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A favor that will place Harry between a rock, a hard place, a nightmarish foe, and a terrifying ally. Harry soon finds himself completely outmatched and has to call in some favors of his own. The Knights of the Order of the Blackened Denarius are in town, and Harry needs the help of one of the two remaining Knights of the Cross to even hope to counter them.

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Not only that, but the Archive—the grand sum of all recorded human knowledge, condensed into a single being—is called in to help mediate the conflict. Playing the long game With the Denarians being in town, that means one of my most favorite literary villains of all time is present in Small Favor: Nicodemus is one of the few villains who has probably read the Evil Overlord List —heck, he probably would have contributed to it. He is fully capable of pulling off whatever it is he has envisioned. Which makes him an awesome character, and probably my favorite villain from The Dresden Files thus far.

The snark, it doth flow As has become pretty much standard fare for any installment in The Dresden Files , Small Favor is filled with snark, insouciance, and Harry mouthing off to the wrong person at the wrong time. He snarks off to those who could take his head off ten times over and not break a sweat. You know, like the guy who has dueled three Senior Council wizards—and killed all three of them.

But, this is Harry. And there were donuts involved. Small Favor contains a lot of the latter form of worldbuilding. There are simply too many characters and events referenced to make sense of it without having read the previous books. If you've forgotten what happened in earlier books, there are some decent summaries available online. While I enjoyed the book, it's pretty standard according to the Dresden Files formula. That is, we have a self-contained mystery that gets resolved by the end and we have tie-ins to the overall series arc.

We take a break in this one from the war between wizards and vampires that has been going on since about book 3, although the specter of the war does hang over our heroes a villain tempts Harry with an offer that would give him a lot of power relative to vampires, and Harry can't get a lot of help from his fellow wizards because they're spread pretty thin due to losses they've taken in the war.

I'm starting to see an even bigger picture than the war, which is interesting.

I'm excited to see where that goes. The background information we get here is not really centered on one aspect of the story. We learn more about the Denarians "fallen" beings in symbiotic magical relationships with humans; that's an oversimplification, though , more about the Knights of the Cross faith-fueled warriors; again, an oversimplification and hints about how they may be chosen, more about the Archive a little girl who's also a magical repository of human knowledge , among others.

We also meet a few new species of Fae -- Gruffs rather goatlike creatures associated with the Summer Court and Hobs sightless creatures associated with the Winter Court. And we learn a bit about yet another form of magic, soulfire, which contrasts with the Hellfire the Denarians employ. It's this last bit that Harry is left thinking about at the end of the book, and I have a feeling we'll learn a lot more about soulfire in upcoming books. Finally, if you'll remember from a previous volume, Queen Mab of the Winter Court was owed three favors by Harry. He's already repaid one and he's charged with the second one in this book.

One aspect seemed like a bit of an afterthought, that of Harry recognizing an area he hasn't been to before. This is given a name and an explanation near the end of the book. I'm fairly certain something is being set up for a later volume, so I'm willing to let it slide for now. However, I do think something could have been done to work it into the story a little better. There's not a whole lot to say about characterization. While we learn a bit more about Sanya a Knight of the Cross and the Archive, and while something we've learned about John Marcone in the past is reinforced he's the major crime lord in the Chicago area , we don't get to know the characters a whole lot better.

I'm not too upset about that, though. Harry's character develops more than I would have expected in some of the other recent books, and the first-person POV limits how well we can get to know secondary characters. Harry is, once again, under suspicion during part of this book, but that's not so unusual for him.

Because you're reading along in Harry's POV, you don't really notice that anything is out of the ordinary until someone else calls him on it. And then you find yourself thinking back and realizing yeah, the accusations make sense. It sounds like a lot is going on, but everything works pretty well together, all things considered.

Part of the problem is trying to condense all of these events and concepts into a paragraph or two. Spaced out over a whole book, trust me, it works.

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The setting is, once again, the Chicago area including some important events on an island in one of the Great Lakes. For the first time, an explanation is offered as to WHY so many supernatural things seem to be happening in Chicago.

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I hope this is developed further in future books. This time, it's winter, and a particularly nasty one at that. It seems to be snowing nearly all the time and there are questions as to whether Winter Court Fae are using the snow to further their purposes. It seems to me most of the characters would have a bit more trouble getting around in this kind of weather Thomas -- Harry's half-brother -- drives a Humvee and Michael -- another Knight of the Cross -- has a truck, but those are about the only practical vehicles I remember , but I guess the people of Chicago are used to nasty winters!

I don't think I've mentioned this in any of my previous reviews of this series, but there are a fair number of pop culture references in this series, overall. Some are pretty blatant some references to Tolkien's "The Two Towers" and others are subtler a character named Thomas uttering the phrase "Leper outcast unclean" -- there's a certain, completely unrelated book you'd have to have read to get that one. I haven't paid a lot of attention to this aspect of things before but as I read the next few books in the series, I'll be on the lookout.

One thing you can say about Jim Butcher is that he knows his genre very well, and he clearly enjoys it, and I like reading books by authors like that. The writing style is similar to before. While there are some humorous moments in this book I like what Harry did with a catnip toy, in particular , it has a serious tone and a somber ending. Once again, be prepared for adult themes nothing graphic, though , four-letter words, and plenty of violence, both conventional and magical.

There are at least three major confrontations in the second half of the book, with little time for rest between one and the next. This is pretty typical for a Dresden book -- the tension is great and you want to keep reading. If you're already a fan of these books, this one is more in the same vein and you'll probably like it, as well. I'm sure I'll break down and buy 11 in a few days. See all reviews. Most recent customer reviews.

Small Favor (The Dresden Files #10) by Jim Butcher – The Ranting Dragon

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