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Humble Asskicker

Dresden Files

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I mean, name one seriously bad deed he's done. If he suddenly gets into an argument with his pregnant girlfriend, loses his shit and punches her in the stomach, then feels guilty, I would say that he's more of a grey character. But can you imagine him ever doing anything close to that? I surely the fuck cannot.

I think you're being unfair to Harry and the books throughout your post -- and IMHO your determination to look at the story in such an accusatory way will keep you from enjoying the future books. That's why I advised you to drop the series now. It just doesn't seem to be what you're looking for.

Harry isn't a "dark hero". He isn't meant to be. He's a good guy, in roughly the same sense that Spiderman is a good guy. Yes, he's done some bad things, and some things that presage powers we still don't understand even by book 12, and he has the capacity to do very lethal things. I'll include spoiler tags here for three early examples, because I have trouble remembering which things are revealed in which books. As a teenager, Harry:

1. killed his foster father -- burned him alive, in fact.

2. more-or-less sold his soul to Lea (his fairy godmother) in order to gain power.

3. defeated He Who Walks Behind, an enormous power who should have been able to squash Harry like a bug.

Harry does screw up, and those screw ups do have consequences in both the short term and the long term. You won't see all of those consequences unless you read the whole series, of course. ;) And yes, Harry gets darker and somewhat more morally questionable as the series progresses -- but he's never gonna go around raping virgins or eating babies, so if that's what you're looking for you're in the wrong series.

As for Michael -- I'm actually offended by your attitude towards him. Michael is a white knight/paladin, but he is most definitely NOT a self-righteous one. As Harry puts it at some point, Michael is Righteous but not self-righteous. I'm an agnostic myself, but IMHO your reaction to Michael reveals more about your own personal religious prejudices than it does about the character as Butcher writes him.

Ditto for Butcher's concept of "Love". Yes, Love (not necessarily romance or sex) is an important theme throughout the series. Yes, Love and its absence also have consequences throughout the series. If you don't like it, you probably won't like the series.

As I said before, to each their own.

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So this is one of those "does it get better?" threads. I enjoyed books one and two more or less. Book one was a little rough, but book two I found to be loads of fun.

I had many of the same problems with Grave Peril that you did, and it's definitely my least favorite in the series. Through the first six, I think Fool Moon was my favorite, but Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, and White Night (which I should finish later today) have all be fantastic. I really didn't like Michael and his attitude in that book, but in the two other books he's been in it hasn't been nearly as bad (in one he was barely a cameo, but that book explains why Charity is the way she is to Harry). All of Butcher's characters start out as clichés, but he really fleshes them out as the series progresses.

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You seem to have already decided to read book four at some point, so I don't know if this matters. My general answer is yes, it gets better, but some of your concerns are still around for a couple more books. To address some of them:

On the power of love thing... there are some cheesy bits to The Dresden Files. In the end, you can't get around it. I don't think "love is the answer" shows up again (well, except for the White Court), but I may be forgetting something.

On Michael, I like the character. I'm an atheist, but I don't feel like he's really self-righteous. Then again, maybe he still was in book 3, I haven't reread it in awhile. Charity comes off as such for the first ten books or so, though, I agree with you there. Michael does face some serious consequences in later books-- sorry if that's too much of a spoiler, I'm trying to address your questions without going too far.

On consequences in general, Grave Peril really kicks them off. There's a lot of fallout from Harry's actions in the end, some of it for Susan, affecting the rest of the series.

On Harry's darkness, IMO the sole dark move he's made in the entire series has been in Changes, the latest book. Other than that, he seems to have bought into the idea that any violation of the Laws of Magic will objectively stain your soul, even as he rails against the Wardens' persecution of himself; basically, the Wardens drilled a little bit of self-loathing in him, which makes him a little angsty in the early books, so that's something you might want to keep in mind when you decide whether you go on. When it comes to the soulgaze, I always figured people's reactions weren't so much about his personality as his power and a couple incidents from his past.

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Susan better fucking die at the end of this book. It can be a cliche heroic end if necessary, as long as she dies.

