I know, I know, I'm late to the party. It's 2011 and I'm just getting to know Harry Dresden. But, as they say, better late than never, and in this case, it's much better late.
I read for characters. That and dialog are my things. Give me a fantastic character with a great voice and I'll forgive a lot of writing sins. So, as you can probably guess Harry Dresden was right up my alley, and Jim Butcher is a good enough writer there weren't many sins I needed to forgive.
Oh, and I should probably mention I'm a massive James Marsters fan, and he's the guy reading the audio version of the book I was listening to. Even if I wasn't a raving Spike fan, I would have considered this an extremely well read audio book.
Harry is a perfect combination of gallows humor, never-give-up tenacity, snarky-wit, and anti-authoritarian attitude. Basically, he's almost exactly what I want in a leading man. James Marsters does a fantastic job of bringing that to life. It is a deeply satisfying combination.
I love a well-thought-out, detailed system of magic. And Jim wrote it for me. Wrote it beautifully with hints of way more going on beyond the surface than is specifically told to us. Wrote it with enough detail so that the mythos feels real and works. And though I haven't read books 2-12 I'm quite hopeful that he's not done such a good job setting this up to then turn it on it's head and throw the laws out when they become inconvenient.
As for those sins I mentioned earlier, really there was only one, too much going over the same turf again and again and again. Quick example: Butcher wrote a scene where Harry's shield bracelet got slagged, he then had Harry tell me it was destroyed two, four, and seven pages later. (I'm guessing on the pages since I was listening to the book, but you get my drift.) I doubt Jim Butcher will ever read this, so I'll address this advice to other writers: if you show us something important happening, you do not then need to tell us it happened over and over. Occasional reminders might be nice, once a large chunk of story has gone by. Your reader is smart enough to remember details for more than five hundred words.
All in all, I was greatly pleased by this addition to my slowly growing collection of trad published books. Fool Moon is definitely on my to be read list.