Mon
Nov 19 2012 3:00pm

The Dresden Files Reread: Book 3, Grave Peril

A reread of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books on Tor.com: Grave Peril

The Nevernever, realm of faeries, spirits and ghosts. In Grave Peril, the third Dresden Files novel, Harry Dresden must contend with all of these, as well as three different kinds of vampires and an overly inquisitive girlfriend. Strap in, folks, cause this is when the ride really starts.

If the first two books in the series (Storm Front and Fool Moon for those keeping track) were a little shaky, Grave Peril is where Dresden’s story gets its legs. Right from the beginning we’re off and running with Harry on a case with colleague, Michael Carpenter, one of my personal favorite characters in the series. Michael is a Knight of the Cross, a holy warrior dedicated to fighting evil. Together, he and Harry start the book dealing  with a ghost who appears in a Chicago hospital trying to kill babies in the nursery.

Michael, an avowed family man, urges Harry to tell Susan Rodriguez, Harry’s girlfriend, that he loves her. Harry has been growing more distant lately, more remote. Michael hopes that settling down and starting a family might ground Harry. It certainly seems to have done wonders for Michael. That, and his mystical sword, Amoracchius, which bears one of the nails that crucified Jesus.

The ghost, Agatha Hagglethorn, flees back into the Nevernever, the spirit world of the Dresden universe. Michael and Harry pursue and defeat her. But being back in the Nevernever attracts the attention of Leanansidhe, Harry’s faerie godmother.

We learn that Harry really does have a faerie godmother and that he made a deal with her a long time ago, when he was basically still a kid. But as he did once before, he finds a way to weasel out of the deal and returns back from the Nevernever to the hospital in Chicago where he’s promptly arrested, along with Michael, by the Chicago PD.

While Harry and Michael sit in jail, Harry flashes back to earlier when a young woman named Lydia came to him because of visions she was having. She foresaw that she would be dead by nightfall. Harry sent her to Father Forthill, a priest who works with Harry and Michael.

Charity, Michael’s pregnant wife, bails him out and it’s clear there’s no love lost between her and Harry. Susan bails out Harry who is promptly invited to a party held by the Red Court of vampires (there are three courts—Red, White, and Black, er, and Jade, so 4, yes 4 courts, but we don’t know much about the Jade court). He has to represent the White Council of Wizards or it will be an insult. Susan is intrigued.

Harry checks on Lydia and finds out that some kind of nightmare spirit had appeared at the church to attack Lydia, though she managed to run away. Needing some more information about the spirit world, Harry goes to visit Mortimer “Mort” Lindquist, an ectomancer, someone who can speak to the dead. Mort tells Harry that the barrier between our world and the Nevernever is weakened, and the spirit world is roiled up. It’s making it easier for ghosts to cross over, and not just any ghosts. Superghosts.

Karrin Murphy then calls on Harry for help with one of their friends, Micky Malone. Some kind of spell has been cast on him, a spell very similar to the one found on Agatha Hagglethorne and seemingly connected to everything that’s going on. Dresden takes his concerns to the ever-helpful Bob the Skull, who seems majorly spooked. He urges Harry to run, but Harry instead goes after Lydia. He finds her, but so do two vampires who beat him down and make off with the troubled girl.

As Dresden sleeps off the vampire attack, he is attacked, in his dream, by the Nightmare spirit itself and it consumes much of Harry’s energy. The spirit appeared to him as the demon summoned by Leonid Kravos, a sorcerer that Harry and the cops took down (and who later committed suicide). Kravos had summoned a demon, a demon that Michael killed, but in Harry’s dream it was alive and it’s going after the people who stopped Kravos. Murphy is attacked next and then, instead of Michael, Michael’s wife Charity is kidnapped.

Both Harry and Michael search for Charity and Harry finds the Nightmare taking her into a graveyard. He tries to take the Nightmare down, but fails due to his weakness from the dream battle. His faerie godmother appears, offering her help if he will pledge his service. Harry, alone and unable to defeat the spirit, agrees.

