Tag: Harry Dresden

Top 5 Books – 2019 Edition

Top 5 Books – 2019 Edition

This year, I actually did a lot of reading because at work we were doing a reading challenge. There were three (four) of us who decided to try and the Popsugar reading challenge. That meant that we were given forty prompts to find books for,…

My Top 100 Board Games – 20 to 11

My Top 100 Board Games – 20 to 11

Normally, this would be another Halloween article, because I’ve been doing those every Wednesday, tomorrow, since it is actually Halloween will be my Halloween themed article. Instead, you are getting more of my top 100 board games, which will wrap up on Friday. ***Disclaimer***These rankings…

Book’em Nerdo: The Dresden Files

Book’em Nerdo: The Dresden Files

Alright, we already know how this is going to go, I love this series. So it’s going to be me talking about why this series is good, but I’ve finally read everything that out thus far from Jim Butcher for the series. This includes the two books of short stories, and I’m now part of the group of people waiting for the next book to come out.

Just in the way of a quick synopsis, The Dresden Files follows around Harry Dresden a wizard private investigator. He mainly does things like find lost objects or missing people, stuff that’s pretty easy. But the Chicago PD bring him in time to time to consult on cases when things seem weird and that is too often in Chicago. The series starts out with him doing a few one off cases, but soon he figures out that there is something larger at play and now he’s having to deal with fae courts, vampires of all sorts, and basically anything else that might go bump in the night.

I really like Urban Fantasy, and Dresden Files is a very good series in that genre. Too often or too much of urban fantasy seems to lean into that light fluffy writing with a bit of pulp, whereas The Dresden Files are heavily pulp but keep a serious tone and really create depth of character. Now, this isn’t through all the books, the first couple, especially, since they aren’t as obviously tied into the main plot of the rest of the books, and are early in Butcher’s writing career don’t hold up quite as well, though, they are still very enjoyable. And his short story book, Side Jobs, you get some more of his earlier writing and while I enjoyed them a good amount, I can see how they might not hold up as strongly as some of his other work.

Besides the genre, I really like the main character. Harry Dresden is a good character, generally a good person, and definitely a flawed person as well. I think that is one thing that I really appreciate about Butcher’s writing of Harry. Harry has a pretty obvious character arc as he grows, and there are still things that he recognizes as hang-ups for him that he just doesn’t address or that he has accepted are part of him. This rough around the edges works well for the gritty world that the series is set in. And I think that’s a strength, not just of Harry in the series, but other characters as well. Each character has their own flaws, and while there are some who seem to have less flaws, their flaws just look a bit shinier and are harder to see. I’ve been listening to, and have read enough, to notice when books create a character that is either too perfect or too generic, and Harry is definitely not perfect or generic.

Image Source: Evil Hat

One thing I wasn’t sure how it would go throughout the books is finding a good way to increase the stake throughout. I’m not going to go into spoilers, but things start to get big and there are a lot of issues surrounding the fae, vampires, wizards, and other parties. Whenever that happens, I start to get worried. You can end up with it getting too big too quickly, and if a problem is solved, that means now you have to come up with something even crazier and bigger. In the Dresden Files, I feel like it’s balanced well. There is definitely a building feel to larger things, but there are some books where the stakes seem a bit smaller again mixed in without. The slow build and those that keep the story from growing to quickly make the series better. You can feel that it’s building towards something even bigger, and while there was a moment where you could feel like it drops off again, there are so many open questions in the series that it works to take a little bit of a step back.

I’m not sure how many books are going to be in the series, but I’m definitely looking forward to the next one. If you want to know more about the series, or get into some spoiler territory, you can join me with Malts and Meeples as I play through the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game which does a solid job of telling the Dresden Files story. I’m really waiting for this to get picked up for a good television show as well or movie series. We had one SyFy channel series, and while the actor who played Dresden did a good job, the rest of the cast was just decent, and all in the all, it was too procedural to really be a show that captured the spirit of The Dresden Files.
Like I said at the beginning, I love this series. There are currently 15 books and 2 books of short stories. You definitely don’t need to read the short stories, though they are fun to fill in some gaps of the stories. And, random aside, one cool thing about the series is that each of them takes place about a year apart, so there are stories and things hinted at that we don’t ever see. It’s a bit of a haul to get through the series, but I haven’t regretted it, and I’ve read some of the books, especially early in the series, several times. I think if you’re looking for a good urban fantasy series you’re going to be hard to pressed to find something that works better than Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files.

