Mon
Dec 24 2012 3:00pm

The Dresden Files Reread: Book 8, Proven Guilty

The Dresden Files Reread on Tor.com: Book 9, Proven GuiltyProven Guilty, the eighth book in The Dresden Files takes Harry to a horror convention, of all places. If you’ve been reading along, you know that Harry’s world has been heating up, with new enemies and new temptations, and Proven Guilty continues the simmer, even if the main plot is a little on the weak side.

The book begins rather gruesomely with the execution of a young, 16-year old Korean boy. Morgan, our favorite uptight Warden, does the honors, beheading the teenager. Harry, watching, gets sick to his stomach. Despite the boy’s crimes—manipulating others with black magic, some into suicide—Harry feels that he might have been saved if he had been taught about his gift. The Merlin tries to assure Harry that the Laws of Magic are necessary, and that things would be much worse without them. Harry doesn’t seem convinced.

Harry attempts to leave but is stopped by Ebenezar (with whom Harry’s relationship is strained, if you remember the events of Blood Rites). Ebenezar tells Harry that the war isn’t going well, despite the aid of the Venatori Umbrorum and the Fellowship of St. Giles, two organizations working against the Red Court of Vampires. In fact, without them, Ebenezar thinks that the White Council would have been destroyed. He wants Harry’s help enlisting the Winter Court of Faerie to work against the Red Court. The Summer Court declared war on the vamps, but have done little more than secure their borders. He’s hoping that the Winter Court will do a little more to attack them. He also mentions that this is a request from him and a few trusted wizards. Harry guesses that he fears a traitor on the Council. Harry also asks why they staged the execution in Chicago. Ebenezar mentions that Chicago is a crossroads of a sort—many ways in and out—but mostly, he thinks because the Merlin wanted it to be a message to Harry who has had his own problems with breaking the Laws of Magic (such as when he was forced to kill his guardian, Justin DuMorne). Ebenezar also passes on to Harry a note from the enigmatic Gatekeeper who warns Harry of black magic in Chicago and urges him to investigate. In the conversation we learn that Harry is regaining some use of his burned hand and has been playing guitar as a way of physical therapy. Ebenezar asks Harry to grab a bite, but Harry refuses. Not only is he still sick from witnessing the execution, but he still doesn’t trust Ebenezar, and so he leaves.

As he gets into the Blue Beetle, Lasciel, the fallen angel that haunts Harry since he picked up the Denarian coin, appears in his passenger seat. She’s only really in his head, but Harry can’t tell the difference. She continues her temptress act, warning him that he might need access to the power that she can give him. But he shoos her away. We also learn that Harry hasn’t seen his friend Michael Carpenter since Lasciel appeared. He fears Michael knowing about the fact that he has a Denarian in his mind. As Harry is driving, another car slams into the Beetle, sending him up onto the curb. Harry is stunned and remains where he is until the police come, including good old Karrin Murphy. Murphy gives Harry a lift back home and he fills her in on what’s happened. She doesn’t like the idea of wizards killing people in Chicago, but Harry gives her a crash course in black magic and what it does to people. Tempting them, warping them, until, in his words, they have to be put down. In the apartment, Harry sees Thomas for a minute—he’s seemed preoccupied lately and Harry only sees him in passing.

Harry first addresses the Faerie issue by calling up Fix, the new Summer Knight introduced in Summer Knight. Fix won’t talk on the phone but offers to meet Harry for lunch at McAnally’s on the following day. Then Harry calls up most of his other friends (except for Michael and Father Forthill) about the black magic, though none can seem to help him. So he goes into his workroom and consults Bob the Skull. We also get to see Harry’s new project—a miniature version of Chicago, built to scale, called Little Chicago, that Harry can use for various magical purposes. We also get a brief primer in temporal magic from Bob when he guesses that the Gatekeeper somehow learned of the troubles with black magic from the future. Actual time travel is prohibited due to the possibility of paradox, but there are subtle ways to use that kind of magic. Harry decides to use Little Chicago and since he can’t track black magic outright he will use a ritual to track blood and terror, things that accompany black magic.

But before Harry can perform the ritual, he gets a phone call. From Molly Carpenter, Michael’s seventeen year old daughter. She’s in jail and used her one phone call to call Harry. Always a sucker for a damsel in distress, Harry agrees to meet with her before he decides what to do next. At the police station, Harry finds that Molly isn’t in jail and that she lied to him to get him to come down to help her boyfriend, Nelson, who IS in jail. Harry is ready to walk away until she mentions that he’s an orphan (like Harry). Harry talks to Nelson and finds out that while he was attending SplatterCon!!!, a horror movie convention, he was in the bathroom when a certain Clark Pell came in. Nelson heard something attacking Pell while he was busy in the stall. When he was able to get to Pell, he found him beaten and ended up taking the rap. He indicates he has to be back to meet with movie director Darby Crane. Harry packs him into a cab, then takes Molly home to her parents.

