Dresden Files Fool Moon Ch19 – 20

The book is 34 chapters total, so we’re now past the halfway point. What do we know?

There’s multiple versions of werewolves in existence, and multiple ones currently around.

Someone is killing people as a wolf. The wolfsoulpeople didn’t do it, the cursewolf couldn’t have done it.

It would make total sense for it to be Tera if this was proper noir, but so far the closest we got to an actual femme fatale was Monica who was motivated by being a good mommy and was totally passive after asking Harry for help. Tera obviously isn’t trying to get her husband killed because she can turn into a giant people-eating wolf and do it herself any time she likes, and I don’t think this is a series that can handle the shades of grey in Tera doing something evil for the sake of love, especially when it’s been going out of its way to prevent her from killing anybody currently.

It would also make total sense for this to be some chessmaster gambit by Marcone, the guy’s evil and he knows magic but not too much, so he could easily set something off that’s more dangerous than he realizes, but Marcone is the best father figure ever so I assume he’s just an innocent victim.

With those two ruled out, I think you can resolve this using a little more outside information – so far we’re missing only one werewolf type, so they must be around too. All other werewolf types don’t fit the killings. Therefore, there’s spellwolves and, given we’re out of werewolves, they’re also the killers. But you’re really not supposed to solve detective stories by using the knowledge the author is a hack.

Now, where were we.

From out in the hallway, there came a scream that no human throat could have made, a sound of such fury and insane anger that it made my stomach roil and my guts shake. Gunfire erupted, not in a rattling series of individual detonations, but in a roar of furious thunder. Bullets shot through the wall, somewhere near me, and smashed out a couple of windows in the special investigations office.

Right! Harry’s in danger, but sadly everyone else is in more danger.Also he goes on to talk about how tired and hurt he is and as usual comes off as bragging rather than suffering. He explains that if he left he, like all wizards, is basically unbeatable on a rematch, but he’s so badass he’ll fight now.

I gripped the blasting rod and started sucking in all the power I could reach, scooping up my recent terror, reaching down into the giggling madness, scraping up all the courage I had left, and pouring it into the kettle with everything else. The power came rushing into me, purity of emotion, complex energies of will, and raw hardheadedness, all combining into a field, an aura of tingling, invisible energy that I could feel enveloping my skin. Shivers ran over me, overriding the pain of my injuries, the ecstasy of power gathering my sensations into its heady embrace. I was pumped. I was charged. I was more than human, and God help anyone who got in my way, because he would need it. I drew in a deep, steadying breath.
And then I simply turned to the wall, pointed my rod at it, and snarled, ” Fuego.”

So in other words, Harry has pretty much infinite power because not having power upsets him and he’s powered by feelings. But he’s still an underdog.

Power lanced out through the rod in a flood of scarlet light that charred a six-foot circle of wall into powder and ash and sent it flying. I stepped through it, wishing for my duster, for a second, just for the cool effect it would have.

This is immediately followed by Harry saying what’s in front of him is “hell”, down to the fact two people are currently trying to drag a third away to safety but I don’t think the rescuers had taken the time to note that the body they were dragging away from the combat had no head attached to it. so in conclusion the real tragedy is he would’ve looked SO COOL if he still had his jacket, god his life is so incredibly hard.

Then another guy gets ripped apart when he runs out of ammo. The others try to run.

The loup-garou came around the corner after them, hauling one of the men down and ripping its claws across his spine with a simple, savage motion that left the man quivering on the bloody tiles and hardly made the beast miss a step. It set its eyes on the next man, one of the plainclothes SI detectives, and hamstrung him with a slash of its jaws. The beast left him howling on the tiles

Harry doesn’t do anything until it after this, possibly because he was trying to think up a badass one-liner.

I stepped forward, between the fleeing men and the beast, and lifted the blasting rod. “I don’t think so, bub.”

Totally worth it!

Harry charges his punch like it’s DBZ and Murphy, who has no damn time for this bullshit, continues to actually be in the fight and shoots it more, so it runs away.

I spat a curse and ran down the hall after it. The hamstrung officer lay on the floor screaming, and the other man, the one who’d had his spine ripped out, was choking and twitching, unable to draw in a breath.

What, stop and help? They’re only scenery. He’s super mad on their behalf, that should be enough.

Anyway, Murphy can’t actually succeed so he sees the cursewolf jump her and he’s all noooooooooooooooooooo

Carmichael, who’s been gutted, isn’t Harry, so he manages to actually do something and jumps it, jamming his gun into its jaws.

