Dresden Files Grave Peril Ch15

We open with Harry complaining about how his rapist skull is being such a downer about this whole nightmare business.

“Harry, look at this thing. Look at what it’s done. It crossed a threshold.”
“So what?” I asked. “Lots of things can.

Indeedity. You can’t have thresholds be a non-issue for this long and expect me to care.

I’m willing to buy the argument about some things having an easier time with thresholds than others, even if thus far it’s solely exposition. If you were trying to narrow this down by ruling out entities that can’t handle thresholds, this would be an okay argument – maybe the specific cross-section of “no visible trace” + “crosses thresholds” is mostly full of nasty things. But you can’t just say only the most badassest of creatures can cross thresholds when we’ve seen them in action and they weren’t exactly unstoppable.

Indeed, Harry continues with exactly what I was thinking:

Remember that toad demon? It came over my threshold and trashed my whole place.”
“In the first place, Harry,” Bob said, “you’re a bachelor. You don’t have all that much of a threshold to begin with. This Malone, though-he was a family man.”
“So?”

Good god this is bad plotting. Harry’s been lecturing about thresholds every time they come up, insulting others for not maintaining theirs, etc…but now that there’s a rapist skull for exposition duty, he’s the idiot.

(Also – a “family” man? There’s no mention of kids. I can believe a devoted couple could have a ward just as good as someone with kids, but it’s very weird to call someone devoted to a single person a family man.)

We then get another spatter of retcon:

Besides which-the toad demon came in and everything after that was pure physical interaction. It smashed things, it spat out acid saliva, that kind of thing. It didn’t try to wrench your soul apart or enchant you into a magical sleep.”

The toad demon’s very form was magic, and generating ultra-acid from presumably nowhere that couldn’t be spat at all until it had forced its way past the threshold while not being harmed by it and also it mostly damages distinct objects rather than just happily eating through the inorganic floor seems pretty magic.

“This is getting to be a pretty fine distinction, Bob.”

Yeah, it is pretty shitty, but I’m quite sure you guys can top it. Let’s see!

Did you ask for an invitation before you went into the Malone’s house?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess I did. It’s polite, and-”
“And it’s harder for you to work magic in a home you haven’t been invited into. You cross the threshold without an invitation, and you leave a big chunk of your power at the door. It doesn’t affect you as much because you’re a mortal, Harry, but it still gets you in smaller ways.”

That’s right, now apparently Harry had no idea thresholds were an issue and the reason he was emphasizing being invited in was just politeness that luckily meant he had magic when he needed it, nevermind that he narrated what was happening and why the whole time.

I’m not sure what the hell happened. Was this the first draft, but then he/his editor thought they needed to make Harry explain thresholds early and often, and then no one remembered this scene needed to be edited? It’d explain that weird emphasis on Harry supposedly respecting people’s boundaries if originally it had the typical fairy-tale logic where the hero is rewarded for existing virtues, even if, on the heels of the Morty thing, it’d still have looked like a total asspull.

Wouldn’t be that hard to fix it. Let’s say he ambushes Morty after the guy leaves his house, as would make perfect sense given the scene starts with Morty already outside the house – that’d even give his gust of wind slamming the door some actual point, if it was done because the guy tried to dart back in. Probably need to reduce the amount of time spent on being invited in to see Micky – without a very good reason, he’s delaying while a friend is suffering. Having several people at the door, including her, and him making sure to ask if she’s okay with him coming in would make more sense.

Harry then SUDDENLY REALIZES that ghosts and other pure magic critters have trouble with thresholds.

If this Nightmare is a ghost, like you say, then the threshold should have stopped it cold-and even if it had gone past it, then it shouldn’t have had the kind of power it takes to hurt a mortal that badly.”

So…then it’s not the ghost. Look, you have absolutely no evidence right now linking the nightmare and the barbed wire. Also, again, vampires running around. If you’re thinking about things that are heavy in the magical power, connected to death, and might be able to shenanigan their way around a threshold? Vampire. Hell, if spit apparently counts as nonmagic, one could knock on the door, spit in your face with their sweet narcotic saliva, then ask for an invite.

The rapist skull says the kind of power you need to do this after losing power from a strong threshold Maybe a god someone’s dug up. Hecate, Kali, or one of the Old Ones.”

