Dresden Files Grave Peril Ch34-35

We open this chapter with Harry thinking about his dad again. We get a concrete age for his death, when Harry was six – forget if that detail’s come up before. If Harry was then raised by wizards, it doesn’t make much sense he’d have any familiarity with the modern world, so does he bop around in orphanages for a bit?

Anyway he talks a bit about his dad comforting him after nightmares saying the monsters can’t get him.

He’d been right.

Until now. Until tonight.

Weeeeeeeeell no. Quite a number of monsters have got the drop on him by now, and getting your guts ripped apart inside your own head which had the secondary effect of crippling the skill you built your sense of self around has got to be pretty violating.

I think this is just a matter of being too wordy – the beginning and end of it are “Dad used to be here for me, I wish Dad was here for me.” and it’s the squishy center that’s not lining up right.

No one came to hold me. No one came to make it all better. No one had, really, since my dad died.

Also the motivating reason for attacking the vampires was his supposedly intense love for Susan and having the focus switch to how Harry has always been completely alone and isolated really undermines that. I think you could make this work if the relationship had been enough at the forefront that we could see actual subtleties in it – we do open with Michael badgering Harry to admit he loves Susan, but we had a lot of hugging last book that suggested plenty of attachment and just an unwillingness to say the official words. If, instead, Harry has actually been presenting himself as the strong man who keeps his girlfriend at arm’s length and never shows any weakness (note this is different than just refusing to tell her about his work while expecting her to be there for him) then there’s a sensible narrative flow to him getting pushed past the point he can keep that up, then realizing he regrets that and needs other people after all.

He struggles for a bit to move and to want to move, but eventually gets his bearings and finds that Justine is there.

Gone was the glamorous girl I’d seen at the ball. Her hair hung lank and greasy. Her pale body looked lean, almost gaunt, and her limbs, what I could see of them, were stained and dirty, as was her face.

And we’re back in form. Amazing recovery, Harry.

Justine is crazy because bitches be crazy.

“I’m not crazy,” she said, her voice sharp, edged. “I know what you’re thinking.”
I had to cough before I could talk, and it made pains shoot through my belly again. “That wasn’t what I was thinking.”
“Of course it wasn’t,” the girl snarled. She rose, all lean grace and tension, and stalked toward me. “I know what you were thinking. That they’d shut you in here with that stupid little whore.”
“No,” I said. “I … that isn’t what – ”
She hissed like a cat, and raked her nails across my face, scoring my cheek in three lines of fire. I cried out and fell back, the wall interrupting my retreat.
“I can always tell, when I’m like this,” Justine said. She gave me an abruptly careless look, turned on the balls of her feet and walked several feet away before stretching and dropping to all fours, watching me with an absent, disinterested gaze.

Yeah.

Justine’s been nibbled by vampires but explains that she’s mentally ill and Thomas eats the illness. Control, they said. I don’t have the kind of control other people have. It’s hormones, but the drugs only made me sick.

1) There are many drugs and the fact they don’t work immediately doesn’t mean you should give up.
2) Yes, according to her description the thing wrong with her as she rambles madly is just that she doesn’t have control of her emotions, because all women imagine they can read minds and shit but normally they’re all passive-aggressive about it instead of coming out and saying it.

It might have been politically incorrect of me, but the word LOONY all but appeared in a giant neon sign over Justine’s head.

This is one of those sentences where you should really realize your mistake as soon as you say the first half and stop.

Justine, meanwhile, has a remarkably keen grasp of time and tells Harry it’s been about twelve hours.

She smiled again, and played with her hair, dropping the towel. “Almost everyone dies in a hospital. You’d get to be someplace different. Isn’t that better?”

Women being crazy children just keeps on merrily happening. I feel like this is a sister trope to the manic pixie dreamgirl. Dreamy goth maniacgirl?

Then a ghost shows up.

