Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

Another Dresden Files book under my belt. Another one I feel like I only enjoyed a bit. I keep getting told they get better, and so I persevere, but if the next one isn't a whole lot better, I may be done. It's not like it's a chore to read these books. They go down quickly, and leave little aftertaste, except that slight bitter remnant of chauvinism that Harry and Butcher both seem to enjoy telling people to go fly a kite about.

What bugs me about that in particular, let's just get it out of the way up front, is that it's something that is always presented as "just how Harry is." But behaviour isn't immutable. You know you're kind of being an asshole? You could, you know, work on that. Instead of just deciding that if it's women, it works in their favour. (Sure it does, Harry. Sure it does.) It's like an incurable disease, if we're to believe these books. You catch The Chauvinism, you're a carrier for life.

Thank goodness I actually expect more from men than that.

Also, is Harry really saying that if the person who showed up on his doorstep begging desperately for help were, say, a decrepit old guy instead of a hot young chick, he would turf them to the curb? Now we're not just into chauvinism, we're smack into "is just generally a terrible human being." Luckily, we never have to find out, because, surprise! The Damsel in Distress is always a damsel. In distress. But still hot. Ooh, ooh! And often crazy! Crazy chicks are the hottest, amirite? Mental illness just makes you hotter!


On the other hand, I started to get some of what my husband tells me these books are actually good at, which is to have real consequences. That happens here, when a longer-term character gets changed, and it appears, maybe permanently. So that's something.

Other than that? We are introduced to the Champion of God, Michael, and I actually did like him quite a lot. He's a family man, he doesn't like it when Harry swears, and quite frankly, he's damn interesting. I'd like to hear more about how he lives in the world and interacts with it, because the little we see is intriguing.

Ghosts are rising all over Chicago, being driven mad by forces unknown. Vampires are making a move too. Are these things connected? Is Harry a wizard?

Harry gets beaten up a lot, and that would be a nice way of showing his vulnerabilities if I kind of didn't want him to get beat up. Man, Paul Blackthorne did a better job of making Harry likeable than the page does. He's very whiny at the moment.

Seriously, one more book. If this doesn't pick up, I don't know if I care how much better it gets. It can just pass me by.


  1. I've been told the same thing, many times! One friend tells me that there is long-term improvement and character/relationship development on that front, which is great and all, but these books were still written as-is and I have a hard time wanting to go forward with him as he is. It's a real slap in the face.

    I'm only on book 2, though, and I've been listening to the audiobooks, which I think makes things a bit more tolerable to me; it's easier to hear the character as an individual, rather than as the voice of the author. I don't mind a sexist character, as long as the author is on my side. I don't think Jim Butcher is, though.

    1. Yeah, I try not to conflate the opinions of a character with the opinions of an author, but in this case, it does feel like it goes beyond just Harry. It's difficult.

  2. For what it's worth, Summer Knight, the next book, is what cemented the series as something to keep reading for me. The introduction of the faerie courts broadens the Dresdenverse in a way more pedestrian supernatural creatures like werewolves and vampires couldn't.

    (Yeah, I'm a supernatural creature snob.)

    None of that helps the portrayal of gender, of course, which is the most problematic aspect of the series. Harry doesn't get much better. Some of the women's roles expand though. One of the pleasures of the series is watching Molly grow up and learn how to handle things on her own. Similarly, Murphy's ability to cope with the supernatural situation in Chicago greatly develops, and it’s interesting to see her not even batting an eye these days as Harry runs down the latest threat.

    1. I definitely agree I felt a transition int he series after Summer Knight!

    2. I definitely agree I felt a transition int he series after Summer Knight!

  3. Harry is a 14 year old boy's idea of a superhero. That's his iconic nature. No matter how much everything else changes, no matter what evidence he's presented with to the contrary, he clings to his sexism and teenager views on love, duty and justice.

    I don't recall it being nearly as much of an issue with his other series (Codex Alera), but it's there, too, I think. So, yeah, some of it is Butcher.

    I stopped my audiobook reread because especially early Harry is just insufferable in ways that are clearly supposed to be endearing.

  4. The beginning books were 'meh' for me until Dead Beat, which was good enough for me to buy. But eventually I gave up the series again, so take that for what its worth.