Mon
Jan 7 2013 2:00pm

The Dresden Files Reread: Book 10, Small Favor

The Dresden Files Reread: Book 10, Small FavorThe tenth book in the Dresden Files, Small Favor, sees a lot of familiar faces returning in somewhat unpredictable configurations. Harry is attacked by goat-like creatures and also asked for a small favor (appropriate given the title). Of course as is usual in the Dresdenverse, things are rarely exactly what they seem and Harry has to fight harder than he has before, with the lives of several of his friends hanging in the balance.

We begin with a snowball fight where Molly Carpenter, Harry’s apprentice, is trying to shield herself from snowballs, thrown by her brothers, sisters, and Harry. Harry is training her to use defensive magic, and it soon devolves into the snowball fight of a happy family. It is, unfortunately, disrupted by an attack and they are all plunged into darkness.

Goat-like, white-furred creatures with horns attack them. Harry fights them off with the help of Molly and Charity Carpenter, who uses cold steel to attack them. Being creatures of Faerie, it works wonders against them. Harry wonders why creatures of Faerie are after him. He wonders if it it’s the fallout from the attack on Arctis Tor back in Proven Guilty when Harry and Charity and Murphy stormed Faerie to rescue Molly.

Harry consults with Bob and figures out that the creature that attacked him was a Gruff (as in the Three Billy Goats Gruff). Thing is, they work for the Summer Court, which shouldn’t be miffed about Harry’s actions at Arctis Tor. As he’s puzzling over this, Murphy calls with a case for Harry and, needing the money, Harry accepts.

She takes him to a ruined building and tells him that SI pooled their coffee money to bring him in. Murphy’s demotion is weighing heavily on her. Harry investigates and smells the distinct brimstone smell of hellfire. Then Harry finds a sigil drawn in blood. Not a pentacle, but something like it. Harry guesses that it is a symbol for anarchist wizards. It most likely redirected the energy that ruined the building. Harry also finds that the energy probably came from the inside of a pentagram, on a huge scale. Harry also finds no trace of residual magic. As Murphy puts it, the perpetrators “wiped their prints.” On top of all this, the building turns out to belong to our old friend and mobster, Gentleman Johnny Marcone.

After visiting the crime scene, Harry summons Toot-toot, last seen in Summer Knight. He’s grown since Harry has seen him last. And the ranks of the Pizza Lord or Za Lord’s army has grown because Harry helped free the faeries trapped by the White Court in the last book. Before Harry can talk to Toot, though, he flees, warning Harry that he’s in danger. Queen Mab (of the Winter Court of Fae) appears, speaking through her  servant, Grimalkin, which seems very odd, but Mab doesn’t choose to elaborate. Mab reminds Harry that he owes her two tasks because of the deal they made in Summer Knight. She shows Harry a magical re-enactment of a scene involving Gentleman Johnny Marcone and his companions Hendricks and Ms. Gard. It turns out that they were in the building that Murphy called Harry about. In a kind of safe room that was magically warded. Someone kidnapped Marcone. Mab wants Harry to find and recover him.

Harry initially tries to refuse Mab, but she uses her power on him, tormenting him. She then offers to make him her Winter Knight. Harry considers it, and he’s tempted, but he refuses. Instead he agrees to find Marcone for her. Before she leaves, though, she tells Harry that she wasn’t what Toot was warning Harry against. Then Harry is attacked by three more Gruffs. More powerful than the first. And armed with automatic weapons.

Harry fends them off and only just manages to escape from them before being picked up by Thomas in his Hummer.

Harry fills Thomas in and asks for Thomas’s help as backup. Then Fix appears with a shotgun trained on Harry. He warns Harry not to do as Mab asks. With Thomas’s help, Harry gets the drop on Fix and turns the shotgun on him. Angry, he berates Fix for threatening him. But then he realizes that he’s under a geas from Titania, the Summer Queen. Before he leaves, Fix tells Harry not to forget the leaf that Titania gave him at the end of Proven Guilty. Harry guesses that the Gruffs (and Fix) had been using the leaf to track him. Harry seems to know what to do about it. His plan involves putting the leaf inside a catnip bag hanging over his model Little Chicago (seen in the last book). Every time that Mister the Cat jumps at it, it marks a different part of the model, corresponding to a different part of Chicago, sending the Gruffs there.

