COLD DAYS (Dresden Files #14)
Jim Butcher narr. James Marsters
Who would have thought a dozen or so years ago that the Harry Dresden of Storm Front would grow into the epic and powerful wizard of Cold Days? Not me, that's for sure! When we first met Harry he was the only practicing wizard in the Chicago phone book, subsisting on wizarding jobs here and there and a monthly stipend from the Chicago PD. His contact with the PD is Karin Murphy, who heads up the "woo-woo squad", an investigative arm looking into crimes that can't be explained by normal means. The first few books appeared to be romps through the supernatural world solving crimes with wizardly pyrotechnics. Harry is increasing his power and abilities, putting together a loyal band of allies and making enemies right and left. As his usual method of solving problems involves blowing things up and/or setting things on fire, the enemy part is not surprising.
In the course of the two books leading up to Cold Days Harry has lost everything but his allies and upset the balance of power in the supernatural world. He even lost his life for a while and was brought back by Mab, Queen of the Winter Court of the Fae. Mab has been pursuing Harry for years to take the position of Winter Knight, the Queen's Assassin. Harry has always resisted but when he needs a power boost he swears fealty. Mab, cold-hearted and megalomaniacal, is not one to let a little thing like death thwart her. After months of traditional physical therapy and a daily murder attempt by Mab, he is ready to make his debut as Winter Knight. His first assignment is to kill Maeve, Winter Lady and Mab's daughter! Not only is this impossible as Maeve is an immortal, but back in Chicago Harry has to save the world from a new and very nasty enemy- all in the space of roughly twenty-four hours.
His band of allies are all familiar figures, Karin, Harry's apprentice Molly Carpenter, his half-vampire brother,Thomas, and some folks who may or may not really be allies. Some old villians show up, intent on finally extracting revenge and keeping him from his missions. Plot twists and turns abound and by the book's end everything changes for Harry again. Harry's relationship with Karin, always "one step forward and two back" comes to a resolution of sorts.
I am always eager for a new installment of the Dresden Files and I think this may be Jim Butcher's best book yet. Long after I have gotten bored with other Urban Fantasy series, the Dresden Files remains the gold standard. I am impressed that in the course of writing about Harry, Butcher also managed to write another favorite series, the Codex Alera. Codex is over and lamented, but Harry goes on.
James Marsters has narrated thirteen of the fourteen books in the series and has become the voice of Harry Dresden for me. I prefer the audio to the print versions now, but I highly recommend them in either format.
RATING- 5 Stars