Seriously. I wanted to put up a lot of unique, thought-provoking, discussion causing posts, really, I did. But then I got the next book in the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher and everything else got put on hold.
The protaganist, Harry Dresden, is listed in the Chicago yellow pages under “Wizard”. Most people do not take him seriously except for when they have no where else to turn. This, naturally, leads Harry into all sorts of trouble. In the first four books he manages to take on vampires, werewolves, and organized crime. Not necessarily in that order.
The books are clever and fun, light reading without being terribly light subject matter. Jim Butcher has managed to combine a lot of the hard-boiled style with a lot of basic fantasy and horror premises to create a unique set of circumstances for us to go through with the first person writing.
Like any good series, Dresden’s character is built up and changed by the course of events in each novel. Likewise, supporting characters are introduced and re-introduced as necessary, some appearing in all the novels, some only appearing once or twice. One thing I especially enjoy about the characterization in these books is when Dresden changes his mind about things, earlier books are often referenced with wry observations about the cause of the change. In other words, Harry grows as a person throughout the series.
The magic in the books is very real. What I mean is, Butcher goes through steps to explain how magic works in his books. When Dresden casts a spell or creates a potion, Butcher makes it all seem very believable. There is very little waving of wands or pulling pre-stocked magic potions from the shelves. Instead, there is a lot of concentration and putting elements in place for needed results. In book five, Death Masks, Dresden, the character, compares his magic working to good engineering: the basic principles and physical forces are available to anyone, but they require discipline and training to know how to use them to achieve the desired results.
Thematically, the books range from the classic man vs. himself as Dresden’s inner turmoil and constant struggle not to give in to the dark powers feature prominantly in most of the books. However, there is still room in each of the novels to explore issues of power and faith and reliance, both on the self and on others.
Butcher consistantly puts out a good, engrossing story, writing at a pace just shy of popcorn, but far from camp.
As a final thought, the Sci-Fi channel has picked up the series to re-work as a T.V. show, premeiring in January, 2007, and I, for one, can not wait.
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