Check Out Our Exclusive Peek at Jim Butcher's New Dresden Files Entry, Peace Talks

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Check Out Our Exclusive Peek at Jim Butcher's New Dresden Files Entry, Peace Talks

A cut-out of the cover of Jim Butcher's Peace Talks

A crop of the cover of Peace talks by Jim Butcher
Statue: Bait

Chicago wizard Harry Dresden is coming back for more magic into chaos Peace talks, the newest fantasy author Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, which has existed for 20 years this year. Finally, there is some hope that the supernatural conflicts that have torn the city apart could be resolved – but will it last?

Here’s the book trailer – which debuts exclusively on io9 today –written, directed and co-produced by Priscilla Spencer, in collaboration with Butcher. It stars Jason Bernardo as Harry Dresden, Sarah Flannery as Karrin Murphy, Christopher Showerman as John Marcone and Birgit Ludemann as Lara Raith. Butcher fans will definitely want to watch for one until the very end big reveal (plus, bonus Spider Man joke).

Yes, Dresden already has another adventure ahead – titled Battle Ground, which might suggest that Peace talks is not going as he would like. Want more? Butcher will do a Q&A with Spencer at 12:30 PM. today on his website, and you can too follow him on Twitter and follow his news Twitter for more Dresden Files exclusives. In addition, Spencer will send reaction videos to the Peace talks trailers from fans, so if you’re so inclined you can send your clip to [email protected] for possible recording.

Battle Ground is out on September 29 (October 1 in the UK), while Peace talks arrives on July 14, but you don’t have to wait any longer to dive into the latest in Dresden. has io9 the first chapter of Peace talks for you here (keep your eyes open for the Yoda joke).


Chapter One

My brother ruined a great run saying, “Justine is pregnant.”

That completely kicked me out of my mental zone and suddenly I became aware of the burning in my legs, my heavy breathing. I left my gear and gradually slowed down until I ran. In the blue light of the early morning of July, Montrose Beach was deserted. It was not yet hot. That’s why I was at oh-God-thirty.

Thomas also slowed down until we walked side by side. His dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Like me, he was wearing an old T-shirt, sweatpants and sneakers. He was one of those men who looked so good that it made people look around to see if they were being tricked.

He was also a vampire.

“Let me do this right. You pick me up this morning, “I said. “We came all the way down. We drove six miles in the sand and neither of us said a word. The whole city is silent and silent. We have barely seen a moving car. “

“Yes?” Thomas asked.

I frowned. “So why bother ruining it?”

His mouth trembled in the corner. “I’m sorry I screwed up your husband here, Hemingway.”

“Nnngh,” I said. We had reached the end of our last lap and were almost back with the cars. I stopped and turned to the lake and breathed in. The weighted vest I was wearing was pinched somewhere on my shoulder, making it less able to move and I rolled it irritated.

Far above the lake, the blue began to lighten. Sunrise would be soon.

“Are you sure?” I have asked.

“Very sorry,” he said.

I looked sideways at him. The ideal symmetry of his face was strained by tension. His eyes, which were sometimes blue, mostly gray, turned to reflective silver. I knew the look. He was hungry.

“How did that happen?” I asked him.

He looked sideways without turning his head and raised his eyebrows. “Has no one ever talked to you?”

I frowned. “I mean, weren’t you careful?”

“Yes,” said Thomas. “And my species is as good as barren. It happened anyway. ‘

“What happens now?”

“Usually the usual. Except that the baby’s hunger will draw life energy from Justine. She will be fed continuously for the next seven and a half months. “

I studied it. “Is that dangerous?”

He swallowed. “According to family records, just over 50 percent do not survive delivery or die shortly afterwards.”

“Infernal bubbles,” I said. I kept staring at the water. Blue had made way for lighter blue and then for the first wash of gold. Chicago started to wake up around us. The noise from the highways slowly escalated. Birds in the sanctuary at the end of the beach began to sing.

“I don’t know what to do,” said Thomas. “If I lose her. . . ‘

He went no further. He didn’t have to. There was a universe of pain in that ellipse.

“It’ll be all right,” I said. “I will help.”

“YOU?” Thomas asked. A faint smile briefly lit his profile.

“I’ll let you know I’ve been a full-time dad for over a month, and Maggie isn’t dead yet. Obviously, I have crazy parenting skills.”

The smile faded. “Turn right. But.. Harry…”

I put my hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry,” I said. “There’s plenty of that going around without looking for it anymore. She needs to be taken care of. So whatever happens, we’ll do it.”