What do you think of the series? What is your favorite book out of all of them?

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Malts and Meeples – Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

Malts and Meeples – Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

Join me as I take on the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game. I take a crack at the first scenario, Storm Front, based off of the Dresden Files book by Jim Butcher of the same name. This game is a cooperative game that plays well…

GenCon Vol 2 – Events

GenCon Vol 2 – Events

Woo… we’ve reached the point where event registration is open for GenCon. Let’s talk a little about how the process went with getting registered for events. There are two big things to note that we did, since there were two of us, when when we…

Casting the Dream – Dresden Files

Casting the Dream – Dresden Files

This is one that I’ve wanted to do for a while, but I haven’t been able to figure out who I want to cast as the main characters. I think that is actually taken care of now.

Synopsis: The Dresden Files are a series that follow around Harry Dresden as he deals with many crazy supernatural things in Chicago. There is a big overarching story that I won’t go too much into because that would be spoilers. But he works with the police to solve these crimes and mysteries. It also helps to know that Harry is a Wizard.

Image Credit: Amazon

Let’s meet the main characters:

Harry Dresden – The aforementioned wizard, Harry is a tall man who diffuses his own stress with his own special brand of humor, which normally just gets him into more trouble. He’s not a built person, but is lanky and has good functional strength.

Karrin Murphy – Small spitfire of a police officer. She’s had to be patient as she has worked her way up in the Chicago PD, but she has made her way up. She’s athletic and doesn’t put up his Harry’s crap or anyone’s crap, but is still a very caring person.

Susan Rodriguez – A reporter who is pretty and also investigates the paranormal or supernatural. She’s onto the fact that Harry might actually be what he says and hounds him for information.

Bob – A talking skull that is a wealth of knowledge that is in Harry’s possession. Also a quite pervy spirit who inhabits the skull.

Michael Carpenter – A large strong man with a large family. He is a man of faith who is very even keeled but not afraid to step into a situation, help Harry out and make a difference when evil is threatening Chicago or anywhere in the world.

Waldo Butters – A small coroner who knows some about the supernatural. He also really loves polka and can’t stand injury, though has no problem working on a corpse.

“Gentleman” Johnny Marconne – A mobster who runs basically all the organized crime in Chicago. He helps out Harry at times and gets in Harry’s way at other times, depending on what is most useful for him.

Ebenezar McCoy – Harry’s mentor, teacher, and friend. Took Harry in when his first teacher went evil. He’s an old wizard with a ton of power and very respected. Also part of the White Council which oversees the wizarding community.

There are really a plethora more characters who could make sense to talk about and cast, but this is limited spoilers as well and does focus on a lot of reoccurring characters throughout the series.

So who would I want to play them?

Harry Dresden – Tom Ellis
Tom Ellis, who plays Lucifer in Lucifer, is sufficiently tall. He also has that long frame, that comes with height, but isn’t too built. He’s very polished looking as Lucifer, but if his hair was a bit longer and messier and, like Harry, had a beat up look about him most of the time, I think that he’d make a good Harry Dresden.

Karen Murphy – Maggie Lawson
I really only know Maggie Lawson from watching Psych. But in that show she’s very much a character who has to put up with Shawn’s crap as a fake psychic detective. The only thing I wonder about is if she can be as grouchy as Murphy is sometimes. But Lawson can definitely play a character who is caring.

Susan Rodriguez – Melissa Fumero
We’ve seen her in a comedy in Brooklyn 99, and while Susan isn’t the most comedic role, I think that Fumero would have the acting chops to pull it off. What I think works really well with her is that she’s an intense character in Brooklyn 99 who is always needing to do the best, I think that Susan possesses a lot of those similar qualities.

Bob – Paul Bettany
He’s the first person I thought off. He does a good job as J.A.R.V.I.S. and Vision in the Marvel movies, but I think it’s more his Knight’s Tale Chaucer that he could channel into Bob, this spirit who has been around for so long but also has this surprisingly pervy human side.

