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
The guy was complaining and whining all the way through the book.
This had potential. I liked the world set up. There are wizards, vampires, demons, ghosts, and fairies. They live among humans. Humans know about them. The White Council sets rules to govern magic creatures (MCs). One rule is that MCs are not allowed to kill humans using magic, even if a human is trying to kill the MC.
Harry is a wizard. He works as a PI (private investigator). He advertises in the yellow pages. Instead of a magic wand, he has a magic staff. He also uses a blasting rod, bracelets, potions, and mental powers.
My problem was the entire book felt like Harry was “making excuses.” In every interaction with bad guys Harry complains that he doesn’t have the magic thing he needs to get out of it. So he’s in danger. He was whining. I was sooo tired of it. I would have preferred Harry go in, take his magic, do some damage, and win the thing - at least some of the time. But instead he has to make do with spur of the moment thinking, dodging, running, and barely escaping with his life. Examples follow.
Harry visits a vampire. The guards take away his staff and rod at the door. The vampire attacks Harry. He has no way to defend himself because the guards took his stuff.
Harry left his staff and rod in his office, and now he is driving to another town to stop a bad guy. But he complains that he doesn’t have his staff and rod. Well, why didn’t he go get them before he started driving?
A bad guy is going to commit a murder and Harry is the only one who can stop him. A cop puts Harry in handcuffs, and he doesn’t have a magic thing with him to unlock the cuffs.
Harry needs to create a spell. He can’t because the ghost that helps him is on vacation.
A creature is trying to kill Harry. There is “no time” to use a deadly evocation in close quarters.
Harry can’t run because his leg is injured and painful.
Harry did stupid things with money. Apparently he is always low on money. He was behind on rent but just got paid by a client so he paid his rent. He’s got a $50 bill left. The ghost wants Harry to make a potion with a dollar bill. Instead of getting change for his $50. He puts the whole $50 in. Later he is in a taxi. Harry throws all his remaining money at the driver so the driver will hurry. Where did that money come from? If he had a $1 or a $5 bill he could have used that in the prior potion. And it sounded stupid to give “all the money he had” to the driver.
This is the first book in The Dresden Files series. There are at least fourteen books. A couple reviewers said his later books are better than this one.
Is it an audio equipment problem? Or holding the mic too close to the mouth? Or just a loud breather? The narrator had too many LOUD BREATHS which annoyed me. He also did too many SNIFFS which really annoyed me. I’m sure those sniffs were not written in the book. If he could solve those problems, then this narrator James Marsters would be very good. He has a pleasant, soothing, calm voice. And he reads with good emotional interpretation and interest. But I was too annoyed with the breathing and sniffs.
Genre: paranormal mystery suspense
A great start to the series, very entertaining and suspenseful. It's definitely more detective novel than other-worldly tale, though the two are very well entwined, very believably - our world doesn't have to change much to allow for the wizards and vampires of Dresden's world. For me, who would be more likely to pick up a crime thriller than a fantasy novel, this made the book so enjoyable.
Harry Dresden is the ideal modern protagonist - reluctant, cynical and a bit awkward, accepting what life deals him, but also a fundamentally good man who stands by his commitments and will not watch idly as injustice is done to the defenseless. There is still a lot of room for character development that I hope will be further explored in the next books.
The story does not use magic gratuitously, which is crucial. Our hero is fundamentally human, magic is just a tool at his disposal, strictly regulated by the terrifying White Council. Harry is by no means all-powerful, he can't even pay his rent. He is as vulnerable, as emotional and as likely to be wrong as you and I, and he is fully comfortable with his humanity. This is what makes him so charming. Marsters' almost casual first-person narration captures him perfectly.
What keeps the book from five stars are a few insular disappointing twists, where something fortuitous happens that the hero had nothing to do with. The author has access to magic, he shouldn't need that much luck to write his hero out of trouble. He does this excellently other junctures.
I wanted to like the main character, Harry Dresden, and the story, especially given that this book was highly rated when I came across it, and the concept of a modern-day wizard detective (as Dresden is) holds good entertainment potential for me.
However, from his heavy sighs to sharp intakes of breath to sounds of his mouth opening and closing to mumbling, the narrator made listening to this story a torturous experience for me. I struggled to finish and was relieved when the book was over. (I could have stopped midway and returned it, but I really wanted to give the story a chance despite the flaws in the delivery.)
I chose this book because I was hoping to get wrapped up in a new mystery series and this is the first book. Maybe I'd consider another if there is a different narrator; however, at this point, I'm planning to try my luck elsewhere.
Audible for President
The story was awesome and well written. The narrator was absolutely off the chain. Cant wait for the next book in the series!!!
