Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

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Crazedwraith
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Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Crazedwraith »

Okay starting a new thread because the two previous ones for Peace Talks and Battle Ground are old enough to mean posting in them was necromancy and they were non spoiler threads with a lot of semi-working tags.

This is a spoiler thread, I will spoiler things for these 18 month old books, as I’m probably the last interested person to read these, I don’t anticipate this being a problem but you have been warned.

Also this is a less a review than a lot whinging broken down into discrete chunks, for this also you have been warned. ;)


Two Part Book
I got both parts of these for Christmas knowing they were a two part book. That may have been a mistake. Either book on it’s own isn’t great, one is all talk, the other all action. Both are kind of padded to make it full books, especially the corner hounds and lightsaber scene in PT. But reading them back to back leads to a lot of repetition due to the conceit that it’s two complete books. The repeated fights/arguments with McCoy and Ramirez.

It either needed to be one book, or two books that much more divorced from each other imo. Peace Talks falls very much into ‘they wasted a perfectly good plot’ Harry actually talking part in Peace Talks having to learn to even more than he did in Turn Coat to play the game and he can’t smash through things and just general do a new an interesting thing with the book. Instead Thomas fucks things up in the first chapter and the talks are dead in the water from the get go.

Battle Ground is all fights and Butcher writes a good fight but so many of them with such little context? Surround? It lacks impact and I just didn’t care by the last few. In theory things like the Black Court fight should have been a massive deal but when they’re an act 1 side quest? Not so much.


Big Bad
Ethniu. Last Titan. Able to take every other heavy hitter in the series and come out on top, if a little worn down. Why the heck had we not heard of her before? Did I miss something? I find the formor being held down by the Red Court plausible? But a Titan? Where the Red King/Lords of outer night supposed to be restraining her somehow?

If she’s that powerful why wait until then? Peace Talks makes reference to the fact that she can’t be as strong as she seems because she’s pulling a divide and conquer on the Accord nations but Battle Ground doesn’t follow up on it. Battle Ground points out the massive plothole that she could easily break the masquerade with hit and run tactics but offers no better reason than she’s a stupid big bad overlord type for why she doesn’t.


McCoy
I’ve like McCoy less and less ever since Changes. I liked that he was a bit of a broken pedestal for Dresden as the Blackstaff but he’s gone from a principled person who took Harry in and taught him morals to his grandfather who only took him because of that family connection, never helped it out before, then refuses to help in Changes until he realises it’s his neck on the line with the death curse. (unless I’m misremembering)

These books he’s nothing but an argumentative dick trying to control Harry to save him and suddenly has a massive hate-on for the White Court he didn’t before. He threatened Lara when she attacked Harry but otherwise was quite calm and ration about the alliance with them in Turn Coat.


Ramirez, the Wardens and the White Council
I’ve a lot of sympathy For Ramirez as a character. He got messed up and then messed up hard again by Molly in Cold Case (accidentally) so he’s bound to be angsty about the Winter Court.

I’ve got no sympathy to the Wardens or White Council for chucking him out. They and the fans act like it was Harry’s own fault and in part it is. But they didn’t off their olive branch or come to him with their worries until the very last second and then when circumstances dictate Harry can’t do anything at that moment act like it’s fault they’re chucking him out.

If you ambush him in the middle of the road, make it clear you think he’s mind whammied by Lara, he’s got no reason to believe you’ll trust him if he denies it. (Though everyone seems to have forgotten the whole swear on his power being the ultimate ‘trust me’ move in the ‘verse in early books)

Still it’s clear from the start of Peace Talks he’s getting chucked out of the Council since he can’t make any moves to stop it because of the peace talks. I guess we might have been expecting a dues ex where he’s let off for saving the world but really it was a forgone conclusion.


Butters
This was the book when Butcher’s favouritism for Butters really started to become too obvious and detrimental to the book for me.

Sure he got a lot of upgrades and powers and moments telling off Harry in Cold Days and Skin Game. He got a hot girlfriend, fine. He got a lightsaber and became a night of the cross, kind of wanky and silly and overt a shoutout but okay it was a cool conclusion for the book. And ‘Day One’ was a great little story about him that didn’t make him perfect.

