After a longer than usual gap Harry Dresden returned this year in not one, but two, books. Well… kind of. The reality is that Peace Talks and Battle Ground are really one book that got too long for the publisher and so it got split. At a guess this lengthened the writing process as there would have been some rework to try and create a division and narrative for both books.
It didn’t entirely work which is why I didn’t review until I’ve had the opportunity to read both books. By itself Peace Talks does just feel like a set up, with Battle Ground being the pay off. As a result I found the first half to be a bit of a drag until it all started kicking off towards the end, setting up the events that would shift Harry’s world again in Battle Ground.
It’s hard to talk about these books without spoilers – these are book 16 and 17 in a series after all – but I’ll give it a go!
There are peace talks between the Fomor (bad guys) and the Accorded nations and Harry is having to act as Emissary to the Winter Court of the Fae, balancing this with his duties to the White Council of Mages. He’s not really trusted by anyone anymore and this is made worse when his brother Thomas Raith (vampire) acts in a way that jeopardises the peace process and his life. Harry’s actions in working with Lara Raith to aid their shared half-brother nearly results in disaster when at the same time the Fomor betray the talks and threaten humanity with the Titan Ethniu.
Peace Talks ends with nothing resolved and moves us straight into Battle Ground where a war for humanity takes place on the streets of Chicago breaking the masquerade as it’s hard to hide mass killings, monsters, and magic from an entire city. The non-stop action sees all the major players in Dresden Files engaged in complex plots to trap Ethniu – Harry making use of magical super weapons he got from Hades to assist and a massive escalation in his grasp of the powers of Winter. And it’s a war so there are people who don’t come out the other side alive – some of those being a shock because Jim didn’t shy away from the pointless death, the one who died because another human was an idiot rather than during the fight.
By the end of the book everything has changed again. Harry is under threat of death from the White Council, some people are scared he’s become a monster of the Winter Fae, he’s being pushed into an alliance with the White Court, and we have some newly identified bad guys (one maybe not so bad?).
So, how was it?
With the split in books I think Peace Talks dragged a bit too much. At the same time Battle Ground was non-stop and a great action adventure. There’s good work in altering the direction of the story and setting up the next set of books in the series but it’s a shame some characters had to die to get there. There are times when I just wish people would talk to each other, but given the events for once it felt realistic that they didn’t – there was a lack of trust and fear involved. It’s partly why I loved the little domestic bit with the Carpenter family – Molly still not having told her parents she’s the Winter Lady so now part of the Fae – it was handled beautifully and was one of the few bits of light in the story but showed how fear can get in the way of the truth. I’m also looking forward to the next book to see how Harry and Lara work things out, and to see what happens with Chicago now.
Rating – 3.5 for Peace Talks, 4.5 for Battle Ground – for an average of 4 stars