The Dresden Files ranks with any series I’ve ever read.

Didn’t post much tonight because I was finishing up book eight of The Dresden Files.  Earlier in the day I Amazoned the remaining…four, I think. It’s as compelling a mythos as any I’ve known.  It ranks with the mythologies of entire cultures, and he’s still going.

It’s one of the best series I’ve read.  And as I’ve consumed approximately one billion words of print, assume I’ve read…several.  Yesterday I praised the writer for continuing to work at improving his craft.  He’s still doing it through #8, though already a master.

And the single most surprising thing about it is its treatment of Christianity.  It is utterly respectful. 

 This isn’t Lewis’s Mere Christianity.  If Jim Butcher is a Christian he’s doing indirect preaching.  His omnipresent protagonist Harry Dresden isn’t Christian.  And as such, he’s made deeply uncomfortable by committed ones.  Which is exactly right.

But the supporting characters who are, and who contend with forces of supernatural darkness, are exactly as they’d have to be.  Immensely strong, loving, faithful.

And thus, dramatically boring.

You couldn’t do the type of series Butcher’s doing while making your lead a Christian.  Because he’d have to be as committed as Paul of Tarsus.   There’s nowhere to go.  Where’s the moral drama?  You can’t explore nuances of gray behavior when your lead can’t even tell a lie to save his life. 

It’s why Michael Carpenter is a supporting character. 

There are great writers who hate Christianity, and I can still read their work and appreciate it.  Thomas Harris, for one.  Christians in his books are either brain-damaged or evil.  The man who created Hannibal Lecter felt he needed a Scripture-quoting “Christian” to make Lecter the good guy.  I have no problem with Christian-bashing.  Christ Himself tells me it’s inevitable, so it’s not like my faith is threatened.  Quite the opposite.  But as a story-lover, when a writer’s issues destroy “suspension of disbelief” it’s his mistake, not mine.  Harris’s hatred of Christianity makes him worse, not better.   

Is this a literary or theological review?  I have no idea either.

If you enjoy either fantasy or “noir” you’ll probably enjoy The Dresden Files.  If you like both I don’t know how you could avoid loving it.  Christianity is not its focus and isn’t even directly addressed.  But it’s thoughtfully and respectfully examined.

Hmm.  And Dresden Files novels are NYT best-sellers, every one.  No doubt there are many, many novelists right now trying to pretend respect for Christianity.  Good luck with that.  Good luck fooling people who believe God commands them to be “as gentle as doves, as wise as serpents”.

 Some of this blog’s readers are Christians, and some aren’t.  All are welcome.  No one will get “preached at” here.  I’ve been in both camps and know what works on me, and what doesn’t.  Lectures by hypocrites are a “least-favorite” thing.

I’m a terrible Christian.  When one can be moved to re-examination by novels featuring a pagan, swearing, drinking, killing, occasionally-fornicating hero, he should know he’s been slacking off.   

Here’s how carnal I am.  Knowing the costs and sacrifices, I don’t even want to be a good Christian right now.   

But I do want to want to be.

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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11 Responses to The Dresden Files ranks with any series I’ve ever read.

  1. HopeT says:

    “Lord give me chastity – but not yet.” Saint Augustine

    Doubt there are those who can claim they have never shared your sentiments so I don’t foresee any stone throwing….

  2. Saul says:

    Might I suggest Glen Cook’s The Black Company Series? It’s a fantasy series about a mercenary company told from the point of view of the unit’s medic and archivist. The thing I like about ti is that it strips magic down to the practicals for the characters from the “ooh aah” of most fantasy to “ah hell, what now?” that most grunts are going to probably be saying, and to say it’s hard-boiled fantasy is putting it mildly.

  3. Mike says:

    I enjoy the series.I am looking forward to the next book where Harry gets a new POV. i like the tv series too, though my main enjoyment comes from seeing how they compiled the tv characters from the books characters.

  4. DHT says:

    I recommend the audiobook versions for the rest of the series. The reader is fantastic, really elevates even the simplest lines. After I listened to one, I couldn’t go back.

    • wormme says:

      Have never listened to a single audiobook. I like reading.

      But maybe I’ll get some of them “soundbooks” the next long interstate drive. Reading while driving is something I’m finally weaning myself away from. But back in the day I could get a couple of novels done driving along Interstate 10.

      Then there was the time I had a head-on with a pickup truck while reading…and bicycling.

  5. D.J. says:

    Be careful what you ask for….(everyone say it with me)…you just might get it. I remember wanting to want to feel God’s presence, even asking others to pray with me for that.

    That was granted, after several days. I knew what I was missing and the gaping void it was leaving inside. Utter despair, except for one thing: the prayer had been granted, and if that prayer had been granted, why not one asking for His presence?

    That was granted, too, again after several days. It was a small, silent whisper, like the sheer stillness that spoke to Elijah, simply saying, “I am here.” But that voice had the power to define reality, not simply describe it.

    You might take a look at David Weber (the Honor Harrington but especially the Safehold series) and Chris Walley (The Lamb Among the Stars) as well. The Lamb Among the Stars starts with the following premise: the Millennial Kingdom has lasted for some 12,000 years and humanity has spread to some thousand worlds and is working on terraforming them. What happens when evil returns?

    • wormme says:

      For me it was the weight of my sins finally breaking me so that I saw I’d become everything I’d sworn I never would be. And I laid down on the floor of my bedroom to die.

      Not wanting to die. Just willing to. I was going to rise from that floor a changed man or I was going to die in that spot. And I didn’t know how to change.

      It took a while.

      Then love lifted me.

    • wormme says:

      Sounds very interesting, thanks!

  6. J.C. says:

    Just a side note to earlier post. I just signed up for and downloaded some of the Dresden books, great for when I am stuck in traffic. Love them. I sit in traffic nearly an hour each way to and from work, best option yet for killing 2 hours a day and not minding it. Try the audio version some time, worth it. However, note that this requires an MP3 player or CD player, not recommended for wizards as techy devices tend to falter, but great for us ordinary citizens.

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