The Dresden Files (Butcher)

Next up: The Dresden Files, a series of (currently) 15 books, plus a short story anthology.  By Jim Butcher.

the_dresden_files

Okay, I am a Cheaty McCheatyface; the image shows the British covers, not the American versions I own (also, there are multiple US version and I have an assortment).  But in my defense, there are so many books and it’s hard to arrange them nicely when you’ve got three different sizes and two different printings.  I have no regrets.

The series is still going; I think there’s still ~10 projected books to go (holy crap).

Summary

The series follows the shenanigans of Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, the only professional wizard in Chicago’s phonebook.  He works as a private investigator and is the Chicago PD’s go-to guy whenever a case gets… weird.  But solving other peoples’ problems isn’t the only danger Harry gets up to; his own past and actions bring plenty of threats to his doorstep.

The books are largely PI action/mystery affairs, but as the series progresses the nature of the books evolve as the over-arching plot becomes more involved.  There continues to be mystery elements but for some books that is not the focus.

A wide cast of characters join Harry in his investigations and his battles, ranging from close friends to tense ‘enemy of my enemy’ allies.  They also run a gamut of supernatural beings– vampires, sidhe, human, werewolf, gods, demons… The life of Harry Dresden certainly is not a boring one.

My thoughts

This series is one that builds and builds and builds over the course of its run– each book has a plot that (usually mostly) resolves by the end of it, but each book also continues and pumps up the over-arching plot.  The first few books are very typical murder mystery type things, but as the world grows– and Harry’s problems with it– you realize just how involved everything is.  Butcher does a really good job weaving numerous threads together, bringing seemingly innocuous things in several books ahead before they sudden bloom into huge plot points.  I don’t know if he has had the whole thing planned out from near the start, or if he’s just really good at building ad hoc off of what he’s already written, but either way, it’s pretty impressive.

I like the tone of the books.  Harry is a well-meaning sort with a mouth that tends to get him in trouble.  He’s pretty sarcastic and makes lots of Star Wars references (which some of the supernatural creatures he runs into don’t really get, to his chagrin).  The books are amusing in that regard.  I also like the world, being pretty fond of supernatural elements in stories, because this one has some of everything.

My biggest bother with The Dresden Files is how… kind of ‘white knight’y Harry is.  The books are told from his view, which can be kind of male-gaze-y and a little chauvinistic.  The women are generally pretty damn self-sufficient and competent, but some times just descriptions and some of Harry’s thoughts/actions annoyed me.  He does get called out on it by female characters, sometimes, but never really changes.

So, yeah, this series is really long.  It’s a little daunting for new readers, I think.  Though each book on its own is enjoyable, facing the bulk of them is sort of wearying.  I read the first six or so when they first came out, but then couldn’t keep up with them.  Later, after I got my husband hooked, he bought the rest of the series (which was at ~12 books by that point).  So I faced six more books of the series all at once.  I admit that I took breaks between every two, just so I could switch to reading something with a different tone and characters… give myself a rest.  That might be the best way to approach the series.

Rating

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5/7 stars (or maybe something like 5.5… 5.25? This is why I don’t have actual partial stars)

Warnings

Murder-mystery type violence, some gore.  Some discussion of rape.

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