Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Summary: Skin Game (Dresden Files, Book 15), By Jim Butcher Sneak Peek / Spoilers

Skin Game (Dresden Files, book 15)
By: Jim Butcher
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The following plot summary includes spoilers. For a spoiler free assessment see the content based review. I strongly recommend reading the book yourself to get the full humor filled story. (Read the first 5 chapters.)

Please remember that this summary reflects what struck me as noteworthy (the bare bones) and is missing a substantial amount of material (conversations, humor, action) that make the book a pleasure to experience. However, knowing what is summarized below before reading Skin Game for yourself could seriously detract from your reading experience.

Skin Game Plot Summary

Since the conclusion of Cold Days Harry has been waiting for Molly to come remove the parasite in his head. It's been over a year - still no Molly.

Chapter 1: While down in Demonreach's tunnels of prisoners, Harry speaks briefly with a British sounding prisoner then collapses from sudden overwhelming pain in his head. Demonreach's genus-loci (newly named Alfred) is able to suppress the parasite causing the pain and tells Harry that Mab has arrived.

Chapter 2: According to Mab, the parasite will emerge and kill Harry in three days time. She's been blocking and altering his messages to Molly to give herself leverage in securing his cooperation. Once Harry has completed a task for her she will allow Molly to help him. Harry receives an earring that will temporarily suppress the pain. 

Chapter 3: They leave the island and meet with Nicodemus Archleone. (On the way Harry remarks that he's "only human" and Mab replies "For now.") While they are there a human servant named Jordan is initiated (tongue removed) into Nicodemus' club of mute goons. Mab is loaning Nicodemus Harry to assist in robbing Hades' vault in the Underworld. 

Chapter 4: Harry gets Mab and Nicodemus' approval to bring along a backup person of his own. As they are leaving Harry tells Mab he won't help Nicodemus. Mab replies that he will until their objective is accomplished then he is to be himself. She expects clever backstabbing on Harry's part and if he doesn't want to  cooperate with Nicodemus he should know that when the parasite emerges it will destroy everyone he loves.

Chapter 5: After doing some mysterious research on his situation, Harry asks Karrin Murphy to be his backup. She agrees.

Chapter 6: Karrin and Harry drive to a  meeting with Nicodemus. Before entering, Harry tells Karrin that Hades is a collector (holy artifacts, powerful objects, famous pieces, etc), Karrin is reluctant to bring the holly swords into this conflict, and they observe Hannah Ascher (a warlock) and Binder (minor bad guy from Turn Coat) arriving.

Chapter 7: Inside Nicodemus' headquarters there is a pen filled with 12 goats. Harry and Binder agree to a truce for the duration of the mission. Nicodemus makes nice and tells them all that they will be getting huge quantities of monetary reward at the end of this job. Binder is sent to pick up a new member of the group named Goodman Grey, Dresden and Hannah Ascher are sent to recruit Anna Valmont (whom Harry has met before) to assist with getting through a security system.

Chapter 8: Harry turns down advances from Hannah.

Chapter 9: Karrin drives them to the fancy shindig where Harry tries to dissuade Anna Valmont from joining the cause.  Anna's desire for revenge on Nicodemus leads her to accept the position anyway.  Nicodemus had already contracted her to steal information from the Fomor and the Fomor attack before Harry, Anna and Hannah can get out of the building.

Chapter 10: Much fighting, magic, ugly bad guys/creatures. Harry is shot in the leg and Hannah shows amazing ability with fire magic.

Chapter 11: They all escape, drop off Hannah at Nicodemus' headquarters and head to Murphy's home.

Chapter 12: Anna shows Harry the information she stole from the Fomor on a businessman named Harvey Morrison. His value to Nicodemus is not immediately obvious, but they assume he is the next step of Nicodemus' plan. Waldo Butters (the Medical Examiner) is waiting for Harry at Murphy's. Harry doses off while his leg is being worked on.

Chapter 13: Harry jerks awake thinking someone said "Open your eyes, you fool. She's right in front of . . ." but only Butters is there. Harry gives him a backup safe house for Bob in payment of a debt he incurred in Cold Days. Harry quickly finds out that Butters is having some serious doubts about Harry's good guy status. Butters leaves and Karrin tells Harry that she trusts him. They all go to their separate sleeping quarters.

Chapter 14: While asleep Harry somehow contacts Molly (who is also asleep), explains his situation and Molly tells him she's on her way but currently under two miles of ice. She'll be there as soon as she can. The dream then transitions into a Dresden/Murphy sex scene that Harry doesn't realize is a dream until Murphy transforms into a denarian and shoots him. He wakes up, Murphy comes in to check on him and says that after the job is over they should talk.

