Dresden Files Storm Front Ch27

Final chapter! And no, I still don’t know what’s up with 27 chapters popping up all the time.

Morgan’s face was over mine, and I realized he’d been giving me CPR. Eww.

Harry really needs to have one of those wrist bracelets: Allergic to non-hot-chick CPR, may provoke fatal attack of no homo.

“I did what I could,” Morgan said, “but there were no hot chicks around and I had to respect his wishes. Let us take consolation in the fact he died as he lived: stupidly.”

“You saved me.”
He grimaced. “Yes.”
“But why?”
He looked at me again, then stooped to pick up his sword and slip it into the scabbard at his side.
“Because I saw what happened in there. I saw you risk your life to stop the Shadowman. Without breaking any of the Laws. You weren’t the killer.”
I coughed some more, and said, “That doesn’t mean you had to save me.”
He turned and blinked at me, as though puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I’d have jumped at the technicality iiiiiiiiiii mean I just thought uh no I mean uh hey so it’s raining huh? Definitely wouldn’t kill people if I had the chance!”

His hard expression never changed, but he said, “You weren’t guilty. You’re a part of the White Council.” His mouth twisted as though the words were fresh lemons.

Aside from the obvious terrible writing of “his expression never changed, here’s how it changed”, I choose to interpret this as being Morgan’s general disgust with wizards. Just because you try to enforce justice doesn’t mean you think your superiors are virtuous – if anything, he’s well positioned to be wholly aware of how bad some of them are and just unable to act. (In fact, knowing that wizards in good standing are pretty much immune to justice would go a long way to explaining why he’s so fanatical about stalking Harry – he’s sure the guy is bad news and wants to prove it before something else happens that gives Harry full membership and takes him out of justice’s reach.)

He knows Harry is a scumbag, but he is not, in fact, guilty of a capital crime, so he felt he couldn’t in good conscience let him die, but it’s still galling when he’s sure Harry is still generally a scumbag.

“I wasn’t the killer,” I said.
“No.”
“So,” I wheezed, “that would make me right. And then that would make you-”
Morgan scowled. “More than ready to carry out the Doom if you cross the line, Dresden. Don’t think this has gotten you off the hook, as far as I’m concerned.”
“So. If I remember correctly, as a Warden, it is your duty to report on my conduct to the Council, isn’t it?”
His scowl darkened.
“So you’re going to have to go to them on Monday and tell them all about what really happened. The whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
“Yes,” he snarled. “It is even possible they will lift the Doom.”
I started laughing, weakly.
“You haven’t won, Dresden. There are many on the Council who know full well that you have consorted with the powers of darkness. We, at least, will not relax our vigil on you. We will watch you day and night, we will prove that you are a danger who must be stopped.”
I kept laughing. I fell over on my side, I laughed so much.

And really, isn’t my interpretation only aided by the fact Harry’s response is HAHA CAN’T GET ME NOW? Or even the “I’m right” and not “I’m innocent”.

The whole thing becomes pretty depressing. Harry may not consort with black-color-coded magic, but he sure consorts with Bob the Rapist Skull and his only objection to rape potions is it’s cheating, which is pretty much the same objection men use for why they don’t want to just pay for sex (which leads us merrily back to the potion itself needing a fifty-dollar bill). Morgan’s general sense something is horribly wrong with this guy is totally true, it’s just really hard to pin down wizards so his particular accusation was inaccurate.

Morgan arched an eyebrow and simply stared at me. “Are you all right?”
“Give me about a gallon of Listerine,” I choked, “and I’ll be just fine.”
Morgan just stared at me, and I laughed harder. He rolled his eyes and growled something about the police being here any moment to provide medical care. Then he turned and stomped off into the woods, muttering to himself the whole way.

Morgan, you should’ve stomped on his ribs a few times before going. Other people are showing up with medical care, a little further maiming’s not a big deal.

I realize you’re all paladiny and yes, it’s definitely wrong to brutalize people just because they talked back to you and this is all generally good behavior living up to the standard all cops should. But it’s Harry, it’s okay to have an exception for him.

The police arrived in time to catch the Beckitts trying to leave and arrested them for, of all things, being naked. Later, they were implicated in the ThreeEye drug ring, and prosecuted on distribution charges. Just as well for them that they’re in the Michigan justice system. They wouldn’t have come out of a cell alive if they’d been in Chicago. It wouldn’t have been good for Johnny Marcone’s business.

I’m not sure if this is the universe being an idiot or Harry being an idiot, but yeah, apparently mobsters have a deep respect for state lines.

Meanwhile, mobster daddy burns his place down to get the insurance money and not have to directly pay for any of the shit Harry fucked up, and also simultaneously passed around the rumor he’d hired Harry to take out his competitors.

I didn’t try to deny it. It was a cheap enough price to not have to worry about anyone bombing my car.

Harry continues not to have any consistent ethics but self-aggrandizement. Getting paid money not to take a case he was planning on ignoring as much as possible? HOW DARE YOU GOOD SIR I AM NOT THAT SORT OF PRIVATE DICK. Supposedly hired by the mob to murder a rival gang? Yeah okay.

We’re informed that, of course, the council heard he was so super great and decided to lift the whole one-strike thing, so Harry now can go do a bunch of black magic, yay.

Seriously, am I the only one who remembers it only triggers if you do something horrible in the first place? Oh boy, baby murder’s back on the table!

Harry’s all haha stupid Morgan.

