With rent past due and a decent meal becoming an issue of some importance, Harry needs work, and soon. A call from a distraught wife, and another from Lt Murphy of the Chicago PD Special Investigation Unit makes Harry believe things are looking up, but they are about to get worse, much worse. Someone is harnessing immense supernatural forces to commit a series of grisly murders. Someone has violated the first law of magic: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Tracking that someone takes Harry into the dangerous underbelly of Chicago, from mobsters.
©2000 Jim Butcher; (P)2002 Buzzy Multimedia
I’ve heard a great deal about the audio books of (most of) the Dresden Files, read by James Marsters. Really, there is absolutely no need to sell me on the man who was Captain John Harper and – especially, and always – Spike. No need at all. Given the crankiness of the car, I also had no problem justifying the joining of audible.com, and so I downloaded Storm Front for $7.49 (such a deal!) (no, really!) and put it on my iPod.
Marsters doesn’t just read the story. He is Harry Dresden, telling me what happened to him late that summer. (It doesn’t hurt that it’s first person – which is hereby my new favorite book format: first person audio.) He gives as much attention to the details of making Harry real as he ever did for any onscreen character. I love it. During a fight his voice went low and fast, describing the action with intensity – and then made me laugh when he read a line of Harry’s outraged-at-an-uncalled-for-attack dialogue. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
And his Bob is just … dreamy. Not something I ever thought I’d say.
To my surprise, I’ve seen a lot of negativity – mostly from women – about Harry’s deeply ingrained chivalry – called by many chauvinism. Who the hell does he think he is to protect Murphy the way he does, she’s a grown woman and a cop for *!’s sake and she can take care of herself how dare he?? As I said, it took me by surprise; it’s not something that ever troubled me. It’s probably not something best addressed after reading just Storm Front again; it becomes a real problem later in the series, for some. Here’s my thinking on it after this first book, pseudo-psychology (for which I apologize) and all; there may be minor spoilers for Harry’s background.
My surprise comes from the fact that … well, he is what he is. He is tall, he is dark, he is powerful, he has a strongly developed sense of justice, and a perhaps over-developed sense of chivalry. It is what it is. When he meets with her here, Bianca observes that Harry is a gentleman, a charmingly passé thing to be. He pulls out her chair for her – before and again after she tries to kill him – and politely declines to comment on the change in her appearance when the human façade drops. Even if it wasn’t gauche to a deadly degree to comment, Harry wouldn’t; it would be rudeness to a(n apparent) woman.
(“I was passing polite to her” – *hugs Harry/Jim Butcher for using the word “passing” in this context*)
Harry doesn’t have much experience with women, either in a romantic sense or, really, any other. He’s not celibate, but he’s not nearly so un-celibate as he’d like. He could be rather more active, but he’s not, for many reasons. His mother died – was killed – when he was very young. The extensive Criminal Minds training I’ve received chimes in right there with the comment that this alone could account for his having an idealized image of Woman: he never had the chance to learn his mother had any ordinary human flaws, and therefore even as an adult, knowing she wasn’t perfect, he still has lodged deep within him that ideal image. And since he hasn’t known so many other women well, by extension that perfect image has not had too many strikes against it. He hasn’t had so very many romantic liaisons (one of the many reasons I hated the tv show, that error), he has never had a sister, and Murphy – particularly in the beginning – isn’t quite a friend; he doesn’t seem to have very many female friends, if any. Women are a race apart.
And let’s face it. Karrin Murphy aside, how many women are there – realistically – who could defend themselves in the sorts of situations Harry finds himself in? How many people, for that matter, male or female? I don’t find it at all unreasonable for Harry’s first instinct to be protect, without taking the extra moment to process the additional data: “Wait, it’s Murphy. She might be able to handle the demon by herself.” For him it’s emergency = reaction; I find it difficult to believe that people expect him to hesitate to try to protect anyone who happens to be nearby, female or not, in the situations he finds himself in. And in truth, no amount of martial arts expertise or firearms proficiency is going to help much against a summoned demon or a PO’d vampire.
I don’t accept the interpretation that Harry thinks women are in any way weak. He’s not stupid. He has a great deal of respect for women. For him, being a gentleman, that old-fashioned role, is the way that respect is expressed. When he takes risks to protect, say, Murphy, it isn’t a result of stepping back and thinking “Geez, Murph can’t handle this. She’s all little and female and all. I’d better do it.” It doesn’t matter who the person beside Harry is, if they’re not another wizard. It’s instinctual: if it’s something paranormal, he has the skills to handle it, and he will. He can’t help it. He shouldn’t help it.
