Posts Tagged With: Dresden Files

A Spin on Urban Fantasy

A discussion in my Tuesday evening writers’ group inspired me to think about my own Urban Fantasy world I’ve been developing for a couple of years now (here and there).

At first, I thought it would basically be our own world, but with magic, cryptids, lycanthropes, etc. But that pretty much describes most Dresden/Supernatural/Anita Blake-type Urban Fantasy (except, perhaps my desire to have a greater emphasis on cryptids–I was going to have a main informant be an Appalachian bigfoot named Bob who LOVED reality TV and cheap beer).

So, I started thinking of ways I could make it more unique, something I hadn’t seen before. What if, I made my Urban Fantasy setting a far future version of the fantasy world I’m already writing in?

I’ve already got magic-powered cannons, lights in nobles’ houses powered by magic, and minor clockwork technology. Two thousand years in the future, what sort of tech could industrious engineers have invented?

Teleportation circles I introduce in Salvation (that’s book three of Scars of the Sundering, so there’s a free preview for you!) would shrink the world, especially decades hence after the secret to creating new one was uncovered. A planet-wide network of these could cause rapid globalization. Since I establish in Salvation that only a certain species can activate the teleportation circles, they would obviously become the gatekeepers of global transport. There would be many people who would want an alternative, so magic-powered vehicles could be developed that wouldn’t rely on these people.

My big concern is part of the appeal of Urban Fantasy seems to be the fantastic applied to our modern world. If I apply our modern amenities to a fantastic world, would that strip away the appeal? Or would it create something intriguing that readers would enjoy?

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REVIEW – The Dresden Files, book 2: Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

foolmoonFool Moon is the second novel in the Dresden Files series. It took me longer to finish it than it really should have. Real Life™ intruded, and the fact that several people were telling me that this was the worst of the Dresden File books probably didn’t help.

I can see why people think this book is weaker than the first Dresden Files book. Harry makes several well-intentioned, but boneheaded decisions which cause no small amount of complications that would’ve been avoided if he had just been up front with someone. It’s nice, however, that he gets called out on this sort of thing, and I think it’s just part of his character development. I also understand that some of the characterizations are shaky in the first several books and these problems all go away once Jim Butcher finds his stride and decides what the Dresden Files are going to be.

Fool Moon can be summed up as Harry Dresden vs. werewolves. I liked that the story featured several different types of werewolves, as well as the continued exploration of the negative side of using the more primal emotions (anger, fear, lust) to fuel magic, and indeed, as a motivation.

I can’t really get into more detail on my feelings about this because of the breaks I took; all I can say is I never felt like reading it was a chore, I never felt like I wasn’t connecting with the characters. I just got distracted by life, and it’s causing me difficulty in being detailed with this review. I enjoyed Fool Moon, and I have to say, if this is the WORST Dresden Files has to offer, then getting through the rest of this series is going to be very enjoyable indeed.

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REVIEW – The Dresden Files, book 1: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

StormFrontTrue Confession Time: Until last year, I had not read any Dresden Files books.

Sure, I was familiar with the property from my involvement in the gaming industry. I just never got around to reading it (and I do wonder where I was when these books came out; I would’ve read the heck out of these).

Storm Front is the first book in the vaunted Dresden Files urban fantasy series. It reminds me of a hard-boiled film noir detective story, if the bad guys were vampires, wizards, and werewolves instead of corrupt bankers and gangsters. (Of course, in Dresden Files, there’s nothing stopping the gangster from being a werewolf or vampire!) The first-person narration style strengthens this perception. Harry Dresden is a down-on-his-luck wizard, the only one listed in the Chicago phone book. He’s likable, despite a character flaw which is a personal pet peeve of mine: poor communication skills (he often withholds information for someone’s own good which ends up causing him much trouble and many misunderstandings… if ONLY he’d told so-and-so the truth… etc.). It remains to be see how much the character grows out of this unfortunate habit in subsequent novels.

In short, Harry Dresden is called upon by the police to help them solve a murder which clearly has supernatural origins. In the meantime, he’s hired to privately investigate a woman’s missing husband case. To give the resolution would be spoilerific, so I’ll just say it’s entertaining, the world is engaging and believable (assuming you buy into the whole urban fantasy schtick to begin with), and the characters are likeable when they’re supposed to be, and hissable when they’re bad. The book was shorter than I expected (I’ve gotten used to doorstoppers by default for anything remotely labeled as fantasy) and read very quickly. Butcher gives you just enough information to “get” the world & characters he is creating without overloading you on unnecessary details. It is an approach I appreciate since reading should be enjoyable, not a chore.

If you’re interested in reading urban fantasy and have not yet begun exploring this rich and entertaining genre, you would be well-advised to start here.

My review of book 2: Fool Moon will be up in a few days. See you then!

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