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Death Masks (The Dresden Files, Book 5) by…

Death Masks (The Dresden Files, Book 5) (edition 2013)

by Jim Butcher, Vincent Chong (Illustrator)

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4,957101924 (4.16)158
Title:Death Masks (The Dresden Files, Book 5)
Authors:Jim Butcher (Author)
Other authors:Vincent Chong (Illustrator)
Info:Subterranean Press (2013), Edition: Limited Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:Urban Fantasy, Signed, Subterranean Press

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Death Masks by Jim Butcher



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Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
One of the stronger books in this series in my opinion. I really enjoyed having Susan back, and that love scene was gorgeous and heartbreaking. Of course, Death Masks also introduces us to one of my favourite villains, Nicodimus.*shivers* Fabulous, read it! ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |

Cross-posted to Knite Writes


So, someone has stolen the Shroud of Turin, and Harry’s been hired to get it back. Sounds like a pretty tame job considering his usual life-threatening occupational requirements. Which means it’s inevitably going to end up even more hazardous than normal.

And so it goes.

The Red Court Vampire Lord Ortega challenges Harry to a life-or-death duel in a supposed attempt to end the war Harry rightfully started a few books ago. So, while Harry’s getting shot at by Marcone’s hit man, getting chased through an alley by a giant bear-like creature that turns out to be a fallen angel, and nearly getting himself drowned and gutted on a ship while trying to reclaim the Shroud from the people who stole it, he also has to prepare for an impending fight to the death.

The Archive, a little girl with the entirety of human knowledge stuffed into her brain, acts as the mediator of the duel along with her hired mercenary guardian, Kincaid — she shows up to help to set the terms. Harry tries to get Michael to be his needed second for the duel, but Michael and another Knight of the Cross, Sanya, get sidetracked in St. Louis, so Harry ends up with the badass grandpa Knight, Shiro, as his second instead.

Around the same time all this is going down, Susan shows up in Chicago again, claiming she’s returned to get the last of her things before she leaves for good. She ends up accompanying Harry to an auction where the Shroud is going to be sold. Harry tracks down the Shroud and realizes that Marcone is the buyer, but before he can grab the thing and run, the fallen angels show up to take it for themselves. Harry almost escapes.

He gets captured by the group’s leader, Nicodemus, who ties Harry up and nullifies his magic with running water. Nicodemus offers Harry one of the fallen’s coins, but because Harry’s stubborn to a fault, he declines and nearly gets his throat slit. Thankfully, Shiro shows up at the last second and convinces Nicodemus to trade Harry…for himself. Oh, dear.

Harry manages to get away with Shiro’s holy sword and regroup with Susan, Michael, and Sanya. He eventually realizes that the guy who hired him to find the Shroud in the first place is actually a fallen disguised as a rep of the Vatican, so he gets Michael and Sanya to accompany him to take the guy out. Naturally, the guy pulls a false surrender and gives up his coin, which means Michael and Sanya can’t touch him even though he’s really evil. Harry, not being a righteous Knight, has no such limitations. He beats the crap out of the guy with a baseball bat until he gives up Nicodemus’ plan.

Then Harry has to suspend the fallen plot line momentarily to take on Ortega in the duel.

He almost wins. Then Ortega cheats and the whole thing falls apart. Harry escapes with his life and the pride of knowing Ortega couldn’t beat him fair and square. Unfortunately, Ortega also escapes with his life and vows to return to kill Harry later.

Back to the fallen.

At the airport, Harry, Michael, and Sanya find out that Nicodemus has used the Shroud to start a plague curse the fallen want to use to cause a massive epidemic that will fuel their fear- and pain-powered abilities. They manage to evacuate the airport in time, only to find the source of the plague — poor Shiro was used to start it. Shiro, just before he dies, tells the boys Nicodemus’ backup plan is a train to another airport.

So Harry calls in freaking Marcone to help them find the train in time. Guy shows up with a helicopter.

One flight, a train-top battle, and a quick swim in a river later, the good guys have recovered the Shroud, the bad have gotten away to be evil another day, and Harry is able to resume his life as normal. Whatever that means.

Sadly, it doesn’t last long. At a cookout at Michael’s, Nicodemus shows up and pulls the cheapest trick in the book: he throws a fallen coin at Michael’s youngest son, and Harry the Hero grabs it to save the kid. Just like Nicodemus knew he would. Asshole.

Now, Harry’s got no girlfriend — because Susan is once again long-gone — and he has a fallen angel problem.


Cue sequel.


My Take

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Butcher has been using the last few books to build a world where multi-mythos entities are destined to collide in an epic battle for the fate of the world. First, we got vampires. Then faeries. Now fallen angels. And not for one second does Butcher let you believe a single one of them won’t be showing up again in the future. As with Summer Knight, Butcher allows the events of the previous books to continue interfering with Harry’s life even though the current installment’s focus is an entirely different subject. Harry now has enemies coming from several directions, all of whom have different motivations, goals, and tactics. Harry has to split his attention, his time, and his energy to fight multiple enemies at once — most of whom aren’t even remotely related to each other.

And that’s what making each subsequent installment so much more exciting. In Storm Front and Fool Moon, Harry only really had to worry about one major force at work. Those simple days are long gone. Butcher has added numerous dimensions to his world and consistently tied them together via his protagonist, and at this point, the potential for any number of great overarching plot lines has grown exponentially. You cannot entirely predict what will happen in any single future book or overall in the series, even if you catch the foreshadowing here and there. There is simply too much to decode, too much to predict. And really, that’s what making me like this series more and more as time goes on.

