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Book Review: Changes

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Changes, by Jim Butcher


Changes is the twelfth book in the Dresden Files series, written by Jim Butcher.  The book follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard fighting crime in Chicago, and his journey to save a little girl from a blood ritual by the Red Court.

Warning!  Spoilers follow here.

The book starts with Harry receiving a call from Susan, informing him that their daughter, Maggie, has been abducted.  They find out that the Red Court has taken Maggie in order to perform a blood ritual that would target the child’s bloodline, thereby killing Harry and Susan in the process.  Arianna, duchess of the Red Court, is offering the child to the ritual as payback for when Dresden killed Bianca, her granddaughter, and started the War several books ago.

Racing against the clock, Dresden and his gang find out that the ritual is happening in Mexico and start in that direction.  Along the way, Harry loses everything he owns.  His office building blows up, his house catches on fire and he nearly becomes paralyzed in the process, he sells his soul to Mab in order to fix his broken back, and his car is crushed with his staff inside.

Everyone makes it to the temple where the ritual is set to take place, using Ways that Harry’s mom discovered.  She recorded notes regarding each Way and had them saved inside a ruby, which Harry glues to his pentacle and uses as a GPS to navigate the Ways.

Once they get there, Harry realizes that his daughter is next in line to be sacrificed on the altar and he must act quickly.  Several things happen: Dresden fights Arianna in a duel and manages to beat her by summoning up power that has been provided to him through Mab, the rest of the gang works to fight off the rest of the Red Court that is present, the Grey Court makes an unexpected appearance to help out, and Harry must confront the Red King himself to save Maggie.

It is discovered that Martin, the man that Susan’s been holed up with since she was bitten, is working both sides.  He stops the ritual by exposing himself for the traitor that he is and that affords Dresden enough time to realize the twist.  The Red Court, Arianna specifically, targeted Maggie because she is Harry’s bloodline.  But Harry isn’t the intended death for the bloodline sacrifice.  Arianna is seeking revenge against the man who killed her husband, which is Ebenezar.  Maggie is the youngest of the bloodline connected to Ebenezar, meaning that every relative older than Maggie will die — namely, Eb, Dresden, and Susan.  Ebenezar was actually Margaret’s father, and is Harry’s grandfather!  The ritual is meant to wipe out anyone who could potentially pose a threat to the Red Court, and, had Dresden not defeated the Red King, it would have succeeded.

But Dresden does defeat the Red King, by doing something unimaginable.  Harry convinces Susan to take revenge on Martin, the one who started this mess by relaying information about Maggie to the Red Court.  Susan goes nuts and kills Martin, which makes her turn completely into a Red Court vampire.  Dresden realizes that Susan is now the youngest vampire, and that using her as the sacrifice would wipe out what is now her own bloodline — the Red Court.  Harry hurriedly removes Maggie from the altar and replaces her with Susan.  Harry kills Susan, and every Red Court vampire is immediately wiped out.  The War is over.

Harry and the gang take Maggie to Father Forthill to make sure he finds a good home for her.  Lea promises to keep Susan somehow so that Harry can visit her if he wants to in the future.  Thomas gives Harry the key to the Water Beetle, his old boat, so that he can have a place to stay.  Harry heads to the boat, showers, and changes clothes.  Murphy shows up and informs him that she may be discharged from the force after everything that has occurred.  They make plans to meet up in one hour and go on a date.

Harry steps out onto the back of the boat and just breathes for a few minutes, taking in everything that’s happened.  Suddenly, he hears a loud noise, and realizes he’s been shot by an unseen assassin.  He falls into the water, and the book ends.

I know I said this last time, but where the hell do I start.  SO much happens in this book, and SO much is torn down and erased.  The name Changes is a vast and unfair understatement.  Things don’t “change” in this book, they are destroyed.  Everything you know and *think* you know up until this point is completely obliterated.  From the very first sentence of the book, you are on an emotional roller coaster ride through every storyline in the Dresden universe.  There are some seeds that are planted and never revisited, so I’m hoping that those are brought up in future books.  I knew about Harry dying before I read the book, which gave me a unique perspective since most people going in don’t know the ending.  I didn’t know the bit about Ebenezar or Susan’s sacrifice and both of those parts hit me hard.  I absolutely seethed when Harry’s house got burned down.  Of all the things he lost, his house upset me the most.  I’m going to give this a 5/5.  I want to rate it lower, just because so many things about the book are unnerving — but, that’s the hallmark of an excellent book, is it not?

For Next Time

Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher

When an unknown someone shoots him and leaves him to die, Harry Dresden hopes he might be heading to a better place. Unfortunately, being dead doesn’t make Harry’s life any easier.

Trapped between life and death, he learns that his friends are in serious trouble. Only by finding his murderer can he save his friends and move on—a feat which would be a lot easier if he had a body and access to his powers. Worse still are the malevolent shadows that roam Chicago, controlled by a dark entity that wants Harry to suffer even in death.

Now, the late Harry Dresden will have to pull off the ultimate trick without using any magic—or face an eternity as just another lost soul…


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