Michael Carpenter – Adam Copeland
You’re more apt to know him as Edge from WWE. So clearly you have someone who is going to have a larger build. Edge, though, just has a very friendly looking face and with a few beard hairs turning grey, he would make a really believable family man who is also strong and tough.

Waldo Butters – Elijah Woods
Frodo as an eccentric coroner? That doesn’t make a ton of sense, but the actor who was in Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Agency, that makes perfect sense. Woods has shown that he’s up for those odd roles and has done a very good job with them. I think he’d make a lot of sense continue in those odd roles as the worried and polka loving Waldo Butters.

“Gentleman” Johnny Marconne – Ben Mendelsohn
You might know him as Sorrento in Ready Player One or Orson Krennic in Star Wars: Rogue One. He’s done a good job of playing those skeezy bad guys before who are slick. Marconne definitely has that feel and while I would think of Marconne being a bit younger personally, I think that Mendelsohn’s acting shows that he could deal with the role very well.

Ebenezar McCoy – Brendan Gleeson
Older, bigger, and still tough as nails. Gleeson fits that quite well I’d think. I’m not extremely familiar with Gleeson’s work, but if you’re not making McCoy quite as crazy white haired as he has been in my brain, just older and tough as nails, Gleeson fits that to a tee.

There are so many more characters to cast, and I really want to go through and figure out all of them, but that would be semi-spoiler heavy to describe who the characters are. So instead, I’ll hold off on those and maybe do another post to talk about them, just be warned there would be spoilers.

So what do you think of my casting, who would you cast in their place if you disagree?

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Urban Fantasy

Urban Fantasy

Urban Fantasy, what is it? And how do you create good urban fantasy? I’ve mentioned Urban Fantasy before in some articles, but I wanted to delve deeper into it and provide some more examples beyond my normal one. Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has…

A Series of Unfortunate Books

A Series of Unfortunate Books

First, let me say that I’m not knocking a Series of Unfortunate Events, I actually enjoyed that series when I read it in high school. The option of using that as a title was just too good. What I am talking about is how series…

The Wiz Kids – Concepts

The Wiz Kids – Concepts

This is something that I hadn’t really thought about writing an article on until right now. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about and this popped into my head though as something my wife and I have been talking about. How to work wizards well into a modern world. There are two prime examples for this that I’m going to talk about, The Dresden Files and Harry Potter. The reasons for doing those two, besides both of them being big series, is that there are a number of key differences and similarities between the two. And they both handle them somewhat differently, and in the case of Harry Potter, not often for the better. Now, before it seems like I am bashing Harry Potter too much, even though I’ve always been older than the target audience for that series, even when it was coming out, I absolutely love the series, and the same with the Dresden Files. So when I am being negative towards either of the series, remember that. That’s my disclaimer.

Image Credit: Amazon

To start out with, this is going to pertain to writing, but also pertains to what you can think about and process as you read through books with wizards in them, especially in a modern setting. In a world where the rules are made up completely, because it clearly isn’t our world, you can get away with a whole lot more when it comes to magic. However, in the human world, you have a lot of things to think about. Even as compared to Merlin vs the Harry’s (Potter and Dresden), you can get away with a whole lot more.

The first issue that you can get away with more is technology. You can simply make technology magic if you want, but when you are tied into a world where both humans using technology and wizards exist, you can run into trouble. Why, for example, in Harry Potter are the wizards so anti anything that would be technology and anything from the muggle world? It makes no sense, they are making their lives more difficult but completely separating themselves from the world. Now, plot wise it makes a good amount of sense, otherwise things would be too easy and you can argue that maybe they are doing it so that they don’t reveal themselves, but really, by ignoring it they stick out more. And by plot wise, I mean, it would make things too easy if they used modern technology. But in terms of the Wizard society, they are so clueless in the world in Harry Potter that they would constantly have to be erasing peoples memories of them because they stick out like a sore thumb for being antiquated and backwards with technology.

