The Dresden Files is an Urban Fantasy series by Jim Butcher with a total of 17 published books and a host of short stories, graphic novels, and novellas as of the time of this writing. With so many books it’s understandable to wonder, what is the best Dresden Files book order?
The short answer is that it depends on how much you already know about Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden.
Following the Year of Dresden to celebrate the 20th anniversary of everyone’s favorite, and only, wizard-for-hire in the Chicago yellow pages, established fans of the series are understandably champing at the bit for the next book. That year, 2020, saw back-to-back publications and epic — albeit tragic — events unfold within Harry’s life.
So, if you’re looking for a new way to reread the series as you wait for the next book, we have you covered. Likewise, if you’ve just discovered this series, we’ll tell you everything you need to know and where to begin.
What is The Dresden Files?
Before we dive into the two Dresden Files reading orders, it is helpful to understand a little bit more about Jim Butcher, Harry Dresden, and the origins of this bestselling series.
The first book, Storm Front, was written in 2000 and the push to begin the manuscript came about from a challenge that Jim Butcher had made for himself. He was attempting to prove to a college professor, who’d published more than 40 books, that her methods for writing a book wouldn’t produce a publishable manuscript.
Instead of proving her wrong, the opposite was true and The Dresden Files was born.
After reading the first two chapters of that first draft, the professor asked Butcher to deliver an outline for the rest of the book. Instead, he returned with the outline for a 20-book series. Anyone who has already read the books won’t be surprised by this, with how much larger in scope and scale the series has become.
Currently, Butcher plans on 25 books in the series. There will be 22 books along the same lines as the present ones, then one epic, double-length apocalyptic trilogy. However, it is unclear how Peace Talks and Battle Ground may affect this plan, since those books were initially supposed to be one.
Who is Jim Butcher?
The stubbornness and plucky behaviour that led to the publication of Storm Front defines Jim Butcher just as much as it does his most popular character Harry Dresden. Butcher says that his love of science fiction and fantasy began at a young age. While he was recovering from strep throat his older sister introduced him to the Lord of the Rings and The Han Solo Adventures.
It began a lifelong love affair.
Butcher says that he became a writer because he wanted to read a particular story that no one was writing, so he wrote it himself. Of course, like all good things, it took some time. He was 19 when he wrote his first book, which he says was awful, and the first Dresden book was published nearly a decade later.
In addition to classic SFF, an online role-playing game from the 1990s influenced the trajectory of his writing. AmberMUSH was a popular word-based RPG that drew aspiring writers and Butcher says it very much informed The Dresden Files. The game is based on The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny.
Other literary influences of Butcher’s include the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker and the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. In fact, there is one Parker book that Butcher says he will never read so that he always has one more. As well, Butcher initially wanted The Dresden Files to take place in Kansas City, but his mentor insisted he choose a different setting to stand out from Hamilton.
Butcher says the location of Chicago is one he stumbled onto through the process of elimination, but it’s a decision that has proven fruitful with its rich history and lore.
Who is Harry Dresden?
In creating Harry Dresden, Jim Butcher says that he mashed together classic wizards like Merlin and Gandalf with private detectives like Sam Spade and Spenser to create his own beloved character.
A turning point for Butcher was when he realized how similar wizards and private investigators are and how they function within the same role while just wearing different hats. Both wizards and private investigators are a threat because of what they know, more so than what they can do.
Part of Dresden’s charm is how he is so relatable. Butcher was very intentional about giving him everyday problems that a lot of readers can understand. While Dresden faces down corruption, mob bosses, and the faerie courts, at the beginning of the series he also struggles to pay rent and his car is constantly breaking down.
Just like Dresden, readers find themselves growing fiercely attached to his basement apartment and the Blue Beetle. Throughout the series readers watch as Dresden matures, grows, and overcomes, so as Dresden faces down tragedies and setbacks, the readers are emotionally right there beside him.
#1 The Dresden Files Book Order by Medium
This section lists The Dresden Files book order by medium. If you’re the sort of person who only likes full novels, not short stories or novellas, this list is for you.
The publication order of The Dresden Files full-length books matches the chronological timeline. So, this is the best way to experience the series as a first-time reader. That’s because this reading order will be the best introduction to the world without spoilers.
There are recurring characters throughout the series, as well as Dresden’s personal growth, that make following the publication order for the main books the best way to experience the series. However, if you’d prefer to see a complete Dresden Files book order that organizes the books, novellas, and short stories in chronological order, keep scrolling.