Alas no, he's going to angst over her until the very last book (at the date of this post)

Then she dies.

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Thanks for the responses, people. It's encouraging, and makes me believe that my dislike for GP was an exception. My enthusiasm has actually been renewed, which is a relief. When Dresden is at its best, it's hard to put down, so I'm glad at the prospect that there's more of that goodness ahead.

On Harry's darkness, IMO the sole dark move he's made in the entire series has been in Changes, the latest book. Other than that, he seems to have bought into the idea that any violation of the Laws of Magic will objectively stain your soul, even as he rails against the Wardens' persecution of himself; basically, the Wardens drilled a little bit of self-loathing in him, which makes him a little angsty in the early books, so that's something you might want to keep in mind when you decide whether you go on. When it comes to the soulgaze, I always figured people's reactions weren't so much about his personality as his power and a couple incidents from his past.

This makes sense.

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Galactus,

Alas no, he's going to angst over her until the very last book (at the date of this post)

Then she dies.

So was Dresden "angsting" over Susan when he was trying to hook up with Murphy or when he did hook up with Luccio?

In fairness in DB Harry does do soul searching regarding certain aspects of the "Laws of Magic" after seeing what Kumori does at one point.

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I stopped after two. So many people recommend them that I keep thinking I will start back up, but having trouble getting the desire.

Part of the problem I think is I read some Simon R Green, who writes similar stuff. I didnt like Green, and the first two Dresden books reminded me of him. But most people seem to think Butcher got better as a writer throughout the series.

Ok, I promise. Ill get back into this series this year. You have talked me into it.

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I stopped after two. So many people recommend them that I keep thinking I will start back up, but having trouble getting the desire.

I almost stopped after two myself. The only real reason I kept reading em was because of other people who liked em. Grave Peril is the one that got me hooked.

Simon Green has great noir style, but IMHO he doesn't have anything like the substance of Butcher. I like what somebody else said earlier about Dresden actually being epic fantasy masquerading as urban....he gets more and more epic as the series moves along.

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I stopped after two. So many people recommend them that I keep thinking I will start back up, but having trouble getting the desire.

Part of the problem I think is I read some Simon R Green, who writes similar stuff. I didnt like Green, and the first two Dresden books reminded me of him. But most people seem to think Butcher got better as a writer throughout the series.

Ok, I promise. Ill get back into this series this year. You have talked me into it.

Butcher doesn't really hit his stride until books 4-5. I don't think I've ever seen anyone say that they didn't like summer knight. The nice thing, at least so far, about the Dresden Files has been that you never really feel like a book is significantly worse than the previous one.

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Actually, one of my favorite short stories in Side Jobs is the one that deals with Michael.

I'd keep going. Some interesting things happen with the Carpenters.

With regards to the whole "God" thing... Butcher doesn't really get to deep into the theological ramifications of what goes on in his world.

One thing that I count as a point in the series favor is that as far as myths, folklore, and religion goes, The Dresden Files are pretty much all-inclusive.

Including, IIRC, an

atheist Knight of the Cross

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Agnostic, not atheist. But close enough. ;)

I found that to be a nice touch. I also like the many acknowledgements that Euro-centric magic isn't the only, or even the most powerful, type present.

I'm actually pretty unsure where Butcher is going with the whole "God" thing. Given his treatment of God's from other religions, he may be taking this in interesting, though probably not ground-breaking, directions.

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I found that to be a nice touch. I also like the many acknowledgements that Euro-centric magic isn't the only, or even the most powerful, type present.

I'm actually pretty unsure where Butcher is going with the whole "God" thing. Given his treatment of God's from other religions, he may be taking this in interesting, though probably not ground-breaking, directions.

I really don't think that the White God is any more special or powerful than say, Odin. Or Mab. He's an obvious force in Harry's world, but he doesn't seem special.

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I really don't think that the White God is any more special or powerful than say, Odin. Or Mab. He's an obvious force in Harry's world, but he doesn't seem special.

I'd spoiler tag that, just in case. But I agree that this seems a distinct possibility.

