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Why Is This Good?

Discussion in 'The Dresden Files' started by Howdy, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. Howdy

    Howdy Dark Lord

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    *Rant Ahead*

    Okay folks, I've recently begun reading this series in earnest and just finished up the second book. However, I find myself asking, "why does DLP love this series so much?" It doesn't mesh with me.

    Honestly, I don't like it so far. The plots of the first two books really do remind me of a sort of Scooby Doo mystery only with real magic and monsters and shit. I had the villain pegged in book 1 almost from the beginning. I mean, what can you expect when you're presented with his "mystery" disappearance right from the get-go and then don't hear another thing about him until the last quarter of the book?

    It's clumsy foreshadowing.

    The second book, while not as bad, is very similar. The foreshadowing may as well have big neon signs pointing to them saying PAY ATTENTION HERE!

    But that's not even what I hate most about it. Dresden's character is the sort of lame shit I would think DLP would hate in its protagonist. He's hamstrung in nearly every scene by fear, uncertainty, and crippling self-doubt. I understand that we don't want a Gary Stu, but it's tiresome seeing him freeze up in horror (though he's seen worse shit before, of course) or conveniently forget essential details (didn't that werewolf lady say TWO cars were following me 30 seconds ago?) that we all, as readers readily remember.

    EVERY fucking thing is Dresden's fault, even if bad people who are in the know about the supernatural are getting butchered or some fucking idiot police lieutenant whose job it is to deal with this shit won't listen to him and gets a dozen people mauled, or opens a cabinet that he just told her not to open.

    And speaking of Murphy, doesn't anyone else hate this bitch? How am I supposed to feel an ounce of sympathy towards her? For some reason Dresden sees her as a "friend" despite the fact that, after working with her for years, she doesn't believe a damn thing he says. What kind of idiot is she? She knows this shit is real, yet still beats up and arrests Dresden and puts everyone around her in danger just because she's obsessed with arresting deranged psychopath dark wizards and werewolves. I mean here's a champ who literally took Dresden's words so much to heart that she melted down her earrings on the off chance that she'd have to face the "big bad," yet who drags a man she suspects is a werewolf, who is kicking and screaming and yelling that he'll kill everyone, back to police HQ on the night of the full moon because she believes in doing things by the book or some shit.

    But oh no, Dresden would never hold that against her, even when she beats him up and hamstrings him and tries to arrest him when he's just trying to do the right thing and save everyone.

    Dresden's complete aversion to kill anyone, even psycho mass-murderers, is ridiculous. He whines about how much he sacrifices for everyone yet tainting his soul just a little is too much of a sacrifice? Bullshit. He doesn't have to kill people with magic in order to kill them, if that's the hang-up. But no, every life is a precious snowflake to him - fuck the White Council who won't hesitate to kill anyone and anything that sneezes wrong.

    Honestly, Dresden reminds of a grown-up loser Harry Potter who's even more of a pussy than the kid, who would at least toss around some dark magic when the need arose.

    tl;dr

    When does this series actually get good, or does it? I don't want to read 12 books about a carebear sleuth who lets everyone around him shit all over him and comes out of it with a smile on his face and forgiveness on his lips.

    How many more people get murdered before he takes the kid gloves off? Or did I just get my hopes up with this series?
     
  2. Fiat

    Fiat The Chosen One DLP Supporter

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    I figured I'd respond before you get ten answers of "It's shit! I couldn't read past book two!"

    This is something that I'm pretty sure that everyone has realized at some point. The first two books are terrible. Really fucking terrible. I read past because of DLP's constant recommendations, and found that it gets significantly less terrible in book three.

    I'm pretty sure Jim Butcher is aware of this too. Very little that's even related to either of the first two books relates back to the plotlines later. After Storm Front, Dresden never makes another goddamned potion. Murphy's character gets a fuckload less annoying really quickly, but I still find it difficult to ignore how fucking annoying and bitchy she used to be.

    None. His girlfriend just becomes slightly less human. Then he burns down a fucking building, starts a war, and kills a fuckload of people.
     
  3. Tehan

    Tehan Avatar of Khorne DLP Supporter

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    Dresden gets better. Murphy gets better. The books get better.

    Nice to know your faith in our collective opinion only lasts a couple of books. If you'd asked on IRC instead of posting a dozen-paragraph condemnation, you'd have gotten something along the lines of 'stick it out, it's all uphill from here'.

