Hero continues fight with good vs evil in Harry Dresden series
Harry Dresden. The crotchety, sarcastic, world-saving, butt-kicking, not nearly all powerful wizard and warden living in Chicago is back for his 15th adventure in "Skin Game" by Jim Butcher.
Now, if you've missed the previous 14 books in the Harry Dresden series, let me catch you up. Just kidding, that's completely impossible.
Let's just say ol' Harry has been through a lot.
In every book, he has fought an increasingly challenging nemesis, overcome incredible obstacles and barely scraped by to save the day or a person or the world. Usually the world, with a few specific people thrown in there for dramatic effect and personal attachment.
Now in book 15, after dying, returning and then being installed as an evil faerie's henchman (also known as Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, while Harry is known as the Winter Knight), Harry is back in the real world trying to save those he loves, fulfill his contract with said evil faerie and not lose his soul in the process.
Mab has pledged Harry's help to one of his greatest enemies, Nicodemus Archleone, to break into a vault of the underworld and steal one of the most powerful artifacts in existence, the Holy Grail.
As part of Harry's return to humanity and Chicago, he once again (finally! After books of separation!) teams up with Karrin, the woman he loves but won't let himself be with; Michael Carpenter, a true friend and believer; and Butters, who used to be the man who patched everyone up but is now fighting the good fight against evil to the best of his ability. (Which isn't much, but he has a lot of heart.)
Ever since Harry died, came back as a ghost and then came back as the Winter Knight of the Queen of Air and Darkness, it's been a long road for him and those he cares about.
Harry has been slowly finding his way back into reality, figuring out who he is and what he stands for. He worries about whether he may become evil because he is pledged to Mab.
It is a bit trying to read his constant doubts. You want to yell, "Come on, Harry! You're the hero! You're the good guy!"
But all the doubting and wondering is most likely realistic. What kind of human hero wouldn't have some self-doubt? Especially a hero who is now, technically, working as an evil creature's servant?
In addition to the soul-searching introspection, this book is full of lots of action and humor. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and fights to the almost death (he can't die because then the series would be over, theoretically - even though he's died once and came back already, so doing that again would be a bit repetitive if not downright annoying.)
Harry knows that Archleone has no intention of letting him survive this robbery, so he plans to double cross him in a way that'll ensure his - and his friends' - survival.
Of course, nothing ever goes as planned in a Harry Dresden novel, so all havoc breaks loose with plenty of plot twists and surprises to keep readers entertained.
Though "Changes," book 12, is still my all-time favorite (I believe I was jumping up and down cheering and fist pumping with triumph at the end of that one. Seriously. All the jumping. All the cheering. It happened.), "Skin Game" is a decent addition to the series.
In "Skin Game," we get to see Harry back in the real world, watch his relationship with Karrin progress and bite our nails with anxiety as he navigates the dangerous territory of his new responsibilities as Winter Knight while double-crossing one of the greatest evil creatures that has ever lived while working for another almost-as-evil immortal and trying to keep his soul intact.
For those who haven't started this epic series yet, Book 1 is "Storm Front" and pretty easily available anywhere. Starting there and relishing each book in order is the only way to get the full Harry Dresden experience.
"Skin Game" will be there for you when you're ready for it.
But for those who have followed Harry through all of his sarcastic quips, battles, mistakes and into death and back, I can safely say you'll enjoy this addition to the series and end the book wanting more. As we always do.
Kat Duncan is the photo and video editor at the Advocate. She loves to read, travel, run and play with her pup, Panda. Chat with her about books on Twitter @Kat Duncan_VA.