The Dresden Files Books in Order
- Storm Front (2000)
- Fool Moon (2001)
- Grave Peril (2001)
- Summer Knight (2002)
- Death Masks (2003)
- Blood Rites (2004)
- Dead Beat (2005)
- Proven Guilty (2006)
- White Night (2007)
- Small Favor (2008)
- Turn Coat (2009)
- Changes (2010)
- Ghost Story (2011)
- Cold Days (2012)
- Skin Game (2014)
- Peace Talks (2020)
- Battle Ground (2020)
- The Law (2022) (Novella)
- Twelve Months (TBA)
- Mirror Mirror (TBA)
The Dresden Files Short Stories
The following two books are short story collections that take place in The Dresden Files world. They collect all the short fiction Butcher wrote up until 2017.
The Dresden Files Graphic Novels
The following books are graphic novels collecting all of the comics written in a particular series. You could purchase the comics individually, but it’s easier (and cheaper) to get the completed collections listed below.
- Welcome to the Jungle (2008)
- Storm Front, Vol. 1 (2009)
- Storm Front, Vol. 2 (2009)
- Fool Moon, Vol. 1 (2011)
- Fool Moon, Vol. 2 (2013)
- Ghoul, Goblin (2013)
- War Cry (2014)
- Down Town (2015)
- Wild Card (2016)
- Dog Men (2018)
#2 The Complete Chronological Dresden Files Book Order
Of course, there is a second Dresden Files book order, which is the full chronological timeline including books, graphic novels, novellas, and short stories. This is only really recommended if you have already read the main books in the series and have a thorough understanding of this world.
This isn’t the best way to read the series for the first time, because you begin with a short story that Butcher admits is rough around the edges. Your best introduction to Harry Dresden and the world he inhabits, will be Storm Front.
However, if you’ve already read the main books and are looking to understand how all the extra stories slot into the overall timeline, this Dresden Files book order will be a great resource. This is the official timeline for the series, as best as possible.
- “Restoration of Faith” in Side Jobs (Short Story)
- Welcome to the Jungle (Graphic Novel)
- Storm Front
- Storm Front Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel)
- Storm Front Vol. 2 (Graphic Novel)
- Fool Moon
- Fool Moon Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel)
- Fool Moon Vol. 2 (Graphic Novel)
- Ghoul, Goblin (Graphic Novel)
- “B is for Bigfoot” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- Grave Peril
- Summer Knight
- Death Masks
- “A Vignette” in Side Jobs (Short Story)
- Blood Rites
- Dead Beat
- “I Was a Teenage Bigfoot” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- War Cry (Graphic Novel)
- “Something Borrowed” in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (Short Story)
- Proven Guilty
- White Night
- Down Town (Graphic Novel)
- “It’s My Birthday Too” in Many Bloody Returns (Short Story)
- Wild Card (Graphic Novel)
- “Heorot” in My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon (Short Story)
- Small Favor
- “Backup” in Side Jobs (Novella)
- “Day Off” in Side Jobs (Short Story)
- “The Warrior” in Side Jobs (Short Story)
- “Curses” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- “AAAA Wizardry” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- “Last Call” in Side Jobs (Short Story)
- Dog Men (Graphic Novel)
- Turn Coat
- “Bigfoot on Campus” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- “Even Hand” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- “Love Hurts” in Side Jobs (Short Story)
- Aftermath in Side Jobs (Short Story)
- Ghost Story
- “Bombshells” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- Cold Days
- “Cold Case” in Shadowed Souls (Short Story)
- Skin Game
- “Jury Duty” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- “Day One” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- “A Fistful of Warlocks” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- “Zoo Day” in Brief Cases (Short Story)
- Peace Talks
- Battle Ground
- “Little Things” in Heroic Hearts (Short Story)
- The Law (2022) (Novella)
- Twelve Months (TBA)
- Mirror Mirror (TBA)
When is the next Dresden Files book?
Jim Butcher has perfected the art of leaving readers on a massive cliffhanger, making fans desperate for a new book immediately.
Fantasy fans have also become expectant with publishing machines like Brandon Sanderson writing five manuscripts in one year like it’s nothing — on top of an already stacked publishing schedule. Butcher himself published his books like steady clockwork for more than a decade.
The first three Dresden Files books were written when he secured his publishing deal, but from 2000 until 2012, Butcher published at least one Dresden book a year. That pace slowed with the next book coming in 2014, before there was a six-year gap between the 15th and 16th book.
