Characters: The Dresden Files The Denarians
Characters from The Dresden Files
, the Denarians.WARNING!
Due to the books relying heavily on mystery and surprise, the pages would be virtually unreadable with excessive spoiler tags. Therefore, all spoilers except for the most recent novel (Skin Game
) are UNMARKED
. Tread carefully.
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The Order of the Blackened Denarius is an ancient order of humans who have taken up one of thirty silver coins, believed to be the ones paid to Judas, and each of which contains one of the Fallen
. In exchange for unnaturally extended lives and superhuman power, the Denarians either work with or serve as vessels for each Fallen - and each Fallen invariably corrupts its bearer. The Denarians themselves are not a unified force; generally, one group works with Nicodemus, one works with Tessa, and the rest do their own thing, but they are all devoted to spreading misery, pain, and despair, thanks to the Fallen controlling or working with them.
- Artifact of Doom: The coin each Denarian carries contains the essence of the Fallen inside, and making skin contact with it will implant either the Fallen itself or a copy of that Fallen's essence into the victim's mind.
- Deal with the Devil: Part and Parcel of their ways. The Fallen can only fully emerge with a conscious choice by the host to embrace the Fallen. The Shadows of the Fallen may be meticulous and patient, while others just beat their host into giving up just to end the torment the Shadow is putting them through. The meticulous ones would examine the host and seek out the perfect offering, a need or a want that cannot be obtained in any other fashion save for taking up the coin.
- Determinator: It is revealed some Denarians are called by the host's name and others by the name of the Fallen. This is because those who break under the power of the Fallen likely won't be coming back. They become the puppet of the Fallen. Those who endure are this trope, and will be called by the host's name.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Harry deliberately gives them these, in order to make them less scary — which has actual weight in a world where fear and belief are empowering forces. "Nicodemus Archleone and the Knights of the Blackened Denarius" sounds quite a bit scarier than "Nicky and the Nickelheads", which is exactly why Harry and Michael call them by the latter in every appearance.
- Fallen Angel: Each and every member is a carrier to one of thirty Fallen Angels.
- For the Evulz: The Denarians' entire purpose is to inflict as much pain to humanity as they can.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Harry postulates to Michael that the reason the Fallen Angels avoid churches isn't because Good Hurts Evil and just standing there is uncomfortable because of the Holy environment hurting them (as Michael suspects), but because it makes them feel and remember what they have lost. They question their choices, and after a million years or more of steadfast belief you were right, regret is not fun.
- Public Domain Artifact: The thirty pieces of silver. The noose Judas hung himself with.
- Time Abyss: In Small Favor when Harry is describing the advantages the Denarians have, beyond the super strength, shapeshifting, and powerful magic, he considers the Fallen Angels themselves the strongest advantage for this trope. Not only do they likely predate the Creation of the Universe, they have had 2000 years living in a human mind and knowing how it ticks. They would know all the ways to tempt a person and what pains to make them feel, all in the name of converting someone to their cause. And then once they have a partner, they can give this wisdom to them and make the host a truly terrifying force.
- We ARE Struggling Together:
- Word of Jim is that Lucifer selected these thirty because he feared they would try a coup on him one day, so best put them in a place of use and far from him.
- The various factions of Denarians rarely work together, and even when they do, they spend quite a bit of time backstabbing each other. Even within factions they're rarely what you'd call a happy family.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: If Deirdre in Skin Game is to be believed, they are trying to save the world.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Near-immortality, power and abilities beyond the likes mere mortals can dream of, those Denarians who have the strong enough will to not break under the weight of the power of the Fallen tend to end up the most dangerous but also insane in their own way.
Nicodemus Archleone (aka "Nicky")
Cannot hurt you any more. No matter how many times I hear that one, it's always a fresh challenge.
The leader of the Order of the Blackened Denarius. One of the most dangerous foes that Harry has ever faced. While most Denarians force their hosts into servitude, Nicodemus is actually in a partnership
with his fallen angel. Wears the rope that Judas hung himself with as a necktie, and it grants him Nigh Invulnerability
. No one knows all that much about Nicodemus, as he makes it a point to find and destroy the church's records on him every couple hundred years.
- Achilles' Heel: The noose can kill Nicodemus, just as it grants him instant healing.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: His primary outfit is a silk shirt and trousers.
- Badass Longcoat: Tends to wear them. Harry calls him on the "Bogart" look when they first meet.
- Big Bad: He is one of a couple recurring ones. A subversion occurs when he finds out that he isn't the Big Bad of the series, and the thought troubles him deeply.