I’ve spent several years bemoaning the fact that a lot of books I’ve been reading are unacceptably predictable. The Dresden Files is not. Butcher has created a world that he can pull so many different ideas from that it is quite frankly impossible to entirely predict anything that will happen in the series. It’s always, to several degrees, a mystery.

Throw in his excellent characterization skills — his villains are particularly well done in this book — and omnipresent drama-balancing humor, and you’ve got a great series that gets stronger as time goes on. Which is a high step above many series, where the sequels fall flat and fizzle out.

Anyway, Death Masks was great. That is all.



Again, no comment. I’ve said all there is to say in previous reviews on the series.


Is It Worth Reading?

Yes. Reread my previous statement. Several times. This is one of my favorites so far. Read it.



4/5 ( )
  ClaraCoulson | Nov 16, 2015 |
What a ride! This series just keeps getting better. This book starts with a bang and keeps on building the mystery and the action. Some characters from earlier books return and have vital (and surprising) roles. Add in the Shroud of Turin and this book has another layer of mysticism. This one was a page turner; I look forward to reading the next book. ( )
  Jean_Sexton | Oct 2, 2015 |
Six-word review: Magical monster chase featuring religious McGuffin.

Extended review:

I went straight from the preceding book of the Dresden Files series to this one with nary a pause for breath.

Death Masks launches Harry Dresden on yet another dependably fast-moving, action-packed investigative adventure in the realm of magical and mythical beings, this time on the trail of a stolen religious relic. Some of those beings are agents of evil, and not just ordinary human Adolf-Hitler-type evil but capital-E Evil right out of the bowels of Hell.

Evil forces notwithstanding, this Dresden yarn is not quite on the epic scale of Summer Knight. Still, the plot is layered deep in the fallout from that conflict while introducing new villains and enlarging the dimensions of Harry's life. Harry remains likeable in a naughty-boy-but-charming sort of way, making us shake our heads even as we consistently root for him. He's not so different from us, especially on our off days: He wears old clothes. He skips showers. He eats junk food. Another character, an ambiguously bad guy fighting by his side, suggests that they disregard knightly standards of combat and shoot a really, really bad guy in the back, and he says, "Okay" (page 321).

So might we, right? We can identify.

And that's part of what makes Butcher's handling of his material so appealing.

The same character who wants to shoot true villains in the back also says this of our hero: "Mister Dresden is a diplomatically challenged individual. He should be in a shelter for the tactless" (page 309). Just because there are times when we don't feel like upholding the standards of Miss Manners, never mind turning the other cheek, we cheer silently for Harry when he tells it like it is.

Invited to imagine that we might speak and behave (or want to speak and behave) in Harry's characteristic down-to-earth, take-no-shit fashion, we find it easy to forget that he is a formidable foe even to powerful supernatural beings. He has a strong code of honor, short on tact though it may be: he lays his life on the line almost routinely and offhandedly, both to defend a principle and to protect someone he cares about--or even just someone he's sworn to protect, whether he likes her or not. And when he goes all out--well, we know he's going to make it through at least fifteen books.

So there's a nice thrill of vicarious power in relating to Harry, letting the surge of magic that courses through him roar through us as well, delivering well-deserved thrashings right where they're needed most.

Good job, Jim Butcher.

One of the things I liked most about this novel was seeing Gentleman Johnny Marcone--a rather interesting foil for Dresden--move into a moral gray area. The shift might have been a little heavy on the sentimental side, but it does set us up for some potential dramatic conflicts as the series progresses.

I noted some of the usual defects, such as word repetition and little failures of fact checking (it's Joseph of Arimathea, not Aramathea), alongside choice bits such as the Wagner allusion and various inventive explanations of how magic works. I think they pretty much balance out, so I won't enumerate instances. When it comes to entertainment that doesn't insult our intelligence, the score is still well up on the plus side.

That's five. Time for a breather. But I will be back for more. ( )
1 vote Meredy | Jul 17, 2015 |
Not necessarily my favorite in the series so far, but still a damn good read! The cast of characters introduced in this one are amazing, we get to meet Michael's fellow Knights, a bunch of the fallen, some nasty vampires from the red court, and Susan finally shows up again (reunited? or not, duh duh duh...)! When the shroud (the blanket that cloaked Jesus on his death) is stolen from Rome, Dresden is approached by a foreign priest to help get it back. When he signs on for the job he has no idea how much danger he has put himself in, demons from hell (way cooler description in the book than I can accurately summarize here) are intent on retrieving it first. As if that's not enough to worry about, Susan is back in town (with a man!), and Dresden has been challenged to a duel by a warlord in the red court. Soo many things going on and Dresden has to somehow keep it all straight and not get killed. Wickedly funny, sexy, and adventurous, it's another great installment in the series. ( )
  ecataldi | Apr 24, 2015 |
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Jim Butcherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marsters, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In memory of Plumicon and Ersha, fallen heroes.
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Some things just aren't meant to go together.
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Book description
Harry Dresden, Chicago's only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But now he's getting more than he bargained for.
  • A duel with the Red Court of Vampires' champion, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards
  • Professional hit men using Harry for target practice
  • The missing Shroud of Turin
  • A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified

Not to mention the return of Harry's ex-girlfriend Susan, who's still struggling with her semivampiric nature. And who seems ot ahve a new man in her life.
Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you're charging.
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Harry Dresden, Chicago's only practicing wizard, is hired by a mysterious priest to find the stolen Shroud of Turin. But first, Harry must deal with the Red Court of Vampires' champion, professional hit men, and the return of his semi-vampire former girlfriend.… (more)

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