I liked it. Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire who turns detective when a damsel in distress and a brutal murder cross his desk while his rent is past due. Already under probation, Harry's seat-of-the-pants investigative work gets him into more trouble than he can handle, even with the help of a few fairies and a skull named Bob. Read by James Marsters of Buffy fame, this is a quick and easy listen.
I first met Harry Dresden one lonely Saturday night. He was tall, perfectly spoken and I spent all the time I could with him before we were parted by circumstances beyond my control. Darn single season television.
I was hooked and was extremely excited when, after my weekend binge, I discovered that Harry Dresden was THAT Harry Dresden of the book that I had downloaded based on a review all those months ago and sci-fy recommendation and hadn't had the time to listen to yet. Needless to say, I MADE the time right then and there. I was in love and wanted more.
And he gave it, in spades. Jim Butcher has created a character in Harry who is totally believable, even if you, like me, think that a wizard is someone who belongs anywhere medieval but not modern day. Harry is a roughened character who...feels...right. Someone you would know and love to hate because of his smart mouth, attitude and general piss-you-off-regularly personality. We all know people like him and we all love and hate them. This book is the perfect introduction to Harry Dresden and will leave you eager for more. Even my guy, who rarely actually pays attention to what I am listening to, was drawn in and asked for more.
While there is magic in this book and series, its not airy-fairy...though there are faeries...and vampires and...other things but I won't spoil anything, I promise. The magic is seamlessly woven into the daily life of Dresden, not overpowering any one aspect of the story and it is wholly believable that Harry's Chicago, and world, could be mine too. Coming from someone who lives 50 miles away from Forks, has been camping in La Push and never looked twice to see if anyone sparkles or looked for a wolf in the forest, let me tell you, it was a fantastic feeling.
former nuclear scientist
The style of writing and narration is supposed to be an homage to the old-time gumshoe noir novels of the 30s, with humor and modern references splashed in. However, I found most of the jokes and references much less clever than intended; never brilliant, they rarely rose even to cute, and mostly wallowed in the groan-area. The narrator didn't help: his volume changed from a quiet mumble during narration to a stronger, louder voice for dialogue, so I was constantly fiddling with the volume button to find a setting where I could understand him but not get blasted if a conversation started. The narrator also can't do women's voices. Not at all, and barely tried.
The premise holds promise, even as signals are confusing: there are cell phones, but $500 covers rent for almost two months in a Chicago office building. Harry Dresden is a warlock for hire, and apparently a pretty powerful one, and comes with a backstory that sounds like the first book of a series that was maybe more interesting than this one. But the execution is inconsistent, just like the characters. A villain who has no compunction about murder still inexplicably just sends warnings to Harry when he gets on the trail. Convenient, glaring clues are dropped in an almost linear fashion, while Harry races through an adventurous weekend on an artificial deadline and fends off cartoonish challenges (including a mix-up and an overzealous magical cop) in his journey to save the day. It's just too trite to be interesting for long, because the lame and predictable plot takes up more time than the more interesting shadow world that Harry inhabits.
In summary: mumbly, jumbled, and too much old, not enough new.
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.
Storm Front by Jim Butcher is, in my opinion, the best urban fantasy currently on the market. While the early books in the series are a bit deliberately cliche this only works to make the work more enjoyable for the jaded reader. Storm Front grabs you from the very beginning and won't let go. James Marsters' narration is great and his voice perfectly captures Harry's Snarky yet endearing tone. All in all: Why are you reading this review and not reading Storm Front!
I'm not sure I liked Marster's rather deadpan interpretation of the main character. However, what made the book tough to listen to was the sound editing. You can hear every lip-smack, swallow, inhalation / exhalation from the voice actor. This is typically edited out and it's the first out of 50+ audiobooks I've listened to where the performer's breathing and swallowing is so readily apparent.
Full disclosure - this review is on the audio engineering only. Listen to the preview before purchasing! I returned the book and never finished it.
"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!
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"James Marsters & Jim Butcher a winning combination"
James narrates the book with deft ease and brings to life the world of Jim Butcher and his protagonist Harry Dresden. Butcher's world is full of fairies, vampires and demons as well as gangsters, cops and unfortunate victims. Though the ending seems a tad rushed compared to the slow burn of the earlier chapters but this is forgiven because there is a definite sense of satisfaction after finishing the book. James Marsters does a marvelous job and it's hard to think of anyone else who would do better. Some of the themes are a tad dated now, especially the image of the swooning woman who falls for Harry (but for plot reasons). Still I would recommend this to anyone looking for a magic / murder themed book
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