Molly hasn’t been living at home, it seems. And things are not good between her and her mother. But Michael is happy to see her. And Harry. He doesn’t seem to notice a sign of Lasciel. Michael has to go on a mission, but asks Harry to talk to Molly, try to patch things over between her and Charity. Also to check on his family. Harry agrees. Then Harry gives Molly a ride back to SplatterCon!!! Molly gets Harry a badge and he runs into Rawlins, the beat cop we saw back in Dead Beat. He lets Harry into the crime scene and Harry uses his Sight and sees that the attack was the result of Black Magic. Then, as he’s leaving, the lights go out.

Harry follows screams to find the Reaper, a character from a horror movie, attacking some of the con-goers. One is dead. Rawlins fires his gun, which has no effect, so Harry uses his magic to dispatch it. It leaves ectoplasm behind. The cops show up and question Harry at length about what happened, Detective Sergeant Greene not quite believing about black magic. Murphy appears to help Harry out of the spot and takes him home.

There, Murphy confronts Harry about the weight that seems to press on him. She suspects he’s bothered by the people he’s killed. The humans like Corpsetaker in Dead Beat. Harry expresses concern that he could actually turn into a monster like the Council expects.

The next morning Harry wakes up and has his usual cold shower, only Lasciel appears and gives Harry the illusion that the water is warm. Just one of her minor benefits. Harry sends her away again and Murphy comes to pick him up and take him to the hospital. There Harry meets with the victims and looks at them with his Sight. It shows the psychic trauma that they’ve experienced, the worst that Harry’s seen. He realizes that a phobophage is responsible, a spirit that feeds on fear. Murphy drops him back home where Thomas tells Harry he’s leaving. He’s found a job now, has some money, and is back on his feet. Harry acts brotherly, then hops in a cab and heads to McAnally’s to meet with the Summer Knight.

Fix arrives accompanied by Lily, the newest Summer Lady (also from Summer Knight). They are under a compulsion from Titania (whose daughter Harry killed) not to help Harry. However, using indirect questions he gets some information from them, namely that Winter’s not getting involved because there’s an imbalance and the Winter Court isn’t strong enough. Summer can’t get involved fully because doing so would leave them open to attack from Winter. Mab is unreachable (and supposedly acting weird) so Harry asks Lily to summon Maeve, the Winter Lady.

Maeve appears and taunts Harry, but Harry’s been in a bad mood all book and he brings up the way that he killed Aurora. Then he brings up an attack by one of Maeve’s people at Billy and Georgia’s wedding (something that happens in one of Butcher’s Dresden short stories). Because of the arcane laws of Faerie, Maeve owes Harry now and he asks why Winter hasn’t attacked the Red Court. Maeve answers truthfully (because Faeries can’t lie) that Mab has ordered Winter not to attack the Red Court. Maeve adds that Mab seems to be a bit crazy lately.

Harry returns to SplatterCon!!! to find that it’s crawling with cops and that Greene has called in the Feds, including Murphy’s ex-husband-now-brother-in-law, Rick. Darby Crane, the movie director appears and Mouse reacts to his presence so Harry and Murphy go to talk to him. They’re interrupted by the arrival of Lucius Glau, his attorney, a frog-faced man. They both recognize Harry’s name and there’s almost a fight, but Harry and Murphy walk away. Harry doesn’t know what Crane is, but he guesses he’s from the supernatural side of things.

Harry works on a kind of magic net for the hotel, but is interrupted and told that Molly was being detained by the police. Harry busts in and, using a friendly reporter for the Midwestern Arcane (who took over Susan Rodriguez’s job), he springs Molly from interrogation. Then Harry goes up to a hotel room with Murphy where they talk about...well, them. As a couple. They admit their attraction to one another, but Murphy admits that she doesn’t see them together. Harry doesn’t do casual. And she wants someone who will grow old with her and have a family. Harry just isn’t that person.

Harry talks over options with Bob, then prepares his spell. Molly appears, needing to use a shower and Harry lets her use his while he’s doing his wizard stuff. Lasciel hints that she has a thing for Harry and he thinks it might be true based on his previous appearances in her life (a strong friend of her father who her mother hates). As Harry works on his ritual, Charity Carpenter shows up, not pleased to find her daughter in nothing but a skimpy towel in Harry’s room. They all leave and Harry uses the spell, tracking four phobophages. He uses the spell that will turn them back on their summoner, but only manages to catch three. The other attacks more of the convention’s guests and Harry tracks it, using Hellfire to defeat it. But a girl dies while he’s fighting, leaving him wondering if he might have saved her had he stopped to help. Also, the Hellfire felt too good. Harry and Rawlins go to track the summoner, but Lucius Glau drives a van at Harry, missing him but hitting Mouse (one of my least favorite moments in the whole series). Then Darby Crane knocks Harry out with a tire iron.

