Book Review: Jim Butcher’s Changes

Posted April 7, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jim Butcher’s Changes



Jim Butcher

It is part of the The Dresden Files #12 series and is a urban fantasy in Hardcover edition that was published by ROC on April 6, 2010 and has 438 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mean Streets, Side Jobs, Ghost Story, Dark and Stormy Knights, Aftertaste, Hex Appeal, Welcome to the Jungle, Dangerous Women, Storm Front, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Fool Moon, Cold Days, Skin Game, Blood Rites, Death Masks, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, Shadowed Souls

Twelfth in The Dresden Files urban fantasy series revolving around a private investigator who is also a wizard. Based in Chicago. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of The Dresden Files books on my website.

In 2010, Changes was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Paranormal Fantasy.

My Take

And it starts with the snark — thank you, god, ‘cause I do enjoy all the fun he pokes at American culture and human nature, lol. It’s Yoda, the “applause-o-meter”, Go, Go, Gadget, and The Wizard of Oz all rolled into one.

Y’know, Harry reminds me of Nelson DeMille’s John Corey. Neither of them respect authority. Both expect integrity from their superiors and rarely get it. Both are so full of snark that I’m surprised there’s any left for the rest of us. Hmmm, must be why I like them both, lol.

I can’t agree with prolonging a war, but I can’t agree with ignoring the plight of people or children simply because it’s not-in-my-backyard or they’re not of enough value to bother about. And the Council has some serious issues about its self-absorption. Maybe they need to hire Rudolph. He seems like their kind of guy. Smarmy, Out for himself. Which leads me to think of Lea. Some very interesting tidbits she’s dropping, such as all the protections she’s put in place. The freebie she gives up!? Lea? A freebie?? Whoa, you know it’s bad when Lea doesn’t bargain or something.

It’s about time Harry cottoned on to the lie that “ignorance is safety”. No matter how bad, it’s always better to have the information when you need to make decisions. As for Karrin. I didn’t like her in the first couple of stories, but once Harry let up on that whole “need to know” issue of his and let Murphy in on what’s behind the curtain, she’s really stepped up over and over, and it’s not different in Changes. And does she ever let Harry know it! She’ll back it up with Fidelacchius while Susan wields Amoracchius.

Okay, okay, that’s one way to slip away from the FBI, lol. It certainly keeps life interesting for Harry. Hmm, I could get to liking Agent Tilly. Anyone who reacts to Rudolph as he does deserves a second look. Terrorists …

Lea does have a point, and it’s one I’ve been asking myself. If Harry is supposed to be such a white-hot wizard, albeit still young, why does he only know one trick? And why can’t he control it any better? He certainly doesn’t seem to be putting any efforts into learning any control. I do like the sound of the gift Lea has been holding for Harry from his mother. It’s almost as good as a beam-me-up-Scotty! It definitely gives Harry a chance to confound Susan and Martin, lol, even if it does come with some terrifying “legs”.

Oh-mi-god. It’s too funny. Lea has been assigned to help Harry in his daughter’s rescue, and … and … oh, man, she has her own ideas of how to get the team to move fast. Gives us some insight into Mouse’s thought processes as well.

Again, what is Harry’s problem with Ebenezar’s role as the Blackstaff and killing the men who are attacking them? I just don’t get it. I could see the First Rule being circumvented if Ebenezar is running around killing people who aren’t ready to pull the trigger, but, um, these are men who’ll kill him and anyone with him. WTF?

“Polka will never die.”

The Story

A child. Harry has a daughter. A child, and she’s been kidnapped by the Red Court. You know Harry. He won’t kowtow to a bunch of vamps, and he may only have known of his daughter’s existence for a few hours, but he’ll move heaven and earth to save her. And it starts with a break-in at the Red Court’s Chicago headquarters while Rudolph is scheming behind Murphy’s back and IA is bugging her phones.

And Harry finds out how many friends he has when he needs to rescue his eight-year-old Maggie.

The Characters

Harry “Hoss” Dresden is an unorthodox wizard, a finder of lost things, and a Warden for the White Council. Mister is his huge, independent-minded cat while Mouse is his huge Temple/foo dog. The Blue Beetle is Harry’s banged-up, multi-colored VW. Bob the Skull is an Archive, much like Ivy, but with a tendency toward erotic literature and only has a spirit form. Margaret LaFey is Harry and Thomas’ mother, and she was an incredibly powerful wizard. Thomas is a half-brother and a White Court vampire. After the torturous events in Turn Coat, 11, Thomas has retreated.

Susan Rodriguez is the girlfriend he lost ten years ago, halfway, to the Red Court. The plain, dull, average-looking Martin is her partner. Both of them are members of the Fellowship of St. Giles, an organization “of the supernatural world’s outcasts and strays, many of them half vampires like Susan”. Think terrorist, and you’ll have it right. Maggie is the daughter Susan sent to live with strangers, the Mendozas, to keep her safe. Red vampires slaughtered the whole family to get to Maggie.

