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Posts Tagged ‘The Dresden Files Series’

Book Review:
Last week I finished reading “Skin Game” (2014©), written by Jim Butcher.  This is the fifteenth book in the Dresden Files fantasy / horror / detective / adventure series.  The series traces the life of Harry Dresden, who is a practicing wizard, working in Chicago as a private detective / investigator.  In this volume, Harry joins up with a band of bad guys to try to steal some holy relics from a safe in Hades.
If you are not familiar with the series, it is quite formulaic: good guy (Harry) is placed in an awkward position and must overcome a series of bad guys in order to resolve the novel’s main story, while devoting about 10% of the book to furthering the main arc of the series – Harry’s continuing process of discovering the hero in himself while fighting to overcome evil.  Like all volumes in the series, it mostly stands on its own, but will be a lot more enjoyable if you’ve read all the preceding volumes.
Obviously, as I’ve now read fifteen of them, I’m a fan of the series and the author.  Are these “great” novels?  No.  Are they (is it) well written and enjoyable reads?  Yes!  So, highly recommended…  Again, as stated in reviews of the prior volumes, while the series is intended for the “young adult” reader, it (the series and this volume) contain graphically described violence and are probably not appropriate for most young teens and definitely not pre-teens.  This series is NOT Harry Potter for slightly older children.
As an additional mention, two things I learned from reading this book are: Hades is the name for the Greek god who rules “the underworld” and it has also come to be the name used for the “underworld” and precedes the Christian term “Hell”.  (I guess I already knew these things, but they never really settled into my conscious mind.)  The second thing I learned is that the Greek god Hades is not the equivalent of the Christian devil (“Satan”).  Hades is, in fact, more closer to a final judge of souls than a promoter of “evil” on Earth.
Movie Review:
Today I had my initial viewing of the movie (on DVD) “Ip Man: The Legend Is Born“.   Dennis To stars in the title role.  The movie came out in 2010 and is the third in the series of four, although it is fourth in my viewing order simply because that’s the order I was able to purchase them.  “Series” is a bit misleading, as the movies are not really chronological or meant to be viewed in any particular order.  They’ve simply been very popular and therefore additional portions of Mr. Ip’s life have been dramatized.  The movie comes with English language translation, so you don’t have to read sub-titles.
If the movies were an actual series, this movie would be the prequel to the first movie as this covers his life from childhood through early manhood, roughly up to the Sino-Japanese War.
So, is it any good and how does it rank vis-à-vis the others in the series?  I think it is number two, after only the original (Ip Man).  The fights are energetic, well choreographed and well filmed without too much wire-work, which is popular in China, but detracts from a movie’s realism (IMHO).
All in all, I rate this movie as highly recommended both as a movie and as a pure martial arts film.
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On This Day In:
2013 Real Honor
Catching Up
2012 Thoughts And Communications
2011 But How Does Peter Feel?
2010 Name That Regret
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There’s power in the touch of another person’s hand.  We acknowledge it in little ways, all the time.  There’s a reason human beings shake hands, hold hands, slap hands, bump hands.
It comes from our very earliest memories, we all come into the world blinded by light and color, deafened by riotous sound, flailing in a suddenly cavernous space without any way of orienting ourselves, shuddering with cold, emptied with hunger, and justifiably frightened and confused.  And what changes that first horror, that original state of terror?
The touch of another person’s hands.
Hands that wrap us in warmth, that hold us close.  Hands that guide us to shelter, to comfort, to food.  Hands that hold and touch and reassure us through our very first crisis, and guide us into our very first shelter from pain.  The first thing we ever learn is that the touch of someone else’s hand can ease pain and make things better.
That’s power.  That’s power so fundamental that most people never even realize it exists.
   —  Jim Butcher
from his book: “Skin Game
[The latest in Butcher’s “Dresden Files” series.  A terrific adult, horror / fantasy series.  But I’m addicted, so what do I know…  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 Because You Have Lived
2012 47%
2011 Conservative Values: Low And Lax
2010 A Non-Zero Sum Game
What If “c” Isn’t A Constant?
2009 Pictures from UCLA trip…

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Over the Labor Day Weekend, I finished reading the 14th novel in the “Dresden Files” series: “Cold Days“, written by Jim Butcher (2012©).  Now, obviously if you’ve read fourteen books in a series, you’re either getting paid to read them or you “really” enjoy them.  In this case, I enjoy them!
