It has been over two years since we received a new Harry Dresden novel from Jim Butcher. Given the length of time that we had to wait for a new book, readers could only have high expectations for the next book in a serious. Thankfully, Peace Talks is completely worth that wait.
I love how Mr. Butcher eases us back into Dresden’s world. He balances telling his story along with reminding readers of the key players and their relationships with Harry. Even better, we get to see some of what Harry has been doing in the time away as well. His relationship with his daughter and his experiences as a father are particularly poignant, as is his amazement that he has Karen as his girlfriend.
The thing that strikes me the most about Peace Talks is that I feel like we are getting the chance to see Harry as a person rather than Harry the wizard. Not only do we see his careful protectiveness towards his daughter, but also most of the novel shows him choosing family over duty. This is a man who values family above all else and who is willing to turn friends into enemies because of this.
Between Karen and Maggie, his interactions with Butters and Michael, as well as his choices surrounding Thomas, we see Harry as happy and content as we have ever seen him. As the situation turns sour, his determination to protect that happiness impacts the choices he makes. At the same time, this Harry is not the same Harry from the first few books. He most definitely is wiser and more cautious in his actions, which shows that he learned his lessons well.
Peace Talks is not the most action-packed of novels, but I believe that is a deliberate choice by Mr. Butcher. For one, the slower pace allows us to remember everything Harry faced over the course of the first fifteen books. Secondly, it highlights the physical, emotional, and psychological changes Harry incurred during those books. Lastly, the slower pace emphasizes everything Harry now values above all else and hints at just what he is willing to do to protect his part of the world he holds most dear. As we enter the last portion of the whole series, I suspect this last point will become even more salient.
At first, it feels unusual that Peace Talks ends without a major battle, one hell of a cliffhanger, and a story very much left untold. However, it does explain why Penguin released the next book a mere two months after this one. One could argue that Peace Talks is nothing more than the first half of a two-part story, which is okay. I enjoyed the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with Harry and friends and appreciated the lack of constant action. Peace Talks is much more cerebral a story than past ones, and I like that. It also means that the next book should make up for the missing action.