Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

I had to take some long flights and spend a week at a conference. I figured Storm Front by Jim Butcher was a light book I could read throughout the week. I did not expect I would finish it practically in one flight. Guess that means I can get the next one in the series for the return trip?

My full review after the jump.

Overall Impression
Harry Dresden is a cleverly created character that really drives the story. The combination wizard-private investigator make it a fascinating read that is accessible to most people. This is classic urban fantasy: the familiar tropes of the fantasy genre, but placed in a modern city. If that interests you, then you owe it to yourself to give at least one of the Dresden Files book a try. Thus far I've only read this one, but I hear some of the others are even better.

The plot moves along very quickly. This is at its heart a detective novel, after all. The difference with most mystery novels is that magic plays a large role and so you never know what to expect. Nevertheless, you are given plenty of clues to figure things out so that you're not completely surprised by what the characters can do with respect to magic.

While the main character, Harry Dresden, is cool, I did feel he was a bit too good. It seems his only flaws are that he can loose his temper quickly (which can either make things worse or help power his magic) and is supposedly not too good with women despite being surrounded by many attractive women, several of which try to seduce him. I guess he has also had a troubled past, but this is not fully explored and just gives him the gritty feel of an antihero. I suppose another of his flaws is that technology tends to fail around him, but that seems to be a normal thing when magic is involved. Just because he seems to have more plusses than minuses, doesn't mean he has an easy time, though! He gets pretty beat up and is nearly always under constant pressure throughout the book.

All the other characters, Murphy, Bob, Morgan, Bianca, etc, have rather brief appearances and are only sparsely developed. I know more about them thanks to the TV show and I hope they get more time in the subsequent books.

Setting / World Building
The story is set in Chicago and blends in elements of a familiar big city with the unfamiliar world of magic. There are plenty of references to other powers that we never see, perhaps setting the stage for future adventures. The magic is not fully described except when absolutely necessary. Hence, while you have an idea what Dresden can do, you don't get the full sense of his power. This is urban fantasy at its finest, with plenty of magic but in a completely modern world. Well, mostly modern: I don't think film in cameras is as widely used as a few decades ago!

Final Thoughts
I really enjoyed this quick read and can see why many people enjoy the Dresden Files. The main character is the primary driving force in the novel and I look forward to seeing more of his adventures as I continue the series.

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