Harry then turns his attention to finding Marcone, and where else to start but Executive Priority Health, his gym/brothel, introduced in White Night. Harry enters with Thomas, but is told that Ms. Demeter (the manager of the club, also seen in White Night) is not able to see anyone. Harry bullies his way in and while he is talking to Ms. Demeter, a mobster by the name of Torelli enters, demanding to see Demeter’s documents. Turns out with Marcone missing, his lieutenants are ready to swoop in and take over. They threaten Demeter and Harry and Thomas fight them, incapacitating Torelli’s people. Demeter thanks Harry, then promises to give him some info if he promises to help Marcone. Harry agrees and she slips him an address.

The address leads to the suburbs and a house. As Harry and Thomas exit to investigate, they sense something lurking nearby. Inside the house they find Hendricks, Marcone’s long-time goon, who holds them at gunpoint until a female voice upstairs calls for Harry to be sent up. Harry finds Ms. Gard, Marcone’s head of security, lying in a bed, bleeding profusely from a belly wound so bad that her intestines are pushing through. Harry helps her glue her wound closed and Gard tells Harry that he must appeal to the White Council since the Accords have been broken. Then they are attacked by a Denarian whom Harry calls Mantis Girl because of her chitinous skin and pincers. Harry fights her off, using a new trick—electrocuting her with a chain. Thomas kills her Denarian companion and Mantis Girl offers to parley. She says that this is a private matter between the Denarians and Marcone, both signatories to the Unseelie Accords and so Harry should stay out of it. Harry offers to let them go if they turn over Marcone. Mantis Girl says she has to check with her superiors, then tries to attack them. But Harry’s expecting this and he and Thomas get Hendricks and Gard away in Thomas’s Hummer.

Harry guesses that Father Forthill’s will be watched, so he heads instead to Michael Carpenter’s house. On the way, Thomas mentions that a coin rolled out when he dispatched the other Denarian. Luckily, though, Thomas has been wearing gloves, most likely so he can handle the scarf that Justine knitted for him (true love, or its residue, burns White Court vamps after all). That’s all that’s saved him from the corrupting presence of the coin. Harry contains it in a bag in the Hummer’s ashtray, but not before mentioning that the coin would probably allow Thomas to be with Justine. Way to drop that temptation in there, Harry. Harry also considers that maybe what the Denarians want with Marcone is to give him a coin.

At Michael’s house they find Sanya, the other surviving Knight of the Cross last seen in Death Masks, conveniently stuck in Chicago because of the snow. Harry explains what’s happening and the Knights mention that the leader is Tessa, though the tactics don’t seem to be hers. They guess that Nicodemus might be in town. Harry wants to take the fight to them, but Michael insists that their job isn’t to attack but to try to redeem the bearers of the coins. Harry suggests that he instead set up a meeting, and if the Denarians turn on them, then they can attack them.

Harry also calls the White Council as Gard asked him to. He speaks to Captain Luccio and misleads her into believing that Mab is requesting their help with Marcone and threatening to close the ways through the Nevernever (that the White Council is using to travel in their actions against the Red Court of Vampires). Luccio agrees to help set up a meeting and Harry requests the Archive (Ivy) as the White Court’s emissary. Harry also has a talk with Sanya who gives Harry a quick version of his backstory, about being a young black man in Russia and how he fell under the sway of Rosanna, another Denarian. He did bad things, giving in to his basest desires until he came to realize that Rosanna didn’t really care for him. Shiro found him and the archangel Michael offered him the sword Esperacchius to help redeem him. This brings up the topic of the swords and how Harry still has Shiro’s sword, Fidelacchius. Sanya asks if Harry will take up the sword, but Harry feels it’s meant for someone else. He also brings up that Shiro was a descendant of kings. Sanya indicates he was also a descendant (of Saladin). Harry remarks that maybe that has something to do with the swordbearers. Then Harry goes to meet Murphy at McAnally’s, picking up a veiled Molly on the way.

At Mac’s, Harry fills in Murphy on the Gruffs that have been after him and what’s been going on with the building. Murphy is still a police officer and feels that Chicago PD should be involved. Harry warns her that it’s likely to be too dangerous for the cops to handle and that they’ve lost too many people that way in the past. Murphy reluctantly agrees, but it’s clear that the more she is involved in Harry’s cases the more she feels torn between her police duties and the dangers of the supernatural world. Her price for letting Harry take care of things is that she wants to be involved as well.

