Reading Notes December 2017

Reading Notes December 2017

Finished in December

1. Storm Front by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files 1)

In which we meet Harry Dresden, professional wizard, and he faces down a mysterious magical killer.

2. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files 2)

Obligatory werewolf novel. With three– or is it four?– different kinds of werewolves.

3. Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files 3)

You know there has to be vampires, right?

4. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files 4)

In which Harry takes on the powers of Faerie.

When I’m sick I revert to easy-read books. But also, I just felt like I was due for a re-read. I’d only read books 1-7 and I really want to finish the series but needed to go back to the beginning to refresh my memory before I moved on to the new ones. And since we were in Texas for 10 days, I needed a bunch of books I could read on my Kindle. I already had a bundle of the Dresden Files on the Kindle.

The Dresden files are a fun series: urban fantasy meets private eye. Harry Dresden is a wizard living in modern day Chicago, which unbeknownst to many is also home to fairies, vampires, demons, dragons, ghosts, and a whole host of other supernatural creatures. Harry is a private investigator of occult phenomenon who also sometimes works with the police as a psychic consultant.

In the first two books I kept thinking that the supernatural world where Harry Dresden moves while surrounded by people who are not only unaware of it’s existence but highly skeptical and hostile to the very idea of magic could very easily be a metaphor for faith. Harry is like a believer in a world of unbelievers, he knows there’s this whole other dimension to life that most people are unaware of but when he talks about it they think he’s crazy. Sometimes being a practicing Christian in a secular world can feel like that.

But then the third book kind of blows that out of the water when it introduces the character of Michael, who is a devout Catholic and a knight of the cross. Michael has power that Harry perceives and respects, but it’s the power of faith. And with that Butcher introduces the possibility that in this world God is real. Harry is an agnostic. He generally believes that God exists but that God wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him. His use of magic puts him beyond the pale. And yet Michael believes that Harry is a good man and is constantly trying to invite him in, to convince him to have faith. This dynamic grows and changes through the series and makes me love the books and put them on a different level. Though make no mistake, the genre is hard boiled detective and while moral questions and good vs evil and faith vs doubt are major themes in the novels, they are also action adventure with lots of good fight scenes. (And some steamy adult scenes, too, so not really appropriate for kids; though for adults, I think the themes of sexual morality are treated well and while you might want to skim over some of the more torrid moments, there’s more suggestion than sex and in general sex is not depicted as consequence-free recreation. Which is rather refreshing.)

These first four novels build the world, introduce the various supernatural beings that are the movers and shakers in this alt-Chicago and the supernatural realm that interpenetrates it. The later novels then complicate matters and introduce layers.

* * *

Between illness and travel I pretty much put all my other reading on the back burner. At the beginning of December I read a bit in some of my ongoing books, but by the time we flew to Texas I’d pretty much dropped everything except for a few feeble attempts to read more of the Meriol trevol book about Blessed Cardinal Newman.

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