Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files

I love big fat books.  I love books that are complex and action packed.  I can’t resist reading an author whose mind has created a whole new dimension that is so thick in detail and elements have so much texture that the reader can practically taste the breeze.  I cannot pass by a book that has hundreds of pages filled with intricate plots twisted up with subplots led by multidimensional characters that range from accurately wicked to plausibly good.

And what makes a profoundly amazing book even better?  A series of  profoundly amazing books.

I truly marvel at the ability of an author to create a plot that carries through multiple books giving readers an epic adventure.  This requires the main plot to have defining wrap up points along the way, to reach points of clarity and definition, for characters to make headway and reach goals, all while still having higher, deeper trials to contend and pursuits to conquer that bind each book in the series into one story line.

I also have a love for series that continue to follow the life of the same characters, but joins them as they face new obstacles and escapades from book to book.  Generally the main plot line is concluded at the end of each book, with possible underlying story lines carrying over, threading the books together, and encouraging readers to grab up the next one in the series.

I have been reading a series of the latter type lately, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. These books take place in real world, modern times, Chicago, and follow the life of the self professed Wizard, Harry Dresden.  Harry scrapes by in life as a self employed wizard and private investigator.   In the beginning of the series, Harry is tasked at the start of each book by a client  with a seemingly easy commission that generally leads to an involved rampage with creatures from dark fairy tails.  The usual battle of good vs. evil is resurrected from book to book, with different characters, appearing and often reoccurring, while our hero, Harry, slides in with a near miss win for the good guys.

The books are funny and entertaining and Jim Butcher, like his character Harry, has grown with each book.  When I started the series I would read one after finishing a heavy series, like George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire Series or Patrick Ruthfuss’s Kingkiller Series (only the first two in this series are out) .  I enjoyed the light Dresden books, and thought of them as sort of clearing my pallet from my latest epic fantasy read before I dove into another.  But as I got farther into the Dresden Files, the books became less light, and more intense. The quick easy reads were becoming longer, more intense and intricate.  The Creatures Harry was battling became increasingly threatening and the margin of success became infinitely tighter.  Much like JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series,  the Dresden Files grow thicker, darker and more powerful and consuming from one book to the next.

I found myself jumping from one book in the series to the next.  No longer the light read between series, these books had become the series I was engrossed in.  And then, I reached the inevitable, I caught up with Jim Butcher.  I read all of the books in the series that he had completed.  And now, I am left hanging, checking his website and Amazon.com for the next book’s release date.  Which by the way, book 14 is listed on Wikipedia.com, but without a release date.

To ease the addiction withdraw, I am reading the companion short story collection, Side Stories.  It gives the reader brief tastes of Harry, from different points in the series, and really shows how much he has grown as a character and also as a wizard and private investigator.  I particularly like that Jim introduces each story with a brief description of time frame and the instigation for its writing.  I am now on the last story in this collection and admittedly a bit grumpy that I’ll have to take a break from Harry’s life.

I have noticed that on some of the book covers Harry is wearing a hat.  In the book series, it is specified that Harry never wears hats.  Although it does, in tradition, match his duster quiet well, and that Jim probably had little to no say in the cover art, it still irks me a little.

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