As they’re discussing things, an enormous Gruff comes into Mac’s and talks to Harry. He takes issue with Harry’s use of iron against his younger brothers. Harry was obviously acting in self-defense. Since Mac’s is neutral ground, they can’t fight there, but then the Gruff invites Harry outside. Which is when Murphy steps in, saying that Harry is under her protection as a citizen of Chicago since she’s a police officer. An attack on Harry would be an attack on her and all of the Chicago mortal world. She then threatens to shoot him in the eye with a steel-jacketed slug. The Gruff isn’t prepared for that so he leaves. Murphy is rewarded with a special super-amazing bottle of Mac’s brew that he also shares with Harry.

After that bit of excitement, Harry has a war council with Murphy, Thomas, and Molly. They figure that the only way the Denarians would have known about Marcone’s panic room and safe house would be if they had someone on the inside. Then Harry gives Thomas a small doll which makes Thomas look like Harry, the idea being that Thomas will draw the Gruffs away from him. Of course to make the disguise work, Harry has to turn over his leather duster and his staff. As Harry, Murphy, Mouse and Molly return to Michael’s, they are attacked by two gunmen. Murphy gets hit and Harry shoots one of the men in the knee with his gun. He recognizes the other man as Bart, a goon-for-hire. Harry creates a fire sphere that he threatens Bart with and he spills that Torelli hired them, that he’s getting ready to move on Marcone. The other gunman recovers and attacks Harry, but Mouse takes him out. Then Harry grabs Murphy, mostly protected by her vest, and Molly and gets them away before the cops can arrive.

They head back to Michael’s where Murphy gets some medical attention. Michael fills Harry in on Tessa, mentioning that she is one of the oldest of the Denarians and that she’s married to Nicodemus.  But they have very different approaches, Michael says. Nicodemus is all about the long game, while Tessa is strictly short term. If they’re working together, it will be something that satisfies them both. Harry mentions that last time they had three Knights and they barely took out four Denarians. This time they are one Knight down and there are possibly as many as seven of Nicodemus’s people. Michael has faith, mentioning that their lives belong to God, and Harry angrily retorts that that won’t help his family if he dies. It doesn’t go over well. Harry apologizes, but it’s clear it’s something Michael’s angry about.

Harry questions Gard about possible traitors. Torelli is too dumb to have acted on his own, but he could be a pawn of the Denarians. Harry asks for some privacy and talks to Gard alone. He guesses that she would have blood or hair samples for Marcone and Torelli. He asks for them. She asks him to swear that he won’t use them to harm anyone and he agrees, mentioning that breaking an oath like that would cost a wizard power. She gives him the location of a storage locker in Union Station and warns him not to stand in front of it when he opens it.

Harry goes to the locker with Michael. They’re silent in the car, things still icy between them. As they enter the station, Mouse senses something and the lights go out. Michael provides light via his sword, Amoracchius and they see a dozen or so eyeless baboon-like creatures that Harry recognizes as Hobs, faeries. Michael, Harry and Mouse fight their way through the dark, eventually making their way to people injured in the attack. Harry mentions that hobs are sensitive to light and that they called something called the myrk from the Nevernever to keep everything dark. Harry uses his magic with the sprinkler system to dispel the Myrk and Michael goes all Fist of God and smites them. Which seems to save the day, until a huge armored Gruff appears.

Harry tries to fight him off, but then runs. On the slick floor of the station, the Gruff’s size works against him. Harry also knocks out some lights which attracts more hobs which, as creatures of Winter, eagerly attack the Gruff, a creature of Summer. But the Gruff is too strong and keeps coming on. Harry reaches the storage locker and times it so that Gard’s security spell takes out the Gruff instead. Harry retrieves the box inside, then grants the Gruff mercy. He returns to find Michael finishing off the last of the hobs. It’s interesting that the hobs, Winter fae, are there. Then Ivy appears, escorted by Kincaid and Luccio. Ivy questions Harry’s involvement with the hobs, but Michael vouches for him and they all leave the station together.

Ivy and Luccio are suffering from the effects of the weather, but they get back to Harry’s place just in time for him to pass out. When he awakens, he sees Luccio bathing herself and realizes how attractive she is. Luccio is to be Dresden’s second in the meeting with Nicodemus. Harry later goes to Michael’s where he meets up with everyone else and Thomas tells Harry that Luccio was basically hitting on him and that he was stupid not to have realized. Harry enlists Hendricks and Gard to accompany Luccio and him to the meeting. Murphy also insists on going along with everyone else despite the others warning her off. It’s her city, she says.

