If Ghost Story was all about filling in missing pieces from the first half of the series, Jim Butcher’s latest in the Harry Dresden series, Cold Days, is about setting the stage for the rest of the series. In addition to feeling his way around his new role as Winter Knight, Harry begins to learn more about the obscure foe that has beset him from the very first story of the series. However, as important as that knowledge is, Harry must first survive Mab’s initial assignment.Harry’s role as Winter Knight provides its own problems and will bring enough entertainment and danger for it to be its own subplot in multiple books. However, anyone who has stayed with the series understands that nothing happens without a reason. Harry is not the Winter Knight just to provide subplots and individual story lines. Given the revelations about a greater evil hinted at and directly mentioned in Cold Days, a reader knows that as detrimental as it may be to become involved in the Fae Courts, there is something about Mab and/or the Winter Knight that is going to play a pivotal role in future proceedings. It will be highly interesting to watch him balance his new, darker powers with his inherent goodness, as well as watch him go toe-to-toe with Mab. Given how Mr. Butcher references his other powers, like soul fire, it will be even more fascinating to see how these dueling powers find a balance within Harry, if they do at all.Still, as exciting as all the world-building is for the final showdown, Cold Days is action-packed and is just as nerve-wracking as one has come to expect from Mr. Butcher and Harry. In particular, Harry’s refusal to accept the full results of his actions, namely the mantle of the Winter Knight and his close working relationship with Mab, provides some highly surprising and entertaining scenes. The fallout for this new role is not quite what one might have expected, while Harry’s own reactions remain uniquely his. The psychological impact of everything Harry has experienced has yet to have made itself fully known, and this is one area that remains primed for further disclosure/discovery. Physically, Harry might be back to his 100 percent, but mentally, the damage obtained along the way is vast. The possibilities are endless as to what this might mean for Harry in the future, but readers/fans know that it is going to cause problems and most likely wring a few heartstrings along the way.After missing James Marsters fiercely in the previous audiobook, it was a relief to have him back and in his quintessential role of Harry. The character is just not the same without him. Without sounding like a broken record, his performances are essential to understanding Harry’s anger, his desperation, his bone-weary tiredness, his joy, and every other emotion to which he succumbs and even those he doesn’t know he is feeling. Add to that his spot-on voices and the stories comes to life in a way that is not typically found in audiobook performances.Just when one questions how the Dresden story is going to continue for another ten books or so, Mr. Butcher provides enough hints for readers to glean where he is ultimately taking the narrative. Those intimations are enough to start building anticipation for the ultimate showdown between Harry and his shadowy nemesis. Based on Cold Days, one can guess that it is going to be dark and dangerous and deadly. I cannot wait.