Skin Game (The Dresden Files)
|Cover artist||Christian McGrath|
|May 27, 2014|
|Preceded by||Cold Days|
|Followed by||Peace Talks|
Skin Game is a novel in The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. It is the 15th novel in the series. It follows the protagonist, Harry Dresden as he teams up with former enemies to rob a vault belonging to Hades, lord of the Underworld.
Harry Dresden, still living on the island of Demonreach, is unable to reach his allies and plagued by increasing headaches. Queen Mab demands he undertake a job, but in return offers her aid with his headaches. Harry is to help Nicodemus steal something from the vault of Hades. Wary of the potential for betrayal, he enlists the aid of Karrin Murphy to watch his back.
Harry and Karrin meet Nicodemus and his crew, which includes Binder and a female warlock, Hanna Ascher, and soon Anna Valmont, the only surviving member of the group of thieves who had stolen the Shroud of Turin in Death Masks. Harry and Karrin accompany Deirdre and the shape-shifting Goodman Grey, to collect a sample from an insider, who is immediately killed when Tessa unexpectedly intervenes. Dresden learns that the heist's target is the Holy Grail. At the third meeting, they realize that they are being spied upon by Waldo Butters. Giving chase, Harry manages to keep Binder's henchmen from catching him with the help of Bob. Nicodemus catches up with Dresden, Murphy and Butters on the street in front of Michael Carpenter's house, and a fight ensues. Murphy draws Fidelacchius and is tricked into using the sword to attempt to kill him while defenseless, which results in the sword's shattering and Murphy being badly wounded. Michael then appears, offering to leave his angel-protected house in exchange for the release of Harry, Karrin and Butters. Nicodemus accepts the deal, but before Michael leaves, Uriel appears, giving Michael Amoracchius and his own Grace. Nicodemus surrenders the fight and agrees to accept Michael as Harry's replacement for the wounded Murphy. That night while recovering at the Carpenters', Harry reconnects with his daughter Maggie for the first time since he saved her life at Chichen Itza in Changes.
As the heist begins, the group breaks into a high security vault owned by John Marcone, where Dresden opens a Way to the true vault in the Nevernever. Ascher and Dresden open the gates of fire and ice respectively, leading the group to the Gate of Blood, where Deirdre willingly allows Nicodemus to sacrifice her to gain access to the vault. Dresden and Valmont manage to find an altar containing several powerful religious artifacts, including the Grail, at which point Hades stops time to talk to Dresden. Hades informs him that the vault is actually an armory: its purpose is to hold powerful artifacts and weapons until those with the knowledge and power to use them can claim them.
Armed with this knowledge, Dresden hides three artifacts in Valmont's bag and one in his sleeve before Nicodemus and the others arrive to claim the Grail. Nicodemus takes the Grail and turns on Harry and Michael after Harry makes a last appeal to Nicodemus's humanity, as Valmont has gone back to the vault's entrance. Hanna Ascher and the Genoskwa (an aggressive Bigfoot) are revealed to be the new hosts for Lasciel and Ursiel, respectively, and Nicodemus orders them and Goodman Grey to attack.
It is then revealed through a flashback that Harry had earlier hired Grey to back him up in anticipation of this fight. Grey takes on the Genoskwa/Ursiel, while Dresden fights Ascher/Lasciel and Michael fights Nicodemus. After Dresden manages to bury Ascher in a rockfall and Michael sends Nicodemus running, Grey blinds the Genoskwa, allowing the three of them to escape. On the way out, Dresden activates the Gate of Ice to crush the pursuing Genoskwa.
Dresden opens a Way and the four of them depart the Nevernever, but before they can close the Way, Nicodemus escapes and heads for Michael's house. With Binder's help, Harry and his team get out of Marcone's vault. Harry and Grey then leave to confront Nicodemus at Michael's home. During the final fight, Butters takes up the broken Fidelacchius, which emits a lightsaber-style blade, and chases off Nicodemus again. He agrees to become a Knight of the Cross.
Afterwards, the group divide up the backpack full of diamonds Valmont stole from Hades' vault. Grey turns down a share of them, instead accepting one dollar from Harry as his fee, and Harry uses that share as a "weregild" to pay for the death of Marcone's vault guard. He then visits Karrin in the hospital and the two share a passionate kiss and agree to try an actual relationship. Talking with Michael that evening, Harry reflects over the events of the past few days, and together they worry about a few things including Harry's future as the Winter Knight.
- Hades: The Greek God of the Underworld.
- The Genoskwa: An aggressive, Bigfoot-like vessel for the Fallen Angel Ursiel.
- Goodman Grey: A half-human, half-naagloshii mercenary hired as part of Nicodemus' heist team.
- Hannah Ascher: A human warlock wanted by the White Council. She is the vessel for the Fallen Angel Lasciel, with both motivated by revenge upon Dresden.
The book debuted at number 1 on the New York Times best seller list the week of June 6, 2014.
- Cordova, Randy (June 6, 2014). "Author Jim Butcher embraces nerd following". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
- Cowles, Gregory (June 6, 2014). "Inside the List". New York Times. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
- "2015 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. April 4, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2015.