Dresden Files

I just finished listening to “Ghost Stories” by Jim Butcher. I started the series a few years ago. Picked up “Storm Front” as a beach read and really enjoyed it. I got into the audio books after about book 5 or 6 based on a friend’s recommendation.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the entire series. Dresden is a character you can really root for and understand. The magical rules of the universe feel consistent and balanced. Despite Dresden, and others, having magical powers they never really seem over powered. Sure, they have magic and many beings could tear a human to shreds, but the really powerful ones either are confined by tougher magic, or just don’t care about humanity to bother.

Likewise, most of the enemies Dresden encounters are vulnerable to good old fashioned human weapons. He makes it a point to carry a pistol because sometimes that is the most effective weapon. This helps keep it believable that humanity hasn’t been overrun by monsters. Not all can be killed, but most can be harmed.

One of the other nice things about the series is the idea that the magical world isn’t deliberately kept secret from humanity. Dresden himself makes no effort to hide that he is a wizard, even advertising in the phone book. So many pieces of fiction try to come up with an elaborate cover story for why these fantastical worlds exist right under out noses. Some of them succeed, Harry Potter didn’t really interact with the real world much. But after a certain point, the secrecy just gets silly;  the stargate program being a secret in the first few seasons of SG-1 worked, it got dumb once alien fleets starting blowing up over head on a regular basis.

In the Dresden universe, the magical world isn’t a secret. In fact, many people know about it. It’s just ignored by most people because they know magic isn’t real.  The ability of people to ignore or alter facts to fit their own view of reality is very powerful. And since, while there are lots of monsters and magic users out there, there are far, far more regular people.

The books are a fun read but are also great things to listen too. Because they are written from the first person, having a single narrator read them really gives you the sense that you are listening to Harry Dresden. James Marsters did a wonderful job with the series, really capturing the essence of Dresden in his tone.

This proved to be a detriment to the latest book which had a different narrator. The guy who did it did a good job, but because you’ve been listening to a different voice for 13 books, the change is really jarring. I hope Marsters returns for the rest of the books.

While the books all follow a similar concept, Harry Dresden has a case to solve that involves some magical entity in and around Chicago, they have each proven different enough to not get boring. Character growth has been consistent, yet slow, throughout the books, not only for Dresden but for the other characters as well.  Something may happen to a character in one book, and you may not seen them again for a few books, but when you do, they’ve changed slightly as a result of previous events. No one remains a cookie cutter caricature.

I don’t want to spoil any details for anyone who hasn’t read the series so I won’t go into any specifics, but I highly recommend you pick them up. It’s a great, fun, read. Plenty of cheesy geek references in there to watch out for.

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