They meet at the Shedd Aquarium. Ivy has no objection to Murphy being there so they meet with Nicodemus. Nicodemus agrees to Murphy’s presence if she will come unarmed, and if he can speak to Harry privately for five minutes. Nicodemus talks about Lasciel for a bit before alluding to the Black Council. He seems to know of this shadowy group that has their hands in things, manipulating events. Harry mentions the attack on Arctis Tor and the evidence of hellfire he saw there. This unnerves Nicodemus enough that he practically attacks Harry. After controlling himself he indicates that the offender could be one of his, or could be part of the Church. They do recover the coins, after all. As they’re talking, Harry realizes Nicodemus’s aim is to delay him and that leads to the realization that Ivy is their real target.

As he races to save her, he realizes that the pentagram used against Marcone was basically a test for what they would do to contain Ivy. Harry gathers power, then runs into a gaunt Denarian setting up some kind of spell. He tries to attack it, but it seems to have the power to eat his magic. It contains him but somehow Harry manifests a new ability, creating a giant silvery hand that reaches out to attack the Denarian. He takes it out, but loses the ability to use his real right hand.

More Denarians appear, but Harry gets the help of Kincaid. He comes upon Tessa, Deirdre (Nicodemus’s daughter, last seen in Death Masks), and Magog, the demon who once possessed Sanya. They have been unable to find Ivy, but they change tactics, instead going after Kincaid and using him to get to her. Harry reveals himself and attacks. Eventually, with Tessa’s abilities as a sorceress, they get the drop on Harry and Tessa almost shoots him in the head. But Ivy has been watching the whole thing, veiled from sight, and she reveals herself to save Harry.

Ivy wields considerable power and Harry tries to help her, but he realizes that the Denarians have released gas which should affect a little girl much more easily than grown adults. Harry tries to get her away, but he succumbs to the gas as well and the Denarians get Ivy. Before Harry passes out, he destroys the glass of the aquarium flooding the area with salt water.

When he comes to, Murphy and the others are there with him. Ivy is gone. Kincaid is recovered and makes Harry promise to rescue her. Michael and Sanya tell Harry that eleven coins have been recovered. Along with thirteen previously recovered, that leaves only six Denarians left, and they’re all in Chicago. Michael sees an end to his trials if they recover them all. He sees a way to return to his family.

Unfortunately, Harry isn’t about to give him the chance. The Denarians have Ivy and Marcone and can coin up both of them. But to do that they would have to get rid of two of their own (to use their coins). Harry intends to make a deal. Offer up the recovered eleven coins for Ivy. Michael and Sanya protest, but neither is willing to let a little girl be taken.

Harry overhears some strange snippets of conversation from his friends but ignores it. Nicodemus calls and it’s clear he’s outside the house. Harry steps out to meet with him. Nick uses the temptation angle, saying he has nothing personally against Harry and even that he could help the White Council with their war against the vampires. He also asks if Harry’s friends have been acting weird. How they would have seen Harry being helped out of the water by Denarians with no knowledge of what else had been going on. That they wouldn’t trust him. Harry makes the offer and Nicodemus...refuses. He refers to the end game. He doesn’t need the other coins with Ivy. So Harry offers him Fidelacchius to sweeten the deal.

When Harry returns to the house, he asks to speak with Michael, asking him to bring his sword. Then he asks Michael to put the sword on his neck. He confronts Michael and his doubts. Michael says that no one has ever banished the shadow of one of the Fallen without taking up the coin. Harry insists he doesn’t know everything. And that his mind is his own. Until Michael brings up Harry’s blasting rod and memories come flooding back to him as he realizes that yes, his mind has been tampered with. Molly actually went into his mind to verify it. Harry isn’t sure how it happened and why he hasn’t thought of his blasting rod since just after the first Gruff attack. He fills Michael in on the trade.

Harry gets everyone ready for action and, while changing, decides to make his move with Luccio. He kisses her, and she returns it. He asks her to dinner following everything and she agrees. Later, she helps predict that the Denarians will be at a concentration of ley lines out in Lake Michigan.

Harry goes to meet with the Denarians at Father Forthill’s Church. Michael and Sanya are there, all decked out for battle. Rosanna appears instead of Nicodemus. Harry shakes his bag of coins at her and shows her Fidelacchius but he won’t turn them over until he sees Ivy. Rosanna takes them out on the lake where they’re attacked by kelpies, more servants of Summer. They fight them off and then reach an island with run-down buildings on it, including an old lighthouse.