- Brought Down to Badass: Briefly during Skin Game. He gives up his Coin and the Noose, losing his supernatural powers. He then fights Murphy hand-to-hand. He wins. Decisively.
- Break the Haughty: Skin Game turns into this for him. In sum: His daughter/lieutenant/lover is dead by his hand (and it VERY clearly affected him), his political power and reputation are destroyed, his tongueless Mooks witnessed him flee and are possibly on the path of redemption. Furthermore, the Coins of two of his most most powerful allies are lost, locked away in Hades' vault. The only bright side (for him anyway), is that he retrieved the Holy Grail and knows of Dresden's daughter.
- The Caper: Plans on robbing Hades' Vault in Skin Game.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Freely admits that one of his goals is to bring about the apocalypse. He also calls himself a sociopath.
- The Chessmaster: His favorite gambits are manipulating people into where he wants them and to do what he expects them to do. He also has no qualms waiting 5, maybe 20 years for something to play out. Such as tossing the coin of Lasciel at the feet of the toddler Harry Carpenter, turning the child of a Knight of the Cross into one of them.
- Combat Pragmatist: For all his swordfighting skill, he has nothing against controlling people with his shadows or pulling guns during a swordfight.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Oh GOD yes. Harry thinks he's read the Evil Overlord List. Well, up until a little logistical problem in Small Favor.note
- Didn't See That Coming: Quite a few times Harry is this to Nick.
- The Dreaded: He is this for most people aware of his name and reputation. He is one of the most vile and dangerous humans alive. If you say no to his deals, he will kill you quickly and efficiently. He might make you suffer if he has time, but is keen on keeping to the plan. And Nicodemus fears Harry Dresden.
- The End of the World as We Know It: In his own words, the apocalypse is not an "event" so much as it is a "frame of mind."
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He does, in fact, care deeply about Dierdre.
- Evil Counterpart: The author has stated that Nicodemus is essentially the opposite of Michael Carpenter.
- Evil Laugh: Subverted. Harry notes it isn't like that but a deep, rich laughter of one who is supremely confident.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Described as such in Small Favor. In Skin Game, it's gone to Guttural Growler levels because of the damage Harry inflicted on Nick's throat in their last fight.
- Eviler Than Thou: Nicodemus is one of the few, possibly the only, Denarian who is more human than demon. This is because the demon admires the human.
- Possible subversion. Michael believes that Anduriel is just that good at manipulating Nicodemus, Nicodemus doesn't know he's been had. Nicodemus himself, of course, doesn't believe a word of that.
- Faux Affably Evil: Polite, friendly, and civil. Even when he's about to cut your throat.
- Greed: He cannot help himself when he's given an offer too good to be true. In Death Masks he agreed to trade Harry Dresden for his arch-nemesis Shiro. This gave Harry the chance to escape and ended up screwing up that plan. Then in Small Favor he had exactly what he needed. He admitted he didn't need the coins Harry was offering to save a life of one of Harry's friends, but when Harry added Fidelacchius to the pot, he gave in and agreed to make the trade. Harry beat him again.
- Healing Factor: The noose allows Nicodemus to almost instantly heal from injuries that would kill any other Denarian. Fire, magical assaults, close-range assault fire, explosions - none of it can really harm Nicodemus to any meaningful degree. The best one can do is briefly stun or drive him off.
- Immune to Bullets: Thanks to the noose, bullets alone aren't enough to stop Nicodemus. Assault-rifle and other heavy rounds can stun, disorient, or briefly drive him off, but handgun rounds just seem to startle him at best and annoy him at worst. And regardless, he heals the damage almost instantly.
- Ironic Name: Nicodemus is also the name of a character from The Bible; a Pharisee who became one of Jesus' followers. He helped prepare Jesus for burial after his death. Considering what this Nicodemus is like, and how in his first appearance he's after the Shroud of Turin, it's a somewhat unusual name to choose. See Meaningful Name, below, for justification.
- Living Shadow: He can use his shadow to fly. And strangle people. And all sorts of other crazy things. And we've probably only barely seen the basics. This seems to be because the shadow actually is a manifestation of his Fallen, Anduriel. In Small Favor it whispers to him at times, and actually screams when one of the Swords lights up. And in Skin Game we discover that, unless you are being specially shielded from it, it has the ability to listen in on anyone from their shadow.
- Logical Weakness: Judas' noose makes Nicodemus virtually impervious to harm. Except from the noose itself.
- Manipulative Bastard: He knows how to with the best of them.
- Master Swordsman: He's had two thousand years to refine his swordfighting. Michael is a highly-skilled swordsman, but he's little more than a speedbump for Nicodemus. Shiro is apparently the only one who could stand against him.