But peace talks/battle ground was shilling and wank about him from start to finish. He gets another hot girlfriend for threesomes. He gets a whole scene dedicated to going to massive detail about him and the workings of his new lightsaber. He gets dresden fawning over how awesome he is as he wades effortlessly and amazingly through a battlefield leading a charge.

He tanks Ethniu’s attack with nothing but the power of faith. Sure he does then get curbstomped by her but so did McCoy, Listen To Winds, River Shoulders, and mutliple fae queens. He doesn’t come out looking bad.


Murphy
That death sucked, not only did I not want Murphy to go, it was an anti-climatic death at that, arguably that’s the point but since I heard Butcher got divorced between Skin Game and Peace Talks I’m really suspicious there’s some reality subtext to the long standing female love interest getting a bridge dropped on them.

Plus her being picked as an Einherjar despite being a devoted and faithful Catholic who probably wanted to go to a Christian afterlife and not fight forever really strikes a wrong note to me. Then again maybe this means we will see her again? She’s not supposed to return until everyone’s forgotten her but since the series is supposed to end with the apocalypse of all apocalypses, may that rule will be waived, or he’ll see her in some spirit world or something.

Revelations
Now I’d spoiled myself extensively on Tvtropes but even so the revelations at the end seemed kind of t acked on and lackluster. I’m kind of glad I did spoil myself on Marcone because I’d forgotten there was even a thing about a missing denarian coin.

Justine’s thing felt tacked on as well and Thomas went undealt with by the end. It should be a big deal but it… kind of isn’t?


(lack of) Status Quo
One of the comments I saw as I just started Battle Ground was the status quo by the end of the book was awesome and I just though… The Dresden Files has had no status quo since Changes, every book since then at least to me has started Harry off in wildly different circumstances (a spirit/Mab’s lair/demonreach/family life) and a lot of them seem to be dealing the crisis of the book and catching up with the wildly different circumstances of the side characters each time.

There’s no status quo the same as Harry is a PI/Wizard taking cases/crises as they come.

So cool Dresden has his old basement and a castle now. I actually dig the sequel hook for Twelve Months with a Harry/Lara/Molly/Dead Murphy’s memory love quadrangle, but it’s not what I call a Status Quo you know?
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Ralin »

Crazedwraith wrote: 2022-01-15 07:55am
Plus her being picked as an Einherjar despite being a devoted and faithful Catholic who probably wanted to go to a Christian afterlife and not fight forever really strikes a wrong note to me. Then again maybe this means we will see her again? She’s not supposed to return until everyone’s forgotten her but since the series is supposed to end with the apocalypse of all apocalypses, may that rule will be waived, or he’ll see her in some spirit world or something.
Other things I'll comment on later, but Murphy went to church once a year, is divorced and has apparently no qualms about sex outside of marriage. The most devoutness we ever see from her is her occasionally getting defensive or touchy when people say bad things about Catholicism/Christianity.

It also seems like if she didn't want to go to Valhalla she wouldn't have been training with the freaking Einherjar.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Crazedwraith »

Ralin wrote: 2022-01-15 09:31am
Crazedwraith wrote: 2022-01-15 07:55am
Plus her being picked as an Einherjar despite being a devoted and faithful Catholic who probably wanted to go to a Christian afterlife and not fight forever really strikes a wrong note to me. Then again maybe this means we will see her again? She’s not supposed to return until everyone’s forgotten her but since the series is supposed to end with the apocalypse of all apocalypses, may that rule will be waived, or he’ll see her in some spirit world or something.
Other things I'll comment on later, but Murphy went to church once a year, is divorced and has apparently no qualms about sex outside of marriage. The most devoutness we ever see from her is her occasionally getting defensive or touchy when people say bad things about Catholicism/Christianity.

It also seems like if she didn't want to go to Valhalla she wouldn't have been training with the freaking Einherjar.
She's devout enough that the sword of faith lights up like a furnace when she touches it. She may not be good at practicing the technicalities but she clearly believes hard.

