Published on Monday, October 10, 2011 by Davis Downey
In the world of fantasy books, The Dresden Files stand above the rest for a plethora of reasons. The Dresden Files are based in Chicago around the wizard Harry Dresden.
The world in the series is the same as ours, with the exception of an entire world of magic living alongside humans. The main character, Harry, is a wisecracking, leather-duster wearing, 6’ 6” wizard with an ad in the yellow pages. He says what he means, and doesn’t care much about what anyone thinks of him.
Each book starts differently sometimes with an investigation or other times with Harry in the middle of a situation, and the author, Jim Butcher, informs you what’s going on as the story is told. While he doesn’t save the world in each book, Harry has inadvertently prevented major disasters multiple times.
Butcher is a master of imagery. He has the ability to help the reader understand exactly how the character is feeling in any situation, whether he’s talking about emotions, or specific environments, or the things the characters are doing. While reading it, you feel like you’re right there with Harry about to be devoured by werewolves or sucked into a vortex of souls.
One of my favorite things about how Butcher writes, is the amount of voice he gives every character. They all have quirks and distinct personalities. Harry always has something witty to say. Lieutenant Murphy, a police officer he’s good friends with, is determined to uphold the law, and his half-brother Thomas likes his vices. The back and forth between characters and Harry’s inner-thoughts keep the pace of the story and kept me from ever getting bored.
A good environment is another strong quality of The Dresden Files. While Butcher is using our world as the basis of the series, the secondary world of magic is very well done. He makes it believable and explains everything that happened. He doesn’t just say, “Harry did magic”, he actually gave reasons behind the purpose and mechanics of how it worked. While some people are just fine without any explanations, hearing the little details behind how things work in the world make it easier for me to get involved in the story.
I mentioned that Butcher is good at describing situations, but that barely scratches the surface. My favorite example of his brilliant imagery is when Butcher talks about fear, and the extremely specific fears we’ve all experienced at some point in time. He makes you feel like you are experiencing whatever fear he describes at any given moment. While I was reading the passage, I knew exactly what he meant and I could empathize with Harry. It’s a part of the immersion of the books.
While the series may be long and could seem intimidating, I love reading The Dresden Files. I never regret spending time with Butcher’s books. The masterful descriptions, deep characters and detailed world makes me want to re-read the series while anxiously waiting for the next book to come out.