Okay, this is a middle of the road Dresden book. It is a Dresden book, so OF COURSE I enjoyed it. However, it is neither one of my top three Dresden books, nor one of the Dresden books that I'm not particularly fond of. It is, as a Dresden book, a fun ride. "But of course!"
This book does have some pivotal points, though, that I keep replaying even after reading all the books for the third (fourth?) time. The fight scene in the Deeps replays. The relinquish of the coin. The sacrifice for love with the conversation of free will. The description of pain, and how it is for the living. Small things, standing out in a larger work.
If you're a fan of Butcher's Dresden Files series, keep reading. If you don't know about the series, start at book one and read to at least book three before stopping.
“You’re right,” he said. “This is a war. Bad things happen to people, even if no one makes any mistakes.”
I couldn’t. Being a wizard gives you more power than most, but it doesn’t change your heart. We’re all human. We’re all of us equally naked before the jaws of pain.
“Hate,” she said, “and love are not so very different things. Both are focused upon another. Both are intense. Both are passionate.”
We still hadn’t learned, though, that growing up is all about getting hurt. And then getting over it. You hurt. You recover. You move on. Odds are pretty good you’re just going to get hurt again. But each time, you learn something. Each time, you come out of it a little stronger, and at some point you realize that there are more flavors of pain than coffee. There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind — graduating, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown. There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expectations. There’s the sharp little pains of failure, and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would. There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up. The sweet little pains of finding others, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life as they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend and help them bear their burdens. And if you’re very, very lucky, there are a very few blazing hot little pains you feel when you realize that you are standing in a moment of utter perfection, an instant of triumph, or happiness, or mirth which at the same time cannot possibly last — and yet will remain with you for life. Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living. Only the dead don’t feel it. Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it’s part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.
“Anger is just anger. It isn’t good. It isn’t bad. It just is. What you do with it is what matters. It’s like anything else. You can use it to build or to destroy. You just have to make the choice.”
“Constructive anger,” the demon said, her voice dripping sarcasm.
“Also known as passion,” I said quietly. “Passion has overthrown tyrants and freed prisoners and slaves. Passion has brought justice where there was savagery. Passion has created freedom where there was nothing but fear. Passion has helped souls rise from the ashes of their horrible lives and build something better, stronger, more beautiful.”
Loneliness is a hard thing to handle. I feel it, sometimes. When I do, I want it to end. Sometimes, when you’re near someone, when you touch them on some level that is deeper than the uselessly structured formality of casual civilized interaction, there’s a sense of satisfaction in it. Or at least, there is for me.
“You don’t throw down like this just because you’re strong enough to do it,” I said. “You do it because you don’t have much choice. You do it because it’s unacceptable to walk away, and still live with yourself later.”
“No one likes a wiseass, Harry.” “Are you kidding? As long as the wiseass is talking to someone else, people love ’em.”