While reading I never really noticed that every time Harry encounters a woman, the detailed description of her includes her makeup. It’s another complaint I’ve heard about the books: every time, we the readers find out what a woman is wearing in clothes and cosmetics. I did notice it more in the audio, probably because my nose was rubbed in it prior to listening. On the one hand, I get it – Butcher really, really wants his reader to see the characters. But on the other hand I admit it’s a little odd. But on the other hand it does make sense – he’s a PI and a wizard, both of which callings require strong observational skills. Where most men might take notice of too much or too little makeup, Harry – not unlike Holmes, in other recent reading – sees more. Clothing and cosmetics indicate quite a bit about a woman: economic status, personality, sometimes intent. A woman in full war paint wearing Jimmy Choos is probably going to be very different in reaction and conversation from a woman in lip gloss and Nikes, or no makeup and Birkenstocks; it’s self defense to make note of the appearance a woman presents to the world. And, on the other hand, he makes note of similar details about everyone – it doesn’t bother me.
In other words, I can and will find excuses for any perceived flaw in Harry or the books. They’re just that good.
Storm Front was never my favorite Dresden, though way back when it was more than enough to thoroughly hook me on the series. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that I don’t like about it; I love so many of the elements: the introductions to many of the major characters we’ll be spending the series with; the carefully stingy doling out of information on Harry’s past, promising further exploration later (I admire Jim Butcher’s skill at doling out the information – about Harry’s past, his present, and everything else); the three-dimensionality of the second-tier characters like Monica and Johnny
Marcone and Mac. The story is well told and solid, and given that it’s a first person narrative from the hero’s point of view I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that in the end good triumphs over evil in a big way. So I don’t know where the visceral reluctance is toward the book; it could be simply that the murders that begin the book are so brutal and sexually charged. I’m not fond of the cases Harry is dragged into. It’s a heck of a beginning when the big strong hero loses his lunch over a crime scene.
Membership to audible.com: $7.49 a month for the first three months, $14.95 a month thereafter. Storm Front download: one credit. James Marsters reading the line “You may think you know something about vampires” and then talking about a character named Spike … Priceless.
I picked up the Dresden Files TV series on DVD after a friend recommended it to me. I remember that the show started slow for me and initially seemed to be the standard fare of low budget TV offered by SyFy. As I consumed more of the TV series I began to enjoy it more, and when it was over, I found myself disappointed that there was only a single season.
Being a fan of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series, and finding myself wanting more Harry Dresden, this book seemed like a safe bet for me. Of course I went into this book with an existing impression of who Harry Dresden is, and how he sounds, and found James Marsters to be an excellent choice as the voice of Harry Dresden. Marsters doesn’t exactly excel at some of the other voices in this reading, especially the female characters, but he is an excellent Dresden.
This book introduces the reader to the Butcher’s version of an urban fantasy world that includes wizards, demons, fairies, the White Council, and various disciplines of Magic. It also sets the tone for Harry’s place in the world, which isn’t exactly on the top rung of the supernatural ladder, and starts to detail his relationship with Murphy at the Chicago Police Department. So it is strictly the basics and it actually feels like an episode of a TV series. The bigger story arc is there but you don’t get a lot of details about it in Storm Front. The story for this one episode is wrapped up nicely and you will need to tune in next week to find out more.
After listening to this book I feel like I did after watching the first episode of the TV series – it’s a slow start. As a stand-alone work I could recommend a lot of better ways to spend your credit, but as a starting off point for a longer term relationship with Harry Dresden, I feel that it was a good investment.
I am a registered nurse and a father of four great kids. I live in a rural part of Oregon and love it. I enjoy books, but Sci-Fi Fantasy has allows been the ones I reach for more than others.
Yes, not only did I enjoy this book but so did my wife and sons who were on the long trip with me. Listening to this book has caused me to spend too much money on books-I have since bought the whole Dresden series and continue to do so.
Mr Marsters made each character easy to follow even when their name may not have been introduced every time they would talk. I would listen to more books narrated by James Marsters.
If you like Urban fantasy, you will enjoy this book
It was entertaining. the story pulled you in slowly.
That even though Harry was a wizard, he acted more like a detective. He seems to stumple his way into situtations than he takes control through magic. He scares you and also makes you laugh.
Wow! What a surprise. I watched the Dresden Files on SYFY, and wish they continues the series.But since I started the books, I’m really a fan the TV series did not come close. Big thumps up & five stars.
Very enjoyable read...something different for me. It was not at all gratuitous, but very well written; good character development and descriptions.
