- Series: Dresden Files (Book 1)
- Mass Market Paperback: 372 pages
- Publisher: Roc; 1st edition (April 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451457811
- ISBN-13: 978-0451457813
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2,187 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Storm Front (Dresden Files) Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
As in the audio adaptation of Butcher's first Dresden Files novel, Storm Front, Marsters (who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) slips easily into the role of down-on-his-luck wizard Harry Dresden. Marsters's self-deprecating tone fits the character perfectly; he reads with a dry, ironic humor that doesn't mask Harry's genuine concern for the lives of innocents. Marsters also displays a remarkable skill for lending even the strangest characters and creatures voices-including gentleman gangster Johnny Marconi, his henchmen, a sexy female werewolf and Bob, the British-accented talking skull. In this outing, Harry is again out of cash, and police detective Karrin Murphy, who's still angry at him over the events of the first book, isn't inclined to throw work his way. But soon a series of mysterious, violent murders sends her to Harry for help. Are the killings the work of a local motorcycle gang? Or a werewolf-and if so, which werewolf? Mac Finn, the werewolf environmentalist? The group of idealistic college kids who voluntarily become werewolves by night? Or the trigger-happy group of FBI agents turned werewolf vigilantes? Though the price of this audio package may put off some listeners, Marsters's lively telling makes it worth every penny.
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Praise for the Dresden Files
“Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Philip Marlowe.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton and Tanya Huff will love this series.”—Midwest Book Review
“Superlative.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“One of the most enjoyable marriages of the fantasy and mystery genres on the shelves.”—Cinescape
“Butcher...spins an excellent noirish detective yarn in a well-crafted, supernaturally-charged setting. The supporting cast is again fantastic, and Harry’s wit continues to fly in the face of a peril-fraught plot.”—Booklist (starred review)
“What’s not to like about this series?...It takes the best elements of urban fantasy, mixes it with some good old-fashioned noir mystery, tosses in a dash of romance and a lot of high-octane action, shakes, stirs, and serves.”—SF Site
“A tricky plot complete with against-the-clock pacing, firefights, explosions, and plenty of magic. Longtime series fans as well as newcomers drawn by the SciFi Channel’s TV series based on the novels should find this supernatural mystery a real winner.”—Library Journal
“What would you get if you crossed Spenser with Merlin? Probably you would come up with someone very like Harry Dresden, wizard, tough guy and star of [the Dresden Files].”—The Washington Times
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Top customer reviews
Little did I know how right I was.
You see . . . longterm relationships are WORK. And often, the things you love the most about another person are the same things that enable that person to drive you NUTS.
I love how realistically flawed Harry is.
I hate how realistically flawed Harry is.
He gets himself into a tight spot, so he rationalizes:
"It wasn't as though I was actually going to be doing any black magic, I told myself. I was just going to be figuring out how it was done. There was a difference. I was helping the police in an investigation, nothing more."
But then he immediately calls his own bluff:
"Yeah, right. And maybe one of these days I'd go to an art museum and become well rounded."
He's also incredibly self-aware. He knows his weaknesses as well as his strengths, and he presents both sides very matter-of-factly. It was refreshing. There was no false modesty or self-deprecation. No melancholy search for affirmation. Harry Dresden just lays it all out in plain site, do with it what you will.
But that same openness allows you to see (over and over again) how hapless he is when it comes to the fairer sex . . .
You know . . . for an self-proclaimed, socially awkward wizard with very little relationship experience, Harry Dresden finds himself surrounded by beautiful, flirtatious women with uncommon frequency . . . *rolls eyes*
But then he gleefully reveals his boyish, mischievous side by the sheer delight he takes at pulling one over on someone who has underestimated him. *rolls eyes again, but this time while grinning*
One second I wanted to smack him on the back of the head, and the next, I wanted to ruffle his hair and kiss him on the cheek.
So that's Harry.
There's also Bob the (peeping) Skull, Toot the pizza-loving faery, Mister the cat, Mac the surly pubkeep, Murphy the hard case female cop, and glimpses into possible future interactions with a literal faery godmother and the mysteriously intimidating White Council.
The plot was . . . eh . . . *shrugs* I'm giving it a pass this time, b/c I'm pretty sure a lot of groundwork was laid for future installments, and while this was a fairly entertaining read, it was also fairly predictable, and Bad Guy was just a stock power hungry Bad Guy.
On the world-building front, we were given a lot of hints, but nothing substantial, but that was okay, b/c so far, we've only been in the real world, so as much as I'd like to know more about the Nevernever (RIGHT NOW), there's plenty of time for that when we get there.
Overall, I definitely see this series being worth it (and not just b/c if I read this one, I will have read every, single one of the Big Deal UF series . . . which may or may not be a personal goal . . . *shrugs noncommittally*). Harry Dresden is a realistically likable character who I have a suspicion will turn out to be quite formidable, and Butcher lays a promising foundation with this first installment. Will it live up to my expectations? Only one way to find out . . .