Ah, and again we see the problem of combining this with One True God. I think we can all agree that the Christian god could do a fuckton more than just barb wire some guy. And it can’t be one of those where lack of belief can cap godly power! You’ll always see Hindu gods getting name-dropped in the same sentence as dead gods despite their enormous number of very living worshipers. Who the hell needs to dig up Kali? She’s right there!

Harry counters that he thinks a god is a bit more dignified than wrecking shit in a temper tantrum and hurting kitties…further confirming that we’re working off the standard of generic one true god, because if we’re going by numbers, the petty asshole gods throughout human history outnumber the chill ones. Even the Christian god, if you look at the different incarnations, is generally down with horrible things over minor infractions. I’m not sure even what the ballpark figure would be here – basically every god we invented was a temperamental monster, and we’re doing the all myths are real so all of those were legitimate gods, so really this comes down to the question of how many gods existed total, and so many of the oldest ones (who would also be the most ragey asshole ones) would be forgotten by now.

The rapist skull replies with, “Harry, it went through the threshold,” Bob said. “Ghosts don’t do that. They can’t!”

So? There’s like a million things around! It isn’t just ghost or god!

We know it got stopped at a church threshold but went through a human threshold. Doesn’t that just mean demon? The fact the particular demon that went after Harry wouldn’t have been strong enough doesn’t matter, that guy was summoned by a complete newbie and we know there’s a range of demons, which presumably includes a range of power levels. Or, if there’s no holy bonus against demons, then we know power range now – more than this threshold, less than that threshold. I can’t see Kali getting stopped by consecrated ground.

I mean, we know holy water works on ghouls and vampires. Does it work on fairies? I’m almost certain it doesn’t work on angels. And iron doesn’t harm ghosts and probably doesn’t harm demons given Harry didn’t try that. And demons can’t cross running water but I can’t imagine fairies have trouble there. And if creatures can be weak to certain things, it follows they could be strong against others. At the moment, our barbed wire user has only been able to breech one threshold, that of a mundane house. The ghosts seem to have all been aggroed in public areas and also, presumably, on the Nevernever side, and this after Harry explicitly said monsters just don’t get thresholds.

So what you should do is check out what monsters are good at getting into houses, maybe narrow it down to say, childless couples, or else ones that can get into “unsecured” houses for free because who bothers sprinkling salt under windows or whatever. There’s a million monsters, I’m sure there’s a bunch for just that niche that you could research.

Then remember vampires are good at getting into houses, drop the research you weren’t going to do, and just call Bianca. If you’re pretty sure she and the others couldn’t have done it, pretend you don’t know that while demanding she solve your problem – she definitely knows more than you about stuff, and she also views this place as her territory so it shouldn’t be hard to get her to deal with it, and of things that’ll piss her off, “I have no idea what your powers are and assume you can do basically anything!” seems comparatively safe. And if she doesn’t, if she acts suspicious and won’t tell you anything, then that’s another data point that whatever it is is either working with her or scary enough she doesn’t want to go against it, at which point you call up the white council and say shit’s going down, haha suckers it’s your problem now!!! I mean, come on, you don’t even like them, why not use them to solve your problems? Worst case scenario, they recognize it and tell you what to do next, in which case you still avoided almost all of the work PLUS you get to look like a team player in the most obnoxious way.

Harry does none of this. All he does is continue to waffle on the gods vs ghost issue, saying that apparently the council has a cthulhu alarm and that obviously didn’t go off, ruling out the old one set of gods. It’s unclear from what he says if those gods can’t manifest in a small place and are always global or if they’re just such a big deal that a manifestation at any spot makes stuff ring on the other side of the planet – but whatever it means, he says this is a local issue.

I jabbed a finger at Bob. “If I’m right, then there’s a monster out there messing with my town, and I’m obliged to do something about it before someone else gets hurt.”

Yes, you are! I’m not even going to whine about how you never felt like this before. Fine, this is weirdly delayed character development, I don’t care, I’ll take it. Plus you’re trying to reason this out and even if the reasoning is weird that’s mostly the weight of the other books and their kitchen-sink magic system, in just this book where it’s a range of spirits it’d work. Well, almost…

“Maybe it had some other way to get around the threshold. What if it had an invitation?”
“How could it have gotten that?” Bob said. “Ding-dong, Soul Eater Home Delivery, may I come in?”
“Bite me,” I said.

VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE HOW THE FUCK DID YOU FORGET VAMPIRES THEY EVEN SHOWED UP THIS VERY BOOK.

