Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
(2262 customer reviews)
HARRY DRESDEN LIVES!!!
After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.
He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.
Guess which Mab wants first?
Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.
Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…His soul.
- Amazon Sales Rank: #245661 in Books
- Published on: 2012-11-27
- Released on: 2012-11-27
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 1.89" h x 6.25" w x 9.75" l, 1.63 pounds
- Binding: Hardcover
- 528 pages
*Starred Review* Harry Dresden, the Chicago PI and professional wizard, has been having a pretty weird time of it lately. In 2012’s Ghost Story, Harry is trapped between life and death but on the trail of his own killer all the same; after discovering that killer’s shocking identity, he decides to let himself pass into death. But Queen Mab has other ideas, and that’s where the latest episode in the Dresden Files novels picks up the story. Mab, who has wanted Harry to be her hatchet man for a long time, has a job for him—several jobs, actually, a sort of shopping list of evil deeds, beginning with murder. Harry, basically a good man, doesn’t take killing lightly, especially when his intended victim happens to be immortal. Harry thinks there must be a reason why Mab wants this particular immortal killed at this particular time, and when he hits up some sources back in Chicago, he figures out she’s probably setting him up—but why? By this point, more than a dozen novels into the series, Butcher is pretty much assuming that if you’re reading the latest Dresden novel, you’re familiar with the ones that came before it. Readers coming to the novel without any previous experience might feel like they’ve tuned into an epic, multicharacter TV miniseries about halfway through, but fans of the Dresden Files, who have a lot invested in Harry, will be lining up to see whether he escapes his death as slickly as he did last time. Butcher remains the gold standard for urban fantasy. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The Dresden Files started slowly as a paperback original series but eventually built an audience and moved to hardcover. From there, it was a short jump to becoming the quintessential urban fantasy. --David Pitt
“Butcher is the dean of contemporary urban fantasy.”—Booklist
“Harry Dresden is perhaps the best-written supernatural detective working today.”—SF Revu
“If there is an author that defines urban fantasy, it is Jim Butcher.”—Fresh Fiction
“What would you get if you crossed Spenser with Merlin? Probably you would come up with someone very like Harry Dresden.”—The Washington Times
About the Author
A martial arts enthusiast whose résumé includes a long list of skills rendered obsolete at least two hundred years ago, Jim Butcher turned to writing as a career because anything else probably would have driven him insane. He lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife, son, and ferocious guard dog.
Most helpful customer reviews
260 of 271 people found the following review helpful.
This Book punches you in the face with a fistful of entertainment.
This is a wonderful novel that rewards longtime Dresden followers with callback after callback to previous events in the series (it especially demands a re-reading of Summer Knight in particular in order to fully understand who's who in its large cast of background characters, both present and deceased), and although it would be a poor idea for new readers to jump in at book 14 of a series as long as this one, the cast of characters are so well fleshed-out, the adventure so intriguing, the story so flat out entertaining, they wouldn't necessarily have to know absolutely everything about what occurred in previous stories to feel let in on the fun.
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files have always contained a wonderfully manic combination of screwball comedy, High Urban fantasy, and the detective genre. As is traditional in a good noire story, our lead is a capable protagonist who finds himself in a dangerous situation that is rapidly spinning out beyond his ability to control, thanks mostly in part to a cadre of dangerous women who run the gamut from murderous matron to femme fatale to a literal Ice Queen. Expounding upon his troubles are Harry's increasing list of character flaws. Although Harry possesses magic, he isn't particularly wise; Although he's intelligent, he's not a very good deductive reasoner; and even though he's become powerful due to deals brokered in previous books in the series, he's hardly an invincible combatant. What he is, is a man as prone to making things worse for himself through accident as well as intent.
But, like any good protagonist worth rooting for, Harry remains a motivated scrapper determined to do the right thing and he isn't alone; like the Harry from those OTHER books, his previous deeds have earned him a collection of friends and comrades as determined to keep him alive as he is to get himself killed through his endearingly self-destructive bouts of suicidal stupidity. Mister Butcher as always chooses to balance moments of fist-pumping triumph for our hero with face-palming groans of disbelief at what he's lumbered into THIS time. As a fan of Mister Dresden, I'm inclined to imagine instances where instead of taking humiliating beatings, and demoralizing lectures, he instead coasts through his enemies with consummate ease, soul-crushing putdowns, and invincible skills; luckily for Harry, Butcher is a much more capable writer than I am and understands that the essences of a truly entertaining story are conflict and risk. If Harry was an undefeated juggernaut who could snark his through every encounter and argument with lazy ease, these stories would lose a rich element of growth and suspense that helps make them such fun escapist fare; (To make an old comparison: we like Superman, but we ADMIRE Batman. After all, if Superman fell off a building, he'd dust himself off none the worse for the wear; Batman would be a cowled smear on the asphalt and yet, it doesn't keep Batman from challenging things comfortably outside of his weight class).