Murphy was in critical condition for nearly seventy-two hours, but she pulled through. They gave her a room right down the hall from me, in fact. I sent flowers to her hospital room, along with the surviving ring of her handcuffs. I told her, in a note, not to ask how the chain between the rings had been so neatly severed. I didn’t think she’d buy that someone cut it with a magic sword.

“I mean, she knows magic exists, and swords cutting metal isn’t even outlandish, and she’s repeatedly stated her biggest problem with me is the thing where I refuse to explain stuff for no reason, so obviously it was just the nicest thing to do for her poor frail woman brain to tell her not to bother her precious little head about it.”

The flowers must have helped. The first time she got out of bed was to totter down the hall to my room, throw them in my face, and leave without saying a word.

How completely unforeseen! It’s so hard being Harry doing all these nice gestures and having ball-busting hot bitches be angry at you for no reason at all.

She does drop the arrest thing and continue to hire him.

I guess that means we’re friends again, in a professional sense. But we don’t joke anymore. Some wounds don’t heal very quickly.

There really never was a “we” joking, Harry.

What we really see here is that Harry’s been thinking they were “friends” who “joked” because clearly saying something shitty and having the other person tell you to stop is both people having a great time. The only thing that finally convinces him otherwise is her amping up her “no, I fucking hate you” all the way to the point of trying to get him arrested for murder, and he still treats her with unnecessary familiarity even while she’s rummaging through his office looking for evidence against him.

Women are put in the position when any civil objection is simply ignored but the level of vitriol needed for the guy to even register they’re speaking is just gets them accused of being evil over-sensitive bitches.

It’s interesting that you see characters in Japanese stuff handle this very differently. In both Battle Royale and Fate/Stay Night, we have girls very quickly jumping to nuclear-option levels of dialogue in response to creeps and being, as far as I can tell, supported in this choice. The problem seems to be identical across the two cultures, but in one you see sympathy and understanding for the female characters, and in the other you get Harry’s oblivious pity party.

The police found the remains of the huge ThreeEye stash in what was left of the lake house

What stash? You told us you were mostly seeing the ingredients. And three-eye(tm) can’t possibly register as being made of those ingredients or it’d be fatal. I guess he did say he figured the potion was set to remain inert, so maybe they arrested dealers and when they tested the drug got that list of ingredients, but any toxicology lab would immediately say the stuff couldn’t possibly be what the three-eye(tm) users get.

Hm. That raises another question – what happens if you analyse the body of someone who died after drinking a potion? I guess the simplest answer is that muggle science sees all the regular ingredients that were originally put in the potion because those are there the whole time and there’s just an additional magical effect changing what they do to the human body, although Harry’s description suggests potions are physically changed in some way.

Monica Sells and her children vanished into Witness Protection. I hope they’ve got a better life now than they had before. I suppose it couldn’t be much worse.

You can really tell how invested he was in helping others.

Bob eventually came home again, more or less within the twenty-four-hour time limit, I suppose. I turned a deaf ear to rumors of a particularly wild party at the University of Chicago which lasted from Saturday night to Sunday night, and Bob wisely never mentioned it.

I honestly do wonder what exactly the author’s picturing here. Like, obviously having Bob literally possess a single person and rape his way through college students the usual way wasn’t acceptable. Raping college students is very very wrong and everyone knows that.

No, Bob’s just going to go perve on hot college girls have lots of totally consensual sex at a party!

A party that takes place over an odd time interval for college students, unless classes have universally shifted over to a Tuesday through Saturday schedule. One starts when he’s released and ends the instant he comes back.

A party that is “particularly wild” to the point even Harry is hearing people talking about it, as if no one normally acts like this.

Just don’t think about what those people are saying and how hushed and frightened their tones are.

Haha, wild college parties with slutty college kids! That’s all they’re saying! Nothing about the sobbing and the deaths. None of that happened! Humans are totally built and willing to have sex for twenty-four hours straight. Or twenty-five. Or twenty-six. Definitely somewhere near twenty-four hours, more or less, and not a moment longer so it’s all good.

Look, the important thing is that Harry’s no longer under surveillance and so doesn’t need to worry about any consequences for any wrongdoing which didn’t happen.

I think what’s most astounding here is the thoughtlessness. There was absolutely nothing stopping the author from instead writing, “I turned a deaf ear to Bob’s endless talk about the day-long party he’d watched.” Bob doesn’t have to be a rapist for the council to dislike the idea of him running loose, he doesn’t even have to cause any actual problems every time he’s out, he just needs to have the capability to do things they don’t like even if in practice he’s more interested in spying on naked girls. It even makes sense that Harry would personally hate letting him out on the basis he doesn’t want to listen to exactly who did what.

But that’s not how it works here. If she doesn’t say no, it’s a yes, and that still counts if you magically prevent her from saying no. If Bob wants to grab a bunch of eighteen year old girls and force them to reenact his favorite pornos, hey, no one managed to say no and they’re college girls, they wanted it. I’m sure he only picked girls who were already going to a party, ie, easy chicks, and we all know if a girl isn’t a virgin, it’s not really rape. She probably only refused because she’s a gold digger who wanted more money first. Bob didn’t make them do anything they weren’t willing to do, because girls at a college party are willing to do anything.

the cast that held my hips immobilized until the docs could be sure that there wasn’t too much fracturing (the X-ray machine kept fouling whenever they tried to use it on me, for some reason)

Also it’s okay that he broke this repeatedly, costing the hospital lots of money (an apparently non-profit hospital doing charity jobs given Harry, who there is no fucking way has insurance, is there) and possibly killing other people by screwing up one of the delicate components without the doctors realizing.

