I first discovered Jim Butcher's Dresden Files about seven years ago. Ever since then, I have been a huge fan of the wise-cracking Wizard of Chicago, Harry Dresden. I quickly burned through all fifteen of the Dresden Files books in order, and then I had to wait six years for Jim Butcher to write the next two books: Peace Talks and then Battle Ground.
The long delay before these books made me worry: Is Battle Ground the last Dresden book? Well, without exposing any Dresden Files Battle Ground spoilers, I think I can hint that Jim Butcher has left some teasers at the end of the book, and even some unfinished business. Even though he hasn’t told us the title of Dresden Files book 18, or the release date, I think we can hopefully count on the return of Harry Dresden.
If this review is your first introduction to this amazing urban fantasy series, I recommend reading the Dresden books in order:
Dead Beat (One of the funniest stories about necromancy that you’ll ever read!)
Changes (Hands down the best Dresden Files book! If you get this far, you’ll understand why!)
So without any further delay, let’s get to the review!
The Bad: Battle Ground Is Literally 90% Battles.
The reason that I got into the Dresden Files was because of the thick plots and subplots, the rich characters, and Harry’s development as a wizard and as a hero.
Unfortunately, Battle Ground has almost none of that.
First, there’s no plot. There’s just war. It’s a very exciting, action-packed war… but just war.
Second, in regards to characters, Jim Butcher chose to go with quantity over quality, in this book. It’s like he watched Avengers: End Game and decided that his audience just wants to see every single character from every single book show up and go head-to-head with the bad guy (who, incidentally, is also a Mad Titan. Quite derivative).
Third, he saves almost all of the character development for the last chapter. He even mentions (in the middle of battle) that during war there’s just no time to indulge your own humanity. I think he threw this line in so that he could ignore Harry’s crippling emotional setbacks until the last few pages.
The Good: Battle Ground Has EXCITING Battles!
Butcher has always been great at writing tense, magic-packed conflicts. If you’ve enjoyed those scenes in his other Dresden Files books, you’re going to love Battle Ground!
The vast majority of the book follows Harry Dresden around Chicago as the battle unfolds around him. He encounters a new, vicious threat on almost every new page - and some of those threats cause serious and emotionally-provocative consequences.
The reader gets to see not only Harry’s magical fighting abilities, but also the magical abilities of just about every other character that we’ve ever met. Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness really lets loose with all of her tricks and strengths, in ways that we’ve never seen before. Our other favorite wizards join in this battle with thrilling new tactics and powers. And one of our favorite characters (I won’t spoil the name, but so far we have only seen him in Butcher’s short stories!) finally gets the screen time that he deserves!
Bonus Short Story: Harry Dresden Declares War On Disney.
Perhaps my favorite part of this book wasn’t actually part of Battle Ground at all, but in the short story included at the end, Christmas Eve. It’s a heart-warming extra few pages of exposition and character relationships that will put your soul in the mood for the holiday season for sure. And then there was this:
In context, Harry is talking about Disney’s Frozen, and that horrid, horrid song in the movie that burrows into your brain and feeds on your sanity.
Mab, of course, is the super-powerful Winter Queen of the Fairy Realms, and Disney deserves every last bit of her wrath. Prove me wrong.
The Recommendation: Read The Dresden Files Books In Order.
Battle Ground was a great book on its own, but as Dresden Files Book 17 it proves that a series is often greater than the sum of its novels. Battle Ground is full of nostalgic memories of the truly great moments in Harry Dresden’s history, in-between cinematic scenes of spell-slinging combat.
If you are a Dresden fan and have read the other books in this series, please leave comments below (but keep them spoiler-free, please, for everyone else)! And don’t forget to subscribe using the e-mail form at the bottom of the page to get the latest news about Sparrow’s books!