Tuesday, April 14, 2009

#9--Turn Coat, by Jim Butcher

Ah, the Dresden Files. I owe my enjoyment of this series to my father, whose book recommendations I should really listen to more often.

I'll admit I didn't pick up the Dresden Files until really late in the game expressly because the Anita Blake series burned me badly enough to turn me off of urban fantasy. But my dad pushed a copy of Dead Beat off on me a couple of years ago, and I finally read it, even though it took place late in the series.

Then I bought every single book available up until that point and devoured them. I had Turn Coat pre-ordered months ago, and when I received it on Friday, I sat down and started reading, and finished it on Saturday. I so very much appreciate that this series is up to book 11, and rather than turning to shit or devolving into porn, the groundwork for an overarching plot laid out from the very first book is building up and turning extremely rewarding.

For the uninitiated, Harry Dresden is a wizard. Seriously. And he's a professional and everything--he advertises in the phone book and works primarily out of Chicago. Each book more or less follows one of his cases, and they are all written in a way that you could pick up any single one and read it as a standalone without missing out on anything important. I still recommend you start from the first one and work your way up, just because you'll get more out of each one if you have the groundwork from what came before.

Besides, after reading Dead Beat, I spent the whole damned series waiting for Mouse, Thomas, and Butters only to have them appear a book or two before the one I'd started with.

For most of his life, Harry has been persecuted by Morgan, a warden (a wizard cop, so to speak) for some misbehavior from his youth. There's been nothing Morgan would have loved more than to chop off Harry's head (in a very literal sense). He's a stick-up-the-ass, rules following asshole with no room for compromise in his moral code, and Harry totally chaps his ass.

So one day Harry gets a knock on the door, and there's Morgan, bleeding to death and begging for help. He's been framed for the murder of a White Counsel member, and the other wardens are on his ass.

Since Harry's gotten a taste of what it's like to be wrongly accused and almost executed for crimes he didn't commit, and because he suspects there's something a whole lot bigger at play inside the White Counsel, he takes the case.

And it make for a really fun, quick read.

It's not perfect, of course. Harry's chauvinist pig attitude at times makes me want to kick him, and he keeps refusing to learn important lessons that have been taught to him more than once (like keeping your friends in the dark about important things can and will get them killed). And his long asides sometimes remind me of something mentioned in the Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction:

Expository lump. A chunk of exposition that, whether or not relevant to the plot, is insufficiently integrated into the story being told. As such, is seems to come from left field, as if a page from an encyclopedia accidentally got shuffled in. Asimov is famous for these. A subheading, known as "I've Suffered For My Art (And Now It's Your Turn)" occurs when the author, having done masses of boring research, proves this by unloading them on the stunned reader.

Sometimes they're amusing, sometimes they make me want to shake either Harry or Jim Butcher and beg them to just get back to the damned story already.

Still, it was more than enjoyable enough, and I'll be looking forward to book 12.

Up next: Let the Right One In

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