Harry somehow recognizes the island, it feels familiar to him, but he doesn’t have time to ponder that now. The Harry, Michael and Sanya are escorted to the six Denarians, proving to Harry that they haven’t broken Ivy yet. Harry shows what he brought, and Nicodemus reveals Ivy, trapped inside the lighthouse. She’s naked, her head shaved, with creatures all around her in an effort to break her. Harry pretends to give in to his anger, which would break the power of Fidelacchius, but then he spots Marcone and they begin to fight.

The Denarians are backed up by gunmen and supernatural beasts. Harry just has some fireball rounds, though Michael fights with both Amoracchius and Fidelacchius. They break the Denarian line and Harry heads to the lighthouse, disrupting the circle around Ivy. Nicodemus offers Harry one last chance—to hand over everything and walk away. Harry talks for a bit, buying time for Ms. Gard to arrive in a Huey, Ride of the Valkyries blasting from its sound system, apt because that’s what Gard is (a Valkyrie). Hendricks is on the minigun, Luccio on the winch. They take up Marcone and Ivy first. Then Sanya. Then Harry sees Gard look at Michael the way she had once looked at him—when he was fated to die. Harry sends up Michael next. But as he’s going up, Tessa and Rosanna appear and Tessa rips the gun from Harry’s hands and shoots Michael.

The helicopter is also hit and flies away. Harry, still on the ground, loses his shit (understandably) and he takes out Tessa with a bolt of super-fire. Harry figures out that it was likely Mab who took away his blasting rod because his fire magic could be used to track him by agents of Summer. And now he’s used it. So he figures the Eldest Gruff is on his way. Harry, outnumbered and outgunned, runs.

Magog pursues, but is intercepted by Summer’s champion, Eldest Gruff, who takes him out. Then he comes for Harry. Contrary to expectations, Eldest is only about five feet tall, but he has a staff and also bears the stoles of three members of the Senior Council of wizards, proof that he defeated three of them, proof that he’s powerful. Eldest doesn’t really want to go against Harry, but he is duty bound to. Harry, however, pulls out the leaf given him by Lily. It won’t work to end the conflict, but he uses it to ask Eldest to fetch him a doughnut. A real one. With white frosting and sprinkles. This will send Eldest away and give Harry time to escape. Harry then makes his way back to the boat that took him to the island, but Nicodemus is on board.

Nicodemus asks for the coins, but Harry realizes he doesn’t have them. Nicodemus figures out that Thorned Namshiel picked his pocket and Tessa and Rosanna made off with the coins. Nicodemus feels at least relieved that he will get Fidelacchius. He tells Lasciel’s shadow to incapacitate Harry, but, as we all know, Lasciel’s shadow is gone. Harry plays possum then chokes Nicodemus with his noose, repeating the trick he discovered in Death Masks. Nicodemus goes limp and Harry tips him over the side. Deirdre appears, diving after her father, and Harry gets the boat moving, but it gets hit by gunfire and eventually stops against a reef, with boats pursuing from the island.

Harry dives into the cold water, holding on as much as he can, pouring power into his pentacle amulet until he’s rescued by Thomas and Murphy. They get Harry up, but Deirdre appears, holding on to Harry. Harry throws Fidelacchius to Murphy who barely draws it from the scabbard. The light sends Deirdre back into the water and they escape.

Thomas gets Harry to his Hummer where a doughnut and coffee awaits, courtesy of Eldest Gruff. Then Thomas drops Harry off at the hospital where Michael is in surgery, seriously wounded. Seriously wounded. Charity tells him he’s family and he waits with her and Molly. Harry ends up in the hospital chapel and pleads with God before getting angry. He’s interrupted by the arrival of a janitor, Jake, who talks theology with him. And makes a reference to a “helping hand” before disappearing.

Then Grimalkin appears with Mab. She tells Harry that Jake was the angel, Uriel, who had somehow given Harry help. Mab also confirms that she took the blasting rod and returns it to Harry. She mentions that if Harry dies or doesn’t become her Winter Knight, she could recruit Thomas who would clearly want revenge. She also reminds Harry he owes her one more favor. Finally, in explanation for this whole mess, she mentions that she was defending the Accords (her Accords) as well as getting revenge for the Black Council attack on Arctis Tor which used hellfire. Harry guesses it was Thorned Namshiel.

Harry returns to find Michael in recovery. His injuries were extensive and he may need assistance for the rest of his life, but he’s alive. Molly also slips in that she did some homework and the answer was “Charlemagne.” Seems that Michael, too, is descended from royalty.

