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27 Skin GameReview: Skin Game (Dresden Files #15) by Jim Butcher

*early review copy received from publisher — thank you!*

Regina’s Rating:

5 stars/Grade A

Release Date: 5/27/14

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Giveaway Below!

Book Summary:

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…

This is one of the best books I have read this year.  Skin Game is brilliant, it is amazing and so worth the long wait (18 months!). The main problem with reading Skin Game is the wait for the sequel (Peace Talks #16), which as of right now has an estimate of an August 2015 release. At this point, while Goodreads has August 2015 listed as the release date, late 2015 or early 2016 sounds more realistic given past release dates.

Harry Dresden returns in Skin Game. He is in the flesh, still has his silly musings but he is more confident and stronger. Skin Game brings back Michael, Molly, the Deanrians, Karen, and many others that I don’t want to spoil for readers because the scene of their appearance is somewhat of a surprise. Butcher draws on Dresden’s history and includes characters that mean a lot to Dresden and me as a reader. Every page was rewarding, reminiscent and new.

Not surprisingly, Skin Game involves moral questions. I say not surprisingly because readers should know that when the Denarians and Michael play a role in the book, Harry’s moral compass is pushed and questioned. I love Michael and the balance he brings. But I wonder what his belief system means for the Dresden Files world? Butcher has said that the final 3 books in this series will be an apocalyptic trilogy, following 20-24 books (the number has varied). I think Michael, the angels, the swords will play a role in the end of this series. No matter what is mixed in to the Dresden files, there is good and bad fighting each other. What Butcher does so well though, is that he has plenty of gray areas and so many of his characters believe they are the moral authority but their actions are so hurtful. Murky moral areas make the best stories. But at the same time, when Michael is present I do feel some hinting at an ultimate good and powerful being by Butcher. Anyone else?

So if Michael and Karen are in the story, I know readers are wondering — what happens with the swords? There are no spoilers in this review, but I will say the swords are back. The ultimate wielder is very unexpected (but Deathhollowish in resolution) and the result of the wieldings is surprising.

So Skin Game is number 15 in the Dresden Files. Think about that number 15. Every year to 18 months, Jim Butcher turns out a 400+ page novel on pretty much the same characters he has been writing about since 2000. Factor in that Butcher releases decent short stories every year in the Dresden world, writes a fantasy series (Codex Alera -6 books) and is starting a new series (The Cinder Spires — August 2014) Sounds like a recipe for disaster or boredom. Except, that it isn’t. Jim Butcher is somehow able to continuously write a book set in the same world, which advances the story line, progresses the characters, stays consistent with the world he constructed over a decade ago and is still brilliantly interesting. I need to say this at least once in this review: Jim Butcher you are amazing (and I think I love you?). How does an author do this? Thinking about series that have existed this length in time and in page count, there are few that maintain consistency, interest and growth.

Who would like this book? Harry Dresden fans will not be disappointed and should read this immediately. New readers who want to start the series (fans of fantasy books and urban fantasy books should read this series) should start at the beginningish, not here. Note: the television series will not prep readers for the series at all. There are very little consistent storyline cross overs. So don’t skip just because you watched the mediocre one season only series. This is hard. But I will just say it and most of know it is true, books 1 and 2 are not great. I am not sure what happened, author growth? A better editor? But books 1 and 2 in the Dresden Files do not represent the series at all. There are references to the events in these books throughout the series, but they are not important to read for the story arc. I worry that when readers start 1 and 2, they may never come back. It is easy for someone to say, keep with it! It gets better! But it is harder for the reader to accept that the writing and story doesn’t actually represent where the series goes. So this is what I recommend for readers who want to dive in to Harry Dresden: Start with Grave Peril #3. Books 3 and 4 represent a strong shift in how Butcher tells his stories. They stories are more complex, the overall story arc begins and there is character growth. Books 3 and 4 are decent; book 5 is where the brilliance begins and continues on for the next 10 books. Once you are hooked, you can go back and read 1 and 2; they are both shorter and quicker reads and if you are hooked, reading these won’t discourage you. Or listen to 1 and 2 in audio just to get through them.

That brings me to my last point. Dresden Files make excellent re-reads. I typically re-read by listening to the audio. I love the narration; my co-blogger DG is not a fan of the audio version, but if you are tempted I say give it a try. I am guessing you will enjoy the listen.

