The Dresden Files
Skin Game cover
|Cover artist||Lee MacLeod, Christian McGrath|
Roc Books |
Dabel Brothers (comics and graphic novels 2007–2009)
Dynamite Entertainment (comics and graphic novels 2009–present)
|April 2000 – present|
Print (Hardback & Paperback) |
Serial (comics and graphic novels)
Audiobook (CD & MP3)
The books are written as a first-person narrative from the perspective of the main character, private investigator and wizard Harry Dresden, as he recounts investigations into supernatural disturbances in modern-day Chicago. Butcher's original proposed title for the first novel was Semiautomagic, which sums up the series' balance of fantasy and hard-boiled detective fiction.
As of 2017, Butcher has written 15 novels set in the Dresden Files universe, plus a number of short stories (some of which are collected in the anthologies Side Jobs and Brief Cases). The series has also been released in audiobook format, narrated by James Marsters. Other works set in the same fictional universe include graphic novels (several new stories, plus adaptations of the first two novels), and The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game. In 2007, a television series based on the novels aired for one season on the American Sci-Fi Channel.
In the world of The Dresden Files, magic is real, along with vampires, demons, spirits, faeries, werewolves, outsiders, and other monsters. Although the supernatural is still widely discredited, it is practiced by some members of society. Additionally, large portions of the globe (such as much of Central and South America) are mentioned as being largely under the control of supernatural factions. The White Council is an organization of human wizards, noted to wield significant economic power in the world, along with their supernatural power. Each species in the series (humans, faeries, vampires, etc.) has its own political and societal rules and organizations. The human wizards depend on the White Council, while faeries may belong to either of two Faerie Courts, or none at all. Vampires may belong to any of four vampire courts.
Harry Dresden works as the world's only "consulting wizard", accepting supernatural cases from both human and nonhuman clients, as well as the Chicago PD's Special Investigation unit. As the series progresses, Dresden takes on an increasingly important role in the supernatural world at large, as he works to protect the general public, making getting by as a working wizard and private investigator difficult for him. He finds himself facing off against an increasing variety of creatures (including other wizards), while facing the realization that his various cases may all be tied together behind the scenes and that his role might be even greater than he is willing to admit.
Jim Butcher decided to become a professional author at the age of 19. He wrote three novels within the fantasy genre, one of which he has classified as paranormal. He went on to describe all three books as being "terrible". In 1996, he enrolled in a writing class, where he was encouraged to write a novel similar to the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton, rather than the more traditional high fantasy that had been his focus in the past, as Butcher had previously stated that he enjoyed the Anita Blake series. Despite initial resistance, he wrote the first book that semester, closely following the instructions of his teacher, author Deborah Chester.
When I finally got tired of arguing with her and decided to write a novel as if I [were] some kind of formulaic, genre-writing drone, just to prove to her how awful it would be, I wrote the first book of the Dresden Files.— Jim Butcher in "A Conversation with Jim Butcher", 2004
The result was Semiautomagic, later to be retitled as Storm Front. His writing teacher declared it to be publishable, and Butcher started hunting around to do just that. Butcher failed to secure a publisher for two to three years. During this period, he completed the second novel, Fool Moon, and had made significant progress on the third, Grave Peril. Deciding to focus on agents and editors who had already published similar novels, Butcher targeted Ricia Mainhardt, the agent representing Laurell Hamilton, and submitted a copy of his manuscript. It was not accepted. Finally, Butcher met Hamilton at a convention, and was invited to lunch along with Mainhardt and a second agent, Jennifer Jackson. Mainhardt agreed to represent him, and six months later The Dresden Files was sold to ROC, an imprint of Penguin Books.
The first volume, Storm Front, was released in 2000 in paperback; the next two novels in the series, Fool Moon and Grave Peril, were released shortly thereafter, in January and September 2001, also in paperback. Subsequent novels in the series have been published annually since then, with the most recent novel, Skin Game, published in May 2014. Omnibus editions have been released by the Science Fiction Book Club, with each of the four volumes reprinting two or three of the novels in the sequence.
The series' first six novels were originally only published as paperbacks, but in 2007, ROC changed its strategy and began to publish hardcover reprints of books one to six. Volume six, Blood Rites, was released in July 2007. From book seven onward, each new book was directly published as hardcover and paperback both.