Murphy slithered out from between the beast’s paws on her shoulder blades and buttocks, her cute little cheerleader’s face

How the fuck did this get published.

She finally manages to get her gun aimed at its brain, but it turns out she’s one bullet short.

Now that the only thing he gives half a fuck about in the building is in danger AND her non-Harry plan has failed, he’s finally ready to act. He orders her to get out of the way and then blasts it.

I saw the reflected image in the beast’s eyes brighten to nuclear-white in front of a tall, lean figure of black shadow, saw the flood of energy as big around as my hips rush down the hall like a lance of red lightning and hammer into the beast. Sound rushed along with it, a mountain’s roar that made the gunshots and screams of the evening seem like a child’s whispers in comparison.
The power lifted the loup-garou, hurtling it over the wounded figures moaning on the floor, down the hall, into holding, through the security door, through the cell door immediately across from it, then through the brick exterior wall of the building and out into the Chicago night. But it wasn’t over yet. The lance of power carried the loup-garou across the street, through the windows of the condemned building across from the station, and through a series of walls within, each one shattering with a redbrick roar. Before the red fire died away, I could see the far side of the building across the street, and the lights of the next block over through the hole the loup-garou had made.

Because clearly, their problem was that it hadn’t left the police building to go maul random civilians instead. Yes. Good job solving that, Harry.

If you didn’t think that was all so cool, it’s okay, the author will just tell you:

A slender young black man stood up from the floor of the cell the loup-garou had smashed through and gawked at the hole in the wall, then followed the destruction back down the hallway to where I stood. “Damn,” he said, and it had the same hushed tone to it as a holy word.

Thanks, slender young black guy. I suspect that the end of our diversity for the book.

Anyway, Harry then remembers he had some other plan, one he probably should’ve tried to do instead of posing and watching people die and charging his lasers. So he takes the stuffed dog, slathers it in cursewolf blood, then does a spell to bind it, as in literally tying stuff over its eyes. Harry’s all IT WAS SUCH EFFORT NOT TO JUST KILL HIM but KILLING WON’T HELP THE DEAD also no gaspy no-spine, I’m not gonna do anything to help you with your whole breathing problems, just die already so the final death toll is more dramatic, okay back to me.

(He also says the council might be mad but it’s okay if the guy isn’t currently human because monsters aren’t people.)

I bound up the ends of its fuzzy, cute little paws.

This is to prevent the clawing. For some reason hobbling the monster isn’t something Harry’s okay with, despite the fact he blinds it.

I walked past Carmichael’s corpse, stunned. Murphy was rocking back and forth over it, weeping, shaking, while a man tried to slide a blanket over her shoulders. She didn’t notice me.

And that’s what matters. It’s not like he could try to comfort her or help with any of the other wounded and dying people or anything really. And he certainly isn’t going to mourn with them, because Harry just feels empty and angry, probably because they weren’t really people but do represent his failure.

I stumbled past Murphy and Carmichael and turned to walk out of the building, dimly realizing that in the confusion I might actually have fair odds of making it back outside where Tera and Susan would be waiting in the car. No one tried to stop me.

In fact, he goes on to say some fireman helps him up the stairs and tries to get him to see a doctor.

Susan rushes over and Harry has something resembling real human emotions when he says that he wants to clutch her and babble about how horrible everything was, but he doesn’t because real men don’t cry and he’s so fucking noir so he just stumbles around in a daze for a bit. Then he passes out again.

Then Harry wakes up and it gets weird.

I don’t know what’s up with this. I’ve osmosed a whole bunch of things about the series and this seems to just come out of nowhere.

Harry’s in a black void with his double.

Only better groomed, dressed in a mantled duster of black leather, not the sturdy, if styleless canvas that I wore.

I know we all kind of forget due to the leather pants nonsense, but really, leather stands up to a lot. There’s a reason it’s been used for so long. It is sturdy as fuck.

Let’s consider its use in the fun sciences:

Leather, Canvas or Metal Mesh Gloves
Sturdy gloves made from metal mesh, leather or canvas provide protection against cuts and burns. Leather or canvas gloves also protect against sustained heat. Leather gloves protect against sparks, moderate heat, blows, chips and rough objects.

Note which is the last one standing there.

A canvas jacket absorbs water. The solution to this is wax, at which point you need to fear fire. Harry, in other words, either gets soaked through when it rains or has a good chance of turning into a fireball even in the rain.

Now, leather is heavy, which is a reasonable factor in Harry’s daily walk-filled life. It’s also pricy, but only new – my beloved black leather jacket (I can sit on anything I want in the rain!) was thirty bucks, which is probably half of what Harry blows on one wizard pub dinner.

