Skin Game, new Dresden Files book

I just finished Skin Game, the new Dresden Files book by Jim Butcher, and I thought it was a lot of fun, although not exceptional.

My main complaint about this series is that it’s now so long that I’ve forgotten an incredible number of previous situations and characters and types of demons and so forth, so frequently revelations about some mystery or other just went completely over my head.

For instance, who was Goodman Gray revealed to be? And do we know why he only wanted one dollar?

Goodman Grey is a naagloshii, a “skinwalker” or shapeshifter from the American south west. Generally a bad tribe, Grey is clearly an exception to the rule. I have no idea why he wanted only a dollar in payment.

In some ways, very roughly, they’re a Native sort of fallen angel but don’t go to far with the analogy.

I stopped reading the series around book seven or eight… I enjoyed them, certainly, but I was getting more and more bogged down by the backstory.

I give Butcher credit: he doesn’t clutter up his books with “The Story So Far.”

(In contrast, Dewey Lambdin, in his Alan Lewrie naval adventures, will go off into lengthy recapitulations, and, in the later books, this can add up to a whole bunch of pages!)

I agree, it’s quite tedious that we’re expected to remember so many people and events, when the books are a year apart. I haven’t read this one yet, but I was pretty close to giving up the series last year. (For one thing, I loved the hard-boiled detective with magic of the first several books, but now it’s just become… I don’t know what.)

I’m just the opposite (for the most part). The hard boiled detective with magic was such a silly cliche, but with magic. The constantly-expanding fantasy universe was what hooked me.

I really enjoyed this one. I think it’s the first time that I’ve wanted to go back and reread a Dresden Files book as soon as I finished it. I liked the way the con was reveled and I thought Butcher did a good job of bringing some different plot points back. I’m excited to see where the series goes from here.

In my opinion, this is pretty much the description of the entire series, and I’ve used almost those exact words to describe it to people who have never read any of them. I think I usually say something like, “They’re not great books and sometimes they’re barely good books, but they’re always fun.”

As for the “one dollar” thing, he says it’s to pay the “Rent,” with a capital “r.” I imagine he has some kind of supernatural obligation that goes beyond money, which he obviously wouldn’t need as a near-invulnerable shape-shifter.

I enjoyed this one. I liked the furtherance of the Knight of the Sword/Michael Carpenter storyline, which I enjoy, and the payoff at the end was both funny and appropriate.

I read the sample chapters online so I won’t bother with the book. The early books in the detective format focused on a single mystery, but now everything seems to be part of expanded universe with only the vaguest of overall directions.

And Harry’s annoying to me at this point, in the way that Friends was in the later seasons - he’s too old for his over-the-top antics. He goes on about how Mab is deadly dangerous, he’s terrified, he remembers what happened to the last Winter Knight, he’s got his daughter to protect…

Three paragraphs later, she’s got her foot on his neck because he’s provoked her again for behaving exactly as he expects, and he does that with everyone. For several books now, it’s been less “wow, so-and-so’s dangerous” and more “sheesh, he’s a putz!”

I gave up after the last book. He started to lose me with Ghost Story, totally lost me with Changes and this last one was my giving him one last chance to make things right. He didn’t.

I would think that having the character die, then a subsequent novel break the usual title format by being explicitly named CHANGES might be a clue the author is taking the series in a different direction.

Myself, I’m enjoying the ride, but then I seem to be a bit less picky/perfection-seeking than some readers. (Although I can’t stomach what happened to the Anita Blake series, I do have my limits)

My one nagging question from this book, though - I can’t for the life of me remember River Shoulders and Dresden’s prior encounter with the Forest People - did I miss a story or has that not been published yet?

Going off in THAT different a direction is a sure way to lose a good portion of the people who liked the direction you were already heading in.

I found this:

I understand that Dex. A few years back, I remarked how I didn’t like how BIG the story was getting. I liked the magical Spenser stories. Still, Butcher’s hell-bent on an apocalyptic story, and I like the characters, so I’ll stick with it and enjoy it for what it is.

As was mentioned above, Goodman Grey is a naagloshii. What wasn’t brought up was that Harry did battle with one. He kidnapped Thomas and tortured him horribly, then fed him women, over and over, the result being Thomas going back to Lara and largely turning aside from his efforts to fight his demon. I’m sure he’s still not as bad as the rest of the White court, though - he’s got Justine back after all, and that’s what he really wanted.

Seeing the naagloshii with his wizard’s Sight turned Harry into a gibbering mess for a few hours, and it took him awhile before he could think of it without major issues. The naagloshii broke Captain Luccio’s shoulder, killed one of the Alphas (Kirby) badly injured Andi (also an Alpha, and Butter’s current girlfriend), and defeated Harry & three of the Raith sisters (including Lara) in a fight. This situation led to Harry performing a sanctum invocation with Demonreach, and his becoming the Warden of the island. This aided Harry in his final battle with the naagloshii, but not enough to defeat it. “Injun Joe” Listens-to-Wind showed up and performed a relative ass-to-ears ratio adjustment on the naagloshii, but only chased it off.

