Book: STORM FRONT (The Dresden Files, Book 1)
I'm doing a lot of traveling for the Australian tour, so I'm taking advantage of this time to knock out some books that have been on my list for years. One of those is STORM FRONT, by Jim Butcher.
Yes, I realize I'm late to the party and many of you already know of this highly popular series. I stayed away for two reasons. First, there are ten (or so) books in the series, all with the same dude on the cover -- which means when said dude gets into trouble in Book One, you can kind of guess he lives to see Book Two. That takes a lot of the fun out of it for me. Second reason I stayed away? Magic. Most "magic" books are crap because the storyteller doesn't put in the wrench time to properly establish the rules of the story. Character in trouble? Poof! Here's a convenient magic spell or a random teleport gate! Drives me crazy as a reader to see that kind of lazy effort when it's my money and my time on the line.
That being said, I really liked STORM FRONT. Yeah, it's a series, and it's a series for a good reason -- because Butcher created a pretty kick-ass character in wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden. Basically the book is a film noir private detective that just so happens to be a practicing wizard. A lot of (if not most of) the two-fisted detective tropes are in this novel, but putting the magical spin on it makes it unique and engaging.
Dresden is a wizard for hire, but business isn't all that great. He's not sure where his next meal is coming from, and he's back on his rent. Due to his old-fashioned morals, he feels he has to actually earn his money -- not conjure it. Add in some heart-exploding murders, the mafia, rampaging wizard hitmen, a baseball bat to the dome and an all-powerful wizard council that thinks Harry is the killer, and you get a classic out-of-options and time-running-out page turner.
Yeah, there is magic. No, it's not really explained how things work, but it's very clear that Dresden is not all powerful, and he has limited strength and endurance for his spells. You know how it will end (because you've seen this series a million times on TV), but it's still a frickin' good time. Butcher knows how draw you in and give you a helluva good read.
I'm already reading the second book (a rarity for me), so that's a strong endorsement from your FDO™.