Harry goes on to inform us that his double is also wearing black everything else and it’s tailor-made, rather than off-the-rack because Harry is very up on how fashion works, and then makes it clear he would totally fuck himself:

His eyes were set deep, overshadowed by severe brows, and glittering with dark intelligence. His hair was neatly cut, and the short beard he wore emphasized the long lines of his face, the high cheekbones, the straight slash of his mouth, and the angular strength of his jaw. He stood as tall as I, as long limbed as I, but carried with him infinitely more confidence, raw knowledge, and strength. A faint whiff of cologne drifted over to me

It’s a more seme him. First Morgan and now this. Why isn’t this all the fanfic instead of Mobster Dad?

His double explains he’s Harry’s subconscious. He’s basically all the good ideas but he says he’s bad at banter, because I guess that’s a thinky skill. Harry’s all fuck this shit and Non-Banter-Harry says he shouldn’t wake up because this is him having a breakdown. He needs time to process stuff, and apparently featureless void and not regular human brain processing is the solution. Then his double replays his memory of Murphy being all injured and stuff.

“Murph,” I said, quietly, and knelt down by the image. “Stars above. What have I done to you?” The image, the memory, didn’t hear me. She just wept silent, bitter tears.
My double knelt on the other side of the apparition. “Nothing, Harry,” he said. “What happened at the police station wasn’t your fault.”
“Like hell it wasn’t,” I snarled. “If I’d have been faster, gotten there sooner, or if I’d told her the truth from the beginning-”
“But you didn’t,” my double interjected. “And you had some pretty damned compelling reasons not to. Ease up on yourself, man. You can’t change the past.”

Jesus H Christ.

At least Non-Banter-Harry is willing to point out that, while obviously they can’t be blamed for this and are so very noble and great for even considering the possibility for a second, maybe try not being a compulsive liar and fucking explain things to her for once next time. He then suggests asking Murphy out. Then they think about sexy Susan, and without any sign that there’s a certain conflict there. Non-Banter points out that he doesn’t trust Rodriguez despite them both agreeing that she’s trustable and not just using him for fresh material, and they jump to the thing women.

girl of elegant height, perhaps eighteen or nineteen years of age-gawky and coltish, all long legs and arms, but with the promise of stunning beauty to add graceful curves to the lean lines of her body. She was dressed in a pair of my blue jeans, cut off at the tops of her muscled thighs, and my own T-shirt, tied off over her abdomen. A pentacle amulet, identical to my own, if less battered, lay over her heart, between the curves of her modest breasts. Her skin was pale, almost luminous, her hair a shade of brown-gold, like ripe wheat, her eyes a startling, storm-cloud grey in contrast. Her smile lit up her face, made her eyes dance with secret fires that still, even after all the years, made me draw in a sharp breath. Elaine. Beautiful, vital, and as poisonous as any snake.

Thus making it clear Harry finds pretty much anything female hot. He was totally into Monica’s battered MILF thing, so older women. He finds Rodriguez dressing deliberately sexy to be hot, and also Murphy deliberately not dressing to be hot. Now we’ve established he thinks of women just at the age of consent as sexy colts, establishing Harry’s type is women older, the same age, and younger than him, dressed hot or frumpy.

I turned my back on the image, deliberately-before I could see it change into the Elaine that I had last seen-naked, festooned in swirling paints that lent a savage aura to her skin. Her lips had been stained brilliant, wet red, curving around twisting, rolling phrases as she chanted in the midst of her circle, its sigils meant to focus pain and fury into tangible power that had been used to hold a foolish young man helpless while his mentor offered him one last chance to sip from a chalice of fresh, hot blood.

So was the mentor naked too? Because if that’s where you get power I’d think he would be, you know? Is that why Kim stripped down? Why doesn’t Harry ever do that?

Non-Banter then says she’s still totally alive, somehow. Woo, the non-character who exists only for Harry to emo over might not be dead, that’s totally a thing to be invested in. Harry starts screaming she totally is dead and apparently that’s what’s keeping him from moving on, because if he accepted she was still alive all his trust issues would vanish somehow I guess.

Which reminds me…” My double gestured, and Tera West appeared as I had seen her crouched behind the garbage bin at the rear of the gas station, naked, her body lean, feral, leaves and bits of bracken in her hair, her amber eyes gleaming with cold, alien intelligence. “Why in the hell are you trusting her?”

Okay so first off, he’s been bitching nonstop about how she’s totally evil and plotting to kill him, shut up.

