Today is the release day for Cold Days, the fourteenth book in Jim Butcher’s bestselling Dresden Files series! Cold Days picks up right where the previous book, Ghost Story, left off, with Harry trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, and trying to figure out his role in the supernatural world of Chicago. And it’s one of the best books in the series.
Before speaking of Cold Days, it’s important to consider what’s happened to Harry previously. The events of Changes essentially destroyed most of Harry’s world before ultimately killing him. In Ghost Story he was largely cut off from his world, learning to get by as a ghost. When he is brought back at the end of that book, it’s as the Winter Knight, the mortal champion of the Unseelie Court of Faerie.
Harry begins Cold Days in rehabilitation, his body still recovering from its deathlike state. In addition to learning how to reuse his body, he must learn what it means to be the Winter Knight. He has a brief “coming out” party, set up by Mab, to prove himself, a trial that quickly turns dangerous. When he has proved himself, Mab gives him his first task: he must kill her daughter, Maeve, the Winter Lady.
Of course Maeve is an immortal. And Harry needs more information on whether killing Maeve is even something he can do, so he returns to Chicago to do some research. Which of course brings him back in touch with some familiar faces. Not all of whom are happy to see Harry. The Winter Knight is not exactly a position loved by all.
While dealing with that, Harry discovers a threat to Chicago that could destroy the whole city. One which is centered on the strange island of Demonreach. One which ties into the island’s origin. And of course there are the usual people—or sometimes creatures—out to kill Harry. Oh, and did I mention Outsiders?
In many ways, though, this novel is about Harry reassembling his life and learning how to live, and survive, as the Winter Knight. And dealing with power and temptation. Regular readers of the series have seen Harry struggle with his dark side and the temptations that go with it. Now Harry has even more power but potentially even more of a dark side. Where does he end and the Winter Knight begin? That is the conflict at the heart of this novel and it’s just as gripping as the external conflicts that Harry faces.
Cold Days is one hell of a ride. In many ways it’s designed to get us excited about the series again, and I have to say that it worked for me. After the first twelve books, and then the transitional Ghost Story, it seems like Butcher is gearing up for the plunge toward the end. He’s clearly become a better writer over the years, too, deftly handling multiple plotlines in a confident, assured way. I used to be someone who was bored by his epic battle scenes in the ends of the books (I guess I’m more into the character moments), but the one in this book is solid. In fact, and I mean this in a very good way, I found the action toward the end cinematic. I could clearly see it taking shape in my mind and it would thrive on a screen (though it did just fine in my imagination).
Butcher has said that he plans on writing twenty books in the Dresden Files series, followed by a big apocalyptic trilogy. With only six books more to go in the regular series, it seems clear that things are gearing up to only get bigger and more dangerous. Cold Days is a really great first step on that journey. If you’ve been reading along this whole time, I heartily recommend this book. Though if you’re new to the series, I would start at the beginning (or at least at Book 3, Grave Peril). Cold Days is available right now.
Rajan Khanna is a writer, narrator and blogger and Dresden Files enthusiast. His reread of the Dresden files is currently posting weekly on Tor.com. His website is www.rajankhanna.com