Categorized | Fiction

Changes (Dresden Files) Review

Posted on March 8, 2010 by Monica Valentinelli

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After I got done reading CHANGES by Jim Butcher, the twelfth novel in the Dresden Files series, the first words that popped into my head were, “Holy hell.” First? There is absolutely no way that I can review this book without spoiling something for someone, so consider this a warning – if you don’t want anything spoiled for you, then don’t read this review. Second? If you’re a fan of the Dresden Files, then this is “the” book for you.

Okay, now back to the review. The first chapter opens up with a sucker punch to the gut. (You can read the first chapter of CHANGES on the author’s website.) Harry Dresden has a kid and she’s seven or eight years old? (Has it been that long since we’ve started reading the series? Are we THAT old?) Harry wastes no time delving into the darker regions of his soul to rescue his little girl, one that he’s never met. His sense of chivalry kicks into overdrive and along the way he gets badly maimed, makes some questionable decisions, turns over a lot of stones, and enlists the help of several other characters.

If you’re expecting a direct sequel to TURN COAT, this is not it. CHANGES is, in many ways, a fulcrum for a lot of the other previous books in the series, because it ties together several characters and settings from the previous books as a result of Harry’s incredibly single-minded goal. He will save his daughter, even if it means that he might lose his own life in the process.

CHANGES is an incredibly fast read and, in my opinion, is the best-written of the series. The hits just keep on coming and coming and coming. There were a few places where I couldn’t quite follow the logic or the slower explanation bits, but you have to remember that I read really fast — especially when every chapter ends on a cliffhanger and you need to know what happens next. To say that there are a lot of “changes” is kind of an understatement — Dresden isn’t the only character that shifts in this book.

Part of the appeal to the plot, is that there isn’t a lot of time to sit around and have a meaningful discussion about what to do or even — the morality — of what they’re about to do. There are moments where Harry confronts Susan about her poor decision not to tell him about his kid, and there is definitely still tension between the two. It’s interesting to see how the Red Court takes advantage of their feelings for each other, because as far as vampires go — they’re pretty damn evil.

Again, there’s really nothing more that I can say without spoiling what happens for you, because there are a lot of surprises in CHANGES. (Though, I will say I enjoyed Vadderung immensely.) I imagine a lot of fans will be screaming, yelling and/or crying after they read this book, because CHANGES doesn’t pull any punches. It ends on a rather “big” cliffhanger — probably the “biggest” cliffhanger to date. With eight books in the series left to go, it sucks that we’ll just have to wait to see what happens next.

Review by Monica Valentinelli

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49 Responses to “Changes (Dresden Files) Review”

  1. Fred Hicks says:

    Good review. You did a good job of dancing around the best-not-spoiled facts. 🙂

    I believe we have at least 8 books to go in the series. Jim’s statement in the past has been that the series will have 20 “or so” casefiles, then to be followed by an apocalyptic end-cap trilogy. I strongly suspect Changes will be seen as the series’ midpoint, regardless of how all of those count out.

  2. Priscellie says:

    Yup, definitely more than 8. Jim is planning 20-21 “case books” PLUS the Apocalyptic Trilogy, for a total of 23-24. Therefore, we have 11-12 books to go!

  3. Stacey says:

    That is both exciting, and a bit exhausting. 🙂

  4. max says:

    I didn’t knew about the 20 books or so planned. It’s a good thing, a promise to keep us entertained for a few year at least, which is great ^^.

    I can’t wait for Changes to be available so I can devour it, but I already know that I will want the next book just after the last line ^^.

    Thx for the review, j’en ai l’eau à la bouche.

  5. Kumar says:

    Some publisher review also says it’s very good. Just to make sure, how “big” is the finale?

  6. Monica says:

    @Kumar – How about…”life-changing?” Is that big enough for you?


  7. ~C says:

    It’s a great book. You are 100% spot on with the review. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  8. Kumar says:

    More than enough.
    It would be nice to know how many pages it goes on for =p
    Turn Coat had a battle for 80 pages (on that island).Is this bigger or a bit smaller? Really, I just want it to be pretty long but filled with energy and tragic.

  9. violent_rabbit says:

    Kumar- MASSIVE. And exceptionally well wrought. 😀

  10. FC5 says:

    Absolutely incredible Dresden book. After you read it, you can like slowly deconstruct a few of the more puzzling moments of the book and why they are there due to the cliff-hanger ending. But still pretty action-packed and CRAZY. I read the 4 preview chapters online, (had the day-off luckily) showed up at 9am to grab the book and finished it like 5 hours later. Like inhaled it. But, man, I expect to read this cover to cover tons…it was fantastic. And any fan will love it.

  11. dandman7 says:

    Wow, lots of forward momentum in that book; then afterward it just ends like that?
    All in all good stuff…

  12. woodsmoke says:

    Read the pre-release version yesterday. Incredibly fast read. ~ 350 pages is the pdf I was looking at. Looking forward to my HC to see what final edits/changes were made to “Changes”

    Fans may love and hate it. That old saying about sometimes “Change” is a good thing, just admits that sometimes it isn’t.