Second, given that you’ve just said he can’t trust women because reasons, it’d actually make sense he’d be more okay with Tera because she’s not really a woman in the first place. If you believe all women are secretly hellbitches, then finding one who’s literally an alien monster might actually seem trustworthy in comparison. And this decision should be a subconscious one, so it makes no sense for Non-Banter to be bringing this up.

Non-Banter does point out they still don’t know what’s up with the college kids she was with, but that’s because you didn’t actually ask her.

They then walk through what little information Harry’s found despite his best efforts at not detectiving. He reminds us that it couldn’t have been MacFinn but could’ve been Tera, again, because the book thinks we have serious memory problems. Harry points out that actually, the result was “kinda not a wolf” so clearly Tera turning into a giant wolf can’t be it, despite the fact giant wolf should be enough for forensics to say it can’t be a real one.

“Werewolves are slightly different from real wolves,” my double said.
“How do you know that?” I demanded.
“I’m the intuition, remember?” my double said. “Think about it. If you were going to change yourself into a wolf, do you think you could hold that image in your head, perfectly exact? Do you think you could make all the millions of subtle, tiny changes in skeletal and muscular structure? Magic doesn’t just work-a mind has to direct it, shape it. Your emotions, your feelings toward wolves would color it, too, change the image and the shape. Ask Bob, next chance you get. I’m sure he’ll tell you I’m right.”
“Okay, okay,” I said. “I’ll buy that.

No and go fuck yourself, that’s not information you have any way of knowing and if it was supposed to be a piece of evidence you should’ve had Bob fucking say it at the time. Fucking learn to edit.

Non-Banter continues to point out the obvious that “multiple” tooth marks isn’t any big deal when they know MacFinn may have killed some of them and Tera’s group could have done biting too. He continues to hammer in that it’s Tera until regular Harry says that the group lacks a motive, except of course he doesn’t know the group so how the fuck could he know, then Harry says whatever Tera is nonhuman therefore lolrandumb motivation is fine, at which point Banter-Harry turns on a fucking dime and starts arguing that she’s totally in love with MacFinn and trying to save him, and the real killer is somebody else. I assume this is supposed to be some sort of Socratic dialogue but it’s just awful. He then adds that it’s totally possible the college kids did it on their own but his couple minutes of observation tell him that’s totally not true, and it’s not like last book was nothing but Harry’s couple minutes of observation being complete bullshit.

Non-Banter finishes up by saying Marcone’s gonna be mad at him and scared people do stupid things which is why him being a refrigerator tiger is so much less cool than a legitimate tiger soul. Also that wolfsoul guy, that one wants to kill him too.

And think. He knew the real deal between you and Marcone, and he’s a petty thug in Chicago. There’s probably a connection between them, and you’ve been too dumb to think of it.”

This would have been a great bit of foreshadowing if only we had the slightest evidence it wasn’t common knowledge among petty thugs. I mean, look, Marcone doesn’t just posture for the criminals not in his organization, he also has to project power to his rank and file or one of them’s going to decide they’d be better on top. Plus, given Harry messes around with criminals, Marcone probably wouldn’t want them to think he’s to blame for whatever bullshit Harry gets up to tomorrow. Better to have the underground word be that he strong-armed Harry into dealing with a thing, because he’s so powerful he can make even people who aren’t on his payroll dance to his tune if necessary.

Finally, Non-Banter is about to say a thing about their mom but Harry finally gets shaken awake in a car by Rodriguez, and Tera informs him they’re being followed, DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUN.

In conclusion, that’s not how subconsciouses work so I assume something’s hijacked Harry’s brain and knew he’d be dumb enough to fall for it. Possibly a demon, particularly since it came back to the mother thing.

31 Comments

  1. illhousen says:
    “Harry’s in a black void with his double.”

    Ah yeah, that guy. Yeah, it’s weird even by DF standards. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t tie into anything, and there is never any explanation as o what that guy is.

    My personal headcanon is that soulgaze actually is against the Laws of Magic, wizards just don’t know it because most of them (even those without formal training) don’t use it enough to matter since they don’t want to go into trance of deep symbolism every time they have a conversation.

    Harry, however, always looks people in the eye, as we know, to the point that all of Chicago knows you don’t cross eyes with wizards thanks to him.

    So that’s the effect: his soul gazes upon itself and finds it lacking.

    “It’s a more seme him. First Morgan and now this. Why isn’t this all the fanfic instead of Mobster Dad?”

    Because seme!Harry appears inconsistently and doesn’t affect the plot, as far as I remember.

