Posted July 30, 2013 by Jaclyn Tan in Books

The Dresden Files – Of Investigations and Wizardry

What happens when you mix a geek, magic, and investigation all together? Not the next mystery RPG game, but rather the Dresden Files. Meet Harry Dresden: licensed private investigator, occasional police consultant, and full-time wizard.

The Dresden Files is a book series written by admitted geek Jim Butcher. With 14 books to date (and a new one coming out early next year), it seems a daunting task to a new reader just coming into the series. But the fast-paced, action-packed story-telling will leave readers turning pages right into the wee hours of the morning. Each book builds on the previous one, gradually introducing the reader to the secret world of Harry Dresden.

And what a world it is.

No other fantasy or paranormal series would have four kinds of vampires, three kinds of werewolves, Faerie Courts that are more than Seelie and Unseelie, fallen angels, and a zombie dinosaur all meshed together in one series. You have angels working side by side with the Winter Fae, vampires with mob bosses, wizards with fallen angels, and werewolves with holy Knights; it makes you wonder, who are the heroes and who the monsters?

And Harry Dresden is not one to take challenges lying down. With a snarky wit, a small arsenal of weapons, and his trusty sidekick slash information database in the form of a talking skull, this is one wizard any sci-fi/fantasy aficionado would want to get to know.

Not that the other characters aren’t noteworthy either. Harry often seeks the help of police lieutenant Karrin Murphy, a very fierce martial arts expert who would go to a lot of trouble – including consult with a self-styled wizard – to keep Chicago and its citizens safe. Another of his allies is Michael Carpenter: Holy Knight, wielder of one of three Swords of the Cross, faithful Catholic, and has a dislike for swearing.

Jim Butcher Dresden Files Storm Front

For a fantasy series with a wizard as a main character, you might expect a lot of explosive action and unpronounceable spells in a fictional language. For one, you’re right; battle scenes in the Dresden Files involve a lot of destructive spells and maybe a couple of hard-to-pronounce words. But in majority of the scenes though, the spells can be as simple as a ‘fuego!’ or as complicated as ‘ventas velioche, ubrium ubrium.’ Wizardry in the Dresden Files doesn’t work a lot of miracles either. With a physics-based magic system (your science teacher will be happy to know that you won’t easily forget the formula: force is mass times acceleration), each spell’s effect is understandable even for those of us without a degree in wizardry.

Still think that fourteen books and about a dozen short stories is too much? The Dresden Files has an ongoing graphic novel series from Dynamite Entertainment; publishing both book canon stories as well as a couple of independent arcs, the graphic novels help the uninitiated become introduced to the world of Dresden. Drawn by artists such as Ardian Syaf and Brett Booth, the novels also give intense gritty visuals that prove Dresden’s world isn’t all black and white. The heroes are as unassuming as your next door neighbor and just as conflicted in their efforts to do the right thing.

Indeed, the many rules and clashing political factions have a lot to offer the urban fantasy fan. (It even has a pen-and-paper RPG!) But don’t let the number of available printed matter fool you; the Dresden Files is one series that can still leave its fans begging for more.

Jaclyn Tan