Leanansidhe is less than helpful, giving Harry a vague clue, but Michael arrives to help Harry fight the Nightmare. Harry defeats it by tackling it into a nearby stream. Just in time because Charity’s going into labor. Leanansidhe returns to claim Harry, but he picks up Michael’s sword, Amoracchius, to use it against her. In doing so Harry defiles the blade and Leanansidhe steals it, leaving Michael heartbroken.

They get Charity to the doctor, though there are complications with the childbirth and both Charity and the newborn baby boy aren’t doing well. Harry, fearing the Nightmare further harming Michael’s family, casts a spell to draw the Nightmare to him and only him. Making himself a target seems preferable to risking the lives of others.     

Harry thinks the sorcerer controlling the Nightmare may be at Bianca’s party so he attends with Michael. It’s a costume party so Michael attends in his Knight of the Sword gear and Harry, in usual fashion, thumbs his nose at the vampires by wearing a cheesy, traditional Dracula-type-vampire costume.

The ball is an interesting affair. Harry meets Thomas Raith, a vampire of the White Court of Vampires, and someone who will continue to become important in the series. He also meets Ferrovax, a dragon, which gets a little dicey as Michael killed a dragon to save Charity, long ago.

Harry is poisoned by vampire venom slipped to him in a goblet of wine. Then Susan Rodriguez shows up, without an invitation. This leaves her vulnerable to the vampires of the Red Court. Harry’s too weak from the venom to fight, and to make matters worse. Leanansidhe appears and Harry feels even weaker. Susan makes a deal with Harry’s faerie godmother, offering a year of her memory to counteract the venom. Leanansidhe accepts.

Harry and Michael try to get Susan out when they run into Mavra, a vampire of the Black Court (those most like Dracula). Harry senses that she’s the one behind the Nightmare. Then the gift presentation ceremony starts. Bianca gives Harry a tombstone with the epitaph, “He died doing the right thing.” Then, in an even worse exchange, Leanansidhe gives Michael’s sword, Amoracchius, to Bianca. Bianca then announces that with Mavra’s help, the sword will be unmade, using the blood of an innocent. They’ve chosen Lydia for the donation.

There is a fight. Which is bad news because it breaks the rules of hospitality and the Unseelie Accords, the peace treaty between the wizards and vampires. Thomas throws in with Harry and Michael because Bianca wants Justine, Thomas’s girlfriend, for herself. Thomas refused. In the fight they rescue Lydia, but the sword gets lost. Then Bianca captures Justine and offers to spare her if Thomas will betray Harry. Thomas agrees, throwing Susan to the vampires. Of course the treacherous Bianca reneges and decides to keep Justine and Thomas, with no allies, scrams.

As Susan is taken away, Harry loses his calm and, using his magic, sends out an inferno, cooking everything around him with fire magic. Lea helps them to escape knowing that she won’t get any use out of Harry if he’s dead or weakened.

Harry spends some time wallowing in guilt since he’s sure that he burned up some innocent kids in the fire. Charity is no longer talking to Michael, and they commiserate. Michael also recognizes Lydia as someone they rescued from Kravos’s lair. Thomas shows up, offering to team up with Michael and Harry to rescue Susan and Justine. He brings along Amorrachius to seal the deal. Of course, just at that moment Lydia wakes up possessed by the Nightmare. She gives them a hard time, possessed as she is, until Thomas uses his White Court powers of seduction to distract her. While he keeps her occupied, Harry exorcises the demon. Only he realizes that it’s not the demon, it’s Kravos’s ghost. Things fall into place. Mavra is creating chaos in the spirit world, tormenting ghosts, and that allows Kravos to cross over into dreams. They are working for Bianca who wants revenge against Harry from the death of Rachel, someone who was dear to her (which happened in Book 1, Storm Front).

