Jim Butcher’s #15 in The Dresden Files – Skin Game
Pros: Harry is back, Favorite Characters, New Characters, Pace
Cons: This was just released and book 16 is far away
When Mab says “I want you to perform a task for me” Harry knew it was something despicable and that he had no choice and all of his objections would go unheard. As her knight the consequences for refusing would be dire and she wouldn’t hesitate to wreak havoc on both his mortal world and him. “Mab was a serious bad guy” but she was a bad guy sort of on his side and as such, in her own way, protected the world from worse bad guys. In Jim Butcher’s 15th book in the series, Skin Game, Harry Dresden, wizard, warden of the White Council, and Winter Knight, works with a shape-shifter, Denarian, several mercenaries, a fire-flinging wizard and a wanted warlock as well as a former police detective, an angel and a former Knight of the Cross/Sword to enter the underworld and steal from Hades.
If this sounds too contrived and ridiculous then you haven’t read many of Jim Butcher’s books and you’re unfamiliar with . Dresden, a wizard turned Winter Knight, loves his magic. He has an unrealistic tolerance for pain and super-human endurance. In Skin Game he returns to the Mortal World after living on the island Demonreach, just outside of Chicago, to pay off a debt for his boss, Mab. He doesn’t have a choice in this.
Mab requires him to partner with one of Harry’s least favorite Denarians, Nicodemus Archleone, to rob a powerful artifact from Hades. Again, Harry has no choice and Mab has her own version of trackers on him to keep him focused – but as is always the case Harry has his own agenda and loosely woven strategy. At least we think it’s loosely woven.
Butcher makes the weird believable.
In my opinion this is possibly one of the best of the series. For one reason, Harry has returned. He gets beaten on but his clever magic and logic pulls him through some tough situations, as do his friends. Butcher brings back some favorite characters in this good vs. evil adventure. He brings back Michael. He introduces some great characters, mixes in a bit more humor and some seriously awkward moments (Harry has been living on an island alone for too long.). He’s a bit of a rascal as well as a renegade in Skin Game. He seems accepting of his role as the Winter Knight and less mopey about the situation – he’s far more intent on getting the debt paid and coming out through the other end alive. He also has a strong incentive to survive.
Of course, there’s always some doubt about ending up alive. He could manage to get himself into serious trouble while protecting females on the team, or he could embarrass himself while drooling over a female, or he could end up killing female members of the team. What he never does it get completely blindsided and, as always, he has a plan of his own.
Harry is no longer Chicago’s awkward, magical private investigator in Skin Game but an intimidating and deadly force as the Winter Knight. He’s confident and his darker (and yes colder) side as Mab’s knight has altered Harry in obvious ways. He stumbles less and his magic, as well as his physique, is considerably stronger.
So you plan on putting this down occasionally? Bet you won’t.
Readers (a.k.a. fans) should prepare for a fast-paced adventure with some new ghouls as well as some familiar ghouls. While reading this I commented on this being typical of Butcher. He does a very good job of grabbing your attention at some point in the book–in this one the grab happened in the early pages. He often says “let’s get to work.”
“For a second, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. It was just two mounds of writhing purple-grey flesh mottled with blotches of other colors. And then they just sort of unspooled into writhing, grasping appendages and a weird bulbous body, and suddenly two creatures that looked like the torso of a hairless, gorilla-like humanoid grafted to the limbs of an enormous octopus came scuttle-humping over the floor toward us, preceded by a wave of reeking, rotten-fish stench and followed by twin trails of yellowish mucus.
‘Hells bells,’ I swore. ‘I told her so. Nothing’s ever simple.’”
I truly want to see this book made into a movie, but not animated. Anyone unfamiliar with this story line REALLY needs to start from the beginning. Fans will have a lot of fun but plan on not putting it down until Butcher’s finally done with you.