Headscratchers: The Dresden Files
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- When Demonreach revealed the existence of a 'parasite' in Harry's head, he directed him to Molly in order to have it treated. Except...Molly is a fae now, and by their nature she can't simply treat him for free, she must take something in exchange. What exactly could she end up taking from Harry to treat that?
- Years of training and protection from execution by the White Council, already paid and awaiting repayment?
- Semi Jossed. Butcher has stated that when a changeling becomes a full Fae, all promises and debts they had as a mortal are null and void. It's entirely possible that this could be avoided as payment as of becoming the Winter Lady, even though Molly was simply a human before supposing the differences between changeing-Fae and Human-Fae are negligible.
- Interesting! So it's a good thing Molly got the chance to give Harry his new coat before they went to Demonreach, isn't it?
- Also, the Knight has duties to each of the three Queens, and they have duties to him. Molly's aid might fall under this.
- Surely it does, given how Mab helped preserve Harry's body alive after he was shot without demanding a specific payment.
- While, I personally don't believe Demonreach was talking about Molly, but about an some kind of actual grasshopper, wouldn't helping Harry with a parasite that's about to kill him be acting to protect her interests? Harry is her Knight too now. Or do the freaky laws of the fae prevent them from even doing that?
- If Mab's agreement with said parasite involved Winter not involving itself in the parasite's causes, then Molly would be bound by that word and be unable to help Harry. But I doubt Mab got wrangled that badly.
- Do we actually know if Mab and Demonreach made a deal with the parasite at all? If it's leeching off Harry to survive, it wouldn't have any choice but to maintain his circulation just so it wouldn't die with him.
- We know that it made some sort of deal with them. At the very least agreeing to help keep Dresden alive in exchange for neither of them revealing any details about it, Since that's why Deamonreach couldn't tell Harry anything except ask Grasshopper.
Gene therapy for non-wizards.
- According to the Dresden Files, while every human has some capacity to use magic if they work at it, only a handful have the raw talent to become a full-fledged wizard. Apparently, this talent is passed down matrilineally. If those women capable of siring wizard-level talents were eliminated, then the White Council's recruiting pool would be severely diminished. In fact, the White Court tried to pull this stunt in novel White Night. The White Council, as a whole, suffers from a major shortage when it comes to combat-capable wizards. Compared to the thousands of combat-capable troops fielded by the Faeries, the Red Court, and the Formor, the Wardens of the White Council seem to number somewhere between two to three hundred. While individually a wizard is very powerful, they are still human, and are still susceptible to disease, sleep deprivation, starvation, physical trauma, and a bullet to the head. In fact, almost all of them were wiped out during the war with the Red Court in Dead Beat, and the current war with the Formor, has got to be taking its toll. One would think that the White Council would be desperate to shore up its numbers. After all, the Wardens were desperate enough to recruit Harry Dresden (who, as far as they're concerned, is the spawn of Satan), and they even allowed him to have a warlock apprentice.
I am just wondering, if there is a genetic or biological basis for wizard level talents, then would some form of gene therapy, or perhaps some sort of physical supplement, be able to give those who were not lucky enough to be born with said biological talent, but would like the opportunity to pursue such a career (if "career" is the appropriate word). After all, in Stargate Atlantis, the Earth forces did something similar to give the ability to use Ancient technology to those who were not born with said ability.
- There seems to be to some degree a genetic component. It is not uncommon for magic users to produce more magic users. Strong magic users also tend to produce strong magic users. At the same time I think it is more complicated than a simply gene. Magic is also associated with willpower, emotion, and changing laws of magic. Even IF (and this is a big IF) there was some magic gene that could be transferred that doesn't mean the receiver would have the same level of magical ability.
- There is definitely more than the gene component. Word of God says the reason Molly has magic power and her siblings won't is because Charity let her talent atrophy and hadn't used any of it for well over a year by the time Daniel was conceived. So to develop magical ability isn't just the genes, but the mother's continued practice of it is also a factor.
- Magical talent is discovered during adolescence, and if it is not trained, then it vanishes forever, and the ability to pass it on to descendants vanishes forever. However, there is the case of Victor Sells, the antagonist of the first book. From what I've read, he only discovered his thaumaturgical talent when he was a middle-aged man with children of his own. However, with training and practice, he was able to become strong enough to threaten Dresden himself. How did Victor Sells manifest his magical abilities?
- It was strongly implied in Cold Days that Sells was infected with Nemesis. That probable had something to do with it.
- Cold Days implies that Victor Sells was a nascent up-and-coming practitioner who fell victim to Nemesis somehow, it doesn't specify if Nemesis bestows preternatural powers upon its host.
- I doubt that there will be a definite answer until Jim Butcher elaborates. However, the fact that powerful entities, such as Mab and Titania, are able to bestow powers upon mortals does mean that it's not outside the realm of possibility.
- If every human has the capacity to use magical talent, then perhaps there's some form of magical "steroid" or "muscle doping" that can compensate. Was there some mention of that in the novels?
- In Storm Front, Three Eye grants magic senses to mortals. Stands to reason there can be a way to boost power. Also, in the same novel, storms are used as a power source.
- Even if something like that existed, neither the White Council or the other factions would ever allow mass distribution. If every human suddenly had the possibility of becoming a wizard, the WC would be overwhelmed, and the other factions are NOT going to allow the WC, who is a potential enemy, to have that many recruits. Certainly the vampires are not going to allow their prey to become that capable of defending themselves. For all we know, someone did invent such a method, but the White Council sent the Blackstaff to blow them up because the security risk was just too great.
- Remember, there are already too many wizards being born for the Council to handle: Every year children go warlock because there was nobody to teach them about how to use magic responsibly. The last thing the Council wants just now is more random wizards.
- I think that there are ways for mortal, non-wizards to acquire the inherent magic that all wizards possess at birth. The problem is that many of the so-called sources (or sponsors as the RPG calls them)of this magic have agendas of their own, and these agends may be ... questionable at best. Many Demons, including the Fallen, are glad to give some desperate shlub a taste of real power ... for a price. The Outsiders, too, are all too eager to give some power-hungry or desperate person some real power ... for a price. However, which sane, rational person would trust such sources? Remember the porn stars in Blood Rites? It's unlikely that they were all born with inherent power, but they were all granted vast powers thanks to their sponsor, the Outsiders. Therefore, I think that there are ways for non-wizards to become wizards, the only problem is that such "empowerement" comes with a price.
- In Blood Rites Harry stated the porn stars were using ritual magic that anyone can use. Instead of using your own magic or needing it the ritual invokes the magic of an outside entity to supply the power. And of course other entities like the Fallen can allow a non-talent to use magic, but in the end it is never YOUR power. It is another entity that is lending it for a reason.
- Unfortunately, the books are very vague as to what are the physical properties responsible for the emergence of wizard-level talents.
- Is it possible that the ability to use magic or possess "wizard senses" is somehow tied into mitochondrial DNA? After all, mitochondrial DNA is passed down matrilineally. Perhaps a specific mutation in the mtDNA, possibly brought about due to prolonged exposure with the reality warping effects of many praeternatural entities (similar to how radiation can cause mutations like cancer) somehow allows a human being to mentally access some sort of Higher-Dimensional Being (in the Michio Kaku sense), allowing for what most people call "magic". Any thoughts on the idea?
- Word of Jim has it that Harry's maternal grandmother was a vanilla mortal, so wizard senses can't be solely inherited via mitochondria.
Therapy for Winter Knights
- I understand that Mab is a bit of a sadist and probably a sociopath, but she is all about being pragmatic. Why don't her Knights get themselves some anti-psychotic medication or therapy. After all, modern day militaries do it.
- Most Winter Knights are royally fucked up to begin with, and the Mantle just makes them crazier and crazier. And prior to the 1900's psychiatric care was something you really didn't want because psychiatric therapy was absolutely horrific.
- That's very true. However, modern day psychiatry, while still a "soft science", has vastly improved since the 1900s. Does Mab prefer having unstable psychopaths working for her? After all, a cool-headed, self-disciplined and objective professional soldier is far more effective than a vicious, impulsive brute who could fly off the handle at any given time. The Red Court were a bunch of unstable psychopaths, and that's one of the reasons why they lost the War in the end: they were so busy backstabbing each other or indulging their antisocial tendencies that they couldn't work together to accomplish any large-scale, long-term goals (like say, wiping out the White Council). Then again, Mab, being the control freak that she is, probably prefers to control people rather than risk trusting them. Maybe a bunch of unstable psychopaths is easier to control than rational and clear-minded people, at least in her very strange mind.
- I get the feeling that Mab is an old-fashioned (she is several thousand years old) kind of girl who thinks that professional psychiatric help is for "pussies". The sad truth is that many people today consider getting professional help to be a sign of weakness and something worthy of scorn. Mab, being the old-fashioned being that she is, might think that any Knight who needs some as "ridiculous" as professional care has outlived his usefulness. Also, remember what Lea did to Molly? Any sane person could tell that Molly was on the verge of a complete mental breakdown, but neither Lea or Mab cared. Mab just had Leah keep hitting Molly until she "learned better".
- It is most likely that its not a case of Mab preferring unstable psychopaths as it is that the unstable psychopaths are the ones who gravitate toward the job to begin with. Sane, stable people don't make for Winter Knights to begin with because Mab's requirements and personality demand otherwise. The Winter Knight is a thug, assassin, and hitman, after all, and that kind of job doesn't commonly appeal to the sane and stable, even before the Mantle is bestowed. Look at what it did to Harry, after all, and imagine how it would impact someone with less self control or moral fiber.
- I agree that the job of Winter Knight is one that probably appeals to a very violent and impulsive person. I also agree that working with Mab (who is dangerously powerful, incredibly callous, outwardly sadistic, deliberately manipulative, and frustratingly vague) probably does not encourage mental health. However, I respectfully contend that being a killer does not automatically result in psychological dysfunction. After all, professional soldiers are trained to be killers, and are also vetted as much as possible to ensure that they of the self-control and discipline necessary to STOP killing (Obviously it doesn't always work that way, but a sincere effort is made to ensure that it does). The elite operators of the US Delta Force, US Seal Team Six, or the British SAS are all assassins and killers, yet they are also among the most grounded and well-adjusted individuals. Such operators are carefully watched in order to make sure they do not turn into serial killers or spree killers, both because such a person would be dangerous to friend and foe alike, and because rational and self-disciplined killer is far more effective than an impulsive mental case. A good example from television would be the character of Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad. While he is an assassin and a criminal, he is also, for the most part, a calm and level-headed person who bases his decisions on clear logic and reason (the only reason he died was because Walter impulsively shot him without thinking it through). Please note that I am not saying that Mab is wrong, after all, since she is a Queen with an entire nation to govern (a nation of scheming, barely loyal hyperviolent sadists at that).
- I think Map usually does not want a thinking thug. Remember, the Knight's power is an extension of her own and she is as vulnerable to it as anyone. It as been inferred that one reason she picked Dresden is she wants somebody that can take her out if she gets corrupted by Nemesis. Dresden still has enough morals and sanity that he will not kill her without a major reason since he knows the chaos that will erupt. The Winter Knight is supposed to be Mab's attack dog. Her court is fill with scheming nobles each trying to use her or approaching her in power.
- She wouldn't want to worry about her personal hitman getting ideas of his own and the cunning to pull schemes off. We saw what nearly happened with Lloyd Slate who was a barely controlled drug addict. Now, imagine someone with real cunning trying to seize power in the court and all the Fae underestimating him because he is "mortal."
- And what makes you think medication or therapy would work? It's an otherworldly presence hammering on Dresden's primal urges, not daddy issues that he can work out through a psychiatrist.
- I agree that the causes may be different (human augmentation via preternatural techniques VS an unstable homelife), but the symptoms are similar: very violent antisocial urges towards others, particularly women. I concede that mundane methods may not be effective, but certainly helping a good-intentioned, but still very dangerous, person like Harry Dresden with his impulse control issues seems like something any professional psychiatrist or therapist would be very eager to do. Yes, in the Dresdenverse most mortals are ludicrously oblivious to the presence of the preternatural, however, people like Billy the Werewolf and Butters the Mortician both demonstrate that there are mortals who can accept the preternatural without losing their minds.
- It doesn't really matter how eager someone would be to help if it's not going to help. Harry's problems aren't biological in nature, so medication isn't going to help outside of keeping him sedated. The problems aren't his own psychological problems, so no amount of talking things out is going to help either. A psychiatrist would be eager to help, but incapable of treating the actual causes of Harry's issues.
- Maeve was using drugs to keep Lloyd Slate's aggression under control, and we all saw how well that worked out.
How does Ivy have her own personality?
- From the moment she was born, she's possessed all the memories of all the previous Archives. Shouldn't that make her personality a photocopy of all the other Archives' personalities? Why does she have so many childlike traits that, while appropriate for her chronological age, don't make sense for someone who's experienced childhood and adulthood thousands of times before?
- She has memory but not experience. There's a difference between knowledge of something and experience of it. Just because she has the knowledge and memory of previous Archives doesn't mean that she's going to have the same personality as them, because experience shapes the personality much more than simple knowledge of what happened to a previous mind.
- That doesn't make sense. As far as the human brain is concerned, memory and experience are the same thing. If you experience something but retain no memory of it, then as far as your brain is concerned, that experience never happened. Likewise, if you remember something happening to you, even if it didn't actually happen, that memory will shape your personality the same way a memory of actual events would.
- Not really. Remember, there's a difference between being told something and experiencing it firsthand. The previous Archives' memories are just that: old memories, which serve as data but not anything that the current Archive's host has experienced. Being told about pain from cutting your finger, or remembering an incident where you cut your finger, is not as powerful as cutting your finger right now. The current Archive will have her own personal experiences to offset the previous ones' memories and structure her personality. More importantly, the observed effects of the Archive's behavior back this up. There's probably something involved with the Archive's own magic that helps keep the Archive's current host relatively stable and not get completely whammied by the Archive once it transfers from its previous host. Either that, or the Archive's own titanic store of data overwhelmed the previous Archives' memories and enforced the Blank Slate state on Ivy when she was born. When compared with all the massive amounts of recorded data in history, the memories of the previous Archives would just be a bit more noise. It would fit with how calm, cold, and rational the Archive is when she first meets Harry.
- 1. The Council is actually worried that exactly that might happen, and cause the Archive to destabilize. 2. I get the impression that the memories of the previous Archives are "disconnected" from Ivy's memory in some way. She knows that they happened in the same way that she knows what was written down, but she doesn't feel like they happened to "her". Possibly it works similarly to Avatar: The Last Airbender, where each of the Avatar's past lives is a distinct personality the Avatar can spiritually talk to.
- Brains may not distinguish between memory and experience after-the-fact, but they do distinguish between them when experiences actually happen. Specifically, the formation of neural pathways in a child's brain goes on in response to actual experiences, not just memories; a child who eats a food and likes it will form pathways that build the personality-trait of "likes eating this food", but if the kid sits around remembering how they enjoyed it, at most it'll strengthen the existing pathways, it won't build them from scratch.
- There is more than one kind of memory. Declarative memory is the kind that can be expressed verbally, and is a narrative of described experience. Procedural memory is the record of how specific tasks are accomplished. It's entirely possible to lose one kind but not another. People who can't form new declarative memories due to brain damage, who retain their understanding of what's happening around them only as long as their short-term memories last, can still learn new physical skills. Ivy likely inherits declarative knowledge, but not procedural - she probably doesn't have the trained reflexes and responses to, say, tap dance.
Can a nuke kill a loup garou werewolf?
