I’m going to share a secret with you. A few years ago, I was a wandering reader…a book lover without a country (or genre) to call home. I kind of talked a bit about this a few weeks back when I featured Anton Strout. But besides being a huge Tolkien fan, there were no authors that I really “followed” religiously. No genre that I had a particular affinity for. I’d see my book-loving friends salivating for the day when their favorite author’s next book would be released and I found myself voraciously jealous. It just wasn’t fair. But I was also quite aware that I was a very, very picky reader. Literary fiction bore the pants off me (just not enough explosions or car chases). Action-Adventure thrillers were hit or miss for me. And fantasy? Well, how can I truly identify with characters set in a world so different than our own? I mean, I LOVED fantasy characters. Was a huge fan of Norse mythology with all its elves, dwarves, trolls, fairies, etc. But except for Tolkien, I just couldn’t find myself identifying (and the few that I could seemed to be carbon copies of the LOTRs). I felt doomed to wander the earth without the comfort of a favorite author. That is…until I met Dresden. Harry Dresden actually. Professional Chicago private eye wizard. Brainchild of master author…Jim Butcher.
Here’s how it happened. I was browsing the books of my local Barnes and Noble, determined to find a full “series” of books that I could sink my teeth into. I meandered over to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of the store and just started perusing. “Hmmm,” I thought, as my eyes scanned a book cover sitting face out. “Dresden Files? What’s that?” I turned the book over and devoured the back panel synopsis. “Wait a minute.” My brain was just chattering away. “This looks like a hard boiled detective novel. Gritty. Marlow-esque. But there are fairies. There are trolls. There’s a smart mouthed wizard as the leading man. I’ve got to get this book!” And the rest is history. I gorged myself on the first ten books in the series in a better part of two months. Then, I was ticked off. I was going to have wait almost an entire year for the eleventh book to be released. I could have kicked myself for reading the series so fast! So, I went back and re-read many of them and loved every minute of it.
WHO’S HARRY DRESDEN?
Of course, I guess I should fill you in a little about Harry to give you a better idea of what the series is about. The world in which Harry lives is pretty much ours. The setting takes place in a very real, very modern Chicago. Harry is your typical hard-boiled private eye (with a wisecracking mouth for good measure) in most every way…except one. He’s also a full-fledged wizard. His yellow pages ad describes him this way: Harry Dresden–Wizard. Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other Entertainment.
Harry gets work wherever he can. Sometimes, he consults for a special division of the Chicago Police Department on some really strange cases. Other times, the paranormally downtrodden come to him for help. He’s a sucker for a sob story and has gotten himself in so many messes it would probably crush a lesser wizard. But I guess Harry’s just a little too stubborn (or dense) to quit. There are people in his city that need saving, and he’s more than willing to lend a hand.
Needless to say, helping so many innocent people have made quite a few not-so-innocent enemies. He’s on the hit list of almost every baddie around…including several clans of vampires, necromancers, fairy queens, mob bosses, werewolves…the list goes on and on. And to make matters worse, he’s not even particularly liked by his own kind–the White Council of Wizards. As a matter of fact, for years, he was thought by many of those white bearded bureaucrats to be the wizard version of Darth Vader (as Butcher explains in his latest novel, Changes).
So, yeah, Harry’s got a list of enemies a mile long. Fortunately, he’s got a lot of fantastic friends as well…including a tough as nails female detective for the Chicago Police Department. They had their ups and downs (especially before she discovered that Harry was REALLY a wizard), but she’s as solid as they come and can kick zombie butt with the best of them. Then, there’s one tough Paul Bunyon of a guy named Michael Carpenter. Huge. Tough. Sweet as a kitten. Oh, and he’s also one of three Knights of the Cross in the whole world…ordained by the Almighty Himself to sock it to any supernatural creeps that come near anyone innocent. Let’s see, there’s also Susan Rodriguez…Harry’s former yellow journalist girlfriend-turned-half-vampire (there’s a WHOLE story there…sheesh, but don’t want to spoil “CHANGES” for you). And his trusty Temple Guardian of Foo dog…Mouse. Can’t forget about that big ball of slobbery fuzz.
Needless to say, you can see how rich and textured the Dresden Files are (hopefully) from what I’ve told you about them. So let me tell you a little about Jim’s newest Dresden book: CHANGES. I’m currently reading it now and let me tell you…some changes are definitely happening and it has me on the edge of my seat! I don’t know what’s going to happen to the lovable wizard with a mouth and it’s about to make my head explode if what I think is going to happen does. But here’s a brief synopsis for you to consider:
Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden’s lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.
Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it-against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry’s not fighting to save the world…
He’s fighting to save his child.
It’s a child he didn’t even know he had, I might add! So far, this book has been amazing. Could probably be the best one in the entire series. The question is…can you start here or should you start at the beginning? Well, I can tell you…Butcher has done a fantastic job keeping his series tight and chronological while at the same time leaving it open ended. Sure, you’d have a better appreciation for Changes if you had a little more background from past adventures…but it’s not necessary. Pick and choose any Dresden book you want. I know you’ll enjoy it if you love great mysteries or fantasies. Oh, and also if you love laughing out loud when reading a book…I never laugh as much reading a book than when I read a Dresden novel.
For more information about Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden, check out his website at: http://www.jim-butcher.com/ .
And also, remember….you can find any of his books at almost ANY bookstore, or online at Amazon.com and other internet book retailers. But you really do owe it yourself to give him a chance if you haven’t already!