Wizards new and old
Posted August 17, 2011on:
Storm Front (Dresden Files, book 1), by Jim Butcher
Published in 2000
where I got it: purchased new
why I read it: wanted to know what all the fuss was about.
Everyone knows who Jim Butcher is, how can you not? I even watched the short lived Dresden Files tv show that ran as an aperitif for Battlestar Galactica. I must live under a rock, as I’ve never read a single Harry Dresden novel.
It’s Chicago police noir, except the expert on retainer to the police department is a wizard. And broke. And usually in some kind of trouble with the wizard-y council. And electronics hate him. And as the bodies start to pile up, Harry Dresden, wizard, quickly becomes the prime suspect.
Juggling the lovely but cold Karrin Murphy at the Chicago Police department, his new private client Monica Sells, the flirtatious tabloid journalist Susan Rodriguez, and a deadly vampiress who runs a high end brothel, Harry Dresden has enough on his plate that he shouldn’t have to worry about some dark rogue wizard ripping the still beating hearts out his victims. Too bad this weekend is all work and no play for the only professional wizard in Chicago.
Beyond that, I’m not going to dwell much on the plot of the book, because it’s what isn’t in this book that is the most important part. Before grammar checking that last sentence, observe:
Harry’s in and out of a lot of trouble with the white council. What exactly did he do to piss them off so much? Butcher offers plenty of hints and veils, but nothing to chew on.
Where did the disembodied Bob come from, and why is he Harry’s responsibility? Again, whispers and rumors, nothing more than sentence fragments.
What exactly happened to Dresden’s former master? All we’re told is it had something to do with a demon, and that Dresden was directly responsible for the man’s death. And you guessed it, we don’t find out.
So many little snippets and teases and promises of more, Storm Front isn’t so much an urban fantasy/mystery thriller as it is 300+ pages of foreplay. Because you know me, I want the before story, I want to know how all these people ended up where they are and why they are. There is something much larger going on here, something much deeper and more important that just some dude who lives in Chicago and has a basement lab and helps out the cops sometimes. And the only way for me to find out is to pick up more Butcher.
Yeah sure, chunks of the book were pulpy, and I wish the plot had been a little deeper. But it was a super fun read, and with an ending where [redacted:spoiler] shows up right in the middle of [redacted:spoiler], I can forgive a lot of pulp.
The timing for me reading Storm Front is spot on as well, as I’m currently also reading The Hobbit, to be followed by The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s been funny/meta to be reading about one of the original literary wizards in the morning, and then in the evening be reading about a contemporary semi-professional city dwelling wizard who makes Gandalf jokes at every opportunity. I’ve got a newer printing of Storm Front, and there is a nice little author’s note at the end, where Butcher talks about having read The Lord of the Rings as a child, and how it had a profound effect on him. Like I said, perfect timing.
So, are you into Dresden? how many have you read? Are these books that must be read in order, or can I bounce around, like with Vlad Taltos?