Harry goes to Murphy’s place and talks to Luccio who warns Harry not to get close to the Archive. Harry comforts Ivy when she wakes up and basically tells Luccio to stuff it. Then he asks her to his favorite Japanese restaurant.

Murphy takes Harry to his car and warns him that Luccio is wrong for him. She also mentions that she’s not interested in being a Knight. She’s already a cop and that’s important to her. She also says she wants in on the big fight against the Big Bad.

Harry then visits St. Mary’s and talks to Sanya who informs him that Michael woke up briefly. Harry tells him what happened to the eleven coins. Sanya says that Thorned Namshiel’s coin disappeared. He then gives Harry Amoracchius, to dispose of as with Fidelacchius.

Harry goes to visit Marcone who claims not to know what happened to Namshiel’s coin. Then he speaks to Demeter, telling her he knows that she was the one who spilled Marcone’s secrets to the Denarians. He won’t tell Marcone if she helps him with information from time to time.

Back at his lab, Bob fills Harry in on his use of soulfire, kinda the opposite of hellfire, but not quite. It’s the fusion of Harry’s soul with his magic. It depletes part of his soul, but that will recover as long as he doesn’t drain it all. It’s the power of angels, often used to create.

Finally, Harry has dinner with Luccio and she tells him that the sense of familiarity he had on the island was his Sight coming in. Wizards get a kind of precognitive ability that allows them to recognize places that will become important to them. So it seems we may see the island again. In the end, Harry and Luccio enjoy the night together, the beginning of something new and good.

 

Threads

The War: We don’t hear much of the war in this book due to the cease-fire mentioned in White Night. It’s still a concern, though, as Luccio proves when she worries about the ways through the Nevernever. How long the cease-fire will continue remains to be seen.

Faerie: As usual, what’s going on with Faerie is maddeningly unclear. But Mab appears here, strangely talking through Grimalkin. We’ve heard rumors that she’s losing her mind—is this related? Harry has now fulfilled two favors for her, but there’s one more to come. Also, she continues to offer Harry the position of Winter Knight and he continually refuses. Here she says that eventually he’ll succumb, but Harry says, “not today.” We also see that the Summer Court still has a thing against Harry. In this case it was to work against Harry as Winter’s emissary, but Titania is clearly not a Dresden fan.

The Swords: Harry now has two of the things to hand out—Fidelacchius (Shiro’s sword) and Amoracchius (Michael’s sword). This leaves the Knights down to one member. Harry’s supposed to know who to give the sword to, but who will it be? Someone we know? We saw Murphy show that she can use one of the swords. In fact, Harry called it a job offer. But she seems to not be interested in the power. We also learned that all three of the knights were descended from royalty. Is that important? Do we know anyone else descended from royalty? And does it have to be human royalty? Could Maeve, Mab’s daughter, for example, wield one (that’s highly unlikely, of course, but you get my point).

Soulfire: Having lost his hellfire when Lasciel disappeared, Harry is now apparently manifesting soulfire. The text seems to indicate that it’s been bestowed on him by Uriel, as reward for resisting Lasciel’s shadow. It adds to Harry’s power, certainly, but Bob warns that if it’s overused, it will run Harry’s soul dry.

The Black Council: We get more information about this shadowy group, primarily that some of the Denarians are working with them, and Tessa, Rosanna and Thorned Namshiel seem like the most likely suspects. Nicodemus views them as a threat. Nicodemus also uses the word “endgame” often enough. Could the Black Council be trying to bring about the apocalypse?

So that’s Small Favor, one of my favorite of the Dresden novels. I loved seeing the combination of the Fae and the Denarians as well as seeing Sanya and Michael return. And we see that Harry now has quite the team of allies, all of whom he depends upon. And though Michael was hurt, in the end he survived, something I wasn’t sure of while reading.

What did you think of it? Any theories about the swords or the Black Council? Please sound off in the comments. And tune back in a week for my favorite Dresden book of all time (so far), Turncoat!

 


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

15 comments
matt
1. graftonio
The donut is one of the top 5 best scenes Butcher has wrote.
Chris Hawks
2. SaltManZ
Michael's arc is followed-up on in the short story "The Warrior", which might be my favorite Dresden thing ever.
Raysen
3. Raysen
Nice summary!