The best case scenario here is Harry passed out for long enough for them to try to take multiple x-rays and finally give up and put him in a cast, and even then, an actually considerate person would have one of those wallet cards explaining they were of a religion that banned x-rays and any other fancy diagnostic equipment. And it’s really unlikely that’s the scenario because he sure seemed awake when Morgan left in disgust, so Harry appears to have thought it was just funny to keep agreeing to x-rays and watching the machine blow out, as well as whatever other foulups happened as a result of him being transported. Hope they didn’t go by anyone with a pacemaker.

Speaking of no consequences, Rodriguez somehow is interested in a second date, possibly because she either can’t remember much of the event post-potion or she’s told herself the love potion was something he had for some other, legitimate reason. In other circumstances I might consider she’s deluding herself that the fact he didn’t rape her then proves he’s not a bad person, but I think she’s smart enough to understand he was just trying to stay in the circle.

That time, we were not interrupted by a demon. And I didn’t need any of Bob’s love potions or advice, thank you very much.

Regardless of her reasoning, Harry shows she has horribly misjudged him.

We’re then informed of the very important information that Mac’s fancy car wasn’t wrecked and has been returned, and also Harry’s car is fixed.

I made sure to send pizza out to Toot-toot and his faerie buddies every night for a week, and once a week ever since.

Surprisingly, I think Harry’s dealings with fairies are the closest he gets to having a coherent moral compass. He tricks the fairy into the circle, but he baits it lavishly and only uses the power of the name to get the guy to come close enough to see it. What he asks for from the fairy doesn’t seem to be anything fairies aren’t already doing for their own amusement, and the refusal seems more an issue of fairies feeling it makes them look like idiots to get caught in the first place. Expand it a little to explain why it’s not an option to just directly negotiate with them and the entire thing would look downright kind.

I’m pretty sure the kid from Pizza ‘Spress thought I was a loony, having him drop off pizza by the roadside. Heck with him.

I’m pretty sure the kid from Pizza ‘Spress thought you were having him drop pizza off to some fugitive or for a Satanic meeting. “Put this down here where there’s no visible human to receive it” is not the same thing as “Put this down here where you are certain there are no humans at all.” Anyway, I just hope he’s the sort of guy who thinks that’s cool and Harry isn’t accidentally terrifying some delivery boy.

And me? What did I get out of it? I’m not really sure.

Jesus christ.

I escaped from something that had been following me for a long time. I’m just not sure what. I’m not sure who was more certain that I was a walking Antichrist waiting to happen-the conservative branch of the White Council, the men like Morgan, or me. For them, at least, the question has been partly laid to rest. For myself, though, I’m not so sure. The power is there. The temptation is there.

Right but also more concretely you got the kill order lifted, everyone thinks you’re a badass, and Murphy gave you lots of money for helping the investigation.

That’s just the way it’s going to be.
I can live with that.

Rest of the world might not, though.

See, Harry has spent the book bitching about how Morgan unfairly thinks he’s going to go evil. He now tells us that yes, he totally may go evil. But he doesn’t say that um, yeah, maybe Morgan should continue to have authority to murder me if he catches me actually doing black magic, provided we avoid a repeat of him getting me killed for being attacked by dark magic.

But I guess you can say that this is why there’s a good chance Harry may go evil – that currently he’s chosen positive magic, but he doesn’t want anyone else stopping him if he changes his mind. He’s only worried about the harm the evil might do to himself, not the bystanders, so having a failsafe to stop him wouldn’t even cross his mind – the part where the rest of the wizards would try to kill him and could possibly manage it may even be one of the things he views as negative about going over to evil magic.

The world is getting weirder. Darker every single day. Things are spinning around faster and faster,and threatening to go completely awry. Falcons and falconers. The center cannot hold.

This seems out of nowhere but actually fits perfectly with the opening crazy ninety year old man rant about how they knew how to make stuff in the forties, by gum! Kids today with their pop and their x-rays and their car radios!

I don’t want to live in Victor’s jungle, even if it did eventually devour him.

The writing of this final chapter is incredibly, incredibly crappy. It’s like the author’s all, well you must have paid for the book to have gotten this far, I can pretty much just shit on the paper now and you’ll still have given me money!

I don’t want to live in a world where the strong rule and the weak cower. I’d rather make a place where things are a little quieter.

Which is the one aspect of Harry that isn’t all ALPHA MALE. It’s just pure MRA. Harry wants to be the dominant person in every interaction, wants to have a nice harem of hot chicks, but he has no interest in competing with other men for it. Part of it may be that competing comes with the possibility of losing, while most of it appears to be sheer laziness.

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk.
When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call.
I’m in the book.

I do like the ending. Another story might’ve ended with “I can help you” in there somewhere, but Harry doesn’t promise that. Just that if you’re grasping at straws, think of him! He will definitely answer your call, in that he will pick up the phone to tell you he will provide services for monies, and he will probably then provide some sort of service in return for those monies. Possibly the service will even help, but hey, he never promised it would.

But you’re desperate, and he’s an option you’ll find yourself resorting to.

68 Comments

  1. illhousen says:
    In this chapter we’ve learned the most important thing: everything went well for Harry.

    The rest, you have to agree, is a secondary concern.

