Title: Battle Ground
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: Dresden Files #17
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
The Overview: Harry has faced terrible odds before. He has a long history of fighting enemies above his weight class. The Red Court of vampires. The fallen angels of the Order of the Blackened Denarius. The Outsiders. But this time it’s different. A being more powerful and dangerous on an order of magnitude beyond what the world has seen in a millennium is coming. And she’s bringing an army. The Last Titan has declared war on the city of Chicago, and has come to subjugate humanity, obliterating any who stand in her way. Harry’s mission is simple but impossible: Save the city by killing a Titan. And the attempt will change Harry’s life, Chicago, and the mortal world forever. -Goodreads
A miraculous, all-encompassing, book-long battle which involved almost every single side character we’ve met to date. It was expansive. It was action-packed. And it was well written. A truly cinematic novel of epic proportion!
You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
I almost always enjoy Dresden novels, but I have to admit that this one required a bit more effort to get through than I’d hoped it would. As all-encompassing as the story was, in execution it was more an endless series of mini battles. The heavy hitters of this world all converged to save Chicago… one after another. You’d think with all of that constant action and excitement that I would be page flipping like mad to see what happened next. But instead I found the conflicts too repetitive to hold my focus. Reconnect with an ally; kill something. Rinse; Repeat. It didn’t offer a lot of plot variety. For me, anyway. I usually have trouble with battle scenes unless the focus is more on the overall tactics and strategy than the individual clashing of swords (or wizard staffs). This was very much the latter.
I did like the voice of the story – it’s comforting to “come home” to a Dresden novel, especially after all this time. I will say there was a very noticeable overuse of the word “freaking.” It was funny the first two times it was used, but then it got distracting from there. Even so, Harry’s a great character, made even better by the plethora of secondary personalities. Oddly, how engaged I was during any particular scene had more to do with how interested I was in the side characters within it (as it turns out, there were only three that had me completely enthralled). Butcher dramatically changed a few of the characters’ overall trajectories, which I appreciated because of the variety it added, but I’m not sure I’m on board with the direction some of them are now headed… we shall see.
Overall, for my personal tastes and expectations, I did not enjoy Battle Ground as much as I wanted to. I think the repetitive nature of it gave my brain a lot of free time to pick apart other aspects of the story I may not have noticed otherwise. I will still be continuing on in the series because when one of the books works for me, it REALLY works for me. As it stands, this one is just middle of the road in the whole scheme of the series.
Recommendations: if you’re already a Dresden fan, how could you NOT pick up this novel? My conservative rating is probably going to be in the minority, so keep that in mind. If you haven’t started the series yet, it’s a staple in the genre for a reason, but it does take a few books in before it really finds its “magic.”
I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing Group, Jim Butcher, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Battle Ground.
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by Niki Hawkes
I didn’t really like it much, either, and this is coming from a long time, super huge Dresden fan. That really surprised me. It didn’t engage or grip me like I have come to expect. Since everyone is raving about it, it was kind of refreshing to read your review. I think you hit on the issues I have with it—there were times when Dresden went on such long descriptions of how his allies were fighting in various battles that it made wonder what the heck Harry was doing that he had so much time to observe others… it didn’t really seem like he was doing much fighting himself. Something just felt off with this book. Maybe it the pacing as you suggested. I’m wondering if it would have been more cohesive had it been combined into one (albeit, a much longer) book instead of breaking it into two. Something about this one just wasn’t as engaging or satisfying a read as other Dresden books. In that sense it kind of reminded me of Storm Front. The series really hit its stride for me with Summer Knight. But this one, not so much. Thank you for posting your review so I don’t feel so alone in not feeling utterly blown away by Battle Ground.
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Sorry I’m just now seeing this – my website is a little old and glitchy lol. You make a really good point that Harry just seemed to be standing around watching everything happen lol. It didn’t occur to me to wonder what he was doing but now that you point it out, it was totally weird. I agree completely that a single novel edited down would’ve been MUCH more effective. With as much as I loved Skin Game, I hope we get another novel that’s just as good beyond this one. Thank you for helping me not feel alone also!