- Related to the The Magic Versus Technology War and Muggles Do It Better. Most supernatural creatures in the Dresdenverse lack specific invulnerabilities or are weak to iron and fire. You either need to hit them hard enough like the Skinwalker or they are vulnerable to common weapons like fire and steel bullets like the Fae. Modern technology has gotten better as dealing damage so you can take out threats that once would have been impossible without a wizard. But how far does that go? The Loup Garou from Fool Moon was stated to be invulnerable to anything except inherited silver. It heals instantly from anything that does hurt it. Harry blew it several blocks away with fire and did not slow it down. It rampaged through a police station and Marcone, despite having his men armed with what I would presume to be military-class weapons, was still afraid of it. Following that, could any level of mortal weapon not involving inherited silver kill it? If you tried rocket launches, cruise missiles, and finally nukes would the damage go right through it? Would it be unhurt? Reform from dust? Or would a powerful enough weapon kill it? I've seen it work both ways depending on the magical universe? Is this a case science triumphing over magic if you have a big enough gun (which may not be much of a triumph if you have to use a nuke an a werewolf) or a case of magic winning due to well...it being magic.
- Presumably if the loup-garou were completely disintegrated, there'd be nothing left to regenerate.There surely are things that can kill a loup-garou besides inherited silver; old age, for one, is most likely to blame for why there's only one loup-garou in the MacFinn bloodline at a time instead of dozens of them, one from each generation since the curse was laid.
- We know that a nuke will kill a Naagloshi, a much more powerful, ancient, and spirit-heavy being, so I'd go with a "soft" yes.
- There is a key difference that I would argue might mean a nuke could kill a Naagloshi and not a Loup Garou. The Naagloshi was vulnerable to any force thrown at it. It had no special vulnerability or invulnerability. It was just really tough. Dresden could hurt it. Bullets could wear it down. The Loup Garou is specifically vulnerable to silver and invulnerable to everything else. Nothing Dresden or the police threw at it remotely slowed it down. So would a nuke hurt it or would the nuke's power magically pass over it leaving the Loup Garou unharmed?
Can Fae lie in writing?
- One of the few true limitations of the Fae, besides their vulnerability to iron, is that they must speak only truth. So I wondered, what if a Fae tried to get around this by writing down a lie instead of speaking it aloud. I.e., Mab can't say "I am the Queen of Summer", but could she write "I am the Queen of Summer"? I've seen it done both ways: The Inheritance Cycle specified that no barrier existed to writing falsehood in the language of magic, while it is specified that the Aes Sedai of The Wheel Of Time couldn't write a lie any more than they could speak one. So what do you think?
- I would lean toward no in the Dresdenverse. Fae being always truthful has been treated as a hard and fast rule. If a Fae could lie by writing I am sure it would have been mentioned or brought up by now.
- The mode of lying probably isn't relevant, whether spoken, written, expressed in sign language, or whatever. There might be special exemptions for quoting an untruth and/or for storytelling, provided such statements are explicitly identified as such. Mab tells Harry the "Fox and Scorpion" fable in Summer Knight without evident difficulty and, while it's possible there might be actual talking foxes that carry actual talking scorpions (halfway) across the water in the Nevernever, it's just as likely that fiction and fable, if not couched as literal truth, are permissible for fae.
- Blatant use of sarcasm also seems to be within their repertoire, as Lea snarks off to Molly in Ghost Story with statements that aren't literal truth.
Can non-talents summon entities?
- When I say "talents", I refer to those who possess psychokinetic abilities that the Dresden Files dubs "magic". Thus, the most adept of these magicians are eligible to join the White Council. I am curious. There is evidence that those who were not born with the innate talent are capable of using some thaumaturgical techniques (for instance, in Blood Rites Kincaid creates a magic circle). Are non-talents capable of summoning entities?
- If they are using ritual magic sure like the one the porn stars used to summon He Who Walks Behind. Harry stated ritual magic was like a vending machine. Anyone can use it since an outside entity is providing the magic. But just drawing a circle, speaking a name, and binding an entity. I don't think so. Magic is the ability to bind your will to the world to produce effects. Harry binds his will to the circle and the name to draw the entity in. Non-talents cannot do this.
- Non-talents could probably do it, theoretically, but they'd have to put so much time and effort and work into simply developing the ability to use magic on their own without ritual support that it would ultimately be entirely impractical.
Tattoos for mantles
- In Death Masks, it's revelaed that the Fellowship of St. Giles developed tattoos that, when placed on someone infected by the Red Court but who has not yet turned into a Red Court Vampire, helped the infectee avoid becoming a vampire by glowing or turning red in order to worn the infectee that the "curse" was starting to influence their behavior. I'm wondering, could something be similar be done for Harry and Molly?
- Harry? Maybe. Molly? Probably not, since she is explicitly not human anymore. She probably doesn't even have a soul anymore, a bit of Fridge Horror her fan (?) twitter account notes.
- Does that mean that Molly effectively died when the mantle entered her body? Does that mean that from now on we are just seeing the mantle acting out what Molly would do?
- No, it does not. Word of Jim is that you don't instantly lose your soul if you become a Fae or take on a faerie mantle. It would be a gradual thing if Molly gives in to the mantle.
No James Randi?
- I am curious as to why no low-level talents have exposed the existence of magic. While using magic does tend to disrupt recording devices, wouldn't a camera be protected from any "hex" if it was simply inside a magic circle, thus making recording of magical phenomena an idea? If that is the case, then why has not Butters, or Susan Rodriguez, or someone else simply gotten a bunch of scientists, like the Randi foundation, together and given them empirical proof?
- I understand that there is a great resistance to the idea of magic in the Dresdenverse. After all, as Max Planck once said "A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." However, eventually new ideas are accepted once there is evidence to support that idea, and in the Dresdenverse, there is a lot of evidence for the existence of the supernatural. (Harry mentions passing out pamphlets, Molly was able to find books about magic on her own, the number of buildings Harry has burned down, the fact that Susan Rodriguez was able to find out about the supernatural, etc.) After all, Herbert Hoover, who was fanatical about his disbelief in the Mafia, was eventually forced to acknowledge its existence when the New York State Police found evidence of the mafia at the Appalachin Meeting in 1951. I'm interested in hearing anyone's thoughts and ideas?
- Because doing so is highly resisted, attempts are made to cover it up, and it would be a very bad idea. Duke Ortega's day job was a professor debunking magic. Susan's video of the loup garou disappeared presumably by the government or some other power that wanted to keep magic a secret. The supernatural powers go to great extent to stay secret so it is easier to prey on humans. I imagine any magical practitioner or other person that tries to expose magic "disappears" and then a slew of "experts" explain away any evidence. Finally, modern society is so convinced that magic and the supernatural does not exist that they are quick to belief any "scientific" explanation no matter how ludicrous. If modern society were to learn magic is real I imagine it would be the Salem witch trials all over again.
- I am curious, then, about Dresden. Although he has never demonstrated his powers in a laboratory setting, the sheer fact that he doesn't go out of his way to hide his powers, and in fact advertises them, makes the whole cover-up rather dubious. Also, the huge amounts of property damage he has caused, not to mention the fact that there have been witnesses to many of these things. While some of these witnesses can be labelled as crazy, the sheer number of them, as well as the sheer number of burning buildings would at least raise suspicions. Also, I am actually curious as to what extent the government knows about the supernatural. Is it just a few officials on the pay-roll? Is it the entire administration? Does the government have some sort of agreement with the White Council? If Julian Assange and Edward Snowden taught us anything, it is how bloody difficult to keep secrets in the modern era, especially when wizards like Harry Dresden don't care about keeping secrets. I am having a hard time believing that the US government, which spends millions of dollars on nuclear missile defence systems that don't work, and has DARPA who basically has mad science as their primary objective, would simply take a hands off approach to magic, rather than try to research and develop valuable defence technologies. Especially when it is very clear that the White Council is doing a piss-poor job of stopping monsters like the Formor from kidnapping and/orpeople, and is forced to rely upon mafia dons (Marcone), vigilante serial killers (Molly the Rag Lady) and porn stars (the White Court) for help.
- What sheer number of witnesses? Most are killed or do not really see anything. The rest convince themselves the supernatural did not happen. Harry himself stated this is what most often happens in the first graphic novel. A person swears they saw a supernatural event, nobody believes them and gradually they are convinced that in the heat of the moment they mistook it for a perfectly rational event. People do not want to accept the supernatural and will often go out of their way to rationalize it away. Normal humans do 90% of the work or more by not wanting to believe and doing everything in their power to deny the supernatural. Any direct evidence is soon covered up and debunked by the supernatural powers. Butters once tried to claim vampires were real, he was deemed crazy, demoted, and the bodies disappeared. As for governments, I highly doubt it is everyone otherwise they would want to exploit the supernatural. More likely some of the supernatural powers have a few high-ranking government contacts they use to cover everything up. The White Council may be doing a piss poor job, but the other supernatural powers are not. We know that Lara has enough military connections to get a cruise missile launched. The White Court may act like a bunch of sex-obsessed hedonists, but you do not survive in a scheming world as long as they do without learning how to cover your tracks. Contrary to many fantasy novels where ancient beings are portrayed as idiots the White Court vampires are not We know the Archive knows everything written down or on the Internet. The Venatori Umbrorum are stated to be a secret society that have immense political influence and is allied with the Council. The Red Court formerly controlled Central and South America. The current situation though has finally gotten bad enough with the Fomor that normal people are finally taking notice at the upswing in violence and disappearances.
- Well, one source of witnesses would be the many hundreds of slaves that were released when the Red Court disappeared.
- "Inevitably, the Red Court had contained a few newbies, and after the ritual went off, they were merely human again. They, and the other humans too dim to run any sooner, didn't last long once the Grey Council broke open the cattle car and freed the prisoners. The terror the Reds had inflicted on their victims became rage, and the deaths the Reds and their retainers suffered as a result weren't pretty ones. I saw a matronly woman who was all alone beat Alamaya to death with a rock."
- Did the Grey Council and the Winter Court kill all of these people? I suspect that the first thing the police are going to ask them is where have they been all this time. No amount of political corruption is going to silence that many witnesses.
- No, but those witnesses not being convinced the Red Court is gone might. There's no Law of Magic that says wizards can't lie through their teeth to mortals; all the Grey Council needs to do is suggest to the surviving sacrificial victims that there are more of those awful blood-cultists out there, who might come after them again if they talk, and nearly all of the survivors will remain silent to protect themselves. The few who aren't scared enough to keep quiet could be sworn to secrecy by the heroes' contacts in the Catholic Church or recruited by whatever's left of the Fellowship of St. Giles (who weren't all half-Reds, and will likely seek out other monsters to hunt now).
- In addition, the way the Red Court was destroyed would raise a lot of questions. To quote Changes: "First, for the unexplained destruction of several structures in Chich$Śn Itz$˘. A thousand years of jungle hadn't managed to bring the place down, but half an hour of slugfest between practitioners who know what they're doing can leave city blocks in ruins. It was later attributed to an extremely powerful localized earthquake. No one could explain all the corpses - some of them with dental work featuring techniques last used a hundred years before, some whose hearts had been violently torn from their chests, and whose bodies had been affected by some kind of mutation that had rendered their bones almost unrecognizable as human. Fewer than 5 percent of them were ever identified - and those were all people who had abruptly gone missing in the past ten or fifteen years. No explanation was ever offered for such a confluence of missing persons, though theories abounded, none of them true."
- From a realpolitik point of view, The United States government, indeed several governments, has spent a lot of time and money ensuring that they know what is going on in South and Central America, due to financial and security interests. While they are hardly successful all the time, these factions go out of their way to make sure that they know everything. They are going to want an explanation, and the thousands of dead bodies are going to raise eyebrows. Granted, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, but with such an extraordinary event taking place, people are going to want answers. Trained scientists and intelligence analysts would know how to put aside their personal prejudices and feelings and simply stick to the facts. After all, that is there jobs, and they have incentive to do it well (otherwise events like September Eleventh happen). A cover-up is not going to work, because we know that the Formor attacked right after the Red Court was exterminated. There simply was no time for anyone to arrange for a cover-up when they're busy fighting for their lives. While people may not get all the facts right, the sheer number of people who would be going on facebook or twitter going "holy #@%t, I think I just saw a werewolf!" or "holy #@%t, some guy named harry or larry or jerry or something blew up a building!" or "holy #@%t, there's a frakkin black tornado in Chicago. And what is that, a ''dinosaur'?!'". They don't have to know what they saw in order to admit they saw something. While magic may screw-up technology when it's used, I doubt there was enough magic being thrown around Chicago to stop people from facebooking what is going on. And if there was, the sheer number of black-outs is going to raise even more eyebrows.
- Remember that the series is told from Harry's perspective, so we don't find out about things until Harry himself does. He and Will actually speculate that the FBI has its own version of Special Investigations in the RPG's marginal notes; for all we know, some branches of the government and/or intelligence services do know about the supernatural. Plus, it's entirely possible that the White Court has already suborned the federal government: that Navy rescue chopper that evacced Molly in Changes didn't pop up out of nowhere, and the Whites are tailor-made to blackmail politicians. Could be that the government is actively helping with the cover-up, and has been for years ... heck, in the Dresdenverse, any drone-strikes that "miss their targets" in the Middle East might secretly be directed at ghoul nests, in payback for White Night!
- Also, the concept that ordinary people just don't want to accept the presence of the supernatural also won't fly, because there have been several instances in the novels where otherwise ordinary people have discovered and accepted the existence of the supernatural. Billy the werewolf discovered the supernatural when he realized that normal criminals couldn't be responsible for sheer number of crime. Waldo Butters was willing to admit that the corpses were "humanoid, but not human" upon reviewing the evidence. Hell, even Harry himself was an otherwise vanilla mortal before he was "clued-in". Therefore, what exactly is the threshold before a human being will accept the presence of monsters?
- It's a good thing you bring up Butters. He had the sense of mind to see evidence for what it was. But what happened when he was actually confronted, literally, with zombies chasing him in a car? Having seen evidence that looks off AND been in personal contact with the supernatural himself, he still tries to rationalize it away until Harry points out that he is rationalizing despite all he's seen, despite how openminded he was just before. The postit of the series isn't that people don't see the evidence, or that they don't use it to arrive at the logical conclusion. It's that when they arrive at that conclusion, they realize the sheer horror of the implications, and turn around and run, muttering "Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope nope. Nope." You see it elsewhere. Murphy's cops realize that something is really off and take the logical precautions (meaning calling dresden), but they'd rather not acknowledge it entirely. I don't know how psychologically realistic it is that people would do it (it'd be an interesting experiment though), but I feel it's believable enough.
- What, you mean Butter's required a fifteen minute straightforward claim, actual empirical evidence to support that claim, and a bit of hand-holding to get over his shock? And that's the basis upon which all human beings reject magic? No offense, but that doesn't sound very realistic.
- P.S. I do actually like the series. I just like talking about it.
- Well, in short, your right. The mass obfuscation does not make sense logically. However, it makes sense structurally. The mass delusion and obfuscation serve the story by isolating Harry and forcing him to get involved, instead of doing what any rational person would do and simply call the police once he realizes he is in way over his head. One of the conceits of the series is that Dresden is alone, he is unappreciated, isolated, without support, and that he has to do everything himself because no one else will, like John McClane (in fact, the Die Hard series is one of the inspirations for the novel series). Also, one of the conceits of the urban fantasy series is that there is all this magic and mystery going on and no one knows what is going on. The genre would be ruined if mortals suddenly clued-in. Also, the Dresden Files is very similar to a superhero series, and, of course, one of the conceits of superheroes is that ordinary police are by-and-large useless. Thus, in short, you're right that it doesn't make sense, but it's fiction. Logic always takes a backseat to awesomeness.
