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The Story so Far
So if the title weren't a big enough clue, the fact that the cover of Jim Butcher's Changes depicts Harry somewhere other than his beloved Chicago makes it clear that the latest entry in the Dresden Files series is, yes, a game-changer for Chicago's only professional wizard, Harry Dresden.
Over the past eleven books, we've come to know Harry. He lives in a basement apartment, with his dog, Mouse, and his cat, Mister. He's got good friends: Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD, Waldo Butters, the polka-loving medical examiner, Michael Carpenter, retired Knight of the Cross. He's got frenemies, like mobster "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone, and his faerie godmother, the Leanansidhe. And full-on enemies, like Nicodemus, the leader of the Order of the Blackened Denarius, and the vampire duchess Arianna Ortega.
But Changes takes everything you thought you knew about Harry and his world and turns it upside down. Truths will be revealed. Life changing decisions will be made. And a lot of stuff gets blown up. Take it from us, you will not want to miss this one.
I answered the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, "They've taken our daughter."
I sat there for a long five count, swallowed, and said, "Um. What?"
"You heard me, Harry," Susan said gently.
"Oh," I said. "Um."
"The line isn't secure," she said. "I'll be in town tonight. We can talk then."
"Yeah," I said. "Okay."
"Harry…" she said. "I'm not…I never wanted to…" She cut the words off with an impatient sigh. I heard a voice over the loudspeaker in the background, saying something in Spanish. "We'll have time for that later. The plane is boarding. I've got to go. About twelve hours."
"Okay," I said. "I'll…I'll be here."
She hesitated, as if about to say something else, but then she hung up.
I sat there with the phone against my ear. After a while, it started making that double-speed busy-signal noise.
She said our daughter.
I hung the phone up. Or tried. I missed the base. The receiver clattered to the floor.
Mouse, my big, shaggy grey dog, rose up from his usual napping spot in the tiny kitchenette my basement apartment boasted, and came trotting over to sit down at my feet, staring up at me with dark, worried doggy eyes. After a moment, he made a little huffing sound, then carefully picked the receiver up in his jaws and settled it onto the base. Then he went back to staring worriedly at me.
"I…" I paused, trying to get my head around the concept. "I…I might have a child."
Mouse made an uncertain, high-pitched noise.
"Yeah. How do you think I feel?" I stared at the far wall. Then I stood up and reached for my coat. "I…think I need a drink," I said. I nodded, focusing on nothing. "Yeah. Something like this…yeah."
Mouse made a distressed noise and rose.
"Sure," I told him. "You can come. Hell, maybe you can drive me home or something."
I got honked at a lot on the way to McAnally's. I didn't care. I made it without crashing into anyone. That's the important thing, right? I pulled my battered, trusty old Volkswagen Bug over into the little parking lot next to Mac's place. I started inside.
Mouse made a whuffing sound.
I looked over my shoulder. I'd left the car door open. The big dog nosed it closed.
"Thanks," I said.
We went into the pub.
Mac's place looks like Cheers after a mild apocalypse. There are thirteen wooden pillars irregularly spaced around the room, holding up the roof. They're all carved with scenes of Old World fairy tales, some of them amusing, more of them sinister. There are thirteen ceiling fans spinning lazily throughout the place, and the irregularly shaped, polished wooden bar has thirteen stools. There are thirteen tables in the room, placed in no specific pattern.
"There're a lot of thirteens in here," I said to myself.
It was about two thirty in the afternoon. No one was in the pub except for me and the dog—oh, and Mac. Mac is a man of medium height and medium build, with thick, bony wrists and a shining smooth pate that never showed signs of growing in. He could be anywhere between thirty and fifty and, as always, he was wearing a spotless white apron.
Mouse stared intently at Mac for a moment. Then he abruptly sat down in the entryway at the top of the little stairs, turned around once, and settled down by the door, his chin on his paws.
Mac glanced toward us. "Harry."
I shambled over to the bar.
