Monday, January 5, 2015

Series Review - the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Hello, my friends, and welcome to 2015!  Thus far, I have spent the new year fighting off a terrible cold, continuing in my plans to re-read the entirety of the Discworld series (I'm currently on Sourcery, so I've still got a long way to go), and working on a project for my Ravelry swap.  This project may or may not involve sparkly pink yarn and skulls.

This swap, in fact, is based on the Dresden Files, so it seems fair to give them a run-down.  I didn't start reading them until the last few years, but they hooked me pretty well.  My husband's best friend kept insisting I would like them, and curse him if he wasn't right.  (Of course, I got him hooked on the October Daye books, so I think we're about even.)  I'm actually kind of surprised that I like the books as well as I do, because generally, I don't handle books very well where bad things are constantly happening to the protagonist.

Harry Dresden is the only professional wizard in Chicago.  In the beginning of the series, there's a bit of the Humphrey Bogart, down-on-his-luck private eye feel about Harry, especially when you realize that there aren't many people willing to pay someone to do magic, because they don't believe magic exists.  Fortunately, the local police has a detective, Karrin Murphy, who is willing to put a little faith in magic when weird crap goes down.

Throughout the series, Harry gains allies and enemies, builds a family and a community for himself, and then has it all stripped away from him.  Things don't go well for Harry, is what I'm saying.  This isn't the case of a protagonist who has a lot of stuff thrown at them but they, through just being The Best At Everything, manages to survive with nothing more than a bruise - Harry's life gets straight-up ruined a couple of times.  He survives through skill, a talent for making incredibly bad decisions and bargains, and pure luck.

What I like the most is that, over the course of the 15 books in the series, Harry has changed and developed - he doesn't remain static though the experiences, and that part makes him feel much more realistic.  Not only that, but Harry's friends and enemies also adapt and incorporate changes in the status quo, so the next time Harry deals with them, it isn't just a rehash of the last encounter.  We discover later in the series that Harry's allies are capable of handling things without him (not particularly well, but they manage), and that isn't really something you see in a long series centered on one character.

Because so much happens to Harry, I find it hard to marathon these books.  There are some cases where I know what's going to happen, which just makes it worse.  However, they do stand up to a re-read, particularly when you realize that Butcher has been laying the groundwork for some of the later developments from the very first books.

Overall, five stars, and I highly recommend the audio books, narrated by James Marsters - his is the voice I hear now when I read the books, and I'm not complaining.