I just ... these books push my buttons so so hard. They have it all -- deep friendship bonds and found-family and long-lost-family and love and heroism and sacrifice and presumed-dead-but-not-really and starting a war for one human life because that's the only thing worth starting a war for ... and that's not even touching the humor and sparkle and shiny, splashy special effects. (I know the f/x are only in my head, but there's just so much mental eyecandy in these books, so much that I wish we'd seen in the TV series because the mental visuals are so awesome!)
I love how these books are, at heart, about sacrifice and love and being a good person against all odds -- even when life keeps kicking you down, even when you don't believe at heart that you are a good person. And I love the characters so much -- on the re-read I'm finding myself even falling for some of the ones that I never could get into the first time around, like Elaine. (Still can't get into Marcone, but I don't dislike him; I think that, like Ivan in the Vorkosigan books, I feel a little weird because so much of the fandom seems to love him and yet I can't really get into the character.)
I love how sympathetic/empathetic Butcher is towards his female characters -- he writes absolutely kickass women, and so many different kinds of women, from the literally kickass sort like Murphy and Elaine, to Charity protecting her children with a heart of steel and Susan growing from "the girlfriend" into a fully realized person with her own life and even gentle, damaged Justine. Most of the characters (not just the women) have an archetype or stereotype lurking under them somewhere, but they're given life on the page -- even if they start out in a role that could be flat and unmemorable, they tend to grow and develop; they have flaws and complexity and life.
And re-reading the books is making me notice how complex and well-done the plotting is -- the individual plots are pretty tight, but so are the long arcs, too. Now that I know where it's going, on the re-read I'm noticing how many times he plants seeds of plot turns that don't come to fruition until four or five books later. (And I'm also noticing dangling bits of plot, loose ends or unanswered questions that may well be setup for things that haven't happened yet!)
This is not to say the books don't have flaws, or things that frustrate me sometimes, but they just have so much heart, and, well, see above re: button-pushing. ♥ ♥ ♥ I'm just so gone for them right now -- all the way into that full-fledged, flailing, uncritical-squee place. OH EVERYONE. ♥
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