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
Books have always been a passion of mine, now that I'm older I find myself with less time but still my love for great stories has only grown
First, let me preface this review with a few things you should know up front. One, I'm currently stating my..5th...maybe 6th go round of listening to all of the Dresden Files, so my reviews will be from the perspective of an avid Dresden fan who's been through the whole series to date a few times. I will try not to give away anything to those who have not done the same. Secondly, As stated, I'm reviewing this with full knowledge of future books and as such will try and temper my ratings to the book itself, and not bring the rating up or down because I know what is to come in later books. I will try to do each book as is, stand alone, and without gushing..... keep in mind, I said try.
Ok, down to business, "Storm Front" is an excellent book for a few reasons, but I think I'd like to single out the fact that it unapologetically grabbed me by the mental short hairs and dragged me into this world that Jim Butcher has so lovingly crafted. and told me that if I'm very good and drink all my Coke, then maybe Mr. Butcher will be kind and give me another book to fall in love with.
I'm serious when I say that it grabbed a hold of me that fast. I was on a road trip to New York from Georgia with my brother when he said, "Hey, I've got a series I think you'd like." and boy did I.
"Storm Front" flows into the Film Noir Detective story mold so effortlessly that you feel at any moment Dresden is going to pour up three fingers of scotch and lament how he's never gonna make the rent next Tuesday, which in fact he does, but minus the scotch. The other half of the coin of course is that Dresden is a Wizard, and the world he works in and the dregs he has to deal with would make ole Bogart hang up his hat and fly back to Casablanca to stay. And Dresden's "voice" in this tale never skips a beat or breaks you away from the feel of a noir story. Yes, he just launched lightning at a toad demon, yea, his right hand man happens to be a talking skull with centuries of magical knowledge tucked away next to the store house of perverted thoughts in his mind, but no matter the fantastical nature, you are still riding along in a well crafted detective novel trying to solve the mystery right alongside our beleaguered wizard.
The bare bones of this story is fairly simple when you break it down, but added all up it makes for a damned good time. Dresden is at this time the only known Wizard for hire, look in the Yellow pages under wizard, and there he is, the one and only. And he's barely into giving us the brief low down on who he is when he has two cases drop into his lap, a missing husband and a double murder. In no time Dresden has been threatened by a Chicago Mob boss, Had to bribe a fairy for some info, and suddenly come to the realization that a member of the secret wizarding council suspects that he may in fact be behind the murders himself. Times ticking fast as Dresden has to put the clues together to both solve a murder, find a missing husband who may have dabbled in the wrong magical pie, and some how exonerate himself to the council lest he lose his head. Oh, and did I mention he's got a few problems with the ladies in his life? Quite often you will find your self shaking your head feeling sorry for the guy... but secretly waiting for the next thing that is going to be piled onto his head.
Jim Butcher's writing style in this first book of the series may lack some of the polish that he achieves later on in his series, but I will firmly say that what he does give in this book is more than enough to satisfy. I have found that while Mr. Butcher can be as blunt as a hammer upside the head with some matters, he does it so that A: he can get a joke or two out of it, and B: because while you are looking at, and 9 times out of 10, smirking at what he's giving you over there, the sneaky fella that he is, he's subtly giving you something more important over here. That's the key to Dresden that I love and grow to love more and more with each book. The clues to what's coming are there in the preceding pages of his work. So far, I have not once seen a reveal occur where the clues were not already given to you at some point, you just had to piece them together. More often than not, I don't realize it till after the reveal of course but that goes back to the whole, Hammer over here, sneaky business over here thing I was talking about earlier.
Jim Butcher lays out a wonderful foundation of information for you to draw upon as you try to work your way through the mystery, but also you get an incredible feel of "reality" to his work that makes the whole story more vibrant and draws you in more emotionally than perhaps you were prepared for. The Characters are well defined and they feel like they each have a bit of a mystery just behind the corners that make them more than just the back drop.
Another great/cruel technique that Mr. Butcher does is he drops mysterious little tid bits or odd occurrences here and there that make you stop a second and wonder, Who is Dresden referring to? Or What was that he said there? And the lovable jerk that he is, he won't let that little bit of info or question pay off till the next book, or sometimes three books later. He is very sneaky that way, but I love it.
Lastly let's talk about the narrator James Marsters. First, need to get this out of the way, I'm a big Buffy Fan and when I first heard this and I heard James Marsters speak I did a double take and said,"Wow, they got Spike to narrate? wow, this should be good then." Little did I know that in time, James Marsters would be forever linked to Dresden in my mind. Now, James, does a great job in this first book, don't get me wrong, but I gave him a 4 star rating on this book because I know just how amazing he is going to become at these and quite frankly this first book does not do him justice. I'd like to rate him over all, but this is a book by book basis, so 4 stars it is. James speaks well and clearly. He evokes a lot of the right kinds of emotion in his characters, and I swear he understands just what kind of story this is and gives Dresden that Noir private detective feel with out hamming it up. Now, while Dresden is the focus and the narrator, he is not the only character, here is where I deduct some points from Mr. Marsters on this first book. James does a fine job giving the other characters emotion and and he distinguishes them well enough, but he does not really give them much in the way of variation. They all sound a little similar in tone and timbre and for a book that is being conveyed to us audibly by one person, those things matter. The female characters don't really sound much different from the males, and if Dresden was not so well developed by Marsters from the get go one might have a problem distinguishing who is talking sometimes.