    1. Roarke says:
      Addendum: Everything went well for Harry, but Harry is uncertain as to whether he is totally satisfied. Therefore, the ending qualifies as bittersweet.
  2. SoxyOutfoxing says:
    UGH yes Yeats wrote a cool poem could no one ever quote it again ever please.

    It’s like this hack just thought ‘oh shit I’ve wrapped everything up super neat but I want the ending to be vaguely portentous to make it clear I’m gonna write a whole heap of sequels, so I know, I’ll just quote that lone portentous poem I know regardless of the fact that everyone else also knows it and it has been quoted to death and back like some sort of poem zombie, and then I’ll put on my hack hat and do the ultimate dance of hackery because I gave no fucks when I began writing this book and now that I’ve nearly finished writing it I’m giving negative ones.’

    Jeez, Butcher, why didn’t you quote The Road Not Taken too and show that you know all two of the poems everyone knows.

    I hope everyone else finds my anger about this hilarious and amusing because it is ridiculous how much I care. But if you’re ever writing something and are suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to let another writer speak for you, please look for a poem that isn’t one of the five most famous, maybe. I don’t want to tell you how to live your life or anything.

    This is such a crappy ending I want to hunt down my copy so I can throw it at the wall.

    1. illhousen says:
      Could be worse. Could be Nietzsche. Sometimes it feels that every homebrew TRPG ever feels the need to quote “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” in the chapter about leveling up.
      1. SoxyOutfoxing says:
        Eh, that’s gotten so divorced from it’s original context it’s just a cliche, unless they’re sticking “–Nietzsche” after it, in which case it’s the exact same type of pseudo-intellectual self-congratulatory back-patting that angers my blood.

        My angry angry blood.

        1. illhousen says:
          “unless they’re sticking “–Nietzsche” after it”

          They do, actually.

          1. SoxyOutfoxing says:
            Yeah, in that case they too are pretentious hacks, and they too will be destroyed when I finally ascend into a swirling vortex of rage and despair.
            1. EdH says:
              So Khorne and Nurgle as one within the Warp?
              Reply
      2. SpoonyViking says:
        …That’s a shockingly literal interpretation of Nietzsche’s words. I’m torn between shaking my head in mock-pity and laughing at the horrible (and yet, delicious) wordplay.
        1. EnviTheFool says:
          Well, you know what they say:
          “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
          –Nietzsche
    2. sliz225 says:
      Dresden: “I don’t know how the world is going to get stranger, but I hold with those who favor fire.”
      1. illhousen says:
        Technically, ice and fire both fall under the same element as fire magic is actually heat manipulation which pays lip service to the conservation of energy (so to create a fireball you need to cool an area around).

        Or it will be in future books.

        Don’t you see how symbolic and deep it is?! Harry holds in his hands both Fire and Ice!

        1. Farla says:
          Even more symbolically, he then proceeds to never fucking use ice.
          1. K says:
            He will. Along with a lot of very VIVID rape fantasies. Mostly just in Cold Days, so far. (He uses ice magic I think ONCE before that in Turn Coat, and then again in Changes.) I just thought I should warn you.
    3. Farla says:
      Also, the center fucking held.

      Let’s consider the absolute worst case scenario.

      Harry is heartsploded before the trial, but fucking up a heartsplosion can heartsplode you (zero evidence of this or any interesting magical backlash, so that’s already a huge stretch) so Morgan doesn’t have absolute proof the heartsploder was someone else and continues assuming Harry did it. Oh no, Sells is free to do anything he wants!

      Next storm, another person is heartsploded. Morgan now knows there’s another heartsploder and begins to search the area. Let’s assume colossal incompetence on Morgan’s part and he not only fails to find Sells but tips the guy off so Sells sends an attacker after him.

      At this point, Morgan informs the rest of the council and he is hunted down by every wizard in the area.

      Oh, but maybe Sells somehow successfully murders Morgan, despite the fact he can only heartsplode with hairs and can’t do subtle (and Harry even admits it should be easy to neutralize the hairs if you can be bothered to try). Sells summons three demons and also Morgan happened to get hit by a car right before or something. Morgan dies without telling anyone.

      At which point the rest of the council is still informed there’s a rogue wizard and he is hunted down by everyone in the area.

      There is no way Sells survives this or even does significant damage. The only reason he doesn’t have the council breathing down his neck for the week this book takes place in is that Harry’s there to take the blame. As soon as Harry dies (which, to hammer in how inevitable this is, happens regardless – Sells kills him that night or the council kills him at dawn), the council will know all further magic is the work of someone new and start looking.

      From the societal point of view, everything worked absolutely fine. Sells never had access to any sort of magical nuke. Nothing was spinning out of control. It was one crazy guy killing a couple people before the powers that be inevitably noticed and wiped him off the face of the planet as they always do.

      Does it suck? Yeah, but for Harry, not all of society flying apart levels of suck.

      1. SpoonyViking says:
        Does Butcher ever provide any sort of explanation as to why the Council apparently exists only to sit on its ass other than “they’re in charge, people in charge never do anything to help the little people, man”?
        1. illhousen says:
          Well, in theory that’s because they are spread thin and can’t watch everything. Thins slip through the cracks.

          But they can afford Morgan watching over Harry 24/7, so…

      2. SoxyOutfoxing says:
        Eh, with quotes from The Second Coming I barely even register complete irrelevance, which is probably a defense mechanism. I just get annoyed that they’re quoting it at all. But yeah, this would probably be more forgivable if there was the slightest hint during any of this that the world was in danger.

