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Bookends: The Dresden Files in Words and Pictures August 2, 2012

Posted by klondykewriter in Uncategorized.
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Bookends: The Dresden Files in Words and Pictures
By Dan Davidson
May 28, 2012
– 870 words –

The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle
Story by Jim Butcher
Art by Ardian Syaf & others
Del Rey/Dabel Brothers
160 pages
$27.95

Until such time as Jim Butcher decides to write a prequel to the adventures of Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, we can consider this four chapter graphic novel to be the first of the Dresden Files. There is also a short story, “Restoration of Faith”, but I think this story has more substance to it. Chronologically, it comes just before the first novel, Storm Front, though it was written after the series was well under way and this publisher was interested in adapting the original novels to graphics format. This book was a trial run at that process.
In this story something has gone wrong at the Lincoln Park Zoo. It appears that a gorilla has torn one of the zoo’s security guards to bits, an act which, in spite of all those movies, is very un-gorilla-like behavior. Besides that, the fact that the guard, an expert marksman, had emptied his gun into whatever it was without stopping it, suggests something odd to Lieut. Karrin Murphy. When that kind of thing happens, the head of Chicago’s special investigations unit calls on Chicago’s only practicing wizard.
It turns out that a trio of Hags, which are sort of witches, but not exactly human, have been gathering material – mostly blood – for a rite of Ascension. This would give them the power to do even more nasty things in the world, so Harry has to figure out how to stop them, and incidentally save the gorilla from being put down.
Butcher says in his forward that this vision of the characters is actually quite close to how he pictures them when he’s writing them; much, much closer than the version that made it into the short lived television series, though he has also said that he ended up having very few issues with the changes they made there.

The Dresden Files: Summer Knight
By Jim Butcher
Read by James Marsters
Buzzy Multimedia
11 hours and 12 minutes
$32.00

I’ve been reading the Dresden Files since someone donated the first four books to the Dawson Community Library’s fantasy collection about a decade ago. They’re an interesting blend of fantasy and hard-boiled detective novel. Books number four begins a bit more like a fantasy, with Harry and his good friend Billy (who has the ability to become a wolf) attacked in a park by a group of black clad vampire assassins and a ghoul while they are trying to figure out why toads are falling from the sky like rain.
Meteorologists say it’s due to a freak tornado updraft hundreds of miles away, but this is not a normal event in Chicago, and Harry is just about certain that it means something evil is afoot. That’s when hit squad arrives.
Harry has been feeling depressed ever since Susan, the impetuous journalist of the arcane and the love of his life, got half-turned into a Red Court vampire in the previous book. She’s struggling against the spell in her blood – not taking that final, fatal step of feeding on a human – and has left town because it’s too dangerous (for Harry) for her to be around him. He has spent months in search of a magical cure for her condition and really wants to focus on nothing but this quest, but events always conspire against him.
The Vampires have declared war on the White Council of Magicians, and a good many of Harry’s peers feel that this is very much his fault for provoking them. So Harry is brought up before the council on report and very much under the threat of being turned over to the Red Court as part of a truce.
Even before this happens, however, there is one of those classic PI scenes in which the beleaguered detective finds himself facing a beautiful woman in his office, and discovers that she has power over him. In this case, since the woman is Queen Mab of the Faeries, who has purchased Harry’s oath from his actual Fairy Godmother, she really does have power over him and is able to command his services to solve a murder – or at least to prove that she didn’t commit it.
So, it’s not an easy time for Harry. He has to save his own neck, placate the White Council, keep any of his other allies (Billy has a whole pack) from getting killed, and solve a murder. And as always seems to be the case with him, he’s got perhaps 48 hours to work it all out before truly dreadful things begin to happen in our real world due to events in the NeverNever where Faerie Land lies.
James Marsters (“Spike” of Buffy and Angel fame) narrates most of the books in this series and does, to my mind, an excellent job.  Some people complain that he’s a bit breathy when he’s just giving us Harry’s first person musings, but that works for me and he has a wry delivery that really seems to match the writing well.

-30-

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