Monday, August 04, 2008

Whimper

One of the staples in my library is Jim Butcher's series The Dresden Files.

I won't say that this series is brain candy -- because the books are far better crafted than mere fluff -- but for me they are the mental equivalent of comfort food.

I've seen critics of Butcher's work lambaste him for being 'simplistic', but I have to wonder if they're reading the same books I am. Or if they remember that they're being paid to read books, not skim them.

Butcher paints incredibly detailed places, things, and events; weaves them together with a suspense plot and then adds a liberal dash of three-dimensional characters before giving the whole thing a quarter-turn widdershins.

He always has Good Guys; and he always has Bad Guys -- and most of the time you can't tell which ones are which -- but the Good Guys win in the end. Much like a Bogart movie. Which is probably explains a great deal of their attraction for me.

There are plenty of books out there which have some kind of point to make -- philosophical, creative, social, whatever -- books which aim to make the reader Think About Things. And I have read my fair share of them, and will continue to do so.

However, sometimes you just want the literary equivalent of a ginormous bowl of beef stew, with a thick slab of home-cooked bread on the side, and a Guinness.

Plus, who can resist such throw-away lines as:

"Maybe I'd been shut away in my lab too long, but Spenser never mentions that Mab has a great ass.
So I notice these things. So sue me."

*snerk*

Anyhoo, I was banging around the Internets, drifted by Butcher's homepage and noticed that there's a new Harry Dresden book coming out.

"Ah-hah!" thinks I. And then I read the tag-line:

"When Morgan shows up on Harry's doorstep, broken, bleeding, and begging for protection from the Wardens, Harry finds himself at odds with the White Council yet again.

To be released in hardcover from Roc publishing, April 2009."

Warden Morgan is one of those characters that you admire while simultaneously wanting nothing so much as to whack him across the back of the bonce with a lead sap, drag his unconscious body into a dark alley, and work him over with a rubber hose for a couple of weeks.

And I've got to wait until next year to see what happens.

*whimper*

LawDog

28 comments:

Big Bad Wolf said...

'Dog...there's more than that one coming. There are 3 'to be released' in the Dresden series:

Welcome to the Jungle
Mean Streets
Backup (told from Thomas' point of view)

Have ya checked out the 'Alera' series? Completely different feel but still screaming Jim Butcher.

I get the same frustrated anticipation with Butcher...as well as Weber and Stirling. You've no idea the crushing blow I suffered when Robert Jordan/Jim Rigney died.

LabRat said...

I chugged through them up to about halfway through Blood Rites- I think that was the title... when I simply put it down after a reading session and never developed the urge to pick it back up again.

I heard they got better.

Anonymous said...

"However, sometimes you just want the literary equivalent of a ginormous bowl of beef stew, with a thick slab of home-cooked bread on the side, and a Guinness."

You have a way with words Lawdog, so I did some brief looking for ginormous but no luck. I guess it is a large portion though.

ben

LL said...

I got hooked on those Dresden Files a few years ago when another blogger recommended them. I ended up sending the ones I had bought off of Amazon to another blogger. I haven't gotten any new ones since and I'm glad you reminded me about them because I'll order the ones in between and catch up!

BryanP said...

I love the Dresden books. So far I've managed to get 4 people hooked on them. One of whom bought the first book at my recommendation, started reading it while waiting for a movie to start, and after the movie was over he went back to the bookstore to buy the rest of them before going home.

My current Favorite Moment would be when he discouraged a teenage crush with a pitcher of icewater. You saw it coming a mile away and it's still hysterical.

The Old Man said...

Sure wish that Sci-Fi channel had renewed the series. Murphy was badly cast (IMHO), but Bob was a twisted bit of esoteric fluff despite the horsebleep haircut.

MadRocketScientist said...

I'd never heard of Harry Dresden or Jim Butcher until SciFi had the show on. I didn't pick up the novels until about a month ago, when I was bored and saw that my local library had them.

