There are a lot of problems with this book, many of which are in the production of the audiobook (the editing is crap - you have to listen to the reader breath constantly and it really interferes with the flow of the story, though on rare occasion it fits whats going on). The story itself is a very light read and not very immersive. The concepts are interesting but the story is lacking.
However, that said, the second book is great. This book really only serves as a necessary stepping stone to set the stage of the series and introduce you to its characters. The second book will knock your socks off. My only complaint is that the reader/editing doesnt get a whole lot better (the reader is actually quite good, and fits the part, but man the editing is bad and it makes him sound bad).
I only progressed past this first book because Butcher's Calderon series is so good I couldn't believe this series didn't get better - my faith was entirely justified and I intend to purchase the rest of the series.
I wasn't sure how I would react to this book about a private-eye wizard, but it turned out to be surprisingly engaging. The author has a vivid, eccentric imagination that draws one into his fantasy world. My tolerance for wizardry, however, has been pretty well exhausted -- I don't plan to listen to the others in the series, in part because the narrator nearly drove me nuts. His delivery was needlessly, and often incongruously, breathy and whispery, with lots of distracting sighs, lip smacking, and noisy swallowing. Perhaps he just had his mouth too close to the microphone, but shouldn't the audio director have corrected this problem? Check the sample carefully before you buy this book, and bear in mind that 8+ hours of this narrator's irritating delivery may exhaust your patience.
Story isn't bad. Mainly well written and generally enjoyable, although the seemingly pointless antagonism between Dresden and pretty much everybody comes across as forced.
There is however a glaring issue... constantly having to listen to the narrator sucking and swallowing. Ask a 5 year old a question during dinner and you'll get a similar sort of sound. And then there's the regular inappropriately timed sighing. If it's that hard a job being a narrator for audible I would suggest he find another line of work.
Second thoughts... he should probably find another line of work regardless.
My first Dresden book, I almost thoroughly enjoyed it.
Hard to get past the various mouth noises by the narrator, which my have been by design--I'm not sure. After I heard that first "smacking" noise I couldn't NOT hear them.
However, I really liked the overall story. Harry, the good Wizard who likes to read and has a fabulous sense of humor, and fights crime! I can see why these stories have such a large following.
If you enjoy off-beat crime/fiction with some fantasy thrown in, I recommend it.
I swear that this reader has a chicken bone in his mouth through the entire book. And if he's not eating something, he is thinking about it. And now that I've said something, that is all you will be able to hear too. You're welcome! Does he slurp? SNIFF? Salivate, and then eventually swallow it all? You betcha!! But, the story is so cool that I'll have to listen to it all again. Sick!
The story itself was pretty interesting but the reading was flat. I don't know if the character was supposed to be bored through the entire story but the reading sure was.
We have the print versions and took them to jamaica with us, they go very easy with rum. We have bought the audible books available but really want Books 5, 6 & 7! It leaves a big gap in the story line.
James Marsters is a very good narrator, he handles the characters very well. Jim Butcher has done a very good job with The Dresden Books! I am very cheap, so I really have to love a book to buy it in print and Audible!
Whether or not you like Harry Dresden will depend on your tolerance for annoyingly cliched tools used to entertain you. I mean, I like reading Ian Fleming, so it would be silly (or at least inconsistent) for me to claim that Jim Butcher is particularly egregious or untalented. Butcher is not a great writer — at least not in this book — but he's not an altogether bad one, and Storm Front is a moderately entertaining caper about a Chicago wizard/PI who has the usual problems of scraping up rent, a missing person to find, mobsters on his case, shadowy nemeses who want him dead, femme fatales, and magic and vampires and faeries and a lecherous talking skull thrown into the mix for fantasy flavor.
Suspensions of disbelief are always required in UF, and my biggest one was actually a fairly prosaic concern: dude has magic powers, in a world where those are pretty rare (the book is not altogether consistent about whether the wizarding world — yeah, I'm gonna call it that — is "secret" or just generally goes incognito) and yet he's struggling to pay his bills. Okay, I get it, Magic Has Rules and you can't just conjure up a pile of gold, but still, as the only wizard in the entire Chicago area, and supposedly a pretty formidable one (despite the fact that he gets his ass kicked by everyone he meets, magical and mundane alike), you'd think Dresden could come up with more innovative ways to profit off of his talents than advertising in the phone book as someone who will find your lost wallet.