    Mobster Dad at least has a density to occasionally be important.

    In general, seme!Harry is not really used much. I suspect that either Butcher thought it was a neat idea but couldn’t think of how to actually implement it properly, or he just couldn’t stand having Harry be legitimately tempted by power and contemplating joining the dark side, so he created a separate character for these purposes, who is technically Harry but not really.

    1. Farla says:
      So that’s the effect: his soul gazes upon itself and finds it lacking.

      A black void does sound like a divide by zero error in soulgazing.

      Because seme!Harry appears inconsistently and doesn’t affect the plot, as far as I remember.

      That shouldn’t matter though! With Morgan, you have the problem that Morgan’s all ethical and probably not a rapist. This guy’s entire characterization boils down to wearing black (leather), disdain for Harry’s choices, and saying he’d get laid more. Fandom gloms onto minor characters all the time if you can make them hot rapists – the more minor the better because then you don’t have to worry about their characterization getting in the way of making them hot leather covered BDSM enthusiasts who can turn into tentacle monsters. Look at all Gravity Falls did with a character whose characterization was snappy dresser, whose goals no one understood, and whose powers were that he only existed in the mind. And they did all that while only having twelve year olds and seventy year old men to ship! This fandom is broken.

      1. illhousen says:
        Hm, true, I do remember Umineko fandom shipping two characters who don’t even exist in the same timeline, and one of them was fairly minor…

        So, IDK. Maybe the fandom got into shipping more in later books, where Mobster Dad and that mercenary (Kinkaid?) are more prominent, while seme!Harry mostly disappears, along with Morgan.

        1. Roarke says:
          Kincaid, but if I had to write a HarryxKincaid fanfic (if we get that far I think I might), I would spell it Kinkaid.

          As a point of interest, though, Harry hates Kincaid because Kincaid banged Murphy, and Murphy was into it, though they kept it casual, and Butcher exploited that so he could write paragraphs and paragraphs about how much better Nice Guy Harry would be for Murphy.

          edit: Speaking of which, where has the fanfic been for this book? I miss MorganxHarry.

          1. SpoonyViking says:
            I’m almost afraid to ask, but do Harry and Murphy actually become a couple at some point?
            1. Roarke says:
              They *will* become a couple, before the series’s end. Butcher is doing a bit of painful ‘will they or won’t they’, but I can predict the end in much the way Farla cracked this little pine nut of a detective story.
              Reply
              1. Farla says:
                Yeah, pretty much the only way it wouldn’t happen is if midway on the author introduced a new character he decided he likes better. Harry is a Nice Guy, Harry must be rewarded by a woman who tries to say she doesn’t want him.
              2. Roarke says:
                I mean the only things on the ‘won’t they’ end of the scale are all other women that Butcher wants to hook Harry up with. My guess is that Butcher will have Harry work his way through the menu first, then settle on Murphy.
              3. Farla says:
                I dunno. The usual pattern is to hook up with the slutty one (you can tell because she showed skin of any kind, and therefore she will sleep with you), but pine nobly the whole time for the non-slutty one (you can tell because she isn’t sleeping with you despite how much of a nice guy you are). Then one way or another the slutty one, who is worthless because you already slept with her, is removed from the picture and then the one you really wanted realizes she was wrong and hooks up with you.

                The only way he should be hooking up with lots of women is if we’re also throwing Bond into the mix. Or because it’s serial and the author realizes he’s too far from handing Harry his Murphy trophy but can’t let his avatar go so long without sex.

              4. Roarke says:
                Actually, it’s kind of funny. The fact that Harry doesn’t have sex for a ‘long time’ becomes sort of a plot point when the sex vampires become prominent. Though it’s not because it makes him susceptible to them – nope, his ‘love’ for Susan was twoo wub, which is like pepper spray for them.
              5. illhousen says:
                Heh, you should get to Changes and see the subplot unfold in all its glory.
          2. illhousen says:
            Oooh, yeah, Dr. Kinkaid is here to aid you with all your kinks.

            God, it’s so cheesy, I have to write it if we actually get there.

            As for the fics, honestly, not much material to work with in this book.

            I guess we can rewrite all scenes involving werewolves so they call Harry bitch instead of the other way around. It’s way more funny than a lame pun, though it isn’t saying much.

            1. Roarke says:
              Eh, nah. I haven’t felt anything even close to the inspiration that let me rewrite scenes into MorganxHarry.
              Reply
              1. illhousen says:
                Hm, true. The lack of Morgan is the book’s biggest flaw so far.

