On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington #1)

Published Post author

On Basilisk Station Book Cover On Basilisk Station
Honor Harrington
David Weber
Sci-fi
Baen Books
April 1992
Paperback
458

Honor Harrington in trouble: Having made him look the fool, she's been exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace and set up for ruin by a superior who hates her. Her demoralized crew blames her for their ship's humiliating posting to an out-of-the-way picket station. The aborigines of the system's only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens. Parliament isn't sure it wants to keep the place; the major local industry is smuggling, the merchant cartels want her head; the star-conquering, so-called "Republic" of Haven is Up to Something; and Honor Harrington has a single, over-age light cruiser with an armament that doesn't work to police the entire star system.

But the people out to get her have made one mistake.

They've made her mad!

 

On Basilisk Station was a heck of a way to kick off a series. While it may not be the #1 military sci-fi series I have read, it certainly competes with others at the top of the list. The first thing that sticks out is its relatability. Despite being centuries of the future in space, On Basilisk Station shares many similarities with older stories of wooden ships with soldiers, sailors, and pirates. David Weber accomplishes this in a few different ways. One of which is the sci-fi technology, which forces ship-to-ship combat to resemble ocean warfare. Another is the cultural aspects of the space nations. And of course, the personalities of the central characters.

Many great sci-fi series have some unique bit of technology that makes them stick out. On Basilisk Station shows this via a combination of how the ships move and defend themselves. Each ship uses gravity waves generated above and below the ships as “sails” to move through space. These gravity alterations are so strong they also serve as shields against enemy fire. In a nutshell, it means ships have to be hit from the sides during combat. Just like in older naval stories. Weber came up with a unique explanation to play homage to 2D battles in a 3D environment using this technology.

Not many nations are mentioned in this first book alone, but the majority of them seem to be space versions of real countries. For example, the main protagonists are members of the Royal Manticore Navy. Manticore is heavily based on Great Britain with its government, culture, and military organization. Likewise, the antagonist nation the Republic of Haven is based on France. Weber provides explanations for these similarities within the story and it goes to show how even centuries later and light-years apart, history repeats itself.

Being the first book, On Basilisk Station focuses heavily on developing Honor Harrington’s character. Honor comes across as a bit of a Mary Sue, but her name also seems to be her doctrine. She is smart, loyal, courageous, and an upstanding military officer. That is not to say she is without flaws, she does have a temper, but her pros far outweigh her cons. This is inadvertently what leads into the plot as her skills and professionalism ends up angering a superior officer with a less developed sense of ethics. But throughout the story, Honor shows time and again that she can succeed even when set up as the underdog. I cannot wait to see what happens when she goes into a battle properly prepared.

July 14, 2019

The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle #2)

Published Post author

The Desert Spear Book Cover The Desert Spear
Demon Cycle
Peter V. Brett
Fantasy
Del Rey
April 13, 2010
Paperback
579

The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that prey upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind half-forgotten symbols of power.

Legends tell of a Deliverer: a general who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. But is the return of the Deliverer just another myth? Perhaps not.

Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the desert tribes into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar'Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons--a spear and a crown--that give credence to his claim.

But the Northerners claim their own Deliverer: the Warded Man, a dark, forbidding figure.

Once, the Shar'Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends. Now they are fierce adversaries. Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances forged, all are unaware of the appearance of a new breed of demon, more intelligent—and deadly—than any that have come before.

 

The Desert Spear puts a different spin on the standard tropes of fantasy writing. Going into this book, readers may assume the POVs will still to Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer from The Warded Man. Instead, much of this story focuses on Jardir, Arlen’s former friend from the beginning of the last book. A significant portion of The Desert Spear focuses on Jardir. Essentially his whole life is covered, from early childhood to the present day. That being said, it takes a while. Jardir’s backstory covers the first 200-ish pages of this book. It is a bit daunting, but the story continues in earnest from there.