I've read a number of hardboiled detective novels (from back in the day) and I could see some of that influence here. Actually, that influence was stronger in "Storm Front" than it was in some of the later Dresden books (I'm up through #4 right now). I think Butcher was still trying to find his voice in this book. He's decent at the detective novel thing (clues planted in appropriate places, red herrings, etc.), but I found later books -- where there's more of a character focus, as well as more supernatural elements -- more fun to read.
One detail I like is Dresden's interference with electronic devices. The hardboiled detective style doesn't work as well, I think, with modern conveniences like the internet, cell phones, etc. But Dresden exists in the modern world and so the existence of technology has to be addressed. And I appreciate the choice that was made. Plus, it makes things more difficult for Dresden (unreliable car, making bargains with Bob the skull to get information, etc.). He's got wizardly powers but he's still sometimes at a disadvantage.
The first-person narrative works, in my opinion. I already knew that Dresden was going to make it out of the whole thing alive, because there are more than a dozen additional books in the series (a lot of times, first-person narration suffers from lack of tension because authors don't kill off the POV characters). But even if Dresden isn't going to die, there could still be consequences. In this first book, we know Dresden is already under a cloud of suspicion/distrust from his fellow wizards, plus he has mundane allies who could suffer. So there's still tension, despite the first-person POV.
There are a lot of what you might call tropes of the hardboiled detective genre in this book (house by the lake, mysterious woman coming to Dresden's office to offer him a job -- that he needs to take due to monetary reasons, mobsters, pesky reporters, etc.). I can't decide if Butcher is paying homage to the genre or just recycling ideas (or maybe a little of both), but he manages to keep the plot moving so you don't have a lot of time to focus on such details. Honestly, the same can be said for the supernatural side of things -- a wizard with a staff, potions, fairies, vampires, etc. In this case, I think the mash-up generally works.
One thing I will definitely say for Butcher's books (both "Codex Alera" and the four Dresden books I've read so far) is that they're very easy to read -- they're over before you know it! (I mean that in a good way. Also, the books are not terribly long.) Early on, I noticed a tendency for Butcher to use too many "-ly" adverbs, but these either became less noticeable or were dropped. The first murder scene is described in such a way that makes it anatomically impossible, but I'm willing to let that slide.
I'm not so sure how I feel about Dresden's attitude towards women -- these stories definitely have their sexist moments. Nary a female character is introduced that we don't hear about her build, her clothes, etc. Dresden also has something of a protective hero complex. On the one hand, sexism is a longstanding feature of the hardboiled detective story. On the other hand, I wonder if it's a little bit of the author's personality coming through. There's something of a fixation on cheerleaders (and one reference to a football team), suggesting certain difficulties during the teenage years for one or both of them (i.e., Dresden and Butcher).
One thing I wished for was more focus on the characters in this book. (That does come in later volumes and I'm glad for it.) It is clearly established that Harry Dresden is carrying around a lot of baggage from a not-too-pleasant past, but he doesn't want to talk about it. In this volume, we *are* introduced to the supernatural world, including fairies, vampires, various magical tools, and more. It is possible that this introduction took the place of some of the characterization that would normally be involved in a series like this. And we did need an introduction to those elements because they come back again and again in later volumes.
The book is set in Chicago, a place I've never been. I'm not all that sure it matters that I haven't visited there; Butcher keeps it pretty generic other than some broad references to neighborhoods, the Great Lakes, etc. It probably would have been just as easy to set these books somewhere else. On the other hand, there's nothing that leads me (admittedly, with my lack of knowledge of the area) to believe this *couldn't* have taken place in Chicago (geographically-speaking, anyway). At any rate, the setting is believable enough for my purposes.
I've been told by a couple of online acquaintances that you can skip the first two Dresden books and start right in with the third. However, I think to do that, you'd be missing out on some key early worldbuilding. I feel like this book contributes less to the ongoing storyline about Dresden's past than books 2-4, but I also think that Butcher was setting things up for later. Also, of course, he had to provide something that was basically self-contained because he wouldn't have been able to predict the reaction/popularity of the series.
All-in-all, I'm glad I took the plunge to get into this series. I expect I'll finish the books I got on promo in a week or two and have to pay full price for the rest of them. I'd say this was a decent effort but also that later books show definite improvement. 3.5 stars.
The main issue for me is that it took until after the start of chapter eight to really pick up. You really need the story building in the prior chapters, it's just a little bit plodding. Do yourself a favor if you've never read about Harry's adventures and read it. Just power through the first eight chapters and buckle up for a wild ride through the next 14 (and counting!) books!
Most recent customer reviews
Which is kinda sad because it's an interesting storyworld with interesting characters.Read more