White Night, by Jim Butcher (Dresden #9)

  • TITLE: White Knight (The Dresden Files #9)
  • AUTHOR: Jim Butcher
  • PUBLICATION DATE: April 3rd 2007
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit (UK)

White Night, the ninth book in the Dresden Files series, really begins to step up the game. The plot is tight, with every detail accounted for, and the delivery is slick and smooth and expertly crafted. There are very few faults to pick at with White Night, actually, which sees the series return to the prior form of the exceptional Summer Knight, and more recently, the thrilling Proven Guilty. It’s difficult to say that White Night is the best Dresden I’ve read yet, because I still hold both Blood Rites and Summer Knight in very high regard—but there was just something about White Night that really packed a punch.

Maybe it’s Harry’s deepening relationship with his apprentice, or perhaps the devilishly good machinations and internal politics of the Vampire Courts (guess which one I’m talking about here?). Perhaps it’s Murphy’s increasingly extended roles, or Thomas’ regular airtime. It could be the constant questioning of good and evil, friendship and trust, and free-will. Either way: Dresden number nine is way up there. It’s a damn good book.

There’s a killer in Chicago, and not only is he targeting women with “talent” (magically speaking)—which of course, goes down a treat with Harry—he’s also sowing seeds of distrust within the wizarding community. Distrust towards the Wardens. Sure, Harry can understand that, but now that he’s a Warden, he’s allowed to take it all the more personally. Especially when it seems someone close to him is being framed for the murders; murders, which bear a striking resemblance to suicides, and therefore have naturally been dismissed by the mortal authorities.

Perhaps the best part about White Night is that none of it is predictable, to a point. The plot is very tight and extremely well-planned, and nothing is revealed before its time. It’s a striking example of just how to write a good whodunit/mystery novel, with all the usual added flavourings common to both Dresden and urban fantasy, and since Storm Front it seems like it’s been a while since we really had a taste of the whodunit setup. It was nice to go back to that, and it’s brilliant that Butcher mixes up the styling, themes and plot-presentation each book, as it’s pretty much what makes each Dresden novel different—and keeps us interested.

In many ways, White Night felt like a calm before the storm in regards to the larger plot of the series: some big stuff went down, Harry likely made a whole host of new enemies, and one big bad guy returned from the woodwork. The sort of stuff that happened here isn’t the kind Harry will be able to shrug off, and certainly not to the Council, either: people are going to want answers.

Ramirez has become a massively important character, and—thank gods!—Harry finally has some wizarding backup, and doesn’t have to go toe-to-toe with all the big nasties of the Nevernever, etc, by himself. Having another Warden on his team has strengthened Harry and the delivery of the story. Instead of getting Harry into far-fetched situations that he only escapes through either the most hare-brained of schemes, or by sheer dumb luck, Butcher’s allowed Harry to still get into far-fetched situations, but he’s given him someone to watch his back and build up a rapport with. His character has been steadily growing since Dead Beat and he’s a good, strong edition to the cast.

Standing at a point where I’m closer to the end—read as, up-to-date—of the series, it really feels as though I’m reading a long-standing series, that keeps improving book-by-book, except for the exception of Dead Beat, which I’ve already admitted I thought was a disappointment. The Dresden Files are a very new thing to me, I only started reading them in August 2011, and from the perspective of a brand new fan, the series is definitely the single thing that piqued my interest in urban fantasy novels. I doubt I’ll be moving onto another series soon—mainly because I wouldn’t know what to read—since I tend to alternate between Dresden catch-up, and my regular epic fantasy reads.

White Night was the book that really made me go “wow”. Not because it’s better than the others, but because we’re on book nine, and Butcher’s still got it. The pace is there, the interest is there, and the plot is certainly still there—in fact, it’s growing by the second. At this point, you begin to wonder if Butcher had the whole series planned out, precisely, from day one. And you know what? With how expertly Butcher rocks this gig, I wouldn’t be surprised.

White Night was an excellent page-turner and definitely one of the most exciting Dresden instalments yet. Sheer brilliance on a page.

5/5

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