White Night by Jim Butcher (Flash Impression)

Happy Saturday!

white night

Summary

Welcome back, everyone! One thing I’ve learned from reading this dynamic urban fantasy series is that it has much in common with Fussili noodles seeing as it is constantly twisting and can fit into a multitude of categories (fussili can be used with

fussili

See? Fussili is fundamental to everything.

thick or thin sauces, it can be used in soups, salads, and casseroles similar to how the Dresden files spans genres from romance, comedy, epic high fantasy, low gritty urban fantasy, detective who-dun-it, and action/thriller, and at least in Skin Game (book 15) an Ocean’s 11-style heist).  This being said, I shouldn’t have been surprised when Butcher flipped a bitch in this book’s story format from the established A, B, C story where A story is something that forwards a meta-plot spanning many books and was somewhat self contained whilst the B and C stories were seemingly separate would weave together somewhere mid-narrative and help build up to the books second and ultimate climax(1).

In White Night we discover that someone is targeting magical practitioners (who turns out to be Grey Cloak [sort of] linking the A and C stories) and then we find out that Thomas is suspected to be working with Grey Cloak and/or is the one targeting practitioners, in Chicago at least, (linking A, B, and C) and then we find out that Grey Cloak is Vittorio Malvora [a member from one of the other White Court families] at the climax.  

Now that I’m looking back at meta trends in the series, I can see that the ABC structure has been shifting since book five but I didn’t notice it until just now:

-The A Story of Death Masks gives the White Council/Red Court war a mini-climax

-The A Story of Blood Rites (“A wild Black Court Vampire appears!”) made a call back to the events of Grave Peril where Dresden makes a personal enemy of Mavra, a Black Court vampire

-The A Story of Dead Beat forwards the Black Court story with Mavera sending Dresden in search of “The Word” but this plot is directly tied with the B story (regarding the Necromancers)

-Then the A and B Stories of Proven Guilty lay the groundwork for new meta-stories from unknown players (The Black Council, the first appearance of outsiders since the end of Blood Rites, and whomever the phobophages are/are working with/working for)

So what’s unique in this book is three stories affect the the final outcome of this book and that outcome reveals that Cowl has a direct connection with House Malvora (Vittorio Malvora aka “grey cloak”) of the White Court which is a link back to Dead Beat AND Proven Guilty effectively making this the first book in the series to serve exclusively the meta-story.  

A story: Who is killing magic practitioners around Chicago and why?

B story: Why is Thomas being scene with many of the targets of the serial killer?

C story: Who is “Grey cloak”?

Thoughts

  • I have a very minor pet-theory: is Ramirez in the black council? Dresden uses the word “cronies” to refer to Ramirez’s subordinates, deaths happen in 5 cities, 4 of which were in Ramirez’s region and Ramirez is least bothered member of the Council about Dresden’s use of Necromancy, which didn’t violate The Laws of Magic but only on a technicality.  I’m sure I could scrape up some more evidence if I wanted (such as Ramirez was present at Camp Kaboom when it’s attacked by the Ghouls, and Ramirez is the only other White Council wizard that has talked to Dresden outright about his “theory” about a Black Court, etc) but it’s a half baked idea. I’d have to do more re-reading/research which probably won’t happen before Butcher finishes the series.
  • Speaking of Camp Kaboom, Dresden has been getting more violent as the series progresses and he wen’t to like “Holy Shit” level on those Ghouls which is an interesting detail because we’re seeing where Dresden’s humanity lines lie and what he’s capable of doing
  • Finding out that the girl Marcone visits in the hospital at the end of Death Masks is the daughter of his Secretary/Lover(?) makes for a deeply intriguing sub-plot between Marcone and Hellen: Marcone doesn’t know that Hellen knows that Marcone is inadvertently responsible for killing her daughter nor does Hellen know why Marcone hasn’t told her about why he keeps it a secret.  
  • Lasciel’s Shadow deconstructs herself to save Dresden from Grey Cloak’s psychic attack (an act of altruism something she professed not to be capable of since she is not a person and only people change) and then promptly is not seen/heard from again in the series (up to Changes at least, which is the book I’m on as of writing this 22 Sept 2018)
  • Speaking of Lasciel (or “Las”), she’s apart of a group of entities that Dresden has named including Bob the Skull, Ivy, and Demonreach (next book, Small Favour) which is interesting but I don’t have enough material at this point in the series (White Night) to talk about further

Miscellaneous Thoughts

  • Lasciel tells Dresden that the cosmic alignment at the time of his birth gives him the potential to have control over outsiders?!?!
  • Thomas opens a boutique posing as a gay Frenchman to feed ethically which is really funny and interesting
  • Dresden has mentioned having a headache for a couple of books now and that’s odd since his injuries, sans the hand, always heal in between the events of each book and I’m interested to see what that pans out to be
  • Bob mentions that there was a flaw in Dresden’s model of Chicago, which causes it to fail early in the book, but is “mysteriously fixed” by the end of the book however neither Bob nor Dresden know who did it or when

Conclusion

White Night was a real change of pace for this series on multiple levels from story structure to content of the story itself.  It felt rather intimate in that it primarily explores relationships: Dresden and Thomas,the relationships between the Houses in the White Court, the still somewhat ambiguous relationship between the Vampire Courts, and the Fairy Courts’ role in the bigger picture with regard to the shifting scale of cosmic balance.  This book being so heavy on plot building, I have trouble picking it out in my mind from others because it doesn’t have a semi-self contained story like all the books before it did which also made it a bit difficult to write about. However overall it was a great pallet refresher between the high intensity of the last few books and the events of the next book.  