Abruptly, I recognized her, the girl Bianca had fed upon until she died.
“Rachel,” I whispered. “Rachel, is that you?”

Well, kudos to Harry and the series for remembering the name like she’s a person.

“No wonder Bianca got stuck on a vengeance kick. She literally was haunted by your death.”

Thing is, 90% of what Bianca’s done appears unrelated to Harry. I mean, there’s the idea she’s doing this to be powerful because Harry humiliated her, but it’s been mostly her throwing bodies into the meatgrinder and most of her master plan hinges on the fact he’s got multiple other enemies but those enemies are already doing the job for her. If she’s so torn up by the death of someone she cared about, why would she be busily killing? Meanwhile the ghost plan was working fine on its own – even when Harry figured out there was a patron, he had no clue who they were and the only reason he had even half a clue where they might be was because of the party. If Bianca had focused on directly harassing Harry just a tad more, he could easily have lost one of the previous encounters.

Rachel apparently can’t talk even though other ghosts have had no problem, but she mimes that she’s sad because she’s tired and wants to rest and it’s Bianca’s “fixation” on her that’s keeping her around, in defiance of how all other ghosts have worked, in conclusion make sure to have a healthy heterosexual relationship where the guy beats you until you kill your own kid instead of being all lesbian or your ghost will get fucked up.

Also, you probably know but Harry does indeed tell us he wants to fuck the ghost:

her ghostly, pretty face agonized.

If her unpretty face was agonized, Harry would be saying something about how ghosts don’t actually have feelings and he’s gonna light this one on fire.

Then she runs off because Justine just got possessed by our ghost, who promptly feels up the body because yes of course why wouldn’t this be an important detail to include.

Possessed Justine rambles about how great hot crazy chicks are and adds that Harry’s only alive because the mushrooms poisoned the vampires who tried to eat him. I would like this if Harry had done it on purpose but having it just coincidentally work out that way after he poisoned himself for as an unrelated tactic for an unrelated problem is less pleasing.

I am willing to take this as final confirmation that these guys are werebats, however. There’s no reason for poison to matter to a traditional vampire. At most, his blood might not be filling if he’s lacking in vitality due to imminent death, but deadly poison shouldn’t matter to something that’s already dead. Werecreatures also, I think, really fits with Harry’s insistence that these guys are totally definitely not humans yet they’re getting turned into vampires from humans like normal. Maybe they even go so far as to completely pop out the human soul in favor of a bat soul leading people to count it as “killing” the human – as highly social critters, I can actually see werebats getting weird because they need to be around compatriots but there isn’t enough food for a large group of werebats, so they end up using their food as companionship instead.

Anyway there’s a lot of chatter where Harry alpha males at the ghost and the ghost gets really upset and eventually attacks him, makes an elaborate threat, then leaves Justine.

She cried piteously, like a small child, mostly quiet.

After a while, something else starts moving in the room and Justine tells him not to go over. Harry immediately goes over. It’s Susan! Harry immediately swan-dives into the Nile until he gets a look at her and realizes her eyes are solid black.

“Dresden?” Susan whispered.

Dear God, I thought. This can’t be happening.

“Mister Dresden? I’m so thirsty.”

I’m going to cling to my werebats get resouled and also they’re babies when they wake up theory so anyone regardless of gender would start referring to adult men as Mister So-and-so under stress. It’s not that all adult women are just babies with hot bodies, it’s that these particular women happen to have just gotten their souls sucked out and surely we’ll be seeing some guys acting the same any time now.

Next chapter, Susan goes on to start crawling around on the floor because she smells Harry’s spilled blood, something I’m sure she’s only doing because bats have difficulty walking and the soul isn’t used to a human body.

Justine explains that She isn’t herself. but then goes on to the enormous cop out of, Once she kills, she’ll be gone. so actually she is herself still, just a bit loopy.