    I am happy to report that my favorite HD entity, Mouse has a really big part in this book.


  13. Edward Allen says:

    Just finished. I estimate I read it at about twice more normal rate. I also tend to speed read and skip fluff. I did not skip a word. I have no idea were I found the time, but damn. It was worth it.

    I was so afraid this was the last book. Knowing there will be more makes it a little easier.

    The title is appropriate. Everything Changes.

  14. Lea says:

    I hadn’t heard that the plan was for 20-21 books. THANK GOD! With everything that changed in this book, I wasn’t sure if we were seeing the end or a new beginning.

    I bought the book today and finished it in 6 hours. LOVED IT! Seriously the best book in the series, with GREAT Mouse moments. Your review is dead on!

  15. Josh says:

    Alright, just finished the book and loved it up till the end. Now I know you guys are saying its going to be 20 files or whatever, but are you sure? The reason I ask is because there were 8 short stories as well, and i would hate for this to be the end.

  16. Monica says:

    This is definitely not the end of the series. I’m not a hundred percent sure how many more books Jim is contracted to write for THE DRESDEN FILES, but CHANGES is not the last book.

  17. Tim says:

    I first picked up the Dresden Files books in late December, and absolutely DEVOURED the first 11 in about 2 months. I have since been quite eagarly anticipating Changes, and after finishing it this weekend, I can honestly say that this is the BEST entry in the Dresden Files to date. Fantastic book. Butcher just keeps getting better and better, and I cannot wait until we get the next book.

  18. Sam says:

    And here I thought the cliffhanger at the end of season 3 of Rescue Me was the most infuriating of all time. Grrrrrr, Jim.

    Still, though, a delicious read, as always, but not QUITE up to speed with my favorites, Proven Guilty and Turn Coat.

    Ohhhhh, next April…I long for thee.

  19. Fernando says:

    Jim You fantastic annoying man lolol Let’s hope the train arrives soon and we don’t have to wait until april 2011 to read the next DResden File. PLEASE RELEASE ANOTHER ONE SOONNNNNNNNN

  20. sean says:

    Did I read the same book as you folks!?! I honestly think it was the most dissapointing of the series. JB really needs to ‘change’ things up in his format. Every book does not need to end with suicidial confrontation with the bad guys. Don’t get me wrong I still liked the book but was very dissapointed with it.

  21. guen says:

    So, I was the only person who thought that this book may be the end? It’s not so much a cliffhanger as a Spoiler–
    so how do we get past death?

  22. ryan says:

    This was one of he greatest Ithink he has ever written. There has to be more books coming. Harry is the most badass wizard alive, as if death could stop him (and who knows, maybe dying got him out of the WK contract he made). Keep the books coming Jim, no book of yours has dissapointed yet.

  23. Cam says:

    Loved it, hated the ending. Definitely wasn’t expecting a cliffhanger. A couple laugh-out-loud moments, though I don’t think as many as some of the others. I loved all the Tolkien references, though (I think I counted 6, including that big conversation where Harry got cast as Sam.) Can’t wait for the next book, and the short story collection coming out in November.

  24. Fred Hicks says:

    Oh, he ain’t *contracted* all the way to the end AFAIK, but it’s always been the plan to do “about 20” in the series before the “apocalyptic end-cap trilogy”, and the publisher would be stupid not to keep saying “yes!” when he’s looking to do another. 🙂

  25. Janie says:

    I was absolutely shocked at the ending of this book!!! Jim Butcher never ceases to amaze me as each book gets better and better and better……(you get the idea). I was going to write a very cryptic email to said author because I thought he had done killed mah man off!!! Now I can stop crying and just enjoy the suspense of what is yet to come. Thank you Mr Butcher for each and every book in the Dresden Files… have kept this old lady highly entertained!!!

  26. Zax says:

    This book was sick. Glad that you guys said there are more to come cause I thought he nailed all his enemies by now.

  27. Lynn says:

    I could not agree, more. This book was awesome and when I read the last line…
    My heart sank, I have to wait another YEAR!!

  28. kai says:

    Most amazing book i have ever read! I think he lived because he was the winter night…probley already know that. i dont however get the train part PLZ EXPLAINE!
    I was so relieved when i heard that there is gonna be 20!

  29. Buffy says:

    Well I HOPE so! I was wondering if this was “it”! So I raced to the computer to see what the chatter was. Thank GOD! I was really worried……..

  30. Buffy says:

    ps: Last time I wrote to Mr. Butcher, I suggested he write…..FASTER! It’s hard waiting a year between books this good.

  31. David says:

    man, i thought that was “it”. yeah the train is prolly either lea (his godmother) or mab (probably his godmother) that would explain the hush now.

  32. ryan says:

    When I first got the book, I put down every other book I was reading and I started on this one. That was Thursday. Today is Sunday night. I literally just read. I didn’t watch the normal shows I watch or go on the internet. I just sat there in my house and I read. When I finished the book, I threw the book on the ground and ran to the computer, where I found this website. I am now wholly relieved to find out that the Dresden series isn’t done with. Then I found that this was only about the half-way point!! Pure happiness.

