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Changes by Jim Butcher

Changes (edition 2011)

by Jim Butcher

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2,9021181,991 (4.42)150
Authors:Jim Butcher
Info:Orbit (2011), Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Urban Fantasy, Dresden Files, 11 in 11

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Changes by Jim Butcher

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Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
This is beyond doubt one of the best and one of the hardest books in the series, and I really really enjoyed it. Action-packed, emotionally heart wrenching, Changes is a breaking point in Harry Dresden's character development. Hugely recommended installment! ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |

[Cross-posted to Knite Writes]


Harry Dresden’s old flame Susan calls him up one lovely day and drops a bomb: Harry has a young daughter who has been kidnapped by Red Court vampires. Once Susan arrives in Chicago and tells Harry the full story about little Maggie, whom she gave away to a foster family to keep safe, Harry immediately jumps into the quest to save his child before the vampires inevitably kill her for some nefarious purpose.

Unfortunately for Harry, the Red Court has no intention of making his daughter easy to save. First, they stall the White Council from helping Harry by initiating false peace negotiations, only to turn around and infect numerous Council members with an illness that knocks them out of the fight for far too long to be of any good. On top of that, Luccio and a large number of wardens are imprisoned by new Senior Council member Cristos, who is either evil or a complete idiot, when they try to aid Harry and turn against the Red Court delegation.

So Harry has basically no wizardly support. He turns to his other resources, such as the minor beings he can summon from the Nevernever and even Marcone, none of whom can help him. Even Gard’s employer, Vadderung, CEO of Monoc Securities (also known as Odin) refuses to provide Harry with the help he needs to save little Maggie. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the mortal authorities keep bugging Harry, too, because the Reds put them on his tail after they bomb his office building.

After seeking out Rudolph, the asshole cop who’s been tricked into helping the Reds, in an attempt to save him before the Reds tie up loose ends, Harry gets into a fight he almost loses and suffers a bad leg injury. But he makes it out mostly intact.

And then the situation gets even better: the Reds set Harry’s apartment building on fire and burn it to ground, and in an attempt to save his neighbors from burning alive, Harry falls off a ladder and breaks his back, getting paralyzed from the waist down. Now in a dire situation, Harry has no choice but to fall back on the one source of aid he’s been adamantly avoiding the whole time: Mab, who wants Harry to be her Winter Knight.

He agrees to become the Winter Knight in exchange for Mab healing his spine and letting him rescue Maggie before he begins his lifelong, inescapable term of service as Mab’s enforcer. And after a rather sickening ritual involving Harry slitting the broken Lloyd Slate’s throat and then having sex with Mab, Harry regains the use of his legs and rallies his friends together to assault the location where the Reds are planning to sacrifice Maggie.

This place is Chichen Itza, Mexico, a major source of power for the Red Court.

With Murphy, Susan, Sanya, Molly, Mouse, Thomas, and Lea, Harry’s Fairy Godmother, as backup, Harry launches an assault on the Reds to rescue his daughter. When Plan A, a sneak and grab, fails five minutes in, Harry is forced to launch an all out forward strike on the Reds, who outnumber his team by such a large degree that challenging them all is a ludicrous proposition. So Harry uses the Accords to arrange a duel between himself and Arianna, the vampire behind his daughter’s kidnapping and the widow of Paolo Ortega, who was killed by Ebenezar McCoy after attempting to murder Harry several years ago.

Harry’s wins the duel, but the Red King refuses to let Maggie go, and all-out war erupts between Harry’s small force and the Reds. Luckily for Harry, Ebenezar and the Gray Council show up to assist him at the right time, and Harry is able to save his daughter from the Red King’s ceremonial sacrifice — a bloodline curse that would kill Harry, Susan, and everyone else in their families. (Including Ebenezar, who Harry discovers is his grandfather.)

Sadly, for Harry, the defeat of the Reds comes at a great cost. The only way he can save the day is to turn the curse back on the Reds, and he does so by goading Susan into becoming a full vampire and then convincing her the way to save Maggie is to sacrifice herself. Ultimately, Harry has to wield the knife himself, and he kills the woman he loves to save the child he doesn’t know.

The Red Court falls. Every single member.

At the end of all, Harry has saved Maggie, and his friends and allies are still alive, but Susan is dead and Harry has surrendered his freedom to Mab, who will come for him at any time. He tells Murphy to make sure Father Forthill puts Maggie in a safe foster home and then heads to the Water Beetle, lent to him by a still-distant Thomas, to recoup.

But before he can even begin to consider what path his new role as Winter Knight will take him down, an unseen assailant shoots him in the chest.

And Harry Dresden dies.

The End.

Cue Sequel.

My Take

Wow! What a great installment of the series!

Jim Butcher really ups the ante with this book. Instead of letting the series stagnate at any particular status quo, Butcher drives up the stakes to an all-time high for Harry and introduces major shifts in the story that will have ripples on every single sequel to come. This book isn’t called “Changes” for nothing — it’s a MAJOR turning point in the series that reshuffles nearly every aspect of Harry’s life in order to prepare for the descent into the much darker and far-reaching plot points that follow in subsequent books.

This book is really what the series so far has been leading up to in its entirety. The Red Court issues from Grave Peril finally come full circle. Mab’s continual involvement in Harry’s life finally reaches a point of no return. Harry’s familial backstory is finally explored to a much higher degree than it has been in books past, giving the reader a better understanding of the family-related issues and events that led to Harry’s life becoming what it has been so far.