- In the end, we're simply looking at a classic Masquerade. It's there to give the readers a fictional world that looks at least superficially like theirs, not one as it would be if it had logically evolved strictly on its own in-universe merits — a supernatural world as active, nigh omnipresent, and fractious as presented in the Dresdenverse would never have managed to actually drop out of humanity's sight to begin with.
Emotions and magic
- "Magic", for a lack of a better term, requires emotional investment. One has to care whether or not the spell will work. This probably explains why most wizards, such as Harry, tend to be so temperamental: when one's craft requires letting one's emotions loose, then controlling them becomes very difficult. This means that magic is more like an Art rather than a science or a piece of technology, because the results depend entirely on the skill of the wielder. I am curious, what about people with high psychological arousal thresholds (such as "sociopaths", although as of the time of this writing the term is not recognized by the APA). Are they incapable of using magic? That would explain why Nicodemus (a self-described sociopath) does not use magic.
- I don't see it being a problem. We have seen plenty of creatures that would probable be considered sociopaths perform magic: Mavra, Kemmelar, Kravos, Victor Shadowman, Corpsetaker, etc. The difference is a source of power. IIRC, Harry commented that the power used by the likes of Mavra and Corpsetaker felt "wrong." Harry draws his power from life and views magic as a creative force. Dark Magic is more associated with a willingness to hurt others, death, and the void. I guess another way to look at it is a magical version of the EM Spectrum. Harry's magic comes form one end and dark magic come from the other end. Nicodemus probable does not use magic or at least overt magic like Harry because he does not see a need. He may consider it too vulgar or too much of a short cut. He helped design several magical rituals so I think it is clear he is well-versed in it and his angel can provide him with hellfire.
- I don't think magic is fueled by emotion exactly, it's fueled by will. You have to decide and believe that the spell is going to work, or it doesn't. Emotions are helpful in summoning up that will (if you care about whether something happens, it's easier to become resolved that it is going to happen), but you can use pure willpower from a state of total serenity and the spell will work just fine.
- Sociopaths have emotions, what they lack is empathy. It's for this reason that real-life sociopaths tend to favor selfish and anti-social behavior; their primary motivator is what they want, all others be damned. In the Dresdenverse sociopaths probably have a far higher incidence of going warlock, since they don't have the regard for human life and self-determination that form the basis of the First through Fifth Laws. But they've got all the emotional fuel they need to pursue their own selfish goals.
- I just watch Legend of Korra, and I noticed some parallels between the bender Triads and the White Council. I was just wondering if anyone found wizards in general, and the White Council to be a bit ... well ... dismissive about non-wizards. Probably creates a lot of resentment among those who don't use magic. (I wonder if the Black Council is exploiting that for their own purposes).
- ???. I don't really see any parallels. The White Council doesn't really interact with non-wizards all that much. They don't exploit them, rule them or hold a special place among them. They do prevent wizards from using black magic against non-wizards, and make some effort to prevent other creatures from preying on them, but that is basically it. The White Council governs wizards and leaves non-wizards alone, so where exactly are the parallels you're seeing?
- My fault. Allow me to elaborate. One of the things about the White Council is that they claim to govern all human thaumaturges or practitioners of the Art. However, it's very clear that members of the White Council are not elected democratically in any way, but are instead organized similar to a medieval guild or a trade union. This is understandable given that it is structured governed like an academic society, however, unlike most academic societies, this organization claims absolute life-or-death power over all humans who practice magic, even if those humans have no say in White Council policy or have very little chance of acquiring a say. The events of Proven Guilty demonstrate to me that nepotism is an unfortunate aspect of wizard apprenticeships.
- Also, the White Council appears to have no respect for mortal law. I completely understand the necessity of terminating an out-of-control warlock before he or she kills a lot of innocent people. However, Wardens are not given police powers nor are they deputized by lawful authority. Therefore, their actions are very illegal, similar to the actions of the bender Triads in Legend of Korra.
- One argument could be that mortal authorities are not equipped to handle monsters and magic. However, I think that they would be if they were properly trained to handle such threats. Karrin Murphy, Waldo Butters, and indeed the entire Special Crimes Unit of the Chicago Police Department . However, the White Council as a whole has studiously averted the proper authorities of the threats faced by their citizens.
- Another argument states that getting mortal authorities involved would escalate the conflict in the preternatural community to chaos. However, consider this: thousands of people are getting slaughtered, kidnapped, or eaten every day by monsters; human civilization is constantly threatened with extinction, and; Harry Dresden himself is so often outgunned that he must resort to actions which cause enormous collateral damage, up to and including causing the massive socio-political turmoil in Central and South America (Source: Changes), turmoil which will affect the lives of billions of humans. One could make the contention that the situation has already devolved to the point of global chaos. Mortal governments and people certainly ought to know and prepare for such threats, yet are kept in the dark because wardens such as Donald Morgan believe that mortal governments are unable to handle such threats (Source: Storm Front).
- In addition, the Seven Laws of Magic do not stop wizards from abusing mortals. There are many creative ways of harming or killing humans by using magic without directly killing the aformentioned humans with magic. Allow me to elaborate: the wizard could turn invisible, sneak up behind a human, and then shoot them in the head with a gun; Or the wizard could simply knock out the human with a sleeping spell, then shoot them in the head. Since no laws of magic were violated, the White Council will do nothing. Not to mention that wizards could use their powers to, or summon entities that could, steal money, commit insider trading, steal and sell identities or other personal information, steal and sell government secrets, commit forgery, or even use the Nevernever to transport illegal narcotics across continents. With regard to that last one, a wizard could make a LOT of money transporting drugs from Columbia or Afghanistan or Thailand to the United States or Europe. Wizards, therefore, have the capacity to commit crimes about which the White Council will do nothing. Similar to the Bender Triads of Legend of Korra.
- All of this suggests that the White Council, as powerful and as qualified as they may be, very often makes decisions without whatsoever considering the opinions or views of the very mortals that they claim to protect.
- Also, consider that wizards have some advantages of non-wizards. Wizards age much slower than humans and have a much better rate of recuperation than non-wizards, and have the (admittedly rare) possibility of attaining immortality (via the Darkhallow or some other Ascension ritual). Wizards can level city blocks with their minds, access alternate space-time continuua (the Nevernever), sense emotions and read thoughts (Molly Carpenter), destroy buildings with a word (Harry Dresden), pull satellites from orbit to destroy entire buildings (Ebenezer McCoy), and otherwise have powers that many mortals cannot effectively resist. Jealousy for this power, as well as fear about being abused by this power, could provoke resentment of, and outright hostility by, non-wizards. Therefore, the parallels with The Legend of Korra.
- Are wizards overall dismissive of mortals? Sure. Should they include mortal authorities? NO! As with some of the reasons discussed under the headscratcher about the Masquerade humans tend to the short-sighted, selfish, stupid creatures. Harry mentioned the White Council getting more involved in worldly affairs. It was quickly pointed out that the White Council is composed of members from all over the world. Each issue would have voices on every side. Get mortal government involved and the whole mess would escalate. First you have the religious nuts and superstitous who would start witch hunts. Then you have the bureaucracy and political favoritism/infighting on a much larger scale. Chicago SI works because Murphy is reasonable. But what if you get someone like Rudolph in there or some cop who has been offered immortality by a vampire. Then you have the civil rights groups complaining about the rights of psychopathic warlocks. Trials drag on for years. The warlock escapes and causes massive damage. How long before the military tries to weaponize magic by summoning some old god or pissing off an entity that can pop the Earth like a balloon? Remember, Harry when finally forced to face it admitted the Council's ways sadly are the best. The only time when Chicago SI has been successful on its own are against small-timers or with magical backup. Is the White Council necessarily wiser than regular mortals? In some ways no they are still human. But they are better informed, better experienced, their methods work and I think there is enough people involved to act as sort of a checks and balances, but at the same time not too many involved to unnecessarily complicate things.
- You have struck on a major point there: the White Council may be the best there is, but that "best" may not be good enough. The White Council favours expediency over actually doing what they claim to do. As to the point of rights of psychopathic warlocks, I think that there is legitimate concern over how the White Council treats warlocks. As seen in Proven Guilty, the Merlin was prepared to execute Molly, a warlock who recognized her crime and voluntarily surrendered herself to the Council's authority in the hope of seeking the appropriate treatment, out of sheer spite. While it is true that there are very good reasons for stopping warlocks where they are, the books demonstrate that there is legitimate concern over how they are treated when they are about to be put to death. Regarding your point about a trial, there is a reason trials take so long. It's so that, if someone is to be put to death, it's so that all reasonable objections are cleared. Killing someone is serious, and someone shouldn't be put to death unless it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that doing so is just and in the best interests of the community. Now, obviously that does not happen in real life. Humans are flawed, mistakes are made, accidents happen, and the justice system itself will never be perfect. But that is all the more reason to be extra cautious when execuiting someone. As Turn Coat showed, the White Council can sometimes get it very wrong. There is a reason why the accused is entitled to a defence. It's so that the accusers have to provide evidence for their charge, answer any doubts as to that evidence, and so that the accused can navigate the labyrinthine justice system and choose how best to proceed. The rights of the accused exist so that innocent people are not condemned. However, the White Council will not even allow that. Molly was very lucky that Harry was there to advocate for her. Of course, there are times when a warlock has devolved into a psychopathic monstrosity beyond all hope of rehabilitation (like the Korean kid in Proven Guilty), but I doubt that happens all the time.
- Obviously I'm treading on dangerous ground here. The death penalty is a serious debate, and it should be discussed maturely and rationally.
- Also, like it or not, the White Council is involved in mortal governments, and they do make decisions that affect billions. The war with the Red Court, for instance, killed thousands of mortals, many of whom had no idea what was going on. I disagree with the notion that there are enough checks and balances within the White Council to prevent egregious abuse. Dresden, all by himself, basically re-enacted the events that triggered the First World War. Then, he blew up the Red Court, an event which caused massive civil unrest and caused the collapse of several mortal governments in Central and South America, which in turn probably caused catastrophic damage to the global economy and lead to millions losing their jobs, which probably resulted in a massive upsurge in crime and violence as people turned to extralegal means to support themselves. In addition, wizards regularly cause massive property damage (which they never pay for), and while I don't doubt that many of them are sincere in their desire to protect humans, they are woe-fully outnumbered, numbering a mere hundreds. Since the White Council is a secret organization, they don't have to answer to anyone for their mistakes. Harry Dresden will never have to answer to the thousands of mortals whose lives have been ruined when he ignited the wars with the Red Court and the Formor. I am not saying that Harry should be punished for his actions (indeed, I think he should be praised for many of them), however, the lack of accountability, combined with the wardens lack of manpower and resources, as well as the huge nepotism that plagues the White Council, means that any wizard is unlikely to have to answer for their mistakes. If the internet has shown us anything, it is that people can turn into outright rude and abusive trolls when they think they can get away with anything.
- Take Morgan's treatment of Dresden, for example. It's true that Dresden was a recovering warlock and needed to be kept an eye on, but it's also true that people tend to recover better when they are treated like people rather than like rabid dogs. However, Morgan was downright hostile and almost sadistic in his treatment of Dresden. It wasn't until Dead Beat that his behavior was brought to the attention of the Wardens.
- In addition, if history has shown us anything, it is that abusive and tyranny thrive in secrecy. MKULTRA, the Tuskagee experiments, Extraordinary Rendition, "Enhanced Interrogation", all happened under the cloak of secrecy and "national security". These are all serious issues and they need to be debated and discussed with the level of maturity and wisdom that they deserve. However, so long as the White Council considers itself "above" mere mortals, than that will never happen. As the existence of the Blackstaff shows, the White Council has no problem ignoring it's own principles and regulations in the name of "expediency", and we have seen no mechanism to stop the Blackstaff from exercising his (or her) power as he sees fit.
- As to the claim that militaries would start to weaponize magic, how is that any different from what Dresden is doing? Or Molly? Or the Wardens of the White Council? The only difference is that militaries (at least, the militaries of stable, democratic nations) have to answer to a civilian, democratically elected government, and that they have to operate under stringent conditions to prove that their weapons work. Despite what many TV shows and movies like to depict, a lot of military projects have really, really strict safety protocols. Many militaries may have spotty records when it comes to ethics and human rights, but they are big on pragmatism and practicality, and huge on safety and protocols. They don't want to lose valuable resources like soldiers due to foreseeable accidents, and they aren't going to use a weapon that unless they are damned sure they can control it. An example of this is the Manhattan Project. The scientists on the project refused to continue if there was even a 3% chance of a nuke igniting the atmosphere. And they checked the math numerous times to make sure.
- As I write this, I want to emphasize that I myself do not hate the series. For from it. I am simply trying to understand the perspective of a "mere mortal" who is frustrated, frightened, and angry, and who has legitimate concerns about these wizards who claim to be all wise but instead keep making mistake after mistak. I do want to emphasize that I do think that the White Council does have legitimate arguments and reasons for their actions. I just think that the issue is not as black-and-white as Dresden sometimes makes it out to be (than again, Dresden sometimes tends to make things black-and-white). I cannot help but see parallels between the "One-Percenter" argument and the White Council. The White Council is composed of the "One Percent" who holds "Ninety-Nine Percent" of the power when it comes to magic. From such a perspective, I see parallels between the Dresden Files and The Legend of Korra, and I can see how a movement like the Equalists might emerge in the Dresdenverse.
- I speed read all that so I am going to try to be brief. Yes, there is classism among wizards. Contrary to what they may look like they are not regular mortals. They live far longer, are more powerful and a number of other things set them apart. How much pure "mortal" law or morality is questionable and a debate for another time. They should not answer to mortal governments for the same reason they stay out of mortal affairs. Nothing would ever get done. The Council would be torn apart from infighting. Humans in the Dresdenverse are like a humans in many fictional universes if not the real world flawed at best if not outright morons. The stable mortal governments in fiction and the real world are often bogged down in bureaucracy, political infighting, short-term goals, or viewpoints limited to their own country. Many governments in the world are worse. Some military testing is conducted safely, but all it takes is some idiot to summon an elder god and throw everything back into the Dark Ages. If mortals knew of the Never N Ever you really thing some government wouldn't decide to try and invade? You really think the greater powers of the Dresdenverse, tolerate it, and accept the excuse of "It was another country?" No, they would not. For trials, most warlocks are so far gone that a long trial is pointless. That is why black magic is so forbidden. The Blackstaff himself is a necessity. We do not know all the methods that go with selecting one. I highly doubt just anyone is picked. Mortal governments themselves often bypass the law for expediency. Heck, given how a wizard might be able to cause an earthquake that can destroy a city expediency is necessary. In the end, mortal law and mortal concerns are not the end all and be all no matter how much Murphy may want them to be. There are wizards on the Council who predate the United States. Governments come and go as far as they are concerned. They have enough problems dealing with the politics of a small group of individuals let alone vast governments. The concerns of wizards often TRUMP those of regular mortals. "Oh, McCoy needs to clear an action with ten levels of government that are concerned political implications while Lavos the Summoner raises a demon from the 5th level of Hell!" "Oh, I'm going to sue Etain the Enchanter for blowing up my house in the while stopping a pack of vampires from attacking me!" It would be a disaster. Is the Council highly flawed? Yes. Have I heard yet of a viable alternative? No.