Harry awakens, bound with thorn manacles to prevent his magic use, along with a gag and blindfold. Harry threatens Glau who seems to think Harry won’t survive the morning. Crane appears and gets Harry to cooperate by shooting Rawlins in the foot. Crane intends to auction Harry off on eBay. The lead bidder is the widow of Duke Ortega (now-deceased emissary of the Red Court). Harry calls on Lasciel’s help to get out. She helps him escape the manacles by dislocating all the bones in his hand and he manages to get Rawlins and himself out of the building, though Crane and Glau catch up to him.

The cavalry arrives in the form of Thomas Raith who shoots Glau and holds off Crane with a shotgun. Thomas reveals that Crane is really Madrigal, one of his cousins, a White Court Vampire. Madrigal feeds on fear rather than lust. Then Mouse appears (alive and well, thankfully!) to take out Glau, who is revealed to be jann, half-djinn, half mortal. Harry questions Madrigal who says that while he was feeding on the fear, he wasn’t the summoner. Then another horror movie creature, The Scarecrow, appears to attack them, killing Glau first. Thomas gets Harry and Mouse away.

Harry figures it’s weird that the creature went after Glau first. Like maybe Glau knew something. Harry continues to track the summoner and they end up at...the Carpenter residence. Harry, panicked, looks for any sign of the family. They find Daniel unconscious in the back yard and he indicates that there’s a safe room in the house where the rest of the family is. Everyone except Molly. She was taken by the things. Harry gets the rest of the family to Father Forthill’s church where he questions Daniel. Things aren’t clear until he uses his Sight on Daniel and accidentally looks at Nelson who is staying there. He sees the same trauma on him as on the phobophage victims and it comes together for him.

He confronts Charity, asking her about her own magic. Charity admits that she once dabbled in magic, fell in with a bad crowd. Michael not only rescued her from a dragon (yes, a real dragon), he rescued her from that life. Her issues with Molly were largely due to her trying to stop Molly from using her own abilities. Harry guesses that Molly used her abilities on her friends, ostensibly to try to help them. By making them feel fear in place of their addicitions. He also realizes that the phobophages were really Fetches, sent from the Winter Court of Faerie. Harry resolves to get her back, and Charity insists on going with.

Harry tries to use Little Chicago to track Molly using her baby hair, and while the city model works, the hair doesn’t. But Charity’s blood does. Harry tracks Molly and assembles a war party consisting of himself, Charity, Thomas, Murphy, Mouse, and both Lily and Fix. Harry transfers Lily’s debt from him to Charity which allows Lily and Fix to help them. Lily is able to open a portal into Winter, but because it’s into the heart of Winter, she can’t hold it open.

Harry’s merry band heads into Arctis Tor, Mab’s seat of power, and find it...empty. Except for a bunch of bones. And there’s the stink of brimstone about the place, indicating the presence of Hell, somehow. They pass through, unmolested, until a buttload of fetches attack them. Harry and Charity head for the center of the tower where they find Molly and the last fetch, the Scarecrow. Together, Harry and Charity take it on, but it hangs on to Molly until Harry realizes that he can affect it if he doesn’t fear it. Additionally, he realizes a butterfly flying around them is really a gift from Lily, giving him Summer Court power in the heart of Winter. Using that fire, he destroys the Scarecrow.

Afterward, because of the fire, some of the prisoners stuck in ice are revealed. Lloyd Slate, the Winter Knight, is one of them, crucified on a tree, and tortured. Harry’s godmother, Lea, is another, and she also seems touched by madness. She has been kept prisoner by Mab and warns Harry not to free her. She also warns that all of Winter is coming for them due to Harry’s use of Summer magic. In the end, as Harry walks away, he thinks he sees Mab winking at him.

Harry reunites with the others and they fight their way back to Chicago. On the other side, safe, Lily admits that using the Summer magic was her idea. As a result, Winter pulled all of its forces back from Summer’s borders allowing Summer to assist the White Council. Maeve, in an unlikely move, was in on it as well.

Of course this leaves Molly safe, but having committed some serious magical crimes. Harry confronts her with this and then soulgazes with her to ensure that she hasn’t been twisted by the black magic. The soulgaze tells him that she can be okay. He tells her she has to decide whether to go to the White Council or not. She decides to go to them and convinces Charity it’s the right thing to do.

Harry brings Molly to the Council which, at the moment, is only the Merlin and the Gatekeeper. He has Lily show up and she speaks of the importance of his attack on Arctis Tor. Then Harry pleads Molly’s case and offers to mentor her. The Merlin is set on execution, and since all the other members of the Senior Council are missing, he can do that. But Harry insists that the Gatekeeper also vote, and he asks for some time to think which coincidentally results in Ebenezar and his allies on the Senior Council arriving before the final determination, allowing them to vote. Turns out they were saved by the timely arrival of one Michael Carpenter. With Michael’s recent help and the new votes, Molly avoids execution, though she is under the Doom of Damocles, which means that if she breaks any other laws she can be killed immediately, and Harry with her.