Harry decides to storm Bianca’s mansion through the Nevernever so they can utilize surprise, only once more they run into Leanansidhe who has come to claim Harry and turn him into one of her hounds. Only Harry has taken a deadly poisonous mushroom, a desperate gamble. He knows Lea wants him alive, so he forces her into an agreement where she will leave him be for a year and a day. She agrees, but reminds him that her friends are not bound to follow the same rules. As they come for Harry, Thomas and Michael hold them off while Harry slips back into Bianca’s house.

Only they are waiting for him. They throw him into a dark cellar where vampires feed on him. But the poison in his body has made them sick. During a break in the attacks, Harry finds Justine, Thomas’s girlfriend, who is mentally unstable and growing more so without Thomas’s calming influence. He also finds Susan who has been partially turned into a vampire. She also still doesn’t remember Harry. But they’ve soulgazed and so Harry uses what little magic he has left to restore her memory. And then he tells her that he loves her. This helps restore her control so she doesn’t drink his blood.

Harry then sets a trap for the Nightmare. He lets himself die from the poison, hoping that Susan can bring him back. When dead, he essentially copies Kravos’s trick and creates a superghost version of himself. The two Harrys take on the Nightmare and in the end Harry consumes the spirit entirely, regaining back his stolen power.

Harry grabs Justine and Susan and they try to escape but are stopped by Bianca and her people. She offers to let Harry go with everyone and everything except Bianca. It’s only fair, she thinks—Harry took someone she loved, now she’ll do the same. If not, it will mean war between wizards and vampires. But Harry loves her and he’s not willing to  make that bargain. Dresden uses his amped up power to raise the spirits of the dead that Bianca and her people killed. They are destroyed as Harry, Susan and Justine escape.

They’re free, but all is not well. Susan disappears without telling Harry where she’s going. Harry eventually tracks her, but she can’t be around him any more. She keeps wanting to drink him and she needs time to adjust to her status as a vampire. Harry is crushed, but his friends—Michael, Murphy, and even Bob try to keep him company (and we learn that Michael and Charity named their baby after him).

Phew. Got all that?

What makes Grave Peril important is that it sets up a lot of the storylines that will continue throughout the books, one of the most important being the new war between the wizards and vampires. Leanansidhe is also introduced and will take on a larger role in later books (and there’s still that pesky promise that Harry made). And, of course, it introduces Charity and Michael and their family, as well as Thomas and Justine. Later, all of these threads will start to draw together.   

And finally, it’s just a better story than those that came before. There are more twists and turns. My only major criticism is that we only see Kravos in flashbacks and for his association with the Nightmare spirit, it would have been nice to see that happen in the very beginning.

Still, Butcher shows us that he’s capable of dealing with multiple plot threads and keeps us guessing all the way to the end, escalating things all the way. And we see the lengths that Harry will go to to do the right thing. What remains to be seen is whether Bianca’s tombstone will prove true.

What do you guys think about this book? Do you agree that this is where the series really starts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Next up, one of my favorites: Summer Knight.


Rajan Khanna is a writer, narrator, and blogger who is glad that Chicago isn’t crawling with vampires because he has to go there later this year. I mean, that’s all fiction, right? Right? His website is www.rajankhanna.com.

26 comments
Nathanael Schaffer
1. N_Schaffer
First, a minor typo.. in describing the escape, you say, "She offers to let Harry go with everyone and everything except Bianca." That should be Susan, not Bianca.

On to the book itself. I haven't reread it in a while, but I do agree that this is when things start to get really good. For those new to the series, you need to give this one a read before you make a final decision (and it probably wouldn't be a bad place to start).

The Carpenters and the Knights of the Cross are some of my favorite in the series (can't wait until we hit book 5), and Michael provides a great contrasting character for Harry. Also, the scope of the series really starts to expand here, and you can begin to see how large it will eventually grow to. Overall, after Fool Moon (my least favorite), this book stands as a reafirmation of why I love the series, and the characters.
Chris Hawks
2. SaltManZ
As much as I enjoyed this one, it initially disappointed me because so much of it seemed to rely on supposedly past stuff that we'd never seen or heard of before, like Michael, Lea, and Kravos. So it felt a bit incongruous with the previous two books.