This isn’t even a proper retcon because we’re spent all book going on about their addictive saliva which has no purpose if they’re designed to kill their prey. Similarly, it undermines the idea Bianca killing her food by accident could possibly matter to her if killing your food is the foundation of what they are. On top of that, it doesn’t fit with the fact the Red Court appears to be intensely physical and need literal blood to survive rather than feeding off something spiritual.

And it just raises new questions.

“If I could talk to her, though. Get through to her. We could maybe snap her out of it?”
“I’ve never heard of it happening,” Justine said. She shivered. “They stay like that. It gets worse and worse. Then they lose control and kill. And it’s over.”

Namely, what happens if you just give her something to eat?

She’s very loopy and very hungry so it makes sense that if she tries to eat someone she’ll kill them. That doesn’t in any way prove that she needs to kill someone, though, and Justine’s very description of it is very much begging the question – so if she refuses to eat she’ll get hungrier until she eats, but that’s pretty much how everything works. The core problem isn’t if she should or shouldn’t eat, it’s finding an alternative food source when they’re trapped in an empty room.

Justine points out the correct solution is to kill her while she’s confused before she eats them. Harry, ever not a sucker for a damsel in distress, says he refuses to kill his girlfriend and the fact his girlfriend will then kill someone else’s property doesn’t matter to him. Justine, ever the perceptive, points out that he’ll only be sentencing his girlfriend to a horrible death by poisoning.

Anyway, remember how sexy godmom yoinked away Susan’s memories of Harry? More asspull time! They soulgazed once – Harry described her as fainting as a result, because Harry is very manly and his girlfriend is very weak – and soulgaze is now a subset of wizard sight where the sight autotriggers upon meeting another person’s gaze and so it’s permanently branded into your brain. Of course, if it’s just a matter of turning wizard sight on, then wizards shouldn’t need to soulgaze each other because they could manually flip on the sight to get a look without letting the other person see into them. Also, Harry’s previous statement about how you get soulgaze immunity after doing it suggests that if wizards look at anything with the sight, it gains immunity to any future wizard sight attempts. In conclusion this is way stupider than if the asspull was just “soulgazing is a special bond and that’ll still be there”.

Harry goes on to explain that he’ll still have to uncover the memories, but it’s okay because Susan and I had always been close, since we’d started dating. Intimate time together. The sharing of words, ideas, time, bodies. And that kind of intimacy creates a bond. A bond that I could perhaps use, to uncover fogged memories. To help bring Susan back to herself.

Now in a well-plotted story, Harry’s bit earlier about how his dad was the last person who’d really cared for him would still matter and this would actually be hard because he wouldn’t let a strong bond form and their relationship is really only intimate in the shallow physical sense. He was careful with his words rather than sharing them freely, even more careful with his ideas, and so often the both of them sacrificed their time together for other things – in part because, he admits now, he made sure to set himself in opposition to Susan’s job so that she always had to pick between one or the other. He knows she cares about him but does she actually love him? He can’t know because he never gave her any space for it.

In this, Harry just announces that he’s a fucking wizard and can do anything.

Of course, he is an idiot and he is currently dying and he has been through a lot, so for once, he actually doesn’t manage to just superpower his way through. The spell of connection he tries to do can’t get through the barrier sexy godmom put up and Susan starts to chew on him like a puppy.

“I love you.”
Why it worked right then, why the webbing of my godmother’s spell frayed as though the words had been an open flame, I don’t know. I haven’t found any explanation for it.

Harry keeps saying this bullshit for a while and being all ooooh there’s this special deep power that’s different than actual magic blah blah it’s inconceivable. No, words literally have magic, we’ve been through this so many damn times, how the fuck are you going on about how amazing it is an evil fairy’s anti-love spell was broken by you confessing your love? Like this wasn’t trite enough by itself!

