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Reviews Comments: First Book Syndrome Incarnate Storm Front episode/issue review by maninahat

I\'ve finally read Storm Front, the first in The Dresden Files series, and it only took 17 years. What is my belated opinion? Well, as the title indicates, it is a classic example of first book syndrome, which is a trope that probably goes by a completely different name on here.

Storm Front is a story about a wizard, Harry Dresden, who has been hired to work on two separate investigations; one is over some murders being committed by a powerful wizard, and the other is a missing person\'s case in which the missing person is a wannabe wizard. And now, having simply described the plot, I have actually given away the murderer.

We expect it to be the one we least suspect, and that expectation gets completely undercut in this book by the murderer being the most obvious culprit. But here\'s the thing, I don\'t think the author was doing this on purpose. Here\'s Harry Dresden, scratching his head as to who could the rogue wizard be, and yet he\'s also being paid to look for a rogue wizard at the same time. Wizards are rare, the murder could only have been done by a wizard, these are the only two cases he\'s had in ages, and he gets them at the exact same time. It takes him forever to see any connection, whereas most readers immediately spot it but think to themselves \"nah, its too obvious to blame that guy, this is going somewhere else.\" Well, gee, it isn\'t.

It almost feels like a meta-story, in which Dresden is secretly written as the World\'s least competent detective. That would explain why he is always coming out with dated, sports related wise cracks and Bond one-liners that are neither funny nor cool, despite the book pretending they are. In fact, this is a typical case of a newish writer with some interesting ideas and a weak grasp of their craft. This much is obvious in the climax, where the villain is described as \"snarling\" over and over again, sometimes repeatedly in the same sentence, and I\'m not even going to go into the book\'s weird hang ups about female characters.

Now despite having done nothing but slag off the book, I still enjoyed Storm Front enough to immediately buy the next in the series. It might be far more trashy and pulpy than the author intended, but Storm Front is an entertaining enough read and breezy enough to not get bent out of shape over it. As far as clumsy first books go, I rank it higher than than The Invisible Library, but a little lower than the similar Rivers of London.


  • jakobitis
  • 6th May 17
I agree entirely with this review and it may interest you to know that so too does the author himself - he\'s gone on the record with near enough all of these criticisms about the novel at different times. For all that, it being obviously a first book (and with the benefit of hindsight as to the heights the series reaches later) I find any and all flaws eminently forgivable for the most part.

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