Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Gandalf Fizban Polgara Merlin Stephens Rincewind Malfoy Mordenkainen Avatar Elminster Majere Dresden

I remember seeing some advertisement for a TV show a while back. The Dresden Files, I believe they called it. My first thought that it was odd to make a show about the firebombing of Dresden. Perhaps I watched too many World War 2 documentaries as a child. It seemed to be about some wizard private eye. How stupid. Almost as stupid as the vampire private eye shows from a while back.

Then, a couple of years later I think, I heard about an rpg based on the the show. That seemed even stupiderer. I quickly filed that in my 'to avoid' mental file. Tossing magic and monsters into the present day in an rpg reminded me too much of the whole White Wolf Wave. Blech.

Just recently I saw a blog with one of those 'NOW READING' blurbs, and on it was some book about this Harry Dresden character. I don't remember which blog. I didn't realize there were books. I wondered if the books came first, but that is about all the thought I gave it.

Then I happen to see the audio book for the first book, Stormfront, by Jim Butcher.  Against my better judgement, I picked it up.

I just finished it.  You know what?  I like it.

Stormfront is a great mix of film noir private eye pulp and arcane sorcery.  There are mob bosses, vampires, prostitutes, vampire prostitutes, evil plots (really evil plots) and talking heads.  It reminds me a lot of an HBO movie from about 20 years ago with Fred Ward in it - a movie I really liked called Cast A Deadly Spell.  If I remember correctly, Ward's character was just a private eye.  Dresden makes a great gumshoe - always on the wrong end of a fist.  But he is a cool wizard was well.

I was really impressed by Butcher's writing style.  It flowed well and was very evocative.  I really liked how Dresden was portrayed as well - a great character.  Some of the writing is pretty schticky - but that is kind of the whole point.

I suppose everyone else in the world has already heard about, read, or seen the Harry Dresden stuff before.  I chose to stay away - and I think it was a good choice since I got to stumble into the book before the TV series.  I don't know how the show is, but I would image, like all adaptations, it's watered down.  But I'm actually interested in seeing it now.

But not before I read the rest of the books.

I do wonder about the rpg.  Was that any good?  The magic, as the first book describes, is pretty dang cool.  It would seem to be a fun genre to romp around in.

So, if you haven't already, go read Stormfront.  It's pretty nifty.

- Ark


  1. Check out the reviews & interviews of the rpg on the Atomic Array podcast, is my recommendation. I've never played it, but I watched the short-lived cable series based on it after hearing those shows, and the books sure look nice from just flipping through them. I think they were also nominated for some ENnies.

  2. The Dresden books are pretty fantastic fantasy noir and the audiobooks are read by James Marsters of Buffy fame, who does an excellent job.

    The RPG is a FATE derivative, like Spirit of the Century and Starblazer Adventures. Probably my favorite part of the entire game is the first part of character creation. As a group, the players and GM define the city that the game takes place in, the general themes of the game and cool locations and characters to populate it. It's super cool.

  3. I am just about ready to pick up Turn Coat and I think the books are great. I like how Butcher's style evolves as the novels progress. Some of it can be formula, but all in all there are great reads.

    I have not played the game yet, but I do own it and it looks good. I am not a huge fan of FATE though.

  4. It's a fun series to read (there are like 12-13 books). I'd skip the Sci Fi series entirely.

    I can't speak for the RPG, but can confirm you'll get lots of interesting gaming ideas from the series (and Jim Butcher is a confessed gamer) - there are a number of points in the series where Dresden catches up with some friends to throw dice and play his barbarian.

  5. I had no idea about this "Dresden" or his "files" when the show aired on Sci-Fi (I refuse to use the new spelling); I didn't like it at all and thought no more of it until a friend jollied me into reading the novels. Wow. I'm chewing through "Turn Coat" (Book XI) now, and anticipate starting "Changes" within the next day or so. Good news is, "Ghost Story" is coming out July 26! Yay! Did I time that good or what? :-)