Thursday, May 27, 2010

I just finished reading the latest Harry Dresden novel, Changes. That's several hours I won't get back again.

What the Sam Hill was that supposed to be?

It was like a book version of a bad sequel to an action movie.

SPOILERS ... for those who haven't gotten this far in the series but not for this book.
So much action and yet I didn't care about it. I got the idea that author Jim Butcher didn't care either and was forcing the action to have to avoid actually thinking about character development or plot.

I have occasionally wondered if I was getting tired of the series and then something would happen that would reignite my interest such as Molly becoming Harry's apprentice or the rise of the Gray Council. This was just one damned thing after another (literally) with Harry calling in one favor after another.

And yet I didn't care.

As for the ending ... what the Sam Hill was that supposed to be?

This book wasn't as disappointing as Blackout (it would have to be monumentally horrible to match that), but it was a big mess nonetheless.


  1. Well, heck. And I really enjoyed the book just before this one. I only read Jim Butcher in paperback, so there was no chance of my paying hardback prices for it, but I was looking forward to getting it later.

  2. On the otherhand, I used to feel that way about Steven Brust's book Teckla; which, as it turns it, is the hinge of the entire series. It's not a pleasant read, but it's key.

  3. I liked Blackout, but was ticked off to be left hanging at the end.

    I did like her other book (about the plague) better, though.

    I stop reading a book after a few chapters if I don't like it. I am impressed with your patience. Or masochism. :)

  4. I agree with Will. Teckla is a good analogy. Harry's had this coming for some time. In terms of a hard-fought supernatural war, he's gotten off lightly for a long time, starting off as a private but ending up as a general or colonel. I don't like Changes nearly as much as many others, but I think it was necessary for what is to come. I constantly kept thinking about the saying: if you want to test a person's character, give him adversity; but if you want to see his soul, give him power. The end was a shock, but I think it may give Harry a needed out for his contracted obligation.

    Memphis, TN

  5. I didn't mind the ending actually. I didn't even mind the actual concept overall.

    Here's the thing: it was like the third X-Men movie. Assuming that you already knew all the characters, lots of explosions, very little story arc except one main goal ... throwing every special effect except the kitchen sink at the reader. It could have been a well told tale and still had most of the main elements and changed the big picture. Butcher's done that before. But this was just shoddy story telling to me. I felt as if he had a contract he had to fulfill so he just didn't care.

  6. CF - only for Connie Willis would I make such a sacrifice. :-)

  7. Julie,I think you really hit the nail on the head with that comment. It almost felt like a reunion episode. "Look! Here's this character! And this one! And we'll make a call to this character just so she makes an official appearance! And..."

    I do think this book was a set-up for the book to come. I just hope it pays off...

  8. Well, I liked it! I got started on Butcher last fall by picking up the audio book of Presumed Guilty, so obviously I didn't begin at the beginning. But by now I've read all of the Jim Butcher that I can find, and I think that the action in Changes is completely foreshadowed in the previous books. It reminds me of what John C. Wright says he did in the first part of the Golden Age series: get the protagonist into absolutely the worst situation that you can imagine for him and then see what happens!

    However, part of the fun of series fiction is the recurrence of characters and the familiar settings. This does make me wonder whether Butcher can pull off the next book. We shall see.