                So, without farther ado, I give you…

                The Return of Morgar, or Naked Sword Stabs the Plot in One Chapter
                (Timeline may not match the canon precisely, but whatever.)

                I ran as fast as I could, suffering from countless bruises and scratches. Every ten meters or so I had to stop to catch my breath.

                I would have drove, but my car’s broke on me near a hospital. Damn techbane. All those wizards in the anime never had to struggle with anything like that. Bet they never watched TV in candlelight.

                Despite my best efforts, I was still late. Three corpses laid in the garden before MacFinn’s house. It took me a few moments and countless whizzed breaths to realize they belonged to the FBI agents, not least because all three were beheaded.

                I had to stop over the female corpse to catch my breath again. She wasn’t attractive in life, but in death her clothes were stretched tight against her breasts, as if she was mocking the world with beauty now forever denied to it.

                I had to think, had to fit the puzzle pieces together. The FBI were the bad guys here, right? Could it be they decided to tie loose end and finish MacFinn, only to run into the cursed monster in his place and got their heads bitten off for their troubles?

                No, it didn’t fit right, his murders were brutal, savage, I’ve seen them well, after all. It must have been someone else.

                Tera? It did make sense, if I were to assume she really did want to protect her husband. Of course, that would mean I have to trust her motives, which wasn’t wise by any definition of the word…

                Distracted by my thoughts and the sound of my heavy breaths, I didn’t notice the noise coming from the other side of the house. Only collapse of one of its wings, earth literally swallowing the structure, has finally attracted my attention.

                It wasn’t a time to hurry. Something capable of that would be able to handle me, especially since I’ve left my staff back in the car so it wouldn’t weight me down and obstruct movement.

                Cautiously, I approached the scene of devastation. The earthquake has settled by the time I’ve got there, leaving behind scattered ruins of once great house.

                Among the crushed walls and broken furniture, I was greeted by the sight of beheaded MacFinn in his monstrous form and a familiar figure.

                “Morgan?” I asked incredulously.

                The aged Warden turned to me instantly, his sword already drawn, well-oiled with crimson blood, ready to add mine to the mix after it penetrated my chest.

                “Ah, Dresden,” he said, lowering his sword a fraction. “I was wondering when you would appear.”

                “What the hell are you doing here?” Could he be the murderer? True, much like with Marcone, it didn’t fit his style, but he did know enough about magic to break MacFinn’s circle, and he might know some werewolves – or devise a spell to turn into a wolf himself, with his wild grey hair only barely restrained into a ponytail it wouldn’t be a stretch… Beheading were probably his doings, at the very least, which fit with the idea of tying the loose ends.

                “Solving the case, of course,” he said, throwing me for a loop.

                “Huh?”

                He sighed. “Who do you think Lieutenant Murphy worked with when she weren’t using your services?”

                I blinked. “You?” I asked, the idea of Murphy working with anyone else found its way into my mind with great difficulty.

                “Yes,” he said simply. “I don’t take money from the police, so there is no conflict on this front. I’ve been handling special cases for a few months now.” He winced. “I had to travel away a few weeks before the murders started, unfortunately. Amanda Holloway was spotted near London, you see. Returned just yesterday, and let me tell you, it was a hassle to solve this case.”

                “But what about the secrecy?” I asked.

                He snorted. “The whole Special Investigation squad knows about the supernatural. They deal with it every day. They’re the perfect group to integrate into our society: people capable and willing to deal with threats not accounted for by law while showing admirable discretion. It’s all unofficial, mind, but it’s still better than what we have normally.”

                I shook my head, deciding to think about it some other day. Right now, there were more pressing matter to discuss. Something was amiss. His actions didn’t fit my thoughts. “You’ve killed both FBI guys and MacFinn, right? How come?”

                “Both parties were guilty,” he said. “FBI agents were werewolves…”

                “How did you know that?”

                He blinked. “Dresden,” he said, and I bristled. His tone was the one people used to talk to small children. “We are wizards. We have the third sight. First sight for mundane vision, second sight for when we want to get high, third sight for magic. Agents were acting weird, so I’ve scanned them and found out what they were. From then, it was a trivial matter to confirm they were involved.”

                “Are you mad?” I almost shouted, stopped only by the point of the sword still close to my skin, though lower than my chest now. “Using the third sight so casually? What you see will stay with you forever!”

                He shrugged. “Seen worse,” he said simply. “And I’m already taking my dreamless sleep potion anyway.”

                I sighed, trying to calm down. There was no arguing with him, he was too stubborn for his own good.

