Thursday, February 05, 2009

no, not that one

Title: Proven Guilty
Author: Jim Butcher
Bookmark: flattened candy box from Halloween leftovers

This is a story of a wizard names Harry who spends an inordinate amount of time fighting dark magic while struggling to maintain his life in the real world. Not that Harry. This Harry is named Dresden, and was named by his father after Harry Houdini (one of my childhood heroes). I know, it still sounds like a bit of a rip off, but that doesn't mean it's not really cool.

The Dresden Files, in addition to being a short-lived TV series, is a growing list of books that started as a protest against a writing assignment. This is number eight, because it was the only one on the shelf when I decided I wanted to read them. It's obvious that there are threads running throughout the series (one of the big plotlines in this book isn't even completely resolved), but Butcher does an elegant, subtle job of letting you know what you need to know without being heavy-handed and obvious.

Harry Dresden seems to be the undiscovered love child of Hermione Granger and Philip Marlowe, spouting off defensive spells and one-liners with equal ease. In this episode, he confronts an unspecified threat bringing phobophages (demons that feed on fear, and in this case, take the form of movie monsters) into our world from the Nevernever, deals with an ongoing war between the White Council of Wizards and the Red Court of vampires, starts a civil war in the Nevernever between Summer and Winter faeries, sees his brother (a sort-of vampire) move out of his apartment, struggles to protect the family of his friend (a holy warrior who carries one of three sacred swords, each of which contains a nail of the Cross, and seems to take his orders from God, or someone close), and wrangles politically with the most powerful wizard alive. Oh, and he does it all aided by a dog that may not be mortal while battling internally with a fallen angel who took up residence in his brain when he touched a cursed Roman coin in an earlier book.

There are a couple very minor concerns with continuity, and things get especially weird in the last third of the book, which takes place largely in the Nevernever, but it's still good fun. I might have to hunt down some of the earlier books to figure out what the hell's going on.

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posted by reyn at 11:25 PM


Blogger -M said...

I'm currently plowing through Summer Knight, the fourth book in the series. I found the first two books somewhat infuriating because Butcher kept advancing the plot by having his characters do stupid things that they knew at the time were stupid. That's dropped off quite a bit so far in the third and fourth books. I intend to keep reading because a friend has assured me that one of the later books features demonic fire monkeys that fling flaming poo. Also, because I greatly enjoyed reading Butcher's Codex Alera series (starts with Furies of Calderon) so I'm willing to stick with him as his writing matures through the earlier-published Dresden stuff.

2/16/2009 10:59 PM  

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