Putting it all together, I give Cold Days my highest recommendation as a humble Reader. The events in this book are as momentous as they were in Changes (book 12), and without giving away any unneeded spoilers, things will change quite dramatically for characters that we've followed for years. The revelation of the purpose of the Summer Knight was genuinely surprising as was the maturation of Fix, a relatively minor background player for years who in this tale steps his game up considerably, samurai style. Sad fates await some (depressingly sad in fact), but the scope of the conflict becomes far clearer. For me, the thirteen hours I spent reading this book evaporated in no time and left me hungering for more. And just like all the times before, I'll have to wait a good long while to see what happens next. ( There's a fresh mystery that'll make your head "split" when your realize it won't get resolved this go-around, hur-hur-hur).
In closing, read this book. Terry Goodkind went mad with power, Robert Jordan died before he could finish things on his own terms, Piers Anthony became a bit lecherous and unpalatable, and we're slowly losing the great Terry Pratchett. If you were to ask me who gets my vote for which popular entertainment writer to sacrifice a few dozen unrecoverable hours of your precious and finite life to, it's not a hard decision to make;
In Jim Butcher, I trust.
122 of 134 people found the following review helpful.
Sigh of relief that the series is back on track!
By The Mad Hatter
I had quite a few quibbles with the last volume, Ghost Story, so I started Cold Days with lowered expectations that it more than surpassed them bringing Harry back to form and thrown into the thick of all things paranormal. So my greatest fears that the series was ruined for me are unfounded at this point.
Dresden awakens inside Faerie's Winter Court with new powers and new debts that must be paid. Summer Knight was the volume that made me love the series since it broadened the Dresdenverse so much and Cold Days explores the politics and inhabitants of Faerie deeper than ever before. We see Mab in all her crazy glory along with nearly every other important figure including many unexpected personages of a magical persuasion. And when Harry is given a seemingly impossible task from Mab, of course, he gets drawn into even greater problems and old grudges back in the real world.
Harry has always been thought of a strong power in the past, but this supercharged version would have stomped on the young Dresden. There is still a heavy reliance on past associates including some that might have been better left out, but outside of that the action and detective work was incredible. Harry's magical island, Demonreach, is vividly explored with many of its secrets finally unveiled. Cold Days more than most any other volume has payoff and reveals galore for long-term series fans. Many of the dots that have been tossed Harry's way over the length of the series are connected to great effect and seemingly disparate cases finally make sense.
So if you're still hanging in there for the series, which I expect most are, Cold Days brings the series back to a nice high with plenty of laughs and things are on track for plenty more action.
80 of 88 people found the following review helpful.
Cold Days is a return to form for Dresden*
Since the book just came out, I will try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. I've read every book in the Dresden series and I feel that Jim Butcher is really starting to come into his own . . . especially in terms of how he handles the world-building/exposition aspects of the story. Ever since the events of "Changes" forced both the writer and his protagonist to stop relying on a variety of metaphorical (and literal) crutches, I've found the series to be re-energized. Personally, I was getting a little tired of stock descriptions of the Blue Beatle and hearing Harry pontificate on the mechanics of lifting an engine block. However, there are still some minor issues with the pacing - I found that "Ghost Story" dragged a bit, while "Cold Days" is more akin to a relentless steamroller of plot developments.
This installment reunites Harry with a number of his rag-tag band of allies (although a significant portion of the early chapters are devoted to events that take place in the Nevernever). However, a couple of key reunions are left for future books (hopefully). I am still concerned about the issue of "power creep" as Harry continues to gain access to more and more power, to the point that the Outsiders may be the only remaining threat that has any real weight to it. Granted, the mantel of Winter Knight is borrowed power and Harry makes a point of repeatedly mentioning how outclassed he is by his opponent(s), but I think he doth protest too much.
Butcher has repeatedly stated his intention to turn the Dresden Files into a 20-book series, and I have some reservations about his ability to continue to find new and compelling challenges for Harry & company to face. Fortunately, Cold Days is able to do just that, piling on a series of inter-related potential disasters that Harry must navigate and thwart.
The theme of family (especially family dysfunction) has grown more prominent in this series and Butcher does a lovely job of laying the groundwork for developing that theme in increasingly interesting ways. To my mind, it felt like a lot of what transpires in Cold Days is simply setting the stage for future books, but fortunately there is enough pay-off within the story to keep things enjoyable. The familiar blend of pathos and humor is back, and the story feels less bleak than the prior two installments (although Harry's seemingly ever-growing anger-management issues continue to darken his perspective).
Like some of the other reviewers, I particularly enjoyed the pop-culture reference Harry didn't get (to be fair, Harry was pretty busy dealing with problems in the Summer Court when Firefly was on the air, and I assume his magical abilities would prohibit him from watching it on DVD). On a related note, I appreciated the inclusion of Harry's theory on why powerful wizards disrupt technology when other magical creatures do not (which has been a minor pet peeve of mine over the course of the series).
Overall, Cold Days was a satisfying and well-told story and I am excited to see how the consequences of the climactic events will unfold and reverberate in future entries of the Dresden Files.
*Note - The title of this review is a pun that will only be understood by those familiar with the plot of "Ghost Story"