Harry talks to Michael afterward and admits that he touched Lasciel’s coin. He’s expecting a negative response, but Michael already knows. He saw Harry pick it up to save Michael’s son. He tells Harry that he’s there for him, and that it will help to give up the coin and his magic. Something Harry can’t do. He also says that if Harry does change as a result, he will deal with it. In a final manner.

Harry begins training Molly and she tries to come on to him. But he assures her they will never be together and that she has to do what he says. He makes her move back in with her family as well. We also learn that Murphy’s involvement in the attack on Winter has cost her her job. She’s been demoted as a result.

In the end, Ebenezar shows up at Harry’s place and they discuss what happened. Harry surmises that there’s a new force in the game, and that this force, now called the Black Council, has been behind most of the events of the series so far. They possibly arranged the fetches and were responsible for attacking Mab. What they will do and who their contact on the Council is, remains to be seen.

 

Threads

Warden of the White Council: Harry, who was made a Warden in Dead Beat, still remains in that position, though he struggles with the role, as we see during the opening execution. I think I expected Harry to have shed the cloak by now, though. His sense of duty is stronger than I expected.

Faerie: This is the first time that we see the direct results of Harry’s actions in Summer Knight. He’s gained the goodwill of Fix and Lily, but it’s obvious that Titania holds a grudge. And that’s the Summer side. What the hell is going on with the Winter Court? Someone had attacked it, clearly. Someone who had access to Hellfire. Fallen angels? The Denarians? And why? And what’s going on with Mab? Harry still owes her two favors. Is she really crazy? And if someone attacked Winter, why? Which brings us to....

The Black Council: In this novel, Harry gives the shadowy movers and shakers a name. And it seems clear that they have some presence on the White Council, that there are traitors there. Harry also supposes that this Black Council may have been responsible for the events of the books in the series to date—from Victor Sells, to the belts of the werewolves in Fool Moon, to the Nightmare and the power of the Red Court. This is the first actual indication that all of these plots might have a connection despite Harry’s involvement. And if the Black Council is trying for something epic, then Harry’s overall story is in opposition to it.

Murphy: As a result of Murphy taking time off to help Harry, she gets demoted, and is no longer a Lieutenant (now Sergeant). But Harry and Murphy’s relationship is rock hard now. It’s sad that they won’t get together (though it’s a good way to keep that tension going), but Murphy now is willing to choose Harry over the police force. I think the Harry-Murphy relationship, and how it changes, is one of the more interesting parts of the whole series.

Outsiders: It’s not a large part of the story, but we learn that they attacked the Warden training camp and were fought off by Ebenzar, Michael and others. They’ve only been mentioned a few times before, but Harry has mentioned that only mortal magic can summon them (not vampires, for example, or other supernatural creatures). One thing I’ve learned with Butcher is that these elements are not just dropped in as minor brush strokes. They usually end up meaning something. Just what, though, isn’t clear.

Temporal Magic: This is an odd one. There’s a nice little exposition from Bob the Skull about temporal magic and time travel. Yet it doesn’t feature very prominently in the story. I struggle with this one, I must admit. Is it just a little touch on fleshing out the Laws of Magic? Or how Harry might be warned about the Black Magic ahead of time? Or is it something important that will be referenced later?

The War: Continues. Most of the action is off-screen this time, but Harry’s actions help the Council against the Red Court. I’ve already mentioned the traitor, but we also learn that the wizards have a training camp for new Wardens. Also there are the two organizations that help the White Council in the war. We know the Fellowship of St. Giles already from Susan Rodriguez’s involvement, but the Venatori Umbrorum is still largely an unknown entity.

Molly: Perhaps one of the biggest changes to Harry’s life is the addition of an apprentice now. Molly is interesting in that she starts out like Harry, with the Doom of Damocles hanging over her. Also, she is a connection to Michael and his family. But it’s a big signpost that things are changing. Who would have thought at the beginning that headstrong Harry would be training a new wizard? It’s like our little Harry is growing up.

So that’s Proven Guilty—what did you think about it? Any theories or suspicions? Please sound off in the comments. And check back for the next post where Harry starts looking into a series of apparent suicides that prove to be something else, in White Night....


Rajan Khanna is a writer, narrator, and blogger. His website is www.rajankhanna.com.

22 comments
Emmet O'Brien
1. EmmetAOBrien
I find this one quite satisfying; it reads to me very much as circles closing on the first movement of Butcher's larger story, and a structural shift towards more complex, interdependent books that would not, IMO, stand nearly so well alone as the earlier volumes. Harry's got an apprentice of his own now; outstanding things with Michael and with Eb are resolved (and were either of them half-way sensible, so would things between Harry and Murphy be); and, as appropriate for a point about a third of the way through the larger mystery, Harry now has a hypothesis about what's Really Going On on a series scale. (Though I would contend that, also as appropriate for a point about a third of the way through the story as a whole, Harry's hypothesis about what's Really Going On is plausible-ish but becomes increasingly shaky as we get more information.) And some clever little things also, like the way we get Morgan body language at the trial scene that Harry after his Morgan-related epiphany in the previous book now reads sympathetically, right up against similarly ambiguous reactions from the Merlin which Harry is still reading entirely negatively.

