skin-game-the-dresden-filesJim Butcher
ROC
2014

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…

So, here we are at the fifteenth book in the seemingly never-ending Dresden Files series. The latest one, and as such am waiting for the next book to come out as I’m writing this. To recap, I came across reading this series due to a friend insisting that I read this, then promptly loaning me all 16 books (including the short story collection) to do so. I managed to binge read them all in a handful of months, not just because I’m an old hand at reading things in a rather timely manner (it helps to come from a family of readers), but also because I found the series to be a fantastic way to get lost into another world, and thus all those multi-hundred pages goes by rather quickly. You can keep your Harry Potter; I have a favorite wizard right here. Anyhoo…

Over the course of the series, Dresden has crossed the paths of some very big names in bad-assery. All those names pale in comparison with the Lord of the Underworld himself, the ruler of Death and Darkness, and inspiration for many a garage metal band in existence: Hades. And Dresden finds himself borrowed out to the fallen angel Nicodemus to pull an Indiana Jones and fetch the Holy Grail from the vaults of Hades himself. As you may imagine, trying to get in there and then out without getting hit with a fate presumably worse than death isn’t easy. Let’s just say, not only wackiness ensues, but plenty of subterfuge, twists and action going on. Then the whole thing ends with Butters getting a level up in his game and acquiring a possible copyright infringement.

Overall, Skin Game could be considered a “filler episode” in the Dresden series. It didn’t really forward the overarching journey, but it was a pretty good (if not a bit derivative, but what urban fantasy isn’t, really?) story.

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