Mac produced a bottle of one of his microbrews, but I shook my head. "Um. I'd say, 'Whiskey, Mac,' but I don't know if you have any whiskey. I need something strong, I think."
Mac raised his eyebrows and blinked at me.
You've got to know the guy. He was practically screaming.
But he poured me a drink of something light gold in a little glass, and I drank it. It burned. I wheezed a little, and then tapped a finger next to the glass.
Mac refilled it, frowning at me.
I drank the second glass more slowly. It still hurt going down. The pain gave me something to focus on. Thoughts started to coagulate around it, and then to crystallize into definite shape.
Susan had called me. She was on the way.
And we had a child.
And she had never told me.
Susan had been a reporter for a yellow rag that covered supernatural news. Most of the people who worked there thought they were publishing fiction, but Susan had clued in to the supernatural world on her own, and we'd crossed trails and verbal swords several times before we'd gotten together. We hadn't been together a terribly long time—a little less than two years. We were both young and we made each other happy.
Maybe I should have known better. If you don't stand on the sidelines and ignore the world around you, sooner or later you make enemies. One of mine, a vampire named Bianca, had abducted Susan and infected her with the blood thirst of the Red Court. Susan hadn't gone all the way over—but if she ever lost control of herself, ever took another's lifeblood, she would.
She left me, afraid that if she didn't, I'd be the kill that turned her into a monster, and set out into the world to find some way to cope.
I told myself that she had good reason to do so, but reason and heartbreak don't speak the same language. I'd never really forgiven myself for what had happened to her. I guess reason and guilt don't speak the same language, either.
It was probably a damned good thing I had gone into shock, because I could feel emotions that were stirring somewhere deep inside me, gathering power like a storm far out to sea. I couldn't see them. I could only feel their effects, but it was enough to know that whatever was rising inside me was potent. Violent. Dangerous. Mindless rage got people killed every day. But for me, it might be worse.
I'm a professional wizard.
I can make a lot more things happen than most people.
Magic and emotions are tied up inextricably. I've been in battle before, and felt the terror and rage of that kind of place, where it's a fight just to think clearly through the simplest problems. I'd used my magic in those kinds of volatile circumstances—and a few times, I'd seen it run wild as a result. When most people lose control of their anger, someone gets hurt. Maybe someone even gets killed. When it happens to a wizard, insurance companies go broke and there's reconstruction afterward.
What was stirring in me now made those previous feelings of battle rage seem like anemic kittens.
"I've got to talk to someone," I heard myself say quietly. "Someone with some objectivity, perspective. I've got to get my head straight before things go to hell."
Mac leaned on the bar and looked at me.
I cradled the glass in my hand and said quietly, "You remember Susan Rodriguez?"
"She says that someone took our daughter. She says she'll be here late tonight."
Mac inhaled and exhaled slowly. Then he picked up the bottle and poured himself a shot. He sipped at it.
"I loved her," I said. "Maybe love her still. And she didn't tell me."
"She could be lying."
"I've been used before. And I'm a sucker for a girl."
"Yes," he said.
I gave him an even look. He smiled slightly.
"She'd be…six? Seven?" I shook my head. "I can't even do the math right now."
Mac pursed his lips. "Hard thing."
I finished the second glass. Some of the sharper edges had gotten softer. Mac touched a finger to the bottle, watching me. I shook my head.
"She could be lying to me," I said quietly. "If she's not…then…"
Mac closed his eyes briefly and nodded.
"Then there's this little girl in trouble," I said. I felt my jaw clench, and the storm inside me threatened to come boiling up. I pushed it down. "My little girl."
He nodded again.
"Don't know if I ever told you," I said. "I was an orphan."
Mac watched me silently.
"There were times when…when it was bad. When I wanted someone to come save me. I wished for it so hard. Dreaming of…of not being alone. And when someone finally did come, he turned out to be the biggest monster of all." I shook my head. "I won't let that happen to my child."
Mac folded his arms on the bar and looked at me intently and said, in a resonant baritone. "You've got to be very careful, Harry."