Avid listener of Scifi and Fantasy. I've found so many great books with the help of member reviews. Hopefully I can return the favor.
I've listed to the first two books of the Dresden Files. I like the magical detective aspect in a modern world. Jim Butcher pulls this story off without the cheezyness factor that a lot of modern fantasy hybrids have.
That being said, the two books I read aren't my favorite. Harry Dresden the main character gets himself into a lot of easily avoidable trouble that makes me very frustrated with the books. It seems like the author has trouble generating conflict and excitement without Harry making predictable bone headed moves.
Butcher has created an engaging and fun world that blends mythology magic and modern day Chicago. Harry acts a lot like a crotchety old man, although I don't think he's supposed to be that old. The grumpy old man act is a mix of annoying old school ideas and endearing genuine kind hearted eccentricity. In the end you can't help but like Harry Dresden even if he's a pain sometimes.
I like magical world and characters much more than the predicable plots in the two books I read. That being said, plenty of people seem to love these books.
Worth a credit, but not one of my favorites. I haven't decided if I'll buy more books from the series.
I usually don't mix my genres well. I go so far as to keep my modern murder mysteries and my fantasy novels in differant rooms. Maybe it's because murder and mystery are a part of my daily life and I don't really look at it as fiction any longer; 20 years in law enforcement can do that to you. Or maybe it's because when I read fantasy it's to get away from my work-a-day world so I don't want any reminders hanging around. The Dresden Files on the other hand gives me the feel of escapism and realism without dragging my real world along with it. Living as close to Chicago as I do I thought I would be disappointed with the descriptions of the city. Jim Butcher however does a good job of not getting to specific and thus keeps even the locals from getting distracted with any possible errors he could have made. The only complaint I have is that Butcher has small sections where the story seems to get bogged down just a little. Almost as if he, himself is trying to figure out how to continue. I realize this is supposed to read like a narrative from the main character so this was probably done intentionally, however it's just a little too well done. It makes you feel as if the writer, not just the character, is reaching for answers they should already know. That being said Butcher quickly works his way out of the literary morass to get back to the story. Overall it is a very good read.
James Marsters performance is fantastic. He doesn't seem to have the character voice depth of some of the other readers of series on Audible, but he does a fantastic job with what he does have. It made the reading enjoyable and noteworthy enough to say, I eagerly look forward to the other books in this series he reads.
I liked the story line a lot, but I dislike the way women are depicted in the book. Yeah, yeah, I hear it has a great following and that many critics have mentioned the women thing, however, it gets to a point where it is annoying.
sure, why not. It is an entertaining read.
He sounded at times tired, at times annoyed. It almost sounded like he didn't want to read the book- or maybe it was just his interpretation of the main character.
I finished it, so that would be a yes.
Before audiobooks 2 books read. After audiobooks 100's of books. I wish I had audiobooks when I used to drive hours a day to get to work.
Story is a twist from old detective books. The same with a dash of magic. I wish they found a different narrator. He almost seems bored.
Again, old detective books with magic.
Need to find a narrator that can make the book come alive. He sounds like he is serving community service.
I don't know if I will listen to the other books because of the narrator.
I quite enjoyed this story (though less than the Peter Grant stories by Ben Aaronovitch) but I did get a little tired of Harry never being able to take a trick. I suspect his downbeat personality would bother me over several books. I love James Marsters' voice, but I would suggest he gets well back from that microphone. The audible breathing (though, to be fair, actors need oxygen) became distracting.
"A great story & brilliantly narrated"
I confess that I am a great fan of Jim Butcher's Dresden series and was very much looking forward to hearing the audio version. Well, I am delighted to say that I was not disappointed - quite the reverse.
James Marsters (who played Spike in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is a superb narrator. He perfectly captures Jim Butcher's quirky, almost conversational style; he brings Harry Dresden himself brilliantly to life, as well as drawing the other characters with great aplomb; and he keeps the momentum rolling along without let-up. Great stuff.
As for the book itself, I think it is a model on how to write the first of a sci-fantasy series: it perfectly balances the need for thrills and spills, humour, human interest, goodies and baddies with developing the magical background and back-plot. The series improves with every book so I very much hope that Audible get the rest of the series after the first four, all of which are available on the US audible website.
"Gripping and atmospheric"
Stylish supernatural rollercoaster of a novel, Butcher captures the Film Noir genre perfectly and adds an arcane twist. Harry Dresden, the only person advertising services under "Wizards" in the yellow pages, has a knack for finding trouble. In Storm Front, Dresden becomes the target of a brutal killer who has crossed the forbidden line to kill using black magic, and has learned how to harness enormous energies to kill his victims at a distance. Treated as a suspect himself, by the police and the white council of magic, Dresden faces seemingly impossible odds - he must stop the mysterious sorcerer before it's too late.
