Follow the Author
Death Masks (The Dresden Files, Book 5) Audio CD – August 5, 2003
|New from||Used from|
Enhance your purchase
Harry Dresden, Chicago's only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But he also knows that whenever things are going good, the only way left for them to go is bad. Way bad. Recent examples: A duel with the lethal champion of the Red Court, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards. Hit men using Harry for target practice. The missing Shroud of Turin -- and the possible involvement of Chicago's most feared mob boss. 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 semi-vampiric nature -- and who seems to have 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.
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
- Publisher : Recorded Books, Inc. and Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (August 5, 2003)
- Language : English
- Audio CD : 1 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1664635319
- ISBN-13 : 978-1664635319
- Item Weight : 8.1 ounces
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2021
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, although I didn't love every single aspect of it. I thought the main mystery aspect was great this time around, and appreciated the return to a more traditional detective story (at least in part). I appreciated the little clues dropped here and there -- I really should have figured it out, although I didn't. But when the big reveal came, I definitely felt like it was supported by bits and pieces from earlier in the book.
Another strength was the final battle. This was just fun to read. It had about 1000 cliches (won't spoil them for you), but the scene was well-written and I could just see the action inside my head. I am reading these books for escapism purposes, and this was definitely achieved here. In general, Jim Butcher is pretty good at taking cliches and tropes and running with them (there was a lot of that in Codex Alera, too). There's enough humor and commentary involved that you can tell it's being done deliberately rather than inadvertently. And that makes a big difference for me.
Michael is back, as are his two companion knights. I was a little unhappy with the abrupt introduction of Michael in book 3 (I think?) but I felt that the introduction of Shiro and Sanya (the other knights) worked well. It was easier because we already knew they existed, and it would make sense that they were hanging around with Michael. They are interesting characters in their own ways, and I'm glad they weren't just clones of Michael. Sometimes, characters in similar roles can blur into one another (I had a terrible time with Merry and Pippin in the Lord of the Rings books, less so in the movies), but each of these guys has a distinct personality in this book.
Susan is back, and I think she's a more useful character here. (I was unenthusiastic about her in previous books.) I think the resolution she and Harry come to by the end of the book is appropriate, as well. Karrin Murphy doesn't have a very big part to play, but she is around for a bit. There's not as much use for the cops in this book, for various reasons, and I guess that's why Murphy fades into the background (she had a big part in book 4, though). And John Marcone is back. I like what happens at the end with him, too, and how Butcher ties it into something that happened in Marcone's and Dresden's first meeting. Definitely lots of reasons to read the whole series -- in order.
Once again, Harry has to accept a lot of help, and from all kinds of people. I like that he takes the help -- even asks for it -- even when dire consequences are involved. He doesn't have as much of a hero complex in this book, and it makes him a more likable character. However, there is a scene where Harry is thinking about the bra color of Michael's 14-year-old daughter Molly, and that is a little bit creepy.
I'm on the fence about this next thing. Even though "Death Masks" has a self-contained mystery, the war between the wizards and vampires is still going on, and Harry has been challenged to a duel by a Red Court vampire. He has to balance his main task (related to the mystery) with preparing for this duel, which often involves finishing a task and getting to another place without a lot of time to spare. He always makes it; the first event never makes him late for the second. (As opposed to, say, book 1, when he accidentally schedules two meetings for the same time.) I'm glad the larger conflict hasn't been dropped from this book, but I wish the two objectives had interfered with each other a little more.
Not much to say about character development or setting that I haven't said before. We're still in Chicago, and we've gotten to know most of the major players already. We do learn some personal things about Shiro, Sanya, and Marcone, and that's nice. The writing style is pretty similar to before. (I'm sure the Coca-Cola company is very happy with all the references to one of their products, by the way.)
As was the case with previous books, we meet a new "species" of paranormal entity, the Denarians. I'm not sure I understand everything about them, but the way the book ends, it seems clear to me that we'll encounter more of them in future volumes, so I'm hoping more is explained then. The Denarians are supernatural beings (fallen angels, demons) attached to mortal hosts. They're pretty tough in battle and pretty nasty in general. I am new to urban fantasy within the past year or so, but I haven't read about any beings quite like the Denarians before, and I do appreciate Butcher's branching out into non-standard classes (having experienced vampires, werewoles, and fairies in past volumes).
In the end, this is probably not my favorite book in the series, but I liked it fairly well and am definitely excited about continuing.