        Couldn’t Butcher have had a raven appear at Harry’s window sill and say “A storm is coming; you are needed” or some other form of blatant destiny cliche that would have made it clear this book was going to have fourteen sequels?

  3. actonthat says:
    I’ve been thinking about his bizarre refusal to tell Murphy what’s going on, and I think it may be another misuse of noir conventions.

    The typical noir detective is working outside the police because the police are either corrupt or impotent. If you tell them what you’re on to before you have all the answers, the crooked cops may brush things under the rug, so you have to do everything yourself right up until there’s no conceivable way they could get out of prosecuting, or you have to take justice into your own hands.

    Of course, here the cops aren’t bad or stupid, Harry’s just whiny, and thre result is him just not telling them anything for no reason because he’s a terrible person.

    1. Roarke says:
      The ending also misuses noir conventions by trying to remain ambiguous or ambivalent in how happy the ending is.
      edit: Took me an hour to realize “bittersweet ending” was the term I was looking for. Come on, brain. Keep up.

      Like, this ending is unambiguously happy, but Harry doesn’t treat it that way. He got a hot date, money, and peace of mind. But he’s all uncertain that he got anything out of it, because in general, a noir protagonist is supposed to end the story questioning whether he’s any better off. Often, the ending is sad solely because all that time, effort, and suffering didn’t lead to any personal gain on the part of the (sympathetic) protagonist.

      In usual noir, it’s because the ending really is bittersweet. In this case, it’s because Butcher really sucks.

      1. Farla says:
        It might be that Butcher legitimately feels this is a bittersweet ending. Harry even says that Mac gets his fancy car back and Harry gets his crappy car back, and how that doesn’t seem exactly fair despite it being utterly fair. Harry ends the book well-off, but not literally showered in money and sex the way he clearly deserves, so, bittersweet.
        1. Roarke says:
          Yeah. I wonder if Butcher wasn’t actually taking his cue from some other genre rather than noir for the ending. I mean, in several other fantasy genres, the protagonist ends up far higher in the social ladder than he started. The young warrior becomes a lord through strength of arms, etc. Butcher might think that, because Dresden is driving the same car, and living in the same apartment, still single, his badass heroism went unrewarded.

          By the way, as illhousen mentioned I needed to do, I give you my permission to post the fanfic I made for this chapter, and all the previous ones. Though I’m almost certain I already did.

  4. GeniusLemur says:
    “I don’t want to live in a world where the strong rule and the weak cower. I’d rather make a place where things are a little quieter.”
    Not better, quieter. That’s an… interesting tack to take. Apparently Harry is okay with oppression if he doesn’t hear about it. It’s sort of like someone in the KKK wishing the “darkies” would oppress themselves and spare him the trouble. Sadly, oppression that’s okay because Harry doesn’t notice it fits right in with all the Mary-Suing, alpha-maling, MRA bullshit that this book has been filled with.
    1. Farla says:
      Wrong metaphor, I think. It’s more like someone saying they don’t support the KKK or anything, buuuuuuut couldn’t black people stop whining so much? Can’t both groups just both shut up? No they are not being racist, they’re equalist! Arg now you’re being whiny too what is your problem they just said they don’t support the KKK what more do you want???
  5. Socordya says:
    Final chapter! And no, I still don’t know what’s up with 27 chapters popping up all the time.

    I blame the Illuminati

    1. illhousen says:
      I blame Jim Morrison. And Club 27 in general, but especially Morrison.
      1. Socordya says:
        I blame the illuminati for that, too.
  6. Roarke says:
    Morgan’s face was over mine, and I realized he’d been giving me CPR. He was drawing away slowly, certain now that I was awake. His graying hair clung to his scalp; his ponytail, thickened by rain, swayed loosely between us.

    As those grey eyes grew slowly more distant, I felt an urge to reach out and stop him. The CPR couldn’t be over. I was awake, alive. I needed it now more than ever. But my arms felt like they were wrapped in thick sheets of lead, my shoulders stuck to the ground by railroad spikes. I could barely make my fingers twitch.

    I coughed weakly, and sputtered “You saved me.”

    Morgan paused, kneeling over me. He watched me, eyes and expression somber. “Yes.”

    I knew he would. Even after the chair at Mac’s, and the demon that interrupted our night together, I knew Morgan wouldn’t leave me to die. Still, I felt my mouth form a question. “But why?”

    Our gaze met for the briefest of moments before Morgan turned away. He twisted his body to reach something behind him, and I blankly watched his soaked white shirt sticking to his skin, following the motion of his hard, disciplined warrior’s body.

    At any other time, I would have enjoyed it deeply, but pain and fatigue threatened to drop me back in the darkness if I got too agitated.

    Morgan stood, with his scabbard in one hand and three-and-a-half feet of wet, naked steel in the other. Light and shadow danced on the blade, reflecting the burning sanctuary of the late Victor Sells. He muttered a spell that wiped the blade dry and sheathed it. He took a deep breath, and only then did he turn back to me.

    “Because I saw what happened in there. You weren’t the killer.”

    He was lying. I’d already proved to him that I wasn’t the killer. Deep down, he knew. So I pressed. “That doesn’t mean you had to save me.”

    He blinked, feigning puzzlement with more skill than I’d have expected of a hard, forthright old man. “What do you mean?”