James Marsters delivers the narrative with Phillip Marlowe perfection. I can't recommend this book enough - I can't wait to download the next in the series!
"Great fun and beautifully read."
I tried this book on a whim and i'm so pleased i did. I think i had presumed that after reading so many paranormal books written from a female's point of view that one from a mans' might be a little gung ho and hard to relate to but i was so pleasantly surprised. The protagonist has a brilliantly dry sense of humour that had me giggling out loud every now and again. It was also so refreshing to read a paranormal book that was well thought out and consistent from start to finish, not getting muddled halfway through or getting a little silly by the end. Harry's back story is explained just enough without getting bogged down in the nitty gritty and it was amazing how quickly one was able to understand and relate to the character. In addition i loved the fact that even though the male lead was strong the female roles all had a character of their own. Usually strong or atleast independant, not just simpering excuses for gratuitous sex.
This was all supported by fabulous narration by James Marsters. Such a fantastic voice for this character, he manages to capture the wry sense of humour just perfectly.
So overall i think you can see that i loved it, now on to the next one!
"Superbly read by Marsters"
First of all I cannot recommend the narrator James Marsters highly enough. He has the character of Dresden down to a fine art. The combination of story and Marsters reading was exceptional, so much so that I often laughed out loud at some of the snarky comments. As for the book, well Jim Butcher has found a loophole in the Supernatural book market and created a wizard, who is funny, interesting and captivating. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
"Magic meets PI"
First time I have read a Harry Dresden book and looking forward to reading the rest. A good mix of PI investigations, conflict, magic and action kept the plot going until the end. The characters were well drawn and easy to emphathise with. The plot draws you into the authors world of magic, fairies, demons and humans. I was slightly put off at the start by the world weary narration, although this suits the character it seemed slightly over the top but this didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story.
"Dashiell Hammett with Magic bits"
This is a great romp of a story. A grumpy wizard / detective, in the style of Sam Spade, with lots of fallen women, sex, power, a mob ring and a ticking timebomb of a deadline thrown in for good measure. Even though I had the plot twist figured out half way through (I've done a LOT of detective novels) the magic angle made everything fresh and new. I will definitely be getting the next book.
"Amusing and gripping"
I missed the TV series but I had the impression it was the sort of story I'd like and I was right.
The story has kept me hooked and I've looked forward to my bus journey to and from work but I've even found myself listening while doing the housework - it's the equivalent of the 'unput-downable' book.
James Marsters is pleasant to listen to and although there's quite a lot of irony, which we're often told Americans 'don't get', I found the delivery spot on.
I'm definitely going to get the next one in the series.
"Good Book, Excellent Series"
My first experience of the Dresden Files was the TV series some years ago; it was okay, but didn't particularly thrill me. I only started reading the Dresden Files because I got the first few books cheaply but they have very quickly grown to become my favourite series of novels and something of an obsession (there's a roleplaying game and there have been related kickstarter projects).
Storm Front is the start of the series and it does start a little weakly, it's a solid book and I enjoyed it - but having read/listened to every book in the series multiple times now it's certainly not one of the best. It's required reading for the ongoing series though, it introduces you to a number of characters, the vast majority of whom crop up again and again throughout the other books and the events of Storm Front still come up in much later books.
Jim Butcher has written these books as though they're Harry's journal or internal monologue, including his off hand thoughts and sarcastic comments. James Marsters captures the character amazingly, and really *is* Harry Dresden. The books have become my favourite series and the audio books (collectively) have become the standard by which I judge all audio books.
"A brilliant first novel."
There's very little to fault in this story if you like the genre. It has a great atmosphere and imagination to it. The hero is flawed but likable. There is a good supporting cast of characters. The plot is interesting. James Masters, the narrator, was just as good as I hoped he would be, acting out the story in a way that really draws you in. The main question, given how popular this series is, is why haven't you listened to it yet?
So why haven't I given it a five? The story does lack the depth of novels written by my favorite authors, it is a little too predictable and plot devices heavy handed at times. However, this novel was enjoyable and easy to listen too. I don't give out four stars easily so Storm Front has a lot going for it and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
"dresden files book 1."
james marsters amazing narration skills.
jim butchers whit filled writings.
i've listened to all dresden files books read by him all very good.
not in this one no but in later books yes
if only the uk store could get all the dresden files including the latest one and side jobs i'd be very happy. well worth a listen.
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