I have to assume that I'm talking to a minority of this book's audience: those who aren't fully committed to the series, despite this being the 15th b...moreI have to assume that I'm talking to a minority of this book's audience: those who aren't fully committed to the series, despite this being the 15th book. You enjoy Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden, but you're feeling... I can't guess how you're feeling, I can't really relate to it. Somehow you're not making the connection with this series, and want my opinion on whether to keep going?
What am I going to say? Did you think I might say "no"? Shame on you. You know better.
The thing - rather, one thing that makes this series so very special is pacing. Not just within each book, which are generally very well paced on their own, but the series as a whole is set over a very long period of time. Storm Front was published 14 years ago - and the events in that story took place roughly in that same time frame relative to the events in Skin Game.
That means that we're seeing long arcs of character development. Butcher keeps his recurring cast small, so we get to know everyone really well. More than that, we're seeing people who were introduced in one stage of life transitioning into new stages. This is especially evident in Michael Carpenter's family - little Harry is introduced at birth, and at this point he's probably 10 or 12, maybe more or less, and some of the older kids have moved out and moved on. Molly Carpenter is especially emblematic of this long-arc storytelling, starting as little more than a background character but slowly growing into a meaningful individual and now taking a very grown-up role as a significant player in her own right.
This is a sort of storytelling I haven't seen anywhere else. For one thing, there aren't that many series this long that are this good, period. Even more famous works like A Song of Ice and Fire and the Wheel of Time series, for all their greatness, do not cover such long time periods; some of the characters may start young and end up as adults, but more often than not that's as much a psychological change as it is biological. It's simply a rare thing to see these normal, everyday human changes happen at a natural pace.
The series is special, and wonderful, and I love it. If you're not into it yourself, that's fine; if you're on the fence, I do fully believe that Skin Game may be the book to win you over for good. The same goes for Dead Beat and Changes, though, so if you're still holding out you might need to talk to someone about that in a professional setting.
For this book specifically.... it's a heist story, essentially, and it plays that role well. Butcher fits much more than stealing things into the simple framework of a heist story, though. There's no need to get specific; you'll enjoy it, I promise. I think this might be the best book yet in the series, but that's partly because it's building on and paying off on threads that were woven into the story in previous books. This isn't the book you want to pick up to start reading the Dresden Files; this is the book you've been waiting for if you're already a reader. Harry's really coming into his own, playing hard ball with the big players, and the stakes are uncommonly high. (view spoiler)[Things happen; people talk to other people, saying nice and less nice things; people realize things they didn't know, recognize things they did know, and find out how much they still don't know; nerds are represented, movies are quoted accidentally and intentionally, epic heroism is justly rewarded and betrayal justly repaid. We talk a lot about family, faith, trust, friendship, and love. (hide spoiler)]
For everything that has happened in this series, up to and including this book, I may attempt to violently shake Jim Butcher if I ever get in arm's reach of the man. Likewise, for everything that has happened in this series, up to and including this book, I will probably just hug him and cry all over him like a giant balding baby. This man plays with your feelings; overall it's a net positive.
Never doubt that he knows what he's doing. I know; with a series this long, it's natural to worry, asking yourself, "is this the one where it starts going downhill?" The answer is no. This is not that book. If anything, this gives me even more hope for the future of this series. This book, perhaps more than any other yet, is very thoroughly part of the series, and tied intimately to events both future and past. I'm very excited about what may be coming, and I think you should be too.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)