 

Stay tuned next week when I cover Small Favor ie “Dresden v Nicodemus: Round II”

-fin

Footnotes:

  1. An example that comes to mind specifically is Death Masks where the A story was kicked off with Ortega confronting Dresden in chapter 1 and their A story climaxes with the duel at Wriggly field which precedes the final battle with Nicodemus on the train which wrapped up the B story (being Dresden being hired by the “Vatican” to find the death mask) and the C story (how were these people showing up at the morgue whom had seemingly died of every human illness at the same time) which being the chronologically final climax of the book was appropriately more epic in both scale and scope relative to the individual book.  

 

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Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher (Flash Impression)

Happy Saturday!

Proven_Guilty

Summary

Wow so Dead Beat was a fucking trip, right? Zombies, dinosaurs, and polka.  How can Butcher follow up something as big and bad and epic as that? Altered-enough-to-be-copyright-safe movie monsters, that’s how! Also, I’m officially abandoning the “Flash” part of these “Flash Impressions”, as in “flash” implying 1,000 words or less, mostly because I have too much to say about these books and I’m having a really good time writing about them so extensively.  However the main reason I wanted to do them so short was to be able to keep a deadline and I thought I wouldn’t have much to say about the books that hasn’t already been said (however since I haven’t really read extensively into Dresden Files forums or fan theories I have no idea how original my ideas are).

A Story: What is going on with the Summer and Winter Court w/r/t the White Council’s war with the Red Court?(1)

B Story: What is this “black magic threat” The Gatekeeper is asking Dresden to investigate?

C Story: What sort of trouble is Molly in?

Thoughts

(***Spoilers ahead, duh***)

Okay so I have mentioned many times before I take inspiration from my favourite YouTuber, Ross of Ross’s Game Dungeon, and once again I am taking a frame out of his…video? The page and book metaphor doesn’t translate well to media mediums I guess. Anyway I like his idea of assigning the weird games he covers in Ross’s Game Dungeon Awards and the last few Dresden Files books have been worthy of awards.  Blood Rites won “Best Deaths”, Dead Beat got “Best Law of Magic Loophole”, and now I’m giving Proven Guilty “First Tear” for the final scene between Dresden and McCoy acting as a mirroring scene in the beginning, where in the beginning McCoy asked Dresden out to a meal but Dresden still being mad at McCoy denied then in the end Dresden asked McCoy to a meal.  This series has tickled and poked my feels but this one really hit me hard for some reason. I guess I’m a softy for a redemption story between a mentor figure with legitimately good intentions who has to reveal a not well received hard truth to his mentee.

Now Dresden names the Black Council a bit earlier in the final scene for the first time (one thing my boyfriend mentioned to pay attention to is Dresden’s skills: to make banter even in the threat of mortal danger and to name things, which after reading The Kingkiller Chronicles and Dresden’s continual mention of the power of names, makes me really think) but it’s the first time we really understand their potential reach/threat and I believe Dresden when he says Morgan isn’t a traitor however Butcher is building up the current Merlin as one of the Black Council but I am so hesitant to take the easy bait because Butcher is such a self proclaimed and demonstrated troll…though maybe it could be someone so likable like Ramirez.

Speaking of shadowy White Council members, the way The Gatekeeper behaves both in the beginning of this book and the end of this book makes me think he’s either A) a fae or B) (more likely??!!!) breaking the 6th law of magic by being a creature who travels through and against the currents of time. The Gatekeeper, like Marcone and Kincaid, is one of those characters who I am DYING to see more of! He/she/them/it is just that perfect balance of mysterious, sparse, powerful, and morally ambiguous where I’m really fucking hooked on his character.  Please don’t let me down Butcher…please?

Whilst we’re mentioning time travel, Charity must be a fucking Time Lord or something. Not only does she forge his weapons and armour, she also spars with him, ON TOP of raising 9 children and maybe having a day job.  I have one kid, a day job, and a couple of spouses and I just barely find time to write and draw. Charity must be a Time Lord or something. Also I had no idea Charity was such a badass. Like Michael has mentioned how she has forged his battle armour(2) which metallurgy is pretty fucking insane.  