Fighting with the most experienced people available to sharpen her skills doesn't necessitate buying into their faith/organisation.

eta: yes, I know you don't have to strictly religious to be a knight given Shiro/Sanya/Butters in varying degrees, but the sword was strongly implied from her statements to be due to faith in god. Not an agnostic faith in the work/justice like Butters.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Broomstick »

Yeah, Peace Talks and Battle Ground were my least favorite Dresden book so far. I think Butcher really struggled with it (for sure he was struggling in his personal life, but he's a professional writer and even when one's personal life is shit one has to keep working...)

I'm OK with Murphy being killed off. I mean, I'll miss her, sure, but since as far back as Skin Game it's obvious that being Dresden's sidekick had her playing way out of her league. No matter how good, she was still baseline human. If she and Dresden had paired up long term there would be the issue of him aging far slower than baseline. From a meta point of view having her go out fighting and wind up in Valhalla actually works, at least in theory.

Marcone having teamed up with a fallen angel suddenly makes a lot of other things make more sense. Like how a baseline human could figure a way into the Unseelie Accords and become a Baron. The magical stuff Marcone had started incorporating into his security. I'm also left assuming that Marcone is not subservient to his demon but a partner.

The deus ex machina of Ethniu bothered me. But maybe she had only recently acquired the Eye of Balor and her armor and prior to that there was no way she could have taken on the heavy hitters. It really was the Eye and the armor that made her such a formidable target.

Dresden was always going to be kicked off the Council at some point. Being the Winter Knight is what kept the Wizards from lopping his head off.

I agree McCoy is acting like a dick. But then, taking Harry in without telling him they were related was also a dick move. McCoy has always had a certain dickishness. Now McCoy is dealing with his (grand)son going off into ways that he perceives as a bad thing, parenting differently which McCoy interprets as criticizing his own parenting, and I never expected him to react well to the notion his daughter was fucking a vampire, much less having a vampire baby. On top of that, the other Wizards were going to be saying "I told you so" to McCoy. While the reaction as written was over the top the plot going that direction again makes sense on a meta level.

I expect this book (because it really is one book split into two and padded) to be the weakest of the series.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Crazedwraith »

Broomstick wrote: 2022-01-15 09:50am I'm OK with Murphy being killed off. I mean, I'll miss her, sure, but since as far back as Skin Game it's obvious that being Dresden's sidekick had her playing way out of her league. No matter how good, she was still baseline human. If she and Dresden had paired up long term there would be the issue of him aging far slower than baseline. From a meta point of view having her go out fighting and wind up in Valhalla actually works, at least in theory.
You've got a point. I think the key words there are in theory. I'm not sure the execution was as good as it could have been. I mean I'd like some assurance it was consensual at least.

Dresden and Murphy might not have worked long term, nice to see them try. The topic has been a little uncertain to my recollection how much Wizard don't age, or just live longer and keep aging. IIRC Morgan was said to look late middle age at a century but Luccio was said to have gone through menopause about the same time as normal woman, from the fact she hadn't had a cycle in a very long time before body switching.

So maybe Dresden and murphy could age together but she would have died a lot earlier from old age than him.

As for her being baseline human, well there could have been some character development in Murph accepting her limitations and moving to a more support role than an active fighter/door kicker but she just decided 'i'm going to do it until it kills me' and died right away instead.

Tangentially, I wonder if we'll ever find out what Rudolph's deal is or if he even has one. There were speculations in earlier books that he was a Red Court stooge but since then there's been no indication he's any other than the baseline incompetent jackass he appears to be.
Marcone having teamed up with a fallen angel suddenly makes a lot of other things make more sense. Like how a baseline human could figure a way into the Unseelie Accords and become a Baron. The magical stuff Marcone had started incorporating into his security. I'm also left assuming that Marcone is not subservient to his demon but a partner.
It's vague because doesn't he become a baron in the same book he gets the coin? I always got the impression he was planning it before then but perhaps not. The magical stuff had always been explained by hiring Gard previously.

Also interesting that the short story Even Hand is from his point of view well after he picked up the coin but there's no sign of an angel or Lash like angel impression in that story. But Marcone could just be an unreliable narrator or very good at compartmentalising that stuff.

