• Well Red

Dresden and Peace...they just don't mesh together

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

Title: Peace Talks

Author: Jim Butcher

Published: 2020

Publisher: Orbit

Rating: ***.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Difficulty: Moderately easy

Series: Yes – book 16 in the Dresden Files

Pages: 352

Always spoiler free – HOWEVER this is a review for the 16th book in a long series, so I recommend you don’t read it if you are part way through the series or planning on reading the series

I’ve been a fan of Jim Butcher for over ten years, when I stumbled across his books in a bookshop (ahhh, the days before bookstagram!). I’ve been following the Dresden Files eagerly, buying the books almost as soon as they come out, and this one was no exception.

There’s something dependable about a Harry Dresden book. I like the character, supporting cast, and how he, the underdog, defeats the challenges facing him and saves the day. What I have personally found, however, is that the series peaked in Changes. I didn’t really enjoy Ghost Story, and from that point the books have felt like a push towards a grand finale in book twenty. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed them…but bring back Harry, solving simple mysteries in his blue beetle! (Yes, I know losing everything was supposed to be a catalyst for…this bit…but to me he’s been shaped more by the events included in Dead Beat to Changes than the last few books).

But let’s focus on Peace Talks. There’s lots of spoiler critique I want to give, but I’ll try and hold back! This book is clearly a set up towards the 17th (‘Battle Ground’ is being published in a few months’ time, so I wonder if Butcher didn’t start writing this, realise he had too much plot and split it. On the other hand, he could have planned it like this from the start!). Because it’s setting up a lot of plot points for the 17th it feels decidedly unfinished. A chief frustration is that there is no big reveal of who the big bads (who are out to get Harry through the book) are by the end of the book.

The ‘main’ plot line (I guess? I don’t know, there are a lot) includes a daring rescue. The action in this book doesn’t really stack up against bigger and better set pieces in the other novels, although there are quite a few. It’s funny, when writing this review all I remembered was the book being slow and my frustration at the plot but in reality, there are quite a few action scenes and at least one character revelation. All in all, the multiple plot lines just didn’t sing to me. They were either incomplete or felt rushed and irrelevant.

There is a sense of being in limbo at the end of this book. Butcher delights in Harry revealing a clever move at the end of the book, but without a complete conclusion to show this off, I am still confused by some of the actions characters took in this book. In short, my biggest issue is the lack of a conclusion. I’m expecting big things from number 17, tying all these loose plot points together.

If you have gotten this far in the series, and given the hope I have for the 17th, I would say read the book. I personally almost immediately pre-ordered 17 off the back of this (a clever sales tactic?!) which tells you that I’m still fully invested in Harry and his journey.

Well Red Reviews

Would I recommend this book? To those who are already reading the series – of course!

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