    “I mean that saving me had nothing to do with someone else being the killer. You could have let me die.” I could see it in his eyes as I said it. He knew. He’d never admit it aloud, and might never admit it to himself, but I knew.

    Morgan loved me. That’s all the reason you need to save someone. I wasn’t going to ask him to say it. I couldn’t disrespect his right to say it in his own time. But I would wait however long it took to hear the words. Wizards live a long, long time.

    Morgan buckled the scabbard back to his belt and drew his coat over it, buying himself time to choose his words, like always. If I’d had the breath, I might have laughed. He straightened and focused his gaze on a point just over my eyes. “You weren’t guilty. You’re a part of the White Council. I had an obligation to preserve your life. It was my duty.”

    Looks like I had more breath than I thought. Laughter bubbled out of me, mixing with the crackling and groaning of the burning house, the patter of rain, and the rumble of thunder to make the strangest music. Morgan’s expression turned grim for an instant, and dissolved into… sadness?

    “I will report your conduct to the Council on Monday. They will lift the Doom of Damocles from you.”

    Lift the… Doom? Wait, no. My battered brain kicked into gear, sprinting for the conclusion at the finish line, with rampant anguish hot on its tail. Lift the Doom. No continuous scrutiny. No immediate execution. No Morgan.

    I looked up at the figure standing over me, as if seeing him for the first time. He carried himself like he might have to draw the sword and do battle at any given moment. In the years before, that had frightened me, kept me awake at night, knowing the only reason he would draw the sword would be to kill me. But now, I saw, he looked like a protector. Stern and strong as a castle wall.

    Every time I turned my back to the light, Morgan was there. Losing him would be like losing my shadow.

    “No,” I croaked. I should have just killed Victor Sells and claimed self-defense, like I did my mentor. Better to have died on Morgan’s blade than this. “I’m still… a danger… you don’t understand, Morgan.” I coughed. When I tried forcing my tired body to move, to sit up, to reach him, my hip sent lightning up my spine and forced me back down. “The house… I felt it. The temptation is always there.”

    Morgan looked down at me with the saddest smile I have ever seen. “I don’t believe that of you anymore, Dresden.” He stepped back.

    “It’s true!” I turned my head, trying desperately to catch him in a soulgaze, to convince him in any way I could that I needed him at my back. But Morgan was already looking away, his gray eyes as unreachable as clouds hanging over a distant mountaintop.

    “Help will be arriving soon.” Morgan began to walk away. “Goodbye, Dresden.”

    I could hear sirens approaching from the distance to add a crescendo to the night’s music. But for me, the show was already over.

    1. Falconix says:
      Yes, thank you. That was the bittersweet ending this book needed. And it makes Harry sympathetic to boot.
      1. Roarke says:
        I just want to say that it was not my intention to make Harry sympathetic. And I am glad you like it.
    2. actonthat says:
      The fanfic has been the best part of this Let’s Read, with apologies to Farla, who has suffered greatly for our benefit.
      1. Roarke says:
        I was under the impression that we were writing gay jokes and fic so that Farla wouldn’t go insane before it was over. And also to show vast appreciation, of course.
        1. illhousen says:
          Speaking of, did you give Farla permission to use your snips for her collection? If not, you should, the question was in one of the recent DF posts.

          Then those snips will be preserved on AO3 to stare judgmentally at any poor soul believing this book to be good and trying to get their fix.

          1. Roarke says:
            I did, yeah. This is just one more for the road.
        2. sliz225 says:
          I don’t even remember how we started with the fanfiction. I’m glad it happened though–it’s been freaking hilarious. I can’t wait to see the AO3 post.
          1. illhousen says:
            Falconix put a prompt for Harry as Medea’s Master in either DF or FSN post (I think it was the one with ridiculous number of comments, but I am not sure).

            Roarke and I wrote it.

            The joke with applying descriptions of female characters to male ones was started by me in one of the DF posts about Bianca.

            Gay jokes were actively encouraged by Farla from the beginning.

            Afterwards more people joined the fun.

    3. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
      Now THAT was characterization and development.

      That Dresden, I actually cared about and wanted to see how the relationship played out.

      1. Roarke says:
        I guess after 27 chapters of this everyone would be starved for a sympathetic protagonist.
  7. GeniusLemur says:
    The stuff with Morgan is just weird (and Mary-Suish, and stupid)
    Morgan saves his life, which he’s not obliged to do. In a book that was any damn good, Harry would gain respect for Morgan, or realize Morgan’s not an enemy, but someone doing his job. And Morgan might reciprocate, realizing that’s Harry’s not the enemy. It could be a major sea change for both characters.
    Instead, Harry’s all “Ha! Ha! I WIN! Neener! Neener! Neeeeeeener! Here, let me rub it in your face some more!”
    1. Roarke says:
      It will be many more books before Butcher treats the character of Morgan with anything approaching respect. Though he is at least absent for most of them.
      1. illhousen says:
        Where are you in the series, anyway?

        Did you get to Changes already? While it is an… interesting book that Farla should definitely read totally not because I enjoy her rage, I genuinely liked the ending. The last few lines.

        1. Gust says:
          Do you just like Changes because of the ending?
          1. illhousen says:
            Yep. Shame it wasn’t the end of the series.
            1. Gust says:
              We can pretend the series ended there.
              Reply
        2. Roarke says:
          I have read them all, side stories excepted.
    2. Farla says:
      But see, Morgan saved his life. That could suggest weakness on Harry’s part, and if Harry expresses gratitude, that’d show Morgan actually helped him out.