The Miscellaneous Thoughts:

-The Scale model of Chicago is one of my new favourite magical gizmos which is both interesting in concept but has some real potential for intriguing applications towards solving mysteries.  Also Dresden REALLY needs to get laid.

-I love the copyright-safe movie monsters, I really appreciated the “Great Pumpkin Monster” which I might be missing the reference but it made me think of the robot chicken sketch of Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin Monster. 

Conclusion

I was told that Proven Guilty was a more “intimate” novel and I wasn’t really sure what that was supposed to mean until I got deeper into the book and realised that what he meant was that this book was a deep exploration of Dresden’s darkening psyche and the effects it’s having on his friends and loved ones.  Not only is Dresden growing darker, we’re given the feeling of suddenly becoming enveloped in a dark conspiratorial cloud where we don’t know who our protagonist(s) can trust, what characters we (the readers) can get attached to or should suspect of great treachery, but most of all Butcher is building this creeping sense that something is lurking just at the edges of visibility with in this foggy confusion and it is big, bad, and very very mad.  I feel like the closer I get to the books I’ve already read in this series before beginning this binge, the less I am confident of knowing where the series is going. Not a lack of confidence that the series has a clear direction that only Butcher knows for sure but a lack of confidence that anything I theorise will have any truth to it because consistently Butcher has surprised me with each book being bigger than the last but not always in obvious ways.  As I have discovered a sort of format for his books, the ABC story lines, I am still struggling to recognise the overall cadence of the series however my excitement to see what comes next grows with each book completed.

 

Stay tuned for next week when I cover White Night, which so far is the spookiest book so far.  It feels the most, troubling because the deaths are so unsettling in how not-supernatural they appear.  I’m interested to see where this one is going to leave us.

 

-fin    

Footnotes:

  1. I just realised there are so many fucking courts in the supernatural aspect of the Dresden Files world.  White, Black, Red, Jade, Winter, Summer, maybe more.
  2. Seriously, what the hell does Michael get paid? I mean to support a family of roughly 9 members, to have access for materials to forge battle armour and weapons much less access to a forge, and all the travel/medical expenses that Michael must incur from being a Knight must be costly.  Maybe I should ask /r/theydidthemath however by my (very) rough calculations it would cost around 235,000USD a year just to raise a family with two parents and 9 children in Chicago, IL (metro area) (source: Economic Policy Institute, Family Budget Calculator, even though it only has a max option of 4 children, I just doubled it and added 14,000USD) and assuming Charity is, somehow, an extremely well paid Metallurgical Engineer (122,591USD source) and Michael is a very well paid Carpenter (66,736USD), they would be struggling at best if they’re very frugal. However I suppose having faith pays off.   

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher (Flash Impressions)

Happy Saturday!

deadbeat_large

Summary

THIS IS IT, FOLKS! THIS IS IT! IT’S THE MOTHER FUCKING ZOMBIE T-REX EPISODE! 

Sue_facing_Chicago

I’m disappointed that in every “Dresden rides Zombie Sue” picture, none of them feature Butters in his polka suit. 

I have been looking forward to this book pretty much since I started the Dresden Files.  I don’t think I was aware that the zombie t-rex meme was literally a scene from one of the books but when my friend Brad who Introduced me to the series told me so, I have been deeply excited for it.  I figured this would be a nice contrast to the last post about Fool Moon (book 2) which might be the weakest book in the series.

A Story: The Black Court blackmails Dresden (via Murphy) into finding The Word.

B Story: What the fuck do zombie herding Zombies want with Butters?

C Story: Is Shiela Harry’s new squeeze?

Thoughts

(***spoilers ahead, duh***)

My primary thought here is summed up in the scene where Butters and Dresden are are in The Beetle and Dresden screams in pure elation to be alive and general horror of the given situation they just barely escaped.  This scene reminds me so strongly of the scene in Rick and Morty S03E06 “Rest and Ricklaxation” 

From here on out I will never be able to unmake the association between Rick/Dresden [the cynical type who understands the nature of everything] and Butters [who kinda knows about the nature of everything but has an unrelenting sense of innocence])

This leads into my next thought that up to this point in the series Dresden has been over his head every single book. However there has always been a MacGuffin or a piece of information that allows him to forge a piece of plot armour/weapon that enables him to survive. Though this is the first book where I was thinking to myself “for realz how is Dresden supposed to get out of this one? He literally threw a car on his nemesis and he didn’t die. And there’s like 3 more of them. Plus they can summon zombies AND ghosts AND corpse steal AND  mind control. Srly.” So for the first time in the series he is completely out muscled, out brained, and out magiced (is that even a word? Well it should be). I felt Dresden was so cornered I was getting sympathy claustrophobic until he agreed to let Lasciel help him, which is when things really change.