- I am not arguing the idea that the White Council may have good reasons for their actions. I am simply saying that it has not really been explored in any depth. Much of those above-mentioned arguments come from Luccio, who, it must be said, is not entirely un-biased in her opinion. Also, the idea of one soldier or hapless mortal summoning some world-eating abomination also applies to the White Council. What's to stop a wizard, or a warden, from doing the same thing out of ignorance? After all, Justin Du Morne was a member of the White Council, and he was still able to abuse his power and bring forth He Who Walks Behind. Also, Bureaucracy may be a pain, but it's also the reason why the Cold War never went Hot. There are rigorous command and control features and safety protocals that stop some renegade submarine commander or missile silo commander from simply launching nukes. No such feature exists among the supernatural community. At least the Soviet Union and the United States had the "red phone" to communicate, and they made sincere efforts to make sure they never went to war. Neither Summer nor Winter have anything in place like that so far as we have seen. Hell, from what we've seen, the supernatural factions have worse security precautions than mortals do. Take Cold Days for instance. Maeve nearly destroyed the world because Mab allowed her daughter to run rampant for years with no attempt to stop her or imprison her the moment she discovered Maeve's infection. While Mab's feelings are understandable and somewhat sympathetic, they are also a clear demonstration of nepotism, and of allowing personal feelings to interfere with one's duty and obligations. When a similar situation happened in The West Wing, Bartlet realized that his objectivity was compromised, and rather than risk the safety of the entire country, temporarily gave control to the next constitutional successor. Maeve was only stopped by the skin of the teeth. Bluntly put, Mab and Dresden got really lucky. What happens next time? I am not saying that full disclosure is necessary, but I do think that there is room for compromise.
- I am reminded of the Justice League's actions in Justice League Unlimited. The Justice League was undoubtedly a force for good, and they saved the world numerous times, but even some of their own members had to admit that the Justice League was very powerful, and that they could be a real threat to the planet if they wanted to, and that there was no one to sto the Justice League if . Hell, it was the Justice League's stand-offishness, heavy-handed tactics and insistence on total independence from oversight that helped to engender the creation of Project Cadmus, a government initiative designed to create weapons to counter the justice league in case the league went rogue. The escalating arms race nearly ignited a global apocalypse. I think that there are similarities between that situation and the White Council. Yes, the White C Ouncil is doing their best, but it isn't good enough, and their refusal to allow other "the little people" to get involved might, might spark a similar situation.
- I agree that mortal law and mortal concerns are not the end all be all of the Dresdenverse, however, my point is that they are vastly under-represented when it comes to planetary security. There are eight billion lives at stake, and the White Council has shown to be, well, somewhat wanting. I agree that, at least from Dresden's perspective, there are no other viable alternatives. However, many others might not agree with that, and seek to create an alternative. Plus, the White C Ouncil's attitude would engender jealousy and fear among those who don't have that kind of power. Similar to the Equalists in The Legend of Korra.
- After reading through your argument, I have to say you seem to be making a lot of assumptions that are way off. Blaming the White Council for the state of the world, or the actions of other supernatural beings, is really rather ridiculous. Why hasn't the White Council told everyone about all the monsters? Because the last time mortals got involved in fighting monsters publicly, they turned around and started attacking wizards as well. The White Council isn't dedicated to covering up the existence of the supernatural (or if it is, it all happens off-screen and goes without mention by anyone), so people's ignorance isn't actually their fault, and they have reason to avoid sticking their necks out. And everything else is not their responsibility. They have no control over what other supernatural beings do, and they have no real obligation to subjugate themselves to mortal governments who are going to war with one another all the time. Hell, realistically speaking the Council has no actual duty to save people from monsters in the first place, as they only govern magic users and leave normal people alone. The White Council just doesn't interact with the mundane world to any great degree, so while it can be said that they aren't very good at protecting humanity at large, they aren't actually oppressing it in any capacity either. Bringing up The Legend of Korra as a comparison baffles me because they really do not have the similarities you seem to think they do.
- Allow me to elaborate. I am not assuming that the White Council is solely responsible for the state of the world. However, I do think that the idea that the White Council itself is flawed has merit. I do think that a non-wizard human thinking that the White Council is, and indeed all wizards are, just as dangerous as some of the other monsters out there is not an unreasonable position. I respectfully disagree with the idea that they only govern magic users and leave normal people alone. While most wizards may not deliberately target non-magic humans, the fallout of the wizards actions often does affect mortals. I once again bring up Changes, where Harry's actions, whether or not they were justified, resulted in massive geo-political instability in South and Central America, and to a lesser extent the entire world, affecting the lives of billions of humans. His mentor, McCoy, killed dozens of non-combatant humans when he destroyed Ortega's home, and he himself has claimed responsibility for several natural disasters which have drastically affected mortal lives. In addition, the Wardens regularly interact with mortals by investigating claims of black magic, and if the Wardens make a mistake, well, then it's not like the police are going to stop them. Many mortals who do know about wizards and magic may feel that these wizards have far too much power and far too little restraint, and may be indistinguishable from other monsters. Regular, ordinary mortals have no control over these strange, seemingly superhuman individuals, and those same mortals have no legal recourse with which to seek redress or raise their concerns. They (not I, but they) may feel tired of just living in fear hoping that Dresden or McCoy or someone else doesn't just decide to show up and blow their building down. If Dresden is fighting some monster and, in a fit of desperation, blows up someone's home or shop, well, that person is now homeless and incapable of supporting themselves. They can't go to the police or the government because the police or the government don't believe them or are on the take. But they don't just want let that injury slide or let their lives be ruled by fear. Such an attitude is similar to the way many Equalists felt in the Legend of Korra: they felt that the benders regularly abused their powers over non-benders, and that non-benders had no legal recourse or means to stop said abuse because it was benders who had all the power. Some mortals, in the Dresdenverse, may feel the same way about wizards. They may see wizards as just another threat to humanity, like the vampires or faeries, and decide to take steps to counter such a threat.
- I'll be brief. I see most of your argument as irrelevant because regular mortals and mortal concerns do not matter much as far as the supernatural is concerned. Geo-political instability? The economy? Mortal law? Mortal government? Your house blown up? None of it matters to the Fae, vampires, or gods. Most of the older wizards probable do not care much about it as well. All of these mortal concerns last only a few decades at best. Compare that to supernatural matters that take a viewpoint of centuries. Should the White Council involve mortals or mortal governments? Again no because mortals as a whole are short-sighted, narrow-minded, stupid, panicky beings who are always jealous of not having what others have regardless of how they are treated. Are there flaws in the system? Sure. Is there room for reform from within? To some degree yes, but I don't see it heavily involving regular mortals. I don't see "Cold Days" being a case. Mab and Odin both were well aware of the situation. They do not perceive time or existence the same way mortals do. Mortal viewpoints (and by extension Harry's) are very limited compared to being s like them. Mab had several plans in place to deal with the situation which was effective. Disasters like this are almost always by the skin of your teeth in any novel for suspense. There is always the chance some idiot could end the world. At the same time, given how it has not ended and beings like Odin and Uriel are looking out for it the world is probable far more stable then it appears. As for mortals in general it sucks to be them in a universe like the Dresdenverse, but I don't see how involving them further in the supernatural would be beneficial.
- I would like to analyze some of these claims:
- I see most of your argument as irrelevant because regular mortals and mortal concerns do not matter much as far as the supernatural is concerned. Geo-political instability? The economy? Mortal law? Mortal government? Your house blown up? None of it matters to the Fae, vampires, or gods. Most of the older wizards probable do not care much about it as well. However, these do matter to mortals, and, in fact, they do matter to many vampires. After all, Black Court vampires still need to find a home in which to hide. White Court vampires, particular House Raith, depend upon the pornography industry in order to maintain their wealth. Wizards, like Dresden, still need to pay taxes and buy groceries. In addition, many of the antagonists were motivated by those factors. Victor Sells was motivated to become a warlock in part because he lost his job. The FBI Agents were motivated in part because they were extremely frustrated with Marcone's continued escape from justice. In addition, all the supernatural factions are careful to remain hidden because they do not want to provoke the ire of mortal authorities. Therefore, I respectfully disagree with this contention.
- Should the White Council involve mortals or mortal governments? Again no[.] This actually is a major issue that has no clear answer. After all, Dresden is a member of the White Council, and he has no problem involving Murphy in various crises, since she proved herself capable of handling herself. There might be other mortals who could be capable of handling such knowledge with maturity. I am not saying that everyone should be told. I do think, however, that when a bunch of necromancers threaten to wipe out Chicago, or when a vampire blows up an FBI field office, or when a renegade faerie tries to destroy a continent, than I do not think that a government responsible for the safety for those citizens at risk wanting to know about, and contribute to, a satisfactory resolution to such crises is unreasonable. I am not saying I have a clear answer. I am merely saying that there is room for discussion and debate.
- [M]ortals as a whole are short-sighted, narrow-minded, stupid, panicky beings who are always jealous of not having what others have regardless of how they are treated. Being short-sighted, narrow-minded, stupid, panicky, and jealous is not solely the purview of mortals. Bianca attempted to kill Dresden in Grave Peril because Dresden made her feel weak, despite the fact that Dresden was defending himself. Ariana tried to kill McCoy because he killed her husband, who she didn't even like and treated terribly. Mab wouldn't kill her daughter because she cared about her. The Merlin was willing to kill Molly to spite Dresden. The novels clearly demonstrated that all the aformentioned flaws are possessed by immortals and monsters just as well as mortals.
- I don't see "Cold Days" being a case. Mab and Odin both were well aware of the situation. They do not perceive time or existence the same way mortals do. Mortal viewpoints (and by extension Harry's) are very limited compared to being s like them. Mab had several plans in place to deal with the situation which was effective. We do not know the extent of Mab and Odin's knowledge regarding those events, as we see the event solely from Dresden's eyes. We do know that their attempts to counter Nemesis depended upon Dresden's actions, and there were many instances wherein Dresden could have died or failed in his mission. As far as the reader is concerned, there were numerous instances when Dresden or his allies could have died,
- Disasters like this are almost always by the skin of your teeth in any novel for suspense. All the more reasons to have as many safeguards as possible. I agree completely that it makes sense from a narrative standopoint. However, from a security standpoint, that is unacceptable. Threats like that should be stopped well before they can escalate to such a critical standpoint. I understand that such a statement is an ideal, and that reality is far from ideal, but it is a goal towards which one ought to strive.
- There is always the chance some idiot could end the world. Again, all the more reasons to have as many safeguards as possible. Cold Days showed that depending upon Immortals for planetary security is dangerous at best, and that their efforts may not be enough.
- At the same time, given how it has not ended and beings like Odin and Uriel are looking out for it the world is probable far more stable then it appears. Both of those aforementioned entities have limitations. Odin is clearly not the most powerful being there is, and he said so himself. Uriel is also forbidden by very strict laws, as he cannot interfere or prevent mortal free will.
- As for mortals in general it sucks to be them in a universe like the Dresdenverse, but I don't see how involving them further in the supernatural would be beneficial. One possible route is training, arming, and preparing those mortals who are either directly under threat, or are in a position to offer direct protection. After all, one of the recurring themes of the novels is how modern technology and firepower has allowed mortals to challenge the creatures of the night. However, as I said before, there are no easy answers to these questions.
- 1. The FBI Agents and Victor Sells were still heavily mortals. The rest mentioned have set up a system to thrive in the modern world, but have lived for centuries so they can adapt to changes in the mortal world quite easily. It is hardly as essential to them as it is for mortals. 2. Still not buying it. Mortal governments are still too limited in thinking. 3. Ariana tried to kill McCoy because doing so would severely weaken the White Council. In the end, Mab did her duty and had backup plans in place. The Merlin is a small scale example and backed down once he was defeated. To live longer than a century in their world requires a large degree of self-control and need to see the bigger picture. Otherwise, you piss off the wrong being and do not live long. 4. Like I stated, it appeared Odin and Mab knew far more then they let on. Dresden's view is rather limited so a situation cannot be judge from that alone. 5. Depending on Immortals who have a vested interest in keeping the planet around and a proven track record is better than trusting mortals who tend to think much more short-term. 6. So? A running theme seems to be the more powerful a being is the more limited it is. This applies as much to evil as it does good. I don't see this as being a reason to involve mortals more. 7. You are assuming you can find and trust such people. Besides, it looks like Odin already does that to some degree. Modern technology only works against smaller, direct threats like werewolves. Given how connected lesser supernatural creatures are to more powerful ones if a government gets trigger happy it could easily piss off the wrong entity.
- The FBI Agents and Victor Sells were still heavily mortals. The rest mentioned have set up a system to thrive in the modern world, but have lived for centuries so they can adapt to changes in the mortal world quite easily. It is hardly as essential to them as it is for mortals. To a degree, it does. The series often mentions that immortals have a hard time adapting to change.
- Still not buying it. Mortal governments are still too limited in thinking. Please elaborate. I think a modern-day example of mortal governments thinking long-term is the advent of nuclear technology. Although there were several close calls, in the end, a nuclear holocaust was averted.
- Ariana tried to kill McCoy because doing so would severely weaken the White Council. In the end, Mab did her duty and had backup plans in place. The Merlin is a small scale example and backed down once he was defeated. To live longer than a century in their world requires a large degree of self-control and need to see the bigger picture. Otherwise, you piss off the wrong being and do not live long. We often see that many immortals do not possess a great degree of self-control. The Red Court as a whole possessed severe issue when it comes to self-control. The Winter Court is defined by the traits of sadism and sociopathy, and many of it's immortal members embrace and indulge in the aforementioned traits. Also, the death of one member of the Senior Council, while bad, would not have severely weakened the Senior Council. When McCoy's predecessor, Simon Petrovich, was killed, they Senior Council simply appointed McCoy in his place.
- Like I stated, it appeared Odin and Mab knew far more then they let on. Dresden's view is rather limited so a situation cannot be judge from that alone. I interpret the evidence differently. However, Dresden's limited perspective, combined with the lack of evidence, causes me to, for the sake of the philosophical principle of charity, agree with you. If so, then so what? Neither Odin nor Mab are omniscient or infallible, and it's clear that they have no problem causing mass casualties in order to get what they want.
- Depending on Immortals who have a vested interest in keeping the planet around and a proven track record is better than trusting mortals who tend to think much more short-term. This is a matter of opinion. Many of the events that occur in the Dresden Files take place in a very short time span, and often require at least some degree of mortal intervention in order to resolve. If not, than Dresden would not be dragged into all of these events. Also, since mortals are the ones who most often suffer for immortal quarrels, while the immortals are, well, immortal, I do not think that mortals having some influence regarding matters of planetary defence is unreasonable.
- So? A running theme seems to be the more powerful a being is the more limited it is. This applies as much to evil as it does good. I don't see this as being a reason to involve mortals more. These immortals are still capable of causing mass amounts of damage.
- You are assuming you can find and trust such people. Besides, it looks like Odin already does that to some degree. Modern technology only works against smaller, direct threats like werewolves. Given how connected lesser supernatural creatures are to more powerful ones if a government gets trigger happy it could easily piss off the wrong entity. Mortal technology is also capable of harming some of the larger threats. For instance, a nuclear weapon was capable of destroying a naagloshii. In addition, mortal technology is constantly progressing. Antimatter, powered armour, electrolasers, smart bombs, sniper rifles, all of these are modern-day weapons capable of threatening many immortals. Hell, even an immortal like Maeve was killed by a handgun to the face, and Dresden was easily dispatched by a sniper rifle. Mortal technology, combined with knowledges of the weaknesses of supernatural creatures, is repeatedly shown to be a devastating combination.
- Hard time adapting The series is mixed on this. Fae do not need to adapt much because they barely spend any time in the mortal world. Vampires are the only immortals so far who need to adapt and they have done a pretty good job. Same with wizards. Their only problem is the whole technology bit.
- Those are excellent points. However, the Pauli effect of wizards means that they are unfortunately, similar to Typhoid Mary in that their mere presence can cause harm to innocents. After all, a sufficiently powerful wizard could short out traffic lights, disrupt pacemakers and life-support machines, and blackout an entire city.