It works and Susan is now lucid and back to having normal eyes, because beauty is goodness goodness beauty. Of course, they have no idea what to do now and Susan’s best plan is for Harry to rest so he can get back to being their magic autowin button, but the ghost gets people in dreams, so… I mean, I’d think the fact he’s currently vomiting blood from the poison is a bit more of a problem with Plan Wait Even Longer, but sure, the ghost is definitely also an issue.

Harry then flips through the script and realizes we’re almost done, which means it’s time for a twist plan that’s shocking and generally a bad idea but this particular time will work out. Time to go to sleep!

38 Comments

  1. illhousen says:

    Some of the quotes are not italized.

    Dreamy goth maniacgirl?

    Harley Quinn.

    I’m really disappointed that godmom didn’t actually take Susan’s memories (preferably by giving them a physical form and actually carrying them away, which is mystical but also does provide a hope of eventually recovering them) and instead, what? Concealed them with glamour?

    I mean, come on, it was one thing that seemed to actually have consequences that she did, and she didn’t even do that right.

    Worst fairy.

    1. Roarke says:

      I’m also ludicrously disappointed by this, given that I shouldn’t have expectations for this book at all anymore. At this point, Lea really shouldn’t have been in the book as a major character at all. She only needs about one or two scenes to establish that the fae courts exist and have major players (which is pretty obviously what she’s here for, to set up Summer Knight). You can keep her being threatening in a distant way and her stealing Michael’s sword, but the rest is just chaff at this point.

    2. Farla says:

      It also would’ve been reasonable for her to have stolen the memories but not the connection. Harry can convince Susan they care about each other but she still doesn’t actually remember who he is or any of the stuff that happened.

      1. illhousen says:

        Yeah, that’s a good compromise variant that allows the power of love to still work while not completely undermining Lea’s one achievement.

  2. Act says:

    The whole ‘women fondling themselves’ thing strikes as me being analogous to the whole ‘women are secretly having sexy pillowfights when they hang out’ trope — the idea that women actually want to have sex with men all the time, they just lie about it and are sexy in secret to tease men or whatever. If a woman is sexual overtly, but not a dirty dirty whore, it’s a sign something has gone wrong.

    1. illhousen says:

      That’s, like, literally some Victorian shit:

      “There was a long spell of silence, big, aching, void, and then from the Professor a keen “S-s-s-s!” He pointed, and far down the avenue of yews we saw a white figure
      advance, a dim white figure, which held something dark at its breast. The figure stopped, and at the moment a ray of moonlight fell upon the masses of driving clouds, and showed in startling prominence a darkhaired woman, dressed in the cerements of the grave.

      We could not see the face, for it was bent down over what we saw to be a fair-haired child. There was a pause and a sharp little cry, such as a child gives in sleep, or a dog as it lies before the fire and dreams. We were starting forward, but the Professor’s warning hand, seen by us as he stood behind a yew tree, kept us back. And then as we looked the white figure moved forwards again. It was now near enough for us to see
      clearly, and the moonlight still held. My own heart grew cold as ice, and I could hear the gasp of Arthur, as we recognized the features of Lucy Westenra. Lucy Westenra, but yet how changed. The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness.

      […]

      When Lucy, I call the thing that was before us Lucy because it bore her shape, saw us she drew back with an angry snarl, such as a cat gives when taken unawares, then her eyes ranged over us. Lucy’s eyes in form and color, but Lucy’s eyes unclean and full of hell fire, instead of the pure, gentle orbs we knew. At that moment the remnant of my love passed into hate and loathing. Had she then to be killed, I could have done it with savage delight. As she looked, her eyes blazed with unholy light, and the face became wreathed with a voluptuous smile. Oh, God, how it made me shudder to see it! With a careless motion, she flung to the ground, callous as a devil, the child that up to now she had clutched strenuously to her breast, growling over it as a dog growls over a bone. The child gave a sharp cry, and lay there moaning. There was a coldbloodedness in the act which wrung a groan from Arthur. When she advanced to him with outstretched arms and a wanton smile he fell back and hid his face in his hands.