This novel is another in the installment of a good man (in this case a wizard with magic powers – Harry Dresden) with a small band of friends (humans, a werewolf, a vampire, and another wizard) using his powers to save the world (or at least most of the Mid-west of the North American continent).  Dresden lives in modern day Chicago.  All of these books follow a simple formula: hero meets a bad guy the hero cannot possibly defeat, hero somehow survives the encounter, hero muddles through some other bad situations while finding out what’s going on, hero defeats bad guy and in the process finds out more about himself and the over-arching storyline of the series.  (Spoiler Alert: the series is supposed to go on for twenty volumes, so there’s six more to go.  The titles come out approximately one per year and are available in hard bound, paper back and e-read at roughly the same time so the format is whatever you prefer.)
My son James is the person who turned me on to this series.  I noticed he was getting “into” a lot of books about witchcraft and magic, so I asked him what was up.  He started telling me about this series of books he was reading and he was enjoying them so much he was branching out into other areas – folklore, myths, horror stories, etc.  He’s now read Stoker (“Dracula”), Shelly (“Frankenstein”), Dante (“Inferno”), and many other classics  (Homer, etc…).  Although, I’ve never really been “into” this kind of literature (the combination of fantasy with mythology), I asked if I could borrow a couple to see what’s what.  This was about 2005, or so.  The first couple were [sic: was] fascinating because I knew nothing about either the folklore or mythology, nor much about wizardry (as opposed to “sleight-of-hand” magic).  While I still don’t know much “in-depth” about folklore or mythology, I now know a great deal more than I used to.
In my case, I don’t believe reading one title series provides a breadth of knowledge about a genre, merely a taste / sampling.  Also, from my limited exposure, myths are frequently modified to fit the story, so reading any single title series does not necessarily accurately relate a specific myth.   (This was particularly true in the “Percy Jackson” Greek mythology / fantasy series.)
You might ask, “Well, if the books all follow a formula, what’s keeping your interest?”  To tell, the truth, they did start to wear on me after about the sixth or seventh volume, but I took a break and returned to the remaining books with renewed energy.  I found two main interests: the characters (main and supporting, good and evil) are growing with each volume and the over arching storyline is starting to come together (or at least to come out to the main character).  And what do we learn / know?  It’s not our abilities which define us, it is our choices as to what we do with those abilities.  And the story arc?  There is always a struggle between “absolute” evil / chaos and “our” rational and slowly progressing world of understanding.  Both of these are, of course, “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” themes, and both themes are mentioned in the series.  Well, the Star Wars is.  The Harry Potter theme isn’t directly mentioned, but they (the two story themes) are so closely related they might as well be.  Dresden’s first name: “Harry”.  Duh!!
Anyway, this volume is a fast read like all of the others, and I recommend the series to anyone interested in the Sci-Fi / horror / fantasy genre.  I think they are easily digestible in three to four volumes at a time, then take a week break before starting back.  As I am writing this, I am reminded of the “binge” watching I do (on some holidays) of some TV series.  I think there must be a qualitative AND quantitative threshold to binging (that’s “binge – ing”) between viewing and reading.  At least for me there is…  I can do a whole day, 18+ hours of TV watching and I can certainly do the same for reading.  But many of these books are over 450 pages, which, to me, means several days after work, plus a weekend day (usually).  That level of sustained reading isn’t possible when you have a “real” life pulling you in multiple directions.  That’s why I advise tearing through a couple and then taking a break, then back at it.  Having said this, it’s one thing to watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy in one day or watch all six of the Star Wars movies AND another thing again to watch all 170+ episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The first two are “only” a solid day.  ST:TNG would be good fifteen (15) ten (10) hour days!!   That’s some serious viewing!!
I will close by cautioning that although these books are entertaining and the good guy wins out in the end, they are NOT suitable for children or pre-teens or even “queasy” young adults as they are graphic in the depiction of violence.
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On This Day In:
2012 How Did We Get Here?
2011 Labor Day Weekend Mishmash
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I’ve said before that only the dead feel no pain, but I’d never spoken from experience before. Pain used as a weapon is one thing. Personal pain, the kind that comes from just living our lives, is something else.
Pain isn’t a lot of fun, at least not for most folks, but it is utterly unique to life. Pain — physical, emotional, and otherwise — is the shadow cast by everything you want out of life, the alternative to the result you were hoping for, and the inevitable creator of strength. From the pain of our failures we learn to be better, stronger, greater than what we were before. Pain is there to tell us when we’ve done something badly — it’s a teacher, a guide, one that is always there to both warn us of our limitations and challenge us to overcome them.
For something no one likes, pain does us a whole hell of a lot of good.
— Harry Dresden (a fictional character)
from “Ghost Story” a novel written by Jim Butcher
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