~by Jim Butcher
It has been almost a year between my reading Summer Knight, the fourth book in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, and reading the previous book, Grave Peril. Some of this is my own fault and some of this is because the series is just so darned popular. I've been borrowing the books from the library and there was only one copy of Summer Knight in the system which happened to go missing for a few months and already had several people in line by the time I put myself on the waiting list. I was tempted to just go out and purchase a copy; I have been enjoying the series so far, and each book has shown improvements over the last. I particularly enjoyed Grave Peril and so was looking forward to reading Summer Knight anyway. It may have taken longer than I would have wished, but eventually I received the long awaited notification that the book was ready for me to pick up.
The only wizard in Chicago's phonebook, Harry Dresden, quite frequently finds himself down on his luck, but it hasn't been this bad for a while. He's being blamed, not entirely inaccurately, for starting a war with the Red Court vampires and the wizard's White Council has come to town to figure out what can be done about it and Harry. He's racked with guilt over his girlfriend's developing vampirism and is desperately, and unsuccessfully, trying to find a cure. And on top of all that, the Summer Knight of the faerie court has been murdered. The shift in the balance of power threatens both the Nevernever and the mortal world and he has been coerced into getting to the bottom of the whole mess. Things are not looking good for Harry at all.
I really like Harry and have, for the most part, since reading the first book in The Dresden Files, Storm Front. But I think I like him even better in Summer Knight; some of his personality quirks, while still there, were not nearly as annoying as they were in the previous books. His over-protectiveness and his constant feelings of guilt are not gone, but they are toned down, allowing his characterization to be more even overall. And he is still delightfully sarcastic and flippant, too. I was hoping to see the return of some of the characters from Grave Peril, particularly Thomas Raith and Michael Carpenter, but I guess I'll just have to wait for later books. However, some of the werewolves from Fool Moon and Toot from Storm Front make reappearances which made me happy.
I wasn't grabbed as much by Summer Knight as I remember being by Grave Peril, which isn't to say I didn't enjoy Summer Knight because I most certainly did. Summer Knight is probably the first book in The Dresden Files that significantly relies on events and characters from previous books. But even then, Butcher did an excellent job at introducing important information within the context of the story and all without info-dumping. A new reader could fairly easily start the series here without too much of a problem. However, I did have a few minor issues with the plot of Summer Knight, the biggest being that I wasn't entirely convinced tgat Dresden could be the only person to help in the situation. I was also frustrated by the faerie court structure which never seemed to be explained as thoroughly as I would have liked. Of course, maybe it is just something us mere mortals are unable to comprehend. Regardless, I enjoyed Summer Knight and I am still looking forward to reading the fifth book in The Dresden Files, Death Masks.