Peace Talks & Battle Ground

I remember discovering The Dresden Files back in 2008. I’d just gained my original Kindle, and I was looking for books to add to my new digital library. So, on January 23rd, 2008 (a shout out to Amazon orders for confirming that date) I purchased Storm Front and Harry Dresden captured my attention. I moved through the first nine available entries in this series and enjoyed each one. Over the next seven years, I savored every fresh installment of this wizard’s story. Unfortunately, after Skin Game, Jim Butcher had a lot going on in his life, which delayed Peace Talks release for five years. Thankfully for the fans of Harry Dresden, we received two novels this year, Peace Talks & Battle Ground.

Peace Talks

With this being the 20th anniversary of Storm Front, Jim Butcher had been dropping little extras on his site via Dresden Drops. Toward the end of march, the Peace Talks trailer arrived as one of those drops. The short video served its purpose, stoking my desire to get my hands on the book. With the combination of the clip and the information that emerged on the web, fans knew the story would focus on the supernatural world attempting to achieve some semblance of peace. But the mini movie teased Thomas’s imprisonment and impending dooms. It also promised Harry’s involvement in rescuing his brother as a representative from the Winter Court.

I’ve seen some reviews of for Peace Talks that agree with my buddy’s assessment, mainly Peace Talks and Battle Ground being the same story. I cannot stand authors doing that. A storyline should either be self-contained in a single novel or advertised from the outset that the narrative would take place over multiple volumes. However, upon finishing the Peace Talks I understand that complaint, but I disagree. It’s all about understanding the primary conflict of the story. The chief plot of Peace Talks centers on Thomas and how his actions affect the supernatural negotiations. The reason people assume Battle Ground is the conclusion is because they latch onto the Peace Talks’s subplot, the peace summit. While the arcs mingle, if readers focus on the central storyline and they can enjoy Peace Talks as a standalone novel.

Chief among the side threads flowing through the tapestry of Dresden’s latest installment highlights the rocky standing between him and the White Council. That relationship has never been on a stable footing, despite him being a Warden. Aside from Dresden always doing what he believes is the right thing which puts him at odds with certain members of the Senior Council, he’s made choices that make his allegiance questionable. He has an obligation to Mab as the Winter Knight, and he appears to be friendly with the Wight Court of vampires. Peace Talks pits those relationships against the ones with the White Council and his fellow Wardens.

Battle Ground

Because I was in the middle of another book, when Peace Talks came out, I didn’t finish the book until after Battle Ground’s release. Thankfully, it allowed me to roll right into the second Dresden book of the year. And it picks up where Peace Talks left off. While it was incredible that I did not have to wait for Battle Ground, I missed the trailer for the seventeenth book in the Dresden Files.

Despite having read the book, the official trailer got me pumped to re-read Battle Ground. From the opening sentence, Jim Butcher picks up the loose threads from Peace Talks and resumes weaving Dresden’s story. Over the course of the series, fans have been treated to some masterful displays of power by the various players in the supernatural world. But Battle Ground’s action puts everything done to this point to shame. Jim Butcher did an excellent job at guiding the events of the tale to keep the reader guessing.

I’m… going to have to play the cards really damned close to my chest, then.

If I were you, I’d hold them about three inches behind my sternum, just to be sure.

While they are part of an exchange from Skin Game, it pertains to how Jim Butcher revealed the plot’s twists to his audience. Despite being decent at spotting story line elements coming, there were surprises abound, both small and large. A fact that I’ve found consistently with each installment in The Dresden Files. The best part of the five-year delay is that we got the 16th and 17th novels in the same year. While I would have been okay waiting for a year or two, I’m glad we got both in the same year. And while people claim they should have been a single book, readers can enjoy each book independently of each other.