                “So, anyway,” he continued. “I was lucky with tha agents, I have to admit. Listening to them, I basically learned the whole plot. They were the ones who set up MacFinn to take the fall for them.”

                “And you’ve killed him,” I said.

                “Not for the crimes he committed unwillingly, but for the ones he decided to do. He killed bad people, yes, but he still killed mortals who have no protection against such kinds of threats.”

                I was silent for a few moments.

                “So, this is it?” I asked eventually. “It’s all over?”

                “As far as I can tell,” he said. “There is a matter of Tera. She’s innocent, as far as I know, but she could do something drastic once she finds out about MacFinn. I hope to reason with her, or at least make it clear I’m the one responsible. I can handle a shapeshifter, other people she may consider enemies, not so much.” He paused, deep in thought. The sword moved up and down slightly, following involuntary movements of his hands. “Now, what else? Oh, mind telling me why Murphy wants you cuffed?”

                I opened my mouth.

                “Skip the first thing you want to say,” he said, scowling.

                I smirked.

                “Well, there was this girl, Kim, she was a sort of my apprentice. Not really, but we sometimes talked magic, I gave her a few advises…”

                “And now she’s burning buildings all over the city?” Morgan asked.

                “What? No, she’s dead. You see, she asked me about the third circle, for mixed cases. I didn’t tell her. As it turns out, she tried to rebuild a binding circle for MacFinn…”

                Morgan’s face grew darker, and he brought his sword back to my throat in quick fluid motion. “What the hell is wrong with you, Dresden?!” he barked. “You withhold the knowledge about how to summon dangerous things, you spread the knowledge about how to protect yourself from them! It’s the basics!”

                “Hey!” I said, rising up my hands. “I thought she already knew how to summon something nasty! I figured not knowing how to protect herself would discourage her!”

                “If you thought so, why the hell didn’t you go with her? Tried to find out what she’s up to? Stopped or helped her, depending on the situation?!”

                I swallowed, feeling the tip of his sword scratching my throat.

                “Well,” I said. “I thought it was a good idea at the time, Okay? It’s not against the Laws to be wrong.”

                Morgan visibly struggled to put himself under control. Finally, he withdrew his sword to a more comfortable distance.

                I allowed myself another smirk.

                “Though if you feel so strongly about it, you may… demonstrate me the error of my ways.”

                His face twisted in disgust before settling into resigned expression.

                He sighed. “Why do I do it?” he asked.

                “Because you like it,” I said, comfortable in the knowledge he won’t do anything drastic now. “Come on, do you want me to describe her corpse to you? Or do you want to know how guards and prisoners died? I’ve watched as MacFinn tore them apart, not five meters away. Or maybe…”

                He snarled, and I looked at his pants with satisfaction.

                “You’re a scum, Dresden,” he said with loathing that could have been aimed at me or himself. “Get in my car.”

                “What for?” I asked cockily.

                He grabbed me by the throat, sending my heart racing.

                “I’m going to teach you a lesson,” he said. “Hope it sticks this time.”

                I smirked again. It was going to be a long night.

              2. illhousen says:
                Also, I was this close to writing the following:

                Harry: Morgan?
                Morgan: Surprise, bitch!

              3. Roarke says:
                Well done.
              4. Farla says:
                I opened my mouth.

                “Skip the first thing you want to say,” he said, scowling.

                Your characterization is excellent.

              5. illhousen says:
                Thanks. Getting inside Harry’s head was curious, in the Things Man (Woman? Let’s go with Person) Was Not Mean To Know kind of way.
    2. GeniusLemur says:
      DF = Dresden Files didn’t click with me immediately, so I honestly thought “is that the author’s initials? No. It means something… I know! It’s short for Dumb Fuck! Oh wait, it’s Dresden Files.”

      But if it was Dumb Fuck, would it refer to the character or the author?
      Yes.

  2. actonthat says:
    TBH that whole thing seemed like Butcher couldn’t figure out how to work exposition into the first-person narration so he briefly turned it into pseudo-third-person.
    1. Farla says:
      HM

      None of this looks like it should be hard to put in first person, but it actually is a huge departure from how he’s been writing first person. Every time he starts to have Harry admit guilt normally he backpeddles instantly. Here Harry can admit he fucked up and believe it because there’s an external character to tell him he’s awesome and shut it down. There might be something similar where the author needs to explain that secretly Harry does know Coltish Original Girlfriend is alive before he reveals her as alive lest anyone think Harry could be wrong, but he needs Harry to keep pretending she’s dead because he doesn’t want Harry to actually bother doing anything about it.

