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.…
©2014 Jim Butcher (P)2014 Penguin Audio
I read, I write; I listen
When the Dresden files began with “Storm Front,” Harry was a private detective and the only openly working professional wizard in Chicago. Then he became a warden for the white council, fought all kinds of supernatural monsters, including the Red Court, and recently he was dead. Now in book 15, “Skin Game,” he is the warden of the island Demonreach, and oh yeah, also the reluctant knight of winter court. What great story progression.
From the previous book, “Cold Days,” we know Harry has a parasite in his head and its threatening to end his life. Now Mab, the queen of the winter court, and Harry’s boss, is using his infirmity as leverage to get him to do a job. She’s loaned him out to one of his most hated foes, Nicodemus Archleone and the Denarians. Having done battle with Nicodemus before Harry knows he has his hands full; but locked and loaded with his usual nonstop smartmouth commentary and banter Harry is ready to fulfill his obligation and at the same time thwart his old enemy’s plans. Harry will need the help of his friends, although Thomas and Molly do not make an appearance we get a lot of Murphy, Michael and Butters, and he must use all of his cunning to get him and his friends out of this story intact.
I did like the development of the characters, notably “Butters,” and, as usual, there are plot twists. Some loose ends from the previous books are tied up with others left hanging; but this is “The Dresden Files,” and, if you’re like me, am glad that Jim Butcher always leaves us wanting more.
A note about the narrator; if you’re wondering whether to read the book or listen to this audio, James Marsters is Harry Dresden; his voice inflections captures the clever wit and subtle nuances of the character perfectly.
Skin Game is simply an awesome addition to the Harryverse! It easily drew me in to a world where monsters and magic are real, wicked villains and courageous heroes do battle. Most importantly, Butcher makes me believe this world is real enough to care about and close enough to touch. It's peopled with characters as unforgettable as they are engaging, believable and captivating.
The plot line is complex, the action well thought-out, and the twists come hard and fast. But interlaced with the mayhem and manipulation is a sense of humor that often takes the form of Harry's snarky comments and gratuitous geek-culture references. I've lost track of all the Star Wars references, and got a laugh when Harry and Michael did an impromptu "Monty Python" sketch, with The Knight of the Cross completely clueless it was even happening! It's grace notes like these where we feel the author's tug on our nose and can't help but be amused.
Marsters is amazing as always: one of my all-time favorite narrators. I hope he will be available to finish out the series. These are books that deserve his level of excellence.
Skin games is the 15th book in the Dresden Files series and a solid addition to the franchise. After fourteen books you might think that Harry has done just about everything a wizard in the 21st century can do. But things just keep coming at him that we or he don't see on the horizon. Sort of like running aground in the middle of the ocean on a cruise liner with all charts showing open seas. (Could Harry's ability to knock out modern equipment, bring down an ocean liner during a honeymoon cruise?)
Once again James Marsters demonstrates his voice acting ability to bring Harry Dresden's world into living, breathing, characters that make you care about them. James Marsters is the voice of the Dresden Files - at least in 14 out of the 15 audio books. In each he adds depth to the characters - making them come to life in our earphones. Demonstrating the depth of this acting skills by playing all the parts and making us not only believe all of them, but care about them. I first took notice of him as 'Spike' in the 2nd season of the TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". His screen presents took what was to be a bit part to a major character in the 7th and final seasons and then, on the the Buffy spinoff Angel.
On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through
So this is a very good Harry Dresden novel, and a very good Harry Dresden novel is something to celebrate. Butcher continues to be able to increase the stakes and keep a sprawling plot moving after 15 books, while still giving us characters to care about and even a few scenes that caused my eyes to well up (must have been allergies). Still, this is a very good Dresden novel, following a few that I might consider to be great, hence the four stars, rather than five.
Why? Well, while the main plot of the novel (Dresden in the supernatural version of a classic heist movie) is exciting and propulsive as ever, a few things drag down the book a bit. First, the novel takes a bit longer to get going than usual, and much of that time is spent rehashing philosophic questions that have been more urgently and better addressed in previous books: Harry's friends worrying about him turning bad, Harry worries about turning bad, and so on. Don't get me wrong, these are Big Themes in Butcher's books and Butcher still handles them well, but they are less earned in this novel, and especially the first half, and it weighs the book down a little.
Additionally, the plotting here, while still very good, is missing some of the sharpness of previous books. On the plus side, Harry's personal life advances in satisfying ways. The main story, however, requires even more deus ex machina than usual to resolve itself, which makes some of the cliffhangers a bit cheap (though a couple of the reveals are terrific, and very much in the heist movie theme). Add this to the fact that there are some strange absences from the novel of key characters who you would expect to be in it, and the fact that the meta-plot barely advances in the novel, and you get a Dresden Files entry that, while still fun, may not be quite as vital to the series as the 2-3 before it.
The reading is spectacular, and nothing actually goes off the rails, so I was very satisfied with the book. This may not be the best in the series, but it is still very good, and, obviously, a must for any fan.