Instead, Harry’s theory is it possessed Lydia and jesus christ his reasoning is bad.

“Possible, I guess-but she was wearing your talisman.”
“If it could get around a threshold, maybe it could get around that too. She goes to Malone’s, looks helpless, and gets an invite in.”

“So it doesn’t need any special ability to shove through threshold if it could get an invite through possession, but it’d need some special ability to possess her, but it obviously has a special ability because it shoved through a threshold.”

The rapist skull’s only objection to this absolutely airtight reasoning is that it doesn’t explain mangling the animals. Yeah, but the main problem is we still don’t know if that does anything, and you guys should. Does that boost evil power, or was it just bored? One could mean it was struggling to keep a grip on Lydia and still have enough power left over for the barbed wire trick, the other just means it probably had to wait a while.

Neither points out that a “family man”, seeing a sick, starving girl show up on his doorstep, would probably call for his wife to help while inviting her in. I wonder if it’s that there’s this unspoken assumption by the both of them that any man would take advantage of something like that. It seems weird on Harry’s part when he’s spent so much time on how other people have these beautiful relationships, but then again he’s spent time on how much he loves Rodriguez and that wouldn’t have stopped him from fucking the girl himself. Maybe he doesn’t see any contradiction between “loving husband Micky” and “raped a homeless kid Micky”.

Speaking of, the rapist skull thinks Harry’s wrong and goes on to list a couple other times he was sure he was right. None of them involve the numerous times he got women killed, something you’d think would be relevant when discussing Lydia. No, just joke things about magic dynamite and flying brooms.

I pushed my hands against either side of my head to keep it from exploding with theories, and whittled them down to the ones that fit the facts. “There are only a couple of possibilities. A, we’re dealing with some kind of godlike being in which case we’re screwed.”

B, this thing is a spirit, something we’ve seen before, and it’s using smoke and mirrors within the rules we already know.

This is not how reasoning works.

He then, because he is a piece of shit, concludes with, Either way, I think Lydia knows more than she’s admitting.” You fucker. “more than she said”, maybe, and only because you refused to actually talk to her in favor of browbeating and assumptions.

Lydia told you:
1) A ghost was going to tear her soul apart.
2) You are important in what’s to come.

We know #1 is completely true because it’s precisely what happened. We know #2 is completely true because we’re three books into this shitshow.

Moreover, let’s consider what Harry said to her. He made it clear he didn’t believe in her because she didn’t have details. Now, it’s possible the workaround for Cassandra’s Tears is supposed to be not giving details, except she directly said she has visions, so she obviously wasn’t trying to hide the fact and we can assume that the curse actually affects any attempt to communicate the information she has from it. It’s possible the more information she gives the worse it gets, but she volunteered the bit about how special Harry was – unless we’re to assume that wasn’t a legitimate vision (maybe the real workaround with Cassandra’s Tears is to make up visions that say the same thing for completely different reasons?), but Harry’s response is precisely as dismissive.

“Gee, a woman taking advantage of Captain Chivalry. What are the odds.”

That she’s already dead from his refusal to help? That’s a good point, Rapist Skull! Lydia is not in a very good place narratively.

Then he makes a second point that’s actually good in-universe:

“You’re forgetting the third possibility,” Bob said amiably. “C, it’s something new that neither of us understand

Although we again get a bit of show/tell difficulty, the rapist skull is supposed to be pretty knowledgeable and he did show that last book, so maybe we’re meant to take it as given that the reason it’s split between ghost vs god is that everything else has some obvious tell that rules it out. That makes the whole conversation a lot more reasonable.

Harry repeats that he gave that lying, manipulative bitch of a homeless child his protective talisman, and the rapist skull laments that “I still can’t believe after all the work we did, you gave it to the first girl to wiggle by.” and we’re reminded that, as horrible as it is Harry looked at her and saw a piece of meat that needed tenderizing, if she didn’t have tits for him to judge then she’d be dead already. After all, he doesn’t tell her about the church until after he gives her the talisman.

I scowled at Bob. “If she’s still got it, I should be able to work up a spell to home in on it, like when I find people’s wedding rings.”

You could’ve done that any time?

The rapist skull says yeah, right, do the thing. He replies with welllllllllllll she might have taken it off, so he wants his pet rapist skull to go run around to see if there’s any sign of her.

