Book Review: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Title: Peace Talks

Series: The Dresden Files, #16

Author: Jim Butcher

Blurb: When the Supernatural nations of the world meet up to negotiate an end to ongoing hostilities, Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, joins the White Council’s security team to make sure the talks stay civil. But can he succeed, when dark political manipulations threaten the very existence of Chicago—and all he holds dear?

My Thoughts

Like many people, I’ve been waiting quite a long for time for this book, and while I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be ten times better than any of the previous books, I must admit that I’m a little disappointed in Peace Talks.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The book wasn’t bad by any means. But I think it could’ve been a whole lot better if the publisher had made a different choice.

In case you don’t know, the original manuscript for Peace Talks was split in half because it was overly long, and the second half became Battle Ground, which comes out in September.

At first, I was pretty excited about the prospect of getting two Dresden Files books in one year, but after reading Peace Talks, it’s apparent to me that they should’ve done the complete opposite: they should’ve condensed the first half of the original manuscript and fit the whole plotline into one book.

While Peace Talks isn’t boring, per se, a lot of the plot is just set-up that won’t receive a payoff until Battle Ground. And though the story doesn’t end on a true cliffhanger—i.e., in the middle of the climax—it does end, in my opinion, with a bit too much unresolved.

And what really solidified that feeling for me was that the main antagonist wasn’t revealed until way too close to the end of the book. That made the pacing feel very off to me, especially because there was little time to flesh out the antagonist before the end.

All the antagonist got was a brief introduction, and then a promise to return in the next book. For me, that does not a compelling antagonist make.

I also had a few issues with some elements of the plot that I felt were a bit too repetitive, like Harry’s arguments/conversations with Ebenezer, and his numerous declarations about how he missed his old apartment. I think a lot of that content should’ve been trimmed down in order to allow the full plot to fit into one book.

In short, splitting the original manuscript into two books sadly made the plot and the pacing of Peace Talks a bit subpar.

Now, all that said, I still did enjoy many elements of the book. I liked the developing parent-child dynamic between Harry and little Maggie. I liked learning a bit about the new spirit of intellect. I liked seeing Butters learning a bit more about his new light saber. I liked seeing Murphy’s determination to overcome her serious injuries and stay involved in the fight. I liked the concept of the new main antagonist, and the antagonist’s introductory scene—I think there are a lot of interesting things that can be done with that antagonist, and I hope to see some of those things in Battle Ground.

So, overall, Peace Talks was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I still very much enjoyed revisiting the same familiar cast of characters and seeing how they’ve changed and grown since the previous book, and there was still enough action and world-building to satisfy me. But I think a fairly significant misstep was made in the choice to split the plot across two books, and that hampered my enjoyment of the story a bit.

Hopefully, the events of Battle Ground will make up for that in September.

Rating: 3.5/5