Jim Butcher is a nerd’s nerd, a geek’s geek. He has interests in martial arts, music, LARPing and is an avid gamer. He was first published due to extreme tenacity, force of personality and a little bit of pseudo-stalking. Since then he has written three separate series. The Dresden Files, The Codex Alera and coming soon The Cinder Spires (a steampunk series). The Dresden Files is currently waiting for the 16th installment “Skin Game”, and is planned to be 20 books long total, with an apocolyptic trilogy to finish up the series after the final traditional book in the series. There are also several short stories in the Dresden-verse that he compiled in “Side Jobs”
The Dresden Files is an urban fantasy series. There are vampires (don’t worry, none of them sparkle), werewolves, fairies, wizards, ghosts, angels, gods, magic and at one point, Santa Claus like you have never seen him before. Incorporating mythology and magic into the modern day world.
“My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. I'm a wizard. I work out of an office in midtown Chicago. As far as I know, I'm the only openly practicing professional wizard in the country. You can find me in the yellow pages, under "Wizards." Believe it or not, I'm the only one there. My ad looks like this:
HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other EntertainmentYou'd be surprised how many people call just to ask me if I'm serious.”
Harry Dresden is Chicago’s only professional wizard. He is also a private investigator, usually in supernatural type situations. The books follow him through a series of adventures in the supernatural world, and Chicago. Harry is a self-titled chauvinist. Personally I would consider him more overly chivalrous with a touch of stupid. As a strong independent woman I should perhaps be offended by this (as some reviewers that I have read are), however, I mostly find it amusing. He opens doors for women whether they want him to or not, and in true old timey private investigator style, he is always a sucker for a damsel in distress.
Harry was orphaned fairly young and taken in by another wizard to be raised and trained in his craft. Due to some various happenings (sorry for the vagueness, I am trying to avoid any spoilers) he ends up being raised by a different wizard toward the end of his training. The governing body of wizards fears that he is a dark wizard, and is carefully watching him for any signs of black magic.
Harry uses a complex combination of smarts, magic, luck and sarcasm to beat the bad guys and save the day. His characters are well developed and seem to grow along with Harry’s knowledge of them as the series progresses. The first person narrative gives us a slightly more limited view of Dresden’s world, but as he expands his horizons, his world broadens for us as well. This gives the books a very personal feeling to them, and a very natural way for the secondary characters to develop. I have read a lot of books in my lifetime, and of the first person narrative ones that I have read, I feel that Jim Butcher does an amazing job of not missing a step in Harry’s thought processes, without boring us with things like “what should I wear today?” and “how did my sock get there?” sorts of things.
Harry has a number of people in his life who help him as each new bad situation arises. The first one we are introduced to is Karen Murphy, a police officer for the Chicago police department. She has seen enough weird things to know that the supernatural exists, and Harry Dresden is who she goes to for help when something unexplainable comes into one of her cases. Dresden has a talking skull, Bob, in his basement that he goes to for advice and help. Toot-Toot leads up a small herd of little Fae that Dresden uses occasionally for various tasks through bribing them with food. Later in the books we are introduced to Michael Carpenter, a Christian and a Knight of the Cross (yes, that cross) who has been entrusted with a special sword to help combat evil in the world. Michael’s family also plays a large part in several of the story lines of the books. Leaninsidhe is Harry’s literal fairy godmother, although she seems more like an evil stepmother through most of her appearances. Harry also shares his apartment with a giant cat named Mister. There are a host of other characters that come into play and continue throughout the books, however I feel that I cannot introduce them without major spoilers.
I first started this series after picking up Turn Coat, the 11th book in the series, at the airport. I never like to start any series anywhere other than the beginning but I didn’t realize that it was not a stand-alone novel at first. Each book in the series has a complete plot line, and can be read alone without any confusion. After reading Turn Coat, I immediately started looking for the rest of the books in the series. I have to admit that I would not have been as hooked into the series if I had started with the first book. The first novel in the series, Storm Front, was originally written for a writing class. As such, it is a bit more flat than the following novels. It is still a good book, but Butcher’s writing talent definitely grows with the series.
Although the books do not need to all be read, or read in order, there is a deeper underlying story arc that develops throughout the series. Each book adds to the unanswered questions and builds to the eventual resolution that I assume will come with the final books in the series.
For audiobooks fans, the books are all released with James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as the narrator for all except Ghost Story, which is narrated by some random other guy who is not nearly as good. I am not a huge audiobook fan myself, but I loved these audiobooks. James Marsters does a fantastic job reading these books. I believe he will be doing Skin Games as well once it is released. If you haven’t read The Dresden Files, you should. No matter what genre of books you like, you will like these books. Unless the only books you have on your bookshelf are written by Nora Roberts or have Harlequin on them, you will find something to enjoy in these books.
Complete Book List (In Order)
"Welcome to the Jungle" - Graphic Novel
Book 1 - Storm Front
Book 2 - Fool Moon
"Ghoul Goblin" - Graphic Novel
Book 3 - Grave Peril
Book 4 - Summer Knight
Book 5 - Death Masks
Book 6 - Blood Rites
Book 7 - Dead Beat
"Something Borrowed" - Short story in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
Book 8 - Proven Guilty
Book 9 - White Night
"It's My Birthday Too" - Short story in Many Bloody Returns
"Heorot" - short story in My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
Book 10 - Small Favor
Novella - Backup
Book 11 - Turn Coat
Book 12 - Changes
"Side Jobs" - a collection of short stories
Book 13 - Ghost Story
Book 14 - Cold Days
Book 15 – Skin Games – Coming soon