Tag Archives: Dresden Files

Review: “The Dresden Files: Skin Game” by Jim Butcher

Title: Skin Game
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #15
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: ROC, 2014

You should probably know by now: I’m a huge Dresden fan. Jim Butcher has an uncanny ability to top his previous achievements each book, and this time is no exception. Obviously, this review will contain spoilers for previous books in the series.

Right. It was revealed at the end of Cold Days that Dresden had some sort of parasite in his head that was causing his recurring headaches, and that it will eventually kill him if left unchecked. Demonreach, the sentient island/monster prison located in the middle of Lake Michigan, can use its bond with Dresden to keep the parasite suppressed for the moment, which is why Dresden has been living there alone for the past year. Unfortunately, time is running out. If the parasite isn’t dealt with soon, Harry will die. Mab, queen of the Winter Fae and Harry’s boss since he accepted the mantle of Winter Knight to save his daughter, offers a solution…after he completes a mission for her. That mission? No less than helping one of his Archenemies pull off a heist from the vault of Hades himself. Nicodemus heads the Order of the Blackened Denarius, a group of thirty fallen angels who are each tied to a particular silver Roman coin (Yeah, THOSE coins) and form a symbiotic relationship with whoever holds that coin. The Denarians are locked in an eternal combat with the Knights of the Cross, a trio (usually) of knights who each wield a sword forged with a nail from the cross (Yeah, THAT cross) in the hilt. Harry has crossed the Denarians before, even owned one of their coins for a while, but so far he has always come out ahead. This time? This time he’s got to help Nicodemus get his hands on one of the holiest relics in the world, and refrain from any treachery until after their objectives are met. This time, there may be no way out….

You’ve gotta love a good heist. Ocean’s Eleven was good, but robbing the Underworld itself? That’s the ultimate challenge. Will Dresden and his temporary allies succeed? Can Dresden thwart Nicodemus plan without breaking Mab’s orders? And given Nicodemus’ track record for flawless honesty, what on (or under) Earth is the real play here? You’ve gotta read on to find out! I will say that this was every bit as excellent as you would expect, and I stayed up way too late multiple nights in a row reading this book. Dresden is as snarky as ever, and after the last several books it was good to see a bunch of his allies again. One of the main strengths of this series is the secondary characters, every one of whom is interesting in their own right. You’ve got Karrin Murphy, former cop and arguably Dresden’s closest friend. Michael, crippled former Knight and one of the few men on the planet who are truly and unequivocally Good. Waldo Butters, Chicago coroner and budding supernatural vigilante, also the current holder of Bob, the spirit of intellect who formerly served Dresden. For the past several books Harry has walked a lonely road, and it’s good to see his friends again. Now he just has to keep from getting them killed….

CONTENT: R-rated language, not gratuitous but still present. Strong violence, sometimes very disturbing. Some fairly explicit sexual content this time, but I would argue that it was included for good reason. Since the main character is a wizard, I think the “occult content” is a given, but I urge you not to let that discourage you from this series.

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Review: “The Dresden Files: Welcome To The Jungle” by Jim Butcher and Ardian Syaf

Title: Welcome To The Jungle
Writer: Jim Butcher
Artist: Ardian Syaf
Series: The Dresden Files
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Dabel Brothers, 2008

I’m a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. You may not have picked up on this, since there’s only really been one book in the series come out since I started doing this review blog, but I await each new release for this series with a fervor previously reserved for new Star Wars books. For me, the start of the series was the Dabel Brothers comic miniseries Welcome To The Jungle. Conveniently, this miniseries/graphic novel (depending on whether you’re reading the individual issues or the hardcover collection) acts as a prequel to the first novel. Now, whether you’re a longtime Dresden reader or are only just discovering the distilled pure awesomeness that is this series, I highly recommend tracking down a copy of this one.

When the Chicago PD have a case they don’t know how to explain, they give it to Karrin Murphy and the Special Investigations division. When Murphy thinks there may actually be something supernatural going on, she calls in the only practicing wizard in the Chicago phone book–Harry Dresden. This time, there’s a dead guard at the Chicago zoo. Throat ripped out by a beast with maniacal strength, blood everywhere…including the gorilla cage, which is why the official story is that the gorilla did it. But something doesn’t fit…namely, the gorilla was still in his cage with the gate locked when the body was found. Now unless Harry can figure out just what went down the innocent ape will be euthanized and the killer will go unpunished, free to pursue his or her devilish plot….