Speaking of change, apparently Marcone changed future history by saving Dresden’s life, as according to Guard Dresden was supposed to die by the ghoul in that back alley (which would have made for an anti-climatic climax to the series(1)) however now this makes for some interesting implications in the future. As in, will Marcone have to pay a price for altering someone/something’s “grand plan” and almost more importantly regardless of why Marcone says he saved Dresden and subsequently changed the future, a question is raised: why does Marcone keep saving Dresden’s life so regularly? Is it because he senses Dresden is a man who is running out of not completely evil options and will eventually view working for Marcone as the “least of his evil but necessary options” which would benefit Marcone greatly? Or is it because Marcone has someone in his network who is invested in keeping Dresden alive and by proxy Marcone is keeping Dresden alive, again to protect his (Marcone’s own interests)? Or does Marcone have another secret that wasn’t revealed to either us, the reader, or Dresden via the soul gaze? Or, speaking of soul gazes, did Marcone see something in Dresden when they soul gazed that fundamentally changed him/confirmed something he suspected about Dresden (since we have never seen the soul gaze from the perspective of someone looking in on Dresden but from the reactions throughout the series it’s something pretty goddamn profound).  As you can tell, the Marcone Mystery is really wearing at the back of my mind throughout this series.

At this point in the series Dresden has begun a noticeable descent into darkness: he has voluntarily used hellfire more than a couple of times, has accepted a decent amount of help from Lasciel, and has not only memorized The Word (a tome of dark, mostly necromantic, magic), used necromancy (even though it wasn’t on a human and therefore

the-bird-is-the-word

This is some deep shit.

wasn’t a violation of The Seven Laws of Magic and maybe the most notable/significant is Dresden’s promise to Mavera of the Black Court who incited this whole search for “The Word” that if she EVER threatens him or one of his friends again, he will not stop in the face of anything to become an Evil Overlord Demi-god and his first victim will be Mavera. This to me shows a crack in his morale armour making a specific exception to break everything he believes in to exact justice on an evil creature.

Speaking of dark magic, Cassius uses (or should I say wasted) his death curse on Dresden saying “Die alone”. However as Dresden’s father tells him in a dream, if i recall right, what we all kind of know after a certain point in life: we all die alone. Just like being born, or even life from your own perspective honestly, is a journey you have to walk in some sense alone.  Friends, lovers, family aside, we all have to live in our own personal cage alone the entire time. Sometimes we have company but they’re always intrinsically separated from us in our personal journey as we are them by the same bars that bind all of us individually. In that ironically sad way, we are all united in the fact that we face both life and death alone. So as pessimistically as it sounds, I am viewing it as an optimist that Cassius wasted his death curse on Dresden by “cursing” him with the infallible fact that the fact is: we all die alone and therefore Cassius changed nothing.    

Moving on to a brighter subject, the nature of white and black magic, is thrown in to an interesting new light when Kumori (Cowl’s, one of the Necromancers, apprentice) tries to justify Necromancy with her personal “perversion” of the black art using it to bring one of Marcone’s people who was at the brink of or beyond death back to life allowing him a “second chance”.  I don’t know if Dresden is convinced but I feel like his fundamental ideas about Necromancy has been challenged similarly as when he learned that his mentor and sort-of father figure, Ebenezar McCoy, holds the office of “Black Staff” for the White Council (ie he is the go to guy to “pervert” the use of white magic to kill people for the White Council, or maybe he uses Black Magic to kill, at this point in the series (I’ve read through “Proven Guilty” book 8 and some future books) we don’t know how he kills as the “Black Staff”. All we know is that it makes Kincaid so mad that he has an almost show-down duel with him on sight.

Whilst on the subject of Kincaid, holy shit: I mean the groundwork for it is laid (pun not intended) for Kincaid and Karen, in Blood Rites to hook up however it still surprised the hell out of me.  Mostly because when Dresden has used The Sight on Karen and Kincaid, he always sees Karen as an avenging angel figure and then at the end of Blood Rites he sees Kincaid as a 20 foot (6.098 meteres) fucking demon.  Talk about a match made…somewhere other than heaven. However maybe Karen is getting dark enough to be attracted to someone that dark, because if I remember correctly the first time we see Dresden use The Sight on Karen (by accident) she was a blazingly white and clean avenging angel but as the series progresses and he sees Karen again with The Sight, multiple times, he sees her as progressively more blood stained and worn by the horrors she’s seen and had to commit (because of Dresden).  This even more makes me wonder not only “What do other wizards see when they use The Sight on Dresden but what does everyone see that’s so profound when Dresden Soul Gazes them? Wheels within wheels…

The rest of my thoughts are kind of miscellaneous:

-I have to say I am really disappointed that Shiela turned out to be Lasciel in disguise. I’ve been rooting for Harry’s…Hairy…

bad joke

-Pro-foreshadowing: When Dresden is being attacked by the former Denarian Cassius “Snake boy” attacks Dresden and Dresden thinks “Gee right now would be a great time for a knight of the cross to show up and save the day” and then A WILD BUTTERS APPEARS! Which, since I’ve read Skin Game, I know Butters will become the next wielder of Fidelacchius or the Sword of Faith.  I heard in an interview that Butcher was planning, originally, to kill the poor little bastard in Ghost Story.

wild butters

Speaking of Butters, The Zombie T-Rex was made possible BECAUSE of his polka suit and because of Butter’s and his polka suit the “Best Dresden Contraption Award” goes to: Blood Rites and Dinosaur Sue (the Zombie T-Rex).

