Changes - Jim Butcher, James Marsters Oh boy, Jim Butcher was not kidding when he titled this Changes. Harry loses his office, his house, his freedom, and even his morality. He agrees to become the Winter Knight for Queen Mab. I kept waiting for him to pull a card out of his sleeve, but he didn't. Then I kept thinking, well, maybe he'll pull a Xena when she got Marcus out of Tartarus, although in reverse - he'll get himself killed, so he's technically unable to become the Winter Knight and once he's resurrected to a "new" life he'll no longer be obligated to his agreement with her. And then he and Murphy were being all cute and chummy and planning a "last night on Earth" type celebration, and it worried me because it was way too close to the end of the book. And then someone shoots him and he falls into Lake Michigan and THE BOOK ENDS. At least I don't have to wait months or even years for the next book, but I pity those who did. I was seriously considering skipping Side Jobs, but decided to go in order.

Anyway, Harry has a daughter. With Susan. And she never told him, which is cold but also completely understandable. In the hands of a lesser skilled author, this would've been a jump the shark moment, a plunge into melodramatic waters, but Butcher tackles this with the brevity it deserves. Harry will face his greatest challenge yet, and it won't come in the form of monsters and baddie (though there's plenty of them too). And Mac is right. This will test Harry, to his very limits, his true limits, not just physical, not just magical, but to the core of his being.

I love how Butcher does continuity. The first spell we encounter in this series is brought back a thousand fold here, on a scale we've never seen before. I'm not thrilled with the whole "Mayans were barbaric savages" undertone that's inevitable when you place the power base of the Red Court in Latin America and stage the big showdown in a Mayan temple in Chicen Itza. That was just uncomfortable. That aside though, that battle was a spectacle, and it continues to pain me that this series doesn't have a film franchise or a successful TV series.

I wasn't expecting to see Thomas back again so soon, at least not as prominently as he is here. I certainly wasn't expecting to see Susan and Martin again. Martin, grrrr. And Susan. :( Taking out the entire Red Court was a power blow, for sure, and it ended the ongoing war. I wouldn't say the end justifies the means though. It maybe makes the means easier to forgive for those on the outside, easier to rationalize as necessary, but justify? For Harry? Never.

I enjoyed seeing Molly's increasing confidence, and Mouse continues to be the best dog ever. And he talks! Of course he talks. Is there a baa-ram-ewe code Harry needs in order to understand him without being turned into a dog himself? ;)

As for Maggie, surely this isn't the last we'll see of her. She's half-wizard (or quarter-wizard?) and introducing her just to be a MacGuffin that's never seen again doesn't seem like something Butcher would do. Neither does introducing the Black Staff of Ebeneezer's seem like a detail to be overlooked. I'm betting these both come back in a big way later.