A Love Letter to ‘The Dresden Files’

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I could kiss Patrick Rothfuss.

Let me explain. When I was traveling around in February getting all the author measurements for the fantasy charity calendar, Pat was the first stop. At dinner we started talking about writing. He mentioned Jim Butcher and The Dresden Files, and I confessed I hadn’t read anything by him. Pat said, “You know, I have all those books on CD, and you’re on a month long road trip, I’m going to lend them to you.” I shrugged and thought, what the heck, it couldn’t hurt to check them out. So I left Wisconsin with a bulging binder filled to the brim with CDs, labeled with titles like Fool Moon and Summer Knight.

Jim-Butcher-2010-profile_book-jacket-205x300

Jim Butcher

What’s the series about? A PI Wizard living in Chicago, in the simplest of definitions. When Pat mentioned this, I internally eyerolled. I hate urban fantasy as a general rule. It all feels the same to me, and it almost always involves some werewolf/wizard/vampire/supernatural who turns into a paranormal investigator. But when a world-famous author gushes about a series that is one of his absolute favorites, you take heed and ignore your usual prejudices.

I entered the world of Harry Dresden with an open mind, and with the charming voice of James Marsters narrating (yes, that James Marsters, AKA Spike from Buffy, sans British accent), I was drawn into a series that would quickly become one of the biggest literary forces I’ve ever encountered in my lifetime of being a book lover.

I am a voracious reader, and I have a lot of series I absolutely love. So why is this one suddenly ahead of the pack? What about this series makes it worth the time investment (there are going to be a total of 20ish books by the time the series is done)? It is one of the most cleverly layered, thought-out, hilarious, honest, deep, and fantastical series I have ever encountered. Jim Butcher has blown me away with his plotting. Seriously, I can’t wait to meet the guy because I have to know about that outline. Things that happened in book one were discussed in book thirteen. This series is the biggest onion I’ve ever encountered, and as the layers peeled back my jaw repeatedly hit the floor. Book after book I was surprised that I could be shocked as much as I was, that such huge revelations could be happening with each story. Jim Butcher is a master storyteller at his best, and the weaving of this epic tale is the finest I’ve ever encountered in regards to breadth.

cdcover_lgIt was also interesting talking to other authors about this series. As I traversed the countryside, gathering up busts for the costumes, I’d mention The Dresden Files, curious as to whom had read it. My favorite conversation was with Holly Black, who, after some shared gushing over the awesomeness that is the series, asked me if I’d read Changes yet (book number twelve). When I said no she just burst out laughing and warned me that big things were coming. And she was right. Twelve books into the series the author managed to make me gasp and verbally exclaim in shock literally from the start of that book to the end of that book. And the surprises didn’t end there. I’m sure I looked like a crazy person this afternoon, driving around in my car yelling “Oh Shit!” over and over again as I listened to the secrets revealed during the climax of Cold Days (book fourteen).

I started the series around the middle of February. It is now the middle of June. I just finished the last audiobook currently published, book number fourteen, almost four months later. I did them all on audio, and after adding it up that’s 192 hours and 13 minutes of my life spent in this world. That’s eight non-stop days of Dresden if bunched together. And I wouldn’t trade a second of it. Do yourself a favor and check out Storm Front and Fool Moon, the first two books in the series. If you’re not hooked by then, it isn’t for you. But if you, like me, enjoyed enough of the story to want to see what happened in the next book, you’re in for a serious treat. The further into the series you get the more wonderfully complicated the story becomes. And guys, at one point Harry rides around on a necromanced T-rex as it snatches up zombies to eat. Nothing, I repeat, nothing is cooler than that. So thanks Pat. You were right.

 

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