Life sure has a way of getting crazy, doesn’t it? I can’t remember the last time I had two straight weekends free to do chores and just be lazy at home, but after the month of July I’ll finally get some free time (yes, I’m looking forward to free time a month from now–I’ll be the first to admit I’m happiest at home!). First I just have to attend a week-long leadership training camp, spend a weekend at the coast with the boy’s family, and buy a car among other things. One thing I’m really looking forward to later this summer are days of reading in the park. And of course, getting further in one of my favorite light-reading fantasy series is on the top of my summer reading list!

 

Death Masks

Death Masks was one of the more interesting Dresden Files books in the series thus far. Continuing his streak of bad luck, Harry Dresden (Chicago’s only professional wizard) has been challenged to a duel to the death by the champion of the Red Court of vampires. Yes, the vampire/wizard war Harry accidentally started in book two is still causing trouble. In exchange for fighting the dual, the vampire court agrees to stop attacking wizard strongholds and call of the full-scale war they’re days away from launching. To complicate matters, Susan, the reason Harry started the vampire war in the first place, is back in town. She’s still half vampire and still completely in love with Harry.

And of course, Harry still has work to do. His new case is a covert operation for the Catholic church, to find the missing Shroud of Turin. An unknown group stole the magically powerful shroud to launch a word-wide plague on mankind. Headless and handless bodies keep showing up, afflicted by dozens of diseases but seemingly killed by multiple knife wounds. A new type of demons have showed up in Chicago to keep Harry off the case, demons who possess people who trade their sanity for power and scare even angle soldiers.

While Harry willingly admits he works best under pressure, trying to find the missing Shroud while avoiding the plague and prepare for a duel to the death and come to terms with his lover’s half-vampire state is almost too much work for one wizard. Because so much of what Harry does is secret and time sensitive, he is chronically sleep deprived and hungry. That makes his thought processes random and only tangentially connected, and this book really highlighted the amazing way Harry can take seemingly random events and figure out the who, what, when, where, and why of the bad guy’s plans. I always love trying to follow Harry’s theories!

Death Masks also highlighted how much Harry will sacrifice to protect the people he loves. He would rather not die, but doesn’t flinch why he agrees to the duel because his death could prevent a dangerous war. Susan comes back into his life, and he’s willing to let her go because it’s not safe for them to be together. She’s take on a dangerous new job, and despite some initial protests Harry supports her passion for helping people. Michael, one of the angle soldiers, risks his life and his family to help Harry recover the Shroud and in return Harry puts himself in grave danger to protect Michael’s young son. Poor Harry needs a vacation, or at least a hug, but it seems like Butcher isn’t even going to give him one!

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