He stared at me for a moment and nodded once.

“Meanwhile,” I said, “you should probably focus on taking care of yourself so you can be there for her.”

“It’s going well,” he said, waving his hand.

“You do not look well.”

That made him push his head towards me and look angry. The expression changed him. Suddenly he looked less like a human and more like something cut out of marble. Angry, angry marble. I felt tense in the presence of a creature I knew was really dangerous.

He looked at me angrily, but he had to look up to do it. My older brother is about six feet tall, but I’m six nine. Usually I have a big advantage when I look down on him. Today I had less than usual because I was in the sand in a depression.

His voice was cool. “Never mind, Harry.”

“If I don’t,” I asked, “are you going to hit me?”

He looked at me angrily.

“Because you know. I’m all Captain Winter now. It may not go the way you think it would.”

He scoffed. “Please. I would tie you with your guts.”

I peered at him. Then I spoke carefully and slowly. “If you don’t take care of yourself and act like a normal person,” I said, “maybe we’ll find out.”

He frowned and started to speak, a sad expression on his face.

“No,” I said simply. “No, you can’t do that. You can’t get into an emo-vampire fear spiral here. Because that’s selfish, and you can’t afford to think like that. No more.”

He stared at me for a while, his expression furious, then thoughtful, then troubled.

Waves rolled onto the beach.

“I have to think about them,” he said.

“That would be a good man,” I said.

His gray eyes stared at the lake. “Everything is going to change,” he said.

“Yes.”

“I’m afraid,” he said.

“Yes.”

Something in his body language relaxed and suddenly he was just my brother again. “I’m sorry,” he said. “That I’ve become tense. I. . . don’t like to talk to you about vampire things. “

“You would rather pretend to be normal brothers with normal problems,” I said.

“Wouldn’t you?” he asked.

I peered at my feet for a while. “Can be. But you can’t ignore things that are real just because they are uncomfortable. I’ll sit on you and make sure you take care of yourself if you have to. But it’s probably better for them if you do.”

He nodded. “Probably. I have a solution in mind,” he said. “I’ll work on it. Good enough?”

I raised both my hands, palms out. “I’m not your father,” I said. Then it was my turn to frown. “Will your father’s side of the family be a problem?”

“When are they no problem?”

“Hey,” I said. The silence stretched. Above the lake, the sky began to swell with the first weak band of deep orange. It had already come to us behind the skyscrapers. The light moved steadily along the sides of the buildings.

“Sometimes,” said Thomas, “I hate what I am. I hate to be myself. ‘

“Maybe it’s time to work on that,” I told him. “It’s not really something you want to teach a small child.”

He looked at me angrily. Then he said, “When the hell did you go deep?”

“By experience, wisdom I have earned,” I said in Yoda’s voice. But it tickled my throat strangely and made me cough. I dealt with it longer than necessary and got up again when Thomas said, his tone suddenly tighter, “Harry.”

I looked up to see a young man approaching us.

Carlos Ramirez was of medium height, perhaps of slightly more than average muscles. He filled in and got that solid grown-up look at him, although for some reason I still expected to see a lanky boy in his early twenties when I saw him. He had grown his dark hair longer. His skin was bronzed by slope and the sun. He walked with difficulty, limping and leaning on a thick stick carved with symbols – the wizard’s staff. He was wearing jeans and a tank top and a light jacket. Ramirez was solid, a proven fighter, a good man to have with you, and was one of the few people on the White Council of Sorcery I considered a friend.

“Harry,” he said. He nodded cautiously at Thomas. “Raith.”

My brother nodded back. “For a while.”

“Since the Deeps,” Ramirez agreed.

“Carlos,” I said. “How’s your back?”

“I know when it’s going to rain,” he said, and smiled at me quickly. “Won’t dance much for a while. But I won’t miss that damn chair.”

He raised a hand. I fisted with him. “What are you taking from the coast?”

“Council matters,” he said.

Thomas nodded and said, “I’ll go.”

“Not necessary,” said Ramirez. “This is going to be public this morning. McCoy thought it would be good if someone you knew told you, Harry. ‘

I grunted and untied the damn weighted vest. White Council affairs usually gave me a headache. “What is it this time?”

“Peace talks,” said Ramirez.

