Friday, May 24, 2013

The Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher SF BUTCHER

Harry Dresden is the only wizard listed in the yellow pages of the Chicago phone book, and he is prepared to help you with all things magical (except "love potions, endless purses, or other entertainment," which is in the ad). Harry is a magic-working private investigator (not doing as well as he would like), who also works with Chicago PD's "Special Investigations" unit, which means all of the cases that fall into the "unusual" category. The director, Karrin Murphy, knows that Harry has a lot of knowledge, when it comes to the "unusual," and Harry doesn't mind the consulting fee that he receives from the Chicago PD. Harry also has a past. A past that means he needs to keep his nose clean when it comes to magic. Whenever he gets involved with something, whether it be a case or helping a friend out, Harry does whatever he can to get the job done, even if that means some incredibly clever improvising, such as using a magically locked train locker to take down a gruff (as in the three brothers) or riding a zombie dinosaur to take down a necromancer. The Dresden Files is an Urban Fantasy series, and the series is a very enjoyable read.

The books in the series are:

Storm Front
Fool Moon
Grave Peril
Summer Knight
Death Masks
Blood Rites
Dead Beat
Proven Guilty
White Night
Small Favor
Turn Coat
Side Job
Ghost Story
Cold Days

Harry is a great character (one of my favorites, actually). His sarcasm and witty remarks will have you chuckling along, and the way that he is able to figure out how to get through situations not completely relying on his magic make him an even stronger wizard in my eyes (although the other wizards in this world would argue with me). One of the most interesting things that Jim Butcher has done with his character is make a price for the magic. In a lot of Urban Fantasy, magic is used, but the magic workers also can work with things in the modern world. This is not the way it is for Harry. As a wizard (magic user), he emits a "magical" aura. Any technology that enters into that magical aura, including refrigerators and newer model (after the rotary) phones will short-circuit or blow up. So he drives an "ancient" Blue Beetle (Volkswagon) and even has an "icebox" (the kind that actually uses ice to keep the food cold). Of course, the upside is the ability to work magic, and wizards usually live to be three to four hundred years old. One thing that might get onto your nerves, especially if you listen to the books (especially back-to-back): The Dresden Files is a series, but Jim Butcher writes each one of them so that a person not familar with the series could pick one up and be fine (not really that lost). The drawback to this is that the same summaries are used over and over (almost verbatum) as to who the characters are, how Harry's magic is, what his situation is, where he lives, and so on... If you read and/or listen to the books back-to-back, this may drive you up the wall. This was really my only complaint, though.  

One thing to note, though, before completely immersing yourself in the series. Jim Butcher writes A LOT of Dresden Files short stories in compilations. Some of these are gathered in Side Jobs, but they are also in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding SF MY, Mean Streets SF MEAN, Strange Brew SF STRANGE, Hex Appeal SF HEX, Naked City SF NAKED, Many Bloody Returns SF MANY, Songs of Love & Death SF SONGS, Dark and Stormy Knights SF DARK, and Blood Lite SSC BLOOD. Another note: I listened to many of these, and they are read by James Marsters (who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer). They are definitely worth a listen.

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