      1. SpoonyViking says:
        This actually seems like it might work very well as a stream-of-consciousness passage. Even the “reveal” that Dead Girlfriend is really alive might have worked as Harry’s doubts / desperate hope bubbling to the surface.
        Then again, writing stream-of-consciousness, much less stream-of-consciousness that also works as plot exposition, is hard, and considering Butcher is the writer…
  3. GeniusLemur says:
    Ah, yes, the alter ego thing. I remember it clearly from when I tried to read this shit. Harry faints, his subconscious is there as Harry, but cooler, and basically says, “I’m your subconscious, why are you such a fuck-up, you idiot?” scene ends, reader asks “what the hell was the point of that?”
    This scene was nearly the breaking point for me, between completely out of left field nature of the scene, the pointlessness of it, and Butcher’s understanding of psychology that makes sitcom psychology look profound, but I held out a little longer.
    1. SpoonyViking says:
      This scene is so pointless it was completely excised from the comic adaptation except for a line that says “I woke up from a terrible dream”.
  4. Katrika says:
    I was thinking. Butcher probably had Harry stand around like a douche just so he could describe all the horrible things happening, but that’s not really how it works. I’m comparing this in my head to Worm.

    Taylor describes what she notices, and in times on chaos and horror, that tends to be, well, chaos and horror. But she never stands still just so the readers can get a better look! She’s constantly moving, planning, and acting, and instead of getting caught up in misery porn, she tries to figure out what she can actually DO. In fact, she can get so focused on her actions that she stops focusing so much on the pain around her, so we only get it in emotionless snippets, but that STILL has more impact than what we get here.

    Most importantly, I think, she makes mistakes. There’s one point where, in the midst of an Endbringer attack, she abandons a drowning, overweight hero in order to rescue one of her friend’s and teammate’s dogs. She’s simply so emotionally worn down at this point that she goes for the hurt animal she’s familiar with over the man she’s NOT, but that’s not supposed to be the right decision. It doesn’t make her irredeemable, she wasn’t sure if she was strong enough to move him at that point, but it’s part of a pattern of behavior that later comes back to bite her. Meanwhile, Harry does terrible, terrible things, and never actually gets proper consequences for them, and when people try to enforce consequences they’re always wrong and jealous.

  5. Negrek says:
    Man, is it just me, or is this book even worse than the first one? Maybe I’ve just blocked out enough about Storm Front that I don’t recall how awful it was, but there’s just been a ton of gross stuff going on recently. This chapter in particular does a lot to emphasize how glaring a Mary Sue Dresden is–he’s the only actual character in the book! Everybody else is just set dressing to be manipulated. It’s just very clear that Butcher doesn’t have any sense of a sense of them as people outside of how they relate to Dresden.
    1. GeniusLemur says:
      It’s at least as bad as Storm Front in every way, which doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence in the people who claim the series gets better later.
      1. Roarke says:
        I mean, the series does get better; that’s just not saying very much.
      2. Anon says:
        I vaguely remember enjoying book 3 on a plane flight. The first two made me wince.
      3. illhousen says:
        It does in a sense that Butcher abandons any pretense of writing a mystery and goes more for adventure, which is a much more straightforward genre that’s a bit harder to fuck up.

        The rest of the problems are all here, though, as I recall.

        I’m actually waiting for the readthrough of the next book, since the third one is where the series is supposed to get good, according to the fandom: first book is generally dismissed as something Butcher wrote on a bet, and second one is more of the same, written when he realized this shit makes money.

        Third is the one where the metaplot really starts, so it should be interesting to see what fans consider good writing.

    2. Farla says:
      I don’t know.

      Harry didn’t literally stand watching people screaming and dying last book – he was still a callous asshole but it was more believable. I think the rape potion and the “cheating” and Bob being a rapist skull is still winning as absolute worst, but it was also all fantasy magic which puts it at one remove, while Harry’s bitch bitch bitcH BITCH thing is disturbing because it’s actually real and because it doesn’t even have the thin justification of chivalry. It’s like the difference between beating your wife because you’re mad about dinner and realizing you don’t even have to justify it to yourself so you’ll just hit her because it’s fun. Harry’s not really even trying to pretend this is about that any longer. And even when something’s an obvious lie, losing even that justification is somehow even worse.

      But then again, rape potion and rapist skull last time. For the most part, Harry’s confined himself to just talking about women this time, and the only time he’s acted on it there was at least other provocation – if it wasn’t for the rest of the book, you could think he would’ve treated a guy the same way, it’s just he’d have called him a bastard and not meant anything gendered in his choice..

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