Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blood Rites

Blood Rites
The Dresden Files #6
by Jim Butcher
narrated by James Marsters
Ⓟ 2010, Penguin Audio
13.10 hours

This is an odd and disappointing book in The Dresden Files series. The writing, copy-editing and narration are poor, non-existent and "off" respectively. One of the things that Jim Butcher has done very well in the forerunners to Blood Rites is create interesting characters, i.e. Harry Dresden, the only practicing wizard in the Chicago phone book, is full of pathos and moral equivocation and; Murphy is the steadfast, if repressed, police officer in charge of the special crimes unit. In a series, it is understandable that authors wish to avoid having their characters become static or flat. Seeing a character evolve over the course of time is a great reward for series readers; but having the characters change into completely different people is something else again. The core of a person doesn't really change. This is why after years of not talking with your best friend, you can meet-up and take up as if no time had elapsed at all. It's a special chemistry or synergy that is very much like the relationship with the reader to his or her favorite characters in a series. So when Murphy goes from being a dependable, pragmatic friend to a buxom sex symbol with emotional uncertainties, she has become unrecognizable. Harry too, in Blood Rites, has regressed to an adolescent version of himself. Instead of reaping the benefits of his experience and exhibiting some emotional stability, he has been imbued with some seriously lame cliches. Actually the whole of the book's world is nothing but cliches whether it be dialogue, characters, action sequences or settings.

What is this world? It is an industrial park outside of Chicago where porn films are made. Harry Dresden is hired by a film director to investigate why the film's starlets are being killed off by "The Evil Eye." Harry takes on the assignment at the behest of Thomas, a White Court Vampire. Why would Harry do something for a vampire? Ostensibly because Thomas has been a friend to Harry in the past; but of course there's more to it than that and; the relationship between Harry and Thomas becomes defined if not fully realized in this book.

James Marsters continues in his narration of this series; but all the characters seem slightly less than their normal selves. Bob, the ancient Anglo/British spirit that resides in a skull in Harry's lab sounds less British than in books #1-4 and; Harry & Murphy sound like there's a forced naturalness to their voices. The characters are given expression in a conversational range; but there is no subtlety and the dialogue comes off as oddly superficial, like they are all acting onstage in a community theater :-/ Blood Rites was recorded out of sequence of The Dresden Files (recorded at approximately the same time as Changes (#10) and Dead Beat (#7 ) and the listener may wonder if Marsters has telegraphed some of what he learned from future books back into Blood Rites.

In every series, there is the one book where the writer has run amok. Things are never quite the same after that and for those who not of the most optimistic and ardent fans of The Dresden Files, Summer Knight (#4) is a good place to leave on good terms with the series. Death Masks (#5) starts to show the cracks and is passable; but the massive continuity errors (too numerous to list), cliche infested passages, and the strange narration makes Blood Rites almost unbearable.

For the hardcore Dresden Files fans though, Blood Rites is a necessary evil: The relationship between Harry and Thomas will become integral in future titles; and Butcher brings into the series another strong female antagonist. Plus, there's a dog :-)

See Also:
Flashback Friday: Storm Front - Discussion Questions and Answers about the first title in The Dresden Files series
Death Masks - Audiobook review about the fifth title in The Dresden Files series

Other Stuff: Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6; by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters) qualifies for:

I purchased Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6; by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters) from I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.


  1. I was so gung-ho about this series, but then Michelle hated the first one, and it seems to fall apart halfway through, so I'm really rethinking whether I ever want to listen.

  2. I really loved the first one, STORM FRONT; and in fact listened to it a couple of times; and I liked FOOL MOON, GRAVE PERIL and SUMMER KNIGHT. These were all produced by Buzzy Multimedia and you hear James Marsters pull way from being "Spike" and really coming into his own. But even though the titles produced by Penguin (from titles 5 onwards) are cleaner (no booth or mouth noises); the studio direction failed, perhaps in trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The writing has become increasingly more wretched. In fact, you would have to look pretty hard to find samples of writing this poorly crafted outside of the self-pub world. I would highly recommend listening to just the first-in-series and, after that maybe up to SUMMER KNIGHT if you like STORM FRONT. Bob Reiss commented in the twitter stream that the series is uneven and fans continue out of loyalty to the character of Harry.