Books Urban Fantasy

Skin Game – Harry got beaten up…again

Skin Game (The Dresden Files #15) by Jim Butcher
My rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Skin GameHarry 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…

Harry starts to remind me of Star Trek Voyager. You know, the star ship that got shot to pieces in just about every episode and then magically repaired for the next episode. Quite frankly I am getting a bit tired of this. In this instalment he keeps coming, whacking bad guys left right and center, getting whacked himself…again and, of course, in the end he prevails. He is wounded in ways which would put any other man down for the foreseeable future, yet he keeps going. I know that he is a wizard and that this winter mantle stuff is supposed to let him ignore his wounds but come on. It is getting a bit over the top now. At least for this reader.

With that out of the way I also have to say that it is indeed a good book. Harry is set up by Mab in more ways than one. The entirety of the plot is of course not revealed until the very end of the book but the start is bad enough, for Harry at least. He is forced to help one of his worst enemies steal from, not only the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world but, the most secure “vault” in the underworld. To get there he first has to help said nefarious scumbag to break into one of the most secure vaults in the human world. The phrase “a really bad day” just got redefined…for the worse.

To help him he has a merry band of supernatural villains, not all of them being what they seem, and a few friends. The story is a roller coaster ride of adventure, action, treachery, deceit and revelations. I would say that there are more reversals, things not being what they look like and come backs of both characters and magical items in this book than in any of the other ones in the series (not that I have counted them though).

The characters are as likable, or dislikeable in case of the villains, as we have become accustomed to in The Dresden Files series and Harry himself, well Harry is his usual sharp tongued, cynical himself. As the book blurb states, we are introduced to Hades himself. I really do not want to spoil the plot but I actually liked this guy. Jim Butcher has a way of weaving in mythological characters from various religions into his stories that is quite enjoyable, at least as far as I am concerned.

Apart from my gripes about Harry being whacked over and over again I quite liked this book. It could have been a 10 out of 10 if it was not for the “Harry whacking” part but now it has to contend itself with an 9 out of 10 rating.

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