- Skin Game reveals that he's not completely infallible. When Murphy beats him, he's baiting her so he can destroy Fidelacchius. It doesn't stick, but when Michael goes all out, he beats Nicodemus, forcing him to cut and run. Michael notes, slightly dazed, that he's never done that.
- Meaningful Name:
- His last name, Archleone, means "Great Lion". Lampshaded by Harry.
- Nicodemus means "Conqueror."
- Offing the Offspring: To bypass Hades' Gate of Blood in Skin Game, Nicodemus murders his daughter Deirdre, as no one else's ghost would remain loyal enough to activate the Gate's lever for him.
- He believes himself to be simply better than everyone else. Two thousand years of besting the best of God's followers, being a partner to one of the Fallen and not one of their servants, and generally never losing control would do that to a person. This is no more better illustrated than in Skin Game:
Nicodemus: I do not dance to the Fallen's tune, Knight. We may move together, but I play the music. I set the beat. For nearly two thousand years I followed my path, through every treacherous bend and twist, through every temptation to turn aside, and after centuries of effort and study and planning and victory, they follow my leadership. Not the other way around. Turn aside from my path? I have blazed it through ages of humanity, through centuries of war and plague and madness and havoc and devotion. I am my path and it is me. There is no turning aside.
- And Harry hammers it in by making the ultimate comparison:
Harry: The shadow at his feet seemed to darken as he spoke, to throb in time with his voice, and I shuddered at the sight, at the pride in his bearing, the clarity in his eyes, and the absolute, serene certainty in his voice. Lucifer must have looked exactly like that, right before things went to Hell.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Not as hammy as most examples, but very effective nonetheless. After Harry has just mentioned that Arctis Tor was attacked by someone wielding Hellfire...
- Really 700 Years Old: Rumored to have been around when Jesus was a local.
- Skunk Stripe: Has a gray streak in his otherwise dark hair. This is the only indicator of his age.
- The Sociopath: Self-admitted in Skin Game.
- The Spymaster: Nicodemus always seems to know a lot about his enemies and their current plans. This is because Anduriel is the spymaster. He can listen to any conversation held within reach of a living being's shadow. Sometimes he can even see through the shadows too. However, he cannot listen when purposefully blocked by sufficient power, such as Mab, the Carpenter house, or Demonreach, and he must purposefully focus on a shadow to listen through or it would be just noise among the rest.
- Synchronization: When Anduriel and Nicodemus are fighting independently in Skin Game and the former is wounded by one of the Swords, Nicodemus senses his Fallen partner's pain and stumbles.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Nicodemus showed this skill in Skin Game. Harry muses the man probably spends a lazy afternoon every decade or so practicing the skill. After being around for over a thousand years, he knows what he's doing to hit his target with ease.
- Unholy Matrimony: In Small Favor we learn that he's married to Tessa, "not that it seems to mean very much to either of them".
- Villainous Friendship:
- Villainous Incest: He has a sexual relationship with his daughter, Deirdre.
- Weapon of Choice: Swords in general. Doesn't matter what kind; after two thousand years' worth of experience using them, one doesn't stick to one type.
- Wicked Cultured: Though he isn't fully versed in the most recent developments in psychology, not many psychologists know how to drive chariots, so it evens out.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Nicodemus plays a mean game.
Lasciel's Shadow aka 'Lash'
One of the Fallen Angels of the Blackened Denarii, known also as the Webweaver and the Temptress. Nicodemus offered her coin to Harry, who refused but was later tricked into touching it. Lasciel's Shadow, known as Lash to Harry
, was a psychic duplicate who took up residence in Harry's head for some time; her stay in his subconscious changed her significantly from the original, making her a separate and individual entity.
Tropes below apply only to Lash (tropes for Lasciel proper, who finally appears in Skin Game
, is a separate entry).
One of the Fallen Angels of the Blackened Denarii, known also as the Webweaver and the Temptress. Nicodemus offered her coin to Harry, who refused but was later tricked into touching it. While her shadow, Lash, attempted to coax him into taking the coin he refused and eventually handed it over to the Church. After it was retrieved she bonded with Hannah, who had her own reasons to hate Harry.
- Master of Illusion: Is capable of making illusions so real that it takes a Wizard's Sight to see through them.
- Terms of Endangerment: Calls Harry "Lover" whenever addressing him.
- The Vamp: Acts this way towards Harry through Hannah.
- Woman Scorned: She's furious that Harry turned her away by refusing the Coin, stating she really liked him.
