Tag Archives: wizard

Book Review Four: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front is the first of the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher and remains one of my favorites.  It starts off with a quick introduction of Harry Dresden via the eyes of a new mailman.  Dresden is the only openly practicing wizard in the country and often does work for the Chicago Police when they have a crime they can’t solve.

Part wizard, part detective, Harry is called on by the Special Investigations Unit of the Chicago PD when they come across two bodies who have had their hearts torn out of their chests and no one is sure what could have done it. 

Though, for Harry, black magic comes to mind.

Meanwhile, Dresden gets a job to look for a woman’s missing husband.  as he follows the clues that get him closer and closer to where Victor Sells might be, Harry finds himself tangling with vampires, the Fae, demons, even the local Mob boss, Gentleman Johnny Marcone.

Not to mention the other wizards who just don’t seem to trust Harry for one mistake he made in killing someone with magic when he was a kid.

As it turns out though, Victor Sells’ disappearance, the newest “hip” drug called Three-Eye and hearts being torn out of chests are all interconnected and the tangled web they each weave around Harry ends with him face to face with giant deadly scorpions, an insane warlock using black magic and a spell that will end his life if he can’t stop it in time.

The first book in the Dresden Files series, Storm Front is the work of a first time author.  Some of the dialogue seems stilted or forced and the attempt at humorous dialogue is sometimes contrived.  It takes the basic plot of a “urban fantasy” novel and flips it around enough so that it is doesn’t look like anything else.  With the 13th book coming out next week though, Butcher’s writing style has clearly improved and been perfected.  Plots are more original, and even off-hand comments in the earlier books begin to hold great significance in Dresden’s life.

The characters, on the other hand, are well fleshed out from day one.  They are lovable, hate-able, and there are times you just want to scream at them to stop being morons and run before the monsters get them. 

While the other books do improve, this first book isn’t the best in the series, something even Butcher admits to.  I give it four of five stars for character creation and the fact that the books get a lot better as the series rolls on.

If urban fantasy with non-stereotypical vampires, shape-shifting werewolves, faeries, magic and even zombies is your thing, then I highly suggest buying it here.

Cover photo from:  http://www.jim-butcher.com/store?cat=1


Post Potter Depression Reading List

Now, if you’re like me, you probably went to the midnight release of Harry Potter last night/this morning for the final movie.  And, when you walked out, you were on the “that was BRILLIANT” high.  But then you woke up.  And the Post-Potter Depression hit you.

“Now what do I read?” you’re asking yourself.  Well, here is my list of recommendations of books to help with PPD.

The first is So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane.  It was originally published in 1983 (Long before Potter Mania) and currently consists of nine books in the series.  This first book follows the tale of Nita Callahan as she discovers a book in the library while hiding from bullies tormenting her.  Called “So you want to be a wizard”, she takes the wizard’s oath in it that night, and awakens the next morning to find her name in the back of it as a wizard.  She meets Christopher “Kit” Rodriguez, a new wizard like herself, and together, the two of them find themselves caught in a plot that ends with them taking on the Lone Power in an alternate Manhattan to regain a book that has contained in it all that was and shall be before the Power can destroy Nita and Kit’s Manhattan for good.  Find a copy here

Now, if epic Fantasy is more your thing, and you have already gone through Tolkien, I suggest Elizabeth Haydon’s Symphony of Ages Trilogy, the first of which is called Rhapsody.  Published in 1999, there are now three other books besides, all detailing the lives of Rhapsody, Achmed the Snake and Grunthor.  The first tells the story of how the three meet, and, in an attempt to escape that which is chasing them, find themselves in the root system of the oldest tree in their world: one that mythology says goes all the way through the earth.  And it does.  They climb through it for what seems to be years for them, and when they finally make their way out of the other side, they find that 1000 years have passed and the country they left from is now gone, sunk beneath the seas.  In a new world, they need to find their own place while dealing with mistrust around them because they are of races that are not normally welcome.  Rhapsody can be found here.

Now, if vampires are more your thing, Jeanne C. Stein has a wonderful series called the “Anna Strong Series”.  They are shorter than Potter (around 300 pages) and the blurb on the back of the first book, The Becoming, compares them to “a cross between Mary Janice Davidson’s Undead series…and Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series”.  A bounty hunter, Anna Strong finds herself attacked one night, and when she wakes up, she’s…changed.  Vampires to her are a thing of myth, and as she struggles to come to terms with what she is, she must also decide if she will walk in the Mortal world, the darker world of vampires, or both, and who she’ll trust in this new society she finds herself in.  There are six books out now, and all are very, very well written.  See it for yourself here.

Finally, there is Eragon by Christopher Paolini. This series of 4 has been in creation since 2003 and the fourth and final book is coming out November of this year.  This book tells the story of a young boy named Eragon when he finds a strange blue stone is a forest when he is out hunting.  Unable to sell it, he keeps it, and is surprised when, a few days later, a dragon hatches from it.  From here on out, Eragon is forced into a role as a Dragonrider, a role which he does not understand, as he searches for the Rebellion, known as the Varden, to help in their fight against the dark Emperor Galbatorix.  The similarities between Star Wars, Tolkien, and Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern series are there, but it is still worth a read.  Check it out here.

Well, hopefully that’s enough to ward of PPD for now!