The long pause between publications had fans whispering comparisons to George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss. Their ever-elusive next book and bumped publication dates has made many fans jaded and fearful of an unfinished series.
That, however, does not appear to be case with The Dresden Files. Butcher continues to write, publish, and update the community. As well, Butcher has been incredibly open about his mental health and the writing hiatus he needed to take in the 2010s.
As of September 2023, Butcher is a quarter of the way through writing the manuscript of the 18th Dresden Files novel: Twelve Months. Many rumors have circulated about Butcher’s private life, but he continues to write and tour.
Butcher has also returned to his steampunk Cinder Spires series with two new upcoming publications. The first book in the series was published in 2015, but the sequel — The Olympian Affair — will publish in November 2023. He has also finished writing a novella which takes place between the two books, although there is no publication date yet.
So, hopefully, fans will have a publication date for Twelve Months soon.
Dresden Files Adaptations
Much to the chagrin of die-hard book fans, The Dresden Files was adapted into a SyFy television show which premiered in 2007. It stars Paul Blackthorne as Harry Dresden and Valerie Cruz as Lieutenant Murphy.
Many fans were disappointed by the large number of changes that took place to adapt the book series for the screen. One such example is the name change of Lieutenant Murphy. Karrin Murphy from the books became Connie Murphy in the show and the actress cast to portray her, while brilliantly talented, looks nothing like Jim Butcher’s description of Murphy from the books.
Even though some adaptations manage to survive massive changes from book-to-screen — Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time being a current example — The Dresden Files did not experience a similar fate. It was cancelled after one season of 12 episodes.
However, the rights for another adaptation were optioned by Fox21 Television Studios in the fall of 2018. It was said that a new TV show was in development with Butcher playing an active role in the project. However, there has been no news since 2018, so it is unclear what the future holds for a second Dresden Files adaptation.
The Dresden Files Book Order Summaries
Below you will find the summaries to all The Dresden Files books. Since this series is equally character- and plot-focused, there will be spoilers for the series as the books progress. So, proceed through these summaries cautiously if you’re just beginning or in the middle of this series so that you don’t spoil anything.
1. Storm Front
Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is the only wizard available for hire in the Chicago yellow pages. But it’s not a career that exactly pays well.
Often Harry ends up as a consultant for the Chicago P.D. when something supernatural crops up in the city. Storm Front finds Harry on the scene of a gruesome double homicide that has evidence of dark magic.
While this might mean a good payout for Harry, it also means that there is a dark wizard out there who knows his name.
2. Fool Moon
Despite the adventure of the previous book, things have slowed down considerably for Harry. As in, he’s getting nothing and things are starting to look dire.
But then under the light of a full moon a mangled body is discovered next to mysterious paw print. While it doesn’t take a wizard to figure out what this means, it will take Harry’s skill to track down this murderer.
3. Grave Peril
While Harry Dresden has had to face down a lot of supernatural terror in his time as a professional wizard-for-hire, he has never seen Chicago in its current state of disarray.
All across town there are ghosts causing havoc; the deadly, violent kind of havoc. It appears that something is purposefully instigating the spirits. Harry needs to get to the bottom of things, before he ends up dead.
4. Summer Knight
Desperate times call for desperate measures. That’s how Harry has found himself in this current situation.
Things have reached new lows, so when the Queen of the Winter Faerie Court approaches Harry with a deal, he can’t refuse. Figuring out who killed the Summer Knight and, more importantly, that it wasn’t the Winter Queen should be easy, right?
But in fae politics things are never as simple as they seem, and it’s not long before the pressure mounts.
5. Death Masks
Business for Harry is finally ticking along at an even pace, but nothing in Harry’s life can stay smooth and steady for long.
Not only is his ex-girlfriend back in the picture with a new beau at her side, but Harry is caught in the middle of the vampire and wizard war, the Shroud of Turin has gone missing, and the Chicago P.D. need his help in identifying a body that is missing its hands and head.
6. Blood Rites
Harry’s latest job finds him undercover on an adult film set, which should be more enjoyable than it ends up. That’s because the producer is adamant that women in his life are dying because of a curse on him.
Harry only took the job because Thomas asked him to, but Harry doesn’t understand why the vampire cares. Before he unravels the mystery, however, Harry’s life is going to change as he finds out more about Thomas’s family.
7. Dead Beat
Reeling from revelations in Blood Rites, Harry can’t catch a break in his personal or professional life. Necromancy and black magic are running rampant in Chicago, and Harry is the only one who might be able to save the day.
