I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Storm Front: Book One of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a wizard who has a practice as a PI and works as a consultant with the local police in Chicago.  His mother died when he was young and his father, a traveling amateur magician, came home and took him on the road with him.  Sadly, his father, a rather sweet, if an unsuccessful man, died when Harry was in his teens.  Harry sought out a wizard to learn magic from and eventually learned that this wizard practiced the dark arts.  This wizard tried to kill Harry and in his self-defense, he killed the wizard.  The first rule of magic is Do Not Kill.  The White Council, who handles all witch and wizard affairs, were divided as to what to do.  Some thought nothing should be done, as it was self-defense. Others thought that he should be killed anyway because he had taken a life.  The Council ended up placing him under the Sword of Damocles, which meant that if he broke any more rules, he would be put to death, and the Council's executioner, Malcolm, who is not necessarily a bad guy, he just sees things as black and white and believes Harry should have been put to death.  Malcolm is always keeping an eye on Harry, just waiting for the moment when he will mess up.

After Harry receives a mysterious call from a woman, Monica Sells, whose husband is missing, and whom she believes is into something bad, he receives a call from Murph, the tough as nails female cop, who is the only one too really believe that he is a wizard, calls him to a murder scene.  At a hotel, a man who had worked for Johnny Marcone, a crime boss, and a woman, Jenny, who worked for Bianca, a vampire who runs an escort service, are discovered with their chests wide open like wings and their hearts blew to bits on the floor.  Murph believes that magic is involved and Harry agrees with her.  She wants him to find out how this was done and who could have done it.  The problem is, that to figure out how this was done, he might have to explore down some dark avenues that could get him in trouble with the White Council.  Harry cannot explain this to Murph, because if he tells her about the White Council, they will both be dead.

Harry decides to override Murph's order to not visit Bianca and goes to her place completely decked out in magical protective artifacts.  The guard at the gate confiscates the obvious ones, such as his staff and a silver knife, but lets his pentagram necklace and white handkerchief go.  Crosses do not necessarily have an effect on vampires.  Any symbol you wear can have an effect on a vampire if you have absolute and total faith in what that symbol stands for.  The pentagram is a symbol of magic and that is one thing Harry truly believes in.  When Bianca invites him in, she attacks him, believing that Harry had killed Jenny, but Harry's handkerchief contains sunlight, and when he opens it up, the entire room is filled with it and Bianca blackens and backs off.  Once Bianca comes to the realization that Harry is there to find Jenny's killer, she gives him the name of a woman who used to work for her and was friends with Jenny, Linda.

Soon, it appears that everyone is beginning to believe that Harry is the killer, including Malcolm (and possibly the White Council), the police, and pretty much everyone else, including Murph, who thinks that he is at least hiding things from her, which he is, but only for her protection.  Harry creates some potions with the help from his memory spirit Bob, who resides in a skull.  Bob holds the memories of centuries of wizards and is an expert at making potions.  Harry makes a couple of potions for escaping and one, on Bob's insistence, a love potion.  A reporter who had asked Harry out shows up on his doorstep and he has completely forgotten.  Then Harry is attacked at his home by a toad demon, which has been called by the wizard who is killing people, he, on a sudden impulse, uses the lightening in the storm to kill the demon.  This is a very risky thing to do, as lightening is very unstable and uncontrollable.  However, it gives Harry an idea of how the wizard is killing these people.  And it gives the reporter a good story for her newspaper.

A piece of a person is all it takes to perform a spell on them, such as the one that kills them.  When a clipping of Harry's hair is taken, he sets out, in full wizard form with all his wizard accouterments and blows the door off a private club and shows how powerful a magician he really is.  Harry finds out who the wizard is and sets out to stop the guy from killing him.  This turns into an all out brawl where Harry must use his wits, and what little magic he has available to him to try to not end up dead.  This is one powerful scene with a serious blowout at the end.

Harry is a guy that can be down on himself from time to time, but when he needs to be, he can be a force to reckon with.  He may not be a very strong natural wizard, but he makes up for it in knowledge and experience, and just plain guts, or stupidity (as Murph would probably say).  Unfortunately, this case damages his close relationship with Murph, which I hope in future books will be overcome, as they work so well together. 


Paranoid? Probably.  But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.
--Jim Butcher (Storm Front p 9)

Maybe my values are outdated, but I come from an old school of thought.  I think that men ought to treat women like something other than just shorter, weaker men with breasts.  Try and convict me if I’m a bad person for thinking so.  I enjoy treating a woman like a lady, opening doors for her, paying for shared meals, giving flowers—all that sort of thing.
--Jim Butcher (Storm Front p 11)

Women are better at hating than men.  They can focus it better, let it go better.  Hell, witches are just plain meaner than wizards.
--Jim Butcher (Storm Front p 21)

I had been a miserable failure in relationships, ever since my first love went sour. I mean, a lot of teenage guys fail in their first relationships.  Not many of them murder the girl involved.
--Jim Butcher (Storm Front p 61)

Kids.  You gotta love them. I adore children.  A little salt, a squeeze of lemon—perfect.
--Jim Butcher (Storm Front p 159)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Front-Dresden-Files-Butcher/dp/0451457811/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477573843&sr=8-1&keywords=storm+front+jim+butcher

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