I’ve actually been listening to the Dresden Files for more than just the past few months, but given the most recent book came out within that time frame, I think it’s fair to include it here. In fact, it’s necessary, because this is the series that all other Urban Fantasy ends up being compared to.
The Dresden Files is the series for which I’m the biggest fanboy. They aren’t the best written books I’ve come across recently, but the content is increasingly epic, and the primary narrator, James Marsters, easily outstrips the vast majority of audiobook narrators. John Glover, the narrator of the most recent book, has an excellent voice for audiobooks, but would have done better with different material. Jim Butcher, the author, has a certain whimsy in his writing style (sometimes reminiscent of Joss Whedon) that James Marsters pulls off almost flawlessly, while John Glover comes off a little too highbrow for.
So far, there are 13 books in the series proper, plus one short story compellation, effectively making this a 14 book series so far. Jim Butcher has claimed that he planned for this series to be about 20 books in length, plus an “apocalyptic” end trilogy. How long this series was supposed to be isn’t as important to me as the fact that it was actually planned out from the beginning. This isn’t like the TV show Lost; the author actually has a plan in mind, and all the little hints actually do mean something.
All but the first three books in the series are excellent (book three is good, but it doesn’t compare well to book four). That’s unfortunate, because it means many people who start this series from the beginning aren’t going to get far enough for the series to hook them. I got hooked by book four, but the primary reason I got that far was because I didn’t have a job at the time, so I didn’t really have anything better to do.
I no longer recommend people start this series from the beginning. People should really start at book 3, because that’s where the ball starts rolling. I don’t think people should start at book four, because by then too much stuff has already happened. Ideally, someone will have seen a few episodes of the canceled SciFi series (you can find it on Netflic streaming), if only to get a handle on who some of the characters are (the story in the TV show has nothing to do with the books, but the characters are close enough).
Each book takes place roughly a year after the previous one. All the characters grow as the series goes along. Everyone becomes increasingly more capable of dealing with the fantastic elements in the story, and the deeper they all get down that rabbit hole, the deeper the rabbit hole gets. This is not Scooby-Doo; there are actually consequences for things that happen in previous books. When people get hurt, the scars remain with them. Things happen in book three that shape the series ever after.
The books are written from a first person perspective. All the other characters are seen through the eyes of the Private Investigator and Wizard, Harry Dresden. While the series starts off feeling very noir, it becomes less so and more fantastical as the series goes along.
I’m stopping myself here, because I could easily go on almost forever about this series, and I’ve already said more than I meant to. Simply put, this is a book series for geeks, written by an epic geek. It’s fun and engaging. I love it.