We’ve only got a couple of hours.”

Yes, because you still haven’t done the fucking spell!

You had to go see Morty because he was about to skip town…but you didn’t know that, it was just a coincidence. And once you had the notes, you were planning to spend the time until dusk studying those so you could possibly handle this thing, with no mention of the talisman. By all appearances, you remembered it seconds ago as part of defending yourself against the rapist skull’s accusation giving her it was stupid.

Now, remember that as of this book the rapist skull can’t handle daytime well, so Harry says he can possess Mister.

And he could use the exercise.

Just…what.

Tomcats don’t need exercise, Harry. Do you just never touch your cat so you don’t realize he’s made of layers upon layers of muscle? Do you, and he’s an abscess-riddled mess, and you’re just “lol fatty” when you touch the masses of pus under his skin because you’re the worst cat owner ever? Even my knowledge that he isn’t actually a cat can’t help this because Rodriguez doesn’t immediately identify him as not a cat, so he must be cat-shaped and he must feel cat-like when she touches him and she probably just thinks the giant size is some magic thing you did.

God I hate Harry.

Also, Mister-Bob is just going to run off and have sex with the local ladycats. What the fuck do you expect sticking a rapist skull in a tomcat. Neuter your goddamn pet, Harry.

And don’t waste time prowling around in women’s locker rooms again.”

I’m assuming after a long day of catfucking they were like “shit, can’t let Harry know, quick, run into the locker room and he’ll think that’s what we were doing!”

And then Harry was all, “Oh, peeping on naked ladies, that is CHEATING Bob my buddy friend, just like your roofie potions are CHEATING and for this and only this reason I object to this.”

34 Comments

  1. illhousen says:

    I’m reminded again how better Pact is put together than this. Like, the reponse to “What could have done it?” in Pact would be “Well, a lot of things. There is a fuckton of monsters, and even within the same class there is a lot of variations, so you get one boogieman capable of jumping through mirrors and posses people, while another is mostly flesh-and-blood and a third lives in your dreams. Let’s research this particular monster we’re dealing with and see how we may counter it.”

    That said,

    “Maybe it had some other way to get around the threshold. What if it had an invitation?”
    “How could it have gotten that?” Bob said. “Ding-dong, Soul Eater Home Delivery, may I come in?”
    “Bite me,” I said.

    That’s a good point! There is actually a lot of ways to get an invite for a ghost when you think about it.

    First, does the family have a cat? If so, it could have been possessed while outside (and we see it’s very much possible with Bob) then made a huge scene at the door before it was ushered in, which might have counted as an invite.

    Secondly, the guy himself could have been possessed while outside, and the effects just didn’t properly kick in until later. For that matter, he could have been just cursed with the barbed wire outside and it took its time mangling his soul.

    Thirdly, the ghost could have been possessing some random person and pretending to be a salesman (or actually possessing a salesman, which should be easy with no soul getting in the way) while being charismatic enough to get an invite to demonstrate the wonders of barbed wire that could decorate your own fence today!

    And so on and so forth. Really, once the possession is on the table, anything is possible.

    The only issue here is that ghosts appear out of it, if not as stuck in their little worlds as Harry told us, so it could be they don’t do subtlety, but even then possessing a cat or cursing the guy while he was out for a smoke or whatever seems like it would work fine.




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    1. Roarke says:

      This takes me back to something interesting you’d said in Storm Front, that a better author could have potentially explained Harry’s misogyny as something Bob was nurturing in him, and not a trait intrinsic to the man himself.

      This conversation he and Bob are having could have been a lot better if it were Harry defending his actions instead of jumping in with his own theories that yeah, that Lydia chit is bad news, with all her malnourished wiggling. And yeah, the fact that Susan didn’t come up at all as a reason not to fuck the homeless girl is still pretty disgusting. The reasons Harry actually gave for not raping her sounded like something you’d hear at an abstinence lecture in Catholic school. He’ll catch teh AIDS you guiz!

       




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      1. illhousen says:

        Ah, did you mean to post it as a separate comment? Anyway…

        And yeah, the fact that Susan didn’t come up at all as a reason not to fuck the homeless girl is still pretty disgusting.

