Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Dresden Files: Significant Stuff Finally Happens

I've been using my nook to read The Dresden Files since Christmas time. So, isn't it ironic that I post the picture and link to the amazon page?  I'm an equal opportunity book whore.

I've been liking The Dresden Files pretty well so far. The books have their issues. Big bads get defeated too easily after a crazy buildup of their invincibility. The dreaded deus ex machina shows up in every book in one form or another. There aren't many drastic consequences to drastic actions taken by Harry & Co. Until now.

Blood Rites is the sixth book in the series and the one where I feel like the characters have finally made some significant progress. So far, these books have felt like straight up supernatural crime stories that get wrapped up in the end and the next book moves on without anyone changing. Plot points get brought up from one book to the other, but overall I think the first five books would work well as stand alones. Butcher does do a good job of going over major facts from previous books without bogging readers down with redundancy.

A lot of readers, and Butcher himself, feel that Grave Peril, the third book, was the jumping off point for multi-book plot lines, and to an extent that is true. The White Council and the Red Court go to war in Grave Peril, which is important, but not to the individual plot lines of each book. At least not yet. I do have another 6 Dresden books to read. But some of the actions in Blood Rites have seriously lasting repercussions that change the overarching story. We learn a lot more about Harry's mother and the brother he never knew he had. Harry takes a physical hit that he does not recover from. He's also forced to question his entire upbringing (which actually kind of pissed me off because Harry can sometimes be really dense and so stubborn he crosses over into stupid). Our favorite incubus, Thomas, takes an emotional hit that he does not recover from. Actually, he takes multiple hits. I'm only about 30 pages into Dead Beat (book seven) and know that Thomas is no longer the vampire we met in Grave Peril.

I like risk. I like when characters take huge risks and they don't always pay off. Or maybe they do pay off but the character comes out of the situation worse for wear. I'm big on character period. I don't always find the plots of the Dresden books very interesting, but I enjoy the character development and world building enough that I'm not too bothered. I like to see characters change and grow. I like for their actions to have permanent consequences. This is why I have a hard time sticking with any long running non-indie comic book for very long. Nothing ever sticks - not even death. And this is why I like George R.R. Martin so much, even though he's slow as hell. When he kills someone off, they stay dead. When a character loses a body part, it stays lost. Retconning the consequences of any given action in a story, cheapens the action in question. I hate that.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say without spoiling Blood Rites is that stuff happens beyond the "murder on a porn movie set" plot. Stuff that characters don't bounce back from. Stuff that will change the story as we know it thus far.

I'm taking a break from the Dresden books for a bit, because I finally got this in the mail:

I got the actual 1000 page book because sometimes, I like my nerdery old school.
 But I'm looking forward to continuing with Dresden once I've gobbled up Wise Man's Fear and have to wait another 5 years for Rothfuss' next book. I'm excited about where Butcher's characters are going. I have a total girl crush on Murphy and would continue reading The Dresden Files for her character alone.

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