"May I kill him, Father?"
Nicodemus's daughter (and lover
). His favorite subordinate, she's a powerful Denarian who takes the form of a clawed monster with long, flexible metal blades for hair that she can move at will
. While she's nowhere near as smart as her dad or as psychotically, destructively violent as her mother Tessa, she's plenty scary in her own right.
- Bizarre Alien Locomotion: Her prehensile hair/blades allow her to scuttle like a spider, lift or lower herself through air ducts, or form a giant shark-like metal tail to swim.
- Combat Tentacles: She produces razor sharp and thin blades from her hair.
- Dark Action Girl: Her role in the Denarians.
- Daddy's Little Villain: She is Nicodemus' blood child and just as evil as he is.
- Face Death with Dignity: When Niccodemus stabs her, she doesn't cry out. She merely kisses her father and tells him she loves him
- I'm a Humanitarian: She eats the tongues of those cult members in her service.
- Prehensile Hair: Thanks to her Fallen.
- Really 700 Years Old: In Skin Game Tessa states that she has spent about 1500 years raising her. As it was said in an emotonal moment, there is likely truth to this statement.
- Sacrificial Lion: Almost literally. Nick kills her by his own hand to open the Gate of Blood to access Hades vault.
- Undying Loyalty: To her father, Nicodemus. Quite literally. She was the only one that Nick was absolutely sure would serve him and activate the Gate of Blood even after he killed her.
Polonius "Tessa" Lartessa (aka "Mantis Girl")
More commonly referred to as "Tessa", she is also a leader for the Denarians. As Nicodemus' wife, she and her Fallen, Imariel, are stated as the second-eldest of the Denarians. Generally, she is a rival to her husband, though they do work together to accomplish a similar goal- the last time they were said to have worked together, the Black Plague spread across Europe. She chooses bearers for coins based upon willingness to take a coin, not talent; Fallen who serve Imariel (and Tessa) go through bearers quickly. Tessa is concerned with short-term views, while Nicodemus is focused with the bigger picture and long-term issues. Tessa is also shown to be an exceedingly capable sorceress. Harry notes that she is a "big-leaguer" and "White Council material."
- Bad Ass: Extremely skilled as a user of gambits and exceedingly capable sorceress.
- Batman Gambit: Itís implied that she is running one of this, managing to play both Harry and Nicodemus like a fiddle. Her capture of the Archive was a rather beautiful one itself.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: In her Denarian form she takes the shape of a giant praying mantis.
- Break the Cutie: What she did to Ivy; presumably, what was done to her as a slave.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Does this to Ivy
- Cute Bruiser: A pretty, apparently young woman who packs a BIG punch.
- Death by Sex: Harry Dresden actually bursts out laughing after she tries to trade sex for prisoners, pointing out that everyone with half a brain knows what female mantises do to their male counterparts after mating, and that assuming he wouldn't is a tacit insult.
- Evil Counterpart: To Charity. Both are fiercely protective of their children and both have less respect for Harry than their respective husbands. Oh, and both can / could use magic, unlike their husbands.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: She started out as an underage hooker (though she wasn't underage for Roman Greece). Now she's a powerful mage responsible for some of the most abominable crimes in human history.
- Freudian Excuse: It's mentioned that her own father sold her into slavery in order to save his buisness.
- Mama Bear: She's shown to be violently protective of her daughter Deidre, and tries to prevent Nicodemus plans in Skin Game in order to keep her alive.
- Really 700 Years Old: She looks between 14 and 16 years old... and was a slave in ancient Greece before she met Nicodemus.
- The Sociopath: She is responsible for many of the most horrific wars and ethnic cleansings in human history.
- Shock and Awe: Her preferred style of magic.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Tessa prefers recruits who are readily susceptible to the Fallen's temptations over recruits with intelligence or specialist skills. As a result, Tessa's minions tend to be more numerous than Nicodemus', but less formidable individually and far less capable. Naturally, this leads to Tessa periodically complaining about her peons' incompetence.
- The Vamp: More than willing to try and seduce Harry and offer herself sexually to him in exchange for Gard and Hendricks.
- Unholy Matrimony: Nicodemus took her away from her life as a child prostitute and apparently married her, but they both seem to loathe each other and only cooperate on special projects.
- Weak, but Skilled: In magical terms. Being alive for two thousand years with a Fallen giving one lessons lets even someone with a very modest talent for magic develop it into something very, very powerful.
- The Worm That Walks: She has the power to break apart into thousands of beetles, roaches, and other creepy-crawlies to attack someone physically while letting Imariel whisper hateful knowledge at them to attack their mind. When she does it to Harry to get around the bars of a vault, Michael has to save him from being simultaneously eaten, crippled, and driven insane.
