Mon
Jan 21 2013 3:00pm
The Dresden Files Reread: Book 11, Turn Coat Pt. 2

The Dresden Files Reread: Book 11, Turn Coat Pt. 2

The reread for Turn Coat, the eleventh book in The Dresden Files, was too big for just one post. Too packed full of action and twists and turns to be contained by just one summary. Here, however, is the thrilling conclusion to the Turn Coat reread (and this one covers the big finale).

Last week, in part one of the Turn Coat recap, Harry had just discovered that a world of hurt was going to come down on him soon because Madeline Raith had phoned the Wardens of the White Council to tell them that Harry was sheltering the fugitive Donald Morgan. Understandably scared, Harry freaks a little.

Harry and Murphy head back to Harry’s place and Harry starts to realize that he’s in over his head. He even considers accepting Mab’s offer to become the Winter Knight. He shares his fear with Murphy, who calms him a bit by telling him how the bureaucracy of the Wardens would work. Harry probably has more time than he thinks. Murphy offers her place but Harry doesn’t want to take Morgan there. And he can’t stay at Harry’s place. But Harry hits upon a better place.

First he has to get home, though, and surely he can’t walk in on yet another altercation, can he? The answer is: yes, he can. He finds Morgan on the floor with a pistol, an injured Mouse sitting on Molly and Luccio still unconscious. Morgan explains that he shot at Molly when she tried to enter Luccio’s mind. Mouse put himself in front of her. Harry has Molly fetch his medical supplies and Murphy considers arresting Morgan for attempted murder. Of course, it probably won’t protect him. Then Harry makes Molly remove the bullet from Mouse seeing as he took it to protect her. She does so.

Then Harry asks her for an explanation. Molly has a history with altering minds. She explains that she was expecting to find some evidence of tampering And Luccio seemed like the most likely suspect. Of course that meant she once more broke the Laws of Magic. Since she’s under the Doom of Damocles that means that she just sacrificed her life as well as Harry’s. Harry offers her a chance to help him, to do something good. And that he’ll stand with her in the end if she does. Or else she can run. She chooses to help. But Molly mentions that she did find evidence of tampering in Luccio’s mind. After Molly leaves, Harry realizes that Mouse was playing up his injury to help get a message across to Molly.

Harry, Molly, Morgan and Murphy go mobile, though Murphy leaves on an errand. But not before telling Harry that she loves him. Harry admits that she’s the best friend he ever had and that he loves her, too. Then he takes Thomas’s boat, the Water Beetle, out to the island where Harry faced the Denarians in Small Favor. He plans to do a sanctum invocation there. And he mentions that the island has a powerful genius loci, a spirit, that will figure into his plans. Then he tells Molly that if he doesn’t come back it’s because he’s dead and she should get Michael to help her disappear. Ominous, Harry.

Harry prepares his ritual, the outcome of which would mean a partnership between him and the genius loci. His ace in the hole is the soulfire given him by the archangel Uriel. Harry uses it with his blood to power the ritual. The island’s spirit manifests in a hulking shape and Harry uses his magic against it. Until it seems to be waiting for something. So Harry names it Demonreach and the ritual appears to have worked. On his way back to the boat, Harry realizes he now has complete awareness of everything on the island. He heads back with Molly and Morgan.

Harry then calls Lara. She traced the money in Morgan’s account. It came from one of her companies, directed by Madeline. The likely outcome being to start hostilities between the White Court and the White Council. Harry invites Lara to a “party” before calling Shagnasty (his name for the skinwalker) and the White Council and inviting them as well. To Demonreach. Then he grabs Georgia and Will, and summons Toot-toot to increase his ranks (for which the little fairy will be promoted to Major General).

They return to the island and Harry explains his reasoning to Molly. He left that message for the White Council saying he had an informant that could prove Morgan didn’t kill LaFortier. He doesn’t, of course, but he’s trying to lure out the true killer. And possibly the Black Council as well.

They arrive at the island, but someone is already there on the dock. A wizard in a black hood and cloak. Harry recognizes him as Rashid, the Gatekeeper. Rashid thinks that Harry is possibly working with the Black Council. Harry talks to him under truce. Harry asks where the rest of the Senior Council is and Rashid answers that they’re seeking transportation to the island. Of course, Rashid just traveled through the Nevernever. He seems to know lots about Demonreach but only shares with Harry that it’s the source of one of the ley lines leading to it. He also mentions he can’t set foot on the island because it holds a grudge. But Harry explains how he has bonded with the island. Rashid warns him, though, that someone will die.

