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I don't wish to get trolled. I know this book has a cult following, and it was okay. But I stop short of calling it great because for 1) not much is made of setting it in Chicago. I was really hoping for some scenes in known attractions, or at least street names to recognize - but really, this whole thing could have been set in a generic city or a made up city for all it had to do with the plot. 2) The magic was weirdly presented. On the one hand it is a reality in the alternate world, on the other hand our hero never uses "I was the victim of a spell" to explain to the police why he's dressed oddly or out late at night or whatever. . . there is a casual mention of things they don't speak of with mortals. Okay. But surely the mortals notice they live amongst vampires, fairies etc. 3) The women, hmmm, how can I put this? They are not presented in the best light. The author takes a stab at having women in real jobs, but personality wise the women are mostly tropes of women. But it also wasn't a terrible book. I enjoyed some of the plotting, scenes and interior monologue of our hero.
Storm Front is Book One of the Dresden Files, and there are at least four published in the series so far. In this book, we are introduced to Harry Dresden, a wizard living in Chicago and barely making a living as an investigator of the paranormal and consultant to the police. As the story unfolds, Harry has a new client and is called to investigate a double murder by the police. We get to see Harry's life on multiple levels, as he works an outside job, and inside job, and attempts to deal with various issues in his personal life, such as dating, annoying faeries, and trouble with the unseen White Council. I found the story intriguing, and although somewhat derivative, there were some interesting spins in creating a hard-boiled gumshoe wizard. In creating a back story for Harry Dresden, author Jim Butcher has done a good job. In reading the book, I can tell that details of Harry's life have been thought out, that he has a family tree, there are rules to magic, and he has a history with his mentor. The White Council, while unseen, is represented by Morgan, a cross between a probation officer and grand inquisitor, and Dresden's nemesis. There are several sequences involving magical talismans, spells, potions and such that were interesting, and acceptable as far as magical realism. Now for the bumps, and there were more than a few. Another reviewer already commented on the issue of the canister and how Harry came to get it. I wondered also, why give it up so easily? There was a very basic temporal gaff, when the day is referred to as Friday when it's already Saturday, and this is not just nit-picking because the day sequence is integral to the plot and Harry's fate. Also, the plot just didn't hold together well, like the author was trying to do too much and tie things together with some implausible coincidences. He's called in to investigate a murder involving some mob guy and a woman, which leads him to connections with a more powerful mob guy selling drugs, and then into a connection with a black wizard peddling a drug that allows users to glimpse through the 'Third Eye' and eventually it's all a setup? Please. Dresden's relationship with Officer Murphy didn't fly either. Why doesn't he just talk to these people? How can she slap handcuffs on him after she's been poisoned by a dog-size scorpion? Why does she think he's the killer? This just irritated me. Morgan the wizard also thought Harry was the killer, and this bugged me because I thought the White Council would at least have some sense on who's using what kind of powers. I had no problem finishing the book, because it was a quick read, and I'm interested enough in the big picture story to read the next one, but I hope the story plotting is better.
I used to be a huge reader when I was young absorbing virtually every Goosebumps or Magic Tree House books I could find. Then, Harry Potter came into my life... and I was addicted to books more than ever. After Deathly Hallows, things changed. I stopped reading.
Fast forward to 2013. Now 20 and finishing up my third year of university with only one more to go, I decided to take up reading as a hobby. Enter The Dresden Files. I have heard about the series, but I never really understood what it was about. I finished it in three days, and have found the book to be quite addictive... though not without flaws.
The plot moved at a decent pace. Characterization is decent, and I enjoyed Harry's sarcastic wit, but I often was tired of his chauvinistic attitude and moping around. He also gets beat up a lot. And by a lot I mean a lot. The side characters currently feel flat, but it's only been one short book so far so I expect character development to ramp up in future books. The plot had a few interesting twists and was interesting enough to keep me going, but felt formulaic at certain parts.
It's definitely a solid first entry and it definitely has me interesting in the later entries to the series. It's enough to get me to pick up the next book. Apparently, the series hits its stride in the 3rd and later books, so I am holding out for better characterization and plotting in Grave Peril and beyond.
This is a book of two halves, the first of which made me want to hurl the whole thing at the wall! Littered with 'said bookisms' and adverb abuse, the exposition is about as subtle as a brick and the protagonist, Harry Dresden, comes across as a chauvinistic cliché. When I reached the middle of the book, I seriously thought about not finishing it, but I'm glad I persevered as the second half is of a completely different stripe. The second half is where all the action takes place, and Jim Butcher it seems, is great at action. Despite a preponderance of the past progressive, the descriptions are vivid and convincing, punchy and fast-paced. I didn't want to put it down. The humour became drier (and funnier) and, as I found out more about Dresden and saw him tested by more than just lack of money, my sympathy for him increased immeasurably, warts and all. The plot worked for me; the mix of the modern world with the arcane was fresh and exciting - a new take on old ideas.