Just a quick comment now cause i dont have time
You asked if we know someone descendent of a king and we do...
Thomas!
I´ve allways thought that he would make a great weilder of the sword of love, seeing as love is the thing that keeps him from beeing a monster and all... what do you think?
Emmet O'Brien
4. EmmetAOBrien
For what it's worth, I consider this one of the weaker points in the series. It has some great moments, but as setpiece-bloat goes, it's among the worst in the series, the sequence in the Shedd particularly goes on forever; a fair few of the other elements feel to me to get short shrift because of this pacing. I like the final confrontation best because it cements that Harry has actually started thinking strategically with fallback plans that make sensible uses of the resources he has available; the similarity between that and the description of the Merlin's preference for always having three plans is another irony that blows right past Harry. (He does have Molly and Mouse as an extra backup at the end of White Night but ends up not needing to call on them.)

With reference to my comments on the previous post, it's Harry's hand moving of its own accord to stop a coin from touching him in the middle of the interminable fight in the Shedd that struck me as proof Lash was still there.

One thing this book does do rather nicely is Harry losing his combat fire magic, and the headaches that, invisibly to him but visibly to the reader, affect him when he notices someone else using it; this happens with Rosanna in the Ivy-under-siege-by-seven-Denarians bit, and I think elsewhere too. It's also notable that Mab gives her word not to coerce Harry into any particular task in Summer Knight, but manages this one through a combination of fast talk, distraction, and Titania doing the actual coercing; as with every previous appearance, Faerie ultimately appear to work together. I suspect that she's doing something similar at the end of the book, too, and that there's something in the Namshiel conversation at the end of the book she does not want Harry following through on - myself, I suspect that Namshiel is Mab's agent among the Denarians whose cover she is preserving. (I don't believe Nicodemus is genuinely upset or surprised by Harry's revelation about hellfire at Arctis Tor - he's following a pattern repeated in the books from the Shadowman in Storm Front delaying Harry for the demon to catch up with, to Cowl chatting with Harry in Dead Beat while Kumori steals Bob; no villain in this world ever monologues at Harry except to distract him from something important.)

Also, if the stuff about being descended from kings isn't a red herring, it seems a rather dumb idea, because it applies to so very many people; it doesn't quite work for me for a Criterion To Bear A Major Magical Item of that degree of rarity to be a thing that I applies to me and a goodly fraction of the people I know. (Then again, pretty much everything Harry does with Listening, I can do myself.)

The significance of the Plagues of Egypt in particular being associated with Uriel is ominous at scales that appear to pass Harry by at this point.

SaltmanZ@2: I have issues with "The Warrior" that should wait until the reread gets that far; I was really quite grumpy at the time that a major arc from one novel should be resolved in an independent short story and so totally ignored in the next novel, and the availability of the stories as a collection does not entirely mollify me on that issue.
Raysen
5. Kasiki
This is one of, if not my favorite, books period. Somehow it is one of the most fun reads while still having serious moments. That might make the funny ones even funnier. Butcher is a master at doing this.

The one downside to the summary is that you truely don't get much of the Humor. Guess that means you just have to read the book again.
Raysen
6. ClintACK
Love this book. And needed this reread -- Thanks! -- to keep myself from the temptation of the spoilers AMOL reread above. (AMOL still hasn't arrived in the mail!! I'd have had it twelve hours ago if it was an ebook release!)

Perhaps my favorite "small moment" in the whole series is when Thomas is bewildered by the appearance of the donut, and Harry refuses to explain.

Another wonderful thing about this book: no new players. Oh, sure, there are a few new Denarians, and a few new Fae, but we're not learning about a whole new "villain faction of the week". All of the allies and enemies and confusing in-betweeners (like Fix) are people we've seen before and will see again.
Emmet O'Brien
7. EmmetAOBrien
ClintACK@6: All of the allies and enemies and confusing in-betweeners (like Fix) are people we've seen before and will see again.

You mean apart from a bunch of new Denarians, the gruffs and Uriel ?

I do think the series undergoes a transition from "qualitatively new and reasonably standalone story with mostly new players" to "episode of series with further development of mostly known players", but I'd count everything from Proven Guilty on in the latter category.
Raysen
8. Wlam205
@4 I kind of agree with you on the point about many people being related to kings. But at the same time the conversation that Dresden has with Sanya? I think about the nature of kings and their relationship to their people and "the land" also points to a certain bearing and character/personality set that would limit that. I dont believe that it is the "only" requirement for the job merely one out of a set. I also agree with your view on Uriel. Several times thoughout the series when referring to "Major" magical uses Harry refers to old gods/demi-gods/Archangels as being way up there on the power scale. But as later books will show their usage of power, the archangels, that is, is also tightly controlled and governed by a specific set of cirumstances and rules.
I also enjoy this book and the later books (and to some extent the few before) because of the fact that we see more and more recurring characters versus a "new group" every novel. Leaning more towards involved series development instead of shooting more towards stand alone novels.
Raysen
9. Zazreil
What happened to book 9, White Night? I looked and could not find a blog for it.

