So you can read my books

Thursday, January 3, 2013


{Or sometimes it would be wise to listen to Merlin}

Have you been missing the sub-plots, friendships, and magical uniqueness of HARRY POTTER?

Do yourself a favor and start reading the DRESDEN FILES by Jim Butcher.

Its origin?  Listen to Jim tell it -

"Just because my writing teacher had 30 or 40 novels under her belt, that didn't mean she knew anything.

So kind of to prove her wrong, I set out to fill out all the little worksheets she had in her class, and proceed according to things she had suggested for new writers to do and I was going to show her what terrible unimaginative pablum was the result...

and I wrote the first book of The Dresden Files. I wrote it to prove how much my writing teacher didn't know and learned a valuable lesson about humility as a result.

She read the first three chapters of the very first book and she looked up at me and said "You did it. This will sell."

I said "What?"

It's basically Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler projected through a Laurell K. Hamilton lens — only it stars Gandalf as the P.I..

He's tall; he carries a staff of wood that focuses his wizard powers; he walks a lot (the fallout from his magic breaks down his poor car all the time.)

Things you will find in The Dresden Files series include
wit, sarcasm (in such a way that they really do need to be two separate bullet points), adrenaline, fantasy, a vivid portrait of the Chicago landscape, wizardry, and supernatural and preternatural beings galore.
Things you will not find are the classic fantasy downfall known as the "infodump," unbelievable situations--

yeah, okay, it's fantasy, but Butcher presents it in a way that will have you glancing over your shoulder and racing across footbridges, just in case.
It is hard, especially when Dresden is jokingly referred to in some circles as "the other wizard named Harry" not to draw parallels with Harry Potter.
Both are orphans who found out about their magical talent in adolescence. Both have god parents who figure heavily into their lives and into the story lines.
Both answer to a higher governing body of wizards with their own set of rules outside those of "normal" society. Both find themselves pursued and persecuted by that same governing body.
What makes these parallels even more interesting is that Butcher and Rowling started working on their series on separate continents at roughly the same time so the similarities are, for the most part, coincidental.
As is often the case with fantasy series, The Dresden Files admittedly starts out a little slow, a little superficial but the more you read, the better it gets.
The more you read, the bigger the trouble Harry (that's our hero, the "other wizard named Harry") gets himself into, the more he relies on his companions to help him work through.
The whole saga starts with one secondary character, Karrin Murphy, a Chicago Police Detective assigned to a special unit formed to deal with just the kinds of cases into which Harry drags her anyway.
Moving past the first book, Storm Front, we gain more new characters along the way--good, bad and grey characters who continue to grow as the series progresses-
including faeries and Sidhe (one of which is Harry's bonafide faerie godmother- the vicious Grimm faerie tales kind),
werewolves, vampires (of the nightmarish variety), a sword-wielding Holy Knight, and a human Hannibal Lector mafia don, all living and co-existing (generally) within the streets of the city.
Open-ended serial novels, though, generally suffer from two problems:
 the first is "Creeping Power Syndrome"-
a tendency to saddle the main character with more special powers, or super-powered buddies, or magic weapons, or what have you (the Anita Blake series suffered from this something fierce).
The other problem is an unshakable status quo:
no matter what happens in the book, somehow the main character needs to end up roughly where he started at the beginning: same relationships, same social and economic status, same house.
As JK Rowling avoided those problems, so does Jim Butcher:
Harry finds that no matter how much more skilled he becomes, he is forever out-numbered and out-classed by his rising number of enemies.  His friends and loved ones suffer as they fall in battle.  He is haunted by their wounds.
JK Rowling's subplots, in my opinion, made her story what it was. The Marauder's were my favorite part of the tale (Harry's father and his friends).
In like manner, the sub-plots from three books back may return as a many-headed Hydra.  Hated foes return, sometimes pleading for help, sometimes dropping their masks, showing even more fearsome faces.
In 11 books Harry comes up against ethical challenges in which he's been tempted to do the wrong thing, but inevitably he manages to find a way out that enables him to both save the day and leave his moral code intact.
But as with Rowling's later Potter books, Butcher in the 12th, doesn't give Harry a way out, leading to a necessary compromise and an actually heart-wrenching conclusion to a long-running secondary plot line.
Until in the 14th book, COLD DAYS, Harry finds himself in a role similar to Darth Vadar but finds a way to frustrate the Sidhe Queen of Ice and Darkness (the emperor in STAR WARS terms) and keep his soul ... but the cost is steep.
Jim  originally intended for the Dresden Files to contain 20 Case Files
 and then finish off with a  "Big Apocalyptic Trilogy" but has stated in several signing sessions t
hat the events that take place in Changes (14th) were intended to happen at the book 10 midpoint,
so the casefiles may run as high as 22-24 books.

The titles for the trilogy are:
Hell’s Bells, Stars and Stones, and Empty Night. (The "Sfumato's" of Harry Dresden.)

Jim Butcher is such a fine writer that he made a zombie T-Rex work!  Yes, a zombie T-Rex.  When you see how he does it, you will believe it.

When reality is collapsing and your bleeding body one breath from dying, what better way to charge a hoarde of the undead than by riding into them atop a zombie T-Rex?

For Reals


  1. This is a series I've been wanting to read for a long time. Thanks for the synopsis.


  2. Donna:
    I think you would enjoy it. The series really kicks into gear with Book III GRAVE PERIL.

    The vid where you see two great fantasy authors laughing and comparing notes is great.

  3. I've heard of this but didn't know what it was all about. Thank you for writing this. Something else to put on my TBR, but not until I read your book first.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  4. Haven't read this series yet. Sounds a little more adult though.

  5. Shelly:
    I like your new Avatar photo. I appreciate you putting me ahead of Jim Butcher -- the only time that will happen in my life! :-)

    Those of us who fell in love with Harry Potter have matured, so I thought those like me might enjoy reading about an adult Harry Potter with the same depth of characterization, magical "reality," and the themes of friendship, love, and loyalty.

    Besides, who wouldn't love a wizard whose aide is a lecherous skull, whose huge cat is called Mister, and whose enomous Foo Dog is called Mouse?

    And you will find yourself laughing out loud while reading his adventures -- also tearing up a bit because life is like that.

  6. I have been wanting to pick this series up. I may just make this the other series I get hooked on, after the House of Night one. Thanks for the info, Roland!

  7. Lorelei:
    I truly believe you will like the series. It includes a growing number of strong females on the light and dark side -- sometimes a bit of both.

    We tag along with Dresden as he grows as a wizard and a person, becoming darker as the tales unfolds. I became so very attached to Dresden.

    He is exactly what I would want a wizard/hardened detective/smart mouth anti-hero to be.

    He’s screwed by his friends, by life, by himself and yet, he still keeps kicking along the way collecting people to care for and to subsequently become liabilities. When they are hurt or killed for being in his world, Harry bleeds and a part of him dies with them.

    And yet along the way, it is laugh-out funny. You don't want to miss this ride.