Skin Game is the 15th book in Jim Butcher’s urban fantasy series that chronicles the wizardly adventures of Harry Dresden. If you are a fan of heist stories, then Skin Game is likely to be your favorite entry in The Dresden Files because it revolves around a plan to break into Hades’ own vault in order to retrieve the Holy Grail.
SPOILER ALERT: At this point I must warn anyone who has not read the entire series that there is no way for me to review this book without spoiling previous books in the series.
Nicodemous, a returning Denarian villain from earlier in the series, uses Harry’s position as the Winter Knight to force him to join his quest. Harry brings along Karrin Murphy and also joins forces with many other returning characters including Hannah Asher, Anna Valmont, and Binder. Skin Game features some of the most engaging intrigue and double-crossing in the series as Harry tries to navigate his way through Nicodemous’ web of lies and while constantly working to undermine Nicodemous and his allies. As one would expect, there are plenty of Indian Jones references as Harry and his companions work their way to the Grail.
Skin Game finally marks the return of one of my favorite characters: Michael Carpenter. A former Knight of the Cross, thanks to his wounds suffered in Small Favor, Michael has not appeared since the tenth book in the series. I am disappointed with Butcher’s decision to leave Michael completely out of the series for the several books preceding Skin Game because it might send the message that Michael is only useful if he is physically capable. This, however, is clearly not the case because Michael helps Harry past a great deal of his guilt in Skin Game and is also able to return to the action with Uriel’s angelic powers acting as a temporary support. I suppose that Butcher kept Michael out of the action to represent the inner torment that Harry went through in the past few books, as Michael is probably the most morally upright character in the series. Regardless, it was a shame to miss out on him for so long, so it is amazing to experience his epic return in Skin Game.
The stakes in Skin Game are higher than ever, and it leaves me wondering how the 16th book in the series could possibly have a more epic feel to it. In Skin Game we have fallen angels, archangels, Hades, wizards, mercenaries, a Knight of the Cross, and gangsters all thrown into the same struggle to retrieve the Holy Grail. If this does not sound like a great idea for a book, then what does?
Check out my review of Storm Front