        So, I mean, you really shouldn’t need a reason to not fuck malnourished homeless kids. Compared to Harry not recognizing Lydia’s condition and the fact that even if she routinely trades sexual favors for stuff, it would be out of desperation rather than because she’s some kind of femme fatale (I mean, she doesn’t even have a funny hat) and that he really shouldn’t take advantage of someone so down on luck, him not mentioning Susan as a reason for not going after Lydia doesn’t really register to me as disturbing.

        Disturbing is already off the scales. It’d take, like, Willy Pete from Empowered level of fucked up to escalate from there.




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        1. Roarke says:

          I was originally going to reply to you with something Pact-related, but then decided otherwise and forgot to cancel the reply.

          Anyway, yeah, you’re totally right about the level of disturbing already being beyond the relatively mundane reasoning of “it would be betraying my partner”. I do think though that, when it comes to Harry’s character specifically, it still needs to be examined.

          Harry claims to be the type of lonely guy who can’t form long-lasting attachments, but still deeply wants one. He views couples with envy, etc. etc. There’s Susan, who will literally bail him out of jail at a moment’s notice without getting angry at all, but he’ll completely forget her when the prospect of sex with another woman is on the table. It is, to me, a more realistically horrifying thing specifically because of how mundane it is, and how many guys I know who are actually like that.

          So basically, it’s disturbing on a sort of tangential level. I’m not disputing that it doesn’t even register on the more fantastical scale of fucking homeless children who are asking for protection.




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  2. Nicolas milioni says:
    You guys consider Harry was just mistaken about Lydia. He didn’t realize he was homeless or a child,maybe because he’s not around homeless people and child’s much he couldnt even have seen them on the internet or TV. Just try to consider he didn’t realize she needeed that much help before. And that the mistake he made was outta ignorance not malice. Of course he should’ve helped her more,but shit guys he didn’t know much,he thought she was trying to manipulate him. He was mistaken,jeez again,ignorance it’s not evil

    And about Mister needing exercise,it was an irony.




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    1. Farla says:

      1) Even if he, the detective, in a major city, who regularly works for the police, has never encountered homeless people before, he does notice how young she is and yet it’s only for other reasons he doesn’t fuck her.

      2) He did know she was homeless, feverish, and starving, because he expresses no surprise when the priest mentions it and continues to behave in exactly the same manner.

      3) He proceeds to do everything else on his to-do list before doing the very easy spell to track her down.

      4) He is still telling us that he’s pretty sure the bitch knows what’s up and was manipulating him, damn her sexy starved-child walk making him give her any help, and that’s really why he’s bothering to track her down at all.




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      1. Roarke says:

        People have been missing the fanfic, including myself, but I think the real theme for this book is Dresden apologia. 




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        1. K says:
          That’s the theme for every book, though.



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          1. Roarke says:

            I mean more for like, the comment section. 




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    2. illhousen says:

      Harry’s mentor in detectiving specializes in searching for missing children, and Harry has an easy-to-use tracking spell that makes the task trivial. So either he did spend quite some time among children (and specifically children in bad situations under a lot of stress) or he’s a shitty person.

      Homeless people are a group most vulnerable to monster attacks, which we’re told happen more and more often in modern times, so either he did spend a lot of time among them or he considers their deaths not his problem since they can’t pay him.




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  3. Nerem says:

    So the theory is that Dresden was simply too stupid to be a misogynist, am I right?

    I mean, apparently he had been a child once himself.




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    1. Nicolas milioni says:
      Listen I know he should’ve help her more, but it’s not like he isn’t trying to what he can now. I honestly can’t see anything he could have done by now that he didn’t ,the only thing he should have done was help her first . But after that? What he should’ve do? Hes just one guy.



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      1. Nicolas milioni says:
        I’m not even being sarcastic here,im really curious. What should he have done?

         




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        1. illhousen says:

          First of all, your comment is non sequitur in the context since Nerem was pointing out that it’s pretty stupid for Harry to not realize Lydia was a kid in a bad shape for reasons Farla has outlined above, not discussing what Harry should have done.

          Secondly, we went over it already:

          – call Murphy from the church when it became clear that something was undeniably hunting Lydia and explain the situation instead of waiting for the plot to arrange their meeting;

          – cast a simple tracking spell to find Lydia via his connection to the protective charm. It would have taken, like, an hour or two at that point.




