I finally finished reading Butcher's latest, Cold Days, a few days ago.
Harry is recovering from being "dead", and now needs to actively take on his duties as Winter Knight. First, he needs to survive being "nursed" back to health by Mab. Then he needs to survive his Court debut. Then he needs to survive his first assignment (not to mention lots of interference by semi- or un-related entities, some well-intentioned and some less so). If he can manage all that, he also needs to figure out his relationships with Karin, Molly, and his daughter.
I had somewhat mixed feelings about it. It was easier to put down (until the last 50-80 pages) than his earlier books, but it did deal a lot more with... larger-scale, I suppose, issues than earlier. Perhaps going from the tactical view to more of a strategic one.
And I think that... pulling back, I suppose, is part of what made it easier to put down, but I like how it is starting to tie the books together more closely. (I mentioned, previously, wanting to go back and re-read the whole series. It's becoming more necessary; there were a number of references to people and incidents from earlier volumes that I remembered vaguely or not at all.)
What was good? It did a very good job of bringing a lot of Harry's friends back in, quite realistically. The handling of the faeries was quite interesting, and explored a bit more ground than had been seen previously (we even see one in an emotionally vulnerable state at one point; I had begun to believe that was impossible for them). The interaction between Mab and Harry was also quite good (and went in directions I didn't expect). And we find out what the purpose of Harry's island is (and a little bit of its origin). Harry's relationship with Molly goes from complex to absurd; I'm very curious to see how that plays out. And we got a good look at what being the Winter Knight does, and can do, for Harry, both for good and for bad. And at what it might do for (and to) him. Thinking about it, his new relationship with Molly might have an interesting interaction with what the power could do to him. It just occurred to me that Harry's dealings with Maeve in this vein hint at some possibilities there (mostly bad ones, though).
What was less good? It was a bit more predictable than his usual. No, it wasn't without surprises, but it just felt like there were a lot fewer. And, as I mentioned, it was not as engrossing. Neither are exactly major sins.
One subtle thing I liked was that the last several books have had a lot of ripping out of Harry's support system. Not just his friends, but his gadgets and doo-dads. There was a gradual accumulation of those over the first... seven or eight (?) volumes. And they've been getting kneecapped recently. I'm not saying removing those was a good thing, but I liked that we could see some of the limits those removals were imposing on him in this book.
And from an overarching perspective, we see a lot in this book, hinting at where the series is going to be heading. They will be interesting places.
This was not Butcher's best book. Most of the early parts of the series would rate a ten of ten. One or two might even get an eleven. This one was still a very, very good book, just a step or two down from most of the earlier ones. The hints at the future have me just as anxious for the next book as I was for this one, though.