Some of the worldbuilding is intriguing (the White Court, the rules of wizardry which seem to be reasonably well thought out without being excessively infodumped) and some are just lazy (vampires, faeries, ghosts, etc., Butcher seems willing to drop the whole fantasy kitchen sink into his universe).
As a character, Harry Dresden is a neckbeard's wet dream, a clueless virgin who most of the gorgeous women he meets (all of the women he meets are gorgeous) throw themselves at, so he can manfully refuse their advances and congratulate himself on what a stand-up guy he is for not exploiting the chicks whose boobs he's totally not ogling. We get lots of passages about what a tortured bad-ass he is: his "soul-gaze" routine, where he looks into someone's eyes and they see into each other's souls and most people faint because Dresden is so, so dark inside, man! — is kind of contradicted by everything else he does, which is bumble around cluelessly, get bushwhacked by thugs with baseball bats, bullied by cops and mobsters, and try to figure out those mysterious confusing lady-creatures.
That said... the book was fun in a well-trodden way, there were some small bits that were neat, and I found it passably entertaining. Do I really want to go on and read the rest of the series? Practically every Dresden fan says that the first few books aren't very good but Butcher gets a lot better deeper into the series. That's not exactly an alluring prospect: "Read two or three mediocre books before you really get into it." But at some point I'll probably pick up the next one.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
Finally, I have found a writer in this genre that I can follow. This genre seems to be filled with so many crap writers that I had almost given up entirely. I thought the premiss for this sort of literature had so much potential, yet I could not find a good writer in the field. Jim Butcher is that writer. JB could write in any field he wants, but I am glad he chose this one.
The story is ok, the characters are even better. I especially like Bob and hope he is included in later episodes. I like how the main character, beats himself up, like we all do sometimes, but then he gives himself a pep talk and gets things done. The writing is descriptive without being overly so. A lot of time and effort was put into writing this intelligently and creatively. It is not perfect and I will have to admit I debated on rather to give it four or five stars. There are one or two times when the solution to the problem comes to easily, but this is minor and he is mostly faced with major road blocks that he uses his brain to get out of.
The narration and production is different from any I have heard before. I have listened to hundreds of audio books. In this production you will hear the narrator breathing, sometimes it is part of the acting and sometimes it is just the narrator breathing. You can also hear him swallow, change position in his chair, and parting his lips. You would think this would be distracting and for some reviewers it was. For me, it made me feel like I was sitting in a chair across from Harry Dresden as he told his story. I am not sure if they did this on purpose or not. The narrator is excellent either way.
I will be listening to more in this series.
Love epic sci fi and fantasy, but hate looking of really good books. So many duds out there. I am gamer too.
Marsters is more than any narrator, he is a voice actor. Most narrators just read and do change up in voices. For example a character will same something, then the author will write something like and he laughed, and the narrator just reads the line straight. James will add that laugh when he is speaking. He also does the breaths, sighs, adds tension, etc. He brings real emotion and life to the characters. Butcher does a great job of doing this book in 1st person, not many writers can pull it off. Patrick Rothfuss is a good example of poor 1st person writing for comparison. What I like about Butcher is his owns the vamps, zombies, werewolves, fairies, etc, and breaths news live into them. I so loathe vampires any more, but he makes them refreshingly interesting. If you ever watched the TV show it is nothing in comparison to the books. There are somethings that do bother me though, like wizards foul up technology, wish is cool. But revolvers that do work and semi auto pistols don't does not really add up, since revolvers can have more parts than an auto does and semi autos are not that much older than modern cartridge revolvers. Also he can drive a car but can't own a frig? All a frig is a motor, pump and temperature switch. A car has more moving parts than that. Those are small things but easily forgiven since it does not effect the story that much and probably something only a person like me would notice. Highly recommend that you read the books in order as they will make more sense that way, but each book can stand alone. Also read, Side Jobs after you read book 12 or it will spoil the plot of the other books. Ghost Stories book 13 is due out in July 26, 2011.