- Mortal governments are still too limited in thinking. Please elaborate. The U. N. can often barely take action because of internal divisions. The U. S. and U.S.S.R. both were similar enough in culture that they realized the danger of nuclear weapons and at the time more or less ran the world. Not so any more. I can see some religious extremist thinking annihilating half the planet is worth it if they win given the glass half-empty of the Dresden verse.
- However, there have been cases where government intervention has actually been very successful. Government funding managed to create the internet and put a man on the moon. In addition, the reason governments tend to interfere in the market place and have standards like the minimum wage is in part to ensure that proper safety protocols are met. In order to be a doctor, you have to have a medical license. Again, please elaborate on how governments tend to be short sighted.
- We often see that many immortals do not possess a great degree of self-control. I don't really see that. The upper nobility of the Reds did possess self-control. It was necessary to stay in power. They just preferred the world in a more chaotic state which was easier for them to control. Similar with the Winter Fae. They may embrace sadism and sociopathy, but they still need enough self-control not to piss off the wrong being. But like the Reds they do not care for mortal life and spend most of their time in Fae.
- True, but throughout the war with the White Council, the Reds lacked the cohesion and discipline necessary to wage effective warfare. Martin himself mentioned how the Red Court was tearing itself apart internally as the vampires used the war as an excuse to settle petty vendettas. In addition, Harry himself also notes that the Red Court was very inconsistent during the war, being tactically brilliant on one end, and then blitheringly stupid on the other. I take this as evidence that the Red Court was also very undisciplined. In addition, there have been instances where Winter Faeries have shown a remarkable lack of self-discipline. When the Red Cap challenged Harry, he triggered a violent confrontation in what was supposed to be a simple ball (poor Harry, every time he goes somewhere fancy it always ends up in violence. It's probably why he never gets invited to parties). In addition, when Harry laid down the law with the other Sidhe, one of them mouthed off, getting himself killed.
- Neither Odin nor Mab are omniscient or infallible, and it's clear that they have no problem causing mass casualties in order to get what they want. Of course not, they are immortal beings who have been around since mankind, are so far beyond a regular human it is highly questionable if the same morals can even begin to apply, have seen humans kill each other for every reason under the sun including trivial for thousands of years. In the grand scheme of things I am sure to them the average human life is very trivial.
- Which is all the more reason for human beings to look after themselves rather than depend upon those who are so removed from human concerns that they can only see human beings as pawns to be exploited. I am somewhat reminded of the God-Emperor from Warhammer 40,000. He claimed that his actions were for the best interests of humanity. However, he make some highly questionable decisions, such as killing countless humans whose only crime was not agreeing with his philosophy, attempting to seize total control of the human species, and his total secrecy regarding the dangers of the Warp. He may have been a highly intelligent man, but he was so powerful that he failed to fully appreciate the emotional needs, as well as the unique personalities and alternative viewpoints of his followers, which resulted in a devastating civil war. I think that that example is similar to the immortals of the Dresdenverse. Many of them, as you say, simply do not care about human beings, which is a dangerous oversight considering the amount of damage an average human being can do to an immortal. In addition, humans killing humans for stupid reasons also applies to immortals. After all, Bianca's entire vendetta against Harry, which triggered the Vampire-Wizard War, was simply because he made her feel a moment's insecurity. Also, Mab's treatment of Lloyd Slate certainly qualifies as unreasonable (to say the least).
- I do not think that mortals having some influence regarding matters of planetary defence is unreasonable. They do. It is called the White Council which I have already said I don't think should heavily involve mortal governments and nothing I have heard changes that viewpoint. '
- Which unfortunately brings us back to the original point: that the White Council, as it currently stands, is insufficient and corrupt. Unfortunately, we only have Harry's viewpoint, so we don't know all the laws, procedures, and make up of the coucnil.
- These immortals are still capable of causing mass amounts of damage. So? I don't see that changing anything. Mortal lives do not amount to much in the Dresdenverse when you have beings that have lived for eons with power and a viewpoint of time far beyond human comprehension.
- Which is why mortals are going to have to take care of themselves. As I mentioned before, the White Council itself is also, unfortunately, guilty in this regard, as the wizard's long lives means that they are often detached from the day-to-day realities of the vast majority of human beings.
- Mortal technology is also capable of harming some of the larger threats..., all of these are modern-day weapons capable of threatening many immortals. I would hardly consider a nuke that much of a step-up. If the Nagooshi is in a city you lose the city. Given how wizard magic messes with tech it seems if you throw enough magic at tech it goes haywire so all of the advanced mortal weapons would be made useless. A handgun only killed Maeve because she was mortal at the time and all but admitted she had a death wish. Nuke Mab, she reforms later and curses the Earth with endless winter. Invade the Never Never? You are assuming human technology will work deep within it. It was all but said the Outer Gates exist in part of the Never Never that are normally impossible to get to or for mortals to survive in. The rules of physics that make mortal technology work can be changed in the Neve Never. And magic is strongest there so some nigh-omnipotent can strike at Earth all they want and nothing can be done about it if said entity is pissed off. At worse, you risk starting a war where all the other major powerhouses decided to destroy humanity on principle.
- All very good points. I will try to address them as best as possible. Tech can be insulated from the wizard's Pauli effect by a magic circle, which is not an end-all be-all solution, but it is a start. The fact that Immortals can be killed in certain places, times, or by certain weapons means that they can be countered and neutralized given enough resources. As you pointed out, Murphy managed to kill Maeve. The fact that it did happen means that mortals, with the appropriate resources can effectively counter immortals. Also, the fact that immortals can be forcibly summoned by simply saying their name three times puts these immortals at a severe disadvantage, as it means the summoner can pick the place and time of a confrontation. Therefore, one would not need to risk a confrontation in the deeps of the Nevernever where the laws of physics may not apply, when one could keep the battle on Earth. Of course, this is not perfect, as powerful beings like Mother Winter can reverse the summoning. However, beings powerful on that level also seem to have currently undefined limits as to how much they can interfere in mortal affairs, meaning that they are rarely belligerents. Further thoughts and comments would be appreciated.
- By now we are going in circles. Yes, wizards and supernatural creatures are capable of the same fallibilities as humans, but humans are guilty of all the same if not worse. I take a class half empty view of humanity in universes like this and do not see how involving them more would improve things. In all liklihood they pull a stunt against the good supernatural creatures and get all to turn on humans. Overall, the system used now works and only a few reforms are needed namely to the White Council. Your last point still does not work because supernatural creatures can only be summoned if you know there true name and no one knows the true names of the higher ones. Mab and Odin are names they commonly go by and can be used to get their attention and they appear if they wish. It is not their true name. As a Winter Knight, Harry has a special connection to Mab and that is why she appeared. They are also beings who maintain the universe and screwing with them would screw up the fundamental forces of the universe. The only thing that really "limits" such beings are a system of checks and balances set up such as that between the Faire Courts. But the moment someone tries to take a serious shot at Titania or Mab and in the off chance takes one of them out you really thing the courts won't put aside their differences and take out humanity? You really think the Sidhe as a whole will take insult and let it slide? You really think the other major supernatural powers will take the possible threat of that likely? You think Odin or some of the other more friendly ones would go along with that? Someone who has spent a few thousand years gathering power and allies maybe? Some upstart human? Highly unlikely. Even if Uriel or a few others were to try to defend Earth you really think humanity would survive the side effects of any war? The Dresdenverse never struck me as a universe where humans are the center of the universe or greatest thing ever. It never struck me as one where the universe as spent billions of years readying itself for it. The Dresdenverse struck me more as being like Lovecraft's universe. A universe where humanity is a bug and where titans walk caring little for the ants beneath it. A universe that is a bit better because some of those giants care enough to try to avoid stepping on the bugs and where occassionally the bugs can give a giant a bloody nose, but ultimately if the bugs get to uppity said titans will wipe them out completely.
- You are free to have your own interpretation of the Dresdenverse, of course. I disagree with it. However, a "glass-half-empty" approach to human nature would, in my opinion, necessitate the need for more accountability and checks-and-balances. I disagree that the system works, because the entire Dresden Files series is one long series of accounts about how the system doesn't work, and needs serious overhaul. Second, while Titania, Mab, and Odin are all powerful, so were the Red Court, and they are now all dead. The Dresdenverse is NOT the same as a world with Godzilla in it or a Lovecraftian universe. If these immortals were really as powerful as they claim, then they would not need to go through all the trouble of appointing emissaries and knights. Jim Butcher himself has said that the difference between humans and other creatures is that humans possess free will, and that they are able to change their behavior and traits, whereas immortals cannot. If humans were not so unique, than the angels and the faerie queens and the fallen would not be seeking knights, and the supernatural creatures would not be so scared of attracting human attention. Indeed, many of the aforementioned immortals were once humans themselves.
- We do not know if all nonhuman creatures lack free will. The presence of Fallen Angels and Nagooshii indicates at least some supernatural entities possess free will let alone God or gods. We also do not know what extent many of the immortals were once human. Its been stated that some of the Sidhe predate humanity. The minor supernatural creatures are hestiate to attract human attention because of humanity's numbers and they live in the human world. I have heard nothing of the higher ups or those who live in the Never Never being afraid of humans. The Fallen seek out knights because that is among the limitations God set for them. The queens do it to prevent upsetting the balance of power. There is nothing to indicate humans are wholly unique or somehow better or special compared to the other supernatural races.
- It's consistently shown that humans have the free will to deny their nature that supernatural creatures don't. When he's facing Mother Winter in Cold Days, Harry has a substantial inner monologue saying exactly that.
- We have also seen creatures like the Skin Walkers and angels change their nature. So that is prove that some supernatural creatures can deny their nature or change it. Harry is usually correct on supernatural things since he is the voicebox we see things through. But this is one case where other facts in the books prove him wrong.
- That's less free will and more them having one single choice they can make that locks them in. They certainly can't change back.
- How do you know that? God may never accept them back, but I don't see what prevents them from from changing "back." I do not recall that ever being stated. Lasceil's shadow was slowly changed by Dresden into becoming a being of good instead of evil. Since the shadow was an imprint of the real Lasciel I would think that indicates the Fallen are capable of changing even if it would be very difficult if next to impossible. I have heard the new novel Skin Game may have some bearing on this topic.
- Lasciel's shadow is specifically noted as being able to change because it wasn't the actual Fallen. It was able to change because it was basically made of Harry. It's noted somewhere that Angels only really have one choice—whether to Fall or not.
- Harry is even very specific about this in White Night: Lash was created as part of Harry's mind, making her just as malleable as a human mind. Coupled with her being given a Name by Harry, it instilled identity into an entity of intellect constructed out of human.
- Was she human? No. If she made a choice contrary to her nature even if influence by a human would that not indicate she has free will. And as for angels, the only thing I recall is the angel of death being resentful because Harry is allowed to choose and it is not. Not that angels lack the capability to choose. The Knights exist to redeem fallen humans not fallen angels, not that it is impossible for the fallen to change. Even then you still have the Skin Walkers.
- Jim Butcher has specifically said that Lash did not have free will. What she gained was autonomy and her own identity. Falling or not appears to be the only choice that angels can make. The Skinwalkers can't change what they are. His definition of Free Will appears to be different from yours, that Free Will means being able to exercise your will on the world and choose whether to follow your nature; something supernatural creatures don't have.
- If Winter Fae must follow their nature then why did Mab not kill Maeve herself since Mab has been Mab so long the mantle should have consumed her utterly? If skinwalkers cannot change what they are then how could they have been corrupted in the first place? No mention has been made of an outside force like Nemesis corrupting them. Falling for angels appears to be a lot like law breaking. I know it is against the law to steal and yet I can choose to steal or not. Whether I do or not I am still human. Fallen angels are still angels which are different from Never Never Demons. Denarian Humans can live for hundreds or thousands of years. Nicodemus has been his sociopathic, scheming self for close to two millennia by some estimation. Yet he is still given the chance to repent even if he chooses to engage in the same behavior he has for centuries. This indicates he is still considered to have the capacity for change. So if angels have/are souls what prevents them from doing the same unless God says they are eternally what they are not which raises some unfortunate implications. I am not trying to impose my idea of free will over Butcher's. My issue is that Butcher appears to have written the Dresenverse idea of free will and contradicted it in the story or at least not made it so nearly as cut and dry as "Humans have free will and no one else does." I have heard there is a character in Skin Game that would have some bearing on this issue, but since I do not know who has read it I do not want to be accused of spoiling the novel unless I am told to bring it up.
- Complicated matters is the fact that humans can (often without their consent) be changed into praeternatural creatures. Molly's transformation into the Winter Lady comes to mind. If faeries have no free will, if the Winter Lady is a faery, and if Molly is the Winter Lady, than by that logic Molly is a faery, and therefore Molly has no free will. If that is true (and it's a big if, since the above comments have shown there is no universal concensus on the current topic), than Mab has essentially enslaved Molly and robbed her of her free will, and I am left wondering why in the hell I as a reader should want Harry to continue working with Mab, or why I should favor Mab over the Outsiders.
- If you think about it, every Fae from the Mothers, to the queens (including Mab) downward is slave which is frankly why I do not like the idea. Mab magically/biologically/whatever incapable of feeling empathy and naturally cold and ruthless. But I think there is a difference between controlling your nature which she does compare to letting it control you which is what Maeve did. Harry chooses to control the urges of the Winter Knight instead of letting it control him like Lloyd Slate. I think that is where the free will would come in. Harry's nature is to be heroic and protect people. He could choose to go against that nature and give into the mantle or choose it nature over the other. He does not. Same with Mab. Her every urge may drive to kill Dresden for his acts of defiance, but she chooses not to or she chooses between her two natures of duty vs. vengeance. If the Fae have no free will why should you continue reading? I suppose to see if Dresden can figure out a way to save Molly and get out of the situations he has dug himself in. Why should you support Mab over the Outsiders? Cause as unfair and bad as Mab might be the reality the Outsiders would created would be worse.
- Fair point. I do hope that Jim Butcher will allow us an ethical and moral solution to the dilemma, instead of a bleak choice between the endless perdition of the Outsider and the hopeless panopticon of Winter.
- "Was she human?" Yes, for the purposes of free will. She was an entity of intellect made up entirely of soul and human brain tissue. That made her more malleable and able to change and make decisions for herself that wouldn't alter what she was. Harry said this explicitly in White Night.
- Free Will means total free will. It doesn't mean you can make a choice on one or two things, it means you can choose to do anything you want. An Angel can choose to Fall or not, but it can't choose to just be a hairdresser and say 'screw it' to the whole deal. Mab can choose how she goes about having Maeve killed, but she can't choose to make Winter all kind and fluffy.
- That comes across as a rather simplistic definition. Everyone has limitations on their decisions including humans. Thomas can choose to fight his monstrous nature, but that does not stop him from being a monster which is what he considers himself to be and is classified as. A human can choose to break a law, but if caught and thrown in jail their choices become limited. Magical beings sound like they are similar, but the higher up you go the more limitations are built in to prevent you from screwing up the universe. Harry is still human, but has given up some of his free will to Mab because he is now magically bound by Winter's law. Breaking it costs him the power of the mantle as seen in Cold Days.
Imprisoning the monsters under Demonreach
- How did all those dark gods and nightmares get trapped under Demonreach in the first place? The island may be the ultimate prison, but it can't act outside of itself. Did the original Merlin somehow manage defeat all of those super powerful monsters and get them sealed up in there by himself? That seems difficult, even for him.
- Yes. And no, its not too much for Merlin. Remember, Merlin's magic was so potent Bob himself could barely figure out the basics of what was going on, and he built a defense system that had so much power that it could level North America if it went haywire.