Harry Dresden sure does have a lonely paranoid troubled life. The sarcastic wizard can’t seem to get through a day without somebody either beating the snot out of him or trying to kill him. A vampire group, called The Red Court, want him dead, a Chicago mob boss also wants him dead, and insanely nasty demon creatures want in on killing him. Dresden is a likeable sad sack who survives based upon his rudimentary magic abilities and friends or acquaintances that help pull his chestnuts out of the fire. While there is ample gore and suspense, ‘Death Masks’ also has its fair share of humor and keep the storyline from being a completely downer. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading Mr. Butcher’s Dresden Files series. Harry’s love interest is half-human and half-vampire and their relationship would give Dr. Ruth a nervous breakdown. By coincidence, we are still dealing with Covid and ‘Death Masks,’ which was published in 2003, involves the mother of all plagues. The novel does resolve the main storyline, but very deadly nemeses are still out there that are eager to kill Harry.
Mr. Butcher does a nice job of creating a magical world. I can’t stress enough that the five Dresden Files books I’ve read are adult fare. It contains hardly any profanity but murder and gore are common. ‘Dead Masks’ is a mystery adventure revolving around the Shroud of Turin. However, some of the clues are otherworldly and made it impossible for me to solve the mystery. It’s okay because the story and Harry Dresden are a fun read. I’ll eventually read the next installment because the author has proven to be consistently entertaining and is a nice distraction from more serious material.
Top reviews from other countries
I love the way that the characters in these books are written. They're multifaceted creations that feel believable; they have depth and layers to their personalities. Good or bad, light or dark is an illusion, the reality is actually one of the myriad shades of grey.
Death Masks was more than a good story, it had everything that I look for. There's a great balance between the various aspects of this story: Mystery, crime, thriller, horror, detective, mythology and the paranormal. Jim Butcher blends these harder aspects with well written humour, love, friendship and hope. This mix helps to keep the story from being too dark and heavy for me. Death Masks also managed to surprise me a few times too. I enjoyed trying to second guess where the story would take us next and how Harry would get out of the various pickles he found himself in.
I bought the audiobook format as well as the ebook and alternated between reading and listening to the tale. James Marsters performance was fantastic. The pace at which he read the narrative was appropriate for each scene, while the voices he gave to each character added another level of believability to the dialogue. I feel that James has also personified our protagonist, bringing him to life in his narration of Death Masks as he has done in the previous books.
Death Masks is a fantastic book. However, it's part of an ongoing series so don't expect all the loose ends to be neatly tied up. There's no life-or-death cliffhanger at the end but although Harry may have won this battle we're left in no doubt that the war still rages on. I for one, can't wait to find out what adventures Harry is forced to go on in the next book.
There is the usual mix of apical action and witty banter, and a stronger emotional undercurrent than perhaps we’ve seen before in the series, as events from previous books are followed up and some plot threads are seemingly tied up. At the same time, this book introduces a number of new threads, which look like they are going to spread through the series to come.
While I enjoyed reading this, possibly the most of the books so far, I did feel that it was leaning towards the more implausible end of the urban fantasy spectrum, particularly in some of the detail around the scenario in this book. Additionally, the introduction of a range of new enemies made for a lot of new information to absorb, and I don’t think I managed to digest everything that it had to offer.
Unlike the first few books, which could be described along the lines of ‘Dresden does Vampires’, ‘Dresden does Wereworlves’, etc., this story defies such classification, and I think that’s a good thing - it shows a little maturity of the series that it can start to do its own thing, and begin to build up some of the ongoing plot threads that I hope build into something fantastic int he books I have yet to read.
Moments of peril for Dresden are pretty much nullified by him telling us the story... if he does then it would be a much shorter story and a rather abrupt ending.
This isn’t a criticism of the book more an observation of the point of view story telling that is common in all books that employ this method.
Overall I really enjoyed it and found myself planning time in my day to grabs a few pages or more.
Sometimes I think there's a danger with stories that are narrated in the first-person, with a laconic, almost film noir-ish feel to them, that they can become annoyingly smug, but Butcher always seems to walk the line very deftly. Harry Dresden is a hugely likeable character, and it sucks you into his life and makes you care about him. It's easy to warm to his friends and enemies, too, because they come across in a very believable (within the context) fashion, even out-and-out bad guys like the gangster Marcone or the demon Nicodemus.
As usual, there are several seemingly disparate storylines that seamlessly weave into the whole, and culminate in a breathlessly choreographed, edge-of-seat finale. It's funny, sexy, fast-paced and action-packed and, to Butcher's credit, he never loses sight of the rules he has created for his world, and often uses them to great effect.
I'm finding that these stories are very addictive, and they do seem to be getting better and better as they go along.
The Kindle edition is very well formatted, with only a couple of minor errors that do nothing to spoil the experience.