Dresden Files #4: Summer Knight
Reviewed: May 10, 2007
By: Jim Butcher
371 pages, $10.99
>I’m breaking a sort of unwritten rule
here. It is just a little too soon for me to be returning to this series.
My excuse is that I’ve just finished watching the 13 episodes of The Dresden
Files on the Space Channel and I wanted to read another of the books to
see just how close the show had come to the writing.
>The answer is somewhere between “sort
of” and “not very”, but the differences are in the details rather than in
the spirit of the series. We still have Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden,
named after three famous stage magicians by his father, who was a lesser light
in the same category. Harry’s difference is that, in addition to having been
trained by his dad, he is also an actual wizard, one who is looked on as bad
news by the Council, which feels that his last adventure has stirred up some
bad blood (vampires) that he ought to be punished for.
>Judged by the Council, Harry has a
trial by ordeal of sorts to undergo. What no one realizes is that this is
a bigger danger than it seems. The mystic knight who serves the Fairie Queen
of Summer has been killed. The Winter Queen is the obvious suspect, and she
has acquired Harry’s bond from his Fairie Godmother (no kidding - and she’s
not nice either) in order to force him to find out who really did it.
>On his success rides the fate of the
world, for a battle between Winter and Summer will make Global Warming seem
like a mild temperature inversion. The potential danger and the struggle has
a cosmic significance.
>Nothing like this would ever have happened
in the TV series, where Harry is sort of like Jim Rockford with a magic hockey
stick, helping the local police solve X-files type crimes that don’t make
sense to anyone without a bit of magic in them.
>Butcher has upped the mystic ante in
each of the books I’ve read so far, whereas TV Harry stays at about the same
level of power and deals with much smaller issues - about the size of things
you can solve in a 45 minute weekly show. If the program does get renewed
I imagine it might have longer story arcs, a bit like those on Buffy,
Angel, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, the 4400 or Lost,
but that remains to be seen.
>The folks involved in this series have
quite a bit of TV cred, and it’s just surprising how many of them can trace
their lineage back to one or another of the incarnations of Star Trek.
>Summer Knight is, on the one hand, a simple murder mystery while, on the other,
it is a supernatural struggle. I felt that the two parts of the story meshed
fairly well. It certainly kept me refreshed during my downtime during a recent
trip to the city on school business.
>Apparently these books are also available
as audio-books, read by James Marsters, the actor originally approached to
play the part of Harry. Marsters made bit villain, Spike, a continuing major
character on both Buffy and Angel, and last year played the villain Brainiac
on Smallville. He declined moving to Canada to take on the role, and so it
fell to Brit actor, Paul Blackthorne. I find it amusing that Marsters had
to acquire a British accent to play Spike and that Blackthorne has to shed
his to play Harry.
>I’ve enjoyed both versions of the character
and expect/hope to see more, though I probably won’t mention him here again
for a while.