Which makes perfect sense, considering what Butcher has said about the first two: that he wrote them for a writing class as examples of how terrible stories would be if he followed the rules given him by his instructor. The rest of the series came later, so book three is when he really starts to lay the foundation for the rest of the series.

It still bugged me the first time I read it, though, even so that it wasn't until Death Masks that I totally bought into the series.
TBGH
3. TBGH
I doubt anyone who's reading this hasn't read the books, but there were some on the first couple of rereads, so a quick vampire guide:

Red court of vampires (or rampires on the forums) - Traditional blood suckers that come out of their skin as bat demons to fight (Bianca)

Black court of vampires (or blampires) - Basically superstrength intelligent corpses (Mavra, and supposedly Dracula though not on screen yet)

White court of vampires (or whampires) - Feed off emotional energy (lust, fear, despair) and drain the life out of their victims without leaving a mark (Thomas Raith)

Jade court of vampires (or jampires) - Not yet appeared in books though mentioned a couple of times. Thought to be chi-vampires or life suckers similar to the white court based on traditional asian mythology.
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
I agree that this is the book where the really major plotlines tighten up and start happening.
The vampire plotline and wizard war that follows introduces all sorts of interesting things. The different sorts of vampires parallels the different sorts of werewolves. The existence of the unseelie accords adds dimension to the various powers that are rolling about.
I also rather like how Butcher is unresrainedly playing mix and match with mythologies from various places--the Nevernever allows for all the various mythos to co-exist in one form or another.
Fae, vampires, knights, angels. Everything intermixes to produce a very readable and fun story.
Becca Hollingsworth
5. bibliobeque
This was the book that I put down halfway through and didn't pick up again for about seven years. I'd really enjoyed the first two, mostly on account of Harry's First Person Smartass voice as narrator, but in this one I just wasn't in the mood for Susan to get bit, and it turned me off the series for a while.

It wasn't until after Welcome to the Jungle came out that I got really hooked, and went back and read the entire series to date (up to Small Favor) in about five weeks. I only had to wait about a month after that for Turn Coat to come out, but it seemed like a really long month.

In retrospect, I like this one a lot better now that I have some idea of just how many long-running plotlines it sets up. It's fun to go back and see the first appearances of so many characters that I didn't realize would be so important later.
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter
Rajan: small quibble:
She keeps wanting to drink him and she needs time to adjust to her status as a vampire.
She isn't actually a vampire at this point. She is infected but hasn't succumbed.
Emmet O'Brien
7. EmmetAOBrien
Definitely a big step up, this one, and still among my favourites; an awful lot being set up for the larger-scale arc, and a fair bit which looks like it may have repercussions we've still not seen, and precisely how much Harry is manipulated in this one and by whom is still a long way from clear.

SaltmanZ@2: I agree that Michael's introduction was a bit abrupt and we never have really had enough in text about their earlier friendship to satisfy me, but Harry does mention having a faerie godmother in Storm Front - I think while making a Godfather crack about Marcone.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
The Leanansidhe is very interesting to me. She is very much not a human and we get to see this non-humanness develop as the books go. At this point, I don't think Harry quite grasps the extent to which she is different.
TBGH
9. Wordwizard
@1 Mixing up Susan's name with Bianca's is NOT a "minor typo", and there are also a whole lot of "they"s floating around unclearly. Rajan should go back and do a careful re-write for intelligibility. It is possible that someone who has NOT read the series, or someone who hasn't read it in ages who doesn't have time to actually re-read, and might want a kickstart to the backround they've missed/forgotten, might not be able to make heads or tails of it. After all, what is this summary FOR? Do it right!
Matt Stoumbaugh
10. LazerWulf
I've mentioned before that GP is my least favorite of the series, and now I get to explain why.