Zaz
Emmet O'Brien
10. EmmetAOBrien
Wlam205@8:But as later books will show their usage of power, the archangels, that is, is also tightly controlled and governed by a specific set of cirumstances and rules.

To my mind, later books show that the archangels claim loudly to be tightly controlled and governed by a specific set of rules, while containing non-trivial hints that they are stacking the deck and/or not near the values of benevolent they claim.

For example, if we are to believe Bob at the end of Small Favor, it is possible for Harry to wipe himself out through overuse of soulfire; Uriel did not think to warn him about this when (non-consensually) giving Harry access to it. Which means Uriel is either perfectly fine with the possibility of Harry killing himself in a way Harry can't possibly know is at risk (which really seems a bit bastardly to me), or he's in some way manipulating the situation so that won't happen (which kind of torpedoes his avowed position on free will).

Zazreil@9: I'm seeing the White Night post linked from the main Dresden Files reread page, which is in the list of rereads&things on the right side of the tor.com front page.
Raysen
11. bungluna
I see the issue of free will in the Dresden universe as being the choices we make, not being given choices. To clarify, free will is what we chose to do.

Circumstances and/or powerfull beings can put us in a corner, offer gifts/curses of power, entice us with promised wonders, but our free will allows us to chose what we will do.

Changes and Ghost Stories illustrate this best, imo. Can't wait to get there in the re-read.
Emmet O'Brien
12. EmmetAOBrien
bungluna@11: Circumstances and/or powerfull beings can put us in a corner, offer gifts/curses of power, entice us with promised wonders, but our free will allows us to chose what we will do.

I'd say the ending of Ghost Story pretty categorically disproves this, but that argument should wait another few weeks.
Raysen
14. Wlam205
EmmetAOBrien @10 for the most part I agree with you. But at the same time one could argue that Uriel could have reasonably assumed that Bob would inform Harry of this. Especially considering the fact that Harry goes to him with most magical questions. As to not being benevolent, I would argue that their "purpose" could be beyond that of mortal grasp and also that he never claims to be on anybody's side but rather his main goal is the protection of free will.
Emmet O'Brien
15. EmmetAOBrien
Wlam205@13:But at the same time one could argue that Uriel could have reasonably assumed that Bob would inform Harry of this.

Between the point at which Harry becomes aware that soulfire is accessible to him and the point at which he plausibly risks destroying himself ? That's a matter of seconds, a goodly way away from Bob.

As to not being benevolent, I would argue that their "purpose" could be beyond that of mortal grasp and also that he never claims to be on anybody's side but rather his main goal is the protection of free will

If that is the case, do you consider Christian characters in the books to be fundamentally deluded in their depicted belief that the White God and associates are benevolent ?
Raysen
16. Black Woodpecker
I have few doubts. I enjoy book a lot. Especially Gruffs (Elder Gruff scene was pure good), Uriel and Mab, whole Archive plot. But...

1. Denarians seems to lack real mojo this time. I mean hello even if most of them are thug-angels, they are still Fallen, and in Aquarium they are just slaughtered. After all only few of them turn to be really capable and even them are not stand against Knights. Fireball motive was really to much.
2. Nicodemus as for plot-master takes too much risks. Hell, I don't know if he survived whole thing, but he knew that Dresden knew, that his Judas rope is also a weapon against him. He shouldn't take chances that Dresden use it again. Or worse tell anyone who cares that you can just strangle leader of Denarians.
3. Ivy's birth. In Death Masks Ivy says that each Archive brain-dies during childbirth and newborn daughter takes job from this moment with all memories of her ancestors. It's creepy, but make some sense. Now we learned that Archive takes her duty when her mother/grandmother dies, and it don't have to be during birthtime, so Ivy situation is quite unique. That's hell of continuity mistake. If it was planned that it was lie, and Ivy was just to ashamed/hurt to talk about it, so she lied to Dresden then OK, it would be some point, problem is - then Dresden learning about truth in Small Favor should I don't know be suprised a little bit. React somehow. But fortunately he forget everything. So unless proven different I take that JB just forget his own former Archive history.

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