Orbit Books purchased the series for UK publication, and released the first novel, Storm Front in September 2005—five years after the initial US release. They then proceeded to publish two books per month. In November 2007, Orbit Books announced that they had purchased the rights to Changes, the 12th novel, as well as the 13th Dresden novel, Ghost Story.
All 15 volumes of The Dresden Files, along with the companion short-story anthology Side Jobs, have been released as audiobooks. Originally, all except Ghost Story have been narrated by James Marsters. Per a release on Jim Butcher's website on June 27, 2011, he reported that, "due to scheduling conflicts", Marsters would be unable to voice Ghost Story; instead, the narration was performed by John Glover. James Marsters returned to read the Cold Days audio book. In April 2015, a rerecorded version of "Ghost Story" read by Marsters was released. The cover art for the series was created by Chris McGrath.
On April 4, 2015, the World Science Fiction Society announced that Skin Game, the 15th installment in the series, was a finalist for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Skin Game had been proposed as a nominee by both fantasy writer Brad Torgersen's "Sad Puppies" and science fiction and fantasy author Theodore Beale's "Rabid Puppies" slates; both "Puppy" slates engendered some controversy in the science-fiction and fantasy community, since slate voting had not previously been a publicized part of the Hugos. The book placed fifth in the final tally of the votes, behind "No Award".
|No.||Title||Paperback release date||Paperback ISBN||Hardcover release date||Hardcover ISBN||Audio release date||Audio CD ISBN||MP3 CD ISBN||Audio length|
|1||Storm Front||April 1, 2000||0-4514-5781-1||November 6, 2000||0-4514-6197-5||July 2002||0-9657-2550-2||0-9657-2556-1||8h 1m|
|2||Fool Moon||January 1, 2001||0-4514-5812-5||July 1, 2008||0-4514-6202-5||April 30, 2003||0-9657-2552-9||0-9657-2558-8||10h 6m|
|3||Grave Peril||September 1, 2001||0-4514-5844-3||November 4, 2008||0-4514-6234-3||July 30, 2005||0-9657-2555-3||0-9657-2559-6||11h 59m|
|4||Summer Knight||September 3, 2002||0-4514-5892-3||July 7, 2009||0-4514-6275-0||March 31, 2007||0-9790-7492-4||0-9790-7493-2||11h 12m|
|5||Death Masks||August 5, 2003||0-4514-5940-7||November 3, 2009||0-4514-6294-7||October 29, 2009||0-1431-4519-3||—||11h 21m|
|6||Blood Rites||August 2, 2004||0-4514-5987-3||July 5, 2010||0-4514-6335-8||April 15, 2010||0-1424-2806-X||—||13h 11m|
|7||Dead Beat||May 2, 2006||0-4514-6091-X||May 3, 2005||0-4514-6027-8||April 15, 2010||0-1424-2807-8||—||15h 14m|
|8||Proven Guilty||February 6, 2007||0-4514-6103-7||May 2, 2006||0-4514-6085-5||April 30, 2009||0-1431-4473-1||—||16h 16m|
|9||White Night||February 5, 2008||0-4514-6155-X||April 3, 2007||0-4514-614-01||April 30, 2009||0-1431-4474-X||—||14h 13m|
|10||Small Favor||May 3, 2009||0-4514-6200-9||April 1, 2008||0-4514-6189-4||April 1, 2008||0-1431-4339-5||—||13h 50m|
|11||Turn Coat||March 3, 2010||0-4514-6281-5||April 7, 2009||0-4514-6256-4||April 30, 2009||0-1431-4472-3||—||14h 40m|
|12||Changes||March 11, 2011||0-4514-6347-1||April 6, 2010||0-4514-6317-X||April 15, 2010||0-1431-4534-7||—||15h 28m|
|13||Ghost Story||August 7, 2012||0-4514-6407-9||July 26, 2011||0-4514-6379-X||August 4, 2011||0-1424-2906-6||—||17h 52m|
|14||Cold Days||September 3, 2013||0-4514-1912-X||November 27, 2012||0-4514-6440-0||November 27, 2012||1-6117-6160-3||—||18h 50m|
|15||Skin Game||March 5, 2015||0-3565-0096-9||May 27, 2014||0-4514-6439-7||May 29, 2014||1-6117-6294-4||—||15h 49m|
|No.||Title||Release Date||Book ISBN||Audio CD ISBN||Contents|
|1–3||Wizard for Hire||March 2005||0-7394-5193-6||—||Storm Front, Fool Moon & Grave Peril|
|4 & 5||Wizard by Trade||March 2006||0-7394-6581-3||—||Summer Knight & Death Masks|
|6 & 7||Wizard at Large||October 2006||0-7394-7658-0||—||Blood Rites & Dead Beat|
|8 & 9||Wizard Under Fire||May 2007||0-7394-8344-7||—||Proven Guilty & White Night|
|—||Side Jobs||October 26, 2010||0-4514-6365-X||0-1424-2826-4||Eleven short stories|
|—||Brief Cases||June 5, 2018||0-4514-9210-2||—||Twelve short stories|
The first four audiobook versions are produced by Buzzy Multimedia Publishing, while the fifth Death Masks and following were all produced by Penguin Audio. Proven Guilty and White Night were released in April 2009 alongside Turn Coat. Death Masks was released November 2009, and Blood Rites and Dead Beat were released April 2010. The latest in the series is Skin Game which was released on May 27, 2014.
