Hey folks! So there is this popular series of books about this wizard named Harry that I really like. Harry fights all kinds of weird monsters and beasties and may have this grand destiny. What?! No, I am NOT talking about that lame-ass Potter kid, I’m talking about the one and only Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden!
Harry is the brainchild of writer Jim Butcher. Butcher brilliantly blends neo-noir with urban fantasy to make the world of The Dresden Files come to life. Harry protects Chicago and occasionally the world from all manner of supernatural threats as the one and only “Professional Wizard” you’ll find in the Yellow Pages. He loves good beer, Burger King, and is more than a little obsessed with his long duster coat. The merry month of May (the 27th, to be exact) will see the release of the 15th book in the series, Skin Game, so in honor of this occasion I thought I’d share my top 5 personal favorite Dresden books. All the Dresden stuff is great, but these are the standouts in my book.
Changes one where things go down. Just when you think you understand the game and where all the players on the board belong Butcher upturns the table showing that the game you thought you were playing was only a distraction and that now the real deal can begin. The 12th entry in the series really is the culmination of all that came before it. Dresden learns he has a daughter and his quest to find and protect her costs him everything he has and is. It isn’t the cleverest entry of the series and I think many of the other books are better in terms of overall writing, but you have to admire Butcher’s balls in going ahead and breaking this well oiled machine he had created. The ending also serves as one of Butcher’s best as the unimaginable, though many will argue inevitable happens. A final twist that left readers at the time wondering if the series could even continue after the fact. For all its flaws, more than any other entry in the series, Changes leaves you hungry for what is next and that’s why it has a spot on this list.
4. Turn Coat
Warden Morgan has never had much love for Harry Dresden, hell, Morgan’s been ready to outright kill Harry more than once, which makes it all the more jarring when an injured Morgan drops in asking for Harry’s help. Morgan’s been framed for murder and the entirety of the White Council, the order of wizards both he and Harry belong to are out hunting for him. What makes the 11th book in the series so fun is watching Harry have to keep dancing and dodging as he doesn’t know who he can, or should trust. Something’s rotten inside the Council and Morgan may well be the key to unraveling it all, which would be fine except the whole supernatural world wants Morgan to take a dirt nap. Full of humor, wit, charm, pathos, and a truly poignant ending, Turn Coat is a winner.
3. Dead Beat
Harry Dresden rides an undead T-Rex into battle against zombies and other opposing evil magical forces who want to obtain godhood. Oh, and for good measure let’s throw in the Erlking and the Wild Hunt.
Look, I could go into all the other cool stuff that happens in this book or how much I enjoy Harry teaming up with his medical examiner buddy, Waldo Butters, but if those first two sentences didn’t make you want to pick this bad boy up, nothing will. Make with the reading people!
2. Grave Peril
Grave Peril is the first truly great Harry Dresden novel. Dresden’s 3rd outing kicked everything into high gear; teamed up with Knights of the Cross (warriors who are charged by God to fight the forces of evil with blessed swords) member, Michael Carpenter are on the hunt to stop a series of ghost attacks that are plaguing Chicago. On top of all that Harry is invited and is receiving political pressure to attend a big to do vampire party for Bianca, a vampire who has an axe to grind with Dresden. This one has Harry with his back to the wall from start to finish and due to the pressure and his own inexperience, leads him to commit a long series of blunders that steadily take his situation from bad to worse. It is only through sheer grit, luck, and a heaping helping of that crazy genius some people have when pushed that Harry makes it out the other end of this intact. So much of what would become essential to the Dresden series is set up in this installment. You have the introduction of the Carpenter family, the Knights of the Cross, the Leanansidhe,Thomas Raith and his lover Justine, the first time going into the Nevernever, seeing the various vampire courts, the list goes on and on. Totally accessible to newcomers and a severely rewarding reread for vets, Grave Peril is not one to miss.
1. Cold Days
After the ending of Changes, Butcher took us down a different path with Ghost Story which forced Harry to stop and see how his actions up to that point had affected his family and friends for better and worse. Cold Days, the 14th outing, was a return to form, and what a return it is! Harry’s task for this one is simple, kill an immortal and try to prevent all of Chicago from blowing up. Easy-peasey. This is the “getting the band back together” entry of the series, but as with any group splitting, time and experience has changed everyone so try as they might, nothing is the same anymore. This book sets the new status-quo for all our characters, Harry’s back and much of the book is spent finding just how he now fits into his friends lives. It isn’t easy being Harry, and being his friend is no picnic either. If this all doesn’t sell you how about I mention that this one has a huge battle scene featuring the Wild Hunt and the most bad-ass version of Santa I’ve ever seen in fiction. Expertly crafted from start to finish, Cold Days is my new gold standard when it comes to Dresden.
So what do you think of my picks, Dresden fans? Let us know your favorites in the comments below and let’s all get ready to rock when Skin Game drops this 27th!
Also, since I got you here and we’re already talking about kick-ass books about wizards, friend of the site and all around good dude C. Robert Cargill’s second novel drops today! The follow up to Dreams and Shadows, The Queen of the Dark Things picks up 6 months after Colby kicked all the fae out of Austin. Colby’s now a target and something big and nasty is coming for him. Can he survive? Will he survive? I don’t know go buy the damn book already!