      Instead, Harry makes it clear that he was owed that CPR by virtue of being his perfect and alpha self, meaning it’s no slight on his perfection.

  8. guestest ever says:
    Well that was a shit book which managed to anger me even second handed and I hope horrible things happen to its author.

    “But you’re desperate, and he’s an option you’ll find yourself resorting to.”
    I’m pretty sure you’re not starved enough of subjects on this blog to continue with this loser’s books. And while I kinda wonder if the later “better” books are actually better or if it’s just dumbass fanbase being dumbasses, I can live with not knowing it. But if, for some unfathomable reason, you want to continue blogging this, you should pick whatever book the fans think is the best.

    1. GeniusLemur says:
      If the later books don’t have someone completely unlike Harry as the protagonist, I’m not interested.
    2. Roarke says:
      The sad part is that the books start to have a really diverse and interesting cast of side characters, but Harry only gets marginally better, and in fact he becomes even more and more jarring as the other characters get better.

      There’s one really badass part in the most recent book, like a side character does something genuinely awesome even by non-Butcher standards, and then Harry jumps in with something like “I say ‘Hah-hah!’ like the bully on Simpsons” right after, it’s so immature that it just kills it.

      The technical aspects of the writing get a little better, but there are some bad habits that Butcher holds sacred. Like his awful sense of pop culture-driven humor.

      1. GeniusLemur says:
        Sad, but predictable.
    3. Farla says:
      Well, people won’t stop voting for it…

      I’m sort of interested in doing the first couple, just to get past the “okay the opening was sexist but then it’s not misogynist at all” and get to say that no, it’s still fucking sexist and you guys are just using the first book excuse to deflect criticism!

      1. Roarke says:
        Well, I know from having read all of the books that the second book is filled with even more male gaze, but to balance the scales a bit Murphy gets more badass. Then I think in the third book Murphy is a damsel again and a pregnant woman needs saving, and half the pregnant woman’s characterization is hating Harry for dragging her badass husband into danger.
      2. SoxyOutfoxing says:
        I just read a short story about Harry that was published in 2013. There are three male main characters not including Harry. There is one female main character. The entire plot is a conflict over her sex life, which she cannot properly resolve by herself because Harry withholds the information she needs because he thinks it will make her sad or something.

        She’s also introduced through the lense of “gawrsh, I sure do really wanna fuck her” (a response Harry blames on his direct quote: ‘hindbrain,’) for absolutely no reason that I can tell. His wanting to fuck her goes nowhere, and doesn’t affect the plot or his motivations in any way. It’s just a paragraph of tedious heterosexuality because the ladies be fuckable, you know.

        There’s also yet another creepy beyond all get out magically-induced orgy with college students, and Harry yet again fails to point out this is mass rape, and the people in the aftermath are described as direct quote: ’embarrassed’ as opposed to traumatised. How often does Butcher use this oddly specific trope, or do I not want to know? Ewh. And why the hell does he think that people can be hit with some magic that makes them grab the nearest person and start fucking without any residual trauma at all? If that happened to me I would be terrified forever, and I don’t think that’s just because of my asexuality. Plus there’s the almost guarantee that it was unprotected sex; does Butcher know that tends to have consequences? Especially since he says they were doing paraphrased quote: ‘every act of lust imaginable’ without mentioning lube. If Harry was actually a hero he’d be seeing those kids get medical care and counselling.

        There’s also a gaping plot hole where everyone somehow knows the woman character has had sex and the effect it had on her boyfriend even though neither of them actually tell anyone. She says she met her boyfriend in a closet at a party, and Harry decides that means she definitely spent all night fucking him in said closet, and her father also thinks this too, and I have no idea why because she doesn’t say that and I don’t see how it’s a logical conclusion to make. I’d get it if Harry chalked it up as a possibility, or asked her about it, but no, he just immediately concludes they had sex even though there are good reasons to believe they didn’t. It does turn out to be true, so I guess it’s author-granted omniscience striking again.

        Oh, and Harry’s still a giant Sue who gets people telling him how special he is at least once every other conversation. And he makes laboured pop culture references, the majority of which were so dated/American that I’d never heard of them and only knew they were references because he pointed it out to the vampire he was making them to, and blamed him not getting it on being a vampire. So I’m a vampire now, which is pretty cool. (Okay, I have heard of Charles in Charge, it’s like some kind of sitcom or something?)

        I think the technical aspects of the plot were better, apart from the whole “men psychically know lady’s sex life” thing, and the language usage seemed less clunky. Harry wasn’t so begrudging about being heroic, he’d reached normal reluctant hero levels as opposed to reacting like a lazy asshole. But if anyone claimed this story wasn’t misogynistic I would laugh and laugh and laugh. I think I can safely promise that if you continue on looking for failure, you will find it.

        1. guestest ever says:
          Democracy is overrated anyway, you don’t need those votes telling you what to do. It’s not possible there’s anything to really gain from reading more of Butcher if that’s how far this douchenozzle got in more than a decade of “professional writery”. And the less hits he gets on google the better.
        2. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
          Embrace being a vampire. As a vampire, at least you have a chance of ripping Dresden’s face off.

          These college orgies are straight out of “naughty college girl” porn, which was more common when fewer young women went to college.