Harry gets some rest and the others prepare and then a boat appears, approaching the island. The White Council is the first to appear—Ebenezar, Listens-to-Wind, and Ancient Mai. The White Council isn’t happy, the air is tense, but Harry still has Ebenezar on his side. They ask about the evidence, but Harry insists on waiting for the others to arrive. Ancient Mai, however, sees Harry delaying and advises Ebenezar to arrest Harry and search for Morgan. Listens-to-Wind agrees.

They stand, looking at each other for a while. Ebenezar tells his people that he won’t help move against Harry. Everyone else seems poised for action. Before things can go bad, though, the White Court vampires arrive in a helicopter. Lara slaps Harry for effect, then proposes a truce with the White Council. Ancient Mai is not inclined to work with White Court vamps and the tension increases. Then Lara calls in some more of her people. Harry senses other arrivals, too. Madeline and Binder, he thinks, with Binder’s summoned grey suits. And possibly other creatures from the Nevernever.

Harry realizes that the two forces will catch them together and that they need to work together to eliminate one of them, so he leads a force of Wardens, wizards and White Council vamps (say that three times fast) against the demons. First Harry has Toot-toot and his faeries set off fireworks to distract the creatures. Then Harry uses magic as the Raiths use their weapons and the Wardens use their magic as well. Ebenezar leads a force to protect Listens-to-Wind and Ancient Mai and Harry and Lara move against Madeline and Binder. An explosion sends Harry to the ground and Madeline jumps on top of him, kissing his forehead, and following the placement of her lips with a desert eagle.

Thankfully, Billy and Georgia arrive to stop the killing shot. They attack and then fade away, not giving Madeline a chance to fight back. But then Binder appears with a shotgun and the wolves run off. Harry shoots Binder, then sinks a couple into Madeline. But in the end, they are still alive. Madeline intends to feed on Harry, but then Lara appears, little more than a burned corpse, and begins to feed on Madeline. Harry pulls Binder away and questions him before letting him go. Seems that Madeline had talked to a foreign man with a lot of money. Binder gives Harry two concussion grenades and a phone given him by Madeline, then promises to bugger off.

Harry finds Will and Georgia drugged up from Madeline’s blood and puts Toot-toot in control of protecting them. Then he senses the presence of the naagloshii. Shagnasty shows up dragging Thomas who has been beaten and most likely tortured. Harry goes up to the cottage where Morgan and Molly are and sees symbols written on the stones of the cottage. Apparently these symbols prevent the naagloshii from entering the cottage.

Harry realizes that he just has to get Thomas free to protect him. He waits for his moment, then uses his magic to snatch Thomas inside the cottage, though Thomas’s head hits the side of the door. Then Harry, overcome with rage, attacks Shagnasty. It tries to veil itself, but with Harry’s connection to Demonreach, he can sense where it is. He attacks the skinwalker on behalf of Andi, Thomas, and Kirby, at least choking it with soulfire. But then Shagnasty surrounds itself with a magic circle, dispelling the magic.

Shagnasty boasts about how he tortured Thomas so that there’s nothing human left in him. He’s mad with hunger. And Molly is trapped in the cottage with him. And Harry is out of options. He starts to work up an idea to power his death curse with soulfire. Toot-toot buys him some time in an attack with a boxcutter, but that only lasts so long.

Then Injun Joe shows up. He seems to know something of skinwalkers and as Shagnasty attacks, he manages to deflect the magic. Then they begin an escalating battle of shapechanging, Listens-to-Wind starting as a bear and becoming a mountain lion, squirrel, and more besides. Eventually he overcomes the skinwalker and it flees, flying away. Then Injun Joe suggests that Harry relay a message to Demonreach, a way to help combat the intruders on the island. It seems to take care of the things that are left. Then Harry passes out.

He awakes to the Senior Council members stuck outside the cottage, with Molly unwilling to drop the shield until Harry tells her to. Harry comes to and Ancient Mai wants he and Molly to be taken back to Edinburgh, but Ebenezar and Listens-to-Wind convince her to be happy with just Morgan. They all agree that someone has to go down for LaFortier’s death. They also all agree that the true culprit did show himself, but it doesn’t save Morgan.

