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Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
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Book Name: Storm Front
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher(s): ROC
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audio Book / eBook
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy / Crime
Release Date: April 1, 2000

I’ve heard A LOT about The Dresden Files and after being told by about ten people over in the Fantasy-Faction forums that I ‘HAD’ to start this series, I finally did it. For a fantasy novel, it is pretty short. Saying that though, I think urban fantasy tends to be a little snappier and a little more action packed than your traditional epic style fantasy, so it wasn’t a huge surprise.

The Dresden Files is basically a spinoff of those classic, old ‘P. I. novels’ that were around in the 1930?s. Back then, it was everybody’s dream profession to be a private investigator. Living the life of a rogue with a case to solve. Women wanting you, men fearing you. As a result, authors like Raymond Chandler were hitting the big time. In fact, even today the novels are still there in the top 100 novels of all time (compiled by Time Magazine). If you were to pick up The Big Sleep for example and start reading a random page, you’d probably mistake it for Dresden unless you knew better; Butcher’s voice and first person narration is very, very similar.

That being said though, I don’t think Jim Butcher has purposely tried to rip off another novel. No, what he has done is taken a very popular genre and crossed it with fantasy to make something fairly unique. To get a feel for the series, just see Harry Dresden’s advert:

MEET HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD FOR HIRE
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.

Storm Front is the first in a series of at least twenty books, (14 of which are currently available) following the struggling wizard, Harry Dresden, in the first person. Harry tells us a bit about himself, his struggle to get people to take him seriously, his struggle to pay his bills because of this and as a result becoming a consultant for the police.

His first call the day we meet him, is from an obviously distressed woman whose husband has seemingly disappeared. She seems to be fairly worried about him and thinks something ‘odd’ is involved that requires a wizard’s knowledge as opposed to the police. Just as he agrees to meet with the woman and discuss the case, he gets a call from Agent Murphy telling him that he’d better come meet her right away.

When he arrives at Murphy’s location, he finds a scene, that even as an experienced P. I. and wizard, he throws up at the sight of. A man and woman are dead within a room. Oddly enough, the woman is on top of the guy, obviously having been at the point of climax. It appears that upon conclusion of the sex the two individuals had both had their hearts explode out of their chests. Blood soaks the bed and the walls around them.

Murphy demands to know what did this, but Dresden has no idea. Whatever it was, it must be powerful. After talking with Murphy for a bit, Dresden realises he has to go and meet the woman who called him earlier and discuss her case. But on the way over to his apartment, a gangster picks him up, bundles him in a car and tells him that he should forget what he saw in that room. After the gangster chucks Harry out at his office, Harry is able to meet the woman from the phone, who gives him a story that seems as she described it…odd.

So begins Harry’s adventure. Exploding hearts, missing husbands, gangsters and far more along the way (talking skulls, faeries, demons, vampires to name but a few). It all moves at a fairly rapid pace and, as you would expect, everything ties together quite nicely. Although the book is a very good, very quick read – I did struggle a little bit with Dresden’s narration. Sometimes his tiredness and moaning got to me a bit and I wanted to slap him around the face a little and tell him to man-up. But then, that’s the style of these books. The good news is, I was warned that books 1 and 2 are very slow. It isn’t until book 3 the series begins to build momentum and apparently the later books in the series are phenomenal – so I’m looking forward to things getting better and better. And really, it wasn’t a bad start

Just to finish, I guess I should tell you that The Dresden Files were never Jim Butcher’s plan to make it big. Using the power of the internet, I’d like to give you this following piece of information:

Jim Butcher decided to become a professional author at the age of nineteen. Subsequently he wrote three novels within the fantasy genre and one which he has classified as paranormal—books which the author has described as being “terrible”. In 1996, he enrolled in a writing class where he was encouraged to write a novel similar to the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton, rather than the more traditional high fantasy that had been his focus in the past, as Butcher had previously stated that he enjoyed the Anita Blake series. Despite initial resistance, he wrote the first book that semester, closely following the instructions of his teacher, author Deborah Chester.

I guess, when you consider the Codex Alera books and then look at The Dresden books you can really appreciate the development and better fit the writer is to this genre.

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Rating: 7.3/10 (4 votes cast)
Storm Front by Jim Butcher, 7.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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4 Comments

  1. Bets Davies says:

    I never got involved in Dresden because I’m a stand alone kind of gal. I hear someone is writing twenty and I don’t swoon. I back away. Yet Dresden has created exactly the sort of thing that I love: mash ups of genres. Your review was convincing. I may have to give it a shot.

  2. Jeryn says:

    The thing to keep in mind with Butcher is that he seems to get better as he grows more comfortable with his characters and the storyline. The first book in The Dresden Files is solid – amusing, an interesting primary character voice, plenty of action – but it really doesn’t break away from the back until about the third book. I didn’t like the Codex Alera as much as this series, but I felt the same way about that one – as Butcher got his feet under him and got more familiar with the characters he was writing about, the story got stronger.

  3. Khaldun says:

    It was a fun start to the series. Being a quick read and having an awesome protagonist helps things as well. I’ve finished books 1-3 and am looking forward to the rest of the series (which I have also heard is fantastic).

    • WizardofWestmarch says:

      The first few books are pretty good, but as the series progresses it gets better and better. Butcher gets one of the rarest of compliments from me, he gets better with every book.

      Considering he’s releasing book 13 of the series next week and I’m saying that having read the first twelve, that is a pretty big complement.

      Also of note to the original review, the first two Codex Alera books are pretty mediocre, three through five are actually pretty good, then book six suffers from “hurry up and finish the damned story” syndrome. Overall not BAD epic fantasy, but not as good as the Dresden books by a long shot.

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