Saturday, June 21, 2014

He should have called it Reservoir Wizards....

I'm a bit behind on posting this, but it's been a very busy week.

So, Skin Game, Jim Butcher's newest installment in the ever expanding Dresden Files, has our wizard narrator and Winter Knight, Harry Dresden, working with old foe Nicodemus.

Due to Mab owing Nic a favor, Harry gets dragged into the heist from Hell. Almost literally. The book jacket gives away as much, Nicodemus needs Dresden's help to spring the Holy Grail from Hades' vault. (Yes, THAT Hades. Whose brief appearance is still better than Disney's portrayal. And includes yet another take on Persephone.)

But, before any of that happens, we have almost 2/3 of the book just preparing for the heist. Given that the team is made of several amoral to downright evil people, there gets to be much moral ambiguity in people's actions here. Which I assume helps bring out Harry's struggle with Winter's Mantle, but really just made me wish they'd hurry up and break into the vault. (I mean, it's good reading, but many of the conversations during downtime seem to be Waldo Butters and Karrin Murphy discussing whether or not Harry is the same man he was prior to dying and coming back. That and a few dream sequences.

But once they actually get to the vault, the pace picks up and the entire thing goes off the rails in ways that only Butcher seems to be able to pull off. (Simon R. Green does similar, but he starts off the rails and the question becomes where is this train going to land?)

Like any good heist, there are crosses and double crosses, and not everyone is who they seem to be. There's a large twist towards the end which pretty much comes off as Deus ex Machinae, but even that doesn't really make it a bad read. Like most of the Dresden Files, it's not exactly undying prose, but Butcher spins a good and entertaining yarn that makes for a good few days of reading.