Chapter 15: The next morning at Nicodemus' headquarters two goats are missing and the guards think there is something/one is in there taking them. Goodman Grey (a shape-shifter) needs to get a sample from Harvey so that he can duplicate him. Harry volunteers to go get the sample so that Harvey doesn't end up dead.

Chapter 16: Goodman, Harry and Deirdre (Nicodemus' daughter) are waiting for Harvey when Tessa (Nicodemus' wife) and goons show up.

Chapter 17: Goodman and Deirdre delay Tessa while Harry runs to get Harvey. Harry and Harvey end up being chased by Tessa and goons. They are in a building when Harry realizes that the goons are in fact Ghouls.

Chapter 18: Ghouls, Tessa and Harry fight. Much winter magic gets thrown around, Harry gets a broken arm and runs out of Magic. More Ghouls still coming.

Chapter 19: Goodman Grey takes out the remaining Ghouls. Tessa and Deirdre are both gone and Harvey is dead - murdered. Harry believes Tessa or Deirdre are probably responsible for Harvey's death. Goodman Grey takes the necessary blood sample and takes Harvey's place at his job so that his disappearance won't be noticed.

Chapter 20: Weary of asking Butters for more help Harry goes to the Carpenters' home where Michael (retired Knight of the Cross and Molly's Dad) sets his arm. They talk through the events at the end of Changes, Michael reassures Harry that he's still one of the good guys, and Harry discovers that Molly still hasn't told her family about being the Winter Lady.

Chapter 21: With his head on straighter, Harry returns to headquarters. More goats are missing. Dresden brings Karrin, Binder and Ascher up to speed on the events of the day.

Chapter 22: With Nicodemus, Deirdre and Goodman back the meeting begins. In the underworld there are three gates that must be passed to gain access to Hades vault. Fire (to be handled by Ascher), Ice (Dresden as Winter Knight) and Blood (Nicodemus).  In the vault Nicodemus is after the holy grail.  To discover the identity of the invisible goat eater, Harry insults it into invisibility and gets himself thoroughly pummeled by a Genoskwa (very big) who sticks him with an iron nail. Harry passes out.

Chapter 23: While unconscious Harry has a conversation with his subconscious who says the reason he hasn't gotten together with Karrin is because he's waiting for Molly. It also explains that he doesn't really have a parasite in his head, he's pregnant with a spirit of intellect - product of his relationship with Lasciel's Shadow. He needs Molly's help or the "delivery" will kill him. It also warns him to remember how the dream ends.

Chapter 24: Harry wakes up at Karrin's house. Butters has reset his broken arm and is telling Karrin that he thinks the Winter mantle doesn't make Harry any stronger, it just puts him out of touch with his natural inhibitors that keep him from injuring himself. He's worried that Harry is changing. Karrin tells him that ever since he's had the skull (Bob) he's been changing too and talks to him about fear and choices. Butters leaves and Karrin tells Harry that Butters has been trying to protect people in his absence. The Fomor have been taking six year olds off the street. Karrin shows him images from the paranet that show Sanya (the only current Knight of the Cross) in Iran dealing with Denarians. Karrin brings out a rocket launcher that she says can kill the Genoskwa and gives Harry a gun. 

Chapter 25: Karrin brings the rocket launcher back to headquarters with her. Harry asks Deirdre about Harvey and she says her mother killed him. Harry doesn't believe Tessa is after the grail (as Nicodemus claims). Deirdre says she and Nicodemus are "fighting to save the world" and that Harry can't understand the depth of her and Nicodemus relationship after their centuries together. Nicodemus reveals that they will start their job from a building belonging to Gentleman John Marcone.

Chapter 26: Once they break into Marcone's secure vault, Harry will be able to open a way into the underworld. The discuss details until Ascher notices a spell that's allowing someone to listen in on them. Binder hips up some goons and Nicodemus orders the imposter killed. Harry shows Murphy that the bug the imposter was using is wrapped in the bandages on his arm. The imposter is Butters.

Chapter 27: Harry runs after the goons pursuing Butters "accidentally" hindering them in his pretend attempt to apprehend Butters. Butters doesn't catch on to the ruse and sicks Bob (in the form of a giant lion statue) on Harry.

Chapter 28: Fortunately Bob caught on and he and Harry put on an elaborate show of trying to kill each other while missing and killing other goons. Butters gets away but Nicodemus and the Genoskwa are in pursuit. Murphy and Harry drive towards the Carpenters where they think Butters is headed.

Chapter 29: Harry gets there before Butters (who finally realizes Harry is a good guy) and tries to hurry him into the Carpenters, but Nicodemus arrives first and Harry's cover is blown. He can give Butters to Nicodemus or go back on his orders from Mab (bad idea). Harry throws Butters into the Carpenters yard. Karrin corners Nicodemus with Fidelacchius (A Sword of Faith that she'd been disguising as the rocket launcher), Nicodemus "surrenders" and tells the Genoskwa to kill Harry. Karrin tries to use the sword against Nicodemus, but since she's using it in a manner that goes against it's purpose (he's surrendered), her actions destroy it and it becomes just an ordinary sword and Nicodemus shatters it.