Harry also finds out that the true killer summoned spiders from the Nevernever and that Toot-toot survived his encounter with the naagloshii. That just leaves it to Harry to order Molly to lower the shield so they can grab Morgan. But Harry refuses to let Morgan go. It’s Morgan himself who makes the decision to go with him. He always knew he would give up his life for the Council. This is his chance. Harry is angry, but it’s not his choice.

Ebenezar also presses Harry about why he went after the skinwalker rather than the true killer, and Harry can only say that Thomas is his friend (he needs to keep their true relationship under wraps). Then Ebenezar tells Harry to ask why Molly triggered her shield. Harry asks her about it later and it seems like Thomas wasn’t himself. He needed to feed and Molly knew it would kill her. She triggered the shield just in time.

Then Harry explains that the island meeting was just a plot. He had Vince, the PI, and Mouse watching the Way into Chicago from the Nevernever. And taking pictures. Harry intends to take this evidence to the trial (with Molly beside him).

Harry visits Ebenezar’s study and happens to look into a journal of his which seems to indicate that there’s more to Demonreach than Harry realizes. That it has a purpose and even a mantle to it. Apparently, though, the Merlin and Rashid are cautious. Ebenezar trusts Harry, though. Ebenzar mentions that the shelf of books are the diaries of Ebenezar’s, his master, and his master, and so on back to the original Merlin. He also says that one day Harry will have to look after them. Harry shows him the pictures and explains what he intends to do.

The Council presents all the evidence against Morgan, then Harry gets up to address them. He explains the background and passes the pictures around. The Merlin, eager to not have Morgan be guilty, allows it. Also Harry has a Temple or Foo dog, Mouse, who Ancient Mai and a couple of other Asian wizards vouch for. Harry reveals that the person who traveled to Chicago was Wizard Peabody, the bureaucrat. Ebenezar reveals that he searched Peabody’s office and found that his inks had chemicals to help facilitate mental manipulation.

Peabody throws down an ink pot and tendrils of mordite, or deathstone, the deadly substance used in the duel in Death Masks, come out. They seem to be part of a creature called a mistfiend. Then the lights go out. In the dark and confusion, wizards create light and are killed by the mistfiend. Then the Merlin takes control, sending his thoughts to everyone and organizing a containment effort. He sends Harry after Peabody.

Peabody tries to get Wardens to turn on Harry, then wounds one severely to slow Harry down while he escapes into the Nevernever. But Luccio shows up to help the wounded Warden and Harry pursues. Peabody gets the drop on him, almost killing him, until Morgan shows up and kills him. Morgan asks Harry to let him take the blame. It wasn’t him who killed LaFortier. But it was Luccio. Acting under mental manipulation. Morgan took the rap and fled to protect her. Being in a younger body made her susceptible to mind control again. Morgan and Harry have a reconciliation of sorts. Then Morgan dies.

In the end, Morgan and Peabody share the blame for LaFortier’s murder. The White Council decides that being seen to have a strong response is the best for them. They also discover tampering at all levels of the organization. The White Court also makes nice with the White Council with Lara eliminating the traitors and allowing the White Council to keep the cash.

The Gatekeeper comes to Harry and explains that the damage done to Luccio by mental tampering is particularly extensive. Harry explains (after getting the Gatekeeper’s promise not to tell) that Luccio really killed LaFortier. Rashid also tells Harry that there was emotional manipulation as well. She was made to care for Harry. It might have developed on its own, clearly, but it was forced into place. Most likely to keep tabs on him.

Ebenezar fills Harry in on LaFortier’s replacement, Gregori Cristos. He was LaFortier’s protege and threatened to pull his whole group from the Council if he didn’t get the seat. So the Merlin fixed things. Also, the official White Council opinion is that there is no Black Council. Harry thinks this means the Merlin could be Black Council. Ebenezar doesn’t rule it out. Harry also realizes that someone was working with Peabody and that LaFortier’s death allowed them to get their man into position. Cristos, then. Harry feels like they lost, but Ebenezar says that there’s a group moving into position against the Black Council. It’s dicey because the Black Council would try to frame them as the Black Council and the White Council will view them as traitors, but they will persist. Ebenezar calls it the Grey Council.

