proven he can be trusted with extremely long multi-book story arcs, and I for one am not inclined to sit still listening to nitwits opine that Harry Dresden would make a better protagonist suffering from dementia in a body cast and eating all his meals through a straw.  (Because it's cooler when they are more helpless!)  No, no.  It's cooler to read Jim Butcher's outstanding stories just the way he writes them.*

* and fixes them.  I've noticed he's taken steps to wallpaper over some of the few actual missteps he's written into the scenery in earlier books.  Other authors can't be bothered, but Butcher cares.  Props!

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