This installment takes characters from every single other book and brings them together to form a complex plot, where Harry’s previous escapades determine who he can turn when for help, who gives it, who doesn’t, and who ultimately impacts the book’s finale. Butcher doesn’t leave anyone (or anything) out, tying together Harry’s various relationships to create the most precarious situation the wizard has ever encountered. And one that will have permanent effects on his life for the rest of the series.

Some people have criticized Butcher for turning away from the idea of “wizard PI” as the series has progressed, especially with this book, which diverges so far from that original premise that the series can never return there. But, personally, I wouldn’t fault Butcher that — because, from the very beginning of Storm Front, Butcher has been slowly but surely building an overarching plot that has always been greater than simply “wizard PI.” And I’ve been invested in that promise of something greater for the entire series; for me, Changes is where that promise finally begins to develop. From this point on, the Dresden Files is a whole different monster. And I look forward to getting to know that monster in the subsequent books.

So, in my opinion, Changes is awesome. An excellent installment of the series that keeps things fresh and new while bringing together ideas from Butcher’s complex, multi-book world-building in a way that creates a story environment similar to but different enough from any we’ve seen so far that the book is propelled to a whole other level while still retaining the core aspects that make it a novel of the Dresden Files.

Great book, all around!



The typical Butcher. No changes here. Great, witty dialogue as always. So-so narration. Nothing particularly wrong with it. Nothing particularly ingenious.


Is It Worth Reading?

Definitely. This is not a book you want to skip in the series. In fact, this is a book you CAN’T skip in the series, for the sole reason that it brings together so many details and plot points from past books that skipping it would leave you with a MAJOR gap in your series knowledge. This is a vital Dresden Files book. And it’s also fantastic. Don’t miss out!


4.5/5 ( )
  ClaraCoulson | Nov 16, 2015 |
It's difficult to look/think back over sixty-plus years of (avid) reading and come up with a definitive number of times a book's ending has left me - literally - reeling. ( )
  idajo2 | Nov 3, 2015 |
Probably the best Harry Dresden book in the series so far. It features practically everybody introduced in the series previously and puts Harry Dresden through an intense and emotional story. The series finally focuses on the war between the Red Court and White Council that previous books mention but never get too involved in. The book has more everlasting effects on Harry Dresden and the direction where the story is going. Great book! ( )
  renbedell | Aug 18, 2015 |
Public Service Announcement: This book ends on a cliffhanger. Like, a lot. You'll want to have the next book on hand well before you finish, in case the bookstore or library is closed when you turn that last page, forcing you to scream and throw things and maybe lose your security deposit.

Second Public Service Announcement: By "the next book," I mean Ghost Story, not Side Jobs. Ghost Story picks up where Changes leaves off. Side Jobs is a collection of Dresden Files-related short stories and may be very good -- I haven't read it yet -- but if you don't know what to expect from it, you may end up doing some of the aforementioned screaming and throwing in spite of what you thought was careful planning on your part. I'm just saying.

Final Public Service Announcement, At Least In This Review: If you're listening to these books rather than reading them on paper, please know that the next book, Ghost Story, is narrated by a very talented reader who is not -- repeat, not -- James Marsters. Advance warning of this sad fact may ease your pain, or at least prepare you for the struggle ahead.

Other stuff: I'm still thinking about how I feel about this novel. It's the first Dresden book that has felt overstuffed and occasionally rushed to me. A great deal happens and a great deal is revealed, and I'm not sure it's adequately explained. I don't know if that's on me or on the author, but between that and the extremely dark ending, I didn't love this book as much as I have the previous several titles.

I certainly found it compelling, though, and the premise grabbed me right from the beginning, so it still gets a solid four stars. Possibly even four and a half. I'm just not sure I want to give it five.

A friend of mine who's more familiar with the series says that the next few books may help me decide what I really think of this one, so watch this space for updates. (Not literally. That would be kind of sad. Go have a life and stuff. Just don't be surprised if this review pops up in your feed again at some point because I've had a change of heart.) ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
This is book 13 of the series so the character and world building was done a long time ago with a masterpiece hand. What can I say? I’m a long-time Jim Butcher fan so my opinion is biased. Reading Changes has reminded me why I love reading Jim Butcher so much! The wry humour showing through the pages… non-stop suspense action chapter after chapter. The story telling quality is 5 out of 5, as per usual. So what new thing can I say about this book that I haven’t said already in previous Jim Butcher reviews? This book is obviously a pivotal point in the series, as aptly titled Changes. New developments in the story is emerging... And the ending was specifically designed to better torment die hard fans to having to wait for a year for the next installment…

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jim Butcherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blue Moon PhotographyAuthor photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundgren, RayCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marsters, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGrath, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simmons, JoieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I answered the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, “They’ve taken . . . ”
I'm not sure it's possible to manipulate someone with candor and truth.
I think you call that enlightenment.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Long ago, Susan Rodriquez was Harry Dresden's lover - until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her caught between humanity and the relentless bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. She disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it. Now she needs Harry's help more than ever.

For the vengeful Duchess of the Red Court has discovered a secret Susan has long kept from everyone - including Harry - and she plans to use it. To prevail, Harry may have to unleash the full fury of his untapped power - and he may have no choice but to embrace the darkness within himself.

Because this time, he's fighting to save his child.
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In the twelfth book of the series, Harry finds out he has a daughter and has to work with his former lover, Susan Rodriguez, to protect them both.

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