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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review: Changes (Dresden Files, Book 12) by Jim Butcher


As I finish Changes, I am floored. Literally. Changes is easily going to get a 10 of 10 from me, and it's good enough that the series will be lifted from a previous 7 of 10 to a 9 of 10.  I'm also making a note that I need to reread the series before another book comes out. I believe that Jim Butcher has stated there will be about 20 case file novels, followed by an apocalyptic trilogy. There is still a lot to go.

I'm going to do something a bit different with this review. I'm going to review the book, then give some space, and then I'm going to talk about  it, with spoilers. If you don't want spoilers then it is safe to keep reading the review portion, because I will give plenty of warning before the spoilers start. But I need to talk about what happened. It's just that kind of book.

Here is my best advice - if you are going to wait until you can buy the ebook from Amazon, then spend the time between now and then reading the first 11 books again. Changes ties up a whole lot of loose ends that I didn't even realize were loose. It's the end of a whole lot of plot arcs, some of which haven't been mentioned in so long that I'd almost forgotten about them. If you don't want to read the books again, then at least read through the plot synopsis of each book on Wikipedia. You can also read the first four chapters of Changes online at Jim Butcher's website.

As for my analysis of the technical parts of the book: The pacing is very well done, with so much action that I am exhausted after just reading it. There is a lot more emotion in Changes than Jim Butcher generally puts into his writing, as well. The writing and the action is always well done, and I believe there may have been more humorous moments in Changes than I'm used to seeing in a Dresden book. There were several laugh-out-loud moments, not just the smirk and chuckle you feel when Harry's smart mouth takes on a mind of it's own.

Here is the blurb:
Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden's lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.
Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it-against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry's not fighting to save the world...
He's fighting to save his child.

I thought the basic plot given in the blurb would be enough to give us a good book. But there is so much more thrown into this book. So much baggage from previous books, so many plot points coming forward from previous books, and so much action to get it all taken care of.

I think emotion has been missing from a lot of the previous books. Dresden is a man, written by a man... and Harry Dresden in the past has just dealt with whatever crap was thrown at him without thinking too hard about it. This meant that other than a few books where he had to deal with his own baggage, or where Elaine or Susan made an appearance, the Dresden books have been mostly lacking in the emotion department. Changes gives us a whole lot of emotion - Susan is back, and there is a daughter. But it's more than that. Harry's got emotions about his friends now, too. Jim Butcher has grown as a writer, and Changes is the result of that growth, I think.

Book Rating: Changes:  10 of 10
Series Rating: Dresden Files: 9 of 10

Now I will warn about spoilers. Don't read below the graphic you see below of the book, as there are spoilers past the small Changes image.

Still here? Okay, either you've already read the book, or you haven't but really really want to know what happens. Either way... here goes.

Jim Butcher named book twelve Changes, and he wasn't kidding. Harry loses his office, his home, and the person he thought was the love of his life. He even lost the coat. And his lab. (Though, heat rises, so it's conceivable the circle may have survived. And the coin, of course.) But the point is, we are now all set for Harry's life to completely change, the Phoenix rising from the ashes, and then we get that ending. I mean, really? A while back we learned that Jim Butcher planned for about 20 books, but that was three years ago. Did he change his mind? All of that set up for everything to just... end? Nope, not buying it. Plus, there was news at one point of a contract for "unnamed books 12 and 13". Changes was 12, so he's under contract for another book. 

Besides. Mab isn't going to let him die. She hasn't gotten to play with him yet. Or, perhaps he will die and be brought back and that will somehow void the deal with Mab? No, I don't see that happening, I think we're going to have a book (or more) of him in Faerie before he figures out how to get out of the deal.  I think that at the end of the series Harry will either be Merlin, or he'll find a way to retire and have a family like Michael. Or, perhaps he'll pick up his grandfather's job at some point - though I really hope that doesn't happen.

At any rate, we've had a book entitled Summer Knight, perhaps the next book will be Winter Knight.

I'm pretty ticked that things didn't finally happen with Murphy. Talk about a huge tease.

What do we have to look forward to?
  • Harry will be a servant of Mab (unless dying lets him out of the deal), does that mean he will live in Faerie? At court? Or will he be allowed to keep a place in this world, as well? Will he be required to have sex with Mab on a regular basis? And what about the second, the crazy one waiting to be the Winter Queen. Ack. We all know Harry will eventually get out of the deal, but watching him figure out how to do that will be interesting. (Unless he gets out of it by dying, but Jim Butcher never lets anything happen that easy.)
  • Eventually I'm guessing that Maggie will play some sort of pivotal role, and Harry is going to wish he'd kept an eye on her. If she's of his blood then she's likely to have magic, and if she isn't properly trained she may do something to get the Wardens after her, too. Or, she may evade them and turn really bad. I'm guessing the former, and then history will repeat itself a third time.
  • Karrin and Harry? We were sooo close. It's got to happen eventually. Doesn't it?
  • Figuring out who is good and who is bad in the White Council, and getting that straigtened out. I also keep thinking that the Grey Council means more than just the middle of Black and White. We even got references to Tolkien in the book. And remember that Gandalf was "grey", it's a good color for a wizard, isn't it?
  • General balance in the universe, with the Red Vampires gone, won't that throw off the Universal Balance?
  • Thomas - is he going to stay as he is, or change back to "good", or get worse... or what? I think he's good, he wants to be good, but I'm thinking there will be a lot more challenge for him.
  • Karen is poised to take up the sword now - isn't she? That will leave one sword for Harry to find someone to wield.
  • Will Tilly be Dresden's new "cop" that he can go to? 
  • Something will have to be done about Rudolph, too.
  • The paranet is going to be bigger than we've been led to believe.
  • Molly is going to be on her own a lot if Harry is living in Faerie. Is she ready for that? Will the Wardens leave her alone or will they shadow her like they did Harry? 

There is an interview, here, where we're told there is a story in Side Jobs that is told from Murphy's point of view, and it picks up about 45 minutes after the end of Changes. So, maybe we won't have to wait a whole year to find out something about what happens next.

Twelve is one of those "numbers of completion", and there are a whole lot of numerological things about the number thirteen. I hope we get an idea of where things are going in Side Jobs. I don't want to wait a whole year.

Here are the books so far:

1 Storm Front (2000)
2 Fool Moon (2001)
3 Grave Peril (2001)
4 Summer Knight (2002)
5 Death Masks (2003)
6 Blood Rites (2004)
7 Dead Beat (2005)
8 Proven Guilty (2006)
9 White Night (2007)
10 Small Favor (April 2008)
11 Turn Coat (April 2009)
12 Changes (April 2010)


  1. The Dresden Files just gets better and better, doesn't it? At the end of this book, I was like "WHAT?!", but my friends who also read the series are a bit behind, so I've never been able to discuss the ending of the book with anyone.

  2. Having some time to think about this since reading the book, I have one more idea I'm kicking around in my head. So many belief systems have the idea of dying and then coming back, and that this is a requirement for their spiritual leaders. So are we going to see Harry as some sort of Guru? If he actually, truly, dies... will he have some sort of religious experience that will change him?

    Hopefully some of those questions will be answered when Side Jobs comes out... just seven more weeks to wait.