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Skin Game (The Dresden Files, Book 15) Kindle Edition
Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day. 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.
This time, it's worse than that. Mab's involved Harry in a smash-and-grab heist run by one of his most despised enemies to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure horde in the world - which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the Underworld.
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 . . .
- ASIN : B00CIVLY22
- Publisher : Orbit; 0 edition (27 May 2014)
- Language : English
- File size : 2048 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 610 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #175,515 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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Though a fun read but Harry entering into Hades' vault? Seriously??? Our wizard meets and shakes hand with the Greek god too! Good to see the old lot getting the meat of the story here with Karrin Murphy, Waldo Butters, Andi, Bob back in the game. Michael re-enters the story, the old and prudent Knight of the Sword with Charity and the kids. Best part of the book is where Harry finally gets to meet Maggie, his 5 years old daughter who so warmly wants him back in her life. Long live the wizard! Next Instalment "Peace Talks" awaited :)
And after a few books of solid suck (not in book quality, just Harry's quality of life), "Skin Game" returns everyone's favorite noir wizard to action in Chicago... except he's working with the bad guys this time. Jim Butcher is in fine form here, mixing complex moral questions with ice-and-fire-slinging magic -- and bringing in some truly startling changes to Harry's life.
Harry is not happy when he finds out his next job as the Winter Knight. He's being loaned out to Nicodemus, leader of the Denarians, who is planning the ultimate heist: stealing a mysterious object from the vault of Hades. And sadly, Harry doesn't have the option of refusing, since he has a strange brain parasite that Mab will only remove if he does her bidding.
So he and Murphy join a ragtag team that Nicodemus is assembling: a warlock and her mercenary partner, an expert thief, a vast Bigfoot-like thug and... well, Goodman Grey. No, you don't find out what or who he is until the end. But the heist is instantly threatened by the Fomor and their Octokongs, Nicodemus' angry estranged wife, and... well, each other.
Yes, nobody in this merry band of misfits trusts or likes each other, and Harry knows that Nicodemus will find a way to betray him soon -- or even better, snare him into disgracing Mab. And even if he can survive long enough to actually participate in the heist, he'll have to outwit the most devious of the Denarians -- which might be a tall order even for a Warden/Winter Knight.
"Skin Game" is the end of a story arc that began in "Changes," bringing Harry back to some semblance of his old life and resolving the issues he's had ever since -- particularly the massive changes he's undergone by becoming the Winter Knight. A lot of urban fantasy characters have those tedious "am I a monster?" moments, which don't last long and are usually concluded with the protagonist being assured that they are just fine. See Anita Blake for a prime example.
But when it happens to Harry, it makes perfect sense -- not only did he kill his ex-girlfriend, but he's the lackey of a cruel ice queen and being loaned out to a literal demon of hell. Not only does he doubt himself, but some of his friends are worried about what he may become. And Butcher doesn't assure us that Harry is innately good, and that whatever he does will be okay. Instead, he twists Harry's angst into a powerful message about personal choices and human limitations. Harry might be corrupted, but he also might triumph.
Well, back to the fun stuff. "Skin Game" is the closest to a "normal" Dresden Files adventure since "Turn Coat" -- lots of explosions, grotesque monsters (octokongs!), and Harry being self-destructively snarky to all the wrong supernatural creatures ("Walk away and I won't call the Orkin man"). Butcher also manages to throw in some truly shocking twists that leave you baffled as to how things will work out -- and then follows those twists with even MORE shocking twists that will leave you grinning like an idiot.
And after three books of non-stop misery and craziness, Harry seems to be settling back into his old self -- his new battle cry is "Parkour!" and he's back to making pop-culture cracks all the time. However, he's also grown a lot, especially in his love for the daughter he's never even spoken to -- and he has a new relationship that promises to be, um, interesting.
A number of Dresden Files favorites are here as well -- Murphy, the heroically saintly Michael, Butters, Uriel, Mab -- as well as a few new faces that will hopefully reappear in the future (Hades, who seems like a guy Harry could have beer with). One character who is sadly scarce here is Bob -- I can only hope that Butcher brings him back in full in the books that follow.
What's the problem? Well, the semi-final climactic battle involves Butcher revealing that he pulled a switcheroo on the audience... which would be fine if the story weren't from Harry's limited first-person perspective. We're basically in his head, so earlier withholding information that he knows just doesn't work. Not fair!
"Skin Game" effectively wraps up a dark story arc for Harry, while sowing the seeds of adventures in future books -- and with a book this excellent, we can only hope that Mr. Butcher brings us more Dresden Files soon.