The thing that really feels to me to hang over this and later books, though, is one piece of information Harry can never have; the comparison of the numbers he quotes at Butters about disappearances in the US in his world, early in Dead Beat and the figures for disappearances in ours (where I am willing to work under the assumption there is no supernatural predation), and what that indicates about the actual size of the problem. That certainly makes the Merlin's position of warlocks being the real issue and the war with the vampires somewhere between an unhelpful distraction and a criminal waste of resources more sympathetic, particularly with the example of Kemmler from the last book to show what scale of danger a warlock not caught early can be.
Sorcha O
2. sushisushi
It's really interesting to read this in the light of the goings-on in Cold Days, particularly the manoeuvring between the Faerie Courts (I'm not sure of the spoiler policy, so will be tangential here!) I never could figure out why Mab would be interested in kidnapping Molly in this book and it's something that's really not explored by Harry or any of the characters. They seem to be totally fixated on saddling up, calling in favours, and rolling out to rescue her, but I don't think anyone ever stops to wonder what Mab is up to, other than acting irrationally, given the suspicion that Maeve throws on her sanity. Not even Murphy, who ends up losing her command over it! I guess they just presume that it's because Molly is the daughter of a Knight of the Cross and don't go any further than that?

The whole business about the gang arriving at an empty Arctis Tor is wonderfully atmospheric, particularly as they realised that they are not the first ones to attack it. That's some way to set up a book-spanning mystery...
Emmet O'Brien
3. EmmetAOBrien
sushisushi@2: I'm still not, post Cold Days, convinced Molly is targeted here for any reason other than that Mab wants Harry in Arctis Tor and Molly's someone he'll come after. I can see an argument that the woman at the convention, name escapes me, who gave Molly the idea of aversion therapy was an agent of Mab's.

The thing that still intrigues me is whether the Hellfire "attack" was the actual attack, or whether Mab set that up so that Harry could plausibly get in, and the Scarecrow fetch is the actual enemy there.
TomT
4. TomT
Witht the last couple of books it started to be clear that Jim was weaving a more complex story than it initially appeared. One where threads of story run through it from the first book through the climactic trilogy at the end.

So much of the maneuvering we see here and in Summer Knight are much clearer after the next Fae book, Cold Days. But those revelations can wait. Here we get to see much more complexity shown and it is clear that there is a great story arc in the background and each book is just a glimpse of that story as Harry come into contact with it again and again.

Last I feel a little sorry for Ebenezer in this and the last book. Yet really if he would just stop and explain a bit to Harry... But I do understand why he doesn't explain. Still he must put up with the cold shoulder treatment from Harry for now.

Just a captcha complaint... how are you supposed to do something like 3/8? It didn't like my last try. :p
James Reid
5. JamesReid
sushisushi@2: The meta plot really starts to click together after Cold Days. I think Mab just needed to lure Harry to Arctis Tor so he could see things are really not adding up in the supernatural world anymore. I agree with EmmetAOBrien that Molly was just a target of opportunity. As far as the hellfire attack, i believe Small Favors gives some clues about the responsible party.
Sorcha O
6. sushisushi
EmmetAOBrien@3 I think that her name was Sandra, and Molly had met her at the shelter she had been working or volunteering, or doing community service at? I really have no idea whether Mab had set up the initial attack or not, given that whoever it was attacked the gates of Winter's stronghold, threw some Hellfire around, killed a buttload of guardian monstery Fae, then then... left? It's not at all clear what the point of their attack was, given that they don't seem to have gotten up the tower stairs to where the Scarecrow was hanging out and Molly and Lea were stashed. It does smell like a diversion when you stop to think about it like that, doesn't it?

TomT@4 The problem with Ebenezer here is that he has a bad dose of the same bad habit as all the other wizards (including Harry) of playing their cards close to their chests and not divulging information unless they absolutely have to. Somewhere along the way Harry wisecracks something along the lines of keeping secrets is like crack to wizards, and he's really not the only one guilty of that...
TomT
7. Zazreil
I think the wink at the end was a clear indication that Mab had summoned Harry. I read it like this after the aftermath of the attack. Mab was unable to reach out with her power to call her troops as she normally would/ probably Maeve was interfering. So she sent her phobophages to lure Harry to help her . She wanted Harry to make a splash so the fey would react and come to her aid. Scarecrow was either infected , her daughter's creature or a pawn she sacrificed. As for Molly, I think the phobophages were just looking for a place to make a scene to attract Dresden and when they noticed his interest in Molly she became the perfect bait.

On a different note I thoroughly enjoyed the homages to famous horror icons even if they could not use their exact names
Emmet O'Brien
8. EmmetAOBrien
sushisushi@6: given a reasonably competent "attacker", I think it's safe to conclude that the result of the "attack" matches the intent; the result in this case is that a party of four people can get into Arctis Tor, free Molly, kill the Scarecrow, and by dumping Summer fire into the Winter wellspring, in turn enabling the Summer host to leave the stand-off on the borders and go attack the Red Court.

