→ First, some context. I wasn't exactly spoiled for the book. I avoid fandom-specific sites and conversations, I use Tumblr savior, my friends warn for spoilers. But this is the internet, multifandom spaces aren't always spoiler-free and sometimes people aren't as vague as they think they are. So I knew Maggie existed, though nothing else about her or the plot, really, and... well. I didn't know Harry was going to die, not when I started reading, at least? But then, taking what I've read from those not-so-vague random strangers on the internet, all the OH HARRY ONE DAY YOU'RE GOING TO GET KILLED thing became very noticeable. So I mostly spent the book wondering how Butcher was going to pull that off in first person. (I've already seen it done twice, but both times it was in books by Mujica Láinez and that's a veeeery different writing style.)
Also, fujurpreux plays him. That should have been a hint.
→ Now, to get my single problem with the book out of the way before I move on to the good stuff (read: everything else). You, uh, might have seen me rant on plurk about it. >.> The thing is... I liked it better when you forgot Latin America existed, Uncle Jim. Seriously. I'd pretty much managed to let it slide because the rest of the book was so awesome, I was relieved to see that the Mayan culture was portrayed as (to the best of my knowledge) actual Mayan culture and not the usual Mayincatec mix, aaaaand then he had to go and remind me that, yes! He did mean that Central America was ACTUALLY RULED by vampires! To the point that getting rid of them makes goverments collapse! Please let me headdesk for a moment before I move on, okay? Okay.
→ ... I can't help but start rambling from the end backwards. Heh.
See, what happened with Susan? It was terrible and tragic and heartbreaking and I cried like a baby. And it was also incredibly fitting. The war started with Harry choosing to save Susan over everything else; and now it's gone full circle. THESE BOOKS. ;_; I'm glad she did get a choice, though. I'm glad that she didn't get fully turned.
And the whole thing with Martin, OMG. I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. It takes a lot of skill to write plot twists where the reader's reaction is "OF COURSE THAT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING" instead of "WHAT THE FUCK", and Butcher pulls it off consistently.
→ Okay, now that I've had my moment of poking fun at the ending... that was cruel, man. I mean, the whole book was a long string of THAT'S SO UNFAIR and then that was the cherry on top. Because of the circumstances, most of all. And not only because he'd finally got some tiny good thing. It was... I don't want to say "anticlimactic" because that makes it sound like I didn't like how it was written, and that's not it.
But the guy had just survived so much. He didn't even die from using too much soulfire, which was my main theory/worry. Nope. Not at all.
On that note, we (... well, I) still don't know if Susan actually hired Stevie D, or if it was someone/something else impersonating her. Hmmmmmm.
→ I love love love how the Winter Knight thing was handled. It had all the potential to become the kind of storyline that I hate, but he actually, consciously chose the least evil option. The one with the least potential to screw his free will. I also love how everyone else reacted to it; that Sanya still considers him a good man and that Ebenezer won't lecture him.
And on another THAT'S SO UNFAIR moment, I was sure that Harry was safe from the ~dark side~ after getting rid of Lasciel through the power of friendship. DAMMIT. ;_;
On a more positive (?) note, Mab said something along the lines that he'd be her Knight until he died, right? Does that mean he isn't anymore? Again, HMMMMM.
→ I know I've vaguely mentioned her up there, but I have to properly point out how much I love Susan. Such an amazingly strong person. She doesn't just avoid giving in to her vampire side, she actively takes risks to help innocents. Really, really huge risks.
Also, and related to the previous point, kinda: I like that Harry becoming the Winter Knight made him understand why she hadn't told him about Maggie. Because the first scene between them made me really uncomfortable, even if Harry's anger was understandable, and I'm glad to see that he wasn't supposed to be right about that one.
→ SANYA GIVES ME SO MUCH HOPE HE'S MAKING ME TEARBEND. I just. I love the guy. There are no words for how much I love him. He's like a freaking luck dragon with a sword. And guns and vodka. And I love that in this world hope is not for fools or unrealistic optimists or people who don't know about real evil. He's a realistic guy. He knows the world is full of shitty things. But he's got hope and this is a good thing and it affects others, too. I JUST WANT TO GIVE HIM A HUG.
→ You know who else I love more and more every time? Ebenezer. OBVIOUSLY. It's like every single time I discover some new trait that pings me like whoa. Also I have a Thing for morally ambiguous characters who do what they believe they have to do so that someone else doesn't have to. It takes someone ridiculously strong to be the Blackstaff and remain an overall good person.
→ And now I'm at the usual point of the post where I want to talk about how amazing Murphy is and I don't find the words. She keeps doing the Right Thing no matter what the cost - and she's been there before, she knows how much she risks, and she still does it. And boy did she lose this time. THAT'S SO UNFAIR.
And the whole scene with the sword! How epic was that? *_* I hope she does take it up eventually.
→ It was good to see Thomas still trying to be a good person, in spite of everything. And Molly learning and standing up to do what's right. AND MOUSE TALKING.
→ So basically, that's why I love this series so much and why it doesn't leave me a complete emo wreck in spite of everything that happens. It's not just the humour. It's not just the light moments. In fact, it's the same reason as with Fullmetal Alchemist! It's full of people who could be assholes (really dangerous assholes, too) but they try their best not to be. For all the darkness in the TDF world, it has a lot of faith in humanity. I can't stay down with a tone like that.