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          1. Roarke says:

            instead of waiting for the plot to arrange their meeting;

            This, incidentally, is something that really bothers me about the plotting in this and some other books. Harry did 2 other things before trying to find Lydia: grill Morty (I should really replay Planescape: Torment) and save Micky. It turns out in his favor that the Morty issue was time-sensitive. Like, it makes sense, sure: Morty senses a nightmare -> Morty leaves town. But that doesn’t factor into Harry’s reasoning. Micky’s case was also presumably time-sensitive, seeing as he was in pretty bad shape.

            That’s such sloppy plotting, in my book, because rather than the protagonist having to consciously sort out and prioritize various situations, events just sort of happen to him in an obviously pre-determined manner so that everything fits neatly.

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            1. Farla says:

              Worst thing is, the event sequence works fine if Harry only gives reasons.

              Harry goes to check up on the girl and finds out about the super ghost and that she’s missing. He says he can find her rather than telling everyone else to start looking around and hoping, but she’ll be fine until nightfall and they know the church is enough to keep her safe then, so he’s going to go talk to Morty first – the guy knows more than anyone else in the business about ghosts, but he’s scared shitless of them. Morty would know it manifested, bu he wouldn’t leave that night because he’d be keeping behind his threshold. He’s going to bug out first thing in the morning and Harry has to rush if there’s any chance of catching him.

              Harry then heads back home, intending to put the notes somewhere safe before doing the seeking spell. He’s waylaid by the police and has to deal with that first. Low on time, he tries to do the spell, but he hits weird interferene and needs to doubl back to his house again to pick up the proper ingredients.

              Now it’s not callousness, it’s overconfidence. 




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            2. Roarke says:

              Oh, yeah, that’s perfect. It’s much more tense and entertaining to watch a proactive person bite off more than he can chew and suddenly have to juggle a dozen crises. It would even fit with Harry’s existing character, if he wasn’t such a lazy asshole. 




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            3. Nicolas milioni says:
              Kay,i see your point I think you guys might,just might be right this time. I’ll think it over.

              I’ll say this to,you guys should take the time to look other people r2view of Jim butcher’s work before you say he can’ write well. You still entitled to your opinion obviously,but there are  many people who praise Jim Butcher plotting and writing skills and compliment him on his cleverness. Even if you guys don’t agree you should see some of it,it might open reveal something y’all been missing

              .




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            4. Roarke says:

              Thanks for listening. And yeah, we know Butcher’s work is super-popular. We know a lot of people love him, love these books, and love Harry. I’ve read all of the books myself. Dresden is all over frickin’ TVTropes, though that’s not exactly a point in its favor, critically speaking.

              That doesn’t make them really well-written, unfortunately. So far, the books don’t hold up under serious scrutiny, especially under a feminist lens. Goddamn, but Butcher treats women absolutely horribly. And though there are things to praise about the writing (one of the first things Farla said is that the books have a nicely chatty first-person), there’s also a lot to criticize. I mean, you should see so far that Farla gives credit where it’s due.




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            5. illhousen says:

              You still entitled to your opinion obviously,but there are  many people who praise Jim Butcher plotting and writing skills and compliment him on his cleverness.

              The same can be said about Twilight, though. I’d say DF books are only marginally worse than that, so it’s no surprise people like them.

              Popularity is only weakly correlated with quality, it’s mostly about the appeal, and DF does appeal to a specific demographic (noir + urban fantasy + “awesome” moments like undead T-Rex).

              I’ve actually read other reviews of DF. The ones that go in depth (like the readthrough on Something Short and Snappy and review series on Fangs for the Fantasy) do note many of the problems we’re talking about here, even if the latter is more positive than Farla’s.




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            6. SpoonyViking says:

              “Noir”.

              Basically, the “DF” series is an adolescent power fantasy.




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            7. SpoonyViking says:

              Tsc, I couldn’t edit my comment, but just to make it clear, I’m agreeing with you; I’m just phrasing it in a not-as-nice manner. :-)




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            8. Farla says:

              but there are  many people who praise Jim Butcher plotting and writing skills and compliment him on his cleverness.

              Well – this series has been compared to a male version of the Anita Blake series. I read the first few of that and the basic writing was astoundingly, I can’t believe this got published bad. And yet, the books were popular, because people love the idea of magic + detectives and there aren’t many options. Comparing the two, Butcher is by far the better writer.

              If you go back to the first book, I say in the beginning that it’s got a nice chatty tone to it and generally does first-person well. Its plot is so-so, but miles better than its competition. And it uses both of those positives for evil.

