Book Review – Small Favor (Dresden Files #10) by Jim Butcher

Blogland!

I started to write the Turn Coat book review, and realized that I never wrote the Small Favor book review! So, this is my attempt to dig into the depths of my memory and discuss all the gritty details. Buckle up and get ready for a ride.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

As usual, James Marsters’ narration was splendid. He really is synonymous with Harry Dresden for me now. I’ll never be able to hear him as anyone else. Now, tread with care, there are spoilers below.

Small Favor

Murphy calls in Harry to investigate an explosion one cold winter night, and that is just the beginning of his troubles. Turns out, Marcone owns the building, and the mafioso is missing. To make matters worse, Queen Mab (yes, that Mab) has enlisted Harry’s help to find the mob boss.

Whenever the Fae are involved, Harry knows he’s in for a bad time. As Winter’s Emissary, Dresden finds himself the target of the Summer Court’s assassins, known as gruffs. Yep, as in Billy Goat. Except, bigger, badder, and a whole lot scarier.

gruff dresden rpg
An example of Gruffs from the Dresden Files RPG manual.

So, with gruffs of varying sizes on his trail, Harry has to find Marcone’s. The hunt leads him to Union Station, where some of the mob boss’ blood samples have been secreted away in a locker.  Dresden can use the blood to track Marcone, but first, he and Michael Carpenter, of the Knights of the Cross, have to survive an onslaught from the Summer Court.

Sounds straightforward enough until, Luccio, Commander of the Grey Wardens, shows up with the Archive in tow. For those of us that don’t remember, the Archive is a little girl whose maternal bloodline carries all of human knowledge. If it has ever been written down, Ivy (as Dresden calls her) knows it. And the fact that her train was at the station was no coincidence.

Nicodemus, leader of the Order of the Blackened Denarius and all-around super villain, has requested her presence to act as a neutral third-party in negotiations between himself and Dresden for the release of Marcone.

So, you know, as if Fae squabbles and Marcone AWOL weren’t bad enough, now Harry finds out that the Denarians are at the root of it all. Dresden just can’t catch a break.

To no one’s surprise, Nicodemus is a liar. He was never going to negotiate anything. He just wanted to get to Ivy. Despite everyone’s Herculean efforts, six Denarians is just too much to handle. They get the girl.

If Nicodemus was unwilling to bargain before, he’ll be impossible to coerce now. He has all the power. Unless Dresden makes him an offer he simply can’t refuse. If Ivy were to take up one of the coins of the Blackened Denarius she would be an unstoppable force of evil. He can’t let that happen, so he offers the only thing he knows Nicodemus would want.

All the coins the Knights have recovered, as well as Fidelacchius, the Sword of Faith that he’s been entrusted with ever since Shiro’s death. It’s a ballsy bargain, but it’s one Nicodemus can’t turn away. So, they set a time and place, on an uncharted island in Lake Michigan. Dresden and company head to the island, unsure of what they’ll find, but determined to be prepared for it.

Was Harry wasn’t prepared for was a sense of familiarity with the island as he set foot on it. He had never been there before, and yet he knew where to step to avoid detection, knew that the Denarians were awaiting him at the dilapidated cottage at the base of the wrecked lighthouse.

dresden lighthouse
That looks about right. Creepy af.

Luccio explained the phenomenon, telling Harry that it meant that the island would be important to him sometime in his life. It was an ability some wizards got as they aged and gained experience. Not foresight exactly, but almost a stronger version on deja-vu.

Both Marcone and Ivy were on the island, both worse for wear. The Denarians were torturing the child in an effort to get her to accept one of the coins, to accept the Fallen Angel into her mind and soul. So far they had been unsuccessful, but it was only a matter of time before the child broke.

So, Dresden did what he does whenever he sees an innocent in trouble: Raised hell.

It’s an epic battle, in a really cool setting that’s just as creepy as the Denarians themselves. As planned, Marcone’s people fly in to extract Harry, Sanya, Murphy, Michael, and the two abductees. Of course, Dresden insists on going last, sending Michael up before him.

Except, the Denarians have no intent to let them go that easy. They shoot Michael as he’s being lifted up into the helicopter, and Marcone’s people are forced to leave, abandoning Dresden on the island. That’s about the time when the Eldest Gruff shows up.

Nothing can ever be simple for Dresden.

jelly in thy donutHe talks his way out of a duel with the gruff, and even gets a doughnut out of it (not even kidding), and then nearly kills Nicodemus, but the Denarians daughter interrupts just in tame for Harry to get rescued by Murphy and Thomas. Whether or not Nicodemus survived strangulation and unconsciousness in the lake remains to be seen.

The book ends with Harry checking in on Michael, who’s in surgery. He’ll live, but the prognosis isn’t good. Sanya, the only other Knight of the Cross, gives Harry Michael’s sword, Amoracchius, to keep with Shiro’s. Michael Carpenter, though alive, will never be able to wield it again.

As Harry wallows in guilt over the state of his friend, Annastasia Luccio comes to him and suggests that they get something to eat. It’s been a long day, and as the dinner goes well, it turns into a long night as well.

Now, I have to say something about that end scene. I was not happy. First of all, Luccio is his commander. You don’t sleep with your boss, Harry! Second of all, that seemed like a really weird thing for Luccio to do, in my opinion.  I mean, yeah, she’s in that young body now, and yadda yadda yadda, but still. This woman has been austere and severe the whole time we’ve known her. It rankles.

Also, one of your best friends is mortally wounded, because of something you dragged him into, and you’re getting laid? Harry. You’re better than this.

But, these tidbits aside, this book was quite wonderful. It did a lot of setting up for the future, which is typical of Dresden books. They’re always setting the stage for the next thing, always turning things up to eleven.

A lot of my favorite characters were in this one, and for the first time I found myself very emotionally invested in the series. I cried when Michael got hurt. I don’t even consider him one of my favorite characters, but dammit, he didn’t deserve that.

I felt like this book was probably one of the more intense installments. What I didn’t know was that it was really just the primer course for the next two.

I finished Changes today, and will have the review for both it and Turn Coat out sometime next week. Thanks for reading, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

 

 

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