Jim Butcher is easily in at the top of my favorite fun reading list. I plan to use this long wait for Peace Talks (Dresden Files #16) to read his Codex Alera series. What else can an addict do for comfort? (Suggestions welcome ….)

Dresden File Series Reading Order:

1. Storm Front
2. Fool Moon
3. Grave Peril
4. Summer Knight
5. Death Masks
6. Blood Rites
7. Dead Beat
8. Proven Guilty
9. White Night
10. Small Favor
11. Turn Coat
12. Changes
13. Ghost Story
14. Cold Days
15. Skin Game (Release Date 5/27/14)
16. Peace Talks (anticipated release date 8/2015+)

* There are a number of short stories, do not miss out on these! See this list for a more comprehensive list of how the short stories interplay with the story arc.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Best of UF

Giveaway:

Enter Giveaway for a Hard Cover Copy of Skin Game (Dresden Files #15) by Jim Butcher (warning, this is the copy that I read, but is still in great condition).  I hate to do it, but this giveaway is limited to US addresses.

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Regina

ReginaI am a book reader & reviewer by hobby; I read any genre, any type of fiction and non fiction. More importantly I am coffee addict, a chocoholic and a Just Dance 3 fan.
 Posted by on May 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm

  18 Responses to “New Release Review and Giveaway!!: Skin Game (Dresden Files #15) by Jim Butcher”

Comments (15) Pingbacks (3)
  1. Squeeeee! Thank you, Regina. Harry Dresden is a Keeper. :-)

  2. So I moved on to the next winner and am waiting for a response. I hope to be able to announce a winner soon.
    Regina recently posted..New Release Review: A Shiver of Light by Laurell K. HamiltonMy Profile

  3. I just snatched the audio and will start listening asap – so excited to hear it is so good. I really loved the previous one and Ghost Story not as much. I LOVE James Marsters who does the audio but of course I must own it in print as well cause I’m nutz like that. You dear are a girl after my own heart.
    So excited to have found you ladies!
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted..Review: Defenders by Will McIntoshMy Profile

    • Glad you found us too! I love the audio of this series! I especially love revisiting this series by audio months after I read the book.

  4. thankyou so much for hosting this

  5. The tweet was for another GA I retyped the title and author to be this book. As for the questions – I haven’t yet read any of this series but I do have the first seven waiting on my kindle. When they went on sale for 1.99 I couldn’t resist as they were highly recommended a while back.I just haven’t had time to get to them since I grabbed them. Just couldn’t resist the chance to go ahead and try for this one too. I hate waiting on series until/unless I have too. LOL. Anyway not having read any of the books yet I can’t say if I like the first two. And I can’t speculate on the sword question not knowing the context. However as the books came highly recommended I wouldn’t have impulsively bought half a series on sale without expecting to like them.

  6. Can’t wait to read number 15!!!

  7. I’m so excited to read this book and see how the relationship between Harry and Molly evolves (for obvious reasons)

    • And because I realized you were asking about a specific question, here is my answer to that. I definitely enjoyed the first 2 books in the series. Although I did read storm front and not come back to the series for a while. But its like lots of book you need to be in the mood for the genre and plot type to really get consumed in a series. Also the scene at the end of Storm Front when Harry spells the broom to sweep the scorpions away remains one of my favorite and the funniest scenes in most of the books I’ve read.

  8. I have read everything up to the last two books in the Dresden Files and love the series. I was so excited that the ebooks of the first few went on sale recently as my paperbacks have been re-read so many times they are falling apart LOL I really don’t know who should wield the swords, that is a very tough question and I would rather be surprised by Jim Butcher when he lets us know than speculate :D Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and for this treat of a giveaway opportunity.

  9. As much as I LOVE Harry Dresden, gotta disagree about rereading.
    Re Patricia Briggs question: Ms Briggs, any way you could write faster? ;-)

  10. If you could ask Patty a question, what would it be? Why do you love Patricia Briggs? I not sure why your asking about particia briggs when the giveaway is for a jim butcher novel?
    jan farnworth recently posted..The Power To See by Jennifer Anne Davis rereleaseMy Profile

    • Sorry about that. Silly oversight when I recreated the rafflecopter giveaway. :) Thanks for letting me know. Check out the new questions!