Butcher is currently planning for about twenty books in the "case files" of the series, to be capped by a further "big apocalyptic trilogy".
Debuting on January 21, 2007, the Sci Fi Channel TV adaptation starred Paul Blackthorne as the eponymous wizard. Harry's history in the series differed from that of the novels in several significant ways; his father, Malcolm Dresden, did not die from an aneurysm, but was instead murdered by Justin (named Morningway rather than DuMorne, and Harry's biological uncle). Bob is the spirit of a medieval wizard who, in punishment for using black magic to resurrect his life's love, is doomed to spend eternity inside his skull; he can manifest a human appearance outside the skull–but only within a short radius of the skull itself–and must return to the skull when ordered. In "What About Bob?", it is revealed he was also Dresden's primary magical teacher as a child.
Harry wears a magical "shield-bracelet" (and he also has the pentacle necklace, which makes an appearance in flashback scenes from "Bad Blood") that once belonged to his mother, and was given to him by his father. As a private investigator, Harry drives a Korean-War-era military Jeep instead of the infamous "Blue Beetle" VW Beetle of the novels (a change made based on actor Blackthorne's height and the difficulty of filming inside a VW Beetle, as well as the fact it would look more like a 'clown car' on video than a serious vehicle).
According to "Bad Blood", Harry was around 31 when he killed Justin, instead of 16 as in the novels; a Red Court vampire, Bianca, protected Harry while the High Council investigated Morningway's death. The two had a sexual relationship that does not exist in the books.
In the episode "What About Bob?", the events surrounding Justin's death at Dresden's hands are fully revealed: Only five years prior to the series Dresden discovered that Justin, using black magic, was responsible for the death of his father. Justin said that he did not kill Harry's mother, but he died before the truth could be divined. Dresden used thaumaturgy—in this case, a voodoo doll of sorts—to attack Justin, who fought back using his own magical ability. In the scuffle, Harry accidentally crushed the voodoo doll, causing Justin to die with a "circle-shaped crushing wound" around his heart.
The series was canceled by the SciFi Channel in August 2007. Efforts by fans still exist to bring the show back or find it a new home.
In October 2007, Jim Butcher announced on his website that Dabel Brothers would be producing a Dresden Files graphic novel series:
Working together with Dabel Brothers Productions, the Dresden Files are going to be translated into a graphic novel format. The current plan is to lay out the Dresden Files storyline at the rate of one of the novels every twelve to sixteen monthly issues, with occasional side-trips and independent stories thrown in. (Ever wonder what happened in Branson the month before Storm Front? How about what somebody saw in the lake in Minnesota between Storm Front and Fool Moon? Maybe I’ll get to tell those stories now! How cool is that?)
I will be assisting with the writing of the comics, and am also involved in the design and approval of the characters, art, tone, and so on. This is an actual hand-in-hand project in which I have full creative input and influence, and I’m friggin’ giddy about it. I mean, come on! Comic books!
The four-issue mini-series called Welcome to the Jungle, ran as a prequel to Storm Front from early to mid-2008. A compilation of that run was released as a hardcover graphic novel in October 2008. Storm Front was announced as the next adaptation, by the same creative team. The first issue was released in November 2008. Welcome to the Jungle was nominated for the first Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story.
