Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Dresden Readthrough: Proven Guilty

We continue our readthrough of Jim Butcher's uber-popular urban fantasy series The Dresden Files today with book eight, Proven Guilty. The continuing plan is to do a book a month on the first Tuesday of each month, and with 15 books on the publication schedule between now and when our readthrough is over, and perhaps our timing being good enough for the 16th, our reading list should be pretty full for the foreseeable future.

With Proven Guilty, though, this might be the first time I've felt a misstep of sorts with the series.

I need to preface this: Proven Guilty is not a bad book. It's still better than most of the urban fantasy I've read up to this point, and having now invested considerable time and energy into the series and characters, there's plenty here to like.

The issue with this book, I suppose, is just that it felt like it was floundering up until the last 100 pages, that sort of justified the first 300. I get the feeling that Butcher was knee-deep in convention culture by the time he started writing this book, because a lot of it takes place at a convention, and that's where the meat of the plot sits. Instead of it being a fun supernatural story, it spends a lot of time being a procedural novel with a supernatural bent. Less about Harry, less about him dealing with what he's done to himself, more about trying to solve the mystery of a supernatural murder.

I don't think that's what these books are.

The good news was that the last parts of the books redeemed it a lot. We see some of the classic Dredsen fallibility, some excursions into other universes, and a pretty great ending that sets up a nice wrinkle for future books. I didn't see that coming, but it made the book feel both important as well as transitional. I guess one has to expect some sort of slowing of the plot a bit when it comes to what is a 15+ book series up to this point, but considering how solid the more recent books were, I guess my expectations have risen with the quality.

Definitely not bad, just far from excellent. Considering how this one ended, I'm pretty excited to see where we're going from here.

1 comment:

  1. If you've never read a Dresden book, you could pick this one up with little problem. The cast of characters may feel a little overwhelming since they've been building from the previous seven books, but they're distinct in their own rights, and Butcher does a good job recapping each when they first show up. Overall, another fantastic entry in a wonderful series of books.
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