      She still advanced, however, and with a languorous, voluptuous grace, said, “Come to me, Arthur. Leave these others and come to me. My arms are hungry for you. Come, and we can rest together. Come, my husband, come!”

      There was something diabolically sweet in her tones, something of the tinkling of glass when struck, which rang through the brains even of us who heard the words addressed to another. As for Arthur, he seemed under a spell, moving his hands from his face, he opened wide his arms.”

      – Dracula

      (Also, lol, orbs)

    2. CrazyEd says:

      Yeah, that’s a totally unfair stereotype. Sometimes they get jealous over the size of each other’s breasts instead. Usually in a hot spring, though sometimes in a bath, but always with convenient steam to censor any nipples.

  3. Roarke says:

    Well, kudos to Harry and the series for remembering the name like she’s a person.

    Wasn’t the person Bianca inadvertently killed named Paula? I don’t think we’ve met a Rachel. I checked Storm Front posts and yeah, it seems like Bianca killed a Paula. Was there a Rachel in any of the books? Was she named Rachel Paula, or Paula Rachel?

    I’m actually bitterly curious about this now, because if the name is right I can just feel stupid and move on, but if Butcher actually got the name wrong then I am just going to wear a sneer for the rest of my life.

    1. illhousen says:

      I’ve checked. It’s Paula, no reference to Rachel.

      Also, check out the wiki: http://dresdenfiles.wikia.com/wiki/Rachel

      “Rachel, also known as Paula…”

      Googling around, it does appear to be a genuine continuity error.

      1. Farla says:

        Oh my god that’s hilarious.

        The best part is how the wiki doesn’t even say it’s a continuity error, it’s just “yeah she has two names neither of which is a valid nickname for the other, that’s definitely on purpose”.

        1. Roarke says:

          The best part is also you giving kudos to Butcher for clearing an incredibly low bar, only for it to turn out he didn’t.

      2. AlphabetSoup says:
        In-universe, the RPG manual says that Paula is the character’s stage name and Rachel is her real name.

        Out of universe, Butcher has acknowledged that he used the wrong name in this book.

        1. Roarke says:

          “No, Cyril! When she’s dead, she’s just Rachel!”

        2. illhousen says:

          Yeah, that doesn’t really work given that I’m pretty sure Harry had no opportunity to learn her real name like that.

          I mean, a continuity error over a very minor character is understandable, it’s just hilarious to us in the context it was made.

          1. Farla says:

            Well, not really minor when supposedly she’s the reason everything happened.

            If Bianca was doing this just because Harry invaded her territory and fireblasted her skin off and the ghost was a minor extra stressor, then it’d be one thing. But we’ve been told since the first book that this person’s death is what Bianca’s character revolves around.

            1. illhousen says:

              Yeah, true enough. With her supposedly being a cornerstone of the plot, a quick check for her name really shouldn’t have been that hard.

              Reply
            2. Roarke says:

              Maybe Butcher did check. Maybe he went into the kitchen, opened up his fridge, and looked for a name tag.

              3
              Reply
  4. AlphabetSoup says:
    I think some of the confusion here comes from that Susan isn’t actually a Red Court vampire yet.

    The way Red Court vampirism works is as follows: a Red Court vampire can bite and infect someone, turning them into what’s called a Red Court Infected. (This is what Susan is now). RCIs are mostly human (though they no longer age), but they have a constant Thirst for blood that is initially overwhelming, and while it later tapers off it never goes away. They can also tap into a few supernatural abilities–super speed, strength, etc.–but using those powers accentuates their Thirst. Most RCI will eventually give into their Thirst and drain another person of blood, killing the other person. At that point the RCI is transformed into a full Red Court Vampire like Bianca–bat body and all.

