Just when I thought the series had “jumped the shark” and was on a express trip down the crapper, Jim Butcher pulls off a magnificent effort with his latest and greatest. For my money, Skin Games is one of the best three in the series. The story is one of the best thought out, organized and exciting in many years. I hang my head in shame for uttering the words that Harry Dresden was done.
Harry, as the Winter Knight is tasked to assist one of his greatest foes in completing a heist of epic proportions. Harry finds himself part of a team reminiscent of the cast of Oceans 11 wherein a gang of specifically talented persons come together to rob the vault of the one and only Hades, Lord of the Underworld. The crew features a couple of friends some old foes in Binder and Nicodemus and the black Denarians. The book is about 3/4 heist planning and 1/4 heist with a couple of less important parallel storylines running through.
Yes, I Do Follow
The author has seemingly clued into the fact his parallel storylines were becoming a tangled mess. Instead of storylines in double digits, he maintains only a few. This allows the book to be read quickly and confusion free. The plot is much tighter than they have been since the onset of the new story arc. The new Harry is much better developed in this installment while elements from his past life are being integrated into his new life.
On top of that, this novel has one of the best plots of any of the previous novels. Butcher takes on the classic heist story and puts a supernatural spin on it. He did it right and he did it well.
Oh How I Missed You
We get to say hello to some old friends. Long time readers may wax a bit nostalgic as Butcher brings back some of the best characters of previous novels to take supporting roles and cameo appearances. Beside bringing in some of my favorite characters, he introduces a few new and interesting characters which leave one to wonder what role they may play in future storylines.
This was one of the best and one of only a few in the series that have received my 5 star rating. If you have been reading the series you know there is something in Harry’s head. There has been very little information as to what it is. We do find out in this installment. Given this is fantasy novel, it may to unfair to say the reveal was absurd or a stretch but that was my impression. I personally find the reveal to be absurd but does provides some interesting fodder for future stories. Do you want to know what it is….well, read the book and find out.
If this were Ocean 11 (I’m thinking the remake here. Sorry to the traditionalists out there) I doubt Harry has enough luck to be Brad Pitt or George Clooney. Given he has a propensity for blowing things up, I would have to put my money on Don Cheadle. Regardless of who plays him in movie, you are in for a treat. A fun, exciting and riotous adventure that bodes well for the progression of the series. I am eagerly anticipating the next adventure.
I am sure I have heaped sufficient praise on James Marsters in my other reviews. Suffice to say, I abandoned the next couple of audiobooks I listened to after this because I was suffering from good narration withdrawal.
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.
Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest
Sex – 2.5
There is a little frisky business. One mildly graphic sexual encounter and a character that had a penchant for using her sex appeal. A handful of pointed sexual comments but nothing graphic or gratuitous.
Language – 3.5
It felt as if the adult language was increased from previous novels but not enough to raise my average rating. There was mild to moderate use of the mild obscenities and religious exclamations and mild use of the f-word.
Violence – 3.5
Harry Dresden wouldn’t be Harry Dresden if something or someone did not die. That said, a large portion of the book was devoted to scheming. There is an early fight with some baddies and creatures from Larry Correia’s imagination and some significant death and destruction in the last quarter of the book. The fighting and destruction at the end is persistent and carry though to the end. At worst, it was moderately graphic.