Note that the Reds trespassed on Winter at the end of Dead Beat - because it's Winter the White Council have permission to pass through, and explicitly not Summer. Note also that the Scarecrow fetch, unlike all the others, does not change its appearance looked at under glamour, and Harry's a long way from convinced that's merely because it is old and strong - and a fundamental change in its nature fits exactly with the pattern Hary associates with the Black Council hypothesis at the end of Proven Guilty. Add to that, on its first appearance, the Scarecrow's priority in that fight is killing Glau, whom Madrigal says set up his appearance at the convention; cutting off a loose end back to some plotter or plotters unknown, again fitting Harry's assessment of the enemy MO. I think identifying the Scarecrow as an enemy is fairly solid.

Conclusion; Mab wanted rid of the Scarecrow, and wanted the Summer host free to attack the Reds, and had to work around some Faerie-type constraints in order to do so, or for some reason had Harry getting curious about all this as a high priority, such that she sent someone wielding Hellfire to clear a path for Harry. Also, Faerie are willing to act in unison against a common enemy so long as they pay lip service to Summer and Winter's opposition - in much the same way as they mislead people all over the place while bound to tell no direct lies.
TomT
9. Kasiki
One of the things I like about this is the story or "case" is rather easy to follow for this book. nothing overly outlandish . But the masterful stroke is using the "case" to expand the scope of the series without getting stuck being preachy and long winded.

In many ways I think Butcher understood that he couldn't try to top the Sue ending so why try? Instead we get another completely different book that is placed in the ideal time and hits all the right notes to move the bigger story forward while still being a guilty pleasure.

In terms of "Cold Days", much is revealed, and i will not divulge what happens in that book, but looking at each character that is prominent in both shows some insite to many of the questions we have had since this book or summer knight.
Maiane Bakroeva
10. Isilel
Hm... Lily is pretty clever here,with her summer fire subtrefuge. I wonder how this agrees with her characterzation in Cold Days.

Ditto the fact that the Outsiders can only be summoned by humans - a fact that I have forgotten and which makes me wonder about some future events.

And yea, Molly was really a target of opportunity here, a bait to lure Harry to the Tor. But that must have resulted in her coming under Sidhe scrutiny.

Finally, why don't the wizards look for talented youngsters, given the stakes? Not even Harry. Surely, his searching spells on the Chikago model could be somehow adapted for that... And Du Morne did look and found 2 highly talented ones, so it is clearly possible.
Emmet O'Brien
11. EmmetAOBrien
Isilel@10: If there were a simple way to track magical talent at a distance, there are any number of places the series plot would be different; I'm inclined to believe, given what we know about duMorne's past with Harry's mother and Lord Raith and whoever else they were working with, that he didn't find Harry and Elaine by going looking, but that he knew where they were all along and probably was part of the program that bred them in the first place. From the hints we get, duMorne showing up in the orphanage and offering Harry a home where he is recognised as special and different seems to have been quite effective.
Sorcha O
12. sushisushi
Emmet@8 Okay, I'm with you right up until the Summer fire bit - how could Mab have known that Lily would be involved in Harry's rescue party? She would know that Harry would round up his allies, which would include Lily, but she couldn't know that Lily would give him Summer fire, and that Harry would start slinging it around in Arctis Tor.I agree on the Scarecrow being Mab's tool, that's not hard, given that it brings its prize back to her stronghold. You basically saying that Mab wanted the Scarecrow taken out for more or less the same reasons that the Scarecrow took out Glau, then? To cut the incriminating link and cover their tracks?

I'd love to know who Mab was using as a Hellfire patsy, though. The Fae all tend to use obligation and favours, particularly with changelings and wizards they would like to groom, and it's got to be one of the Nickelheads. None of them are changelings, that we know of, but several are also wizards (or warlocks?), so my guess would be Tessa or snake-boy, if not one of the other magic-savvy Denarians. Although how she managed to convince one of them to act for her, who knows!

Isilel@10 There is a reason given somewhere in the books, that it's due to the mushrooming numbers of humans on the planet in the last century, that it's not possible to track down every emerging talent and organise their training, especially when working undercover. That said, they don't seem to even try very hard, that we see, although this may be more to do with Harry's observational bias than anything else. They obviously do *some* recruiting, although we never actually learn how Luccio's trainees are recruited, whether they are the children of magic users, or recruited once they exhibit magical talent. I'm assuming that there is either some sort of cover story, or their parents are aware where they are, but we are never given any indication of how it actually works.
Maiane Bakroeva
13. Isilel
EmmetAOBrien @11:

DuMorne may have known about Harry all along - though, of, course this opens the question why more benevolent other people who knew didn't do anything about it. Maybe it was answered in the later books, I honestly can't remember. Wouldn't have had to be overt, either, just steering some wizard they could actually trust towards Harry.