I chewed through the whole series in a month, and yes LabRat, Blood Rites is where Mr. Butcher hits his stride, and his plots start getting more complex and interwoven and a bit darker. Pick up Proven Guilty and give that a read.

What I love about the books is that each can stand alone. While it helps a bit to have read the previous books, he takes the time to re-cover ground in each so that you don't feel lost, just curious about what has gone before.

fastbike said...

I'm totally with you. I love the Dresden series. As for Morgan, I'd be happy just to whack him up side the head and leave for the Turkey buzzards in this wonderful Texas heat.

JT said...

I too am completely hooked on Dresden, started out with the TV show (loved it) and looked up the novels - tore through the first 9 in record time and had to painfully wait for Small Favor in April. I'm glad he's announced Turn Coat for April 2009 - every 12 months is a VERY good schedule compared to other authors mentioned here, to which I'll add GRR Martin (STILL waiting for Dance w/Dragons).

big bad wolf:
If you hadn't heard, the Jordan estate has selected a writer to complete the last book, A Memory of Light, from Mr. Jordan's copious notes & outlines which were... um... copious. His name is Brandon Sanderson, already published a few novels with Tor. His very regularly-updated website is here, and if anyone would like to read the first book in his fantasy series (Mistborn) to check him out, Tor had it posted in eBook form (DRM-free) for a bit and I'm happy to share over email (the Mobipocket .prc version).

The Captain said...

I just started reading that series a couple days ago. Glad to hear he's still cranking them out.

dfwmtx said...

I hear you on the pains of waiting. I've been reading Eric Flint's 1632 series, and just finished "The Cannon Law" last night. All through the later half of the story they kept dropping hints of the fun, excitment, mayhem and perhaps a few explosions of a jailbreak from the Tower of London in a forthcoming book of the series. Bad part is the last time I checked release dates, that book wasn't the next one out; I have to wait through a ironclads and sieges on the Baltic coast until I get to the stuff I really want to read.

Big Bad Wolf said...

JT - Robert Jordan/Jim Rigney was one of the most gifted writers in several generations, IMHO. 'A Memory of Light' will be a great book if only for the fact that he kept copious notes, has known how it would end since before he ever put pen to paper and told his wife everything on his deathbed (literally). I haven't read the 'chosen ones' works yet, but I'll get around to it.

For all the fans of the TV show Dresden Files, if you get a chance to re-watch them, Jim Butcher appears as an extra in one episode: carrying the coffin containing Harry's uncle at the city morgue. Little guy with a ponytail.

I'll leave you with a quote that made me laugh for days, "Something you probably didn't know...Tyrannosaurs don't corner well."

Old NFO said...

BBW beat me to it, the Alera series is a pretty good 'filler' while you wait for the next increment. Also Weber and Stirling. Another author I like is P.T Deutermann http://www.ptdeutermann.com/
I knew him in the Navy, and his novels are excellent! The Edge of Honor had me going I "know" that guy, and that guy and that girl :-0 Very well written and very true to what the Navy was like in the 70's.

Janir said...

Every april there will be another Dresden book until he gets to 20 'case files' then ending with a 3 part special ending series.
Backup is due out in October can't wait!
And as everybody else said, The Codex Alera series is also a great read from him. Same feel of good guy, bad guy, and great character development. The first may be bit to start on but by 1/2 thru the second book he picks up his stride and just nails it on books 3 and 4. Book 5 due out in Dec. (every dec)

Shdwcaster said...

Dog, seems our reading tastes run in the same general direction, Pratchett, Jordan, Butcher. Ever read any of John Zakour's detective series with Zackery Nixon Taylor?

Great fun reads.

Mike said...

I'm definitely with you on this one, 'Dog - a friend of mine just hooked me up with "White Night".

In regards to 'pushing books', I've gotten several people hooked on the Vorkosigan (Bujold) and Harrington (Weber) sagas, as well as Paksenarrion (Moon).

- the first hit is ALWAYS free! ;)

Anonymous said...

I discovered The Dresden Files through the TV show. Bob rocks!!! I was on vacation last year after watching the show (the year before last, I've forgotten at this point) and I went to the library to see if they had any.

