Sunday, June 10, 2007

Harry Dresden--Wizard

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

While sitting down to watch an episode of The Dresden Files on the Scifi channel, my girlfriend turned to me and said, “The novels were really great, so I’m sure this will be a good show.” At first I wasn’t sure I heard her right, but then I let the sentence sink in. After a pause, I turned to her and said, “You mean you knew that there was a series of book in which a wizard is running around in our time and you didn’t tell be about it.” But then I realized that she had told me about the book series she read in London and suddenly I felt like a jerk.

So, I fired up Barnes and, punched in my membership number and ordered the first 5 Dresden novels. Storm Front is the first in the series by Jim Butcher, and if this book is any indication as to the rest of them, then “WOW!” we are in for a treat. And if there are those of you out there who are like me and liked the first season of the show produced by Scifi, then to you I say “BEWARE!” The books are not quite like the show, but they are great in a different way.

For fans of the show, Bob does not come out of the skull unless otherwise released. Bob has no features to look up, so that’s why he doesn’t manifest, he just is. Murphy is a blonde cheerleader gone Rambo, not a brunette. Morgan is not black. And Morgan is old. Dresden didn’t kill his uncle by smashing his heart with a ring. Dresden’s mom left a Pentacle, not a shield bracelet. Dresden never had a love affair with Bianca. And finally, Harry Dresden’s office and home are two different places.

As for Storm Front, Dresden gets a call one morning after a long stretch of silence. It’s a lady named Monica Sells. She wants to consult with Harry about her missing husband. He schedules a meeting and then gets a second phone call from Karrin Murphy. There’s been a double homicide in the Madison Hotel. Little does Harry know that this killing and this lady are actually part of the same case; a case that will push him harder and plunge him deeper into the world of chaos, drugs, lust, and greed than he’s ever wanted to go.

Dresden starts both cases and starts to find some dead ends for both. He’s investigating them as two separate cases, completely unaware that the reason Victor Sells has gone missing is because he’s busy using a rich couple’s money and emotional energy to create a drug that is overthrowing the normal drug rings, and targeting those who stand in the way. One of the victims of the double homicide is Tommy Tomm, the oversized muscle of Mob leader Johnny Marcone…while the other victim is Monica Sells’ younger sister…

Enlisting the aid of Bob, the air spirit; Toot-toot and the faeries of the Nevernever; and Bianca, the vampire who isn’t what she seems, he manages to find Sells, stop him from killing again, and show him just why Harry Dresden is the meanest cat in the whole damned town. You never mess with a wizard who’s had the best formal training a wizard could ask for…even if you managed to figure out how to tap the power of storms to do your dirty work. And Harry shows that brains always prevail over brawn.

But that’s not all. Morgan, the lap dog and executioner for the White Council (a group of Wizards who have established laws and rules for the world of magic), has decided now is the time to end Dresden once and for all. Of course, Murphy begins to lose her trust in Harry when he starts hiding things from her; not to keep her from the truth, but from protecting her from the White Council, evil wizards, etc. And when she gets a warrant to search his office, it turns up detrimental…

Things don’t go well for Dresden as his investigation gets one girl killed and gets his hair taken for the next storm’s ritual. Police want him, White Council wants him, and Victor Sells wants him dead. But first, he’s got to deal with Johnny Marcone…

I loved this book. It was a great read from cover to cover. I would have finished it in a week if two papers didn’t come up due at the same time, so it took me 2 weeks instead. But, I read a little everyday, that’s how much I wanted to continue reading. Dresden’s way of dealing with things is a refreshing step away from the normal “magic” genre. As an example, here’s one of my favorite excerpts:

The air still thrummed with energy as the wash of flame passed. Victor snarled when he saw me rise, lifted a hand to one side, and snarled out words of summoning. A crooked stick that looked like it might be some kind of bone soared through the air toward him, and he caught it in one hand, turning to me with the attitude of a man holding a gun.

The problem with most wizards is that they get too used to thinking in terms of one venue: Magic. I don’t think Victor expected me to rise, lurch across the trembling floor toward him, and drive my shoulder into his chest, slamming him back into the wall with a satisfying thud. I leaned back a little and drove a knee into his gut, missed, and caught his square between the legs instead. The breath went out of him in a rush, and he doubled over to the ground. By this time, I was screaming at him, senseless and incoherent. I started kicking at his head.

I heard a metallic, ratcheting sound behind me and spun my head in time to see Beckitt, naked, point an automatic weapon at me. I threw myself to one side, and heard a brief explosion of gunfire. Something hot tore at my hip, spinning me into a roll, and I kept going, into the kitchen. I heard Beckitt snarl a curse. There were a number of sharp clicking sounds. The automatic had jammed. Hell, with this much magic flying around the room, we were all lucky the thing hadn’t just exploded

As I said before, this is a great book, and far better than the TV series, which was a 7 out of 10 for me—depending on the episode. The book was an easy read with a goofy feel to it, which is what makes if “fluffy,” as my friends like to call it. Lots of cool action, lots of cool ideas, lots of cool stuff. It’s only 7.99 a book, so I suggest you get at least this one and read…

Happy reading.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

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