I really liked the Erl King and how he respects Dresden as a “fellow predator/hunter” and invites Dresden to join The Wild Hunt and I really like how Dresden turned him down creating, inadvertently, another figure who wants to kill Dresden but is so much of a background character that I can see us, the collective reader, forgetting about the Erl King until he pops up again.  

Conclusion

In conclusion Dead Beat was one hell of a fucking ride.  It was like a good punk rock show: hard hitting, fast as fucking hell, and deeply satisfying that you got out the other side (mostly) unharmed(2).  I had trouble understanding how Butcher was going to top himself after such a fucking amazing book but he pays the bill with Proven Guilty with a less “overly epic” novel but a book that my boyfriend described as a “more intimate book”.  

Stay tuned for next week when I cover the heartfelt, intimate, and at times troubling (not in quality but in the way Butcher makes you feel for the characters) eighth book of the Dresden Files: Proven Guilty or as I refer to it as “How Dresden overcomes temptation and gains an apprentice”

-fin

Footnotes:

  1. It would be annoying to see the series, with so much potential, end here with such banality. Maybe if it was me, sure a ghoul throwing a shuriken into my leg would end my story given my bitch status but this is mother FUCKING Harry Dresden.  Don’t try to a fly a pair of Hoover flags (“‘Hoover flag’ was an empty pocket turned inside out” source: Hooverville wiki) and try to sell me an early death for Dresden. He clearly has way more entertaining strife to come.
  2. For the record, I am frequently spinning one or many NOFX cds when I’m writing these/writing in general. If you haven’t listened to them yet, I’d recommend either their their concept album “The Decline” or the politically hard hitting and hilarious “The War on Errorism” 

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Flash Impressions)

Happy Saturday!

Fool_Moon

Summary

I’m going to do my best Alex Jones impersonation and start with an apology: “I’m sorry 

alex jones 2

Surprisingly relevant Alex Jones meme.

but if I’ve been sucking Jim Butcher’s dick for the last several weeks then this is the point where I have to pull out and spit a bit.  I started this flash impressions series with Grave Peril because I have access to the audio-books of all the series sans book one and two which I have visual versions. At the time of beginning this series, I was listening to Grave Peril whilst reading Fool Moon and had already read Storm Front (of which I may or may not cover, I haven’t decided yet).  I thought I was going to finish Fool Moon soon after Grave Peril. But I didn’t. Then I finished Summer Knight and thought I was gonna be done with Fool Moon soon. But I didn’t. The pattern repeats until I have literally read 5 books in the time it took me to finish Fool Moon. I’m a slow reader but that wasn’t the issue here.

 

I know everyone I’ve talked to says that the first two books in the series are “meh” which is so well established that Jim Butcher himself has an introduction on the audio-book version of Grave Peril acknowledging his awareness that the series didn’t “really pick up speed” until [Grave Peril].”  Since I started the series so late (my first book was Skin Game and I detail the rest of my non-chronological experience in my post about Grave Peril, I had a lot of trouble understanding this wild concept that there were “meh” Dresden Files books, but in the face of the truth I was forced to believe.

I haven’t been looking forward to this one, folks but in the name of [at least semi-] completionism this one is necessary but more importantly I think it’s necessary for the sake of understanding: what changed from Grave Peril on that was so different in original books?

A Story: Why is Kim Delaney looking for information on a set of 3 magical circles?

B Story: Who’s going around killing people during the Full Moon?

C Story: What does Marcone have to do with everything?

Thoughts

(***spoilers ahead, duh***)

So my primary thought about this book is the strength of the “A, B, C story” format that I’ve noticed that Butcher uses.  The trend I’m noticing is that the A Story is usually a continuation of a story line from a previous book which links this book to the rest of the series and the B and C stories are intimately linked and lay the groundwork for future books’ A Stories.  I realise that Fool Moon was Butcher’s second book, like ever, and as a fellow writer I’m aware of how rough things can be in the beginning however I felt the strength of the A Story could have been maintained if he kept Kim Delaney as Dresden’s apprentice until maybe Death Masks so we’re able to develop a real relationship with them as a partnership. My thought was that Butcher could have her killed by Nicodemus or one of the Denarians whilst running a lead behind Dresden’s back in a way to try and be helpful, that way we can really pull out Dresden’s senses of loss.  Book 3 he loses his girlfriend Susan, Book 4 he loses his long-lost-thought-dead first love Elaine, then by the time we get to book 5 Dresden is pretty heart broken and has grown a sort of affection towards his apprentice through sheer bonding (and maybe she always had a crush on him or something) so when we lose her to the Denarians not only does it cement in our mind that Dresden has to be emotionally fucking broken but now Harry has a FIERY HOT HATE for the Denarians which would raise the stakes with everything that eventually happens with Dresden and his accidental relationship with Lasciel.  This would also help reinforce Harry’s reluctance to take Molly under as an apprentice AND reinforce his extreme reluctance to take her as a lover (despite his other reasons being that he knew her since she was a child and that she’s his best friend’s daughter AND Charity would probably murder Dresden). However such is the nature of the printed word: it usually could have been done better but it lives as is. As for stories B and C, they stand up well enough. They play the roles they normally do in the other books and that is apart of the formula that works so well in the Dresden Files books.