    Neither RCIs nor RCVs need to kill their prey; they’re theoretically capable of drinking a small amount of blood and leaving their prey alive. However, RCIs are so Thirsty that if they try to drink a small amount they’ll just find it delicious and will usually be overwhelmed with the need to drink more. Similarly, RCVs can take just a little blood–this is what Bianca tried to do with Rachel–but if they’re thirsty or hurt, they can lose control and inadvertently kill someone, which is how Rachel died.

    It’s theoretically possible for RCIs to never kill another person via blood draining and thus remain as RCIs forever; later books will examine this in more detail. However, this requires iron control, and freshly infected RCIs like Susan haven’t had the chance to build it up. Thus simply talking to her won’t be enough to get her to reign in her Thirst, nor will giving her a small amount of blood. Thus more drastic measures are necessary, like the soulgaze-evoking-prior-soulgaze here.

    1. That is incredibly unnecessarily convoluted, and sounds like it was made just so Susan could survive this.

      1. Roarke says:

        This is definitely an asspull and you can tell by how it’s not set up or foreshadowed at all.

        In fact, you could make this twist and the rest of the book a whole lot better by switching Kelly’s infantilized madwoman act with an explanation that she’s suffering because she’s a half-Red who hasn’t yet made the switch. Maybe give some reasoning as to why even someone loyal to the faction would hold off or be unable to immediately make the full transformation. Draw frequent attention to Kelly’s black eyes so that, when Susan opens her eyes and they’re also black, the reader will have a stronger understanding of what that means.

        1. AlphabetSoup says:
          Kelly can’t be an RCI because–if she was holding out to not become a vampire–then there’d be no reason to support the vampires or do Bianca’s bidding. If Kelly doesn’t like vampires or want to be one, she’d have no reason to serve Bianca willingly, and while I guess Bianca could enthrall her or otherwise coerce her, there’s no real reason to do that instead of using a loyal minion. (And seeing as how the temptation for blood is supposed to be something all RCIs struggle with, it wouldn’t work to say that she has a blood allergy or something that physically prevents her from draining someone. It’s not a meaningful temptation if you can’t do it anyways.)
          1. Roarke says:

            That’s why I’m suggesting that the half-Red state needs to be fleshed out more, and set up in advance, because as it is now, it’s just a way for Susan to still be alive and human instead of being a bat-monster. There’s no in-story explanation for why Red Court vampires create infectees instead of creating full vampires, so you have to go with the meta reason – Butcher wanted to keep the love interest pretty and human.

      2. AlphabetSoup says:
        I don’t think it’s convoluted… it’s just a two step process. Someone gets bitten and becomes a Red Court Infected who is always thirsty for blood; eventually they drain someone and become a full-fledged Red Court vampire. It’s technically possible, though quite rare, for an RCI to stop after the first step by resisting their Thirst indefinitely. Susan is an RCI who is trying to do that, but because she’s knew she’s finding it very hard.

        That’s it, really.

        1. A two-step process is convoluted. Do any of the other vampires work this way?

          1. AlphabetSoup says:
            White Court has a similar thing. White Court vampires are born without powers and don’t gain any until after their first sexual experience. The first time they have sex, their powers trigger, they drain and kill whoever they’re having sex with*, and then they’re full fledged White Court Vampires. (Before then they’re called White Court Virgins). 

            Black Court is different. Black Court Vampires aren’t born or infected; they’re corrupted with dark magic. As far as we know, that’s just a one-step thing. 

            To get outside of vampires for a moment, Changelings–people with one human parent and one fey parent–have something similar. As they grow up they gain some of their parent’s powers, but they eventually must Choose whether to be fully human or fully fey. Depending on their choice, they either lose their powers to become a human, or lose their humanity to become a full fey.

             

            (*: Unless they truly Love the person they’re sleeping with, in which case their vampiric nature is destroyed.)

