Straight up - This series is amazing. Butcher has the gumption to do things to his characters, subvert classic tropes (like Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy
), and have his characters face real consequences. This is one series where the characters change and evolve- something that became particularly striking to me when I read the first book (as I had skipped it). I will echo what everyone here has already said: the series in the first two books hasn't yet grown into its own. When it does though, the characters become some of the most defined- with their own complex histories and motivations that have only been rivaled in decades-long series such as Doctor Who
Butcher himself is a master of plot- especially in pacing and raising the stakes. There is not a book where Harry isn't at least 3/4ths dead, magic drained, and trapped into a corner with no way out (sometimes worse). And Butcher keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Characters earn their moments of awesome- some of the most exciting and fulfilling moments you will ever read. Changes
, in particular, has this in spades.
That being said, after Cold Days
, I had some trepidation when picking up the fifteenth book in the series- Skin Game
. After the spectacular Changes
, and the heart-wrenching Ghost Story
, Cold Days
, for me, had fallen a bit flat. Upon reflection, I believe this had to do mostly with the editing, as Butcher failed to balance the plot-sensitive revelations, character (particularly in regards to Harry), and pacing. Given enough revisions, these issues could have been handled, but I was nonetheless uncertain if they would be handled in Skin Game
. Delightfully- they were. Harry- now back in Chicago- is working with higher stakes than ever before, and with interesting character and motivational dynamics within his group. My one possible complaint is that the ending felt a little bit like a Deus ex Machina
(though to be fair- Butcher used the same narrative trick that he did in Changes
, so I shouldn't have been surprised).
All in all- if you have any trepidations about checking out this series- ignore them. It will be one of the best fantasy series (or series in general) that you will ever read. Humor, plot, character, stakes- it has it all.