Say something about yourself!
I stumbled onto Storm Front four years ago and was immediately hooked. Since devouring the first dozen books, I have waited with the rest of Butcher’s readers in anticipation of the next book in the series. After the last few books, I was not sure where the series could go, but Jim has done it without losing the feel of the characters or this series.
Skin Game includes some of my favorite characters including Murphy, Michael and Butters. You even get a chance to spend some time with Mouse.
Marsters is an amazing narrator and as always he does a fantastic job capturing the sarcastic nature that makes Harry one of my favorite characters in fiction.
Jim ends this book with some very interesting avenues for Harry’s next adventure. Now all can do is wait, and maybe go back and listen to the last few books again. A must buy If you enjoy Dresden.
I like scifi and urban fantasy. I don't like romance novels. If you are the same my reviews should help.
The Dresden Files series is back in top form for Skin Games. The book is less plot and character driven and gravitates more towards action. This is a nice change of pace from the past few books. Jim Butcher writes great action scenes and this story keeps you on the edge of your seat from begining to end. I particularly like all the swerves in the story. I usually can predict where a story is heading, but in this case a lot of the story caught me by surprise and that's a good thing.
I won't go into details as I do not want to spoil anything, but several new characters are added and one old favorite gets a major power-up in this novel. The new characters are really interesting and I hope to see more of them in the future. Also, we are given answers to several long standing questions that have been fodder for debate for a long time.
The meta-plot for the series is moved a long a bit, but this novel seems closer to a stand alone novel than most of the previous ones. While the author does a good job of explaining the backstory, I would still advise reading the previous novels to get the full impact of this story.
In order to be as fair and balanced as possible there are a few things worth noting. First, there is a pretty heavy sex scene in this novel so be aware you might have to forward through that scene if you are listening with younger people.
Second, some of the character changes are getting mixed reviews from people I know who have read the books with some saying it is really cool and others not so much. I personally like them but found myself scratching my head at a few points and going, huh? That isn't to say the changes were not cool and interesting, just that that portion of the story seemed a bit forced. Kind of like the author said wouldn't it be cool if X happened and then shoe horned it in rather than letting it occur more slowly and organically. That is my only complaint with Jim Butcher as an author is that sometimes he gets into a hurry and rushes major plot changes that would be better developed more slowly.
The narraration is top notch as usual. Mr. Marsters is clearly one of the best in the business and I wouldn't want anyone else reading these stories if I could help it. The only negative is he was reading very slowly at first. This may be to show how Dresden was feeling at the time but it did drag a bit for my tastes. Still a superb performance and my negative is more of an aside than actual complaint.
Overall, this is one of the better books in the series and is definitely worth a credit. The author took some major chances with making huge changes to the series in the past few books and now they are starting to pay dividends. Hurry up and get this one, you will not regret it.
Butcher's Dresden series are my favorite audiobooks to listen to hands down. This book continues the trend of great story and characters. While I can't say that it is my favorite of the series, it is really good none the less. Marster's performance is wonderful as always. I can't imagine Harry any other way. These are the ones I listen to almost straight through and always involve late nights. Enjoy!
I'm a teacher and a 30 year reader of genre fiction. Urban and Epic fantasy are my main jams.
Jim Butcher does urban fantasy right. If you don't agree with that statement, you should just stop reading this review. In this most recent entry into the Dresden Files, Butcher is on his A game. He foreshadows future plots and ties up loose ends and unties ends we thought were forever tied up. This is a quality heist novel with all the standard players and it just works. Marsters is on his A game as well and no one else should EVER do the audio for a DF book.
I laughed, I cried, I want book 16 right now.
Yes, I will. I went back and listened to the pervious book before this one came out. It's hard to remember all the details otherwise.
Spoilers!! Harry meeting Maggie.
Waldo Butters, Jedi Knight.
No, but I was happy to have some forward movement on a few of the sub plots. I was going to be disgusted if the whole Harry/Karrin thing didn't see some resolution.
Not enough Bob. And James Marsters doing a southern accent was DIVINE.
*no spoilers* Many of our old favourites and nemeses are back to help and hinder our troubled wizard, Harry Dresden, pull the ultimate bank-job for an evil alliance: stealing the Holy Grail from -- Hades? Santa, Celtic fae, the Greek god of Hell and knights Templar meet in this pantheon mashup [fingers crossed for Sedna, Innu goddess of seals, in the next volume!]: a Mission Impossible/Oceans Eleven for the magical set
Great premise; although the first half is a too-long set-up for the quest/heist, it's still worth the journey.
But Butcher has the stalker-nerd's-eye view for his female characters [all young and hot] and fails the Bechdel test of having two female characters talking about something other than men, and the torture scenes go on wayyyyy too long and take you out of the story.
James Marsters is inspired casting as narrator, and probably with a new director since mispronunciations were minimal.
The heist twists and turns and narrative on rewards and punishments, family and alliance, doubt and faith, are well worth the journey, and keep you looking forward to the next Dresden file.
(almost) 4 stars
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