Tessa's second, Rosanna is able to assume the form of a classic demon: batwinged, leathery skin, red eyes, and so on. She was the one who corrupted Sanya into taking Magog's coin when he was a younger man. Older and more dangerous than she seems, Rosanna is an expert
at tempation and manipulation.
- The Dragon: To Tessa.
- Horny Devils: Technically, she's not a succubus, but she seems to be the basis for the classic concept.
- Killit With Fire: Her magic of choice.
- Manipulative Bastard: She's able to feign the "scared girl who is in over her head" act so effectively that Sanya, who knows what she is, is still affected by it. When Harry calls her on this, both Rosanna and her Fallen partner seem impressed.
- Older Than They Look: At least several centuries old, but like all Denarians she looks a lot younger than she actually is.
- Punch Clock Villain: Tries to act like this, but Harry sees through the facade.
- The Vamp: She was Sanya's handler while he was Magog's host. He left the Denarians when he discovered how she actually felt about him.
Magog (aka "Magilla")
Big and brutal, Magog is the heavy hitter of Tessa's crew, resembling a monstrous gorilla. He's fast and tough and hits like a freight train, but is very unsubtle, and abuses his hosts viciously, to the point that they are just animals.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Magog does not win points for being clever or quick-witted. His response to most threats, whether they be a Squishy Wizard or the most powerful assassin in Summer, is to charge straight at it and plow it under.
- The Brute: To Tessa.
- Lightning Bruiser: Harry notes that he moves fast, and his reaction time is "almost nothing."
- Mugging the Monster: In Small Favor's climax, Magog picks a fight with the eldest Billy Goat Gruff - Champion of Summer, the Leanansidhe's opposite, and slayer of three Senior Council members. Despite the Gruff's repeated insistence he's got no quarrel with Magog. It goes... poorly.
A particularly brutal Denarian who abuses his hosts, Ursiel is aggressive, violent, and psychotic. Taking on the form of a massive, six-legged bear, he serves as Nicodemus' heavy hitter.
- Bears Are Bad News: So powerful that he takes all three Knights of the Cross plus Harry to bring him down.
- The Dragon: To Nicodemus.
- Off with His Head!: How the Knights of the Cross bring him down.
- Tragic Monster: The vessel encountered in Death Masks was once a man named Rasmussen, who was a gold prospector heading for California in 1849 when he came across Ursiel's coin. By the time Harry encounters him, Rasmussen is a broken and insane man whose mind has been shattered by Ursiel. Subverted when he is possessing The Genoskwa.
Thorned Namshiel (aka "Spinyboy")
A wizard working with Tessa's group, Thorned Namsiel looks like a human covered with a number of thorns, hence the name. Namshiel serves as her mastermind, and also took part in the attack on Arctis Tor.
- Berserk Button: Gets absolutely pissed when he sees Harry use Soulfire (the Fires of Creation)—partly because it's a mortal using "their" power, and partly because Harry's using it to pound his face in.
- The Chessmaster: He knows how to play a mean game. With Rosanna, he is one of the only intelligent Fallen working for Tessa.
- The Man Behind the Man: Implied to be this for Tessa.
- Off with His Head!: His fate.
- Squishy Wizard: The least-threatening physically of the Denarians, though getting beat about the head and shoulders by Harry's staff, followed by smashed repeatedly into pillars by a giant hand and burned by a column of Hellfire would ruin anyone's ambitions of being ambulatory.
- Razor Wire: Has a strangulation spell that he uses to get around Harry's shield, strangle him and pickpocket the remaining coins.
Quintus Cassius aka "Snakeboy" and "Liver Spots"
The fourth of Nicodemus' usual crew of Denarians, Cassius is a wizard with an emphasis on snakes. Unsurprisingly, takes on the shape of a humanlike snake in his Denarian combat form. At the end of Death Masks
, he gives up his coin, as he expects that Nicodemus will help him. He is disappointed, and returns in Dead Beat
, working with Grevane under the agreement that the necromancer will help him take down Harry and seize Lasciel's coin.
- Badass Grandpa: Cassius is no slouch even when he's suffering advanced age and has no Fallen to give him immortality.
- Scaled Up: His Denarian form is that of a snake-man.
- I Surrender, Suckers: Surrenders to the Knights and Harry, fully expecting mercy and fully intending to go back to Nicodemus afterward. The Knights can't touch him, but Harry can, and does so with a baseball bat to the knees and arms.