  33. ryan says:

    ohh and I forgot about the train. “Hush now.” was his mother. and he’ll probably die and somehow get sent back somehow. Also, I think that Stevie D. killed harry. Also, there are a lot of unexplored factors. (i.e. remember the book about the outsiders and Harry’s special ability and probably something about soulfire)

  34. Martha says:

    Well, there may be 8 more books in the offing, but who’s to say that they will take place after this one? –He can just as easily set them in between some of the other books. I really, really hope I’m wrong, because I was shocked at the ending and all the changes going on in this one, but it sure read like a finale to me!

  35. Alekstrasza says:

    I sincerely felt like killing Jim with that b*tch of a cliffhanger, I actually felt my puls go up and down for about 20 minutes with “what if’s..” T_T

    Send me a mail if you want to discuss the ending with me, I think I know the reason. :O

  36. Alekstrasza says:

    Oh and I recommend buying the audio books too, another awesome job by James Marsters!!

  37. david says:

    With eight books in the series left to go, it sucks that we’ll just have to wait to see what happens next.

    Eight books?

    Sheesh … I thought this was the last one.

  38. PurpleFigment says:

    He could write 200 Dresden Files and it wouldn’t be enough for me – as well as some other people I know who love the series. I devour Jim Butcher’s books at a rate that can’t compete with any other authors. The closest I can compare it to was back when I was an early reader moving into chapter books. Being able to read a book with with a plot and characters who grew and developed opened wonderful world for me that I couldn’t get enough of. The Dresden Files have helped to rekindle that love. While I can never get enough, fast enough, I still greatly appreciate Jim Butcher for bringing Harry to life and sharing him.

  39. pollmak says:

    I love James Masters Voice, He is the voice of Harry D for me.

  40. pollmak says:

    I second that! I felt empty after that ending, especially after feeling so much emotion and pain. The end looked so bleek and just as the sun was starting to shine for Harry, with a glimmer of hope and happyness, we get to experience what it feels like to get kicked in the face!

  41. pollmak says:

    I really hope Jim writes a happier ending for Harry for the next book. While I enjoyed the expereince in this book the ending just killed me emotionally. While I know this is all fiction, I have invested my full attention and emotion when experiencing this book (and all the other DF books) and I feel like I have been shot as well. I’m hurting…

  42. pollmak says:

    I have been studing writing techniques and JB is using a pradictable plotting pattern in that is improving with each book, but pradictable.
    However this books ending is unexpected. It’s like harry has been punched to a pulp emotionally and then as he start to recover and lifts his head to the sunshine of hope that is Murphy he gets the final kick in the face and we poor reader get to feel the emptyness after much invested emotion and pain felt for Harry.
    Damm I love Fiction. JB, absolute genius, dispite the pain…

  43. another david says:

    Frustrating and annoying.

    It’s like having messed up so badly with Turncoat, Butcher realised he needed to completely reinvent his universe, so he meaninglessly destroyed everything that was an integral part of the Dreden Files in order to start over.

    Most annoying is the forgotten magics shown or mantioned in other books. Escape potions, belt buckles enchanted for a quick boost, unexplained sources of power that Harry was always fighting NOT to use (in the first few books) – all practically ignored.

    And then he throws in a secret grandad – just like he did in his other series, Codex Alera.

    IMO, Dead Beat was the height of the series and it has mostly lost it’s way since then (except for Small Favour).

    And finally the cheap ‘cliff hanger’ ending. A blatant rip-off tactic that made the whole story unsatisfying and incomplete. It left a foul taste in my mouth and destroyed any trust that the next book will be worth reading as soon as it comes out, because he is likely to do the same string-along thing again and again until the end of the series.

  44. Jeanne Lewis says:

    Is Mr. Butcher writing anymore Dresden books? I sure hope so. I have read all & waiting for more. Wonderful read.

  45. Karen says:

    Oh, thank god! I also finished the book, screamed, and ran to my computer to see if we were at the end. So much is trying to fit together in my brain and I keep trying to work things out.

    Loved! the extra Mouse time in this one 🙂

  46. Quin says:

    This book was cruel. Harry was betrayed and deserved better. As a loyal reader, I feel betrayed. Harry was stripped of almost everything important to him, and then . . . !!! Could Kincaid have been the rifleman?

  47. Stacey says:

    This was one of my favorites in the series. Butcher really upped the ante on this and the cliffhanger you spoke up spins the series in a whole new direction.

  48. KiKi says:

    I finished reading Changes last night. My husband said I was even talking in my sleep, don’t usually! Today I feel wide eyed & floored. Sort of dazed. I haven’t had a book hit me that hard in years. I feel disjointed still today. I’ve got Sidejobs to sort of quell that feeling, then I HAVE to go out and get Ghost Story this weekend. I’m glad I have a Barnes & Noble 2 blocks away! I hope the “hit with a 2X4 plus a Mack truck” feeling goes away soon so I can get to work! Ground and center, breathe.

  49. smrts says:

    Is it just me or is the end of “Changes” a reference to Metallica’s “No Leaf Clover”
    “and it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel, is just a freight train coming your way.”

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