Harry checks in with Murphy who’s examined the phone that Harry received from Binder. Turns out that Madeline seems to have called numbers in Algiers and Egypt. Harry guesses the calls were made to Black Council operatives.

Back at home, Luccio catches up with Harry and they have a talk. She enjoyed their time together, but she was forced into it. And she can’t be with Harry any more. He understands, and is happy that she’s okay. He’s also happy for the time they had together.

Finally, Harry gets to see Thomas and he learns what the skinwalker did to him. He tore strips of flesh off of him, tortured him until he needed to feed. Then he would give him a woman. And Thomas learned, or was made to remember, what he is. He is feeding again—not to kill—but off of sex. And it feels better to him. Harry says he’s still his brother. We get a brief smile from Thomas to give us the faintest hope that something of the vampire we love is still in there.

Finally, Harry shows up to gaming night at Billy & Georgia’s. Kirby used to run the games, but Harry thinks he would want them to continue. He brought Butters with him to run the games. The novel ends with Harry, with his friends, living.

 

Threads

The War: So far the cease-fire seems to be holding, though the Black Council makes an attempt to create animosity between the White Council and White Court. Clearly they want the White Council depowered and distracted.

The Black Council: This is the first big overt action by the Black Council. We suspected that they had infiltrated the White Council, but we see here that Peabody was one of them and Cristos, possibly one of them, too, is now in a position of power. Additionally, Peabody had put suggestions in many of the Wardens’ minds to potentially turn them into suicide bombers. Their infiltration efforts have been effective. Additionally, Ebenezar has formed a Grey Council to oppose the Black Council.

Demonreach: The island now has a name, and its importance in Harry’s life is now starting to make sense. Harry is now connected to the island with his sanctum invocation, and has complete awareness of the island once he’s on it. We also get a hint that there’s more to Demonreach than Harry is aware of. Rashid seems to have had an encounter with it before and Ebenezar seems to know something of what the island is. There are certainly hints that it’s more than just an ordinary island. And what was up with the symbols on the stones of the cottage that kept the skinwalker out?

Molly: We’ve seen Molly learning from Harry over the course of the past few books, but she’s progressed to the point that she can create a professional level veil, and Harry entrusts her with more to do. However, in this books she also enters Luccio’s mind while the latter is unconscious, breaking the Laws of Magic and forfeiting both her life and Harry’s. Only Morgan keeping that to himself saves them both. It seems she is still tempted to give in to the dark side. She redeems herself in the end, and knows enough to trigger the shield before Thomas can feed on her, but it seems like temptation is still going to be an issue to her.

Thomas: Things start out great with Harry and Thomas, despite the fact that most people don’t seem to understand why they hang out together. But by the end of the book Thomas has been tortured and has given in to his vampiric nature again. What remains to be seen is whether Thomas will cross a line, or whether he’ll remain in control.

So, that’s Turn Coat, my favorite of the Dresden Files books. What do you think of it? Did you guess who the traitor was? Let me know in the comments. Then meet me back here in a week to cover the next novel in the series, the aptly named Changes.


Rajan Khanna is a writer, narrator, and blogger who never wants to encounter a nagl...naagal...naagloos...a skinwalker. His website is www.rajankhanna.com

10 comments
E M
1. herewiss13
I love how Turn Coat seems like this huge turning point in the series and then...BOOM! You discover it's more like the initial wind-up instead.
Emmet O'Brien
2. EmmetAOBrien
Fwiw, to my mind the point in this book where the "Black Council" notion really starts to look shaky is where Harry starts multiplying assumptions left right and centre to explain how the skinwalker and Madeline are obviously both agents; that hypothesis needs to have William of Ockham dropped on it from a height. Nor do we, that I can recall, have any evidence for Peabody having organised backing rather than selling his secrets to the highest bidder. (As candidates for the mystery wizard with Peabody on the island, I fancy mindwarped Luccio.)

I was rather impressed with Morgan's end, his willingness to give up his reputation as well as his life for the Council's sake, however much Harry may wail about it.

Harry is very visibly not thinking of the Grey Council and of the Merlin's policy with regard to denying the existence of the Black Council in the light of what he has been both told and shown about the Merlin always having multiple strategies in place, either.