The rest of my thoughts on the book are kinda miscellaneous:  

-Detective Rudolph flips a bitch after this book which is okay in that it felt necessary since Dresden doesn’t have an antagonist on the police force after he and Karen kiss and make up. however his staunch non-belief in the supernatural isn’t explored up to the point in the series I’m at (currently reading Proven Guilty) which is odd because he was literally at ground zero when the loup-garou Harry MacFinn is LITERALLY tearing through brick walls and eating a lead breakfast.

I understand it could be a case of extreme denial via trauma of something he doesn’t understand and from necessity (it’s mentioned many times that if you’re at all involved with the police force and you start spouting off things about mystical beings or magic that you’re going to do time in the mental ward for “psychological evaluation” to see if you’re still “mentally fit” for the job) however they don’t say that either. I guess it’s just up to us to make those assumptions, eh?

-Harry is just so damn whiny about the physical abuse he takes in this book.  I’m not saying I’m some super-soldier-glutton-for-punishment-juggernaut or something because I’m not(1), but seriously there were entire fucking paragraphs where Harry is going on and on and on about how he is hurt, tired, and is losing the will to continue fighting much less living and it came to such a whining pitch fever by the final battle that I was literally struggling to push through the final climactic battle of the book.  Harry does this through the series but mercifully he gets much tougher and only mentions it at times when it raises the tensions and sparingly at that.

-The scene with Harry consulting the demon chaunzaggorogth is…strange at best.  I’m not really sure how I felt about a demon “putting on an act” for the laughs, then practically pulling out a pair of reading glasses and sitting down cross legged to get down to business now that he’s filled his “sufficient struggle quota”, then getting genuinely mad when Dresden sends him back? It all was a bit bipolar/humanizing for a demon-consultant compared to the other demons he’s dealt with who are usually more consistent in either being smooth until provoked or generally creepy in their cool anger.  

-Where did the FBI agents get their belts? For real. Dresden goes on about how only a very powerful wizard could have made these but that’s never explored in the rest of the book nor at any point in the series up to the point I’m at (currently reading “Proven Guilty” book 8(2)) are were-wolves of any flavour presented as antagonists.  In fact the only were-wolves we see in the Dresden universe are Billy and The Alphas who by the end of this book become Dresden’s allies.

Conclusion

“First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the treasure chest” is only 33% accurate in this first trilogy of the Dresden Files series.  I remember liking Storm Front okay which is a vastly superior (comparative) superlative to Fool Moon. That being said, I now know why the first two books of the series are so far disregarded to nearly be completely discounted as cannon however Fool Moon has served as an excellent comparative learning tool in my journey to experience this entire series and pick it apart for it’s literary quality.  

Anyway stay tuned for next week when I cover a much better book (possibly the best yet) “Dead Beat” because you haven’t experienced zombies until Butcher has done them up. I mean fucking Zombie T-Rex…awesome!

Footnotes:

  1. Honestly, I’m a bit of a bitch. I couldn’t handle getting my junk waxed without crying out in blood curdling pain generally reserved for people who are actually experiencing torture like bamboo shoots being tucked under one’s fingernails.
  2. ***UPDATE*** Okay now that I’m further in the series, they have mentioned once about “Where did those FBI Agents get them belts?” however as of Ghost Story book 13, not counting but I have read the first anthology “Side Jobs”, they still haven’t gotten back to that particular story thread, I recognise it’s not technically a plot hole since it is acknowledged but not addressed plus loose ends become a more regular move later on in the series as a way, I’m guessing, to build up to the “bigger bad” of the series, however I am keeping track Butcher

Flash Impressions: Death Masks (book 5 of the Dresden Files)

Happy Saturday!

death mask cover

Summary

It’s impressive how Butcher seems to create an increasingly big story whilst maintaining a very episodic format which is making these summary sections equally increasingly intimidating however here’s the simplest version:

A Story: The war with the Red Court vampires continues

B Story: Dresden is hired by a vatican priest to find the death shroud of jesus (meme of jesus face on toast “It’s kinda like this but not edible.”)
C Story: Murphy consults Dresden about a man who died from all the diseases. At the same time.