Definitely he's a full partner in the same vein as Nicodemus and it will be interesting to see where it goes. Very interesting to see what Vadderung and Mab make of it.
I agree McCoy is acting like a dick. But then, taking Harry in without telling him they were related was also a dick move. McCoy has always had a certain dickishness. Now McCoy is dealing with his (grand)son going off into ways that he perceives as a bad thing, parenting differently which McCoy interprets as criticizing his own parenting, and I never expected him to react well to the notion his daughter was fucking a vampire, much less having a vampire baby. On top of that, the other Wizards were going to be saying "I told you so" to McCoy. While the reaction as written was over the top the plot going that direction again makes sense on a meta level.
McCoy has been a dick before you're right, hence my not really liking the Changes revelation but it really took a step up this time. Like yes from a meta point of view it works. It partly that instead of developing they have a big blow out in PT but then sort of instantly revert and have more or less the same arguments again in BG. Again from a meta point of view it sort of works because they are putting it aside in the face of the crisis but well he doesn't come off as sympathetic to me. To compare to Turn Coat, Listen To Winds was very opposed to Harry in that one but remained understandable and sympathetic where McCoy hasn't struck that balance.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Broomstick »

Perhaps McCoy sees Thomas as not human at all, despite being a grandson, and with Harry becoming the Winter Knight perhaps he now sees Harry as another not-human? None of which is explicit but with McCoy being the Black Staff and killing not-humans for decades it may be stomach-churning for his descendants to be something he views as the enemy.

I really hope it's not due to McCoy being corrupted or under the influence of something.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Crazedwraith »

Broomstick wrote: 2022-01-15 11:56am Perhaps McCoy sees Thomas as not human at all, despite being a grandson, and with Harry becoming the Winter Knight perhaps he now sees Harry as another not-human? None of which is explicit but with McCoy being the Black Staff and killing not-humans for decades it may be stomach-churning for his descendants to be something he views as the enemy.

I really hope it's not due to McCoy being corrupted or under the influence of something.
I assume it's more McCoy is a dick rather than being corrupted/influenced. He's supposed to have a real beef with the white court, like Harry's with ghouls. It's just annoying that only being mentioned now.

Though that leads me on to another thing can Nemesis/He who walks beside corrupt multiple people at once or is it body snatching one at a time? The whole infection thing makes it sound like it should spread but I can't think of any known infectees operating simultaneously? Maybe some while Lea was all frozen in Actis Tor?

It just makes me thing surely corrupting Thomas would have been more effective than blackmailling him.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by LadyTevar »

Broomstick wrote: 2022-01-15 09:50am Dresden was always going to be kicked off the Council at some point. Being the Winter Knight is what kept the Wizards from lopping his head off.
Harry was working with McCoy against the "black wizards" taking over the Wizard's Council. The vote to kick Harry out was *deliberately* held when the black wizard's allies would be attacking Chicago, when the wizards most likely to support Harry were going to be at the Peace Talks and trapped by the attack.
It was a setup to remove as many threats as possible, and to reach The Island.
The whole battle was going to give "Nemesis" an advantage however it came out, because it would make Harry less of a threat by separating him from his allies: McCoy, Rameriz and the Wardens, Thomas. Murphy dying was an accidental bonus.
Ethnui was expendable, as were the DeepOnes. Their only purpose was to cause havoc. The Unseelie Accords as a whole are weakened from loss of warriors. Mortals found out about what's been hiding, and they're now going to be actively hunting, while also being easily lead to targeting the Unseelie Accord.
If Harry hadn't picked up on "Nemesis" at the last moment, the Plan would have worked.
Hell, The Plan is working, because it started waaaay back when a cursed dagger was handed to the first Winter Lady during the Red Court's Masquerade. You know the one, where Harry wore a Dracula Costume, and started a war with the Red Court. It was one of the gifts handed out.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Crazedwraith »

Harry was considered dangerous and untrustworthy by the white council long before Nemesis came around. Nemesis may have accelerated the process but the white council could easily have decided to kick him out for exactly the reason they appeared to.

