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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Harry Dresden Book One: Not for Me

I finished Storm Front: Book One of the Harry Dresden Files, and it wasn't quite as good as I had hoped it would be, but it was still quite entertaining. In brief:

What I liked:
  • The setting: I particularly liked Harry's house and office, and his idea about magic affecting complex machines
  • The film noir elements combined with traditional wizard-lore
  • Butcher's conception of magic and how it works: a little Latin, a staff, some magical symbols, all the things traditionally associated with users of magic
  • The action scenes
What I didn't like:
  • The brutal and explicit plot elements, which, while mostly necessary to the story, were not really to my taste; I've never enjoyed reading about the seedy side of life in works of literature, and I like it even less in popular fiction; this is most definitely not a book for kids
  • The demon/vampire characters: Even in shows like The X-Files I didn't like the stories that revolved around these kinds of characters
  • The characterizations of the female characters: most of them were one-dimensional and not very complimentary
  • The mob angle: For some reason, shows like The Sopranos or Once Upon a Time in America have never appealed to me, though there are some that I've really liked (i.e., The Godfather, Some Like it Hot); the gangsters in Storm Front seemed almost like Dick Tracy villains
  • The mystery plot: If Butcher was aiming at a traditional mystery plot, he violated one of the rules of the game in not introducing a key character until very late in the story
  • The writing style: I liked the first person viewpoint, but sometimes it was a bit over the top. I remember the end of one chapter when Harry, battered and bruised, said to the reader, "Do I have a great job, or what?"


As you've probably noticed, most of my complaints against the book have more to do with my own tastes rather than with Butcher's writing. And I have to say that it's significant that I finished the book, so it's definitely not awful. Far from it. It's just not a series that I'm going to be continuing with.

My next book is going to be Declare by Tim Powers. I loved his story The Anubis Gates and I have high expectations for Declare, based on reviews I've read online.

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posted by Nick Senger at 9:07 AM

Comments on "Harry Dresden Book One: Not for Me"

 

Blogger carrie said ... (Monday, June 25, 2007 7:32:00 PM) : 

Since your fist post on the series my husband has read three of them, I've read two, and our teenage son has read four. If you don't like demons, graphic violence, or gangsters, don't continue because they're all in there, in spades.

We're enjoying them, however!

 

Blogger Nick Senger said ... (Tuesday, June 26, 2007 8:27:00 PM) : 

I'm glad you're all enjoying them. There are lots of Harry Dresden fans out there. And thanks for letting me know about the others.

BTW, another great series featuring a wizard-detective are the Lord Darcy stories by Randall Garrett. Those stories are more my taste. I'll have to do a post about them soon.

 

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