Battle Ground (The Dresden Files #17), by Jim Butcher

December 2, 2020

Battle Ground by Jim Butcher

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Wow, this was a huge let-down for me. I’ve never been the greatest Dresden fan but with Harry being a character one can relate to, I always found something to actually really like. Not so in this book.

Basically, we’re reading about a huge battle during which everyone and (sometimes literally) their dog makes an appearance – oftentimes just for the sake of appearing and showing that, yes, they still exist and Butcher hasn’t forgotten about them.

Unfortunately, as pitched as the battle must be, I never really “connected” with the story. Yes, all of Chicago and its inhabitants are at risk but I was rather indifferent about that.
I was even repelled by some aspects of the way the story is told, e. g. There are many places during which it gets overly gory for no reason at all. I actually tried to find a somewhat moderate part to quote here as an example but, alas, I failed. There is no example I could quote here with a clean conscience towards younger readers.

Fortunately, though, the good-natured trademark humour is still around, though:

»“Guys!” I said. “The pizza—all the pizza—is in danger!” That got their attention.«

So, yes, the small folks are around as well but even they – who sometimes played rather prominent roles in earlier books – feel like they only get a few “honourable mentions”. They’re not really in any way integrated into the story albeit the potential for that existed.

Yes, it’s still the Dresden Files but it feels like Butcher wrote himself into a corner from which he couldn’t really escape. The path he chose feels like that of a pubescent boy in a frenzy – because Butcher can rest assured I don’t care about Harry’s scrotum or the gore I mentioned before.
Over-the-top battles, feverishly written about and bringing in everyone doesn’t really endear the book to me either.

Nevertheless, Dresden Files – if you liked them so far, you might grind your teeth a bit while reading this book but you’ll probably still like it to some extent, like I do.

If you didn’t like Harry Dresden by now, after 16 books (“Battle Ground” being no. 17), this instalment won’t change your mind and you should probably abstain.

Let’s just hope that Jim Butcher will find his way back from epic megapolis-scale wars to what he did early on: Portraying the foremost wizard of Chicago, a deeply mixed character who tries to do “the right thing” to the best of his abilities. That’s what makes Harry relatable (despite the urban fantasy setting); that’s what makes Harry Harry.

»The real battle for your own soul isn’t about falling from a great height; it’s about descending, or not, one choice at a time.«

This holds true not “just” for souls but books as well…



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