I got kind of annoyed with the running gag of Harry soming home to find some combination of Mouse, Molly and Morgan in a dfifferent compromising position. It almost feels like they were all happily sitting around swapping recipes and then hurrying to get into position just before he got home.

Harry's total obliviousness to just how much like him Cristos is (guy putting the Council at risk for what he claims as an important principle) always kind of irked me, too.
George Brell
3. gbrell
@2.EmmetAOBrien:

I never read Turn Coat to suggest the skinwalker was working with the Black Council.

If Peabody were just selling secrets, why would he be manipulating other wizards? He is taking proactive action that will/would have led to the destruction of the White Council. It's possible that he didn't have a motivation, but Occam's razor cuts both ways.

Post-Cold Days, I want to know what the specific procedure for spreading Nemesis is. Do we think Peabody was infected? If so, why didn't he infect the Wardens and/or the Senior Councilmembers?

I agree that Morgan's ending was impressive. Butcher did a really good job of making him unlikeable as a person without making him a cliche, which made him into a very interesting character.

I also think that Harry's POV is not "charitable" to the Merlin. The actual facts we see of him suggest that he is very capable, but we only really see him in opposition to Harry, along with all of Harry's baggage.

In the Different Strokes category, I laugh at that gag pretty much every time I read it.

I don't know that I'd read Harry as being similar to Christos. Harry traditionally champions doing what is right. Christos seems to be taking advantage of the situation for personal gain. But I'd love to hear your thoughts more fully.
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
On the whole, I enjoyed this volume and thought it forwarded things nicely. I was a tad disappointed with Peabody as the traitor reveal. It seemed that the set up was for a higher player--one of the council, then Peabody was introduced as a throwaway. This was more of a problem with the setup than the followthrough. In the story itself, it made sense that Peabody was a traitor--the nexus of communication is an excellent place to subvert.
I think that it remains to be seen just what group/groups/power is trying to manipulate events. Labeling whatever it is as the "Black Council" works as a placeholder--even though it may be misleading.
Kasiki
5. Kasiki
Just because Harry is Parinoid doesn't mean he is wrong. He might be trying to hard or not seeing the entire picture, but not that he is wrong.

Any one else think the look the Rashid gives Harry when Harry steps on the island is even funnier now after we learn more about Rashid in Cold Days?
Arghya Raihan
6. Umbar
After reading Cold Days, I have been wondering about what relation the mind-control ink of Peabody's has with Nemesis and the way it's spread. It's definitely not a simple process; otherwise, we would see everyone infected by now. Presumably a magical ritual of some sort is required and probably one that needs a degree of mojo.

Morgan's death did move me and the Listens-to-Wind's fight with the naagloshii was appropriately awesome. One thing that got me was the gruesome account of Lara literally feeding on Madeline. That was...something. For me it added another dimension to Thomas' embracing his vampiric nature...we just got to saw that White Court vamps, if pushed, can do things more viscerally than daintily drinking your soul through sex.

We still don't really who or what the Black Council are, or if they even really exist (in the same sense that the White Council or the Grey Council exists). The reveals in Cold Days don't really say something about the Black Counil one way or the other. IMO, anyway.
Emmet O'Brien
7. EmmetAOBrien
gbrell@3: I never read Turn Coat to suggest the skinwalker was working with the Black Council.

Harry seems pretty convinced that the skinwalker and Madeline have to be working together, after the attack on the Raith chateau, and by the end of the book he's tying Madeline to the Black Council; it just all reads a bit conspiracy-theory to me.

If Peabody were just selling secrets, why would he be manipulating other wizards? He is taking proactive action that will/would have led to the destruction of the White Council. It's possible that he didn't have a motivation, but Occam's razor cuts both ways.


I don't doubt he means the Council harm, though the bulk of his actions seem to be self-protective (the post-hypnotic command on the younger Wardens, and the mistfiend); I don't believe the mind-magic-via-ink can plausibly have influenced the Senior Council much given what Eb says about the inflexibility of senior wizards to mind magic when Harry first shows up at Edinburgh. Given all of which, I do not think we have enough in the text to distinguish whether Peabody's part in laFortier's assassination was that of a true believer following a larger strategy or a contract killing.

(If one wanted to be really paranoid, one could look somewhat askance at Morgan killing Peabody so soon after he is revealed.)