I've just ordered the sequel as I would really like to how Butcher's writing changes and whether or not Harry changes too. I hope the whole of the second book is as good as the second half of the first.
I probably shouldn't have read this immediately after reading Moon Over Soho (Rivers of London 2). Two urban fantasies in a row, one very British and one very American. I'm afraid that Storm Front did suffer somewhat in comparison.
That is not so say that is is a bad book. It's actually very good. It just didn't resonate quite as much as the Aaronovitch books, probably because I'm more familiar with the UK policing system and the places which are explored in those novels.
I did have a throughly good time reading this. Harry Dresden is brilliant litary creation. He is Sam Spade with a staff, Mike Hammer with a spell book, Mickey Spillane with a potion and he inhabits a world which is close to our own but where also demons are real and Vampires are sexy and run an escort agency.
The writing is not completely smooth and effortless but maybe that is not surprising as this is the authors first published novel. What he does do though is a great job of creating a world filled with possibilities, colourful characters like Bob the Skull and Morgan the vengeful watchdog who has a real hard on for Harry, and Butcher provides hints that there is back story that will be explored further in upcoming books.
Some things you should know- this book is just okay. If you're reading Storm Front for the first time, you will likely have two reactions:
1) You will LOVE it. The humor, the realistic supernatural world depicted in Chicago, the action, the magic, etc. It will be just what you were looking for. A short book that's fast paced and incredibly fun. Well guess what? The series literally gets better with every book.
2) You immediately notice all the weaknesses. The writing is average, some of the humor is childish, the book can get pretty graphic at times. You want to love it, but there are just a few too many shortcomings. Well guess what? The series literally gets better with every book.
I fell into the second category. After I read this book, it took me like 3 months before I picked up book 2, Fool Moon. Then it took me another few months before I took on book 3, Grave Peril. However, I have since read books 3-7 in a month. Yes, they get that good.
So, whichever category you fall into, if you find anything that intrigues you in Storm Front, keep going. You won't regret it.
Quite an enjoyable read that pushed along at a good pace.
I could have done with a few less references to the duster coat and the protagonist's long legs and lean frame though. I appreciate that this is the first in the series and needs to set the scene/build the world, but a bit of editing in this respect would have helped.
I was going to try the second book to see how it panned out, but the prices seem to have gone up beyond my curiosity.
There is nothing especially original in Mr Butcher's first novel: not the setting, a Chicago where supernatural evils happen to walk by much more customary ones, not the magic, which seem to make a point not to distinguish itself from any existing commonplace, not the characters, which are well rounded and consistent but as unoriginal as they can be, not the plotting, which provides absolutely no surprise.
The basic assumption, moreover, is most irritating to any sensible person: after some centuries during which science seemed to be able to take over, the world is collapsing back slowly in the supernatural it tried to evade and evil powers are taking the lead while most people are unaware of the danger.
If it is true that this kind of books is meant for escapism (at least I read them to escape) one cannot completely shut out reality and anyone knows this world is evil enough (war, crime, illnesses, etc.) even without any supernatural flavour to it.
All bad then? Absolutely not.
If you accept the assumptions, the story is fast paced, entertaining, even funny at times. The author is particularly good at action scenes which is no minor achievement for a debutant as he was at the time.
A good job with no pretences, suitable for people over 16 because of some violence and gore.
I really wanted to like this book, as I'm always looking for new authors and new series. It's not a bad book, but it's certainly not a book you can't put down.
The protagonist, Harry Dresden, is a modern-day, mortal, wizard living in the Chicago area who struggles to earn a living as a Wizard and moonlights as a consultant to the Chicago PD.
The plot is well-covered in other reviews, so I won't review it again. The writing is a bit hackneyed (does it get better in subsequent books?...I'm trying to decide if I will buy the next in the series to figure that out), and most of the characters are predictable.
The problem for me, and perhaps only for me, is that while Harry has substantial wizardly prowess and uses it, he's frequently in situations that it seems his wizardly prowess ought to get him out of with ease, but for some reason or other does not. Perhaps I'm not willing to suspend my disbelief to the extent necessary, but there's inconsistency in Harry's magic and leaves me somewhat dissatisfied.
By the end of "Storm Front" I was totally okay with having read it. I thought it was mildly entertaining. I will simply say it was dynamic and imaginative. The book is about a wizard who helps solve paranormal cases. The lead character "Harry" is fairly palatable and entertaining. But with that said, there were a few things I took issue with. The book really leaves a broad idea of what exactly being a wizard is, which is what "Harry" the lead character is supposed to be. I never felt like the book fully explains what wizards can do magically and felt like by the end of the novel the author contradicted himself. In the beginning of the book he says that wizards don't really have much power/magic but by the end of the book all of a sudden he breaks out almost superpower type magic. I also hate when a book has people living normal lives while somehow walking around oblivious to all these wizards and creatures around them. Like I say, the book was entertaining, just a bit disjointed.