Getting a sense of Jardir’s backstory benefits the audience twofold. Through his eyes, readers learn a lot more about Krasia’s culture. While it is reminiscent of the Middle East, there are some differences. We get to see the mindset of the only people left who still regularly fight the demons. Their history plays a large part in this, as does their sense of honor. Readers will learn why, despite his honor, Jardir betrayed Arlen. As well as whose actions besides Jardir’s manipulated these events and pushed Krasia north.

Jardir is not the only new POV in The Desert Spear either. Whereas The Warded Man had three POVs, this book kicks it up to eight. Most of these are familiar characters from the first book, but there are some new faces too. Despite all the new character development, it does not mean the original trio are on the backburner. This is the point in the story where the world starts to change. It started with Arlen but is growing as more and more people become involved. All their actions will soon change the world order across the five nations.

As the world starts to change, strife begins growing between the human nations. The first book did briefly mention some political turmoil between the countries. But new events are starting to scale those conflicts from political turmoil to military action. Even in a world where monsters hunt men every night, people still fight among themselves. And that is not to say that the demons are standing idle either. As the first book’s epilogue showed us, some demons are more than powerful animals. They are intelligent, watching, and prepared to ensure humanity does not become a threat. Time will tell to what extent humans and demons alike are successful.

July 7, 2019

Men In Black: International

Published Post author

Poster for the movie ""

Men in Black: International

The universe is expanding

20191 h 55 min
Overview

The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest, most global threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.

Metadata
Director F. Gary Gray
Runtime 1 h 55 min
Release Date 12 June 2019
Details
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

Wow, Thor and Valkyrie got into some zany adventures in that 5-year time skip during Endgame. Or maybe this is one of those alternate timelines they accidentally-maybe-probably created. Jokes aside though, Men in Black: International was a just a fun movie. Is this going to win any awards? Heck no. Was it a fun summer film to see on discount night at my local theater? You bet it was. If you are a person who wants every movie they see to be on par with films like Inception or Schindler’s List, turn back now. That is not what this film is, that is not what it was trying to be, that is not what it claims to be. It is a fun summer romp, nothing more and nothing less.

For starters, audiences do not need to have seen the previous Men in Black films to understand this one. There are a fair number of references to the old films, but nothing essential. All you need to know is that there is a secret agency that deals with aliens on Earth. That is really the only pre-requisite information here. So long as you are prepared for a casual summer movie (think Hancock), Men in Black: International will be a good time.

Let us take a look at the plot of the film. The general premise is that a bad alien wants the MacGuffin and if they get it, Earth will be destroyed. So…the same plot as the first three MiB movies, got it. Not that there is anything wrong with that. If it works, it works. And clearly, the MiB agency should be used to these situations by now. With the plot being so basic, the essence of the film really boils down to the writing and characters.

This movie is on the sillier side of things. Think Chris Hemsworth in Cabin in the Woods, not Chris Hemsworth as Thor. While many of the jokes are on the more light-hearted side, the film does not shy away from adult themes. Yes, this is a PG-13 film. But a PG-13 film today does not have the same standards as one made in the late ’90s. There is innuendo, there is cursing, and there are enough of these things that Men in Black: International could not quite be called a family movie. None of these things are subtle enough for kids to not catch them. For teenagers and up though (people who actually fit the PG-13 rating given by the Motion Picture Association of America), it is a great way to killing an evening this summer.

June 30, 2019

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1: Deus lo Vult

Published Post author

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1: Deus lo Vult Book Cover The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1: Deus lo Vult
The Saga of Tanya the Evil
Carlo Zen
Light Novel
Yen On
December 19, 2017 (USA); October 31, 2013 (Japan)
Paperback
344

High above the blood- and mud-soaked trenches, a young girl pits herself against army mages in high stakes aerial duels with bullets, spells, and bayonets. Her name is Tanya Degurechaff and she is the Devil of the Rhine, one of the greatest soldiers the Empire has ever seen! But inside her mind lives a ruthless, calculating ex-salaryman who enjoyed a peaceful life in Japan until he woke up in a war-torn world. Reborn as a destitute orphaned girl with nothing to her name but memories of a previous life, Tanya will do whatever it takes to survive, even if she can find it only behind the barrel of a gun!