Thoughts

(***spoilers ahead, duh***)

So this entire time I’ve been using my go to reference site, wikipedia, whilst completely ignoring the fandom site Dresden Files Wikia.

dresden wikidresden wikia

The plot on wikia is much more comprehensive, good for me since I have short memory, and the “new plot points” feature is really brilliant for keeping track of important events and when they happened.   

This might be me not being as observant from the beginning however it seems like Butcher is getting really pro at pacing by using the A, B, C story formats and introducing each story line in as many chapters.  However I can’t decide whether having the A story run parallel but relatively separate to the intertwined B and C stories is a strength or not but it does work to make the story feel so much bigger whilst at the same time helping keep the episodic storytelling format.(1)

We finally meet the other two knights of the cross, I believe it is mentioned before this book that there is a knight for each nail from the cross (2 for the hands + 1 for the feet = 3 holy swords) which makes for an interesting piece of lore building and by the end sets up the possibility for Butters to become the next knight (as per skin game).  I personally think that Sonya’s sword, Esperacchius or the sword of hope,(2) and back story of being an atheist and former Denarian (a possessor of one of the 30 silver coins, each represents a fallen angel en service to Nicodemus)(3) may prove an interesting potential parallel for Dresden, now that by then of the book he posses one of the coins and is taking a noticeable darker turn in his character (it’s light in this book but I will point out the more details in later books where it has become so stark that it’s striking).

Speaking of parallels, there has been some interesting parallels drawn between Dresden and Marcone from the beginning.  Part of me sees them as balance characters in the way Batman and The Joker are, as in even the “good one” is still a vigilante psychopath enacting justice at his personal discretion with little-to-no oversight(4), where they

batman joker

I think I’m still somewhere in between Puberty and Adulthood.

contrast each other in their methods however hold the same core values. Batman and The Joker: One bad day can change everything for a person; Dresden and Marcone: Do no harm to children. However part of me sees the seeds of darkness growing in Dresden and as the series progresses there are an increasing number of times where Dresden saves Marcone and vice versa or (my personal favourite) Dresden and Marcone work together against a big bad because it suits both of their interests (even if their interests are not mutually shared) which both happens at the climax of this book leading to my favourite Dresden/Marcone scene (roughly paraphrased):

“Michael attacks Nicodemus. Dresden to Marcone: So what’s the plan? Wait for Michael to distract Nicodemus and shoot Nicodemus in the back? Marcone to Dresden: Yup.”

Whilst I’m on the subject of Marcone, it is interesting to FINALLY see why he was after the Death Mask (he lays it on a young child in a hospital across town whom we later learn was a kid caught in the crossfire of him and a rival gang leading to his “no children” policy) which begins to humanise Marcone.  I personally really like Marcone and want to see more of his character in the series because I believe there’s so much more to his character that’s still a mystery.

The rest of my thoughts are kinda miscellaneous:

-we first meet Nicodemus and he will appear every fifth book (apparently)

-I guess Susan is knocked up during the rather erotic bondage-ish scene in Dresden’s apartment after the brush with the Denarians at the Art Show because by Changes we learn that Dresden has a daughter with Susan.

-the battle at Wriggly field was confusing because I thought Ortega pulled his gun first and that Kincaid saw that he was cheating and shot him but it was actually Martin which may be a homage to the whole “Did Hon Solo shoot first?” debate seeing how often Dresden references Star Wars or it could be because I’m listening to them as audiobooks and mostly listening to them at work and misinterpreted the entire thing. Either way it was a really cool fucking scene.

-Dresden has a denarian coin buried under the concrete of his sub-basement which I thought was going to play a much more minor part in the story however in the future books Butcher has made it clear that that isn’t a “remember this for later” detail but plays a regular and active role in the next few books(5)

Conclusion

This series keeps getting better.  It’s kind of weird. I keep expecting Butcher to “cap out” at some point but every time I finish a book I’m like “fuck that was great, how does it get better?” and then it does.  I’m trying to wrap my brain around it without building up unrealistic expectations (I mean I really had serious concerns about this after the events of the next book: Blood Rites).  

That being said: tune in for my flash impression of Blood Rites or my alternative title: “Puppies, Porn Stars, and Vampires”

-fin

Footnotes:

  1. This is in contrast to many of the fantasy series I’ve read, which I make no claims to be an extremely well read fantasy lit fan (Sword of Truth, Wheel of Time, The Engineer’s Trilogy, is all I can name off the top of my head), where each book feels less like an episode in the series and more a direct continuation of the story as if the entire series could be a single book if that was a publishing possibility.  
  2. Michael wields Amoracchius or the sword of love and Shiro wields Fidelacchius or the sword of faith.  
  3. There are 30 coins to represent the 30 pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray Jesus which at the time was about 5 weeks worth of pay or adjusted for inflation about 30-cent-judas-sells4200 USD. (source: Mark Harrison, IT Consultant, once and future CTO answering, “How much were the 30 pieces of silver Judas received to betray Jesus worth in today’s money?” at www.quora.com) Like seriously, I’m not a Christian but Judas is a dumb bastard because he could have asked for way more fucking money.  It was like he accepted a particularly small sum just to be a jackass.  However I guess if there were like 1200 Denarian coins, that would put Dresden in a really hot spot. 
  4. I guess the Police or the Justice League are that universe’s form of “oversight” for Batman and other more questionable DC super heroes however how much power does the Justice League have over Batman when he has a secret dossier on each member which includes a detailed plan on how to kill them and similar problems with the police as in they don’t know his secret identity and even if they did Bruce Wayne is so fucking rich he probably already has a small army of lawyers on retainer to prevent any sort of “police crackdown” on the Batman anyway.  
  5. I’ve been having trouble with laptops lately (I’m on number 5 in 3 weeks), which makes me worry that maybe reading the Dresden Files is aggravating my natural technological Murphian Field (I am not intentionally rough on phones and laptops and computers however they have historically had less than a friendly relationship to me, as in I cannot keep a phone or laptop alive for longer than a year. However phones have been getting better, I recently had a phone for 2 whole years but laptops still tend to crap out on right around month 12-15). You know what they say though, “Fifth is a fucking charm.” Anyway my intention was to write one of these after I finish each book however I’m almost finished with book 8 “Proven Guilty” as of today (8 september 2018).      

Who I Am and What I’m Here For

Hey guys! Welcome to my Tuesday column on Offbeat On Point! This is my first post and I’m on somewhat shaky ground here, so bear with me.

My name is Brad Evans. Well, actually, no it isn’t, but that’s the moniker I’ll be using here. I am a long-time friend of Fin Louie; we’ve been kicking it off and on for the last 10 years. We share a lot of common interests, but our personalities are like Yin and Yang. Where I am casual he can get intense, and vice-versa. Where he is actively bold, I am passively reserved; but don’t let that fool you, there’s a lot going on in my head.

yinyang

I’ve been keeping up with his posts here for a while now and asked about a month ago if he could use a co-editor. The rest, as they say, is history.

A few things about me:

  1. I am a young man in my twenties living in St. Louis, and a student of Creative Writing at Webster University.
  2. When I was eighteen, I took a break from school, and didn’t go back for quite some time. While I was out I had a variety of adventures. I went to music festivals. I had two apartments and Fin and I even shared a house at one point. I quarreled with friends, lost some and made some more. I was a General Manager of a restaurant, and various other adventures.
  3. I am a voracious consumer of fantasy and science fiction.
  4. I play video games on Xbox One; currently I’m on Fifa 17 and OverWatch. They are like crack to me.

That’s just for starters. I feel like this is also a good representation of who I am as a person: recently I had a birthday, and what I did for fun was to go see the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie (which was phenomenal by the way) and then read about 100 pages of a graphic novel. I also spent a lot of time with friends and family, but the peaceful nerdy stuff is what I really liked. To me, that was an excellent birthday.

Here’s what I’m going to be bringing to this blog:

Tuesdays I will be posting thoughts about literature I have consumed.

Saturdays I will be posting literature I have created. Short stories and poetry and the like.

I doubt if either of these columns will be regular events. Sporadic, at best, really. But for the immediate future I have a few poems to share on Saturdays, and a whole list of books to read/review this summer. A few months ago I discovered a love for audiobooks, and I will be reviewing those as well: not just for the content but for the ability of the narrator to do it justice.

We have plans in the works for a “Sunday Round-up” type of post, conveniently summarizing all the week’s new material. This is still a tentative plan, though, so don’t look for it right away.

Here’s some of the material I have lined up to review:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This book comes highly recommended by just about everyone and I’m looking forward to getting into it.

The Road

The Dresden Files graphic novels. DF has been a favorite book series for a long time; I have read every book at least three times, and recently laid hands on an omnibus of the first two books in graphic novel form. So far, it’s amazing, but also flawed and I’ll get into that in a future review.dresden graphic novel

The audiobooks of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Two books I consider modern classics, in audiobook form.

the_kingkiller_chronicle_one_and_two-600x459

The audiobook of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Less classic and less artfully written, but still a fun read: does the audiobook hold up?

Ready Player One

The audiobook of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Widely considered a modern classic, this book is now being made into a television series being broadcast on Starz in America and Amazon Prime in the UK. I’ve read it before, but the audiobook is FULLY CASTED – meaning a different voice actor for each character. That’s different than any other book I’ve listened to so far, and I’m intrigued at that prospect.

American Gods

Novels from an author I have not read before but who comes highly recommended by a professor at my university: China Mieville. I have Embassy Town, The City and the City, and Perdido Street Station lined up for summer reading. May as well talk about them, too, right?

And that’s just what I’ve come up with so far, but like I said my posts might be sporadic. I’m doing this for the enjoyment of it and don’t want this to become like a job with deadlines that I’m racing to meet. All the same, I’m looking forward to getting started around here.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

-Brad Evans