        2. Farla says:

          Why it is so important that there be a distinction? It seems like it’s just there to allow his girlfriend to be compromised but still mantain this black and white view that all vampires are just monsters who can be gruesomely murdered at will. It’s like the villain stealing away the love interest to be his “bride” but stopping short of raping her because then she’d actually be ruined.

          1. AlphabetSoup says:
            It provides a moral choice. Susan isn’t turned into an irredeamable monster by the random happenstance of bumping into another monster but instead she’s given a craving, and if she makes the choice to give in to the craving, *then* she becomes a monster. Similarly, we know that all RCVs–including Bianca–faced that same choice at one point and failed, draining someone to death just to satiate their cravings. 

            Susan isn’t just someone who got unlucky and was made into a monster. She was unlucky and was put in a position where she could easily become a monster, but she still has the option to fight it. That builds up her character in future installments when she’s making decisions about what to do next; it also allows her more agency. And it contrasts her with Bianca, who for all her efforts to appear good and reasonable now, we know faced exactly the same problem as Susan and, unlike Susan, gave in.

            1. illhousen says:

              It provides a moral choice. Susan isn’t turned into an irredeamable monster by the random happenstance of bumping into another monster but instead she’s given a craving, and if she makes the choice to give in to the craving, *then* she becomes a monster.

              Here you’re making an assumption that the vampires must be inherently irredeamable monsters instead of just people with the ability to be good or bad. That’s not necessary for them to work. It’s easy to create vampires who fully retain their human minds and set of moralities, except now they have a craving they must fulfill, and in doing so face plenty of moral choices over how to go about it.

              I mean, come on, Vampire: the Masquerade has survived for 20+ years milking the concept for all it’s worth, not to mention all other games, literature, movies, etc. exploring the same subject. “Vampire striving to retain their humanity” is an enduring trope.

              The only reason to make vampires inherently irredeamable is for Harry to kill them without guilt and not worry over corruption (similar to Always Chaotic Evil races in D&D), and, well, it’s a morally suspect motive.

              Reply
            2. AlphabetSoup says:
              Thomas already covers the role of ‘reluctant monster’, though. It makes sense for the Reds to fulfill different roles instead of just copying the Whites. So whereas with some of the Whites like Thomas we have a monster that still tries to be good, with the RCVs we have irredeamable monsters, and with the RCIs we have non-monsters who are trying to stay that way and also fight for the right (even when fighting increases their Thirst and thus their temptation to become a monster). Three types of creatures, three different roles in the story.

              I don’t see what would be gained by making the Reds so similiar to the Whites (‘monsters who can fight their monstrous nature if they really try’). Then it’s just the same thing twice, except one feeds off blood and the other feeds off sex.

              Reply
            3. illhousen says:

              I would note here that the White Court was introduced in this book, and mostly feels reduntant so far. They were given a bunch of themes that could easily be folded into Reds (and in some cases already present in them as Reds were introduced to us in the first book as seducers and tempters). There is no particular reason why they can’t fill a range of roles, given that various media dealing with vampires does exactly that just fine without Courts. Especially since Blacks are irredeamable monsters as well, so avoiding the overlap of roles was obviously not a priority.

              Basically, such setup just sacrifices potential complexity of a given villain and then introduces an additional world-building detail to restore it anyway.

              I would also note that Bianca was shown to be capable of basic empathy and obviously retained her human soul (given that Harry was able to soulgaze her in the first book), so the claim that they’re all irredeamable is dubious anyway. Each of them has killed, and their society tells them it is right, but there is no telling whether individual vampires can be redeemed or not.

              Finally, I would question the need for there to be an inherently evil species to begin with and whether it’s actually a role that needs to be filled by anyone at all.

              Reply
            4. Roarke says:

              Like illhousen said, Thomas is the redundant relucant monster here. Bianca was already trying not to be a monster; she ran a humane operation and didn’t kill the people she fed upon until Harry hurt her to the point where she couldn’t control herself.

              Bianca only attacked Harry in the first place because she thought he had killed her employee and a good customer and he didn’t convince her otherwise. You painting her as an irredeemable monster because she’s a full-Red ignores a lot of the details we know about her before this silly full/half-Red concept was introduced.

              Reply
            5. Farla says:

              It provides a moral choice.

              I don’t think one slip and you’re forever ruined makes for a particularly meaningful moral choice, especially when the thing itself is explicitly a matter of being out of your mind and doing it by accident.

              Fighting not to be a monster would be Susan drinking blood in a way that didn’t hurt people, aware it’d be easier and tastier to do things differently. Refusing to drink regardless isn’t about morals, it’s about traditional purity vs nontraditional sin. Humans don’t drink blood, only humans have value, therefore if Susan sins by acting nonhuman she needs to die.

              Reply
            6. Farla says:

              Thomas already covers the role of ‘reluctant monster’, though.

              Aside from everything else, he’s not reluctant about any of it. He’s just less obviously a monster because his natural behavior happens to be beneficial to some people.

              Reply
    2. Farla says:

      That’s incredibly stupid. If you need something and you ignore it, it doesn’t just politely stop bugging you so much, and that’s also a staple of all vampire fiction ever, that trying not to feed just makes it more dangerous. We even just saw a similar thing with Thomas being desperate to feed!

       However, RCIs are so Thirsty that if they try to drink a small amount they’ll just find it delicious and will usually be overwhelmed with the need to drink more. 

      So? Given it’s blood and not emotion, and also given their spit drugs you, why would anyone be feeding them by letting them latch on? Look, if Buffy has vampires chowing down on bags of blood in the very first season, it can’t be that secret a knowledge that sometimes blood can be found separate from a human body. Worse, the very scene confirms she’s just after blood itself because she’s distracted by dried blood, so she doesn’t even need quality blood. She could probably get herself a side-gig helping out at a funeral home.

      And it’s not like “she’s okay as long as she’s drinking blood but she can still lose control” would ruin anything. We know even an experienced vampire like Bianca can easily kill someone by accident and we know that Harry thinks Bianca’s victims are junkies. That’s already enough for her to think she and Harry can’t be in a relationship!

      1. AlphabetSoup says:
        The best metaphor here is probably alcoholism. If an alcoholic wants to get drunk, the best option is not to give the guy one drink and hope that takes the edge off. There’s a reason why they say that, once someone becomes an alcoholic, they can’t ever again be a casual social drinker–having alcohol at all makes it too likely for the person to relapse and go too far. The same is true of blood for RCIs. They shouldn’t be given blood at all (and it’s not like they need to drink blood to live anyways; only RCVs need that); instead the best option is for them to learn to control/ignore/minimize their cravings.

        I don’t remember if blood bags have ever come up in the Dresden-verse. Since the blood drinking is supposed to function as a moral choice/temptation, though, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a rule somewhere that says blood bags don’t work and only fresh blood taken from a human will satisfy an RCI.

        1. illhousen says:

          There’s a reason why they say that, once someone becomes an alcoholic, they can’t ever again be a casual social drinker–having alcohol at all makes it too likely for the person to relapse and go too far.

          There is an argument that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. members of the AA are taught that, and so when they relapse with one drink, they go on a binge because they believe they don’t have control over their problem and can’t stop. So they don’t try.

          Research in the matter is somewhat scarce due to AA being kinda paranoid about being questioned, but at best the claim is dubious.

        2. Farla says:

          I strongly disagree with a worldview where alcohol is tempty devil juice people sin by drinking because you won’t die if you don’t drink it. There are an enormous lot of things I won’t die without.

          The treatment for heroin withdrawal is absolutely to give the person heroin. It might be /best/ if the person wasn’t using it at all, but it’s not harmful if they have access to it while keeping an addict away from it leads to harm to themself and others. They certainly don’t stop being a person for indulging in heroin.

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