But, please keep in mind that like I said, this is his first go, James Marsters not only develops a wide variety of specific voice for the cast of characters in these books but he does an amazing job when the new characters start cropping up. So, please bear with him on this one title, and hang in there for the awesomeness that is coming.
All and all, "Storm Front" is an excellent first book. Is introduces you to the world, grounds you in its rules and characters quite well. Dresden fast becomes a character that you can not only identify with, but a character that you want to cheer on and see win out over what fast becomes some seriously messed up odds. Dresden is the ultimate under dog and no matter what he is facing you want to stand there with him, he's that kind of character. I can promise you this, with Dresden, you rarely if ever have a dull moment.
I leave you with these words from the book itself, Jim Butcher's words, Dresden's voice, and I promise when you hear Marster's delivery, you will be hooked.
"The world is getting weirder. Darker every single day. Things are spinning around faster and faster, and threatening to go completely awry. Falcons and falconers. The center cannot hold. But in my corner of the country, I'm trying to nail things down. .... I'd rather make a place where things are a little quieter. Where trolls stay the hell under their bridges and where elves don't come swooping out to snatch children from their cradles. Where vampires respect the limits, and where the faeries mind their p's and q's. My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call. I'm in the book. " -Jim Butcher, "Storm Front"
This is a great series for people new to the fantasy genre (and probably for those used to it too!). I love everything about it: the adventures, the character development, the meshing of the real and the fantasy, and the world Jim Butcher created. James Marsters totally embodied Harry Dresden, and did a great job with all of the characters. Listening to these books was like watching a movie in my mind, and I listened to nothing else until I'd finished the whole series. The books drew me in right away, but by book 3 or 4 I couldn't listen to anything else. The books just got better and better. When I realized that I'd gotten to the end of the latest book and would have to wait for the next one, my stomach dropped I was so disappointed!
This is a general observation of the whole Dresden series. James Marsters is a superb reader; one of the best. I have enjoyed listening to this series because of him. The introspective soliloquies of Harry Dresden would be terminally boring without Marsters' rendition. The underlying story line is enjoyable and fun, but not seriously good, After all, this is a story about wizards, monsters, fairies, and ghosts. How serious could it be? There are very few Tolkiens. All in all, a flawed work but worth listening too. This is one of those works that are better listened to than read in printed form. I would skip most of the angst stuff, but it isn't too bad because of Marsters' performance.
It had the feel of a gritty "film noir" story. Some of the magic was a little convenient, but most of the limitations were fun to contemplate. Kind of an "Oh, yeah. That makes sense."
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 am a language arts coach, studying to be a high school English teacher. Reading is what I do and audible makes it easier!
I would and I have! Any friend who enjoys a good supernatural mystery would love Harry Dresden! Storm Front has everything you want in a good murder mystery, gruesome murder, passionate sex, hot cop, curvy reporters and multiple suspects! That isn't even including what Harry brings to the party: magic, curses, giant cats, a spirit living in a skull who answers questions and evil sorcerers! It's every fantasy lover, and mystery reader's dream combined!
Storm Front is very similar to most modern mysteries I've read. It has a substantially mysterious plot, damsels in distress, a chivalrous idiot stupid enough to help them, and an added element of evil and the fantastical!
James Marsters is an excellent narrator. He brings life and flavor to Harry's character! He is fantastic and I have loved every book he's narrated thus far!
I think my first introduction to Bob was probably one of the best moments in the book!
Read it now, and thank me later!
Top of the list!
I really enjoyed the book, I had read it first before listening to the audio book. James Marsters voice matches perfectly in expression and tone of what I imagined Harry Dresden sounding like, complete with audible exasperation and nervous swallowing.
A great book, not the usual fantasy novel, made even better in audiobook format.
Yes. This is an entertaining book. It isn't awesome, but it isn't bad either. Just enough intrigue and mystery to make you want to keep on reading/listening.
Harrys inner dialogue is amusing. Not to mention his wiseassry. The things that comes out of his mouth make you look like a crazy person cackling in public laughing about nothing. Or a crazy person trying to hold on to their sanity by repressing laughter.
His voice is pleasing. Even though he does pronounce Marcones name wrong for the first few books, he does fix it later on. His performance is great.
“Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face.”
― Jim Butcher, Storm Front
I read this book and thought it was ok. Since then I have read the series several times. Standing alone, this is probably the weakest book in the series. They continue to get better and better. If you dont like this long series by the third book. If you haven't laughed out loud once, then you can stop, your not going to like it.
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