But only if he finds the Word of Kemmler. The problem is that he has no clue how to find it, or even what it is.
8. Proven Guilty
Even though Harry has found himself under suspicion of the White Council’s Wardens for years, becoming one is even worse. So when the White Council becomes his latest client, the stakes are high.
He must figure out why monsters from movies are running wild under his watch and then stop them. Failure isn’t an option when the White Council is concerned.
9. White Night
A murderer is killing lower-class practitioners who aren’t powerful enough to be full wizards. And he’s left Harry a message at one of his latest crime scenes.
As Harry begins to investigate, the evidence points to Thomas as the killer, which Harry can’t believe. As he tries to clear Thomas’s name, however, Harry comes under fire of the White Court.
In a fight against vampires the odds are terribly stacked against Harry, but failure isn’t an option.
10. Small Favor
One year without being the target of an attempted murder means Harry’s future is looking bright, but then the past comes knocking.
That’s because Mab, Queen of the Winter Faerie Court, is calling in an old favor. It is seemingly just a small favor, but it is one Harry cannot refuse. It’s an old debt that will place him between a rock and a hard place, and test him like never before.
11. Turn Coat
Harry finds a Warden of the White Council on his doorstep once more, which means things are about to become a lot more complicated.
That’s because Morgan is on the run with an accusation of treason barking at his heels. He needs someone in his corner who is willing to go to bat for an underdog and clear his name. Enter: Harry.
There is a traitor on the White Council that Harry must uncover without getting caught. But while he tries to keep his own neck safe, Harry must protect Morgan too.
As the title suggests, this is a massive turning point in the series. No matter how much you try to prepare for the changes, this book starts off like a rocket.
Once more the past has come knocking on Harry’s door. This time in the form of his former lover, Susan Rodriguez. Since she departed Harry’s life for South America though, she’s been keeping a secret.
When a member of the vampiric Red Court finds out her secret, they have no qualms about using it against Harry. The dark magic that has been simmering under the surface in Harry is about to be fully unleashed in this epic battle.
13. Ghost Story
The changes of the last book have left Harry in a bind. But despite being dead, with no magic and no body, Harry can’t escape his responsibilities for the city of Chicago and his friends.
There is black magic swirling around in the shadows, and Harry must execute the perfect magic trick. If he fails, his friends and his soul are at risk.
14. Cold Days
While Harry may be back from the dead, his troubles are only mounting. As the new Winter Knight, Harry must obey Mab’s every command. And the Queen of the Winter Court isn’t exactly known for being merciful.
Her first assignment for him is impossible. Mab tasks him with killing an immortal.
That isn’t Harry’s only problem though, because there is also a wealth of magic that is growing and threatening Chicago and the world alike. Harry might be back, but his soul is on the line like never before.
15. Skin Game
Harry’s latest assignment from Mab might just be the worst yet. It goes against every fiber and moral in his being. But as her right-hand man — or wizard — refusing the Winter Queen of the Fae isn’t an option.
So, Harry must help his enemy, Nicodemus Archleone, lead a band of villainous supernatural beings into the Nevernever. There they must steal the Holy Grail from Hades, located in his most secure vault, and somehow Harry must figure out a way to walk out of this alive.
16. Peace Talks
In an effort to save his city and the world as he knows it, Harry joins forces with the White Council once more. They are preparing to host a peace talk to end the current tensions in the supernatural world.
Harry must ensure things remain civil as part of the security team, but someone is manipulating things. Everything Harry holds dear is under threat and nothing will be the same again.
17. Battle Ground
The threat of battle can only linger in the air for so long. Eventually things must come to a head, which is exactly what happens in this book.
Battle Ground is just that; the city of Chicago erupts in a battle unlike anything Harry has ever seen before. The stakes are higher than ever and the villains larger than ever before. But Harry is still Harry, and he’s standing ready to meet his new foe head on.
Final thoughts on The Dresden Files book order
The Dresden Files are emotional, adventurous books that are as entertaining and humorous as they are uplifting. In the face of despair, Harry Dresden manages to defy the odds numerous times. Even while surrounded by ruin and wreckage, he manages to stand up and keep fighting.
Throughout the series Jim Butcher writes poignant lines about the meaning of life and humanity amidst wisecracks and curses. The contrast creates a voice that is uniquely Butcher’s and beloved by millions of fans. The best introduction to this world is to follow the publication order and buckle up for an enthralling ride.