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    Review of SMALL FAVOR by Jim Butcher (see his blog)


    Roc, April 2008

    Harry Dresden has his problems with the White Council, problems with Chicago gangster Marcone, problems with both the Winter Court of Seelie, but his biggest problems lately have been with the fallen-angel-haunted Denarius. What he doesn't expect is problems from the Summer Court, but when the Queen of the Winter Court calls in a favor--and the Summer Court sends its top enforcers to kill him, Harry realizes he's found the worst of all worlds--just about everyone is out to get him.

    The Winter Queen wants Harry to track down Marcone, who's been kidnapped in a huge display of magical power--and hellfire. Someone is messing with the accords, possibly trying to start a war, and Harry can guess the most likely candidates--the Denarius knights. The good news is, Harry can count on help from his friends Michael and Murphy--and from his young assistant, Molly. The bad news is that all of a sudden, none of them seem willing to trust him. And then there are bigger and bigger Gruffs coming after him.

    The Denarius Knights don't think small and it takes Harry time to piece through the clues and learn their ultimate goal. When he does, though, the usually unshakable Harry Dresden has a real concern--both for what they'll accomplish if they're successful, and for the fate of his young friend Ivy, the Archivist. Harry may not be perfect, but he'll give an awful lot to make sure nothing bad happens to her. Unfortunately for both of them, it's entirely possible that he'll end up giving an awful lot without helping her at all.

    Author Jim Butcher (see more reviews of fantasy by Butcher) continues his Dresden Files series with a fast-paced adventure. Dresden gets mangled by magic--and by physical force, attacked by just about every power around, gets his brain warped when he isn't looking, and generally stays about a half-inch ahead of his many pursuers through the course of the story. Once in a while this means that he can't wise-crack, but not often. Harry works with familiar sidekicks including cop Murphy, knight Michael Carpenter, Harry's half-brother (and vampire), Thomas, and others in what appears to be one hopeless battle after another. Fortunately, Harry is far from incapable of defending himself. Even more fortunately, his friends have their own powers and aren't afraid to use them.

    Harry makes a charming character partly because he doesn't mind mocking himself, partly because his friends so obviously care for him, and partly because his first response to trouble is to try to blow something up. We don't get quite the moral complexity Butcher has offered in some of his other recent Dresden Files stories, but that certainly doesn't keep SMALL FAVOR from being a completely enjoyable treat.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/26/08

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