Friday, July 29, 2011

Flashback Friday: Storm Front

Storm Front
by Jim Butcher
narrated by James Marsters
8.0 hours

Storm Front is the first title in The Dresden Files and, introduces the audience to Harry Dresden, a practicing wizard in modern day Chicago, IL. Harry is tapped by Monica Sells to locate her missing husband and, the local police force's Special Investigations unit has brought in Harry to consult ion a particularly gruesome homicide case wherein "magic' is suspected of playing a part.

In February of 2010, the Yahoo! group, Sounds Like a Mystery (S.L.A.M.) discussed Storm Front. Because the discussion went forward on the premise that participants in the discussion had already listened to Storm Front, there are spoilers in the comments about characters and, I've marked out the passages below ("SPOILER ALERT" and "END SPOILER ALERT.") The following comments were drawn from the discussion (02/20-23/2010):

> I listened to this first a couple of years ago and again a couple of weeks ago. I LOVE this audio! James Marsters' delivery is excellent, conveying the idea that he IS Harry Dresden and overcomes some of the production issues (booth/mouth noise) and what I suspect is not-that-great writing. I've never been inclined to pick up the print, but I have no problem recommending the audio!

A twitter friend of mine pointed out that he thought the action scenes were rather drawn out but I countered that it was the equivalent of slo-mo (a la The Million Dollar Man) wherein the fast sequences needed to be slowed down so that the listener/reader could take in everything that was going on or; akin to when you are in an accident and even though it's only taking a few seconds, it feels everything is going in slow motion. Moreover, I really hadn't noticed it until he pointed it out so the argument that the action scenes were "too" anything was arguable!

I think many people are wary of starting The Dresden Files titles because the assumption is that they are freaky paranormal, but The Dresden Files somehow seems to emphasize the "normal" in "paranormal" and make the fantastic believable.

********** SPOILER ALERT **********

> Maybe I watch too much TV, but anymore, when two story-arcs are introduced, I'm not surprised to learn that it's really one plot. Early in the novel, Victor Sells is introduced as a person of interest (as the missing persons case) so I figured he was involved somehow in the Tommy Tomm homicide. What I hadn't figured on was that Victor Sells would turn out to be the arch-nemesis of the story. I had mistakenly figured he was a high-ranking pawn, but a pawn nonetheless, to a more powerful figure. I think when I first listened to Storm Front, I thought he might even become instrumental in bringing the bad guy down.

I was also surprised in Monica Sells’ complicity. While I understand her motives in seeking assistance, I was chagrined that she would withhold information that could have helped her. Harry wasn't very good at persuading her to "help him help her;" but since she was the one who initiated contact, he shouldn't have to have been.

This read very much like a first-in-series novel wherein the characters were being very carefully described, for use now, and later. As for the main characters I have to say that I love Harry and Bob. Of course, despite the descriptions given in the book, I imagine Harry Dresden to look like Spike (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Bob to look like Terrance Mann ("Bob" in the TV series, The Dresden Files!) Hey, it works for me!

I find Gentleman Johnny Marcone very interesting. The scene in which Harry and Marcone were soulgazing leads me to think there is Marcone will develop into an even more interesting character. I like Susan Rodriguez too. She just seems like fun. I actually don't care too much for Karin Murphy, as I've never really had much truck with people who only see things as black and white. Her indifference to Harry's reluctance to pursue checking out how a spell was to be worked, her demands for results (tantamount to ordering him to solve the case for her,) on deadline no less and, her attempt to arrest him (showing a distinct lack of faith,) were off-putting.

********** END SPOILER ALERT **********

> I'm rating this an "A-" and promoting it into my Parthenon of Favorite Audiobooks. It held up very well on the re-listen! I have the next three (Full Moon, Grave Peril and Summer Knight) on my iPod and plan on listening to them after I finish with the Geographic/USA Challenge.

Death Masks (#5) is on my audible wishlist and I may dnload it this year, but I probably won't listen to it until next year as I gotta lotta stuff on the backlog list! Titles #6 & #7 have yet to be produced. If they never are, then I may very well stop at #5 since I'm not particularly interested in reading these books in print and; I may have reached my limit in the series anyway. Titles #8-11 have been produced in audio but I really don't want to skip titles to get there.

The only other thing I see that James Marsters has done in audio is take part in a performance of The Importance of Being Ernest (by Oscar Wilde.) It has one five-star rating but no reviews. I don't know about that.

[Ultimately, Storm Front's production issues and suspect writing had me reconsider Storm Front from inclusion in my Personal Pantheon of All-Time Great Audiobooks; though it and The Dresden Files remains a guilty pleasure :-) All twelve titles in the series have been produced and are available. I did go on to listen to The Importance of Being Ernest (by Oscar Wilde as well as Death Masks (#5 in the series.)

Other Stuff: I purchased an MP3-CD of Storm Front from Buzzy Multimedia

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