Midway through the production of Storm Front, the title changed hands from Dabel Brothers to Dynamite Entertainment, causing a long gap between issues #5 and #6. Artist Ardian Syaf left the project to work for DC, and Brett Booth was brought in to finish the graphic novel. Issue #6 was slated for May 2010.
|1||Welcome to the Jungle||October 2008||Illustrated by Ardian Syaf. Published by the Dabel Brothers. Includes 12 pages of concept art. Prequel to Storm Front|
|2||Storm Front, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm||June 2009||Illustrated by Ardian Syaf. Published by the Dabel Brothers. Includes Restoration of Faith an eight-page comic from the Showcase 2009 Free Comic Book Day, originally published as a short story on Jim-Butcher.com.|
|3||Storm Front, Volume 2: Maelstrom||February 2011||Illustrated by Ardian Syaf and Brett Booth. Published by Dynamite Entertainment. Includes preview of "Fool Moon" and concept art.|
|4||Fool Moon, Volume 1||November 2011||Illustrated by Chase Conley. Published by Dynamite Entertainment.|
|5||Fool Moon, Volume 2||April 2012||Illustrated by Chase Conley. Published by Dynamite Entertainment.|
|6||Ghoul, Goblin||March 2013||Illustrated by Joseph Cooper. Published by Dynamite Entertainment. Set between Fool Moon and Grave Peril.|
|7||War Cry||June 2014||Illustrated by Carlos Gomez. Published by Dynamite Entertainment. Set after the events of Dead Beat.|
|8||Down Town||February 2015||Illustrated by Carlos Gomez. Published by Dynamite Entertainment. Set after the events of White Night and just before the short story "It's My Birthday, Too".|
|9||Wild Card||April 2016||Illustrated by Carlos Gomez. Published by Dynamite Entertainment. Set between Small Favor and Turn Coat.|
|10||Dog Men||2017||Illustrated by Diego Galindo. Published by Dynamite Entertainment. Set between Small Favor and Turn Coat.|
In January 2008, the project went into an early alpha phase of testing, and was in various beta testing phases throughout 2009. Pre-orders were opened up on April 4, 2010, and include immediate access to the pre-print PDF, dubbed the "Early Bird" version. Evil Hat released the game June 23–27, 2010, to coincide with Origins 2010. The RPG currently consists of three books, Volume One: Your Story, the core rule book, Volume Two: Our World, a text describing the game universe, and Volume Three: Paranet Papers, expanding both the rules (including minor revisions) and the game universe (in particular, the DF version of Las Vegas). The game, which uses a modified version of the FATE system, emphasizes narrative structure over simulation of magical physics. It allows players to play a wide variety of characters, ranging from an ordinary human such as Karrin Murphy or Gentleman Johnny Marcone to magic users like Harry Dresden or Molly Carpenter to powerful supernatural creatures along the lines of Thomas Raith, all in the same game, with all the players able to make a contribution. On release it won awards at the Origins Awards, the Golden Geek Awards, and the ENnies.
Evil Hat was working on a live-action version of the RPG, named Dresden Lives, but it was cancelled during beta testing.
In June 2017, Evil Hat Productions released a cooperative card game for 1-5 players called The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game after a successful Kickstarter campaign, where they raised $549,486 from an initial goal of $48,000. From the publisher "Play Harry Dresden and his friends as they take on the cases from the bestselling Dresden Files novels in the ultimate what-if scenario—what if Harry was on the scene with allies who weren’t there in the original story? The core game includes Harry, Murphy, Susan, Michael, and the Alphas and plays through the first five novels as well as Side Jobs, a random scenario generator based on the short story collection of the same name. Designs are already well underway for expansions featuring more series characters and more novels."  The art for the game is not screen grabs from the TV show, but is instead original artwork by Fred Hicks, Chris McGrath, and Tyler Walpole. The game seems to be fairly well received, with a rating of 7.2 out of 10 on Board Game Geek's site. The rating system is based on user ratings, with a minimum number of votes required, and is subject to change, although drastic change is uncommon. There are currently three expansions for this game, and two more slated to come out later in 2018.
In the novel Fated, the first Alex Verus book by Benedict Jacka, Verus comments, "I've even heard of one guy in Chicago who advertises in the phone book under 'Wizard,' though that's probably an urban legend."
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- Jacka, Benedict (1 February 2012). Fated. Ace Books. p. 3. ISBN 1937007294.