This book surprised me, but not in a good way. I’m a fan of the Dresden Files. I’ve read and enjoyed all of the books. Harry Dresden has Permanent Resident status in my imagination. When I finished ‘Peace Talks’, which set up the action for ‘Battle Ground’ I was glad that I wouldn’t have to wait very long to read the next book. So, I’m surprised and disappointed to find that ‘Battle Ground’ is the first book of 2021 that I’m walking away from.
I’m sure there are many fans who’ll enjoy this book. It’s well-written and, for a fantasy novel involving the invasion of Chicago by a Titan and her armies of weird creature, it gives a realistic view of what urban warfare is like. But… for me, the heart has gone from this novel and from the series.
Perhaps the best way for me to explain that is just to share my reactions as I listened to the first eight hours and forty minutes of this book before setting it aside.
It seems that this book is what it says on the cover: a 943 minutes-long audiobook about a battle. Fortunately, Jim Butcher is an expert at this stuff.
He opens with an intense, up-close-and-personal, blood-in-the-water, fight between Harry and his crew and a Kraken in Lake Michigan.
Next he slows to set preparations in place, draw up battle lines, do a little bit of apex predator posturing and refresh memories of old friends and bitter enemies.
He lets the fear build as the city is attacked and the powerful huddle together.
Then, finally. he unleashes Dresden, not to take part in some decisive military action but to protect a child.
That’s how it’s done.
This is good but…
it’s like when you get a great dish of pasta and you dive in with gusto. The flavours light you up and you eat and eat until your body mutters ‘enough is as good as a feast‘, and ‘variety is the spice of life‘ and then shouts ‘FOR GOD’S SAKE, TAKE A BREATH‘ and you realise you’re less than halfway through the pasta.
After five hours of fighting, I’m wondering how much Battle I can eat.
I’m moving slowly with this because the tone is so funereal. One relentless battle against overwhelming odds set against a background of reflections on the need for sacrifice.
And now we’ve just had a pointless shooting. It better not do what I think it’s going to do or I’ll struggle to get through the next eight of hours of this.
Ok. I’m done. Done with this book and done with Harry Dresden. This has been nothing but a dirge from the beginning. Then it became filled with pointless death. One death, in particular, I can’t forgive Jim Butcher for, not just because of who he killed but because it was so random and pointless.
I’m sure Harry, at some great personal sacrifice, will win through in the end. I just don’t care any more.