Hell we don't know if the Black Council is real or the people Dresden and McCoy suspect (Cowl, Cristos etc) really are linked to it.

We just know Nemesis is real and has affected Maeve and Justine and Lea.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Lost Soal »

LadyTevar wrote: 2022-01-15 02:45pm
Broomstick wrote: 2022-01-15 09:50am Dresden was always going to be kicked off the Council at some point. Being the Winter Knight is what kept the Wizards from lopping his head off.
Harry was working with McCoy against the "black wizards" taking over the Wizard's Council. The vote to kick Harry out was *deliberately* held when the black wizard's allies would be attacking Chicago, when the wizards most likely to support Harry were going to be at the Peace Talks and trapped by the attack.
It was a setup to remove as many threats as possible, and to reach The Island.
The whole battle was going to give "Nemesis" an advantage however it came out, because it would make Harry less of a threat by separating him from his allies: McCoy, Rameriz and the Wardens, Thomas. Murphy dying was an accidental bonus.
Ethnui was expendable, as were the DeepOnes. Their only purpose was to cause havoc. The Unseelie Accords as a whole are weakened from loss of warriors. Mortals found out about what's been hiding, and they're now going to be actively hunting, while also being easily lead to targeting the Unseelie Accord.
If Harry hadn't picked up on "Nemesis" at the last moment, the Plan would have worked.
Hell, The Plan is working, because it started waaaay back when a cursed dagger was handed to the first Winter Lady during the Red Court's Masquerade. You know the one, where Harry wore a Dracula Costume, and started a war with the Red Court. It was one of the gifts handed out.
Harry would likely have remained part of the council if it were just the initial vote, he had the backing of most of the Wardens who cast their vote early. It was the second vote with the senior council for violating the laws of magic that killed him.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Ralin »

Crazedwraith wrote: 2022-01-15 10:40amThe topic has been a little uncertain to my recollection how much Wizard don't age, or just live longer and keep aging. IIRC Morgan was said to look late middle age at a century but Luccio was said to have gone through menopause about the same time as normal woman, from the fact she hadn't had a cycle in a very long time before body switching.
About to head out the door so again, will respond to other stuff later, but Harry mentions in Cold Days that wizards live for centuries but don't get to look good doing it. It's when he's gripping about how unfair it is that Thomas looks so good despite not even exercising or having a moisturizing routine (implying that Harry has developed a moisturizing routine while out on Demonreach). He specifically mentions that he (Harry) already doesn't look like the younger brother.
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by The Grim Squeaker »

Crazedwraith wrote: 2022-01-15 09:36am
Ralin wrote: 2022-01-15 09:31am
Crazedwraith wrote: 2022-01-15 07:55am
Plus her being picked as an Einherjar despite being a devoted and faithful Catholic who probably wanted to go to a Christian afterlife and not fight forever really strikes a wrong note to me. Then again maybe this means we will see her again? She’s not supposed to return until everyone’s forgotten her but since the series is supposed to end with the apocalypse of all apocalypses, may that rule will be waived, or he’ll see her in some spirit world or something.
Other things I'll comment on later, but Murphy went to church once a year, is divorced and has apparently no qualms about sex outside of marriage. The most devoutness we ever see from her is her occasionally getting defensive or touchy when people say bad things about Catholicism/Christianity.

It also seems like if she didn't want to go to Valhalla she wouldn't have been training with the freaking Einherjar.
She's devout enough that the sword of faith lights up like a furnace when she touches it. She may not be good at practicing the technicalities but she clearly believes hard.

Fighting with the most experienced people available to sharpen her skills doesn't necessitate buying into their faith/organisation.

eta: yes, I know you don't have to strictly religious to be a knight given Shiro/Sanya/Butters in varying degrees, but the sword was strongly implied from her statements to be due to faith in god. Not an agnostic faith in the work/justice like Butters.
Hmmm, I didn't see it implied that it was from faith in a deity. In general, it seemed more like "Faith" as in faith as a super/magicpower/character stat, like "Willpower" (which is a genuine, body crushing magical power if you're good at it).
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by The Grim Squeaker »

My Spoilery Peace talks thoughts (repost from my reddit post 2Y back, before BG came out):

I liked it, but I was REALLY bothered by a number of very egregious cases of Harry doing/not doing things purely out of plot dictates. I was expecting a reveal along the lines of mind control (as was the case with the Denarian in previous books), just to explain all the plot induced stupid.