I also think that Harry's POV is not "charitable" to the Merlin. The
actual facts we see of him suggest that he is very capable, but we only
really see him in opposition to Harry, along with all of Harry's
baggage.

Agreed; I was particularly amused when Harry in Summer Knight snarked about the Merlin not having read von Clausewitz, as the inherent superiority of the defensive position is very much what von Clausewitz is about in On War; I don't think Harry has a clue what he's talking about there. I would not be at all surprised were Harry to have an epiphany about the Merlin at some point soonish.

I don't know that I'd read Harry as being similar to Christos. Harry
traditionally champions doing what is right. Christos seems to be taking
advantage of the situation for personal gain. But I'd love to hear your
thoughts more fully.

Harry, all the way through the series, is very focused on his own personal take on what is right, unwilling to consider alternatives, and strongly tends to address the problem immediately in front of him without thinking through longer-term consequences or collateral damage.

We know Christos was LaFortier's protege, and we know from the Native American Joe scene in LaFortier's rooms that LaFortier represented a faction within the Council who would appear, whether rightly or no, to have felt they needed a representative on the Senior Council to avoid being an oppressed minority. I see no a priori reason to think that Christos is not a sincere idealist following in his mentor's footsteps. What we see him doing with that power once he has gained it, in Changes, to my mind gives the lie to him actually intending harm to the Council.

Given that the scene with the wardens on the beach makes it clear that Harry is still blithely unaware of how he is generally perceived through the Council, it seems very likely to me that one of the take-home messages of this book is that Harry's (reluctant) acceptance of a position in the Wardens when an emergency warranted it, his (unwitting) acquisition of a group of younger Wardens who see him as a rallying point, and the suggestions that there are older wizards who had regarded him as a threat who see the events of Dead Beat as him changing heart and demonstratiing loyalty to the Council, will all look, to Council members who do not have the view inside Harry's head that we do, like a calculated manipulation of crisis situations to acquire power and influence. Harry makes exactly that sort of cynical assessment of Christos, and nothing in the text thus far rules out that being a similarly inaccurate a take on Christos' motivations.

Indeed, at the end of the day, the worst Christos has potentially done for his principles is threaten the Council, to give himself leverage to protect his constituents; whether he would have followed through is not really knowable. Harry standing up for his principles started a war with something of the order of forty thousand casualties thus far.
Kasiki
8. Kasiki
The one thing I think The sceptical peole have going against the Back council is who actual believes in it. Beyond Harry we are at Ebenezar through this book and we get to keep adding names further down the series.
The thing about the signed decisions that concerns me is the butterfly effect. Did this manipulation force the coucil to act in ways or not think through some minor amendment? Could some little thing or things be burried in the paper work that the white coucil will have to deal with for years?
Or was the Ink a means to an end and Luccio just a target of opportunity to see what Peabody could do?
Or was the Ink meant for other things and Lucio's loss of control a bonus?
Who was the real target of the attack the council member(s) or Lucio and her position and the Wardens as a consiquence?
With so many ways to look at it, with no real right answer, we could be looking at Harry solving a cover up, with everyone having no idea what the crime being covered up was.
That is what is both great and a little frustrating about this book.
George Brell
9. gbrell
@6.Umbar:

We know that Nemesis infected the Unseelie court through the athame that the Leanansidhe was gifted by Cowl. Assuming we are working from the assumption that Cowl is a central part of the Black Council (based on his connection to the athame and Vittorio Malvora and the Outsiders), then I think we we have to assume that Nemesis and the Black Council are somehow linked.

@7.EmmettOBrien:

I should have clarified my comments re: the skinwalker. I agree that it was attempting to catch Morgan at the behest of the Black Council, but I don't agree that we have any text suggesting it IS Black Council (indeed, I've always read it as exactly the kind of mercenary that you mention Peabody might have been).

If I'm remembering correctly, he ties Madeline to the skinwalker because Madeline doesn't show up to defend Chateau Raith. That doesn't necessarily imply cooperation as much as communication. Madeline could very well have been told by a higher-up that the skinwalker was going to visit Laura with the intent to swap Thomas for Morgan. Good enough reason to avoid the place in my mind.

Random aside: When does Madeline learn that Dresden has Morgan? I've always assumed Binder told her after he was released. But that leads to the question of how Binder found Morgan (at the storage facility) in the first instance.

