Monday, January 01, 2007
Before Harry Dresden appeared on the SCI-FI channel this month, I wanted to read one or two of the novels upon which the series, The Dresden Files, would be based.
The series, both the television show and the books, take place in Chicago, following the exploits of Harry Dresden, a wizard who finds himself fighting supernatural threats in a world of people unaware of their existence.
Hmmm.Harry, Harry....where have I heard that name before?
As a character, Dresden is a loner who often finds himself at odds with a group known as the White Council, a gathering of wizards who have come together to keep order in the world of magic.
Keeping a low profile to avoid their strict security force known as the Wardens, Harry stumbles and boxes his way through one complicated situation after another to untie tricky plot lines seeming to defy resolution.
Hmm..White Council, Wardens...where have I read all this recently???
The good news is that the Dresden material is a fun read. Author Jim Butcher can string together sentences with wit and ease, and has a sense of timing.Don’t kid yourself though, Butcher’s stuff will never be mistaken for anything with originality or literary merit.
The Dresden series is disposable fiction. If anything, the publishers should print it on paper which deteriorates minutes after being exposed to air.The book I read was the first Dresden book to be printed in hardcover, apparently number seven in the series. “Dead Beat” is about a group of necromancers attempting to find a spell that will allow them to become godlike. The narrative moves quickly, but this IS NOT a stand alone novel. At times Butcher’s writing is lazily thrown onto the page with a carelessness that reeks of smugness. There are plot twists that will have you shaking your head and the appearance of characters that are woefully explained to the uninitiated. If you are going to read Butcher’s stuff, you better start with the first in the series.
What will more than likely happen is that Butcher will develop a following who will stumble through conventions this summer, dressed in large coats and carrying staffs. They’ll meet the Harry Potter fans at the information table as they are en route to take on the Tolkein fanatics.Then, all three groups will bludgeon one another into a stupor while the Whedonites look on with satisfaction.
I will write more on the adventures of Dresden once the television show has been broadcast. I will also give Mr. Butcher another go, reading the first three books of the series and holding off any further criticism of his work until I’ve had a chance to develop an opinion from a different perspective.