Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….
Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.
He doesn’t know the half of it….
Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.
It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.
Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance….
If you enjoy stories of magic and monsters, of brave heroes and evil villains, the Dresden Files are must read material. That latest book in the series, Skin Game, does not disappoint. Is it a perfect work of fiction that will be remembered thousands of years in the future? No, but the series as a whole deserves much more attention that I feel it gets.
Now, the first act of the book was a bit slow for me. The last few entries in the life of Harry Dresden have been full of revelations and insights into the machinations of the forces that are pushing the world towards its possible end. Harry learned the truth behind the title of “Warden” and Santa Claus was fought in one-on-one combat. The White Council has suffered its own calamity and has been out of contact, leaving Harry to prevent the end of the world with only the help of his friends. Skin Game pulls back from the apocalyptic imaging and presents Harry with a much simper problem, Nicodemus. A man who’s become a bond villain at this point, only with the power of a fallen angel at the core. Not a nice guy.
The first act of Skin Game has to set up the heist that Nicky (I like giving him a feminine name) has planned, introducing new characters and beasts. There is some action during this section, but it’s a little sporadic. However, the little experience I have with writing gives me some insight into why this sort of setup was inevitable. A truly great showdown has to have significant set up. And oh man, when the heist really gets going and the partnership between Harry and Nicky finally breaks down, some of the best fight scenes in the Dresden Files takes place. My favorite part of the series has always been the Knights of the Cross and that faction really shows up in the end.
At the end of the experience, Skin Game has placed itself up near the top of the best Dresden Files books. It’s hard to top Dead Beat or Changes, but Skin Game brings its own emotional weight that gives the book its own character. For the last few entires Harry Dresden has been battling his own darkness, his role in the balance between the forces of the world. There’s always been a glimmer of a hero inside of him but he has never been able to completely ally himself with any side. The end of Skin Game shows Harry beginning to bloom into the warrior that will stand up to the darkness that exists outside our world and will do his absolute best to save all that he loves.
Once again, Jim Butcher has shown himself to be a paragon of urban fantasy. His ability to write characters that the reader truly cares for, whether that be through love or hate, continues to make him my favorite author. If you enjoy quality characters, understandable magic, and a wit that goes above and beyond the call of duty to piss off the bad guys, the Dresden Files should be on your bookshelf. Skin Game is no exception.