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Nothing says "I Love You, Dear" like screaming lower back pain!

Sometimes Wrong but rarely in doubt!

03 February 2009

The Dresden Files

Jim Butcher
Rating: Buy, PaperBack, New

Believe it or not Mrs. Bugbear likes to read too. Despite my depiction of Mrs B. as an anti-bibliophile in fact there's a bit of the avid reader in her as well. She makes many comments about the public library that I just don't understand but that's the subject of another book review. Despite my rating above Mrs. Bugbear has read the first three books of the Dresden Files and seems to have enjoyed them, well she reads them when there aren't any Katie Fforde books around the house she hasn't read.

There might be spoilers below:

The Dresden Files is the creation of Jim Butcher, there's a listing of the books and ISBN's on Jim Butcher's Wikipedia entry. The first book Storm Front was published in 2000 and the series continues through 11 books with Turn Coat to be released some time this year. The tenth book, Small Favour (2008) debuted at number two on the New York Times best seller list.

The books follow the adventures of Harry Dresden, a self-proclaimed wizard for hire set in today's world. Written in the first person (not my favorite) Harry Dresden will appeal to geeks everywhere. Harry has all the earmarks of the socially awkward knight in slightly tarnished armor. The comparison has been made by others that Harry Dresden is just an adult Harry Potter with a American mid-west accent. While some parallels can be made between Potter and Dresden I really think that Dresden is the more appealling character as Butcher is writing to an adult audience and weaves more complex plots with less of the formulaic nature of all but the final Potter book.

Serials usually suffer from lack of character development, problems with continuity and plot issues in my opinion. Butcher seems to navigate the through these literary shoals only occasionally scraping paint off of the hull of the Dresden Files. The author further manages to tie together multiple multi-book story arcs without failing to produce books that are readable on their own merits, a laudable achievement.

One complaint however is that the multi-book arcs take too many books to conclude and Butcher seems to let some of the arcs lie fallow too long with only minor advancement. Butcher also shies away from killing major secondary characters (those that survive the book that they're introduced in). Sometimes it's necessary and I feel that the meaningful death of character adds to a book rather than subtracts from. Okay so it subtracts a character but there are so many things that you can do with killing a character.

A second complaint is that Butcher sometimes can't seem to decide whether he's writing a serious or light-hearted book. The Dresden files seem to wander between the two poles but life can be like that so perhaps it's a deliberate tactic on Butcher's part. Butcher's other series The Codex Alera seems to be a more serious work with interjections of humour rather than wandering back an forth as the Dresden books do.

Overall Butcher's Dresden Files are an enjoyable read and really only suffer from the fault of being an open ended serial rather than a limited series. It's not the Xanth series but he's almost a third of the way there and considerably younger than Piers Anthony.

In other news the drawing for the shelf in the bathroom passed muster and we've entered the construction phase. Mrs. Bugbear's father is building and installing the shelf and associated cabinets. I'm soon going to realize my dream of a bookshelf beside the throne. I've noticed that Mrs. Bugbear is trying to place limits on how many books I'm allowed to store there though.

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