Top reviews from other countries
That's not to say that it wasn't enjoyable – Dresden novels are always worth the read – but it did feel like a marking of time, with little advancement in the overall scheme of things; I did miss the familiarity of Harry's old place and the regular characters who only play small parts in this one – if at all.
It also isn't a book for the newcomer – I had to refresh my memory at times when reading this and I've read them all so far.
Still, there's “Brief Cases” to be read, and “Peace Talks” on the way, so I'm not ready by any means to give up on Harry just yet.
I have nothing against big set pieces per se, but for me the Dresden Files' increasing over reliance on them robbed the series of some of it original appeal. After all, as the 'Dresden Files' sub-title suggests, this was originally an urban fantasy take on the film-noir Detective series; Philip Marlowe with magic if you like. However, over time and as Jim Butcher expanded the alternative universe in which the stories are set, the books have become less mysteries with a magical spin and more grand fantasy epics. They were still enjoyable, but some of what made the early novels such as Storm Front so great for me had been lost.
I am happy to report therefore, that with Skin Game Jim Butcher seems to have rediscovered some of the old magic, if you will pardon the expression, by returning Harry back to a smaller scale adventure. The ever expanding universe is still there and there are still moments that make me wonder how the general public could still possibly be in denial about the existence of magic (bronze lion statue coming to life in downtown Chicago anyone?), but there are no massed battles between supernatural armies, the stakes aren't world-changing and the central cast is kept to a reasonably tight number of players.
Moreover Skin Game is very much a 'crime novel' with a robbery, albeit a supernatural one, central to the plot. Its also plays homage to the series' noir-ish origins and inspirations by having more crosses and double crosses than the Maltese Falcon and featuring all the staples of a good pulp Detective novel, including femme-fatales, hulking henchmen (or hench-monsters in this case) and mob-bosses.
It also features an ending that for once feels like a proper, satisfying ending, with minimal loose ends left hanging. No, Jim Butcher doesn't wrap up every sub-plot in the wider Dresden-verse and I wouldn't expect him to in the course of one novel, but the novel's central plot is brought to a pretty definitive conclusion, there are no cliff-hangers, and many of the series heroes and their interpersonal relationships are left in far better places than when the book began.
All of which serves to make Skin Game the most enjoyable Dresden File for a long time and has restored my slightly waning faith in the series. Next time I will not wait nearly a year to pick up the latest volume in the series, and I will hope that Jim Butcher manages to maintain Harry and his Friends' return to form.
Part of the joy of Skin Game is watching that community reform around H in new ways, familiar faces making their own adjustments to the upheaval, and suddenly it all makes sense again. Jim Butcher hasn't swept the board clean at all. Instead he's given himself breathing space from the structures he had been forced to revisit continually, and is now building something new. Dresden's world has evolved.
As you can probably sense, I enjoyed this book a great deal. Harry's dry angst is still present, but the heist structure of the plot allows for more fun than I've had with the series for a while. It's not a pure reboot - Harry back-references his own adventures constantly, and several have a definite impact on this story, so this isn't a book for new readers - but it's a definite new lease of life for Dresden. I'm suddenly looking forward to the next book a great deal.
This is Dresden Files Take on the Heist movie, a disparate cast of characters made up of friends and enemies past and present brought together under the untrustworthy patronage of Nicodemus one of Dresdens most feared foes to perform the supernatural equilivant of a bank job on nothing less then a God of Death.
This is a strong and exciting entry worth your time and money and while some of the twists and turns are a bit too predicable adhering a perhaps a bit too closely to the standard heist formula, and Nicodemus as a villain suffers from a severe case of all hat no cattle, there was enough character development and enough surprises ( the parasite resolution wasnt one i had even imagined as a possiblity yet was immenesly satisfying ) that it is still one worth reading. Maybe not the series strongest entry thats still small favour or perhaps changes but still showing there is plenty of Story left in the Dresden Files and 15 books in thats no mean accomplishment.
This is the continuation of the arc from the last few books where Harry is the Winter Knight and warden to the island of Demonsreach.
Everything you would expect from a Harry Dresden adventure is here, the action, the ineptitude, the physical beatings and the dark humour. So what is there to distinguish this from the rest of the books?
The return of the Black Denarians is welcome, and some further developments in this storyline are very interesting.
The addition of the greek Pantheon of Gods to the universe is interesting, it is not overused in this book but does leave many potentially great options for the future.
The angels are again woking behind the scenes (and this is one of my favourite aspects of the whole universe)
I love this book and think it is another very gripping read to follow on 3 magnificent entries.
If you have no idea what the above is talking about then i suggest that you are not a reader of this series, and whilst the book can be read independant of the rest, by this stage (this is the 15th book) there is so much history and world building referenced that it is difficult to grasp everything. Also the series is brilliant entertainment, so why not?