I get that Butcher did it to force the plot along with certain themes and to preserve certain scenes, but it was incredibly forced.

Most obvious one is:

Harry not telling Ebenezer/Blackstaff about Thomas being his brother. His arguments for why not to do it are not anywhere near enough to justify it in the given circumstances, especially with the council. Harry apparently would rather have the white council and senior wardens think he was a thrall (i.e having sex) of the queen of the White court, rather than tell only his grandfather about why he trusted Thomas. NVM the scene at the end, where the fight would have been avoided if he'd said it at the beginning rather than end.

It's just stupid, and probably forced that way since Butcher wanted the cool fight scene between Blackstaff & pupil, (which i'd guess he plotted out beforehand), then had to justify it.

2. Harry and the wardens interrogation:

Seriously? He'd rather not say "I had sex with my girlfriend, (who some of you have met, and is well regarded by Odin and the community)", instead going with "Well, now that you know that I had sex, recently, after a private meeting with the queen of the sex-vampires - I refuse to let you know who it was with, and I won't tell you verbally either. I also won't even say that it was with a mortal, preferring to storm out, in a ridiculously guilty fashion".

3. The complete lack of ANY attempt to question Thomas.

It's reasonable that the svartelves would not care much about Thomas's motivations, and would either assume him to be lying, but more so, would not care about his motivations, only what he did.

BUT - there's nothing involving Harry trying to do some proper detective work, in terms of asking Thomas, or saying to the Svartelves - "Hey, given that we both agree this makes little sense, (regardless of the untrustworthy denials of guilt by Lara Raith), can I ask him why he did this? You can be in the room with me to watch, and I can also check if his mind has been tampered with".
- There has to be something in the accords about the guilt of forced mind controlled thralls. Maybe not leniency, but it's common enough that it wouldn't be an OCP.

There's essentially 0 conversations between Harry and Thomas after that point. No doubt Butcher wanted it left in for the next book, but still, the complete lack of any such attempt to question him or check for tampering is glaring.

4. The bit with Thomas and Lara & the Einhjar at the end - also kinda forced. Just shouting "Wait, I didn't kill/hurt him", would have been a lot faster than the rest of the scene, and again, there's no reason for him not to say that immediately, especially after he stopped Lara in place.

5. The whole "I don't have any time to rebuild my magic gear" is getting a bit silly as a cop-out for why he has less equipment. He's had years at this point, with far more experience and resources than when he wasn't even a warden.
If he managed to make them during the original books, while training or working as a private detective full time, then reconstructing them over 2 years+ should be relatively simple. It's just a little annoying. (I assume butcher didn't want so many tools/resources available for Harry after all his "upgrades". But still...).
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Re: Peace Talks & Battle Ground (Spoilers)

Post by Steve »

Not commenting again on the story since my head's not just into it right now, I've got a lot of mixed feelings though.

I do agree there were issues with the way the story was done, and it's clearly due to the requirement to split the book into two. Odds are Butcher found the event was becoming bigger due to the logic of the world, it got too large, and someone sat him down and said "it's too big compared to the rest of the series, cut something or break it in two". So the issues of pacing and apparent padding come into play. I'm sympathetic to this outcome because I had the same thing happen: I was told my book was getting too large compared to the others in the setting and I needed to cut it or break it in two, and so I did.

Though we do have the growing indications Butcher's changing the tracks here and there. "Mirror Mirror" was supposed to be the next book but is being supplanted by "12 Months", presumably due to series pacing and feeling given the big blows of PT/BG.

If I'm being honest with myself, I do wonder if at least some of the letdown feeling, or conversely maybe wanting to like it more than I should, is that we had to wait so damn long. Six years between SG and PT/BG. Nothing Butcher wrote could've made up for that wait.
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