 

For a light novel, The Saga of Tanya the Evil focuses less on “light” and more on “novel”. Unlike most other light novels, these books are not quick reads. This series reads at the same pace as a regular novel with an equivalent page count. Readers who have watched the anime will notice the books start a little differently. The anime begins with a flashforward before going back and explaining previous events. The book, on the other hand, presents the information chronologically (for the most part). While reading this first volume, keep in mind the book’s title Deus Io Vult is the Catholic motto “God wills it” that was popular during the Crusades.

The structure of Deus Io Vult is a bit difficult to follow. New readers may have trouble picking up on Tanya’s circumstances in this strange new world. Tanya’s story starts in our world as a middle-aged Japanese salaryman. The circumstances of his death lead to reincarnation on an alternate Earth. As a baby girl. In a country that is essentially pre-WWI Germany. And (s)he grows up just in time to join the military just as the war starts kicking off. Gender pronouns are actually tricky with Tanya, as (s)he is physically female but still thinks of him/herself as a man.

Anyway, every good isekai (trapped in another world) series has something different that makes it stand out. In this case, it is the story being in the military genre. Most other isekai series take place in standard fantasy worlds with knights, wizards, and so forth. While magic does exist in this world, they are still on the level of WWI technology. Magic is just used to amplify that technology. For example, a magic-charged rifle bullet could have increased explosive force, allowing it to function as a mortar shell. The series presents a very unique mix of magic and not-quite-modern technology.

The writing style here is a bit clunky. There is a lot of detail in the world-building and story, making the book long-winded for a light novel. Tanya also frequently makes real-world references, with cliff notes at the bottoms of pages for readers unfamiliar with those topics. Overall, this is one of the better light novel series out there, especially for readers interested in military history. It is different from most other light novel series, so people looking for a quick read might be turned off. If you are on the fence for this one, I highly recommend checking out the anime first.

June 23, 2019

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Vol. 2

Published Post author

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Vol. 2 Book Cover That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Vol. 2
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
FUSE
Light Novel
Yen On
April 24, 2018 (English); August 30, 2014 (Japanese)
Paperback
304

37-year-old Satoru Mikami got a new lease on life when he was reincarnated into another world...as a slime named Rimuru Tempest. But with the help of his wits, his newfound powers, and a little luck, he's started building a cross-species village of goblins, direwolves, and dwarves! Rimuru doesn't know it yet, but his arrival is bringing major changes to his new world...

 

Volume 2 of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime picks up shortly after Volume 1 ended. For anyone watching the anime, episodes 9 – 15 cover Volume 2. Things have calmed down a bit since the battle at end of Volume 1. In the meantime, Rimuru and the villagers have continued to expand their home. Until, of course, something bad happens. A small skirmish marks the prelude to war, with Rimuru and allies both new and old preparing for a confrontation against a massive army consuming everything in its path.

The world-building is as substantial in this Volume as the first one. We start to see more of the Forest of Jura as well as neighboring lands. This involves nearby human nations as well as monster communities. The concept of naming monsters is really hammered home here, more so than in the first book. Names increase a monster’s magic, which in turn improves them physically. It is a literally life-changing phenomenon that only a select few are normally granted. Rimuru naming every friendly monster he comes across builds instant loyalty and fosters the growth of their town.

Naming plays a big part in this book’s characterization, something else heavy in the story. Volume 2 introduces a lot of characters who become major players for the rest of the series. From the ogres on the front cover to the races involved in the war and shadowy villains lurking behind the scenes. Monsters normally do not get along but against this new threat and under Rimuru’s flag, things are changing. While Rimuru views himself as a normal guy, he puts himself in a position of leadership as his actions begin to change the world for the better.

Compared to Western novels, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime has the feel of a YA book. The age rating on the back says 14+ and that is pretty accurate. There are some darker themes in this second book, but nothing horribly descriptive. Comparatively, it is about on par with a Rick Riordan book. While by no means a great work of literature, these books are just fun. Nothing in here comes across as flawless or perfect, but the story and characters are just fun. This is by far one of the better light novel series out there and its light-hearted nature makes it a good choice for people just getting started on the isekai genre.

