Blood Rites

Blood Rites

The Dresden Files #6

by Jim Butcher
narrated by James Marsters
โ“… 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Flashback Friday: Storm Front

Storm Front

by Jim Butcher
narrated by James Marsters

8.0 hours
Storm Front is the first title in The Dresden Files and, introduces the audience to Harry Dresden, a practicing wizard in modern day Chicago, IL. Harry is tapped by Monica Sells to locate her missing husband and, the local police force’s Special Investigations unit has brought in Harry to consult ion a particularly gruesome homicide case wherein “magic’ is suspected of playing a part.

In February of 2010, the Yahoo! group, Sounds Like a Mystery (S.L.A.M.) discussed Storm Front. Because the discussion went forward on the premise that participants in the discussion had already listened to Storm Front, there are spoilers in the comments about characters and, I’ve marked out the passages below (“SPOILER ALERT” and “END SPOILER ALERT.”) The following comments were drawn from the discussion (02/20-23/2010):

> I listened to this first a couple of years ago and again a couple of weeks ago. I LOVE this audio! James Marsters’ delivery is excellent, conveying the idea that he IS Harry Dresden and overcomes some of the production issues (booth/mouth noise) and what I suspect is not-that-great writing. I’ve never been inclined to pick up the print, but I have no problem recommending the audio!

A twitter friend of mine pointed out that he thought the action scenes were rather drawn out but I countered that it was the equivalent of slo-mo (a la The Million Dollar Man) wherein the fast sequences needed to be slowed down so that the listener/reader could take in everything that was going on or; akin to when you are in an accident and even though it’s only taking a few seconds, it feels everything is going in slow motion. Moreover, I really hadn’t noticed it until he pointed it out so the argument that the action scenes were “too” anything was arguable!

I think many people are wary of starting The Dresden Files titles because the assumption is that they are freaky paranormal, but The Dresden Files somehow seems to emphasize the “normal” in “paranormal” and make the fantastic believable.

********** SPOILER ALERT **********

> Maybe I watch too much TV, but anymore, when two story-arcs are introduced, I’m not surprised to learn that it’s really one plot. Early in the novel, Victor Sells is introduced as a person of interest (as the missing persons case) so I figured he was involved somehow in the Tommy Tomm homicide. What I hadn’t figured on was that Victor Sells would turn out to be the arch-nemesis of the story. I had mistakenly figured he was a high-ranking pawn, but a pawn nonetheless, to a more powerful figure. I think when I first listened to Storm Front, I thought he might even become instrumental in bringing the bad guy down.

I was also surprised in Monica Sellsโ€™ complicity. While I understand her motives in seeking assistance, I was chagrined that she would withhold information that could have helped her. Harry wasn’t very good at persuading her to “help him help her;” but since she was the one who initiated contact, he shouldn’t have to have been.

This read very much like a first-in-series novel wherein the characters were being very carefully described, for use now, and later. As for the main characters I have to say that I love Harry and Bob. Of course, despite the descriptions given in the book, I imagine Harry Dresden to look like Spike (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Bob to look like Terrance Mann (“Bob” in the TV series, The Dresden Files!) Hey, it works for me!

I find Gentleman Johnny Marcone very interesting. The scene in which Harry and Marcone were soulgazing leads me to think there is Marcone will develop into an even more interesting character. I like Susan Rodriguez too. She just seems like fun. I actually don’t care too much for Karin Murphy, as I’ve never really had much truck with people who only see things as black and white. Her indifference to Harry’s reluctance to pursue checking out how a spell was to be worked, her demands for results (tantamount to ordering him to solve the case for her,) on deadline no less and, her attempt to arrest him (showing a distinct lack of faith,) were off-putting.

********** END SPOILER ALERT **********

> I’m rating this an “A-” and promoting it into my Parthenon of Favorite Audiobooks. It held up very well on the re-listen! I have the next three (Full Moon, Grave Peril and Summer Knight) on my iPod and plan on listening to them after I finish with the Geographic/USA Challenge.

Death Masks (#5) is on my audible wishlist and I may dnload it this year, but I probably won’t listen to it until next year as I gotta lotta stuff on the backlog list! Titles #6 & #7 have yet to be produced. If they never are, then I may very well stop at #5 since I’m not particularly interested in reading these books in print and; I may have reached my limit in the series anyway. Titles #8-11 have been produced in audio but I really don’t want to skip titles to get there.

The only other thing I see that James Marsters has done in audio is take part in a performance of The Importance of Being Ernest (by Oscar Wilde.) It has one five-star rating but no reviews. I don’t know about that.

[Ultimately, Storm Front‘s production issues and suspect writing had me reconsider Storm Front from inclusion in my Personal Pantheon of All-Time Great Audiobooks; though it and The Dresden Files remains a guilty pleasure ๐Ÿ™‚ All twelve titles in the series have been produced and are available. I did go on to listen to The Importance of Being Ernest (by Oscar Wilde as well as Death Masks (#5 in the series.)

Other Stuff: I purchased an MP3-CD of Storm Front from Buzzy Multimedia

Death Masks

Death Masks

The Dresden Files, #5

by Jim Butcher
narrated by James Marsters
11.35 hours
Death Masks is the fifth title in The Dresden Files series which features the only practicing wizard in present-day Chicago, Harry Dresden. In Death Masks, three plot lines bump against each other in a tale in which everyone seems to be out to get Harry one way or another:
  • The Red Court’s war against The Wizard’s Council continues in its vehemence. A duel is set up between the vampire Ortega and Harry at Wrigley Stadium. At stake is Harry’s life and perhaps the end of the war itself;
  • Harry is hired to recover a relic, nothing less than The Shroud of Turin! Harry and his friends, The Knights of the Sword, set out to track down The Shroud, the thieves, a few demons and, not lose Harry’s soul in the process and;
  • Harry’s erstwhile but very sexy girlfriend returns to Chicago ostensibly just to pick up a few things before leaving for good. Her love for Harry, combined with her sensuality and her newly developed fighting skills create an agonizing temptation for Harry.
There are some things that Jim Butcher does very well, namely create great, believable characters, write with humor and, provide plenty of action in any given plot. What Jim Butcher does not do well is pay attention to details with the result that there are always a couple of continuity errors that distract from the story.
James Marsters has spent years narrating and developing the The Dresden Files characters and is clearly in sync with the writer’s intent and style. This audio was recorded out-of-order from the rest of the series (at the same time a later title in the series was recorded) and the result is that James Marsters’ narration, from practice and experience far beyond the Buzzy Multimedia years, brings a polished performance to Death Masks. The production quality is cleaner than in the first four titles in The Dresden Files series (Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril and Summer Knight) as well. Issues like booth noises and mispronunciations have been eliminated. Overall, James Marsters’ narration transcends Jim Butcher’s writing, creating an experience best suited for audio over the print.
Other Stuff: I purchased a digital dnload copy of Death Masks from

This book also qualifies for the What’s in Name? Challenge #4 hosted at BethFishreads. Death Masks is an audiobook with [a life stage] in the title, “Death.”

This book also qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. Death Masks is set in Chicago, IL.

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