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Book spotlight (Fantasy Fiction): The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Take one private investigator. Add magic and dump him in Chicago. Blur the line between the "normal" world and the world of the supernatural and you've got Harry Dresden, Wizard.

Television cast for The Dresden Files
Television cast for The Dresden Files
Storm Front by Jim Butcher - The Dresden Files, book 1
photo from Amazon.com

Jim Butcher's combination of detective and fantasy fiction is brilliant. The characters are the driving force of this series, starring the slightly random and haphazard wizard Harry Dresden and supported by a miriad of others, both good and bad. Dresden's cop friend, Lt. Murphy, his off-and-on girlfriend, Susan the reporter, Bob the talking skull, the High Council (judge, jury, and executioner of all things magic-related), and of course, Dresden's clients - and the foes he fights along the way to getting his paycheck.

This series is written in a first-person narrative from Dresden's viewpoint, giving the entire story a conversational, up-close-and-personal feel to the action and the suspense. When Dresden hurts, you feel it. When he's angry, you're caught up in his anger in a way the usual third-person narrative of most fantasy fiction would never be able to achieve. Everything is more intense with you inside Dresden's mind, until you feel as though you are right there with him, and he's narrating your own story instead.

If that wasn't enough, Butcher also has an amazing attention to detail. Even through Dresden's own eyes, the narration is filled with rich descriptions of the world around him, in a way that seems perfectly natural and flowing - not forced or out of character like some other authors' writing. Instead, the whole series flows effortlessly from one book to the next, and within the books, each scene flows as well, making it even more addicting to read.

Being detective fiction at the core, each book in The Dresden Files also has the sudden twist at the end - and yet, Butcher seems to have mastered this, as well. No matter how good you think you are at preemptively solving the case, Butcher has one last ace to throw at you - and it doesn't come out of left field. As soon as you read it, you feel silly for not having expected that very thing to happen, because it "just makes so much sense! Of course that's what happened! But... why didn't I think of that?"

It's this suspenseful, intense story with a compelling narrator that takes you charging right up to the very end that makes this series so unbelievably great. Each book reveals a little more about Dresden himself, as well as his friends and enemies, and yet maintains the unique personality and individuality of each one - a tough trick for a long series and an absolute must for any successful one.

Storm Front is the first in this shocking tale of murder and magic. Dresden must go up against a wizard wielding black magic - the darkest and most addicting stuff of the supernatural. If he doesn't, he will die. But if he does, the High Council will hunt him down and kill him. Dresden is, to put it mildly, in a bit of a bind... and every step he takes only tightens the ropes twirling around him.

Amazon.com has the entire series ready to ship. Ebooks are available from Barnes & Noble.com. For further information on The Dresden Files or any of Jim Butcher's other series, head over to his official website. Grace A. Dow Library of Midland has most of the books in the series as well, if you'd prefer to borrow them.

Also, I encourage you to watch SciFi's 1 season of their take on The Dresden Files. Be warned, the TV show is not like the books, so if you watch them expecting to see them follow the series to the letter, think again. The episodes were written separately from the series, so the detective puzzles Dresden faces in the TV show are different from the books. Also, a few character changes were made. Some were necessary (for example, Bob's character in the books would have been difficult to pull off successfully on television); others, like Bianca, were changed for reasons unknown to me. Personally, I can appreciate both stories as individually compelling. However, in the long run, I will side with the books. They came first, they are true to the real characters, and they are most assuredly able to stand up to any scrutiny they come under.

Trivia Question: What is the name of Dresden's special vision and why is he so cautious about using it?

Comments

  • aslindy 4 years ago

    I have read a few of these books - and I can't wait to get my hands on more of them! I saw the TV show first, and when I realized it was based on books I immediately had to find the books! I was deeply saddened when the TV show was cancelled - it is one of the best as far as I'm concerned!!
    I really need to find more of the books...

  • Addie.Aynsley 4 years ago

    These books sound like they'd be a fabulous read, and Harry Dresden, what a stellar name!

    Thanks for the great review :)

  • Montana Sue 4 years ago

    Great review. I'm getting closer and closer to picking up a fantasy fiction book and this may just be the one.

  • Dagda 4 years ago

    I really liked the T.V show, and that was before I knew the books existed. I can't wait to get my hands on the first book! Another great review that doesn't give it all away, thanks!

    Still not awake,
    Dagda

  • Melody 4 years ago

    I agree that both are wonderful. I'd probably side with the book more as well, but I love Bob's character in show. Both mediums bring such different merits to the stories, which I really enjoy. Sigh. Now I need to go buy more of the books. Great article!

  • SarahLindesmith 4 years ago

    aslindy: Try looking for the books in your daughter's room. I hear she's got the first several books on her shelf. ;)
    Addie: Absolutely! I know the TV show makes mention of "You're a wizard named Harry? Couldn't you come up with something a little more original?"
    I laughed quite a bit at that one.

  • SarahLindesmith 4 years ago

    Sue: That's great! See, fantasy fiction can be good. My job is working. :)
    Dagda: of course I wouldn't give it all away. Then what's the fun in reading it? I see you're not quite awake, so I suppose I'll let it slide. :)
    Melody: Yes! I have to agree that I like Bob more on the TV series than I do in the books. But, I like Bianca more in the books than I do on TV - and Morgan was just changed so completely that I really can't even compare them. Susan was pretty much the same, and it was funny to see her on screen. I agree, the two mediums really do work together to bring more to the whole world of the Dresden Files - I wish there had been more than one season.

  • aslindy 4 years ago

    Oh no, Sarah... I'm already reading two books right now, I can't start any more!!

  • Trina 4 years ago

    Hi Sarah, just imagine if Harry Dresden looked like James Marsters (heartthrob Spike from Buffy the VS)? It's not difficult when you listen to the first four Dresden books in audiobook format read by none other than he. Not surprisingly, Marsters is an enchanting reader-outlouder. Thanks a lot for your lively reviews, Trina

  • ekaser 4 years ago

    I was completely unfamiliar with Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden until I'd watched the SciFi series, and decided to pick up the first couple of books in the series. Butcher definitely grows as an author throughout the series, so the first book isn't nearly as absorbing as some of the later ones, IMO, but it's still QUITE good, and the series (of books) quickly became one of my all-time favorites!

  • ekaser 4 years ago

    Speaking of "urban fantasy", others that are also quite good are the "Rachel Morgan" (the 'hollows') books by Kim Harrison, and the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs. WELL worth checking out, and worth a good review! Just as with the Dresden books, these other series have "on-going story-lines", so it's best to read them in proper sequence.

  • SarahLindesmith 4 years ago

    Trina: I must hear this for myself - he has a really nice voice, so I bet these books would be fantastic as an audiobook!

    Fun fact: In the TV show, Harry Dresden (an American) is played by a Britich actor, and Bob (an Englishman) is played by an American actor.

    ekaser: I Love Patricia Briggs! I was actually going to write a review of the Mercy series in a few days. They are so great! I'm glad someone else knows and likes them, too! Also, I agree that Butcher's style develops as he continues the series, but he started out pretty well to begin with, which is one reason this series is so successful (in my opinion).