Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book Review: Storm Front

So, a few weeks ago I went looking for the new Battlestar Galactica episode. I'm a bad person and have to download them. But I buy the DVDs when they come out. That redeems me, right? I wouldn't buy them if I hadn't downloaded them first.
My initial point was that on Saturday morning there wasn't a new episode. I had to investigate. Turned out Sci-Fi Channel had moved their good shows from Friday night to Sunday night. But on their main page they were showing the pilot of the show that was partnering with BSG now that the Doctor Who series 2 was over. This new show is "The Dresden Files". The pilot is available for free download at You'll need iTunes. You may remember me mentioning that Nicholas Cage is one of the Executive Producers.
The show is based on a series of books by the same name. I saw them on the shelf at Books-A-Million so I picked up the first one. Having seen a few episodes and read the book I'd have to say they're pretty close except for a few fine details that don't really matter. It's like the differences between Star Trek TV shows and Star Trek movies. It's just a few details in the sppearance. The book would be like a 2-3 part episode that tells a bigger story and drags you back next season.

Harry Dresden is a wizard. Not the only wizard, but he is the only one listed in the Yellow Pages. He doesn't do love potions, he doesn't do birthday parties, and he doesn't give lessons. What he does is some consultation with the cops, find lost objects, make wards, and banish some of the nastier supernatural beings. It's told like a private eye story. His point of view, constantly low on rent, beat on by the
occasional thug, and magic is discussed much like a PI might discuss his gun.
He has a being that lives in a skull covered in runes. In the books the skull talks, in the show it manifests but has no physical being. Then there's the White Council who has a one strike and your out philosophy on Harry. He'd killed his uncle, a dark wizard, in self-defense. Some members of the White Council want Harry put to death for that while others accept the self-defense story. As a whole they're ready to kill him if he slips up once. He also has a... not a truant officer... a ... wossit. You know, you're on parole so you have to ... parole officer of sorts. Alas, the parole officer is among those who want him dead for killing his uncle.

In Storm Front there's a dark wizard who has been dealing a drug that gives users the power of third sight. You see things you really don't want to. Wizards at least can control the sight. This new drug is cutting into the market for regular drugs and the local mob isn't happy. So the dark wizard is ripping out the hearts of people remotely to send a message to the mob and anyone he sees as a threat.
The police have asked Harry to help investigate the murders. The mob wants to handle this themselves so they're warning Harry off. The parole officer thinks Harry is responsible for the murders and is bringing in The White Council to charge him and execute him. Soon the police think Harry is responsible and are trying to arrest him. Some demon screws up a date by trying to kill him. And the dark wizard is gonna rip out Harry's heart in the next storm.
The stories have the feel of old detective stories. They're told from Harry's POV but without all that "The rain beat down on the dark city washing the filth from the gutters and keeping the garbage at home where it's dry." stuff.

I picked up the next several books in the series.

p.s. Besides myself I've seen 2 other people reading the series on the subway.

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