- Agreed, the implication was that one of the ways Merlin built the prison was at different points in time AT THE SAME TIME. This would imply Merlin could either time travel or his understanding of time was far more advanced than any other human even in modern day. We do not know where the Dresdenverse Merlin came from or what he really was. Harry says all that is knowing about him are rumors and legends. On the other hand we also know he was apparently taught by Odin. It is possible he had help building the prison from Odin and possibly other supernatural entities. Many of the entities in the prison are implied to be so powerful or vile that the current supernatural powers would want them out of the way.
- Merlin wouldn't necessarily have to beat up all of those monsters to imprison them; summoning them directly into a binding circle and keeping them confined until they could be transported straight into the stasis-crystals would suffice.
- What if, at some point in his future, HARRY is the original Merlin? After all, he is The Warden, he is the most powerful wizard for his age that any on the White Council have seen, and he has been taught by Odin at least once, and Odin, in his mantle of Santa Claus, knows all about time travel ...
Do non-humans have free will?
- Do non-humans have free will? The series seems to jump back and forth on this. Bob once claimed he does not have free will and Wordof Jim is apparently only humans can change or go against their nature. In one interview, he claims Mab is a fundamentally cold and cruel. It would never occur to her merciful or patient. Yet in "Cold Days" she show both patience and mercy to Maeve. Mother Winter says Mab should outright kill Maeve herself ending the problem. Instead, Mab shows both mercy and patience by giving Maeve every possible chance to stop. Uriel's pity of the Naagloshii and their own history shows they were once good before they changed to become evil. World Of Jim also states a soul is needed to have free will. If angels are composed of soul since they can use soulfire doesn't that mean they have free will? If angels and other creatures like Red Court vampires lack choice in the matter isn't it hypocritical for God to be all supportive of free will (Evidenced by Uriel) only to condemn and damn them when they have no choice but to be evil?
- "Free will", in this context, seems to refer to the ability to change yourself fundamentally, not merely to change your mind about any one specific decision. Mab is reluctant to kill Maeve because it's inherently part of her nature to care about her daughter, even if that might be the only thing she feels that way about; it'd require true free will on her part to stop being hesitant about it. As for angels et cetera, having a soul is necessary to possess free will, but it may not be all that's required. And demons, Reds, and so forth still need to be stopped, even if they might merit God's pity for their lack of choice as well as His condemnation for their crimes.
- It's a really big topic. Hell, if you check real-life philosophy, there are debates as to whether humans have free will as well. However, let's stick to the Dresden Files. We only have Dresden's view on such matters, and he's not really a very well educated or insightful person on such matters. That's not to say he's stupid, but he's not going to be the type of person whose going to dwell on Compatibilism vs Determinism vs Libertarian.
- It's possible that they do possess some version of free will, in that they are able to consciously decide to alter their habits and traits.
- I think it is less about being able to make decisions, and more about being able to make decisions that don't change you. A lot of magical entities have free will to make decisions, but if they make a decision that works outside the boundaries of their powers, they either lose those powers or are changed. Fae can choose to disregard their obligations, but they suffer massive pain and loss of power to do so. Angels can act against their cosmic limitations, but in the process they give up their Grace and can either die or fall. Humans, meanwhile, have the freedom to act however they choose without suffering immediate, instant supernatural repercussions.
- So, going hypothetical here, if, say, a newly minted Faerie Lady (say, a Summer or Winter Lady who was forcibly transformed from a human into a faerie, assuming there are no other such instances where a human can be turned into a faerie) decided to refuse to perform her duties and obligations, she would double over in pain and be weakened. Because Ladies are biologically closest to humans, they wouldn't be as crippled, as say, a Queen or a Queen Mother. Would that be correct? Please answer ASAP.
- It's probably deeper than that. A fae Queen neglecting her duty would be like a human neglecting gravity. It's literally who they are.
- Mab stated Maeve had been ignoring her duties, but was not doubled over in pain. Unless Nemesis was somehow protecting her this does not seem to be the case. Afterall, there are many Wyldfae who do not seem to have any duties. Zaptech can correct me if I'm interpreting his/her response wrong, but it sounds more like humans have greater free will because they are not as magically bound. When Harry broke Winter's law he lost the power of the mantle. If an angel breaks God's laws they become Fallen. Whether this act automatically turns them into a monster I do not know. For a more relatable example, when a human breaks human law by say committing murder nothing happens to them because they are not magically bound by the law. But if human were magically bound by the law like Fae and angels and committed murder they would automatically suffer a penalty for it like being turned into a toad. Humans would lose a bit of free will because they can not really choose to obey the law or not. If they do not obey the law they cease being human. They irony is the more power one gains the more responsibility and limitations. If a human president shoots off nuclear missiles in the grand scheme of things it is not really harmful to the universe. If Mab decides to go rogue it could have devastating effects across multiple worlds or more. Another all-powerful entity might get pissed and a battle between them might wreck galaxies. So for all of her power she is limited in what she can do thus limiting her choices or "free will." A built in safeguard is certain laws that exit only on paper for humans become physical laws for some of the higher magical beings. At least that is what I have gathered so far.
- I think it may come down to the Appeal to Inherent Nature fallacy. Is it a fallacy for you? Then you have free will; otherwise it's just a fact of life for you that you do in fact have an "inherent nature" that defines you and that you can't act against. Be arbitrarily clever and flexible within its boundaries, sure — anybody who'd earnestly think that beings like the faerie queens or archangels are somehow just mindless automata going through the motions deserves whatever's coming to them as a result —, but not go beyond them any more than a human could just spontaneously decide to grow a third arm. That's why even those among the Fair Folk who genuinely like Harry are still at best being enigmatic towards him (it's literally the best they can do) and why the war against the Red Court was bound to happen sooner or later (as cunning as they may have been when at their best, they couldn't ever have decided to just not be entitled bloodsucking monsters anymore — making the notion of any sort of peaceful coexistence between them and the White Council that didn't ultimately involve turning the latter into yet more "cattle" a pipe dream).
Goblins' affinities within faerie Courts
- I've seen references to the Erlking being the "Summer King", although I don't recall actually seeing that fact stated outright in the novels. Presumably this would make his goblin followers inclined to serve Summer, not Winter, when the wyldfae are Called. Yet in Summer Knight, Harry's party encounter a bunch of goblins who are engaged in battle against some gigantic bees, which are definitely affiliated with Summer. So does that mean that goblins, or perhaps even the Erlking himself, prefer to side with Winter when the chips are down, regardless of their usual Summer affinities?
- The Erlking being the "Summer King" or "a Summer King" come from interviews or statements Jim Butcher has given making it Word of God. IIRC, the Sidhe kings are only loosely affiliated with the queens and are more or less independent. The kings are the kings because that is the season they are the closest tied to, but they embody the opposite of the queens along with being their equals in power. Titania represents nurturing life and the mentality of the prey while the Erlking is connected to taking life through the hunt making him a predator which is closer to Winter. The Winter King is Kringle (Santa Clause) who represents mercy and generosity in bleak times (winter) making his mentality closer to that of Summer. Both are closer to being Wyldfae. It has been stated in times of war all Fae are drawn to the courts which are closer to their own nature. So I would say The Erlking and Goblins in general would side with Winter because Winter is closer to their nature. At the same time Kringle and his forces would most likely side with Summer evening things out. Wasn't the Erlking among the Fae that pursued Harry after his gang rescued Molly from Arctis Tor? Overall though, both The Erlking and Kringle seem to prefer to stay out of the politics of the Courts with the Erlking stating as much. All he wants to do is hunt. The two get along much better than the queens do.
- Word of Jim is that "There is no such thing as a Summer King in the Dresden Files faerie cosmology. Mab and Titania need a King like a fish needs a bicycle. :)". The Erlking and Kringle are treated with courtesy and respect but they are allies, not actual members of the Courts.
- This is an issue Butcher he flip flopped on then. This link is Butcher answering questions and at 6: 30 he is asked about the kings. He names Kringle and The Erlking as kings of Winter and Summer respectively. In your link, Erlking is stated to be a member of the Winter Court or at least allied with it. In the link I provide he outright states the Erlking is a Summer King. I guess if you were to try and rationalize the two answers you can say that neither Titania or Mab have a consort that is considered equal or superior to them like a real "king" would be. Kringle and Lord Hearne are kings of Winter and Summer because they are for all intents and purposes Winter and Summer fae instead o a more neutral wlydfae, but so powerful that they cannot be subjected by the queens. They are equals to the queens and the only ones who can really challenge their authority over their respective seasons which for all intents and purposes makes them kings of those seasons.
- Oops, forgot the first link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfG2ZIdYdr4
- Also, I found something else that pretty much confirms my theory. Kringle and The Erlking are basically their own Winter and Summer courts. " that he [Kringle] is a free Wyld Fae who is of a power level that is on par with Mab's and happens to neighbor her sphere of influence." http://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/13iexg/hi_im_jim_butcher_im_the_guy_who_takes_credit_for/
- As I understand it, it's basically that Kringle and Erlking are not the Winter and Summer kings, so much as they are kings who tend to be aligned toward Winter and Summer.
The Turtleneck Question
- I'm just curious. Why doesn't Nicodemus where a turtleneck over the noose? I mean, it would stop people from getting their hands on his noose. On a lesser note, why doesn't he just use a grenade launcher or an electrolaser when dealing with Knights?
- Because he's an arrogant bastard.
- I don't know, he seems like a pretty smart guy. I mean, one doesn't survive 2,000 years of doing nothing but spreading misery and destruction for the purpose of destroying the world, all the while being hunted by angels and holy knights, without being smart.
- I didn't say he was arrogant without reason. He's survived 2000 years largely because he is literally invulnerable, and is good enough with what he has to survive and thrive without having to "cheat" with heavy weapons.
- Yeah, but intelligent people recognize the value of adaptability, as well as the sheer pragmatism of shooting people rather than risk a straight up fight.
- Don't forget Nicodemus enjoys tormenting the Knights, and what better way to torment them than make them think they have an actual shot? Just killing them anonymously from a distance doesn't have the same effect as letting them close, engaging them with a sword, fencing a bit to give them the sense they're winning, then pulling a trump card and ripping victory away.
- There's also the concept of "balance" when it comes to the Kot C vs Denarian conflict. In the grand tradition of Villains Act, Heroes React, the Denarians probably start some heinous stuff, then the Kot C's then show up to stop them. Heaven and Hell probably have some sort of "doctrine of proportional response", in that Heaven only responds with exactly equal force to Hell. Maybe those are rules set by the Almighty, I don't know. The outcome of the fight is then determined NOT by whatever weapons or resources there are, but by the people wielding them. It's the choices of the combatants that will determine the outcome of their battles, and the angels (both loyal and fallen) seem really big on encouraging humanity's capacity for agency, self-determination, and self-efficacy, even if doing so also increases humanity's capacity for ... well ... evil (which the Fallen really want to encourage). Nicodemus, having thousands of years of practice, probably prefers sticking to swords since that is what he's good at, and because if he started whipping out tanks and kinetic bombardments, than the angels and the Kot C would probably whip out something that could neutralize that. He keeps the conflict in areas where he thinks he has the best chance of winning (of course, as Death Masks showed, he probably keeps a gun on him just in case things don't go his way).
- Nicky prefers the sword. He is, much like all the other immortals, relatively set in his ways.
- He's also used to working closely with Cassius, who was a fairly powerful sorcerer and would've caused high-tech weapons to malfunction.
- Come to think of it, Nicky himself is a very powerful sorcerer.
- Really? I have never seen him use any heavy-handed magic like Dresden. However, he is very skilled at ritualistic magic, like the curse he was prepared to unleash in Death Masks. Please elaborate.
- Nicodemus is definitely not a sorcerer. In Skin Game, Harry and Ascher have to wear thorn manacles to avoid shorting out electronics at Marcone's bank vault, but Nicodemus doesn't.
- He may have to wear the noose visibly to access its power, same as how Harry muses about how Sells' scorpion amulet would need to be worn in contact with skin. Some magical foci have to be utilized or worn in the correct way in order for them to function. Also, suddenly changing his habits to hide the thing would be a dead giveaway that he has reason to hide it, possibly giving people other than Harry the idea of strangling him with it.
- I don't know. I mean, Mab and Odin both change clothes depending on the situation. Therefore, the idea of Nicodemus changing clothes to suit the environment doesn't seem all that out of order.
- Mab and Odin use power that's inherent in themselves, not derived from enchanted objects; they'd have just as much power buck-naked as clothed. Nicodemus, while he's very scary and skilled, derives his supernatural powers from his coin and noose.
- Okay, but I've never read or heard that the noose has to be visible and easily grabbed.
Raiths and bisexuality
- From what we've seen of the Raith family, just about every single one of its female members are bisexual: Lara's character entry mentions it, Madeline harasses both Harry and Justine without bias in Turn Coat (among other things), Felicia tries to blackmail Murphy into letting her feed on her. Inari's the odd one out here, but then again, her Hunger hasn't fully manifested yet. Meanwhile, Lord Raith is explicitly described as "not swinging that way" when it's asked why he doesn't enslave his sons using his Hunger the same way he does his daughters, preferring them to meet tragic accidents instead. Thomas is described as getting attention from men as well as women in a couple of scenes, yet he apparently feeds exclusively on women (supported by the Skinwalker's actions—its Intellectus lets it know exactly how to hurt him but not why, so the fact that it only feeds girls to him is telling). So my question is: given that all of the Raith household's women feed on both men and women indiscriminately, why do its two male members only feed on women? (Jim Butcher seems weirdly averse to writing gay male characters in general, but that's for another time.)
- I suspect the in-universe explanation is very much the same as the out-of universe one: male fascination with girl-on-girl and revulsion for guy-on-guy. Remember that Lord Raith was very much in-charge and very much an incestuous pervert (to the point of killing all his male sons). Chances are he actively encouraged not being picky eaters in his daughters and nieces because Girl-on-Girl Is Hot, while not doing so for his son and nephews because he himself happened to be a picky eater.
- It also bears pointing out that we've only seen two surviving male members of the Raith household; for all we know, Thomas's other deceased brothers were as fully bi as the women in his family. The only other male Raith we see, Madrigal, feeds on fear instead.
- Note that other members of the Raith contingent in White Night are completely without bias. They feed upon victims regardless of gender, either theirs or their prey. Lord Raith and Thomas are the odd ones out, as far as we know.
- Madeline was straight, actually. During the confrontation at Zero, she specifically states that she's usually not into does, but is making an exception when she threatens to eat Justine.
- Also, it's never been definitively established just how heterosexual Thomas is. Women are clearly his preference but that doesn't mean he wouldn't go for a man. He clearly has no problem with playing the part, as demonstrated by his "Toe-moss" persona.
Harry The Whedonite
- In "Cold Days", Bob made a reference to the show "Firefly" that Harry failed to understand. Yet in "Skin Game", Harry makes a reference to "Doctor Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog". Ignoring the difficulties Harry would have in watching an web-video series, it seems unlikely that he'd be familiar with "Doctor Horrible" but not "Firefly".
- It's been a year, and Harry was peeved at not getting Bob's reference. Presumably he watched Firefly, then went looking for more Whedon stuff. As for how, probably some clever usage of magic circles to keep his power from frying everything.
- Where was there a reference to Sing Along Blog?
- Harry refers to Nicodemus' crew as the "Evil League of Evil."
- That's not necessarily a Sing Along Blog reference. It could just be poking fun at the evil-for-its-own-sake nature of the Denarians.
- Yeah, while it could very well be Butcher making a reference, the name is generic enough that it's plausible Harry could have just come up with it on his own.
- Unlikely. It's pretty obviously a reference, considering both the capitalization and Harry's preference of references over more generic terms.
- Or Butters or one of the Alphas could've told him about Dr. Horrible back before Changes, or made a reference to it at gaming night.
