Sunday, June 21, 2015
The Dresden Files: Storm Front by Jim Butcher Book Re-Listen Review: Epics have to start somewhere
I love the Dresden files. I am a fairly recent convert to their magic. I discovered them a little over a year ago. This is my third listen to storm front, and while it is not the best book in the series it is the first, and all great stories need a beginning. The only reason I picked up the Dresden files was due to the fact James Marsters, aka Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is the narrator. I wanted to listen to Marsters and the reviews of the series where really good. I was hooked after Storm Front. I tore through the 13 books of the series in a little over a month. I couldn't get enough. I'm not sure what it is about the series. They are great popcorn books, but they are more than that. If I can convert one more person to a Dresden lover I feel I have done a good deed. Anyone can enjoy the series, but if you are a fan of any type of fantasy you should enjoy these books. If you like audio books, you cannot go wrong with Marsters as Harry Dresden. He is Harry Dresden. Storm Front is our introduction into Dresden world, and it is a wonderful introduction which has spawned countless hours of entertainment.
Since this is my third listen to Storm Front, some of the luster has worn off. I see some things that didn't really work, or things that Harry can do in later novels that he couldn't in this novel. These are not things Harry grew into doing, he should be able to do the things he can in later novels in this one. Magic in Storm Front does not come as easy to Harry as it does in later novels. Butcher changed how his universe worked from the first novel. I think he had a grand outline how his world would work, but added to and expanded on it from the when he wrote the first book. That's ok, this was his first publication, and he wasn't sure if this would be his only book he would ever publish. It's still a good book, but it suffers when looking back after reading some of the other books in the series.
Dresden is a wizard. Look him up in the Chicago yellow pages, he is listed under wizard. Storm Front mixes two different genres extremely well. It's a noir novel set in an urban fantasy universe. All the things that go bump in the night are real, and Harry investigates and protects Chicago from all the evil that lurks in the darkness. It doesn't pay well, which plays into the stereotypical private eye trope. He is down on his luck, hated by the police, expect for one friend on the force. He does get called into consult, and this is where our story starts. Harry must help find a murder who is killing by magic.
Harry for the most part is on his own in Storm Front. As the series builds he gets his own Scooby squad, but he flies solo here. The two main people we see are Susan, an attractive reporter, and Karen Murphey, his friend on the police force who brings Harry in as a consultant. They help out some, but Harry solves this crime on his own. It's an exciting ride, and learning about the world Harry lives in is just as much fun as discovering the murderer. The explanations on how magic works, or how Dresden makes potions drive the novel forward while the action is not going on. One of my favorite parts of the novel is the capturing of a fairy and the explanation of how it can be accomplished.
The plot is a little straightforward, and I would have liked a bit more of a twist. It doesn't take away from the overall story, but more of a surprise would have put it over the top. . Still a good murder mystery, with drugs and crime lords. Butcher just mixes in a dark wizard, vampires, and magic to spice things up.
The immense backstory Harry has is also a key to the novel and the overall series. We want to learn more about him and how he became a wizard. Dresden is a great character, he is a likeable and you root for him. He is also a nerd at heart, which endears him to me. He also is not infallible. He screws up showing he is human and adds to his likability. If you have never heard of Dresden files, pick it up! Download it, listen to it, you just need to ingest it in some form or another. You won't be disappointed.