Butcher, Jim 1971–
Butcher, Jim 1971–
PERSONAL: Born October 26, 1971, in Independence MO; married; children: one son. Education: University of Oklahoma, B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Martial arts, including ryuku kempu, tae kwan do, gojo shorei ryu, and kung fu, horseback riding, fencing, singing, songwriting, films, live-action gaming.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Literary Agency, 160 West 95th St., Ste. 1B, New York, NY 10025.
CAREER: Writer. Has worked as horse wrangler, sales representative, restaurant manager; currently a computer support technician.
"DRESDEN FILES" SERIES; FANTASY NOVELS
Storm Front, Roc (New York, NY), 2000.
Fool Moon, Roc (New York, NY), 2001.
Grave Peril, Roc (New York, NY), 2001.
Summer Knight, Roc (New York, NY), 2002.
Death Masks, Roc (New York, NY), 2003.
Blood Rites, Roc (New York, NY), 2004.
Dead Beat, Roc (New York, NY), 2005.
"CODEX ALERA" SERIES; FANTASY NOVELS
Furies of Calderon, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Academ's Fury, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2005.
ADAPTATIONS: Evil Hat Productions adapted the "Dresden Files" series as a role-playing game. Several of Butcher's novels have been recorded as audiobooks.
SIDELIGHTS: Jim Butcher has written two fantasy series, the "Dresden Files," which is about a wizard working as a private investigator in Chicago, and the "Codex Alera" series, which features intrigue in a mythical kingdom reminiscent of the Roman Empire. He wrote the first entry in the former series, Storm Front, for a writing class and saw it rejected many times before it was finally published. Butcher has said he was inspired by characters as diverse as Sherlock Holmes, Merlin, and Spider-Man in creating Harry Dresden, the protagonist of the series. "I designed Harry to be someone who is basically your average urbanite male," he told SFSite.com interviewer Alisa McCune. "He has to pay his bills, feed his cat, go to work, worry about taxes, take showers and cook meals without the benefit of electricity and so on. Sure, he has access to Phenomenal Cosmic Powers, but his powers don't define who and what he is. First and foremost, I wanted Harry to be a human being."
Storm Front introduces this very human wizard, who hopes to make enough money to pay his back rent by taking on a missing-person case. However, he soon finds he is up against another wizard, an evil one who is killing people, and consequently becomes both a potential victim and a suspected perpetrator. Meanwhile, he is having trouble with the police and the Chicago mob. "Butcher deftly blends the fantasy and detective genres in this entertaining yarn," a Publishers Weekly reviewer commented of the audiobook edition of the novel. Also introduced in Storm Front are recurring characters such as Karrin Murphy, a Chicago police officer, and Bob, a talking skull who keeps Harry company. They return in Fool Moon, which has Harry investigating murders that appear to have been committed by werewolves. Harriet Klausner, in a critique for Writerspace.com, called the novel "a fast-paced fascinating noir thriller," and Harry a sharp-tongued, good-hearted, "maverick" hero unlike any other in fantasy literature.
In Grave Peril, the third entry in the series, ghosts and other supernatural creatures are wreaking havoc on Chicago, and they appear to have a special enmity toward Harry and his friends. A Publishers Weekly contributor praised Butcher's "vivid descriptions and colloquial dialogue" in this book, while Booklist reviewer Kristine Huntley dubbed Harry "a likable protagonist" and predicted that the story "will keep readers turning the pages." Don D'Ammassa added in Science Fiction Chronicle that Grave Peril is "a well written addition to a very nice series."
Further books in the series include Death Masks, which sees Harry trying to recover the Shroud of Turin from thieves while fending off vampires and other paranormal menaces. This book led Science Fiction Chronicle's D'Ammassa to remark that the Dresden books have "consistently mixed humor and mayhem with great success." In Booklist, Huntley noted that the series "continues to surprise and delight with its inventiveness and sympathetic hero." Blood Rites, involving Harry with more vampires and with the pornographic film industry, is "filled with sizzling magic and intrigue," Huntley observed in Booklist. Kate Savage, a contributor to SFReader.com, commented that in this book, as in the rest of the series, "Butcher strikes an amusing balance of originality and dark humor."
While continuing the "Dresden Files" series, Butcher began the "Codex Alera" series, which he described to McCune as "much more in the way of standard horse-and-sword fantasy." The first book, Furies of Calderon, portrays troubled times in the land of Alera, whose elderly king has no heir. The king's spies suspect there is a plot to overthrow the monarch. During the investigation, beautiful female spy Amara meets Tavi, a young man frustrated because, unlike many people in Alera, he has not been able to develop magical powers. Assisting Amara, Tavi becomes involved in the kingdom's power struggles. The book has "strong, likable characters and a graceful storytelling style," related Jackie Cassada in Library Journal. Frieda Murray, writing in Booklist, deemed it "a promising series launcher." A Publishers Weekly critic concluded that Butcher had done "a through job of world building" in this "absorbing fantasy," adding that the novel "bodes well for future volumes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of Grave Peril, p. 58; July, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of Death Masks, p. 1876; August, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of Blood Rites, p. 1912; October 1, 2004, Frieda Murray, review of Furies of Calderon, p. 42.
Bookwatch, December, 2004, review of Furies of Calderon.
Library Journal, September 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Furies of Calderon, p. 52.
Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2001, review of Grave Peril, p. 67; September 2, 2002, review of Storm Front (audiobook), p. 31; February 2, 2004, review of Fool Moon, p. 26; September 27, 2004, review of Furies of Calderon, p. 42.
Science Fiction Chronicle, April, 2001, Don D'Ammassa, review of Fool Moon, p. 38; December, 2001, D'Ammassa, review of Grave Peril, p. 49; June, 2003, D'Ammassa, review of Death Masks, p. 45; July, 2004, D'Ammassa, review of Storm Front and Fool Moon, p. 46; November, 2004, D'Ammassa, review of Furies of Calderon, p. 43.
AllSciFi.com, http://www.allscifi.com/ (March 28, 2005), Harriett Klausner, reviews of Fool Moon, Grave Peril, and Furies of Calderon.
Jim Butcher Web site, http://www.jim-butcher.com (March 28, 2005).
Phase Five Web site, http://www.bibliora.com/ (March 28, 2005), Chris Ely, interview with Butcher.
SFReader.com, http://www.sfreader.com/ (March 28, 2005), Kate Savage, review of Blood Rites.
SFSite.com, http://www.sfsite.com/ (July, 2004), Alisa McCune, interview with Butcher.
WizardsHarry.com, http://www.wizardsharry.com/ (March 28, 2005), "Jim Butcher."
Writerspace.com, http://www.writerspace.com/ (June, 2000), Laurie Shallah, review of Grave Peril; (January, 2001) Harriet Klausner, review of Fool Moon; (July, 2001) Harriet Klausner, review of Grave Peril.