The creator of Fantasy-Faction, the fantasy book lovers’ website I’ve been writing articles for, has just made me one of the new mods for the forums! So now I can abuse my power…I mean help people with their problems. ;D
Speaking of Fantasy-Faction I just sent in my next review and will be working on a third this weekend. It would have been sooner, but my kids picked this week to be sick.
Chicago’s mean streets are probably the last place you’d think to look for a fully certified, practicing wizard, but that’s exactly where Harry Dresden decided to set up shop. You’d think being the only wizard listed in the windy city’s telephone directory would make him a pretty popular guy. It turns out, however, that when most people see Wizard listed they tend to think he is the kind that pulls rabbits out of hats, not the kind that solves cases using true magic.
So, with the rent on his office and his apartment both a month overdo, Harry is surprised to get two clients on the very same day! The first a woman named Monica searching for her missing husband, the second Lieutenant Murphy of the Chicago police department needing his ‘special’ expertise in the case of a double homicide. The first case seems to fizzle out soon after he starts the investigation, but the second drags him deeper into Chicago’s criminal underbelly then he’d ever wanted to go. Mafia, supernatural creatures, powerful spells, and magical cults stand between him and the answers he seeks. Can Dresden find the murderer before they kill another victim? And can he do it without getting himself killed in the process? Or will the gathering storm spell the end of Chicago’s only practicing wizard?
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Storm Front by Jim Butcher is the first in The Dresden Files series, but even as a standalone book it’s a great read. The story is a typical noir detective novel, but the addition of magic gives it an added level of interest. I think the thing I liked about it most was that the magic made total sense in the setting, which seems weird even when I think about it now. You would imagine, for example, that if a wizard ran a detective agency he would have an unfair advantage over his competition and do very well for himself. But just like technology sometimes makes things harder than they should be (like when my computer crashed halfway through me typing up this review, requiring me to start all over again), magic can be a useful tool but it doesn’t solve all of your problems, and sometimes it can even make things worse.
Harry Dresden isn’t a successful, respected member of society, using his magic to solve the world’s problems, he’s a poor, frustrated private detective struggling to get enough money to pay his rent and buy himself (and his cat) food. And that is exactly why this book is so good. Harry Dresden is the perfect guy to root for. He is honest, chivalrous, hardworking, and he still gets dumped on throughout the entire story. You want him to succeed, you want him to find the killer and escape whatever predicament he has gotten himself into this time. His easy to relate to, snarky personality makes him one of my new favorite characters and I will definitely be reading more of this series.
You might remember I reviewed Furies of Calderon, the first book of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera, last month. There has been a lot of talk in the forums about which series is better. Well after reading the first book of each series right after each other, I’d like to give you my thoughts on the discussion. I gave Furies of Calderon 4 out of 5 stars, which is exactly what I’m giving Storm Front, but for completely different reasons.
Storm Front was a great book with an awesome main character and a good plot. But the side characters aren’t quite as interesting as the supporting cast in Furies. And I will admit here, I’m not as big a fan of urban fantasy as I am of traditional fantasy. If you are an urban fantasy fan, or a noir mystery fan for that matter, I think Storm Front approaches five-star status rather quickly. I also think that Butcher is more comfortable writing in the modern setting and because of that the story in Storm Front seemed to flow a bit better then in Furies.
In the end the biggest difference between the two, is a flavor difference. If you like your fantasy epic with fantastic landscapes and great battles then try out The Codex Alera series. If you like an urban, gritty fantasy with intrigue and mysterious goings on, then definitely try out Storm Front and the Dresden Files. But whichever way you lean, I would suggest at least reading the first book of each series. Because both are great stories with great characters, and really that’s what awesome books are made of.
The next book I’m reviewing is The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey. I’ll let you know when they all get posted. 🙂
Last night instead of working on my story, which was what I really wanted to be doing, I worked on my query for the Angry Robot Open Door Month. Which is this month. Which I knew about since the beginning of the month. Which is almost over.
Yes, I know I should have started it earlier, and I know I’m going to be rushing to get it done. But the prospect of having to essentially write a book report for my own book was daunting at best and down right scary at worst. I have so far gotten the easy parts done. I’ve written my name at the top of the paper and attached the first five chapters as they’ve requested, but just like with the pitch I did for the Amazon contest, summing up an almost 100K word book I just finished writing is proving to be incredibly difficult!
This time, thankfully, the publisher wants a two page summary instead of a 250 word pitch. That makes it a little less stressful, and gives me more space to breathe, but it doesn’t seem to be adding to the easy of the writing. I can see why some people spend just as long on their pitches and queries as they did writing their stories in the first place!
I do have one question about this particular query. I think normally your query is your email to the publisher or agent. In this case, they want the whole thing to be an attached document. So if you were me, what would you say in the email the attachment is attached to?