By Anthony “LibrariaNPC” DeMinico, 22 July 2020
I’ve been a fan of The Dresden Files for a few years now, especially with the two iterations of the RPG of the same name. Even with the two RPG titles that have come out over the last couple years, as well as the handful of short stories/microfictions, fans have been waiting for something a bit more substantial and with substance for six years now.
Seriously. Skin Game, the most recent Dresden Files novel, came out in 2014. Fans of the franchise have been chewing on the literary equivalent of table scraps for six years, and now Jim Butcher has delivered.
Instead of a novel a year like we’ve seen in the past, we’re getting two this year. The first is Peace Talks, released last week, and Battle Ground, which won’t be out until September. In my case, instead of waiting for my autographed copy to arrive in the mail, I ran out during my lunch break to buy a copy in order to have a review on time. Now that I’ve finished this and am about halfway done with an advanced reader copy of Battle Ground, I think it’s time to get to this review…
If you haven’t read up to Skin Game, you will see spoilers. You might want to jump right down to The Verdict if you want to know if you should get caught up.
Peace Talks is the newest novel of The Dresden Files. This one takes place a couple months after the events of Skin Game. Harry is back in Chicago, finding a way to balance his roles of dad, brother, Winter Knight, and Wizard of the White Council. Of course, all of this is about to get turned upside-down with news of an addition to the family, Mab using Harry as part of paying off a debt, and a major summit of supernatural powers meeting in Chicago that was requested by none other than the Fomor.
All in a day’s work for our favorite wizard, right?
==What You Get==
Peace Talks weighs in at 340 pages as a hardcover book. There’s not much else to say beyond that.
For the fans that have been waiting for six years, we can all have a resounding “YES” as we see a new title added to the collection. Additionally, if you’ve been a fan of the series, you’ll love the sheer number of nods made in this book.
Seriously. Peace Talks makes nods and allusions to nearly every bit of lore we have in the series. We get a reference to Storm Front when Harry wishes his problems only involved a magical drug dealer, appearances of side characters and events that only appear in short stories (like why Carlos is walking with a limp, names of local fae, or why River Shoulders is an important name), and other subtle nods to nearly every novel in the series. It is a nice nod to tie in so many references, and longtime fans with sharp eyes will enjoy it quite a bit.
Simply put, there are two major flaws in Peace Talks.
The first is within the pacing. While typical Dresden Files novels are known to be fast paced, this one felt…too fast. New details were tossed in and waved off repeatedly. Some of these were comical the first time (like a “children’s disease” that an adult character has picked up), but got old after the fourth or fifth time we hit the wall of “no time to explain.” Other details were put in and felt like they were just there to pad a page count, and that sucked some of the fun out.
The other is the size of the book. I have a sinking feeling that Butcher wrote one book and then split it in half, adding some details to pad it. Considering he wrote The Aeronaut’s Windlass, which was a book one for a new series (still waiting on book two, but that might be in the works now) at 630 pages, I wonder if it was the publisher that asked for the split, or if it was Butcher’s choice to further fulfill his contract (I think he said he had to write 23 books for the franchise, but it’s been a while since I’ve read that interview/discussion). Either way, the book feels like it is just part of a bigger thing and was not meant to stand alone. Once I got into Battle Ground, this feeling was further cemented: it’s almost like it’s the teaser before the main course.
It’s hard to grade a book like this, so I’m leaving it at my baseline 3 Buns.
Peace Talks is a fast paced blitz through many events of the franchise, culminating on a perfect platform for the next book. It has some flaws with the pacing and details added that I am hoping will be remedied with Battle Ground.
If you are a fan of the franchise, you should absolutely pick up Peace Talks. If you don’t mind waiting and can avoid spoilers, I’d strongly suggest waiting until Battle Ground is released and read both of them back-to-back.
If you haven’t read any of the series yet, then you should go back to the beginning; this is NOT the book to be thrown into.
Peace Talks is book sixteen of The Dresden Files series, written by Jim Butcher. It retails at $28 for the hardcover book, and is available at most book stores.