But what about Elaine? IIRC she had a completely undistinguished ancestry. DuMorne must have searched for talent and found her.

I do remember the detection problems with population growth, but the thing is. Wizards don't even seem observe and test the offspring of magic-users.
Yea, I am also very curious where and how they find their Warden trainees.
Emmet O'Brien
14. EmmetAOBrien
sushusushi@12:Okay, I'm with you right up until the Summer fire bit - how could Mab have known that Lily would be involved in Harry's rescue party? She would know that Harry would round up his allies, which would include Lily, but she couldn't know that Lily would give him Summer fire, and that Harry would start slinging it around in Arctis Tor.

I'm proposing that here, as in pretty much every faerie book in the series, Winter and Summer are in cahoots all along. Mab knows Lily will give Harry Summer fire because they planned it beforehand, and Harry willl start slinging it around at the key moment because he's smart enough to figure that bit out for himself.

I agree on the Scarecrow being Mab's tool, that's not hard, given that it brings its prize back to her stronghold.

Not exactly what I am proposing; I am proposing the Scarecrow is Mab's enemy, and Sandra Marling or whoever prompted Molly to work black magic and attract fetches is Mab's agent for playing the Scarecow to its destruction.

I'd love to know who Mab was using as a Hellfire patsy, though.

I'll come back to this later on, because I think there's a fairly obvious clue in a later book.

Isilel@13: DuMorne may have known about Harry all along - though, of, course this opens the question why more benevolent other people who knew didn't do anything about it. But what about Elaine?

I have what I think is a solid explanation here, but it involves information we do not get until White Night. I do not believe anyone we can call benevolent knew about Harry's existence during his childhood, though.

Wizards don't even seem observe and test the offspring of magic-users.

What examples do we have to base this assessment on ? Maggie was on the run from the Wardens for breaking Laws, according to Ebenezer in Blood Rites; I'd hardly expect her to hand over her offspring for testing.
Sorcha O
15. sushisushi
EmmetAOBrien@12 Interesting thought about Winter and Summer being in cahoots throughout. I could see how it could work, up to a point, because the Fae love to play games and manipulate, and who better to play with than your near equal? I don't know that they are necessarily planning things together, as opposed to the Queens manipulating the Ladies, particularly the less experienced Lily.

Okay, answer me this - if Mab and the Scarecrow were enemies, why would it kidnap a human dabbling in black magic and bring her to the centre of Mab's power? We don't get any indication what it is planning to do with Molly, if anything, other than bring her to Mab. If you are proposing that the Scarecrow was working with the Hellfire-wielder and was part of the original attack on Arctis Tor, that makes a kind of sense, but doesn't explain why the Scarecrow would still be sitting there by itself at the wellspring of Winter power, waiting for Harry to show up. Particularly after its previous fellow attackers are either dead or have run away. Are you proposing that it was waiting to take on Mab herself?

On the testing of magical offspring, it's the old problem with proving a negative - it's the absence of any evidence that is significant. The problem with using Maggie and baby Harry as an example is that she died in childbirth, long before he would be old enough to manifest any talent. But we hear about Martha and Luccio's descendants, with no mention of checking for magic manifesting, we have no mention of where Luccio's recruits come from, and no mention of the children of minor Paranet-level talents being tested. Actually, all we have is mentions of Wardens showing up at budding covens (like Charity mentions in this book), warning them about the rules of magic, threatening them with the consequences of misuse (head-chopping), and warning them to keep low. I'm guessing this is the White Council's recruitment strategy?
Emmet O'Brien
16. EmmetAOBrien
sushisushi@15: Okay, answer me this - if Mab and the Scarecrow were enemies, why would it kidnap a human dabbling in black magic and bring her to the centre of Mab's power?

Because Molly's meddling was what started attracting the fetches in the first place, and Harry magically redirected them against their "summoner". (Which appears to be a standard White Council tactic; he attempts the same with the entropy curse in Blood Rites.) I'm not proposing that the Scarecrow has a choice, here; it's being manipulated through its nature.

If you are proposing that the Scarecrow was working with the Hellfire-wielder and was part of the original attack on Arctis Tor

No, not at all.

I am proposing that the Scarecrow was the original attack on Arctis Tor.

Note that when Harry's magic can't touch it, it doesn't follow the same pattern as strong beings just bulling through Harry's magic ("Grum" in Summer Knight , Ursiel in Death Masks). The power fades out before touching it, which is a lot more like Lord Raith's immunity in Blood Rites, which is Outsider-based. I'm proposing the Scarecrow is pretty much untouchable because of that, and only someone carrying in Summer fire to attack its Winter aspect has a chance of defeating it.

The Scarecrow, to my mind, thinks it has won. It has taken Arctis Tor and Mab is in hiding pretending to be an ornament. Her counter-strike consists of a) prompting Molly to work black magic, attracting fetches, and ultimately drawing Harry's interference, and b) sending a Hellfire-wielding agent to blow in her own doors and kill the trolls and goblins so that there's nothing standing between Harry and the Scarecrow.