I can’t praise this enough, honestly. The writing is pure Butcher, as good as you would expect from having read the Dresden Files novels. There’s all the wry asides, self deprecation, vile monsters and supernatural action that Butcher can throw at you, with the added bonus of being able to visualize the characters and situations. The visual element of the story is really put to full use, especially in the sequence where Harry is running through his list of creatures capable of the violence at the zoo. Also, Harry is freaking tall! It’s one thing to have him tell you this, but to see the way he towers above all the other characters is pretty fun. This is completely consistent with the books too, which is nice. I’m not a huge fan of the collection cover, honestly, which is why I went with the cover to one of the individual issues for the top of the post.

CONTENT: Mild language. Violence, sometimes disturbing and bloody. Mild sexual innuendos, nothing too explicit. Occult content….well, Harry’s a wizard. There’s quite a bit of magic, usually operating through Harry’s pseudo-latin spells. My favorite is “flickum biccus,” his spell for lighting the candles about his apartment. There’s a Black Dog, from Celtic mythology, mention of vampires and other stock fantasy creatures, and the implication that Greek mythology has at least some grounding in reality.

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Review: “Cold Days” by Jim Butcher

Title: Cold Days
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #14
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Penguin, 2012

SPOILER ALERT! This review contains spoilers, not for Cold Days  but for the two previous books, Changes and Ghost Story.

Harry Dresden was the only professional wizard in the Chicago phonebook. But a lot can happen over the course of three books….First, the Red Court vampires kidnapped his daughter (whom he didn’t know existed) and tried to sacrifice her in a spell that would wipe out her entire lineage–including Harry and a number of the senior wizards of the White Council. Which was about when Harry fell and broke his back, paralyzing himself at least for the short term. In order to gain the power to save his daughter, Harry sold his soul and accepted the position of Winter Knight for the Winter Court of the Fae. Power corrupts, and the power of the Winter Knight is about as corrupting an influence as you can find–and Harry is well aware of the monster he would make if he allowed it to happen. No sooner is his daughter safe and sound than Harry finds himself on the receiving end of a high-powered sniper rifle….awakening months later to find himself a disembodied spirit. He doesn’t really have time to get used to it though, because something is stalking Chicago’s spooks. To make matters worse, Chicago has become a very scary place without its resident wizard to deter the baddies and Harry’s friends are all in very real danger. Even as a ghost, Harry can’t resist putting himself between his friends and danger….but at the end of the day, crisis averted for now, Harry awakens once more in his own body. He’s been comatose for months on his island, being tended by the island’s conciousness Demonreach and the Winter Queen, Mab. Turns out, she won’t let her new knight go that easily….

Harry lives! He’s been nursed back to health in the depths of Arctis Tor, stronghold of the Winter Court and his new boss, Mab, the Winter Queen. He is hers to command, at least so far as she can convince him is necessary. And her first job for him? Killing Maeve, her daughter the Winter Lady. This doesn’t make sense on multiple levels, as a mortal simply does not have the power to kill an immortal except in very rare and specific situations, none of which are scheduled any time soon. To make matters worse, there’s something wrong with Demonreach, the island Harry has a complicated connection with. If he doesn’t find a way to prevent it, half the Midwest is going to become a crater. To make matters worse, Harry is only now becoming aware of the true face and purpose of what he has been referring to as the Black Council. It is not at all what he has thought it is, and anyone could be compromised. All of the allies he trusts think he is dead. He can call on the power of the Winter Knight, but even if he is able to avoid becoming a monster that may not be enough to tip the scales in his favor this time….

The crazy thing about the Dresden files is how the author, Jim Butcher, manages to make each book more epic than the last. I finished this book less than two days ago and I’m already jonesing for the next installment. May it come quickly….I am very anxious to see how events play out following that ending.

Content: This is rated R. The language is occasionally harsh, but not gratuitous. The violence can be brutal, but fits the tone of the book. Harry Dresden inhabits a very dark world, and it gets darker with every book. He tries to be a force for the light, but sometimes he has to settle for lessening the darkness. There is a fair amount of sexual content, again, not gratuitous, but present nonetheless. Obviously, this book contains magic. I am very impressed by how respectfull of Christianity Butcher is, however, and I encourage you not to dismiss this out of hand.

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