    Also:

    That's Dresden alright. Yup. Sure is. I'll just be over here, laughing for like half an hour straight.
     
  4. Red Aviary

    Red Aviary Hogdorinclawpuff Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Well, he does... not really "on-screen," but he teaches Molly to do it and I remember a scene from Changes where he uses some kind of anti-gravity potion.

    I've told my brother to just skip the first two books. I mean, Butcher has a (sometimes annoying) habit of covering any need-to-know information later on anyway, and like Fiat said, he barely ever refers to those books except for maybe one or two throwaway lines. Shit gets real in Book 3.

    EDIT: Caught this:

    I lol'd.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2010
  5. Howdy

    Howdy Dark Lord

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    I don't think this figure of speech means what you think it means.

    And exactly how many whole books did you expect me to read before I lost faith in your opinion?

    And I'll thank you for not being condescending. I'll excuse it due to the fact that the memory of books one and two for an old-timer like you is surely slipping.


    So am I hearing that things get better in book 3? I should continue and won't be disappointed given the misgivings I've voiced?
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2010
  6. Tehan

    Tehan Avatar of Khorne DLP Supporter

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    What, three people giving the exact same message that book three is better and the quality keeps going up isn't enough to convince you? Either keep reading or don't.

    Arguable, and context made it clear what I meant. Feel free to feel smug about it, though, if that's what gets you off.
     
  7. Phantom of the Library

    Phantom of the Library Unspeakable

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    Basically what everyone else has said.

    Butcher wanted to make Harry seem like a real person in horrifying situations. But he took it too far and placed a little too much emphasis on Harry being scared as hell.

    In the later books it's basically, "Yeah, I'm fucking terrified, but I've got a fucking job to do."

    Also, it's really not so unbelievable that Harry wouldn't want to kill anyone. If I had the Doom of Damocles over my head I'd keep my nose real God damn clean.

    Regardless, this changes later in the books, but still.

    tl;dr:

    Like everyone on the damn planet says, the series gets way better as time goes on. Everything about it, from the characters to the plot lines.
     
  8. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    Book 3 is pretty much where the books take off, with books 4, 7 (I think anyway, I'm referring to Dead Beat, whichever # that is) and 11 being the best thus far IMO.

    I'd recommend sticking with it, because as a whole it is honestly one of the better book series I've ever read. Also, it has a zombie dinosaur. You can't go wrong with that.

    Quasi-important spoilers below, just as a warning.

    Considering in book 3, he unleashes massive amounts of fire on a building containing a rather large party, and in book 4 he murders a Fairie Queen, it's not much longer before the gloves come off.

    Also, the general reaction to Dresden being a carebear is mostly caused by the fact that in the latest book he quite literally causes the extinction of an entire species.
     
  9. Celestin

    Celestin Half-Blood Prince

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    I didn't have problem with first books, because mystery always keep me going, but then I couldn't finish fourth one, because I knew its ending. Luckily I read only few spoilers before reading DF and one spoiler which wasn't a spoiler but it spoiled me one book (I know - complicated, I will explain in a minute).

    All in all, what everyone said - it's getting better and by the ending of book seven, it's just pure awesomeness.

    And now story about spoiler that wasn't spoiler, yet it was:
    I once read title of DF fic - Saving Ivy and because of that I knew from the beginning that in Small Favor she will be in big trouble. I was quite surprised when after reading the whole series, I checked this fic and it was about something entirely else.
     
  10. Othalan

    Othalan High Inquisitor

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    Basically what everyone else has said. Book 3 isn't one of my favorites, but it is enormously important to the overarching plot of the series, and is also where the writing and characters really start to pick up in quality. Read books 3 and 4. If you still hate it after reading Summer Knight, then there is no hope for you.
     
  11. LittleChicago

    LittleChicago Death Eater DLP Supporter

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    Book 1 was written as an excersise for a creative writing class, one chapter as a time - which explains why the plot is a little stilted and the characterisation doesn't really go anywhere. Book 2 was written with the same frame of mind.

    Jim Butcher didn't sell a book until he was part way through writing Book 3, and by then he was willing to experiment, because his professor had told him Book 1 was publishable, but it obviously was taking a while; losing a little faith in said prof, he tried soemthing new.