June 16, 2019

The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 1

Published Post author

The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 1 Book Cover The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 1
The Rising of the Shield Hero
Aneko Yusagi
Light Novel
One Peace Books
September 15, 2015 (English); August 22, 2013 (Japanese)
Paperback
336

Naofumi Iwatani, an uncharismatic Otaku who spends his days on games and manga, suddenly finds himself summoned to a parallel universe! He discovers he is one of four heroes equipped with legendary weapons and tasked with saving the world from its prophesied destruction. As the Shield Hero, the weakest of the heroes, all is not as it seems. Naofumi is soon alone, penniless, and betrayed. With no one to turn to, and nowhere to run, he is left with only his shield. Now, Naofumi must rise to become the legendary Shield Hero and save the world!

 

The Rising of the Shield Hero is a popular topic among anime fans right now. The anime had me hooked fast, so I decided to pick up the books as well. This is part of the “isekai” genre, where characters are trapped in another world. Naofumi, the titular Shield Hero, and three other individuals are sent into a fantasy world against their will. While they are not sucked into a video game, this new world works on RPG video game rules. To return home, they must fight and defeat a threat known as the Waves of Destruction.

Now there are a couple of things Rising of the Shield Hero does differently. These are all factors that make it stick out from other, similar stories. First off, the main character is not overpowered or some kind of genius savant. Just the opposite, in fact, he starts off underpowered compared to the other heroes. More than that, without spoiling anything specific, Naofumi gets emotionally destroyed early in the story. He goes from being a happy, average young man to a darker, more cutthroat personality. While at the core he is a decent person, his outlook on the world changes drastically and affects him psychologically.

At the start of the story, some of the characters are a bit bland. However, they do develop in the later books as we start to see more of their histories and motivations. Aside from Naofumi, his partner Raphtalia is really the only one with significant development in the first book alone. But like many first books in any series, there is a lot of world-building in this volume. Initial world-building is critical but does take up page space. Being told from Naofumi’s point-of-view, Rising of the Shield Hero teaches readers about this new world as Naofumi learns these things himself.

Since this story is from Naofumi’s point-of-view, there are some scenes in the anime that are more fleshed out. Details Naofumi learns of later in the books are sometimes shown when events initially happen in the books. On the flipside, the books do have details left out of the anime. In the beginning, these are little things, like more detailed explanations of how magic works. In later volumes, there is more information left out, but that is neither here nor there for this first volume. If you like “trapped-in-another-world” stories or fantasy in general, Rising of the Shield Hero is highly recommended.

June 9, 2019

Overlord, Vol. 10: The Ruler of Conspiracy

Published Post author

Overlord, Vol. 10: The Ruler of Conspiracy Book Cover Overlord, Vol. 10: The Ruler of Conspiracy
Overlord
Kugane Maruyama
Light Novel
Yen Press
May 21, 2019 (English); May 30, 2016 (Japanese)
Hardcover
336

After establishing the Kingdom of Darkness, Ainz is determined to turn it into a utopia-a place where many races and creatures can all enjoy unending prosperity. His first step toward his ultimate goal is the expansion of the Adventurers Guild and training of adventurers themselves, which leads him to pay a visit to the Empire! Elsewhere, the regional leaders have been unsettled by the sudden appearance of the Kingdom of Darkness and are quickly plotting their own ways to deal with the upstart nation... Ainz's first actions as ruler of an immortal kingdom have only just begun!

 

The Ruler of Conspiracy picks up shortly (a few weeks) after the end of the previous book. For anime viewers, this book takes place just after the third season ended. This book focuses almost entirely on Ainz, which was refreshing. As Overlord as progressed, Ainz has received less and less facetime despite being the main protagonist. While it is nice to see other characters as more than background decorations, too much time was being taken away from Ainz to do so. The Ruler of Conspiracy focuses primarily on Nazarick’s efforts on establishing their new nation as a recognized world power.