              You can be a quality wordsmith and write nauseating books – check out the Wither tag. And you can be so-so but in a niche that’s filled with crap so you’re comparatively a genius.




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        2. Roarke says:

          I mean, just in this very chapter he says there’s a method that he’s not going to bother using: the tracking charm that will let him find the bracelet. Instead, he decides to let Bob run off to play in Mister’s body, because apparently the scene needed to be comedic?

          Unless the next chapter starts with Harry trying the tracking charm, then that’s one really really obvious thing he could have done. Hell, he could have tried the tracking charm first, that very morning at the church, but Lydia just isn’t his priority and there’s no point pretending she is.




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      2. Farla says:

        What he should’ve do? Hes just one guy.

        He’s not. It’s like saying Superman is just one guy. One guy, sure, but not “just”. He’s one guy who is the most powerful wizard we’ve seen, someone capable of greater magical feats while running on empty than we’ve seen anyone else pull out at the top of their game. If he is not the most powerful person in the entire setting, he’s definitely in the top .000001% of the human race and by all appearanes similarly positioned regarding the huge population of nonhuman magical creatures.

        On top of this, he has access to an enormous wealth of magical knowledge thanks to his rapist skull, meaning he’s got the omniscence to go with that omnipotence.

        He also can call up both the regular and magical police if, somehow, he can’t already solve the problem simply by virtue of who he is.




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  4. liminal fruitbat says:

    You’ll always see Hindu gods getting name-dropped in the same sentence as dead gods despite their enormous number of very living worshipers.

     

    I mean, people still worship Hecate too. Not as many as Kali, but she’s hardly dead.

     

    Speaking of the need to “dig up” powerful gods, quite a few of this book’s problems with Michael’s powers might be solved if his god is dormant/otherwise occupied, and Michael’s just fighting in his name rather than directly being a pawn in his cosmic chess game.




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    1. CrazyEd says:
      Hellenistic neopaganism is a vastly different thing from Hinduism, though.



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      1. liminal fruitbat says:

        And both are vastly different things from Judaism, which is vastly different from Shinto… I’m not sure what your point is.




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        1. CrazyEd says:
          The history is very different. Unlike hellenistic neopaganism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Shinto never went through thousands of years of nonexistence to be revived a few decades ago as part of a cultural movement. Judaism isn’t even pagan, let alone neopagan. Most hellenistic churches are unbelievably tiny and modern. The first organization to openly support the restoration of ancient hellenic belief was founded in 1997 and claims 2,000 members. Hinduism, Judaism, and Shinto all have millions of adherents and thousands of years of unbroken continuity.

          Kali has been around in India since before the time of Christ. Hecate was probably dug up within 50 years of the publishing of the first Dresden Files book. If she was dug up at all. Most hellenistic reconstructionism focuses on the twelve olympians.




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    2. illhousen says:

      Michael’s issues is that his god is the capital-G Christian God, and bringing him into a story causes all sorts of issues on all levels: world-building, characterization, plot, morals…

      Give Michael any other god (or downgrade Christian God to a war deity he was before he’s made it big), and he would work fine. Gods can be capricious, uncaring or just not powerful enough to influence the events above what Michael already gets.

      Christian trappings just… don’t work very well in fantasy kitchen sink type setting without altering them to the point where they cease being Christian.




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      1. liminal fruitbat says:

        Yeah, I guess that’s a YMMV thing. Vertigo’s Lucifer portrays God as something detached and with varying degrees of caring and I read him as sufficiently within the bounds of how he’s conceived of in real life.

        But even so – Hecate apparently exists in this setting. Presumably the rest of the children of Gaia, Nyx, etc do too. Which means that while everyone’s actions are shaped by the Fates, Zeus is the father of gods and men and has absolute authority within the Fates’ scheme, and the gods of Olympus are as near to omnipotent as makes no odds (at least from a Bronze Age perspective). If Zeus can be demoted a bit, so can Christ.




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        1. illhousen says:

          Fair enough. I mostly feel that utilyzing Christianity brings up so much baggage with it so as to be not worth it in most cases, but if you approach it from a more mythological rather than religious perspective, it can work.




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          1. CrazyEd says:
            It also doesn’t help that Christianity is very much not a fantasy kitchen sink.



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      2. CrazyEd says:
        altering them to the point where they cease being Christian

        Like in Scion! Though, admittedly, that was the point in Scion’s case.




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