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September 2017

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Progress on the Dresden Files

I just finished "Turn Coat" so I'm about to start "Changes" and I have put in an order for "Side Jobs" and "Ghost Story". After that I will order "Cold Days" then I will have to wait for "Skin Game" to come out. Strangely enough used hard covers cost less than used paperbacks. "Side Jobs" is a collection of short stories that take place before "Ghost Story". There are some short stories that are not in "Side Jobs" they are in other collections by multiple authors.

Dresden Files is a nice series of genre fiction. It isn't Holy Crap life changing literature. It is a pleasant blend of Detective Noir and Urban Fantasy. If you like detective stories and fantasy you will probably enjoy reading these. If you don't like fantasy or detective stories you probably won't like these. Dresden is also funny. As a character Dresden tends to make jokes in tense situation. He is his own comic relief. I enjoy comedy in my drama. I don't enjoy scary stories unless they have comic relief to lighten the mood and relieve the stress. Some people feel that comic relief destroys the mood and ruins the drama for them. They don't enjoy these books.

Some people dismiss genre fiction as "escapist". Luckily for me Niel Gaiman recently had something to say about that
"And while we're on the subject, I'd like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it's a bad thing. As if "escapist" fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.

If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers."


The characters in Dresden Files are complicated. Good and evil aren't always simple. Although sometimes they are. Thomas the Vampire is a good example of a complicated character and how Harry deals with him is also an example of the conflicts good people can get into.

One problem many authors have with magic users is making them stronger every novel in order to face new dangers and eventually having characters that are very nearly gods and can't be hurt by anything. Butcher does a good job avoiding this trap. Dresden does improve in magical ability every novel but he usually survives by luck, trickery, and help from friends. He usually ends the novels unconscious and having barely escaped with his life. He also uses modern technology against magical creatures that are hundreds of years old and haven't kept up with modern weapons. This keeps the character from becoming so magically powerful that he is boring. There is no plot if the hero can just magic away any problem.

The Dresden Files is series that needs to be started at the beginning. Things that happen in one novel show up again in later novels the foreshadowing crosses novels and there are several long dramatic arcs. Butcher has said that there is long plot arc going on that has a definite conclusion. So, don't start in the middle. Of course this means that mandatory exposition for people who didn't start in the beginning is a bit annoying for those of us who are reading the whole series all at once. But a little exposition doesn't hurt if you have forgotten who people where between novels.

I particularly enjoy the magical system in these books. It is specifically not Wicca but it is compatible with Wicca. Dresden says he isn't into Wicca because he doesn't like to mix his magic with religion, and that is a fair cop. Wicca is a mixture of magic and religion. But that is only true for some definitions of religion. (Don't get me started.)

For Christians the Dresden files do have the Knights of the Cross, three knights who carry swords that have the nails from the crucifixion in their hilts and fight evil on direct command from the Christian God. Their primary enemies are the Denarians, thirty fallen angels who inhabit the thirty coins paid to Judas Iscariot. Unfallen angels also show up as well, and Hellfire, and divine Soulfire. So, Christian mythology is true in this world.

I feel that Butcher puts a novel twist on traditional myths and legends from around the world. That and the complicated characters and intriguing plots make these books an enjoyable read.
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Comments

Didn't I send all the books to you?
No, I still have 2-6 at my house. I'm going to have to spring for my own copy of Storm Front so SLB can read them. I read 7 because Zahde left it behind specifically for me to read. I can finish a Dresden novel in about two hours, give or take.
I sent the books to Eva. Would you like me to send you the set in epub format?
I don't have a portable reader, that might change soon. A tablet or kindle would be easier to take to work then dead tree format.
Tablets are more versatile, and don't lock you into a particular ebook publisher. The files I have are epub files and are not compatible with the kindle. You can use Calibre to read or convert them on your laptop. What address would you like me to send them to?
I'll let you know when I'm ready. I can't bring a laptop to work. Tablets & smart phones are okay.
Very well. Have you a smart phone?