Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Preternatura Book Club: The Magic of Harry Dresden


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Now...Welcome back to the Preternatura Book Club! We'll be talking about topics that are related to the book we're reading but are general enough for you to pipe up and voice an opinion.

Each book read will last four weeks, which is a much faster schedule than we've done on previous books. Today, we continue reading STORM FRONT, book one in the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. This is probably my all-time favorite urban fantasy series, and while STORM FRONT is (like most first books in series) not my favorite, it’s a good introduction for people new to the Dresdenverse. This series just gets better and better so if you even kind of like Storm Front, keep going!

Today’s giveaway will be a mystery unclaimed prize of your choice of genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, sci fi, fantasy, or YA.

This week, we get our first real look at some of Harry’s magic, and the magical worldbuilding of Jim Butcher.  Harry has some mad skills, but in the first half of the book, we’re mostly learning how the magical world is set up.

There’s the White Council, which is the ruling body of the magical community. We don’t know a whole lot about them yet, except that there are laws by which wizards must abide. Number 1 is “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” and we learn in this section that Harry has used his magic to kill once before, when he was young. It usually carries an immediate death penalty but there were extenuating circumstances, so Harry’s kind of on a “one more strike and we chop off your head” permanent basis.

He’s monitored by Morgan, sort of an enforcer for the council. Morgan doesn’t like Harry (and it’s mutual). Morgan, in fact, thinks Harry should have been executed the first time around. You’ll see more of Morgan as the series progresses.

So, what of Harry’s magic have we seen in these first ten or so chapters? Well, he uses circles of power and the summoning power of names—neither of which are uncommon in literary magic. He summons a faery to help him gather information, and Toot, his favorite faery informant/victim, reminds me a little of Jenks in the Hollows series (only without quite as much personality, but then again, while we see Toot off and on during the series, he never becomes the major character Jenks is).

We’ve also been introduced to Harry’s apartment—in a basement and subbasement of a big old rooming house in Chicago. The subbasement holds Harry’s lab—and his air-spirit assistant Bob, who “lives” inside a skull and is a total riot. I love Bob. You get a little taste for Bob here when he refuses to help Harry construct an escape potion unless he also makes a love potion. Bob also has a stash of romance novels and a very sex-obsessed mind for a being that doesn’t have a body.

Finally, we meet Susan Rodriguez, and learn just how inept Harry is when it comes to the opposite sex. Don’t you just know his date is going to be a disaster? It’s fun, after reading so much urban fantasy from kickass heroes and heroines, to see Harry’s utter incompetence when it comes to relationships.

So…. thoughts about Storm Front or the Dresden universe? Things you like or don’t like about the book so far? Comment to be entered for the book giveaway. Let’s chat!

18 comments:

  1. I like the fact that Harry and technology don't interact well. It's not something I see mentioned that much in urban fantasy.

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    1. I love that aspect of it too, Sandy! And Jim Butcher gets some good mileage out of Harry vs. technology over the course of the series--in some really funny ways.

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  2. I'm a first time reader in the Dresdenverse. Half way thru, and liking it so far. Boy the vampires in this story are really bad, bad scary! [Bianca]

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    1. Oh yes, these books have REALLY scary vampires. Bianca's awful...and she has friends. Well, not friends. Allies. Minions. All scary.

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  3. I agree about Harry and technology. I also like that there is a cost for using magic, that Harry gets tired and some of his charms will need recharging,etc.
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    1. I like that, too. And Harry doesn't automatically know how to do everything. He's having to figure stuff out as he goes, which I also like.

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  4. Bob sounds fun and lives in an interesting place.

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    1. Bob is absolutely hilarious! I haven't read this series in a while and had forgotten how funny Bob was.

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  5. I like the fact that a lot of Harry's magic needs preparation and time - drawing a circle, making potions. It's not just instantaneous gratification but work, effort and time must go into it! :-)

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    1. I like this too, plus it gives Harry a lot of opportunity to grow and develop his skills as the series goes along.

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  6. what's wrong with me.. i've been behind on so many readings, and i haven't start this book yet :(

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    1. It's a long series (book 14 comes out at the end of November) but well worth it!

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  7. I like how Harry has a lot of flaws. It makes him more relatable and likable, and even though this is a fantasy book, I'm going to say it, makes him realistic.

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    1. It definitely makes him my relatable and sympathetic. And he knows what his flaws are and can be hard on himself. I love Harry!

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  8. I love Harry when he has to deal with women! he's much more relatable and he's not the absolutely-hot-guy-with-tons-of-confidence!

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    1. Oh, I so agree. Harry and women in general is just...funny. He is SO not confident. He's an alpha male in some ways...but not with women--LOL.

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  9. I haven't heard of this series, but Harry sounds like a great character

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    1. This is a great series, Jolene--definitely one of my favorites. It's straight urban fantasy, though--very little romance. Well, virtually no romance unless you count Harry's failures :-)

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