First, it's not because it's a badly written book, as some claim the first two are. It's great, and it does set up several plot lines, most of which do get resolved by Changes (conversely, a lot of them don't get resolved until then), and it also introduces several of my favorite characters, Michael, Thomas, and Father Forthill (who I always picture as Father Mulcahy from M*A*S*H) . Dresden also gets to have a chat with his Dearly Departed Daddy, who makes a marvelous pun using a certain fun-sized candy bar to reference Lewis Carroll.

However, like bibliobeque@5, I was almost turned off of this series by its ending (only my stubborn obstinance in finishing a series I had started, which, at this point was just before White Night came out, kept me going on, and it's a good thing I did, since Summer Knight is easily still my favorite of the books). Susan's "infection" (which they never properly explain how it was done. I'm assuming it's by ingesting vampire blood, but only because that's how it's done in other fiction) and disappearance bothered me, and I just thought it was stupid how nobody told Dresden, "Hey, by the way, that guy Kravos just offed himself in prison." A lot of turmoil could have been avoided had Harry been able to draw the right conclusions, which, while not necessarily dramatic, makes a bit more sense. So, while Harry eventually beats himself up over what happened to Susan, I put most of the blame for what happened to her to herself. I do like to think that Murphy might have told him about Kravos had she not been whammied by the Nightmare, and if Stallings had actually believed in ghosts enough to figure out what was going on, he might have as well. Susan, however, should have known better. She also should have known not to crash the Vampire Party, especially after Harry emphatically warns her not to go. I liked Susan in the first two books, and it pained me to see her acting like an idiot and ending up the worse for it.

That being said, I would like to talk a bit about Michael, one of my favorite characters. He's a rarity in secular fiction: a well-written Christian who lives and expresses his beliefs without being hypocritical or preachy. Yes, he tells Dresden that he needs to marry Susan, especially if they're sleeping together, but he doesn't belabor the point, or think less of Harry for not living up to his ideals (which Harry shouldn't have to, since he's not a Christian himself, and Michael knows this). He's just how Harry describes him, righteous without being self-righteous, humble and loyal. And, as a family man, it's only right that he ends up with Amoracchius, the sword of Love (the other two swords being Fidelacchius and Esperacchius, the swords of Faith and Hope, respectively, which makes the three swords represent the three great ideals of 1 Corinthians 13, "the greatest of which is Love"). As a Christian myself, I find it refreshing to find a Christian character who isn't portrayed as an idiot, a prude, or a goody-twoshoes, and it makes me wonder what JB's religious background and beliefs are. (I don't think I've read anything about him mentioning this, though I do know that one of my other favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, is a Mormon, and he talks about his faith in regards to his writing all the time.)
Emmet O'Brien
11. EmmetAOBrien
LazerWulf@10: Dresden also gets to have a chat with his
Dearly Departed Daddy, who makes a marvelous pun using a certain
fun-sized candy bar to reference Lewis Carroll.

That's in Dead Beat, not Grave Peril.


I was almost turned off of this series by Susan's "infection" (which
they never properly explain how it was done.

Why would that get explained, when Harry never sees it ? That's POV integrity - that's a plus, not a minus. (I'm inclined to think deliberately concealing how Red Court infection works is intended to leave an ambiguity over how fast the Red Court can increase their numbers, in order to allow divergent opinions in later books as to how much of a threat they are.)

I just thought it was stupid
how nobody told Dresden, "Hey, by the way, that guy Kravos just offed
himself in prison."

Oh, absolutely. It's perfect for Harry to be on the receiving end of the downside of someone being stupid about information flow, after being on the giving end of it in the last book. None of the first three strike me as particularly good mysteries, in that there's no real ambiguity, so far as I can tell, about the solutions to each of them, which is something that improves in later books.

I liked Susan
in the first two books, and it pained me to see her acting like an idiot
and ending up the worse for it.

I thought Susan is fully in character in this book; bravely and devotedly trying to make the general public aware of the supernatural. It bites her badly because it's really kind of dangerous.


That being said, I would like to talk a bit about Michael, one of my
favorite characters. He's a rarity in secular fiction: a well-written
Christian who lives and expresses his beliefs without being hypocritical or preachy.

