Please, sir may I have some more?
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on 5 November 2017
Short version, pertaining exclusively to this book: Best book in the series yet! Can't wait for the next one.
Long version, regarding the whole series:
Warning: Polysyllabic words & some hinting at the characters who eventually show up in the story arc, spoiler-ish mentionings ahead.
When I first began reading this series, I had already read the Codex Alera, and thought it was pretty good. There was a good bit of obvious borrowing from real historical events in that one, and I feel like it both added credence to the story arc, but simultaneously detracted from the author's creativity. But as my college art professor always half-jokingly said, "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal." Having developed an appreciation for his writing style, I decided to take a dip in this pool of radiance, which at first was not nearly as radiant as it has eventually become. I would like to compare Jim Butcher's writing to fine wine, only getting better with age. But who am I kidding, I drink wine out of boxes, and only really know anything about fine writing, which this definitely is, and I feel qualified to make that judgement call having read over a thousand books as of 2 years ago, and over half of them without pictures.
I would say that his use of esoteric vocabulary is surpassed only by Ayn Rand's, but instead of espousing a thinly veiled message of society-ruining selfishness, bordering on pure evil, which if adopted by large enough numbers of people, would certainly lead to another reign of terror, like that of Robespierre, instead as counterpoint, Butcher delivers a protagonist espousing the opposite of selfishness as a philosophy of life. He imbues his protagonist, Dresden, with a worldview chocked full of Weltschmerz (google “Sheldon Cooper Weltschmerz”, for a video with a concise & mildly comical explanation), who uses his wizardly powers for the good of the many, instead of self-promotion. Quick-witted sarcasm & chivalrous courage in the face of villainous adversaries of varying ilk, running the gamut from trifling werewolves & faeries, to demons & fallen angels, with some vanilla human evildoers to balance the scales, make for some of the most entertaining literature I have ravenously devoured with insatiable hunger, similar to how Toot devours pizza (inside joke).
Initially I found the plots somewhat transparent, formulaic, and predictable, but after the first six-ish books, I realized that regardless of any predictability of pattern, I have become enamored of Butcher's sense of humor, and without his puns, witticisms, and sci-fi references, I find other authors lacking, who are otherwise perfectly good writers. Even the comedy of comedy-genius, Christopher Moore, can no longer satiate my insatiable desire for the comic relief, provided by Butcher's comical comedy stylings, using the supernatural world of Chicago as his tragicomical setting with Harry Dresden as his delivery medium for fantastically biting one-liners, and insults.
Despite the fantastic nature of the universe he has created, populated by pan-pantheonic gods & myths, Butcher still manages to include such geek-necessary concepts as the conservation of mass & energy, as well as momentum, without simply using “magic”, to explain away physically impossible supernatural feats. In other words, he's a fantasy author for those who refuse to, or just can't, suspend disbelief in the literally impossible, and not just the extremely improbable.
And when I say pan-pantheonic, I mean it. Dresden has encountered beings from every western religion, children's story, & superstition I can think of, and then some. This voluminous of a collection of supernatural baddies hasn't been compiled since Jakob & Wilhelm Grimm collected a whole culture’s-worth of them. I'm still waiting on the tooth faerie, but that one might be too far of a stretch, even for grown-up & turned-badass-Harry Potter-meets-Stretch Armstrong, wizard Harry Dresden.
Adding one final note, as a personal “thanks” to the author, I appreciate the Tolkienian choice of staff, instead of wand, even if there is sometimes a “blasting rod,” the weightier focusing tool lends increased gravitas, and in my mind also greater veritas, in spite of the self-contradictory nature of the relationship between science and magic, to the magical aspects of Dresden’s universe, in much the same way a heavier glass bottle makes people think their wine is higher quality. It is in the end, all about perception, just ask Molly.
Please, Mr. Butcher, release the next books as quickly as possible. I beg you. I don't want to forget the nuances of the stories, because I have never been able to read a book more than once, even if just to refresh my memory. If it's more than a few months until the next one, I will end up forgetting.
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