BOOK REVIEW - Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

on Sunday, August 1, 2010
By Jim Butcher (Official Webpage)
Buy it here: Turn Coat

Blurb Review

With a great premise and a series foundation to back him, Butcher's Turn Coat is both a step forward and a step back, and seems more like set-up for his final novel, Changes, rather than a true book in the series. That being said, it still works on the most basic level as a Dresden files novel, but as the penultimate novel in this series, I'd hope for better.

Full Review

I'm really torn on Turn Coat. The premise is fantastic. Morgan, who has hated Dresden for the most absurd of reasons and is generally considered his biggest enemy on the White Council, shows up on Dresden's door begging for protection. Dresden, being the good person he is, takes him in even if Morgan still is a total jerk to him the entire novel. The Wardens are out for Morgan, Dresden thinks he was framed, and he tries to figure out who is guilty.

Add on one of the creepiest enemies in the series (though I never really figured out why the monster, a Skinwalker from Native American folklore, wants Morgan), a huge conflict in the White Council, and some weird romantic conflict, and you'd think you'd have a great Dresden book.

Hence my conflict. Everything is set up great. What goes wrong?

First off, it just seems formulaic. Dresden's stories have often followed their characters, which have grown throughout the series. Instead, we just learn more about the character, but changes are a slow burn (except maybe Molly, who grows up fast). So, it boils down to us reading these books because we care about the characters, and the conflict gets put into the back-burner of our minds (which is how these book should be).

All that aside, the plot just doesn't seem unique. It follows the same up and down of every other Dresden book ever, and while you can't call the final twists, you very much can predict when it will happen, when all the twists will be revealed, and that Dresden has another plan up his sleeve at exactly the precise moment. You don't worry about the characters (despite one suffering life-changing injuries in Small Favor), because its so formula. You've read Turn Coat before; it was every Dresden book (after the first two) before it.

The other problem is the ending, which is, frankly, terrible. Here's a minor spoiler warning. I'll try and keep it as minor as possible, but just to be safe skip the rest of the paragraph if you want. Ok, during all these previous books, with the White Council fighting the Red Court, Dresden and others have known for sure there was a traitor on the White Council. This is a huge buildup, one that has been mentioned in nearly every of the books. The problem is, when it is at last revealed in this one, it is just stupid. Really, just plain stupid. A huge letdown, and it doesn't even make much sense.

The twist is so underwhelming, it makes what the bad-guy has been doing seem even stupider. Basically, Butcher hit a huge "reset" button on all his characters involved in the White Council. It was meant to be a "holy crap, really?" moment, where you'd go back and read the past few books and try to find the hints. But it isn't, because it isn't really hinted at in the other books.

Which is a huge disappointment, considering how good Butcher is at hinting everything else. Most of the underlying subplots develop over many books, and they often work really well. This one, however, is stupid and doesn't work.

Which is why this book feels like a prologue to Changes. It should have done so much for the mythos and sub-plot of the treachery in the White Council, but instead it just fizzles and dies.

Luckily, Butcher redeems himself in the next book, Changes. Still, sad.

Now, all this aside, anybody who likes Dresden will probably still like most of this book. I still stayed up until 3 in the morning reading it (again, I've done that every night this week), the pacing is very good, and the bad-guys are cool. It just is...underrealized, truthfully. There was so much great stuff to work with, and Butcher faltered.

Plus, having Morgan around Harry should have been way more interesting then it was. Bah.

However, as stated, this book is worth it for Changes. Here's a teaser for that review, which'll probably be up later today:


That is all.


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