This compared to the Dresden Files, Harry and wizards literally fry technology if they get too worked up or use magic around technology. So Harry Dresden can use older more mechanically based technology, but can’t use things like computers. This makes it so that he has to be more of sleuth by using magic versus technology. They also deal with people seeing magic or seeing monsters differently than Harry Potter. There isn’t wiping of memories, it is based off of the idea that if something is to crazy and doesn’t make sense, people will find a way to make it make sense in what they  know. A wizard slinging a spell at a vampire, that’s a gas line exploding, because someone throwing a spell around doesn’t make any sense. That’s a whole lot more reasonable, in many ways, than the Harry Potter methodology of wiping that memory from everyone’s mind who saw it.

So, how you deal with technology and the public is one of the first things to think about. Do they use technology, if they don’t, you better have a reason for it. Now, if it’s less modern, you can get away with them using magic for a lot of things, because long distance verbal communication wouldn’t exist without magic, but Harry, Ron, and Hermoine should really use payphones. It could also be said that Arthur Weasley was the only wizard in the ministry of magic who actually thought stuff through with technology. You can also deal with it by having a small sect of wizards reject technology but not the body as a whole, as it’s possible for any sect to get too steeped in tradition to reject things that would make their life easier.

Image Source: IMDb

Next, let’s talk about death and abuse of magic at a young age. In both Harry Potter and The Dresden Files, magic is an inherent skill in some people, it isn’t something that the Average Joe can just pick up without first having a natural talent for it. Then you have to learn how to control it. We see in both series some of what happens when people aren’t trained in magic and are using it without really knowing it or without knowing how to properly use it. In Harry Potter we hear about him as a child causing glass to disappear from a snakes enclosure at a zoo. In the Dresden Files there are people who can learn to use it and not really knowing the true power and destroy or mess with peoples minds because they are using something dangerous and instead of it being a scalpel, it’s a club. In the Dresden Files you see consequences for that, and you see the wizarding council come down hard on those who use magic, even if they haven’t properly been trained or informed of the magic rules, because of how dangerous it can be. In Harry Potter, they try and get you at a young age into schooling so that you aren’t a danger to yourself or others.

But that’s a flaw in Harry Potter, how do they not have more deaths or series injuries every year at Hogwarts. Now, I get why jokesters like Fred and George Weasley wouldn’t use magic for pranks, because their mother would literally kill them if they did. But why wouldn’t someone like Draco Malfoy, or more likely Crabbe and Goyle who wouldn’t care so much about what their parents think of consequences just use magic against someone else. Obviously, it’s against the rules, but you have how  many kids at Hogwarts with raging hormones, you’re going to get magic used to hurt, prank, or kill other students. Obviously, having lots of deaths in Hogwarts wouldn’t make for as good a children’s book, but it’s kind of a plot hole.

So how can you deal with this? In the Dresden Files, if I remember correctly, while you might have magical ability, you can’t really use it without some training. There are ways to train yourself and get into trouble, but you won’t have something just happen as spontaneously. So that is one of the ways that I would suggest dealing with it. You make it so that magic is something that you have to have at least some training to use. Or, instead,  you can also make magic much more dangerous. You can have more deaths, and you can make magic something that probably would be government regulated and those who have the ability are almost scared of it because of how dangerous it can be.

Those are two of the biggest things where Harry Potter and Harry Dresden contrast in magic. And it’s interesting to look at. If you are thinking about writing your own urban fantasy sort of book, they are some big hurdles to overcome. It’s certainly possible that you can leave those plot holes and just say that it’s the way it is, but if you are writing, especially for a more mature audience, it’s going to be something that you want to have thought through.

There are a whole lot more things to think of as well. Where is the power for magic coming from? Who can learn magic? How powerful is the magic in the world? How common are magic users in your world? What sort of magic can be done?

Obviously, that would take a whole lot more to go through, and it’s something that I need to think about. I might come back to that later, but either way, you’re a wizard, Harry.


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Tell Me About Your World: An Article on a Concept

Tell Me About Your World: An Article on a Concept

I’m continuing my way through the Dresden Files series, and I was noticing something in Jim Butcher’s writing style that I really appreciate, and that got me thinking about other book series as well. That idea being, how much do you describe about the world you…