Author: Jim Butcher
Narrator: James Marsters
Audiobook Length: 11 hours, 12 minutes
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“Now that his girlfriend has left him, professional wizard Harry Dresden can’t pay his rent and alienates his friends. He’s soon approached by the Winter Queen of Faerie with an offer he can’t refuse — all he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name. Soon, Harry finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case.”
Thoughts: There are some among Harry Dresden fans that state that the series truly takes off during book three. While I enjoyed Grave Peril, it does not hold a candle to Summer Knight. In fact, I dare say this fourth book in the series is my favorite so far. The tension is much more subtle than in previous books, and Harry has to use finesse and caution to be successful. Considering what he has done so far, all the battles and explosions and exclamations of “Fuego!”, it was a nice reprieve and proof that Harry can show restraint when necessary.
Another great change of pace was the focus on the Fae. Yet another book about vampires, rogue wizards, or werewolves would have been a bit too much. There is so much to the Never-Never that it is wonderful to see Butcher branch out among different supernatural creatures. The Fae, in Dresden’s world, are every bit as ruthless and cunning as one would expect and add an interesting dimension to Harry’s fate. Their power is less obvious and therefore more dangerous than anything Dresden has yet faced.
The reader also gets a greater glimpse at the White Council and Harry’s peers. There is obviously tension brewing between the Council and Harry. It promises to be a worthwhile storyline, and I cannot wait to see it all unfold. I am glad that Butcher is not rushing it, as I believe it is key to understanding Harry’s penchant for raw power and snark versus finesse and political savvy. Not that I mind his tendency to blast his way through a problem, but it does show that Harry has depth, a good thing to have in a main character of a such a long series.
I have to admit that my beloved James Marsters did not quite rock the audio as much as I expected/hoped. He is still the perfect Harry, but I was completely and utterly distracted by his noisy, flapping gums. You could literally hear them as he talked. I wanted to give him a glass of water to try to quiet them down a bit because it was a bit disgusting to hear. I am hoping it was just poor editing and not a burgeoning trend.
In spite of the issues with narration, Summer Knight is the best novel in the series so far. It is a far cry from the battles against werewolves or vampires, and the entire series is better for the change in direction. The reader also gets exposed to more of Harry’s mysterious past while the series slowly builds towards the penultimate battle in future novels. If anything, Summer Knight has made me fall in love with the series all over again.