Proven Guilty was the only Jim Butcher novel the library had. It was delightful. Especially the part about the snow monsters having their 'dangling parts' on fire or something like that.

It was funny but I thought the story was too long and I told a friend of mine who is also a fan and she told me that while you don't have to read the books in order, it does help because if you do read them in order then you know why they're so long.

Oh, did I say Bob rocks???

Morgan (meh)

Amy from Texas

IceFire said...

Haven't read the Dresden Files series, but sounds like I'll have to give them a read. While you're waiting for the next book, You might want to check out "Jacknife" by William W. Johnstone. My husband got me started on him with his "Ashes" series, and while his books are works of fiction, they strike awfully close to home. Definitely food for thought.

ArkieRN said...

I found The Dresden Files when Summer Knight first came out. I read it in one evening and the next day bought the first three books. Since then, I pick them up as they're released.

It's great seeing how Harry deals with being part of the establishment after his past.

And I'm really wanting to find out who he gives that sword to. I'd love to see Murphy take it up.

Have also been enjoying the Codex Alera. Am looking forward to November and Princep's Fury.

Janir is right though, there are parts of Furies of Calderon that are a little hard to get through. But after that, hang on for a fantastic read.

Anonymous said...

Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin.

Still waiting on the next book. It's going to be out this fall, or so they claim now.

It's already been pushed back by over a year.

Book #5 in what was originally planned to be a trilogy.

I'd complain about filler, but I'll say this much for GMMR: He packs more in one book than most authors pack in a series.

Christina LMT said...

I adore the Dresden Files and the Codex Alera, though I absolutely despised the tv show. I thought it was awful and miscast. Maybe if I had watched the show first, then read the books...?
You should try the Liaden Universe novels by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee.

Angry Nurse said...

Got the whole series and I just finished "Small Favors"

Love the stuff!

Dori said...

Once again--related, you and I! Fortunately the husband and I are on opposite schedules so we only had to purchase one copy of Small Favors--and keep track of each other's bookmarks. Yea, I'd agree with the series being "comfort food" for the brain.

Farmgirl said...

Dresden Files, Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake and Merideth Gentry books (hey, I'm female and both those series have a little kick ass broad surrounded by hot hot men she gets to play with. Gotta get my smut somehow...) anything by Mercedes Lackey, the Mercy Tompson novels and now the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs, and for a nice desert type book anything by Tamora Pierce.

That's a short list of the authors and series that I stalk the bookshelves for new material in. If I see one of those authors on the shelf anywhere, I'm going to pounce on it, clutch it to my chest, and do a happy dance. I've been known to fall to my knees and weep when there have been delays in the release of a new book.

I've also been known to wrestle Farmmom in the aisles at Wal-Mart to be the first to read the new book. She says she's getting brittle, so she doesn't fight back to hard. And then she says "Besides, you'll have it read in a day anyway. I can wait that long."

Hi, my name is Farmgirl, and I'm addicted to books....

Shakespere said...

Hi. I really enjoyed your blog. It seems to be very interesting.

Tolewyn said...

I started reading these books thanks largely to my late brother-in-law, who worked in a bookstore and was always prowling for something different. He definitely found it in this series. The lucky bastard also got to meet and talk to Butcher several times at book signings.

I am so stoked that the publisher is going back and releasing the first books in the Dresden Files in hardback. I tend to collect book I enjoy.

I've also chewed up the Codex Alera series. More tranditional fantasy, but the Butcher sense of humor is still rampant.

Nice that they are spaced to get one from each series about every six months.

Tole

Simeron Steelhammer said...

*chuckle* I share your pain but I must say this...

I have little sympathy.

We are STILL waiting on SEVERAL of your tales to be told...including one about a Pink Gorilla Costume I believe...*snicker*

Firehand said...

Real characters, "Oh God, what do I do now?" situations, and magic that makes sense... some of my favorite books. I actually found I was reading about twenty pages, then putting them down; realized I was trying to make them last, as opposed to snarfing them down in about two days.