Skin Game by Jim Butcher
Book of the Month
In the absence of justice and a choice Harry must withhold vengeance against his greatest enemy? Bound as the Winter Knight to Winter’s Law Harry must settle Mab’s debt, committing theft and robbery from the most secure vault in the Nevernever. Unwillingness to comply to the letter of the agreement risks violating Mab’s word, his life and a chance for payback against Nicodemus. It’s going to take some fast thinking to get Harry out of this one alive and in one piece.
What can one say? It’s the next Dresden! It’s always satisfying to hold the latest copy of your favourite author’s work but it is however a double-edged sword - the fear that it might not live up to your expectations competing with the anticipation, because you know deep down inside that it’s going to be awesome.
After Ghost Story and Cold Days I picked up Skin Game with some trepidation and a lot of excitement as the previous books where, for me, somewhat of a departure from the classic Dresden theme. Harry has been taking part in grand and far reaching schemes, striding tall and riding rough shot over his foes. The simplicity of Skin Game is a step back to a more focus Dresden storyline: robbery, revenge and survival.
- PARKOUR! -
The streamlined approached to this story has removed or reduced the appearance of a few of the more well know characters: his brother, the scary godmother and grasshopper but the character I did miss most was Bob. When he did appear it wasn’t for long and didn’t have the Harry/Bob back and forth wise-cracking I enjoy so much. It was a shame but most likely necessary for the development - you can’t have everything stay the same otherwise it just stagnates.
*** Here be dragons, as well as some SPOILERS ***
Skin Game has its fair share of laugh-out-loud moments, some that I believe to be teasers and things that, for the life of me, I just did not get.
The Teaser. In the beginning of the book Harry speaks with a prisoner in one of the Demonreach cells. This conversation is interesting as the prisoner doesn’t want to escape Demonreach or his cell - they tell Harry they deserve to be there. In my own opinion this runs towards a character like Mordred, some ancient wizard or warlock who is trying to pay penance for past sins. The original Merlin is present in the Dresden universe, so who is to say there can’t be reference to an Arthur or Mordred. In the conventional tale Mordred kills Arthur, so instead of killing Mordred Merlin imprisons him in Demonreach.
The Funny. Towards the end, when Harry has an interaction with Hades, this brief scene and single line had me laughing out loud as I sat on the bus. Spot the dog! There is also a later scene as Michaels tries to bring Harry out of his melancholy, reminding him that humility and a lack of confidence are not one of his strong suits - who else rides down the main street in the city on the back of a dinosaur? That image alone brought a very large smile to my face.
*** There still be dragons ***
The title Skin Game I imagine has a double meaning, the first being the term ‘skin game’ itself can mean a dishonest business operation or cheating, and the second may be based on one of Harry comrades in crooked-arms, a shaper shifter named Grey. Without giving too much away there is continual interaction and challenge between Harry and Grey. This back and forth adds a lot of texture to the story and heist, and considering the double, triple or quadruple-cross (I couldn’t keep count) that occurs you just have no idea until the ball drops what’s going to happen. This type of hide in plain sight narrative may sound easy, but it isn’t. You are what you write and your write what you know. You have to keep the reader guessing but still leave a few breadcrumbs but not so much they become story killers. In this respect Jim has out-done himself.
*** SPOLIERS ***
I loved, and I mean loved that I did not see it coming, that Butters becomes a Knight of the Cross. The faith Michael had that the sword (which has been destroyed by this point) - PARKOUR! – would return, I assumed he would be the one to take it up again and return to his role of Supreme Uber Knight. Butter has always been, if not Robin, then Alfred to Harry’s Batman. Always there he help, the one Harry turns too when broken and bloodied. Finally Butters gets a chance to come into his own and be the hero he wants to be. This maybe a chance for a Butters and Sanya spinoff?
Jim via Butters aka Alfred actually proposes a very interesting theory about the Winters Knights abilities. These seemly superhuman talents that Harry has are not magic in a direct manner, they are actually humans without the handbrake on. We are our own power and ultimate destruction. Now that’s an interesting thought Jim has slipped in, very metaphysical. It ties in well with the consequences, which seem to befall Harry’s friends; crippled, shot and broken physically and mentally for a number of years, while Harry continues on relatively unscathed.
