Short Looks at Long Series: Dresden Files and Parasolverse

There’s no getting around it: Some of us could use something new to read to keep us busy for a while. With that in mind, I’m going to do my best to recommend long series I know to be worth reading. Here’s two to start us off!

The Dresden Files

by Jim Butcher

First book to read: Storm Front

Series so far: 15 books, next one out out in June (Peace Talks), 2 short story collections (Side Jobs and Brief Cases), some graphic novel side stories that aren’t essential

Series run: Supposed to be twenty novels and then a trilogy to cap it off, aside from short stories.

In this titan of urban fantasy, Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden (his father was a stage magician and his mother wasn’t alive to argue over the name) is Chicago’s first professional wizard. He’s even in the phonebook under “Wizard.” The series has a rougher start, it’s a little grittier, but it’s not a bad read at all, and at book 4 the series really hits its stride. Part of this is Harry goes from being “a guy trying to look out for himself forced to do good” to “openly and admittedly a good guy who’s going to get out there and do what he can to protect people, because it’s the right thing to do.”

Characters (And characterization) tend to be really strong–Michael and Karrin grow to be two of my favorites because they’re both people who definitely try to do the right thing and this is presented as a strength of theirs, not a weakness, and one of the benefits of the short stories are stories set in another character’s point of view, and you find out Jim Butcher writes Harry’s narration–but Harry is not Jim Butcher. 

Strengths: Really strong internal logic, really good characters, overarching plot that is only just now becoming apparent. And it’s an ongoing series with the new book (Peace Talks) out in June. 

Harry Dresden rides a zombie t-rex down the street in the rain. Bottom of the picture says "POLKA WILL NEVER DIE"
This is an actual scene from one of the books. Harry rides a zombie T-rex with a man in a polka suit riding behind him–and everything about this makes sense when you reach the scene. That is how strong the settings rules and internal coherency are.

Downsides: The first three books are definitely not as polished as everything after that. First-person narration by Harry may be annoying to some people. 


By Gail Carriger

Series so far: The Parasol Protectorate, Finishing School, The Custard Protocol, side stories

Where to start: Soulless

This is a fun one. The Parasolverse consists of three connected series set in an alternate Victorian world circa 1870 where aether is a thing, as are vampires and werewolves–and they’re both considered members of high society. Each novel in the Parasol Protectorate is written in the form of a Victorian novel genre–the first is a romance, the second is a locked room mystery, third is an adventure story and so on.

In the Parasol Protectorate, Alexia Tarabotti has no soul. This is a terrible social scandal, not to mention contact with vampires and werewolves renders them mortal for the duration of contact. The problem is, an organization wants to study this and how she interacts with vampires and werewolves–and her interactions with vampires and werewolves are already complicated enough.

Titles: Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, Timeless

The Finishing School series is more YA-oriented and excellently written (my favorite of the set, actually), set 20 or so years before the Parasol Protectorate, where young girls attend a school that teaches them the manners and ways of a refined lady, AND spycraft, gadgetry, combat skills, and assassination.

Sophronia is from a moderately wealthy family, but they aren’t sure what to do with her inquisitive and mechanically inclined nature until she gets an invite to attend Madame Geraldine’s Finishing School.

Titles: Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies, Waistcoats & Weaponry, Manners & Mutiny

There’s a third series, the Custard Protocol, set 20 or so years after Parasol Protectorate, and I’m not telling you what it’s about, that would be spoilers, read the earlier ones and work up to it.

Titles: Prudence, Imprudence, Competence, Reticence.

Upside: Funny, human, quirky, and lower-stress reading, strong female characters.

Downside: Not everyone is into alternate-history fantasy/science-fiction mashups.

How to Purchase

Most of the books mentioned above are linked directly to our website where you can purchase for curbside, delivery or shipping. However, if we’re sold out, or you live out of town and would like them shipped, you can use our 3rd part supplier who will ship them to you (but will give us a commission)

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