The important news of the day: Shelf Awareness: Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade, has launched its consumer edition, Shelf Awareness: Enlightenment for Readers. You can sign up for it here:
Among many other things, it will feature book reviews, mine amongst them.
Additional apologies for the length of time it has taken me to post. After the gardening came the sick cats, & when you got 3 cats infected with giardia you don’t have much time for anything but cleaning up after them & trying to get them to eat. Then came a worsening of plantar fasciitis in my right foot and I’ve been doing physical therapy on myself to bring that around. Then there’s–well, never discount the power of laziness!
I promised to give a look at the first two of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Storm Front and Fool Moon. (nb: these are the covers from the author’s website, not the Roc editions cited.) As one who lives in a magical universe, my first response is cynicism when I encounter occult fiction (why it took me so long to crack one of these books). However, as I was reading them, I was struck again and again by the skill with which Jim Butcher has taken the Truths of magic and woven them through a novel. Once literary license is discounted, there is so much of real magic in these books that were I still heading a magical group, I would make them required reading along with Regardie’s Middle Pillar and Janus-Mithras’ Wicca the Ancient Way. Here’s a passage towards the end of Storm Front:
“The silver pentacle that had been my mother’s burned cold on my chest, a sudden weight that made me gasp. I sagged forward a little, and lifted a hand. My fingers were so tightly crushed into fists that it hurt to try to open them. My hand shook, wavered, and began to fall again.
“Then something strange happened. Another hand took mind. The hand was slim, the fingers long and delicate. Feminine. The hand gently covered mine, and lifted it, like a small child’s, until I held my mother’s pentacle in my grasp.
“I held it in my hand, felt its cool strength, its ordered and rational geometry. The five-pointed star within the circle was the ancient sign of white wizardry… The cold strength of the pentacle gave me a chance, a moment to think again, to clear my head.
“I took deep breaths, struggling to see clear of the anger, the hate, the deep lust that burned within me for vengeance and retribution. That wasn’t what magic was for. That wasn’t what magic did. Magic came from life itself, from the interaction of nature and the elements, from the energy of all living beings, and especially of people. A man’s magic demonstrates what sort of person he is, what is held most deeply inside of him. There is no truer gauge of a man’s character than the way in which he employs his strength, his power.” – p.291, Roc edition, 978-0-451-45781-3
Very impressive, not only well-written but showing a profound understanding of the nature of magic. And if you think the second paragraph is only fiction, think again: I’ve experienced the exact same phenomena.
Here’s another, briefer, bit, from Fool Moon:
“It didn’t matter to me, at that moment, that I couldn’t work any of my spells against them. I might not have any magic available to me, but that didn’t make me any less of a wizard, one of the magi, the wise. That’s the true power of a wizard.
“I know things.
“Knowledge is power.
“With power comes responsibility.” –p 245, Roc edition, 978-0-451-45812-4
I have enjoyed, tremendously, these first two books of the Dresden series, and I anticipate loving the rest of the series as well. I’ve watched the (only) season of the most excellent series The Dresden Files, starring Paul Blackthorne, Valerie Cruz and Terrence Mann. I wish there were more, but I’m glad there’s at least the one season. The episodes of the series align… only tenuously with the books I’ve read, but that’s ok, it’s a different medium. (ahem) While I miss Dresden’s duster, some changes I find actually beneficial—changing the character of Bob from an Elemental Spirit of Air in the books to the ghost of a long-dead wizard in the series was an improvement, and enlarged the scope of the character. Elemental Spirits are really … limited to expressing their element, whereas the move to a human-based character brings in all the complexities that come with the body. Great change!
Thank you for your patience. I can only once again hope to post more frequently in the future