- Could be Fridge Logic.
Opening the door of Blood
- In Skin Game, one of the major plot points is that to open the last door of Hades' vault, one has to use a lever that is only available to ghosts, and Nicodemus has to kill his daughter Deirdre in order to go through. Obviously this is something he knew in advance, since his ex-wife knew it too and tried to prevent it. Thing is, Nick has a cult full of people ready to suicide and open the door for him. Why couldn't Nick have brought one of these along? After all, vanilla humans like Anna Valmont can survive the conditions there, and Nick could have said "this guy has a skill that is necessary to open the last door, so he comes with" rather easily (or, easily enough that "killing his daughter" does not seem like a better proposition).
- It has to be someone not just willing to die for him, but still willing to pull the lever after they're dead. Could one of his squires have worked? Possibly. But considering they surrendered to various authorities after his defeat and flight, he probably felt their loyalty was too questionable. He seemed to control them through promises of power, after all, which is kind of at odds with sacrificing their lives for him directly. His daughter was the only one he knew, without a doubt, would work. Nick has always been very very pragmatic, and he's killed enough people that he was probably able to convince himself this would just be one more murder he wouldn't care about. Furthermore, remember he tells her "the Enemy will not reach you here." Harry wonders if it was a last-minute lie to make her feel better, but he might have genuinely believed that her being tortured by Hades would be better than being in Hell.
- I think Nicodemus was referring to Nemesis and/or the Outsiders when he said "the Enemy will not reach you here." The existence of Hell as a afterlife for humans hasn't been stated to exist the universe. We know next to nothing about the afterlife.
- Perhaps I've read CS Lewis's The Screwtape Letters once too often but I translated "the Enemy" as God (the White God), Nicodemus and Deidre being fallen angels after all.
- What if the actual protection on the Gate Of Blood is that it can only be opened by sacrificing someone you truly care for? So the ghost of one of those squires wouldn't have done anything, or possibly wouldn't have even manifested.
- In Changes, why was Thomas initially so certain Harry had to be mistaken/joking about him being an uncle? He immediately assumes Harry is talking about the Raith side of the family, and dismisses that possibility, implying that White Court females don't get pregnant unless it's planned. But even discounting Harry's potential fatherhood, he's also overlooking the chance that Inari, who's presumably human now and in a steady True Love relationship outside the Raith clan's influence, could have had a kid.
- As he mentions later in that conversation, Thomas came to meet with Harry assuming he was going to talk with him about the White Court again, whether they were forcing/abusing him into being a vamp again, etc. As such, when Harry drops the bombshell, Thomas was thinking primarily of the Court, and that's where his mind first went to before what Harry was stating clicked in his head. If he hadn't caught on to what Harry was stating shortly after he began processing the statement, he might have thought of that possibility. Additionally, it's likely Thomas would have heard of Inari's pregnancy through White Court channels long before he would have heard through Harry, Inari being a former proto-vampire and his sister and all, so he probably wouldn't assume that was what Harry was talking about.
Faerie Great Depression?
- I'm just curious. The Faerie economy appears to be based around the accumulation of favours and debts, similar to the human economy. Much of the Faerie economy is based around the assumption that Faeries could not lie. For example, Harry's loyalty to Mab can be understood in economic terms. Mab sees that Harry has a lot of power, and thus a lot of credit, and is interested in acquiring his debt. Eventually, Harry accepts borrowing from Mab and becomes indebted to Mab. Harry is borrowing power (a.k.a. money) from Mab, and thus must pay back the interest by being loyal to Mab's laws. Note that he must be loyal to the Winter Court and Winter Law, not to Mab personally. This is important. If Mab's interests somehow contravene the laws of Winter, than Harry is of course free to ignore Mab's command. Mab recognizes this, and thus gives Harry his independence, because she wants Harry to be able to stop her if she becomes a threat to the Winter Court.
Therefore, the discovery that Maeve was able to lie would collapse the Faerie economy. People would stop making contracts with Faeries since they would discover that Faeries would simply be unable to pay back. Now this is VERY dangerous for faeries. Now, faeries are different from humans. Humans appear to sustain themselves from energy acquired from food, and maintenance that comes from regular exercise. Faeries are different. They acquire sustenance based on the number of debts that they accumulate. For instance, Mab is so powerful because many faeries (as well as other people) "borrow" from Mab, under the assumption that she will provide what they ask. If it were discovered that Faeries were able to NOT repay debts, than people would stop borrowing and making contracts, and in fact may try to shirk their debts. Much like a bank that defaults because people lose confidence in it, Mab, and thus her ability to enforce the Unseelie Accords, would eventually fall.
I wonder, does anyone know if this was mentioned in the Dresden Files?
- What makes you think Maeve being able to lie was broadcast throughout all of Faerie?
- They were inside a stupidly powerful magic circle at the time, so it's extremely unlikely anyone was capable of listening in. Nemesis could conceivably spread the word, but it would have to out itself to do so, and it probably wouldn't consider the possible collapse of the faerie economy worth it.
- The Sidhe don't lie. They can't. Every word they speak is true, and for all of that it is well known that you can't trust them for a second. Now, you are one of these people in the know, and someone tells you that Maeve, the Winter Lady, spoke an outright falsehood. Do you assume that your friend has caught the Winter Lady in the first lie known to have been told by one of the Sidhe in all of history, or do you assume that a Queen of Winter conned your friend as they have done to so many other mortals?
- The leaders of the Fae have clearly been aware of Nemesis for a very long time, even if Harry himself only learned of it recently. They surely have policies for what to do about faeries which have fallen prey to its effects, including contingencies against the kind of economic disruption described above: perhaps the afflicted Faes' liege lords assume responsibility for debts that Nemesis-infected ones default upon, just as Mab took over Lea's Harry-advising duties when she was freezing the infection out of her handmaiden.
Do White Court vampires have souls?
- As a general rule, nonhuman creatures lack souls except for angels. The soul gaze is supposed to work only on creatures with souls. I don't recall it ever working on a Red Court or Black Court vampire or Harry thinking it would. Yet we know it works on White Court vampires since Harry soul gazed Thomas and Carlos soul gazed Lara. The White Court vampires like others start out as humans and are the most human of the three main vampire courts with their demon forming a sort of symbiotic relationship. Yet they have always been treated as being nonhumans. Wouldn't the White Court vampire be an example of another nonhuman creature with a soul then? Would they be proof of the possibility a human could transform into a supernatural creature, but not necessarily lose their soul? Since Thomas tries to fight his nature and has proven it is possible only reverting when tortured by the Skinwalker would it be safe to say White Court vampires possess free will even though some of Dresden's speeches indicate only mortal humans possess it? Or am I misreading White Court Vampires?
- My understanding of the White Court vamps is that they are less one creature and more two creatures (human and hunger demon) sharing a body (whether the relationship is symbiotic or parasitic probably depends heavily on the whamp in question and how much they actually want the demon to be there). The demon, presumably, does not have free will, and I always got the impression that the Hungers aren't that intelligent on their own, basically being just an appetite and the capacity to fulfill it. Physically, whamps are human, and spiritually they have human souls, but they have the demon in there too and it can (and, if hungry enough, will) exert an influence on their actions, with the end result that White Court vampires technically have free will, but with the caveat that their demon carries its own desires that can compromise said free will. Hence why you can be a good-natured whamp, unlike with the other types of vampires that we see, but you'll probably be pretty miserable if you are. But from a practical standpoint, they count as human + something extra, not inhuman. At least, that was the impression I always got.
- White Court can be soulgazed and receive a Mantle. That means that yes, they do have a soul.
- They can also become fully human if True Love kills their demon when they lose their virginity. Kind of hard to explain how that could happen if they didn't have a soul until then.
Do Faeries have souls? Do they have free will?
- I'm just curious, do faeries have souls? Do faeries have free will? Is it right to claim that the Red Cap is "evil" if he has no volition or moral agency?
- Faeries do not have souls. Harry says this pretty clearly during at least one conversation with Mab, saying that he is not afraid of making eye contact with her because she doesn't have a soul. Faeries also lack true free will, although they are able to make decisions within their extended rule structure. Unless the Red Cap is being magically compelled to kill or torture (we've seen what Fae act like when there's a compulsion to make them act in a way they don't want to, and Red Cap doesn't look like he's under one in Cold Days) then he's choosing to do so and still guilty of it. Faeries can still be held accountable for their actions.
- If I understand you, in your opinion Fae and other magical beings lack true free will because they are far more magically limited in their actions than humans. Harry lost the power of the mantle when he broke Winter's law. Presumably, something would happen to Winter Fae if they broke Winter's law as well. The more powerful you are the more limited your actions can be because the greater effect you could have if you misuse your powers or anger the wrong supernatural entity. If Mab abused her powers a war with Summer could wreck havoc across Faerie, Earth and possibly other realms as well. If Uriel misused his powers galaxies would be destroyed. So safeguards are in place limiting their actions. Correct? If so, then I wonder who decides things like Winter's law, to what extent does it apply to creatures like the Wyldfae who are not truly bound to any court, and what value is there in a soul if what causes Fae and other magical creatures to lack free will is more their own universal power and elaborate rule structure?
- I always got the impression that Winter Law was more like the laws of physics than the laws of a government, so Toot-toot couldn't choose to break Winter Law any more than a stone can choose to fall up.
- I think in a way they may be the same thing. IIRC, in WordofJim the White Council's Laws of Magic are sort of physical laws of the universe. Each time they are broken the forces of evil get stronger and breaking them as a corrupting effect on the violator no matter their intentions or personality. The reason for the black staff McCoy carries is to prevent this. I do wonder then: Did the Fae come into being with the law already existing? Did a god or gods make the law? Or did some power write the law and somehow magic it magically binding to the Fae? Do the laws slowly change over time like other laws of magic? Did Toot-toot only then fall under Winter Law when he officially became a Winter Fae and was more free and less bound as a Wyld Fae?
- According to Skin Game, the Faerie Queens were known collectively as Hecate in Ancient Greece. This means all the Faerie Queens (and, to a lesser extent, their knights) are all connected and linked. Hecate was the goddess of magic and necromancy. According to ''Welcome to the Jungle" the comic, Bob states that Hecate arose due to an ascension ritual. Therefore, it's possible that the original Six woman (whether human or sidhe I don't know) who first ascended into whatever eventually evolved into Hecate, and eventually the Faerie Courts, decided to make "magic" their purview, possibly to control and govern it so as to ensure that the human species wasn't torn apart by an excess of magic users. They might have "tamed" the regions of the Nevernever that directly govern magic, and transformed the associated spirits into the first faeries, forcing them to only tell the truth and keep their word to give the first humans a chance to survive. They might also have forced the issue of "balance", similar to Newton's Third Law of Motion, to ensure that the laws of physics keep working and don't tear apart from people over-using magic, and also to ensure that the Queens themselves are in balance. (On a side note, I think it's funny, because it means every time the Faerie Queens go to war, it means that Hecate is having a dissociate episode wherein it's various personalities are clashing with one another).
- I'm confused then. Did Molly and Sarissa lose their souls when they became faeries? Did they lose their capacity for free will. I'm just asking because the novels tend to be rather vague or contradictory.
- That's because Harry doesn't know either. It's probably a slower process, like with the Winter Knight, but that Mantle explicitly works differently than ones for the Ladies. It could have been instant, and five minutes after Molly became the Winter Lady, she couldn't soulgaze with anyone anymore.
- Well, hopefully future novels will clarify the issue.
- I recall either supplementary materials or Wo J saying that faeries do have their own version of a soul, but it's so alien compared to a human soul that it's effectively unrecognizable, which is why soulgazes won't work. As for free will, faeries seem to act according to both their nature and their desires; and they can't act against their nature, but they can decide how to implement it to match their desires (i.e. a troll that always charges someone to cross his bridge could charge a friend the rock that's sitting on the side of the road, or charge his hated enemy his heart.)
Sidhe protection detail
- How are Molly's protection detail supposed to be any use if they can't even enter the Carpenter Garden? They would have to know that a particular mortal was a threat before they got anywhere near. Goodman Grey could not risk entering the grounds with perfectly legitimate reasons so how would the Sidhe enter to stop a Mortal threat?
- Sidhe have their own rules. Among them, as established in Cold Days, is that they can enter a home as long as they don't mean harm to the occupants and act as good guests.
- For that matter, there's nothing to stop Molly from hiring a bunch of human bodyguards to protect her family, just in case the Sidhe are balked for some reason. Perhaps she'll buy another house on her parents' street as soon as one comes on the market.
- Molly could just have a set of changelings assigned as guards. Plus, while Sidhe might not be allowed entry, bullets are definitely allowed. Someone approaching the house with ill intent or attacking the house while inside the yard would very likely find some very precisely aimed bullets passing through their bodies courtesy of the Sidhe.
- On top of all that, the reason Gray didn't want to enter the yard was that he's part demon, and literally has evil woven into his nature. Faeries aren't any more evil than you or I, and I suspect the angels would give beneficent faeries a pass. After all, Molly could come and go just fine.
- As for the threshold, I'm pretty sure that Molly still counts as part of the family for the purpose of issuing invitations, so no problem.
- IIRC, in Cold Days Cat Sith entered Thomas's house uninvited. Harry said with Sidhe that as long as they did not intend the occupants harm they could violate the threshold and Harry's friends chewed him out for not telling them. If Molly's sidhe guards are only meant to protect they should be able to enter as long as they do not mean any harm to the family. I don't see the angels having a problem with it since Winter Fae are not morally all automacially evil like other creatures and allowing them to protect the family helps the angels fulfill their task without violating the rules.
- Considering we never heard anything about the Cobbs from "It's My Birthday, Too" dropping by to complain to Harry that they'd been kicked out of the Carpenter household after Michael's forced retirement, we can probably assume that helpful faeries are given a pass by the angelic guardians.
How did the old gods of the Oblivion War come to Earth in the first place?
- The Oblivion was is based on the idea that for the godlike supernatural entities to have contact with the mortal world instead of only existing in the Never Never then they need mortals to know about them. How then did these entities make contact with the mortal world in the first place since mortals would have no idea who they were or that they existed?
- Either the current barriers between the mortal world and the Nevernever didn't always exist, or beings that can move between the two worlds without being summoned (ghosts, genuis loci) originally learned of the Nevernever's other inhabitants and told mortals about them.
- It is entirely possible that they were discovered by humans looking for power where they shouldn't, who then returned the knowledge of these entities to the material world. "Do not seek beyond the Outer Gates" is a Law of Magic for a reason.
Dresden Files and Idealism
- I'm just spit-balling here, but is the Dresden Files an implicitly (although no explicit) a world dominated by philosophical idealism?
- Which version are you using? If you are using the definition of reality only exist in the mind and there is no independent reality I don't think so. Whether Dresden views it or not things are real independent of him. Same with other characters. A floating rock in deep space did not come into being because a human, group of humans or group of intelligent beings think it is there. It is there regardless if anyone knows it is there or not. If you mean something along the lines of the spiritual or ideal being more "real" than physical things like atoms there might be a stronger argument to that. We know spiritual beings can come from other realities/dimensions so far removed from our own humans cannot comprehend them and so old that the whole history of the human race is an eye blink to them.