As for the absence of evidence for checking up on the descendants of practitioners, I am prepared to chalk that up to being just one of the long list of things the Council has had no reason to talk to Harry about. (Also, you're referring to events in later books here more specifically than I thought the spoiler policy on this reread allowed.)
Sorcha O
17. sushisushi
EmmetAOBrien@16 How would that work with the timeline of the book, though? You seem to be saying that the Scarecrow attacked Arctis Tor, and then left again to chase terror with the fetches, got redirected to Molly, kidnapped her and brought her back to Arctis Tor, where it fought through Mab's guard while hanging onto Molly? Without the greater Winter forces having time to react and retaliate? I don't think the timing of that would work - it makes much more sense for either the Scarecrow to arrive with Molly after the initial attack has been and gone, or that it arrived beforehand and passed peacefully through the guard because it was on the same side.

I still think it's more likely that the Scarecrow is Mab's tool, and brought Molly back to its mistress's stronghold. This theory doesn't explain who the initial attacker was, but the Scarecrow could either be following Mab's orders or it could have been manipulated by her to carry out actions according to its phobophage nature. It could thought that Harry and co were the second wave of an attack, and be defending it's home (and prey).

(Ack on the minor spoilers, have whited out that sentence, got my book order mixed up! I don't know that there's anyone but you and me still reading this still, but have done it anyway, because people can come back to old threads later on.)
Brian R
18. Mayhem
I initially thought the Scarecrow was definitely not working with Mab, but the way it goes out of its way to preserve Molly until Harry arrives and its age and power makes me think it was an important guardian, maybe the warden of the prison.

Clearly powerful Forces Unknown attacked Arctis Tor, at least one of whom was a Denarian wielding Hellfire (and we find out who in two books time). My suspicion is they came to get something back, and succeeded.
I had thought Scarecrow most likely provided them the way in and then remained to finish up with Molly, which is when our Heroes broke in. Now though, I'm not so sure. By what I understand, it would take power on the order of a Queen or Lady to open a reliable gateway directly to the heart of Winter. But was that gate opened from inside to let the fetches through, or did they get drawn out by Molly working fear magic nearby after something else went in ....
Emmet O'Brien
19. EmmetAOBrien
sushisushi@16: How would that work with the timeline of the book, though? You seem to be saying that the Scarecrow attacked Arctis Tor, and then left again to chase terror with the fetches, got redirected to Molly, kidnapped her and brought her back to Arctis Tor, where it fought through Mab's guard while hanging onto Molly? Without the greater Winter forces having time to react and retaliate?

I seem still not to be making my point clear.

What I am saying is that the Scarecrow, on its own, arrived at Arctis Tor and took the place, without besieging it or fighting anyone, by virtue of Outsideriness and whatever hold over Mab it had because of Mab carrying the athame (which we know she was doing as of Dead Beat; we know she has to fuflfil Lea's obligations, as she does so for Harry in that book, while Lea is out of play, so she also does to whatever makes Lea carry the athame rather than just seal it away somewhere safe.)

Then Mab, while hiding from the Scarecrow, sent (however indirectly) Sandra Marling to inspire Molly to create the sort of fear that draws fetches.

After a bit, Scarecrow is drawn into that too, and ends up capturing Molly.

Then the Hellfire wielder(s), working under Mab's direct orders, blow in her door, wipe out the goblins and trolls, and then get out of there - because Hellfire's no use against Outsider-Scarecrow either.

Then enter Harry.

Nowhere during any of this can the greater Winter forces do anything at all, because of being stuck on the border.

I hope this is clearer ?
Emmet O'Brien
20. EmmetAOBrien
mayhem@18: I initially thought the Scarecrow was definitely not working with Mab, but the way it goes out of its way to preserve Molly until Harry arrives and its age and power makes me think it was an important guardian, maybe the warden of the prison.

I am not seeing how it goes out of its way to preserve her, and the linking of its power with age is not necessarily true.

Clearly powerful Forces Unknown attacked Arctis Tor, at least one of
whom was a Denarian wielding Hellfire (and we find out who in two books time)

I'd argue that we don't, but that should wait for a fortnight.
Debbie Solomon
22. dsolo
Having read all the Dresden Files books, including Cold Days, I think that Mab was using Harry, and probably Molly, but because she was under attack. I don't think she opened the gate for the Hellfire user, but she probably knows who did. Mab knows she is under attack, and that is why she is manipulating Harry into helping her. One of the things I love about Butcher is how he keeps bringing back events from previous books and weaving them into the current book. Makes reread much more interesting.
Sorcha O
23. sushisushi
EmmetAOBrien@19 It's not so much an issue with clarity, as opposed to not agreeing with your theory. I think we're going to have to start on opposite sides of this one for the moment, at least until we find out canonically one way or the other.

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