It’s kind of necessary to bring this up with those who don’t remember the naagloshii, because one of them came to Chicago, killed or badly hurt his friends, and then got away. Naagloshii’s loom BIG in Harry’s mind.

I have, in the past, found myself irritated by the recaps in Dresden novels, but I suppose they’re not near as bad as they could be. In this book, they had a great opportunity to call back to the naagloshii when Harry was running around Demonreach. There are many locked up there - all he had to do was walk past one, hear it in his mind, and a paragraph or three would have been a nice reminder of what they meant to him. Butcher may have dropped the ball a bit with that.

Skin Game is probably in my top five Dresden books, if I were to rank them.

Finally, I’m getting a little tired of canon Dresden Files stories being published in anthologies. They’re not cute throwaways, but something that is referenced in the novels later. Molly’s apartment and her relationship with the Svartalves, Maeve’s attempt to derail Billy & Georgia’s wedding, the Forest People in this book. That’s not cool.

I began to really sour on the series with the classic You Have A Child You Never Knew About gambit. (Surely the Child Magically Ages To Teen Years maneuver is in the offing). “How dare you hide the fact I have a daughter from me because my life is too dangerous! That should have been my choice! I hate you!” “Have you visited your daughter, Harry?” “I can’t - my life’s too dangerous!”

But those feelings matured with Ghost Story because we know the protagonist of an umpteen book series isn’t really going to die, so basically we’re waiting 400 pages to get to a resolution we saw coming on page one.

This one was not so bad. I liked that Harry finally met his daughter and finally made some time with Murphy. All that will-they-or-won’t-they foreplay was getting really tiresome. In some ways, Harry is a big ol’ coward.

On the other hand, we have once again a scene of Harry turning down a hottie who wants to bang him, who nevertheless he manages to see in the nude. Just about every book has a scene of a beautiful woman stripping down, who he virtuously refuses to take advantage of. He doesn’t get laid a lot, but he sees more naughty bits than a porn star. Seems like “vagina dentata” is one Latin phrase Harry has no problem understanding.

To me it felt like a deliberate choice. The missing naagloshii refresher is hardly the only case, after all. Grey’s reference to Murphy and the Loup-Garou goes entirely unexplained. We get a summary of Binder’s abilities, but no flashback to the last time Harry encountered him. Harry’s Little Folk minions get mentioned by name but never described. I think after 14 books, Butcher is finally saying “You know what, if you want a recap, go read the books. I have a story to tell here.” It could also be something more subtle; the books are told in the first person - we’re kinda getting a Harry’s-eye-view of events. Maybe the point here is that Harry is spending less time reflecting on past events.

I stopped reading at whatever book he got killed in, and realized that somehow he’d be brought back from the dead. That’s going too far.

Didn’t Changes come before Ghost Story?
This one was…OK. Better than the previous one, I think. There were a few things that kind of annoyed me. One is that Harry actually seems to be amazingly inconsistent in terms of his ability to put up a fight.
In the traditional Dresden set piece battles, Harry almost gets taken out by a couple of Formor tentacle monsters and then again by a handful of ghouls (admittedly backed up by a Denarian). Actually, he gets pretty beat up by every two-bit monster in the book. Then, in the final battle, he’s able to divert a blast of plasma hot enough to melt “tons” of rock. His power level just seems wildly variable.

Another thing that really irritated me is that on one of the numerous occasions that Harry gets his clock rung, he [spoiler]

has a long conversation with his ego who spills major plot points. Butcher is lampshading the fact that his hero is kind of dull by having his hero explain to us how dull he is and then explaining the obvious. I regard this as cheating, or at least poor storytelling. I’d be more engaged in the story if Harry actually acted like the competent wizard we know him to be. [/spoiler]

One thing I did sort of like about this story is that after finding the treasure, it didn’t turn into fairy gold or fall into a crevice or something. Harry will hopefully have a few coins to rub together in the next book, which might mean that he can make a few new wizard gadgets and will stop moaning about not having a shield bracelet and other goodies. Preparation is supposedly 99% of being a wizard, and Harry’s been sitting around doing nothing much but jogging for the past year.

I don’t really blame Butcher, I guess. The naagloshii was a nasty damn customer, is probably on Harry’s “to-do” list, and ranks up there with Nicodemus in terms of evil and danger-factor. If you’re this far into a series, you’re a fan and should know the basics.

Interesting theory regarding Harry as narrator.

PARKOUR!! Fixed that for you. :smiley: