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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Dresden Files: Proven Guilty

Reviewed: October 22, 2008
By: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc Books
496 pages, $10.99

The White Council that rules all human magic users on earth finally had to stop mistrusting Harry Dresden and trust him with the duties of a Warden. He was, after all, one of the most successful of all their number in the conflict they had recently entered against the Red Court vampires, and they couldn’t do without his knowledge and abilities.

Of course, they might not have been so eager had they know that Harry’s half-brother was a White Court vampire and that Harry himself had recently become infected with a small piece of the of the soul of a fallen angel.

Harry himself was less than keen on his new role, especially since one of his first duties was a witness to the execution of a untutored young magician who had used his powers to compel the obedience of certain of his high school classmates. Such acts destroy the victims and warp the user, and are punishable by death. For the White Council ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Harry is assigned to investigate the occurance of acts of Black Magic in the Chicago region, and it seems or a time that these acts are connected to a series of disastrous manifestations taking place at a horror film convention. Imagine fears of an audience suddenly causing some of the nastiest monsters ever screened to walk off their screens and start doing what comes naturally.

This, however, is not the Black Magic Harry was tasked to stop. That comes from another source altogether, being the unwitting and completely well intended interventions of the daughter of one of Harry’s staunchest allies, Michael Carpenter, who happens to be Knight of the Lord. It turns out that Michael’s wife, Charity, has some surprises in her past and that she has passed them on to Molly.

For Harry this presents a serious problem. Molly has essentially done just what the young wizard at the beginning of the novel did, and could face the same automatic fate if the Council finds out.

If only that were all that was going on, Harry might have been able to handle it more easily, but Harry’s last name might as well be Murphy the way his luck seems to run. Once a story begins, these novels have the breakneck pace of an early Alistair Maclean thriller, with more plot twists and turns that average and a time span that usually only involves a few days.

What complicates Harry’s problems and the war with the vampires still more is that the Fairy Queen, Mab, ruler of a large portion of that otherworldly dimension that Harry refers to as the Nevernever, seems to have gone mad and is intent on causing maximum damage in both worlds.

Harry becomes the key player in several conflicts that weave their way into the substance of this story, and in spite of his self-deprecating personal narrative, the reactions of other people around indicate that he is increasingly being seen as a Power To Be Reckoned With.

Butcher has indicated that he has a definite end point in mind for this series, and the cliffhanger aspect of each novel is that the reader is left wondering just what Harry is turning into and what he will ultimately become. It’s a mystery that keeps me coming back, and I haven't been disappointed yet.

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