Chapter 30: Nicodemus beats Karrin Murphy up bad. Fidelacchius' hilt ends up in the Carpenters' yard. Michael comes out of the house and tells Nicodemus that if he lets Harry and Murphy go, he'll come out of the protection his angel guards provide. Uriel (Archangel) tells Michael he doesn't have too, but Michael makes the deal. Uriel speaks to Butters who runs off. Harry and Murphy make it into the Carpenters' yard. Uriel tells Harry to stall. Nicodemus says Harry was never in any danger, he just used him to get Murphy to destroy the sword. Uriel heals Michael's leg, Butters runs up with Amoracchius and Michael is once again a Knight of the Cross. Faced with Michael and Harry (aided by soulfire), Nicodemus backs down and agrees that Harry gets to choose a replacement for Murphy (since he put her out of commission). Harry chooses Michael. Nicodemus leaves.

Chapter 31: Michael points out that Harry isn't more angry about Murphy being hurt than he would have been had it been Michael or Butters that was injured. Murphy is upset about the broken sword, Michael tells her to have faith. Harry accidentally injures Uriel and they discover that rather than healing Michael (which he couldn't do), Uriel gave Michael is own power - rendering Uriel mortal. If Michael misuses the power, Uriel will become fallen.

Chapter 32: Uriel tells Michael that a soul is at stake, solidifying Michael's decision to move forward with the power. Butters takes Murphy to the ER. Harry meets Maggie (his daughter). Molly had told Maggie that Harry was nice, loved her, fought monsters and gave her Mouse (large not-just-a-dog dog). Maggie asks if he wants to be her dad and Harry agrees, realizing that he has decided to be a father to her.

Chapter 33: Michael and Harry meet up with Nicodemus and crew then head out on the job.

Chapter 34: Harry puts on steel thorn manacles (temporarily taking away the Winter Mantel and his ability to perform magic) so that his magic won't set off any magic-triggered security precautions. At Marcone's building, Harry uses roman candles as a distraction while Goodman Grey neutralizes the guards. Ascher does her fire magic and creates large holes through two walls. Michael accompanies Anna Valmont to open the main vault door, but he returns quickly saying that Nicodemus is going to kill Anna.

Chapter 35: The vault door is different from Nicodemus' information, but with Harry's insight and moral support Anna is able to open it. There are magic sensitive wards around the door - so if it weren't for those manacles, Harry's presence would be a problem. With the vault door open, Goodman (now wearing Harvey's likeness) does the retinal scan to open a strong room with the vault. Goodman Grey goes to get the crew while Harry prepares to open a way to the Underworld. Tessa attacks Harry, closing them into the vault. Harry realizes that he's stuck without magic as removing the manacles would kill all the crew outside the vault.

Chapter 36: Tessa tries to kill Harry in horrible ways, but Michael arrives and sends her running. The crew (minus Binder who is staying behind to hold off the authorities/Marcone) gathers. Harry removes the manacles and opens a way to the Underworld.

Chapter 37: In the Underworld Ascher uses her fire magic abilities to get them through the Gate of Fire and they reach the Gate of Ice.

Chapter 38: Harry closes the way back to the normal world to discourage backstabbing then gets them all through the Gate of Ice. At the Gate of Blood Nicodemus says it's time for one of them to die and has Valmont and Harry immobilized.

Chapter 39: While everyone is distracted Nicodemus murders Deirdre (by her consent). Nicodemus collects her coin and Deirdre's ghost/shade lets them through the Gate of Blood.

Chapter 40: In Hades' vault Valmont collects a pack of Diamonds then she and Dresden sneak off. Harry finds the grail/cup in a collection of five holy artifacts. He then realizes that the artifacts are actually weapons and the vault is actually an armory. Time comes to a virtual standstill for everyone except Harry as Hades arrives on the scene, confirms Harry's realization and grabs him.

Chapter 41: Hades and Harry reappear in a different room. Hades gives Harry guest rights and helps him realize that Mab intends for Harry to take the weapons. He wishes Harry luck and sends him back to the exact moment of time that time slowed.

Chapter 42: Back in the vault, time resumes its normal progression with no one but Harry the wiser. Harry has Valmont hide two objects (the Placard and the Crown) in her pack. He stuffs the Shroud in his pocket and the fourth non-grail holy weapon (a knife) up his sleeve. Nicodemus, Michael, Ascher and the Genoskwa arrive and Nicodemus sends Valmont outside to where Grey is standing watch. Michael notices that one of the statues (meant to symbolize the Winter Lady) resembles Molly. Harry taunts Nicodemus about Deirdre and gives him the Grail. Nicodemus order Harry and Michael killed.