There is a major subplot element which I left until last simplify because I can’t make my mind up whether it’s a good or bad thing. The parasite in Harry’s brain. There is a lot more to this than even Harry initially knows, he ever has to get it out or he dies and while I like where this is going and I not convinced about the shape of the story and how it will play out. There is the potential to be a winner or to go off with a little whimper. No spoilers here sorry, I have got to leave some surprises. – PARKOUR! – That was the last one I promise.
In case you missed it there is a running line/joke in the book regarding Parkour. Harry is teaching himself the sport and whenever he actually uses any of it he shouts, PARKOUR! There may be an explanation for it out there on the webber-net, but I haven’t had a look as of yet. There was an attempt at an explanation but it wasn’t very good. I am sure it has to be an in-joke for Jim, but it went right over my head.
Skin Game is a celebration of the originals of Dresden novels, that time in his past when he only had to juggle a couple of near impossible challenges and survive. We now have a seasoned thinker and fighter able to handle whatever is thrown at him, and yes he still gets the proverbial handed to him most of the time.
Stacking up the last three books, this has definitely been my favourite, this is Dresden through and through.
Skin Game by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files #15)
Print Length: 465 pages
Publisher: Orbit (27 May 2014)
This Skin Game book review was written by Fergus McCartan
All reviews for: The Dresden Files
The Dresden Files
A war is raging between the vampire forces of the Red Court and the White Council - a war that the wizards are losing. So desperate are the Council that they've dragoon...
The Dresden Files: Book 1
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Reasonable rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment. Harry Dresden is the best and technicall...
The Dresden Files: Book 11
Harry Dresden -- urban wizard, private detective, and Chicago police consultant -- preserves the equilibrium between the human world and The Nevernever (supernatural world)...
The Dresden Files: Book 13
After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that ma...
The Dresden Files: Book 15
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 schemi...
The Dresden Files: Book 2
Nothing can ever be easy for Jim Butcher's lovable knock about wizard, Harry Dresden. Fool Moon, picks up a few months after the first book of the Dresden files, Stormf...
Have you read Skin Game?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Skin Game reader reviews
9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Powder Mage Trilogy
The alchemy of gunpowder fused with the magic of sorcery. In a time of upheaval, resurgence and corrupted Royalty Privileged, one-man’s love for his lost wife and his...
The Magicians series
In a secret world of forbidden knowledge, power comes at a terrible price... Quentin Coldwater's life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turn...
In the first age of Andeira, men and dragons brought together the two halves of the elemental magic of the world to create a union through which their magic, and the world,...
The House of Shattered Wings
Aliette de Bodard
Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and...
When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford - Samuel Johnson. In fact, Dr Johnson was only half right. There is in Lo...
Winter Be My Shield
Sierra has a despised and forbidden gift - she raises power from the suffering of others. Enslaved by the king's torturer, Sierra escapes, barely keeping ahead of Raste...
Mark de Jager
Stratus wakes alone, with no memory of his past. All he knows is his name and that he is not human. Possessing immense strength, powerful sorcery and an insatiable hunger, ...
The Relic Guild
Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us. It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawl...
Alex Verus series
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals, where tourists and moody teena...
Rivers of London series
My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Ser...
Cloak of Magic
Somewhere along the line where human nature meets human imagination, myths are created. Somewhere in that space lives the spirit that created and sustains Shehaios, the Fai...
Condemned to four thousand years of loneliness and regret, Ilfayne finds a rare thing in Hilde: a friend. For that, he will do anything to keep her safe. Just as he gathers...
Stranger of Tempest
Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's p...
Arrows of the Queen
Thirteen-year-old Talia longs for a better life, far away from her repressive stepmothers and the village of Sensholding, where books chronicling the adventures of the Hera...
The Wizard of Rainbows
Mark A Cropper
There is a road of darkness and awful peril, a path that shall take you to places beyond the knowledge of men. The Lord-of-Mists has awakened in his dark realm with one pur...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: