Chapter 20 of Martha’s Children, and a few thoughts on the Dresden Files

Like Ned O’Donnell, Sherlock Kammen has a favorite sister . . . well, in his case, his only sister. Kate (née Hecate) has always been the older, more sophisticated sister, the one member of the family who moves among the rich and powerful. But she’s not one to ignore blood ties, even to a vampire. Read how Sherlock Kammen continues his investigation of sorcerers in “I would be friends with you, and have your love,” chapter 20 of Martha’s Children. And if you’ve not been reading my serialized story of vampires and cops in 1969 Chicago, you can start here.

I’ve been working my way through the “Dresden Files” series of books by Jim Butcher. For those of you who don’t know it, it shares a number of similarities with Martha’s Children. Both are set in Chicago, both involve magicians (wizards in the Dresden Files, sorcerers in Martha’s Children), and both feature a conflict running between the magicians and vampires. I was a bit worried at first on hearing about the series, for fear that I’d look guilty of plagiarism. In fact, I needn’t have worried. Our uses of magicians and vampires are so different, as are our writing styles.

Cover for the first volume of the Dresden Files.

Cover for the first volume of the Dresden Files.

The Dresden Files series features a scruffy loner, a wizard named Harry Dresden, as its protagonist. He attempts to cope with the various supernatural threats that emerge in Chicago, while sometimes gaining the support but often the disapproval of a worldwide council of good wizards. The threats are a combination of standard supernatural baddies, though often with a twist, and a faerie mythology is thrown in. Vampires play at least a subsidiary role in all five of the volumes I’ve read so far, due to a war Harry’s touched off between the vampires and sorcerers. Unlike the vampires in Martha’s Children, the vampires in the Dresden Files seem to be almost on the same level of power as the wizards.

In each volume, Dresden is typically confronted by several threats simultaneously, which makes it easier for Butcher to keep up the suspense. Dresden uses a combination of willpower-driven magic, sympathetic magic, ad hoc magic, and being rescued by coincidences to muddle through his adventures.

It all sounds like a supernatural version of the old British series, The Avengers, in which Steed and Mrs. Peel would proceed clueless for the first 3/4 of the episode, and then figure out the mystery and physically beat up the bad guys in the last quarter. You’d think they would have made the Dresden Files into a TV series. And they did: The Dresden Files ran for 12 episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2007. It was not a success. I’ve watched the episodes, and I’m not sure why it wasn’t a success, myself. But I can safely say that they have a different tone from the books.

Probably the best way to sum up the Dresden Files series is as high-grade supernatural pulp fiction, and that’s meant as a form of praise. They make for a fun light read. I just hope that as I get further along in the series, Butcher varies his plot structures a bit. I can read about Harry Dresden saving the day despite a lack of sleep, depletion of his magical power, and overwhelming odds, only so many times.


About Brian Bixby

I enjoy history because it helps me understand people. I'm writing fiction for much the same reason.
This entry was posted in Martha's Children, Reading fiction, Reviews, Writing fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Chapter 20 of Martha’s Children, and a few thoughts on the Dresden Files

  1. E. J. Barnes says:

    Don’t know why you watched the series, or don’t know why it didn’t succeed?

  2. crimsonprose says:

    Without supplying spoilers, the last 2 or 3 Dresden episodes have been startingly different. He claims to be writing to a long-term plot that starts at Bk 1 and concludes . . . some time in the future. Reading them to date, there is definitely character development, and yea, I can see that there is a developing overall story. As you say, light & fun read. I prefer Butcher’s other series: Codex Alera

  3. L. Palmer says:

    I’ve heard of Dresden Files, but haven’t read them yet. Maybe I should add them to my list.

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