So, a few days ago I used the fact that my wife had bought me the first 4 books of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series as an excuse for low blog output, and promised a review of the books to make up for it.
I'm generous like that.
First off, it IS a series, and the stories build upon on another. Because my wife rocks, she actually, you know, talked to someone at our local book store, and asked if the reading order was important. The valued employee said that they could be read in any order, but for the best experience, you should read them as released.
I agree. I think if you read them out of order, there is enough story there you would get something out of it, but there would also be a few statements he makes that you would just have to take on faith, without actually getting anything out of it.
For those who know nothing about the series, it follows the exploits of on Harry Dresden, professional wizard and private investigator in an alternate Chicago where there are all manner of supernatural creatures about. Vampires, werewolves, Sidhe(fairies), ghosts and many other things that I'm sure I haven't been exposed to yet.
Live as a PI and the only wizard in the phone book is not all fun and games for Harry. He had a rough upbringing, nearly being killed by his mentor, before killing him, and as such he is constantly questioned and under watch from the ruling council of wizards, who don't trust him.
Life likes to poop on Harry....a lot. While he is a powerful wizard, he is regarded as nothing more than a fake and charlatan by most of the population, unless his help is needed.
It's a good series so far...not literature by any means, but what they would describe as a 'rollicking good ride!'. They are fast reads...usually by the time you get halfway through the book, you don't want to put it down. As I stated, I got the first four books for Christmas and had them read 8 days later. I wanted to make them last longer, but it was tough to 'savor' it.
All in all, I would compare the books very favorably to Mr. Correria's writing style, with the feel probably closer to his Spellbound series, even though the Dresden Files are set in the here and now...they just both have that 'gritty' feel.
Negatives? Yeah....and this just might be me. For a PI, Harry doesn't always seem to do a lot of investigation. I mean, he starts trying to investigate, but after talking to 1 or 2 folks, but for the most part, he solves his problems by the 'shake things up' method...after asking a question or two, and usually ignoring a warning to 'just stay out of it', the bad guys try to take Harry out, helping him figure out just who is behind his problems.
I don't know...maybe most detective fiction is that way. I must admit, reading about Harry getting out of trouble is more exciting than reading about him accessing the DMD database for license plate information.
On the good side, one of the things I really like is that Harry doesn't always win. He usually solves his main plot point in each book, but because the series is built for the long haul, it's not always a happy ending. There are several 'Empire Strikes Back' moments, where Harry ends up worse than when he started, so that is neat...it keeps things from being too predictable.
If you enjoy sci-fi/fantasy at all, these are worth reading.
The worst part for me, it is that I have completed the books on hand. Now I can start keeping my eyes out for the next book in the series at the local used book stores. Or wait until my wife reads the 4 we've already got so I can justify spending the cash to buy book 5 new, since it's for 'the both of us.'