Agreed entirely, though I am not a Christian myself.
Matt Stoumbaugh
12. LazerWulf
EmmetAOBrien@11: That's in Dead Beat, not Grave Peril.

Ah, I see. I haven't exactly finished re-listening to GP, (I'm at chapter 29), so I must have misremembered. I could have sworn that Malcom was referring to the Nightmare, though. Ah, well. Still a great pun, even if it's not in this particular book.

Why would that get explained, when Harry never sees it ? That's POV integrity - that's a plus, not a minus.

Harry might not have seen it happen, but he could have had it explained to him, perhaps in the same sentence that told him that she was infected. As for the ambiguity, I suppose it's possible, but it just struck me as odd that this particular point is left unclear, considering how much worldbuilding exposition we get about other stuff.

None of the first three strike me as particularly good mysteries, in that there's no real ambiguity, so far as I can tell, about the solutions to each of them, which is something that improves in later books.

I'm not really sure what you mean by that. The Dresden Files is noir, not whodunnit, and since we're reading events from Harry's point of view, we don't really get to figure it out until he does. Sure, on subsequent readings, we see things that in retrospect seem obvious (like the phone call he gets just before going to fight Agatha Hagglethorn, or Susan's inquiries into Kravos, or how shifty SI is being about the Kravos case...), but in that first reading, most of the time we just follow along with his conclusions before we have a chance to draw our own, and since they seem so logical (at the time), we have a hard time thinking of them as wrong until they are proven so.

I thought Susan is fully in character in this book

I never said she was being out of character, I said she was being an idiot. I suppose it was inevitable, what happened to her, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
kevin syers
13. kevsyers
Just finished Grave Peril a few days ago. While overall I think it's a great boost of energy to the series I still had one glaring issue with it. I know that this book is by no means anywhere one should find (strengthen?) their faith but it drives me absolutely bonkers when someone 'quotes' the Bible and what they say isn't actually in the Bible.

That is just a pet peeve of mine and I try not to let that deter me from the rest of the series but it almost comes across as lazy or uncaring sometimes.

Also, Susan came off as a bit stubborn, unintelligent, maniacal drama instigator. It was a bit of a far stretch to believe that she would put her life on the line to get that 'big story'. Ultimately everything that happened to her is her own doing. I don't feel for her in the least and wouldn't mind her character taking a backseat for a while.

Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Michael is a fantastic new addition to the series and hopefully here to stay. The more I read about Bob the more I want see what his whole deal is. Overall, I can't wait for the next book.
TBGH
14. TBGH
It's amazing to me how much the tone of the series changes through the books and yet stays coherent through the series as a whole.

StF was such a classic noir PI story that I almost picture it in black and white while reading.

FM was really a monster movie with action scene after action scene (mostly in the dark) in lieu of a coherent plot.

GP was almost an anime style to me; trippy dream sequences, demons, ghosts, infernos, sword fights, tragedy.

I may change my mind about this as we get to later books, but at least for these three there were huge style changes.
TBGH
15. bungluna
This book almost caused me to quit the series. I though Susan was TSTL (Too Stupid To Live). I didn't like the way the book ended either. I loved Michael and enjoyed Harry, both of which made me continue. It took about 3 more books before I went out and got myself the complete series in hb for my collection. At this point I was still doing the library thing.
TBGH
16. Kasiki
The one issue I had witht he series was that, like the first two, it had so much world building. So many "new rules" come to light that it detracts in some cses from the story itself. In future books this world building is focused on specific things... the Farie courts, The Red court, Neromancy... But this was the last book where every aspect of the world of dresden still is being defined in significant ways. This word building for the riies was nessesary,but still early on affected the story.

On Susan. This is where my view and Harry's veiw get to differ. Susan was over zelous and it finally bit back...literally. Harry Harry has always tried to protect people and knows that if he wasn't a part of susan's life, susan would be fine. While i get to side that Susan was stupid , for Harry this reinforces why he needs to keep secrets from those around him. And this among many other elements is a theme that Harry has to deal with.
TBGH
17. timwarp
Not to quibble {she quibbled} but Harry didn't get progressively weaker from the poison at the party, he got weaker because he'd broken his promise to Lea 3 times.