    All you really need to know from the first two books is that:
    1. Harry is a wizard who hcan toss around some bitchin's power, but not a lot of finesse;
    2. He has some friends who are werewolves;
    3. This mUrphy chick is tough and bitchy, like many female cops have to be, but doesn't know (and therefore doesn't understand) everything about Harry's life.

    Book 3, on the other hand, introduces Michael, who's about 8 different kinds of Fuckin'A.
     
  12. Perspicacity

    Perspicacity High Score: 3,994 Prestige DLP Supporter

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    @Howdy: Had you listened to the recommendations on here, you'd have heard repeatedly that the first DF books are weak and amateurish. Many of us have stated we were disenchanted with the series until getting farther along. The books after around book 3-4 are good, though still formulaic at times. Take some time with them, don't read them back-to-back, and you'll enjoy them more.

    My own bit of DLP blasphemy: For me the bigger disappointment was the last book, Changes, which essentially shark-jumps the series into who-knows-what after I'd invested in reading a dozen or so books. It's not even good writing at that--too much happens too fast, leaving the reader as shell-shocked as the main character (yeah, I recognize that this was intentional, but not everything in an author's creative vision actually works when put into print).
     
  13. Jon

    Jon The Demon Mayor Admin DLP Supporter

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    Book 6 is the best book.

    A Cult of Porn Star Sorceresses try and sacrifice Dresden to an Eldritch Abomination. Also. Lara <3
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2010
  14. Red

    Red Groundskeeper

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    Howdy, I remember thinking pretty much the same thing when I read the first two books and thinking "DLP, I am disappoint". However, the books really do pick-up beginning at Grave Peril so keep reading because it becomes worth it. Murphy, I remembering really hating her as well but her character gets tolerable, and likable for some.
     
  15. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box Prestige

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    Actually, I'm fairly sure I read somewhere that some of the over-arching villains might possibly have had something to do with the belts in Fool Moon and Sells in Storm Front, but I could be wrong. Still, you've read them so that shouldn't be an issue.

    And yes, the series does get much better (and crazier) from book 3 onwards. Although I enjoyed the first two *shrugs* Not as good, sure, but not bad.

    As for the not killing thing...it's really a combination of Butcher not having given much thought to it as a series, Dresden being (comparatively) innocent at that stage, and the small matter in Storm Front at least of the big guy with a sword determined to cut him in two should he screw up. Little things like that.
     
  16. Lyndon Eye

    Lyndon Eye Minister of Magic DLP Supporter

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    Dude. Chill. Just because it's mainstream DLP doesn't mean it's objectively amazing (heck, incest is nearly mainstream here...). If the series isn't to your taste, then move on. You have different preferences - that doesn't make you a bad person. :rolleyes:
     
  17. Jon

    Jon The Demon Mayor Admin DLP Supporter

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    I keelz j00. :facepalm
     
  18. Palindrome

    Palindrome Magma Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I agree with this: Changes was actually one of my least favourite of the books. At many points in the story it felt like bad things were happening to Dresden simply for the sake of bad things happening - the blue beetle, for instance. And this and other things were essentially skimmed over and tossed aside within a few paragraphs. It felt like there was little reason to it other than to screw Dresden over.

    Anyway, Howdy: I felt much the same way about the first two books. I disliked them so much that I left off reading them for a year and didn't even bother reading the third at all, but I can say that picking up the fourth book after that was pretty damn awesome. The fifth book and onwards are even better than the fourth, and depending on your viewpoint the most recent book was either one of the best or one of the worst.

    So yeah. I hated the first too. Murphy's stupidity was one of the most horrible plot devices I've ever read, and their interactions made me pretty much want to throw the book across the room. Give reading the later ones a try, though; you won't regret it.
     
  19. Howdy

    Howdy Dark Lord

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    In my defense I've tried to avoid this subforum for fear of running into spoilers. Though saying not to read the series back to back isn't exactly a rave review of the thing...


    Anyways, thank you all for your responses. I'll soldier on through book 3 before making a decision on whether or not to abandon the series.
     
  20. Fiat

    Fiat The Chosen One DLP Supporter

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    @Howdy: Listen to what LittleChicago said. He's Jim Butcher in disguise, and we all know it.

    @Pers: I personally like Changes, but I know what you mean. It's a massive change from the standard series format, and it was...different. Whether it's good different or bad different is subjective. You could tell from the title that it was going to be different; every other one is two words, both the same length.

    The next one resumes the original naming system, and I assume it will probably follow a format similar to the previous books. I hope.