Having been a salaryman in his previous life, Ainz takes a corporate mindset towards running his country. His thought process heavily involves evaluating resources as well as losses/gains. While his minions have no issue using unethical tactics or direct military force, Ainz puzzles out (relatively) peaceful solutions. Or stumbles into them. Since most The Ruler of Conspiracy is from Ainz’s POV, readers are reminded that he is a normal guy. He commands great military power but intellectually he is fairly average. Most of his opponents do overestimate his intellect and trip themselves up, assuming coincidences were actually brilliant tactical maneuvers.

Perhaps due to his experience as a businessman, Ainz is a master of “fake it til you make it”. His magical power impresses the heck out of people. As does his unconventional use of that magic. When other rulers observe him using monster minions powerful enough to single-handedly destroy countries as guards and manual labor, they are more than a little shocked. Due to his power and influence, everyone around Ainz makes a lot of assumptions. And once aware of those assumptions, Ainz just rolls with it. “Yes, that was my plan all along!” No one has the gall to call him out and realize he is full of baloney.

The plot in this volume is two-fold. One part deals with Ainz establishing diplomatic relations with the Empire. The other deals with Albedo doing the same thing in the Kingdom. Inadvertently, both these actions also affect the Sorcerer Kingdom’s relationship with the Theocracy, the third nearby nation. The Ruler of Conspiracy also starts to mention other nations that are not in the immediate area more heavily. The book mentions there is another nation Demiurge is dealing with while this book ends with Ainz preparing to leave for another nation entirely. It seems that as of this volume, Nazarick’s goal of world conquest is truly underway.

June 2, 2019

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

20191 h 24 min
Overview

Batman, Batgirl and Robin forge an alliance with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to fight against the Turtles' sworn enemy, The Shredder, who has apparently teamed up with Ra's Al Ghul and The League of Assassins.

Metadata
Director Jake Castorena
Runtime 1 h 24 min
Release Date 31 March 2019
Details
Movie Media DVD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

As a kid, I remember imagining crossovers between heroes from my favorite cartoons. While I am not sure Batman and Ninja Turtles are ones I ever mixed together, I am happy to see the combination as an adult. For starters, this film really mixed the two series together well. It had the dark broodiness of Gotham and Batman while at the same time maintaining the more light-hearted and comedic tone of the Turtles. Some scenes are Batman being classic, serious Batman. Others are the Turtles goofing off, like when they openly question why Gotham and New York are so similar.

For the villains, we have Shredder mixed with Ras Al Ghul. The Foot Clan allied with the League of Assassins. Ras was his usual self, but in this film, Shredder was more impressive. Thankfully, this is a serious Shredder along the lines of the 2012 Turtles show instead of his goofy 80’s counterpart. This is a Shredder who can take all four Turtles in a fight. And face off against Batman to a standstill. As fun as goofy 80’s Shredder was for his time, the character comes off better as a true villain. Especially in a more serious setting like Gotham.

Plot-wise, this movie is very simple. Apparently, this is based on a comic where a lot more happens. But for an 84-minute animated film, it does a good job. It is a classic tale of heroes stopping the baddies, which is really all you need here. This could have just as easily been a multi-part crossover episode between two different TV shows. And given that the target audience is children, it works. For a crossover like this, the focus is more the characters than anything else. There is never really any doubt that the heroes will save the day here. What we really want to see are the Batman family and Turtles onscreen together.

On the whole, this movie is just fun. If you like Batman and the Turtles (or even just one), it is worth it. If you like Batman and want to hear Troy Baker say the word “cowabunga”, it is extra worth it. For being a fun crossover and not a DC exclusive film, the animation was great too. It had a classic feel but still had a touch of modern animation techniques as well. While it is not a masterpiece of cinematography, there is nothing really “wrong” with this film. It is just a fun childhood dream come true.