I raised an eyebrow. “What, seriously? With the Fomor? ‘

The supernatural world had been turned upside down lately. Some madman had managed to completely wipe out the Red Court of Vampires, and the resulting vacuum had destabilized power relations that were centuries old. The biggest result of the chaos was that the Fomor, an undersea power that almost no one had talked about in my life, had risen with revenge, seized territory from various powers, and destroyed ordinary people – especially the poor, migrants, people without much champions to stand up for them.

“A summons from the signatories of Unseelie Accord,” Ramirez confirmed. “Every great power comes to the meeting. Apparently, the Fomor asked for it. They want to solve our differences. Everyone sends representatives. ‘

I whistled. That would be something. A gathering of influential members of the greatest powers in the supernatural world, at a time when tensions were high and temperatures were high. I felt sorry for the poor city where that little dinner would take place. Actually . . .

I felt my mouth open. “Wait. Are they doing it here? Here? In Chicago? “

Ramirez shrugged. “Yes, that’s why McCoy sent me to tell you.”

“Whose stupid idea was that?” I have asked.

“That’s the other reason McCoy sent me,” said Ramirez, grinning. “The local baron offered his hospitality.”

“Marcone?” I asked. Mister Johnnie Marcone, former robber baron of the Chicago outfit, was now Baron Marcone, the only vanilla human who signed the Unseelie chords. He had succeeded a few years ago and since then he has built up his power base.

“That stunt he did with Mab this spring,” I said, frowning.

Ramirez shrugged and spread his hands. Marcone maneuvered Nicodemus Archleone into a corner and took everything he had, without breaking any of the statutes of the chords. Say what you want about the man, but he’s competent. It impressed many people. ‘

“Yes,” I said darkly. ‘That was all. Tell me that the Council does not want me to be our emissary. “

Ramirez blinked. “Wait what? Oh… Oh God, no, Harry. I mean… No. Just no.”

My brother covered his mouth with one hand and coughed. I chose to ignore the wrinkles in the corners of his eyes.

Ramirez cleared his throat before continuing. “But they will expect you, if necessary, to be the Council’s connection to Winter and provide security for the members of the Supreme Court present. Everyone will behave under host law, but they will all bring their own muscles. “

“Trust but verify,” I said. In horror I took off the weighted vest and threw it on the beach. It made an extremely heavy weight thump when it hit.

Ramirez raised an eyebrow. “Jesus, Harry. How much does that thing weigh? ‘

“Twenty-two,” I replied.

He shook his head. His expression was equally penetrating and pensive. I had learned to recognize the look – that “I wonder if Harry Dresden is still Harry Dresden or if the Queen of Air and Darkness has transformed him into her personal monster look”.

I get it a lot these days. Sometimes in the mirror.

I looked at my feet again and studied the ground. I could see it better as the sun got closer to the horizon.

“Are you sure the Supreme Court wants me on the security team?” I have asked.

Ramirez nodded firmly. “I put it on. They told me I could choose my own team. I choose you. I want you there.”

“Where it’s easier to keep an eye on him,” Thomas muttered.

Ramirez grinned and bowed his head. “Maybe. Or maybe I just want to see some more buildings burn down.” He nodded at me and said, “Harry. I’m in touch.”

I nodded back. “Good to see you,” Loose. “

“Raith,” said Ramirez.

“Warden Ramirez,” my brother replied.

Ramirez strolled away, leaning on his walking stick, moving without much grace but with great energy.

“Well,” said Thomas. He saw Ramirez leave and his eyes narrowed. “Looks like I can get better moving. It’s getting complicated.”

“You don’t know,” I said. “Maybe it will be a nice dinner and everyone will sing ‘Kumbaya’ together.”

He looked at me.

I looked at my feet again and said, “Yes. Maybe not.”

He sniffed, clapped my arm and started walking back to the car without saying anything. I knew he would be waiting for me.

After he left, I got out of the depression into the sand and picked up my weighted vest. Then I turned around and studied it as the sun began to rise seriously and I could finally see clearly.

I had been in a human footprint.

It was over three meters long.

Once I looked, I saw that there was a line of them, several meters long, stretching from one to the other. The line led to the water. The rising breeze by the lake was already beginning to blur the contours of the footprints.

Perhaps their appearance was entirely coincidental.

Yes. Maybe not.

I wrapped the weighted vest over my shoulder and trudged back to the car. I had the sinking feeling that it was going to be hectic again.


Jim Butcher’s excerpt Peace talks reprinted with permission. Copyright Ace.

Peace talks, book 16 in the Dresden Files series, is out July 14; Battle Ground, book 17, will be published on September 29 (October 1 in the UK). You can pre-order both here.


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