I looked at him, shocked. He'd…used grammar.
"Something like this will test you like nothing else," Mac said. "You're going to find out who you are, Harry. You're going to find out which principles you'll stand by to your death—and which lines you'll cross." He took my empty glass away and said, "You're heading into the badlands. It'll be easy to get lost."
I watched him in stunned silence as he finished his drink. He grimaced, as though it hurt his throat on the way down. Maybe he'd strained his voice, using it so much.
I stared down at my hands for a moment. Then I said, "Steak sandwich. And something for the pooch."
He grunted in the affirmative and started cooking. He took his time about it, divining my intentions with a bartender's instincts. I didn't feel like eating, but I had a little time to kill while the buzz faded.
He put my sandwich down in front of me. Then he took a bowl with some bones and some meat out to Mouse, along with a bowl of water. I ate my sandwich and idly noted that Mac never carried food out to anyone. Guess he was a dog person.
I ate my sandwich slowly and paid Mac.
"Thanks," I said.
He nodded. "Luck."
I got up and headed back for the car. Mouse followed beside me, his eyes lifted, watching me to see what I would do.
I marshaled my thoughts. I had to be careful. I had to be wary. I had to keep my eyes open. I had to keep the storm inside me from exploding, because the only thing I knew for certain was that someone—maybe Susan, maybe my enemies—was trying to manipulate me.
Either way, Mac was right.
I was heading into the badlands.
Posted April 18, 2010
This book promises CHANGES and boy does Jim Butcher deliver. I found myself, as usual, laughing out loud at many parts of Changes: great snarky conversations, funny imagery, surprising turns of events... but it was the heartbreak and pain that Harry Dresden endures that had me aching. From moment one in this book it is clear that Harry is in for major upheaval and each event you think must surely be the last bit of destruction, the last loss he must endure, something tops it. As always, there are wonderful interactions with some of our favorite supporting characters: tiny but FIERCE Murphy, tragic and dangerous Thomas, Molly, Sanya, and great stuff with Lea, Mouse and of course Susan and Martin. This book is revelation after revelation and is incredibly thrilling. Another must read by Jim Butcher!
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2010
As a fan of all of Jim's work, this one was a let-down for me. I didn't enjoy the flow of this particular novel. I found the ending (with his daughter) predictable and the interactions between major characters lacking in spontaneity. The book's only redeeeming feature was the final moments, but even that leads me to believe that we are going to lose many of the charming things we love so much about this series.
I'm already missing the Fae, the Black Council, and the Denarians.
2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 13, 2013
J. Butcher develops his characters and plot so that you can read any of the Dresden Files books and enjoy it. However, to get a better perspective on all the characters and the continuing story lines, and to get a feel of the growth of Dresden himself, it is best to start with book one and read them sequentially. In the early books Dresden is brash, immature and not very likeable, but he is a product of his childhood. One wonders how he survives his adventures. Yet, he learns from his experiences and from the responsibilities that are thrust upon him and he evolves into a person you really like and want to succeed. J. Butcher does a wonderful job of weaving magic into the world we know. He also has a refreshing philosophical acceptance of religions and magic; weaving them both into significant roles in his stories. 'CHANGES' has wizards, a priest, knights of the cross, vampires, half vampires, fairy creatures, demi-gods, conventional weapons, magic, action, and plans that sometimes work but more often get derailed and require quick thinking and great magical feats to overcome the situation. If you want a fast paced magical fantasy to escape your everyday existence then 'CHANGES' is a good read.
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Posted November 6, 2013
One day Harry Dresden encounters a woman he hasn't seen for over 8 years. On that day, she informs him he is a father and their daughter is in danger. Then, he finds the ancient and powerful Red Court is preparing a lethal bloodline curse which will kill him and everyone in his family, including his half-brother, his grandfather and his daughter. Now, Harry must save himself and his family. But, a devastating injury tempts Harry into making a Deal with the Devil to save his daughter. What will he do? This is an excellent novel even though it sets a darker tone which brings forth the major plot arcs of the next novels in the series. A definite must read if you enjoy the series up to this point.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 6, 2013
Posted September 1, 2013
Posted July 31, 2013
This is who dunnit with supernatural urban fantasy. Great fun, nothing more, but the series actually gets better as it goes!
