Friday, August 6, 2010
Book Review: Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Roc; First Edition edition (April 10, 2000)
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files have long been a book series I've heard of but never investigated. Through the continued harassment of reading about it on twitter and hearing about it elsewhere I decided to finally rectify that.
Interesting, with a quirky wit, the book starts very strong. It's told in first-person, from the perspective of Dresden himself. Dresden is a hardened wizard, and Chicago resident, openly advertising his services in the phone book.
At 322 pages I flew through the book. This was its one weak point. At least for me. I'm of the class of readers that enjoys reading strongly developed magic systems in my fantasy, which are therefore complicated and can be time-consuming to absorb. Yes, I loved Lord of the Rings—which has no apparent rules—but that is because of how well developed everything else is. Not because of magic. Dresden's magic is what my ill-informed mind conceives of as "typical" magic. (Feel free to correct me, my esteemed witches and wizards.) Using circles, blood, potions made of strange concoctions (including motor oil and bus tickets... Huh?), talismans, and of course force of will. I won't say that it wasn't enjoyable, in fact some of the battles rocked the cool element, but there were other times where the use of bread and honey to catch a faery was cute, but just didn't seem to catch my interest. (However the following, interplay of dialogue was fantastic.) Yes, it is a current day book, so it probably works well within that context, and for at least the first book, magic was not the driving factor...it was the murder mystery.
With some interesting characters in the form of an animated skull possessed of an air spirit and a ridiculously amusing faery by the name of Toot (short for a beautifully long rolling of syllables that, by Harry's own admission, he would not share—names are power and he wouldn't share without good reason. Yeah, I know, it's an excuse. But it WAS funny.).
Butcher really sticks it to Dresden in this first novel: he has to deal with smooth, business-minded mafia, a haunted past, juiced-up magical law enforcers, a seductive vampire, a black mage that walks in the shadows, and to top it off: Dresden gets his apartment trashed and has to fight off a demon—naked! All the while with overdue rent.
As Butcher's first published novel, this doesn't read like a first book...so something went obviously right. I'd give it an 8 out of 10. Go check it out.
What did you think? Have you read the book? I'm onto the 2nd one now, but it's not catching my attention as much as the 1st did. (correction: it started Meh, but has built to Yay!)