May 26, 2019

The Warded Man (Demon Cycle #1)

Published Post author

The Warded Man (originally The Painted Man) Book Cover The Warded Man (originally The Painted Man)
Demon Cycle
Peter V. Brett
Fantasy
Random House (originally Harper Voyager)
March 23, 2010 (originally September, 2008)
Paperback
453

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise--demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards--symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human members dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

 

Many of the best fantasy stories are ones with some sort of unique plot hook. The driving force needs to be something more generic than “go slay the evil dragon”. Peter V. Brett hit that nail on the head by twisting an age-old concept into his own idea. Demons are real in this world, rising from the ground each and every night. Mankind’s only defense are walls protected by magical wards, whose own defenses are imperfect. But mankind was not always the prey and The Warded Man begins a tale of resurgence against their demon oppressors.

In a word: wow. The Warded Man just gets everything right. It does not show, at all, that this was Peter V. Brett’s first novel. This is the level of work typically seen of authors with decades of experience under their belts. The world-building here is absolutely beautiful. Brett guides viewers into the state of the world despite all the history humanity has lost after centuries of demon attacks. The rediscovery of some of this lost knowledge is extremely important to the plot. Even still, enough rocks are left unturned that they can be revealed in the later books.

But as simple yet engaging as the story and world-building is, the Demon Cycle is ultimately about the characters. The Warded Man bounces between three different perspectives as the main trio is slowly brought together. Stretching from early childhood into adulthood, readers see how people live in this demon-infested world. How some people are broken by it while others fight tooth and nail against it. Not to mention how people will play politics and can be as monstrous as the creatures lurking outside their wards. This first book gives us Brett’s world as it is while the other novels will show how it changes.

If something bad had to be said about The Warded Man, it would be the slow start. Aside from the occasional demon, a lot of what happens in the beginning is slice-of-life stuff. The opening of the book pours the soft clay of the main three protagonists while the rest of the story molds them. This first entry in the Demon Cycle series is letting readers know who these people are and why. As the series continues, the new hardships they face will either reshape or shatter them. Only time will tell. But either way, it is going to be a wild ride.

May 19, 2019

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files #2)

Published Post author

Fool Moon Book Cover Fool Moon
The Dresden Files
Jim Butcher
Fantasy
Roc
January 9, 2001
Paperback
401

Harry Dresden--Wizard
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn't been able to dredge up any kind of work--magical or mundane.

But just when it looks like he can't afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.

A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses--and the first two don't count...

 

Harry Dresden is back for his second adventure as Chicago’s top and only private investigator wizard. In my review of the first book, I mentioned a friend convinced me to give this series a shot. That same friend warned me that Fool Moon and book #3 do not hold up to Storm Front. But that the series does pick back up again if you stick with it for a bit. That being said, do not go into Fool Moon with the expectations set by Storm Front. If anything, be happy the series only skimmed shark-infested waters instead of jumping over those sharks this early on.

So, back to the modern-day pulp fiction at hand. Fool Moon was early in Jim Butcher’s career and that “budding author” writing style is apparent here. The characters are a bit 2D in this story, swaying towards being tropes instead of people. Some of them are almost insufferable, particularly Harry and Murphey’s currently strained relationship. The new bad guys were pretty staple villains, although Marcone pops up again and remains interesting. But while the characterization is a bit plain in that “developing talent” sense, other aspects of the story improve.

The mystery the plot revolves around is much more fleshed out in Fool Moon. This time around it is a murder mystery, with multiple suspects and twists and turns as more evidence is uncovered. And while Fool Moon can be read as a standalone story, an overarching plot starts to develop here. We start to learn a bit more about Harry’s past, including things Harry himself was unaware of. The epilogue also works on pushing the main plot forward; while a series of “adventure of the week” stories can work, the Dresden Files would probably not be as popular as it is if it had the same structure and pacing as a 90s sci-fi/fantasy TV show.

Another key thing here is this book showcasing just how powerful Harry is as a wizard. The first book mentions it but it is more explained than shown. This time around, we get a show-of-force example of how crazy powerful Harry can be when he needs to be. It is always fun to see the protagonist be a badass.

On the whole, this was a good book. Not great, but good. And if this level of quality qualifies as a “bad” book in the Dresden Files series, the great ones should be pretty phenomenal.

May 12, 2019