Dang. New favorite Dresden File. More of Michael and the introduction of my favorite baddies in the Dresdenverse.
What really makes Death Masks shine is the the characters:
First: The Archive. That’s just a very cool (yet sad) idea all at the same time. The idea that there could be a being with the sum total of all human knowledge … and that it’s a little girl? Dang. I want to know more. How did the first Archive come to be? What exactly capabilities does she have?
Next, two more Knights: an atheist and an accidental Baptist. Both are interesting characters, especially in contrast to the much more stereotypical Knight of God Michael. I like both how Butcher gave them different voices and how Marsters (in the audiobooks) brought those voices to life. There’s also an interesting contrast near the end of the book between Dresden and the Knights. It turns out that Dresden is not a ‘good’ person, at least not in terms of how the Knights see good. After all, payphones cost more than a quarter now. ..
Then there’s the Denarians. Fallen angels bound to the thirty silver given to Judas Iscariot? Dang. They have literal millennia of experience to bring to bear along with a human host, making them yet another upping on the danger scale. We only really get personality from their leader Nicodemus, but man is he an excellent villain. I do wonder if he’s supposed to be the same member of the Jewish ruling council mentioned in the Gospel of John. I don’t think that’s been confirmed either way…
Finally we learn a fair bit more about Marcone. He remains the epitome of Lawful Evil: He has a strong code of ethics for what he will and will not do, but at the same time that code doesn’t always (often?) align with what is legally or generally considered moral. He’s a fascinating individual that way and honestly a lot more similar to Dresden than I think either of them would care to admit.
One thing that we haven’t seen before in this book is a relatively explicit sex scene between Dresden and Susan . It’s a definite step away from the fade to black and hints of the previous books, but I don’t think it was over done. The most amusing part about it: the original idea for how to do it safely came from Michael’s 14 year old daughter. I’d missed that the first few times reading this book.
My favorite scene in the books though? Dresden creates a tracking spell using a plastic duck that walks towards whatever it is tracking. He then later uses said duck as a fake gun to threaten someone. I love it.
Finally: random quotes of awesomeness:
“Better safe than exsanguinated”
“Sod works in mysterious ways.”
“My faith protects me. Kevlar helps.”