I'm in the "Susan was TSTL" category. I like the character in general, but at the party, she just came off as a spoiled brat who thought her parents were "just being mean" to not let her go to the dance.

This book has *so* much packed into it, I found re-reads (or re-listens, thank you James Marsters) really helped to clarify what was going on.
Emmet O'Brien
18. EmmetAOBrien
LazerWulf@12: Harry might not have seen it happen, but he could have had it explained
to him, perhaps in the same sentence that told him that she was
infected.


And who is there that knows and has a motivation to tell him ?

I'm not really sure what you mean by that. The Dresden Files is
noir, not whodunnit, and since we're reading events from Harry's point
of view, we don't really get to figure it out until he does. Sure, on
subsequent readings, we see things that in retrospect seem obvious


I think I must be reading differently from you, then, because in the first three books most of the significant revelations were obvious to me well before Harry figured them out.
TBGH
19. Garbonzo Bean
I for one like that JB is not afraid to have bad things happen to good or innocent people, and that not every book ends with a happy, happy, joy, joy ending. It also brings to the front the concept of secrets and the consequnces of keeping them.

Everybody keeps secrets for a variety of reasons, some selfish, some with the intension of protecting, and sometimes because it didn't seem important enough to share. Sometime the person withholding the secret never even knows the consequence, because it happen to someone else.

This book in particular put Harry on both sides of the secret. Would he have put the nightmare together faster if he'd known what happened to Kravos? Would Susan have realized the danger if Harry would really have explained all the rules instead of keeping the White Council's secrets?

It's these questions that lead Harry to start to bring people "into the know" in future books. This will eventually form the network that protects Chicago in his absence. With the potential to turn into something even greater. But it all has to start in secrets and mistrust.

I've read authors that drag this out to truly aggravating lengths. I'm not naming any names(coughcoughrobertjorden). But, Butcher is bringing thing up at an appropriate pace. Which is why the first few books are good and the later ones just keep getting better.
TBGH
20. Zazreil
Lazerwolf: Got to agree, the whole ending with Susan made me angry, stereotypical the little woman is stupid writing. After Fool Moon I had such hope, thankfully Butcher has never went that way again.

That said there were good things about the book, as you mentioned Michael and Father Forthill. One thing I love about Butcher is that he is so respectful not just of the Catholic faith (which is an easy target) any religion that focus on the positive is handle with respect. Though it is a little creepy that he used St. Mary's, a church that will also be associated in Chicagoan's minds with the tragic fire that result in dozens of children dying, by burning to death.

I also loved Thomas and Justine and the Leansidhe

Zaz
Rajan Khanna
21. rajanyk
One thing that's become obvious to me as I've continued through the other books in the re-read is that the masquerade at Bianca's is Very Significant Event. Repercussions and clarifications from that night reverberate through the series. Even through to the current books.

I'm still holding out for one "person" from that night to reappear...
Rajan Khanna
22. rajanyk
Also, thanks to those offering clarifications. I've tried to keep everything straight, but trying to summarize everything in the books can sometimes be difficult. Even on rereading I find that some things still slip by.
Matt Stoumbaugh
23. LazerWulf
@rajanyk: It's the dragon, right? He's the only one that hasn't reappeared.

Who knows? Maybe we'll get him back in the same book we're finally introduced to the Jade Court.
Rajan Khanna
24. rajanyk
@LazerWulf - Yup. I found him so intriguing. And yeah, I really want to see the Jade Court as well.
Matt Stoumbaugh
25. LazerWulf
Just finished reading Cold Days, and not to spoil anything, but we have the culmination of YET ANOTHER event from Bianca's Party, one which we've been getting hints at in at least 3 of the intermediary books (SK, PG, and SmF).
TBGH
26. VladZ
Hi,

I'm really happy for this re-read since maybe it will clarify a lot of things I might be missing. I would love for it to behave like the Patrick Rothfuss re-read which is amazing in the way it helps fan put together theories and try to explain the stuff that already happened in a new light.