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So this is one of those "does it get better?" threads. I enjoyed books one and two more or less. Book one was a little rough, but book two I found to be loads of fun.

I'm near the end of book three and it's taken me about two months to read this thing. I've read eight books in the meantime. The reason I don't drop this one outright is because I hear so many good things about this series, that it's pulpy goodness and that the story improves on each succeeding volume. I want to like this story very much.

There are a few problems I'm having with Grave Peril. I fucking hate the Michael character and his wife. They are so insufferable. Yes, they are supposed to be that way. They are the stereotype of the holy paladin and his wife, judgmental pricks who can do no moral wrong...in their eyes. Naturally, life is ambiguous and so I find disagreement with what they consider absolutely as right or wrong, and so it becomes annoying to be pontificated at. Dresden shares my annoyance oftentimes, but unlike me he acknowledges that Michael and his wife are far better people than he, and will usually concede to their perspective, or at least admit that they have a point.

What's even worse is the introduction of God. Look, the real world is so broken that it's hard to believe in any sort of good God out there, and the Dresden world tries to mimic the real world, and so when - like in our world - bad shit happens and someone thinks about how wonderful God is in a non-sarcastic sort of way, it bugs the shit out of me. Even worse, Dresden will sometimes deprecate himself as a not so great person while thinking that God is great and that he and God are only at odds because Dresden is such a gritty dark personage and God is this beautiful personification of goodness.

This brings me to another thing. Dresden is not a dark character in the least. Not by a long shot. The dude is a fucking boyscout. He's always going out on a limb for other people, always playing the hero and doing the right thing. Which makes it extremely irksome when we get the repetitious musings about how besmirched his soul is or whatever, and the disturbed reactions other characters have when they soulgaze into him.

Added to that, another thing that sticks into my craw like a piss-soaked dagger is the recycled nature of the twists. Dresden or some other character finds themselves endangered and then Dresden has the crap knocked out of him and his life is in sudden peril that should be impossible to escape...will he live? Of course he will; it's not like this is a shock. The other main characters keep coming through unscathed as well. The fact that they live isn't what bothers me. It's the constant use of deus ex machina. Also, the common cycle of these points occurring: 1) Dresden is beaten to within an inch of his life; 2) Dresden sobs like a whiny bitch and thinks to himself that there is no hope; 2)b Sometimes he'll reflect on his life and his friends and bemoan that he hasn't been the most virtuous person and that he's full of inner darkness that has yet to be seen in even the slightest; 3) Deus ex machina occurs and Dresden bitchslaps all the baddies to the ground, with no permanent injuries to himself and all the necessary characters properly rescued.

I was fine with this for the first two books, but with the added flaws of book three and the complete familiarity with this trend, it's becoming grating.

So my question...does this shit get better? Is it like House where the same formula transpires ad naseum? Or do things actually happen? Is Michael always going to be such a douche, and if he is, does he shitty attitude and that of his wife ever get checked? Is God more ambiguous than has been let on, or am I reading a naive religious tract (ie urban fantasy)?

I was so confident I would like this series that after reading the first book I bought all the available novels. Please tell me that it gets better. Pretty please.

grave peril is the weakest link, though some foundation is laid for the future. I love the series as a feel good series. yeah it's a little predictable and he doesn't ever seem to get killed, but slog on through Grave peril and I think you'll find the pace resumes and there are even a few surprises.

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I am halfway through book 4 right now and I can't believe that I missed this series for so long. I absolutely love the wit in the story telling, and can only describe reading this series as just a fun time.

I also don't understand the hatred for the Michael character. There was nothing in your face about him. If I am going to suspend my disbelief long enough to make myself believe there is magic that stands outside the law of science based on apothocary and thermutagary, then why would i have a problem suspending my disbelief to believe in a diety based magic?

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I am in 8 books deep now, and I love these characters. The series just keeps getting stronger and stronger. I am also glad that Butcher seems to be releasing these books at a rate of once a year. That is just enough time to wet your appetite for the next one.

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