Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dresden 04: Summer Knight (Butcher, Jim)

Rating: 5
Year: 2002
Genre: Fantasy
Read again? Yup!


The Red Court of Vampires have declared war on the White Council wizards. In the few months since the end of "Grave Peril," the vampires have sent assassins after Dresden and other wizards. The White Council convenes a meeting in Chicago--technically, the war is his fault--to discuss the war and whether there even needs to be a Wizard named Harry Dresden.

They're aware, of course, that the Winter Queen of Faerie wants him to solve the murder of an old man. Chicago PD says it's suicide. Queen Mab says it's not. The man was murdered, and since he was the Summer Knight, the Summer Faeries are gearing up to war, convinced that their Knight was killed by Mab or one of her own.

Solve the murder, prevent an impending war, save his own ass from the wizard Council...all in a day's work for the Wizard P.I.

AWESOME: Harry battles a chlorofiend in the garden center of a Super Wal-Mart!

Cool stuff: Dresden goes to visit one of the Faerie chicks by going through Undertown, a sort of underground Chicago. Turns out it's real, to an extent. Dresden's Chicago is more of an alternate Chicago. Butcher lives in Kansas City!

Fun, fast-paced, great characters, all the good stuff I've said about the previous three books. If you haven't read them yet--what the hell are you WAITING for?!

Dresden Files 03: Grave Peril (Butcher, Jim)

Rating: 5
Year: 2001
Genre: Fantasy
Read again? Yes

The ghosts of Chicago are freaking out! A demon is after Harry, looking for revenge!

And then there's a "must-attend" costume ball hosted by a vampire.

Harry teams up with Michael, a Knight of the Cross who always seems to show up where he's needed, as if guided by a holy power.

The pace is tight and solid right from the start. Dresden and Michael face a ghost in the maternity ward of a hospital, only to discover a torture spell woven into the ghost's "flesh." The same spell shows up a few more times: ghosts being tortured. But why?

Harry soon finds himself in over his head, trying to protect himself and his friends from a demon that can invade their minds. Who the hell has time for a costume party?

It's good to read a series where the characters grow as the story moves along, and where things don't simply go as expected. There are plenty of bendy spots, HOLY CRAP!! moments, and (as always) a wicked pop-cultural reference right when it's needed.

"Peril" introduces a minor annoyance that becomes a recurring one in later books: Dresden's battered Volkswagen Bug must be at least part TARDIS; it's got quite a bit of interior space. As Dresden and Michael are suiting up for their attack on the hospital ghost, they pull a long-ass (5-foot-long) sword and Dresden's wizard staff out of the back seat. By "Dead Beat," the car's carrying Dresden, a vampire, a coroner, a dog the size of a mastiff, Dresden's wizard staff, and a polka suit.

Polka suit, yes. Read the book!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dresden Files 02: Fool Moon (Butcher, Jim)

Rating: 5/5
Year: 2000
Genre: Fantasy
Read again? Yup

A rash of grisly murders took place during the previous full moon. Now Harry Dresden, Wizard P.I., is trying to prevent more. Yup--this book's about werewolves!

Butcher gives us three kinds of werewolf:
The "classic" werewolf--human uses magic to change self into a wolf.
hexenwolf--human uses someone else's magic in a talisman (a belt, in this case) to transform into a wolf. Any weapon that'll kill a person can kill either of these.
loup-garou--human is cursed to become a wolf on the full moon. Only inherited silver can kill him.

Chicago is overrun with wolves: one loup-garou, his mate, a gang of nerdy college kids led by one Billy, a biker gang called the Street Wolves.

On the Law & Order side, there are four FBI agents who keep showing up and taking over Chicago PD's investigation.

On the Criminal Underworld side, there's crime boss "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone, who wants to hire Dresden.

Then there's Dresden's sometimes-girlfriend Susan, a reporter always looking for the next big story.

Butcher's second offering is as good as the first. The plot is fun and engaging and the chemistry between the smart-assed Dresden and the other characters just feels right. I really like how Butcher gives us several different kinds of werewolf at once--a werewolf biker gang? Werewolf nerds? Awesome.