          Even if the entire gathering was already sexually active, single-ish, and open to casual sex, people afterward would feel at least deeply uneasy because it all happened without their intending it, and possibly with partners that they’re sure they’re not attracted to. Strike out any one quality on that list, and you’re headed down the path to “traumatized.” ETA: I’m not sure “traumatized” wouldn’t be the majority reaction, regardless…

          1. SoxyOutfoxing says:
            Yeah, I’m sure even the most up for an orgy people possible would freak out at one suddenly breaking out with absolutely no prior discussion. Ugh, and Harry says “Not that it takes much to make college kids interested in sex, but in this instance, they had literally gone wild,” which, no, Harry, some people at college cannot be made interested in sex by anything short of this creepy sex magic, quit acting like this is all okay because if someone’s at college they clearly want to bone everyone every way all day.

            And please please stop calling the people you are watching fuck ‘kids.’ He does this a bit later on with out using ‘college’ as in ‘clusters of kids’ and it’s very creepy to me.

          2. Farla says:
            It’s a common guy thing, especially older ones, to assume instant orgies you have no control over = yay.

            Not as in they actually would be okay with it, I suspect, but that they’re so culturally insulated from the idea of being forced into sex that they can’t view it as anything but a fun fantasy. The author seems like the sort of guy who’d also pop up in the comments on articles about a female teacher raping a student with the usual “why’s the kid complaining? I wish my teacher had…”

            Erections = consent is really common too, so if Bob can make people aroused, then everyone was totally okay with what happened and not traumatized at all.

            Our culture is horrible.

        3. K says:
          The only Dresden story I can find that was published in 2013 was “Ghoul Goblin” (and yes, that is, sadly, ACTUALLY the name of it), and that ones a comic. Is that the one you were talking about?
          1. SpoonyViking says:
            Oh, “Ghoul Goblin”. It’s on our to-do list, we’re just waiting for Spoony, that lazy bum SOMEONE to actually do it. :-P
            1. K says:
              Are you guys gonna do all the comics, or just that one? I mean, skipping the Storm Front and Cool Moon one’s I can understand, since we basically already went over those, but what about the other ones? Welcome to the Jungle (set before Storm Front), War Cry, Downtown, and I think Butcher’s planning two others, as far as I know. Of Farla’s just keeping it to short stories, I recommend Backup be next on the chopping block, because…just, Thomas himself is horrible, and I’ll get to that when we get to that, but my god being inside his head is so much worse. Anyway, thank you guys for doing this
              Reply
              1. K says:
                *Fool Moon. Sorry.
              2. SpoonyViking says:
                I’m skipping the comics that are straight-up adaptations of the novels (although I might point out any differences that are relevant enough), but I’ll be doing all the others. My goal will be to treat the comics as an entirely different series from the books, see if they actually work.
              3. K says:
                Hmmm, okay, that makes sense. Thank you :)
              4. K says:
                But which story is Soxy here referencing?
              5. SpoonyViking says:
                I don’t know. :-)
      3. K says:
        “and get to say that no, it’s still fucking sexist and you guys are just using the first book excuse to deflect criticism!” They do that with every book, though. Like, even the newest ones. In the year 2015. No, I am not kidding. And they’re probably just going to KEEP doing it. Please review them all, Farla? It needs to be done. For great justice.
  9. K says:
    TRIGGER WARNING FOR RAPE, INCEST, ABUSE, AND DRUGGING

    Bigfoot on Campus. That’s the one your talking about. I’m not sure if you got the date right, but it’s part of a trilogy: B is for Bigfoot, I Was a Teenaged Bigfoot, and Bigfoot on Campus. And yeah, it’s bad. It deals with the White Court/House Raith, which are basically addictive Rape Potions on legs. And also:

    “There’s also a gaping plot hole where everyone somehow knows the woman character has had sex and the effect it had on her boyfriend even though neither of them actually tell anyone.”

    Dresden figures it out because he sees her eyes change color. The worst part (well, one of the worst parts) is that the reason one of the main characters (Connie’s-the vampire in question-dad) knows that she slept with her boyfriend? Is because he drugged the punch so she’d get drunk, rape someone to death (as Raiths do), and turn into a full White Court vampire.

    (Apparently just fucking someone didn’t do that-I guess it just half-turned her, and apparently you have to kill someone, but it did kinda wake her Hunger up, so now she can drain a person’s life force and sort of Mind Rape them into doing what she wants.)

    This is also after Blood Rites, where we learn that the White Court-not just House Raith, the ENTIRE White Court-way of dealing with family? Is pitting their Hungers against one another and seeing who wins. And in Connie’s case? Her dad’s going to rape her into submission, once her Hunger wakes up. And Dresden knows this. And it’s still not enough for him to respect her bodily autonomy and help her and try to protect her. He doesn’t even mention it, in fact, I assume because this is a short story and he didn’t want to write something that….complicated/that would have that big of a plot. And as the Rape Potion in Storm Front shows, mind-altering rape, to just one person or many, is nothing but “funny shenanigans” to him.

    Yeah. If you guys are ever looking for something relatively simple to review without slogging through the entire series? Go for the short stories. They’re relatively quick with little to no real bearing on the main plot, save for a few brief mentions, but that’s just for a few of the short stories.

    Also, apparently her falling in love with (and then having sex with, after she fell in love with him) the guy she fucked in a closet wasn’t enough to kill her Hunger. Nope! Apparently if you have casual sex with someone your not in ~*Twu Wuv*~ with EVEN ONCE, your forever stuck with a monster living in your head as a constant threat to your soul/humanity.

    As I said, I’m really glad you guys are reviewing this series.

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