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Posted June 7, 2013
There are parts of this book that I expected to happen eventually. A subplot that was introduced early and had been slowly decaying as it limped along in the background is brought back into the spotlight. Not only is it made the central focus of the story, but it seems to have been finished off for all intents and purposes. I am curious to see how this will impact the supernatural world as a whole going forward.
Part of this book seems like a big trip down memory lane for the series. I want to say that 90-95% of the recurring characters from the previous books make an appearance, and the only major players that we don't see are ones that have been sidelined by events in the last couple of books. We even get to see Harry lead a large group of his allies into the climax. I figured that was going to happen at some point, but also thought it was likely to occur for the big showdown with the super villain group that's been built up for the past few books. I enjoyed what happened here to a point where this is going to be my measuring stick for the final conflict.
And even with all of this, he still has time to give us a small peek at some areas of the Dresden universe we haven't seen yet. I hope to see Vadderung and his associates expanded upon at some point in a future story.
Posted January 4, 2013
I have read all the Dresden Files and Jim Butcher continues to keep Harry active and interesting....and you anxious for another adventure!
This installment of Harry's saga brings some old characters back and keeps you in contact with the "regulars". And as always, there are some unexpected turns of events that keep you reading far into the night. Keep reading folks, and maybe get the Dresden Files #13 when you buy this one, since you'll want to keep going!
Posted December 26, 2012
Butcher has always brought Harry Dresden to life, exposing his inner thoughts, fears & struggles while also portraying wonderous & intense battles and exciting plot twists. With this book he takes it to a whole new level. The story marks a critical shift for Dresden, brilliantly closing the last chapter (of the series) and opening things up for the next. I've never felt more empathetic for a character in a novel than I did for Dresden in this latest masterpiece.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 17, 2012
Paperback/Urban Fantasy: This book is really good. Everything Harry didn't lose in Turn Coat, he loses in this book. And just when you think he can't lose anything else, BAM! Then, he can't lose anything, BAM, repeat...several more times. I see lots of peeps saying this is the best Dresden book. I still think the first book Storm Front is the best.
You know from the first line of the book what the situation is going to be. The only mystery is how Dresden is going to get there.
There are some funny parts including Mouse "talking" and Toot mouthing off about the reflection he saw in he pond. I actually had to reread the latter because it is so funny. I'm still loving some Molly and her maturing role.
Great book and great addition to the Dresden series.
Posted December 1, 2012
Posted December 1, 2012
Posted September 21, 2012
Harry goes farther down the road to the dark side, but he's able to pull his mind/body/soul back with out losing to many freinds,Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 20, 2012
Posted September 9, 2012
Posted April 22, 2012
Posted March 15, 2012
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Posted January 19, 2012
Readers of The Dresden Files know that all the titles are two words, related to the plot in some ironic way. Seeing a one-word title, the reader knows that this book is going to be different.
All of the reviews and plot summaries start with the surprise on the first page: Harry has a daughter with Susan Rodriguez. Her name is Maggie and she's been kidnapped. The plot twists and turns and looks like a tangled mess of yarn to the very end.
The end is heartbreaking - twice - and you'll want to have book 13, Ghost Story on hand when you've finished this one.
Posted January 13, 2012
I love the dresden series and this book did not disappoint. Lots to keep me entertained and I literally couldnt put it down. Read it in a day. Its almost like all the books have been preparing Harry for this book-this moment. I love all the characters in it and I feel Jim Butcher told the story very well. He left plenty of things about the characters out so in stories to come all those questions we had can be answered, like about mouse,Mab,Murphy and molly. What i really cant wait for is the book after Ghost Story so we can see the winter knight work his magic!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.