The Sun Is Rather Shiny In My Review Of. . .
Although I’m an avid sci-fi/fantasy reader, this is my introduction to the Dresden Files. (I know, what HAVE I been doing with my life?) And I’ve got to say, it was a rather good – tongue-in-cheek/rabbit-out-of-the-hat – escapade!
Here’s the blurb to set the scene.
professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is
actually full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play well
with humans. And those that do enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also
knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at
what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business—to put
So when the Chicago P.D. bring him in to consult on a double homicide committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name...
So, what do you get and why did I enjoy it?
First off, you have to understand something about Harry himself. He walks a narrow line between two worlds. On one side, he’s a natural wizard. He’s powerful too . . . if you pick up on the hints we’re given as the story unfolds. But we only ever get to see glimpses of his potential. No doubt because he has to tread very carefully indeed.
There’s a cloud – or in his case, the Sword of Damocles (a commuted death sentence) – hanging over him because of an incident in his early life, during a phase when his gifts were emerging. That incident led to the death of someone, breaking one of the seven laws of magic: Thou shall not use magic to kill. . .
As such, he’s watched closely. Monitored – in a restrictive and often very invasive way. A great hindrance indeed, especially as he tries to make a living as a Private Eye. And one of his biggest customers is the Chicago PD who get to call him in on a regular basis when those cases ‘hard to explain’ come their way. And in Storm Front, the case involves people dying when their hearts burst out through their chests for no reason!
Glorious and blood-festy stuff.
But who could be behind such atrocious acts? And why are the victims being targeted? Yes, this opening case introduces us to some very nasty individuals – both earthly and otherwise – out to cause harm and cover their tracks by any means . . . though as you will see, they prefer the ‘mostly foul’ option.
Harry is a self-depreciating, heart of gold kinda guy who genuinely wants to do right. His police liaison, Lt Karrin Murphy, is blunt as they come, and their relationship is built on patient sufferance and an almost siblinglike friction that’s fun to look in on. (Think X-Files combined with Lucifer and you’ll be on the right track).
The thing is, Dresden is a damned good investigator. But how can he share some of the information he comes across when mere knowledge of it might put the mortal in question in danger? That leads to a bumpy ride with Murphy, who is also as sharp as the proverbial button. She knows Dresden hides things, but can be persuaded to bite her lip IF he comes up with the goods.
Along with those characters necessary to the story arc, we also meet people who are obviously going to be with us in the future. Morgan, for one. A wizardly internal-affairs agent who will also act as Dresden’s executioner if our hero slips up . . . (And boy, does Morgan ache for Dresden to slip). We also meet Bianca, an influential and deadly business woman/madam, who also just happens to be a vampire. (I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of them).
But, as Harry investigates all the comings and goings/all the false leads and dead-ends of this murder case, we also get a glimpse of what’s to come. Jim Butcher has very wisely adopted a course that will gradually develop our wizardly sleuth, and help us pick through all the trials and tribulations he has to endure as a wizardly P.I. walking in a human’s world.
There’s an old adage that rings true here. “Don’t run before you can walk.”
I’m glad to say that Butcher has avoided the temptation to give us an ‘all guns blazing’ superhero, and acquainted us instead to a down to earth guy trying to do his best in a dog eat dog world. Oh, and he just so happens to be a genuine wizard as well.
I enjoyed this opening adventure of the Dresden Files. Dresden’s character is engaging. His manner appealing. The supporting cast looks like they’re going to be annoying, complicated, and fun. And the action is gumshoe/urban/noir fantasy at its best. (Some aspects reminded me of J.R. Rain’s Samantha Moon meets Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series).
As for Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden?
Apart from a tendency to be overly virtuous – even when the circumstances call for a coldhearted response – I’ve no doubt he’s far more powerful and complex than we’ve been led to believe. I look forward to how he evolves as the cases roll in.