Sergeant Karrin Murphy with Special Investigations (SI), a division of the Chicago PD, is Harry’s best friend. Lieutenant John Stallings is still head of SI and supportive of Karrin; Rawlins is still her partner. The brown-nosing Detective Rudolph moved over to Internal Affairs and has it out for Karrin and Harry. Waldo Butters is a medical examiner on Harry’s side.

Special Agent Tilly with the FBI has been brought in. With a warrant to search Harry’s place.

Molly Carpenter is Harry’s apprentice, and she’s coming on. A little too much actually, she’s insisting on Harry eating more healthily. Her parents, Michael and Charity haven’t seen much of Harry since Turn Coat when Michael almost died. He now walks with the aid of a cane and can devote himself to building houses and enjoying his family. Father Forthill is a Roman Catholic priest in charge at St. Mary of the Angels church. Sanya is the other Knight of the Cross, well, the only one now that Michael has retired. Uriel is the Watchman, an archangel who can’t help.

The White Council of Wizards
The White Council is like a union for upper echelon wizards — the less-talented need not apply *eye roll*. The Senior Council is the governing body within this Council and is based in Edinburgh. Gregori Cristos, the newest council wizard, and Ebenezar McCoy are in the group meeting the duchess. The Merlin, Arthur Langtry, the current leader, is not up there nor are the rest of the Senior Council. Seems they can learn. Carlos Ramirez is the commanding Warden of the western United States and a friend of Harry’s. Warden Chandler, a.k.a., Steed, is the well-dressed one. It seems that the Black Council is in control. The Grey Council was coined by Ebenezar in Turn Coat and consists of wizards Harry and Ebenezar trust.

The original Merlin, yup, that Merlin, founded the original Council, wrote the Seven Laws of Magic, and supposedly won the wizards’ stronghold from a Daoine Sidhe lord. Wardens are the militant branch of the Council. Captain Anastasia Luccio, a former lover of Harry’s, is the commander of the Wardens. Wizard McPhee is on the old-fashioned switchboard.

The Archive is a twelve-year-old girl fated to hold all the knowledge the world has ever known. Harry calls her Ivy. Jared Kincaid is her “driver, bodyguard, cook, and all-around teddy bear”.

Gentleman Johnnie Marcone runs the criminal enterprises in Chicago; he and Harry have a sort of détente going on — he’ll help Harry as long as Harry’s actions lead to the kind of results Marcone wants. Sigrun Gard, a.k.a., the Chooser of the Slain, is a supernatural and a security consultant from Monoc Securities. Donar Vadderung is CEO of Monoc Securities — and he’s a god, Odin; his immediate secretaries are identical twins and completely lethal with no sense of humor. That’s it. Harry’s in trouble. Worse, Donar knows who Maggie is. The kenku are some kind of birdmen who owe Ebenezar a favor.

Steven Douglas, a.k.a., Stevie D, (he killed Torelli a few years back) was hired to do a hit on Harry. By Susan.

Mac runs a pub, McAnnally’s. A place where the supernatural can meet on neutral territory. We’ve never heard much about Mrs. Spunkelcreif, Harry’s little old landlady. I think she must be very tolerant to have allowed Harry to stay all this time. The Willoughbys are the upstairs neighbors.

The Leanansidhe, a.k.a., Lea, is Harry’s faerie godmother. No, she’s Winter; don’t be expectin’ no balls or princesses. Mab is the Queen of Air and Darkness for the Winter Court, and she’s been trying to get Harry to replace Lloyd Slate as her Winter Knight for years. It takes sex, and Mab broadcasts the act to all in Faerie. The Erlking is not one of Harry’s fans. A.k.a., the Lord of Goblins and leader of the Wild Hunt, he’s caught in his own words. Rafforut seems to be one of the Erlking’s advisors.

Major-General Toot-toot Minimus is the captain of the Za-Lord’s Guard. He’s also a minor fae whom Harry pays off with pizza every week.

The Red Court
The Red King, the Great Lord Kukulcan, is nuts with his own agenda, in every way you cannot imagine. Duchess Arianna, the widow of Paolo Ortega and daughter of the Red King, is a player with her own agenda, one that will use Maggie, Harry’s daughter. Now she’s ambassador to the White Council to sue for peace. You’ll never believe where the Court’s local HQ is located. Talk about insult! The Eebs are Esteban and Esmeralda Batiste, a pair of Red vampires who have gone around the twist. Martin claims they have “complementary insanities”. I think he’s right. The Ik’k’uox seems to be their pet. Priestess Almaya is human and one of their pets. The Lords of Outer Night are the second tier of power in the Red Court.

The Nevernever is a spirit world that exists in an alternate plane of existence, which touches at various points to our world and contains Faerie and the Ways.

The Cover & Title

The cover is metallic in its bit of silver and gold with a grim Harry wearing his signature duster and fedora, holding his staff and standing, looking back over his shoulder at the Mayan pyramid at Chichén Itzá in Mexico. Flying bats, torches flaring, and he’s surrounded by skulls. It ain’t promising.

The title is a portent of things to come, the Changes that are a’comin’.