And my memory is that he ties Madeline to the Black Council after he finds out that she a) works with Binder, b) killed the accountant who created the dummy account for Morgan, and c) shows up on Demonreach in coordination with mystery wizards. I'd be interested to see when in text he first connects those dots (I don't have the book with me ATM).

I don't believe the mind-magic-via-ink can plausibly have influenced the Senior Council much given what Eb says about the inflexibility of senior wizards to mind magic when Harry first shows up at Edinburgh.

But the attempt itself is dangerous and if it had no value why risk exposure. Selling secrets is a beast of a different kind to my mind than active interference. I would think that his modification of Luccio (and a couple other wardens) to be suicide "bombers" seems less-self defense and more intentional sabotage. I guess he could have set up the other time-bomb wardens for future contract hits, but, again, Occam's razor.

Re: Christos

That's an interesting third-party view of Harry's actions (much like Mab's comments to him re: Molly at the end of Cold Days). I like it very much.

I would disagree slightly though in that Christos' actions in Changes do actually hurt the White Council since they signalled weakness to the Red Court. I don't know that it was malicious (reference Ebenezer's line about evil vs. stupid), but it was poorly thought out. Which also could sum up Harry's actions since Grave Peril.
Emmet O'Brien
10. EmmetAOBrien
gbrell@9: Assuming we are working from the assumption that Cowl is a central part of the Black Council (based on his connection to the athame and Vittorio Malvora and the Outsiders), then I think we we have to assume that Nemesis and the Black Council are somehow linked.

I think this is where Harry's "Black Council" terminology becomes more unhelpful than otherwise, because while Cowl is visibly connected in all the ways you mention, he's not visibly connected with the Red Court's sorcerous auxiliaries, or with many of the things Harry lumps together as "Black Council" at the end of Proven Guilty. I don't buy that there's one organised enemy when by all appearances there are many.

I agree that it was attempting to catch Morgan at the behest of the Black Council, but I don't agree that we have any text suggesting it IS Black Council (indeed, I've always read it as exactly the kind of mercenary that you mention Peabody might have been).

I'm not even willing to go that far. We know from right back in Storm Front that killing some kinds of supernatural beings just banishes them from the mortal plane, and they can come back later, and we get a second take on a functionally similar mechanism in Cold Days; and Morgan thinks he killed a skinwalker before, with a nuclear test. I can totally buy this skinwalker being that one looking for personal revenge on Morgan.

If I'm remembering correctly, he ties Madeline to the skinwalker because Madeline doesn't show up to defend Chateau Raith.
That doesn't necessarily imply cooperation as much as communication.

It implies the skinwalker knows in advance, or can find out when she will be absent. Collusion is a step further than that locks down, particularly talking about information sources available to an entity that appears to be of vaguely semi-divine nature.

I would disagree slightly though in that Christos' actions in Changes
do actually hurt the White Council since they signalled weakness to the Red Court.

The whole business of what Harry considers signalling weakness to predators, as he comes back to it time and again through the series, has never worked for me, though, it requires every supernatural power in the series to have the underlying psychology of Cherryh's kif, which manifestly isn't the case. I think we're being shown that this perspective is inherently flawed and one of the major roots of the problem.

The White Council have co-existed with the Red Court for centuries or more, and iirc Eb mentions in Proven Guilty that they've not fought a war like this for a thousand years, which indicates that they've managed it peacefully. The decade or so of the books to date are an aberration, and an aberration strongly correlating with the Red Court being associated with and used by some faction or factions of rogue wizards (the betrayal of Archangel in Summer Knight, Cowl and the Kemmlerites in Dead Beat if Harry's right about the significance of timing that opposite the major defeat the Council takes off-screen at about that time, the Outsiders summoned to aid the Red Court in Dead Beat and Proven Guilty), the overall effects of which have been to prolong the war and greatly increase the casualties on both sides. And given a context where that is an aberration, and where everything we see of supernatural law, as ultimately owned and enforced by Mab, is very much based on offences having specifically defined costs and being done with once the offender has been punished to a suitable extent (cf. the weregilds Harry claims for the dead minor practitioners at the end of White Night and uses to found the Paranet), Christos endeavouring to restore the rule of law works for me as very much for the good of the White Council, in much the same as the attempts to end the war in Summer Knight and Death Masks.

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