Chapter 43: Harry and Michael fight off Nicodemus and the Genoskwa. Michael tries without success to save Nicodemus. Then the game changes as they realize that the Genoskwa has taken up the coin of Ursiel and Ascher has taken up the coin of Lasciel. Lasciel tells Harry that she intends to collect their child from his head. Grey appears and says Valmont is dead as ordered. It's four on two. Harry says "Game over."

Chapter 44: We skip back to the research Harry did between chapters 4 and 5 and discover that Harry met with Kringle/Vadderung. Harry learned that Nicodemus's shadow can hear anything said near anyone's shadow, so he would need to be tight lipped with his plans or Nicodemus would know. Harry decided to get a plant of his own on Nicodemus's team that will fight for him when he says "Game Over." He hires Goodman Grey before Nicodemus can and tells him to pretend to accept Nicodemus' offer of work.

Chapter 45: Back in Hades' vault Goodman Grey attacks Ursiel. Much fighting ensues during which Nicodemous is forced to flee and an automatic fail-safe is tripped. Lasciel/Ascher attack Harry.

Chapter 46: Lasciel/Ascher and Harry fight and she ends up buried under a pile of burning chunks of earth. (Harry believes he's killed her, but we never see a body.) Michael and Harry meet up with an injured Goodman Grey. Grey and Michael go to meet up with Valmont at the first gate and Harry is attacked by Ursiel/Genoskwa.

Chapter 47: The Genoskwa/Ursiel loses the fight and Harry opens a way back to Marcone's vault. They get through, but Nicodemus sneaks through before Harry can close the way. Nicodemus lets on that he knows Maggie is Harry's daughter and that he (Nicodemus) is going after her (communicated in much fewer words as these things always are in books). Nicodemus closes them into the vault.

Chapter 48: Valmont gets them out of the vault and Binder agrees to work with them for an equal share of the Diamonds Valmont brought back.

Chapter 49: They get out of Marcone's building. Harry runs ahead of Michael (who's injured) to the carpenter's home and gets there right before Nicodemus sends a bunch of his squires (tongueless goons) at the house. Butters, Charity, Uriel, Mouse and Harry try to fend them off but Charity is captured and dragged out to the street where Nicodemus plans to force her to watch as he burns the house down around her children.

Chapter 50: Harry stops the initial attempt to burn down the house, but Mab's earring shatters and he is virtually immobilized with pain. Butters takes Harry's duster, a machine gun, and Bob then heads out to hold off the bad guys as long as he can. In the last desperate moment, Harry manages to throw the broken hilt of  Fidelacchius to Charity who misses it and it ends up in Butter's hands where it remakes itself. We have a new Knight of the Cross people! Nicodemus gets scarred off and his remaining squires are free. Harry's eyes stop working and Uriel tells him Molly has arrived.

Chapter 51: Harry wakes up, tells Molly that she's not his apprentice anymore (we learn that Molly has spoken with Harry's subconscious mind - this is mention, but not elaborated on), and meets the she spirit (who resides in the extra home he made for Bob). Harry pays off Goodman Grey (who he discovers is part naagloshii). Uriel's power is back with Uriel and Michael is once again a cripple. Uriel confirms that he risked everything for the sake of the squires and Nicodemus' soul. Binder, Valmont, Harry and Michael split the diamonds five ways and Harry takes the extra portion to his and Molly's meeting with Mab and Marcone where he uses it to pay off Marcone. Marcone makes it clear that they are now even. Harry sees Molly using a cell phone which makes him afraid for her (since human practitioners can't). Molly tells him that she is now having her parents house watched and is buying the house down the street from them. He kisses Karrin Murphy (who's in the hospital) with promises of further pursuing such things further when she is better. He slips her half his diamonds when she isn't looking. Back at the carpenters', Michael offers Harry custody of Amoracchius (not as a knight but as a guardian). Harry is worried about what will happen if Mab turns him into a monster, Michael says he doesn't believe that will happen and says that Harry should really be asking "What is she going to do with you if she can't?". Holding his sleeping daughter, Harry takes the sword.

That's it folks! Can't wait for book 16! And by all means if you are a Dresden Files fan and haven't read Skin Game yet, GO READ IT! I couldn't possibly include all the fun nuggets. :-)

Even More Dresden Files News!

Read what Jim Butcher has revealed about Dresden Files book 16, Peace Talks.

Then there's what we know about book 17: Mirror Mirror.

Check out the titles for the final three Dresden Files books, some hints Jim dished out and news of a Dresden spin off!

Have you heard about the new Dresden Files Graphic Novel War Cry?

Finally, if you NEED Dresden Files NOW, check out the excerpt from the Molly point of view novella, Bombshells!

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