On that note, my post will contain spoilers for the entire series including Cold Days.

First off, I agree with most of you that this is the place where the series really starts. It was even stated in the books that Bianca's party set most of the main storylines in motion. So I'll focus on it for the most parts:

1) The role of the party: This was to be in honor of Bianaca setting up the first official Red Court in North America. We know that the Red's power base was in South America so it makes sense they would try to expand north. One of my issues with that is that the White Court was ok with it. I would think they would be among the first to want to preserve their power base and would vigorously object to intruders (Thomas says it himself that he doesn’t like poachers - I would imagine someone like daddy Raith who was still in power at the time would have reacted more forcefully to a Red Court presence). Which leads me to…

2) The Black Council involvement. This would be the second time the BC went after the White Court. (Assuming the two shadowy figures helping Bianca on the dais were indeed Kumori and Cowl, like Harry guessed in DB and assuming they are indeed members of the BC). Main question is why?
You could argue that they just wanted to destabilize the entire region / supernatural community but the fact that they went specifically after the Whites in two cases (here, indirectly, by helping the Red Court set up shop in NA and in White Night where they take a much more direct approach and try to kill most of them) makes me think there's more to it.

3) The gifts:
- Mavra got a bunch of people to turn for helping Bianca learn magic: doesn't really make a lot of sense, someone as powerful as Mavra could potentially get its own people to turn. So what did it REALLY get out of the deal?
- The dragon (Mr. Fero) got a chest of gold and jewels (awesome nod to the "dragon lore" from Jim btw). For what?
- Lea got Morgana's athame. Now this is HUGE! All we learn in this book is that the athame is on the same power scale as Amorrachius but a lot more is revealed after that and even more can be inferred.
My interpretation is what follows, please feel free to agree / disagree and expand on this:
The athame was cursed with an Outsider intellect (parasite) that infected Lea and made her turn on Mab. It failed to infect Mab. Mab figured out something is wrong with Lea and she puts her on ice to cure her (Harry finds her in PG). When the BC learns of this they launch the attack on Arctis Tor. Because of this attack (or during) Mab figures out Maeve also got infected but she cannot act against her daughter directly (must be a common thing in the universe since Titania cannot stop Aurora either in SK) and gets really really mad so that she cannot even speak to a mortal. This sets up the rest of the story up to the end of Cold Days.
A few more things about the athame since we're here: Lea still has it (I can only assume the curse was removed). Morgana (the original owner) was the original Merlin's sister in some legends. Merlin was Ebenezar's ancestor which makes him Harry's family. My guess at this point is that Harry is a descendent of Morgana's line (his mother was Margaret Le Fay - Morgana is in most legends Morgana Le Fay and although it was said in the books his mom got the name because she knew her way around Fairie I can't help but get a title vibe of it - like blackstaff). So the athame will prove crucial to his future.

4) The aftermath:
What the BC got was a war. What I am guessing is that they would have gotten a conflict anyway regardless of what Harry did. (see my whole White Court conflict set up above). I'm also thinking they hurried things along because they knew the Reds were preparing for a war and they didn't want one side to win. What they wanted is chaos and conflict.
Susan got infected (I would also like to know how one gets infected, it can't be as simple as a bite and blood drinking because cause - like Bob said about werewolves - if it's that easy to turn somebody you would overrun the planet in quick order). I liked this beacuse I did have the feeling she was turning into Lois Lane. This allowed Dresden to grow, her character to move forward, and an annoying and not really realistic plot device to go away (I can buy there are reporters that would go into danger for a story, what I cannot buy is suicide for a story - if you die no one gets to see it anyway)
Marcone got to take Bianca's role in the criminal underworld for himself and further expand his business.
Also, the "bad guys", were left without (overt?) leadership in the Chicago area.

To reiterate, I think is a great book for starting an amazing series.

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