Publisher: Ace Books
Page Count: 402
Release Date: September 29th, 2020
Series: THE DRESDEN FILES, Book 17
Rating: 4/5 Stars – Really Liked It**
**Except for that ONE part
Warning: Potential light spoilers for earlier books in the series. Read a review for the previous book here: PEACE TALKS
War has come to Chicago, and the time for talk is over. Ethniu, the Last Titan, a being of immense power, has come to lay waste to the magical powers that had assembled for the Accords. And this time, there’s no keeping the magic hidden from mortals. Ethniu has no interest in secrecy, only destruction. As the city burns and monsters roam the street, Harry Dresden and his allies must find a way to defend Chicago and defeat Ethniu – and it may take a monster to defeat a monster.
If you’re a DRESDEN FILES fan and you walked away from PEACE TALKS grumbling that it simply didn’t have enough action in it, then BATTLE GROUND is here to make it up to you. Imagine, if you will, the final battle sequence of AVENGERS: ENDGAME, but with the characters of the DRESDEN FILES. It’s a who’s who of cameos as Harry’s friends and foes alike make an appearance. Your mileage may vary on how much you enjoy a book that is essentially one extended battle sequence with some light breathers in between. For the most part, I had a great time, as there was plenty of variety and a constant sense of “What NOW??” as a new enemy entered the arena. But I can understand how some people walked away with fatigue over too much action.
This next part is hard to talk about because SPOILERS. There was one plot point that happened that, to me, was beyond frustrating and fell into one of the worst tropes in writing. It felt like it was there for shock value and to have some short term ramifications. If the event had been handled differently, I wouldn’t have been happy per se, but more accepting. While this moment didn’t kill my love for the series, it did leave me breathing a deep sigh of disappointment. And those are my incredibly vague and circumspect thoughts about That Part.
It is perhaps a sign of how little that Event impacted the rest of the plot that, should I choose to block it from my mind, I overall enjoyed the rest of BATTLE GROUND. I was pleased to see that the very overt male gaze problem which had popped back up in PEACE TALKS (where Harry had to comment about the appearance and sex appeal of every. single. woman.) has vanished, to the point where I almost have whiplash. Why that was so necessary in PEACE TALKS when BATTLE GROUND shows how much it is not needed is beyond me. There were also a couple great “Oh Sh*t” moments as certain characters reveal master plans or new abilities, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing those ramifications play out.
I am very curious how many more books Butcher has planned out for DRESDEN FILES, as he is still teasing some big world secrets in Harry’s past and setting up a very different Chicago than the one that has existed since the series began. PEACE TALKS and BATTLE GROUND (literally two halves on one larger novel) may not have been home runs, but I truly love the characters and the world that has been created within this series. I’ll keep coming back to this world for as long as there are new books, as THE DRESDEN FILES is just my preferred brand of escapism. But even I have to admit that maybe, just maybe, it’s getting close to time for Harry to hang up the duster.