Morality of starting and ending the War with the Red court
- In the last several books, Dresden's worldview has expanded to seeing shades of grey in his view of Black and White Morality. At first he saw Marcone purely as criminal scum. He still sees him as criminal scum, but knows he is not a one-dimensional mustache twirler. IIRC, he once lumped all White Court vampires along side other vampires as inhuman monsters. He now knows that it is not so simple with the White Court. Same with the policies of the White Council which while extreme all have a good reason behind them. Is anybody then not troubled by the starting and ending of the war with the Red Court? Dresden started it despite being warned and legally without the authority and legally in the wrong. Yeah, Bianca had manipulated him, but Dresden and Susan both willingly walked into it. Dresden started a war that killed tens of thousands for the sake of his "love." Nevermind everyone else who lost loved ones thanks to a war he started. At the end he committed essentially genocide against an entire race of beings. Much has been discussed about the consequences of that choice...except the moral implications of willingly destroying an entire race. Does Dresden get an automatic pass because the Red Court were all inhuman monsters? Does Dresden have the right to have a guilt-free conscious for that act? Since the Dresdenverse is a place that does run on some degree of Black and White morality where does the act of destroying the Red Court fit into this viewpoint?
- Indeed. The only time he is ever truly called out on it and questioned about it was by Hanna Ascher. Unfortunately, she turned out to be a Denarian, so her objections are unfortunately weakened in the eyes of a reader since she turns out to an antagonist.
- I think that the reason that the novels are so ambivalent about the so affair is that they are told from Harry's perspective, and Harry himself gradually begins to realize the enormity of his decision. Harry has always been a very short-sighted person, who is focused on the here and now. Harry himself never really fought on the front-lines of the war, with the exception of the debacle at Chichen Itza. From what I can tell, the whole war was a disaster for both the Red Court and the White Council. The Red Court suffered massive internal civil strife that crippled their ability to focus their resources, no doubt excacerbated by an influence from the Nemesis contagion. The White Council lost most of their experienced soldiers, and sheer strategic and logistical nightmare that comes from all-out warfare caught the wizards off guard. Being organized like an academic learned society, constantly crippled by internal politics, and spread out among cities all around the world, they had great difficulty focusing their efforts. All accounts indicate that they could not maintain a long-term war, since producing vampires is a lot easier than recruiting wizards. Of course, even with all of these advantages, the Red Court was wiped out. They were wiped out due to their gross incompetence. Unfortunately, we don't see a full account of the outcome or the casualties of the war, since it doesn't matter to Dresden. He's very much a guy who is focused on the people close to him or the one's he can see. People who die half-way around the world just won't have the emotional impact for him.
- I agree with the first poster. I am somewhat uncomfortable with the idea that full-blown genocide is the way to go. (First of all, I think that the whole bloodline curse on the part of the Red Court was gross incompetence on their part, but then again the Red Court has been shown to be really incompetent numerous times). Some people would argue that every fully-turned Red Court vampire is a murderer, and thus they must be destroyed. Well, with all due respect, both Harry and Molly can easily be called murderers (especially Molly, ever since she went hard-core vigilante serial killer). Many of the Red Court vampires completely metamorphosized because they were deliberately infected (how, we don't know) by the Red Court, and had no idea how to control what was going on with them. That's like blaming someone for murder when that person has been deliberately intoxicated to the point of insanity without their knowledge or consent, and then had a gun placed in their hands.
- Also, from a purely pragmatic, logistical standpoint, the way the war was one was the worst way it could have been done. Ideally, a transitional government or administration should have immediately been put in place while a new, pro-human pro-White Council (or pro-Grey Council) organization is built to govern the areas formerly controlled by the Red Court, similar to how the Allies rebuilt West Germany after the Second World War. That way, you don't have some hostile power-hungry groups, like the Formor, taking control of the area and inciting yet another, potentially worse global conflict. It's a recurring problem for Dresden. He's great at blowing things up, but the long process of rebuilding afterwards is unfortunately left off screen. Dresden may have won the war, but he and his allies did it in the worst way possible.
- It's not like he was given a whole lot of choices in the matter. What you're suggesting simply wasn't an available option.
- What I am saying was that the war should have been better managed from the start.
- I think there is truth to a lot of these. The Reds were planning a war, but one they could win quickly. I got the impression that the Red Court vampires are inherently very chaotic combined with any system like theirs you get schemes and feuds that build up over the centuries all confined to a loose power structure that makes waging any long-time war tricky as the Reds would want to sate their bloodlust which isn't the best way to fight. No doubt they also wanted to be in shape to fulfill the power vacuum. The White Council like you said is a loose alliance of academics and policing organization that was in no condition to fight a war. Both sides were driven to desperation where they NEEDED it over. From Harry's viewpoint I can see why he did what he did, but I can't help but wonder if now the slightly maturer Harry would have started the war in the first place if he were in that position again. Destroying the whole Red Court wholesale may have been the morally correct choice since the Vampires from a universal objective viewpoint were evil, but again the greater ramifications of his actions make it questionable. The devil you know or do not know?
- "Destroying the whole Red Court wholesale may be have been the morally correct choice since the Vampires from a universal objective viewpoint were evil". I'm not sure, one could say the same thing with the Winter Court and Mab. For all we know, the Red Court, as bad as they are, were holding back things even worse.
- From what we have been told morality in the Dresdenverse is not bound by human viewpoint or as subjective as humans may think. Certain acts like one human killing another with magic is evil and strengthens the forces of darkness no matter the reason. Certain creatures like fallen angels are "evil" in a literal sense. They don't just commit actions that are evil they themselves are evil. Sort of like character alignment from D&D that says someone or something is evil. From what we were told of the Red Court they count as the same. The Winter Fae are explicitly stated to be embodiments of primal forces, but not in themselves evil. I think Skin Games has another example that a character may try and be good, but his very nature makes him classified as evil and it takes a lot to get that changed. Sort of like if you had "Detect Evil" spell Red Court vampires and Fallen Angels would show up, but not Winter Fae.
- I thought good and evil was in the choices made by people, not in their "natures". For instance, an infectious disease that hurts humans is not "evil", because it's just not capable of understanding morality, being single cell organisms. Faeries are different. The Sidhe are capable of understanding human values (although it doesn't come easy to Sidhe) just as humans can understand Sidhe values (although doing so often doesn't come easy to humans. It just appears that most of faeries just do not care about the long-term effects of others and in fact do not see other people as people (such as seeing them as things worthy of respect and who ought to have the right to self-determination), which as Michael Carpenter pointed out in Skin Game, is what defines a monster in the Dresden Files.
- From what I understand, different standards of morality apply to different creatures. Bob has little to no understanding of good and evil despite all of his knowledge. He may grasp it on some distant intellectual level, but not on the same emotional level as humans. Same with the Sidhe. Mab for all her age and power still has trouble understanding humans because her mindset is so alien to humanity. Harry and other humans have the same trouble understanding the morality of the Fae for the same reason. It is Blue and Orange Morality in full effect. These are also beings who live so long they they do not see humans worthy of consideration. Does a tiger mourn its prey? No. Is it evil when a winter storm freezes people? No. As difficult as a concept as it is to grasp I think it is the same here. The Winter Fae just lack the empathy to see humans as anything higher and in many ways are too alien. Angels on the other hand were raised/created in this good and evil environment and possess empathy. They were built to live by that morality. Michael is a good man and ideal paladin, but he can be blinded by his beliefs. I remember in the first story he was in he did not like Harry using Bob, regarding Bob as almost evil for "consulting with spirits." To Michael, humans are the most important and while he may not take pleasure over killing dragons and fairies I do not think he loses any sleep over it. For him, these are evil beings preying on humans. Bob though isn't evil. I think Bob's whole thinking is too alien to be evil the ways humans do so. The same with the Winter Fae and The Erlking. In history, many polytheistic gods were less about good and evil and more about order and chaos. The Fae are more about predator and prey. I think the Good and Evil aspect may be mainly for humans and angels. Sadly, in a case of Unfortunate Implications, a strong argument can be made that the White God is little different from Mab.
- Although the Winter faeries are not "evil" from the perspective of Harry Dresden the narrator, I am having a hard time seeing how a lot of their behavior is different from the Red Court. Both factions seem to treat the majority of people not as people, but as pawns as best, and as chattle at worst. Mab, and many of the other Sidhe, appear to at least recognize concepts like morality and ethics, it's just that they don't care about them, and often act in an amoral fashion so that they can accomplish their own desires. I mean, tricking Molly into becoming the Winter Lady, and torturing a helpless prisoner to the point of total mental deterioration, can very easily be labeled as "evil", at least in the eyes of some people.
- I agree with you. From a regular human perspective the behavior of the Winter Fae are not that different from Red Court vampires. To an average joe, the winter fae are evil. The only real differences come when you get into the nature and metaphysics of the universe which regular humans I don't think can really "get." The Winter Fae are essentially predators designed to survive no matter what. Good and evil do not really enter into their thinking. Humans are prey to them. A cat will sometimes toy with a mouse. Same deal here. They have no reason to view humans differently. If you believe the idea that the Winter Fae have no free will then they cannot change their views regarding humans. Fae in general have an alien morality and way of thinking as best embodied by the Mothers. Good and evil, at least as humans understand it, are more the realm of the White God and his cosmos. I think of it as different/conflicting believe structures very different yet equally valid because as similar as the Fae are to humans thy are also very different. Morality and monsters are I think in a weird way both objective and subjective. Mab appears as a monster to a human due to her ruthless nature. Yet she isn't "evil" in a metaphysical sense. Anduriel is a monster to everyone because it is "evil" in a metaphysical sense.
- One of the issues I have with this argument is the "is/ought dichotamy", which states that just because something is a certain way does not necessarily mean that same something ought to be a certain way. For instance, the argument that the Winter Fae are engineered to be predators does not mean they ought to behave as predators, at least not all the time. To use a real-life example, the human male is "engineered" (by evolution) to impregnate the human female so as to produce offspring and therefore ensure the continuation of the human species. Ergo, the more healthy males mate with a female (regardless of consent), the more chance of successful reproduction, ensuring the male's genetic legacy, and continuing the species. That does not mean that human males necessarily ought to forcibly impregnate as many human females as possible, nor does it necessarily mean we ought to sterilize any human male that has "undesirable" traits. That kind of illogical thinking lead to the dangerous Eugenics movement that helped spawn the Nazi's. I believe the same standard can be applied to Faeries. Just because Winter Faeries find it instinctively easy and pleasurable to inflict pain and discomfort on other people, mortal or otherwise, does not mean they ought to.
- You may be correct. To be clear, I have an issue with the idea that there is one universal morality that applies to everyone no matter how different. There might be one for humans, but to say the exact same morality in every way applies to angels, gods and fairies ignores the differences. Many people label someone or something "good" or "evil" without bothering to try and understand that something may be too different for a human to fully understand. A human writer faces the problem of trying to get across an alien way of thinking despite being human.
- Oh, I don't think that it's as simple as that either. One of the things I'm saying is that "good" and "evil" is not like a light switch. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, morality may be "at least as difficult as modern physics[.]" The issue, of course, is that our analysis of the Dresden Files is limited by Harry the narrator. Harry has great street smarts, but its very clear that he does not have a great deal of formal education or research in issues of philosophy and morality and ethics.
- Yeah, the problem is that Harry himself has a hard time arguing morals and ethics with the likes of Mab or Lady Raith or Leansidhe, largely because he himself doesn't have a wide breadth of knowledge regarding morals and ethics. In fact, it could be why the faeries wanted him, since his simplistic and often conflicting values and ethics, his own emotional turmoil, and his tendency to isolate himself from others can make him very easily manipulated..
- Second, I agree in some ways that Faeries have an Orange And Blue morality, and I disagree with others. Humans understanding of morality is influenced in part by our physiological needs and limitations. Humans need food, water, shelter, clothing, the company of other humans, etc... Humans are limited by the certainty of death, our frail bodies, inevitable separation from companions and loved ones, the necessity of cooperation and compromise, etc.... Faeries appear to be different needs and limitations. Faeries are physiologically and psychologically limited by their incapacity to outright lie and their enslavement to their oath. (with is a major drawback since lies often serve as sort of social lubricant, breaking oaths may be necessary when the oaths may lead to greater immoral acts). Also, faeries appear to be like sentient, humanoid companies or corporations. They appear to be physiologically dependent on the acquisition and fulfillment of oaths and obligations. The more people recognize and do transactions with a fairy, the more powerful that fairy becomes. I suspect one of the reasons why Mab is so powerful is not just because of the mantle, but also because millions and millions of Winter Faeries "empower" her by holding her up as their queen. They trust Mab to lead them and are obligated to obey Mab, and this in turn obligates Mab to lead them and protect them. (I suspect that this is why she becomes so hostile to anyone who questions her, because they risk physically handicapping her ability to fulfill her obligations). Faeries and humans do share values. All human cultures value integrity and the ability to fulfill one's word, just as Faeries do. All faeries value personal security and the right not to be stabbed or hurt or insulted, just as humans do. It's just that faeries, because of their physical needs, value integrity and oath-keeping greater than humans do, because failing to keep a promise is in and of itself to a fairy can be very injurious and possibly life-threatening. Faeries value personal physical safety less than humans because many faeries are ageless and have much sturdier bodies than humans. Faeries value empathy less than humans because faeries, by their nature, are like living corporations and companies, and few companies thrive by being "nice" to other companies, whereas humans have evolved to become dependent upon other humans. Faeries value their names and identities much more than many humans do because to a fairy, their name is like the brand name of a company, and if their name suffers, than the fairy physically suffers.
- I agree the Fay do have some values they share, but place different emphasis on how much they value. There are some humans that would not hesitate to break an oath the moment it inconveniences them. To a Fae, that is practically unthinkable.
- Sadly, the existence of the Nemesis contagion means that such an unthinkable possibility is now very possible.
- If humans and faeries had no values in common, than any deals or oaths between them would be impossible. T Hus, I would argue that the Redcap is still acting immoral, because he in no way tries to find a way to both fulfill his physiological and legal requirements as a member of Mab's court while still treating Harry Dresden as a person. I would also argue that the Eldest Gruff acted in a moral manner when he spared harry, for he was willing (and, luckily for Harry, able) to find a way to both meet his physical requirements to be loyal to the winter court, while still preserving Harry's personal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would argue that both the Erlking and Santa Claus also acted in a moral manner when they gave Harry the opportunity to take control of the Wild Hunt.
- Remember though, both Kringle and The Erlking have no reservations about hunting humans in the Wild Hunt. The Erlking is in many ways like a Winter Fae. He is a predator. by Word of God a force of nature unrestrained by concepts of humanity morality. He enjoys hunting humans and one day wants to hunt Harry and put his head over his mantle. His goblins are experts at torture and enjoy it. Fortunately he has enough self-control to see the bigger picture and look beyond his immediate wants. One might say the difference between The Red Cap and Lord Hearne is the former allows his nature to control him while the latter controls his nature. I don't think this necessarily makes The Erlking strictly "good" in a human sense. However, I think his control over his nature makes it easier for a human to understand and respect him. Humans can have an easier time understanding the ethics he lives by. He respects the hunt which would include his prey. He is not a sadist who picks someone at random. He selects targets. He is honorable. I imagine the goblin tortures are reserved for those who actually do offend him and not a random smuck. I would say that is what separates him from The Red Cap who has no reason for the pain he causes other than his own sadistic pleasure and picks anyone at random.
- I think that there is a case to be argued that there is a difference between the "office" of the Erlking or Summer King, and the "person" of Herne the Hunter. I'm a little uncertain as to exactly how the Faerie courts affect natural phenomena, but let's just assume that somehow they do. If the Erlking or "Summer King" is a mantle of power, and mantles of power are organized along the idea of "checks and balances", than it makes sense that it would be a predator, designed to check the otherwise unfettered growth and vitality of the Summer Court. The Summer Court is just as happy spreading mass bacterial plagues as they are encouraging people to make babies (after all, bacteria are living things too!). In the same way, if the Winter King or "Santa Claus" is a mantle of power, than it makes sense that he would be kind, to check the otherwise unfettered callousness and ruthlessness of Winter. If that is true, than the Erlking and Santa Claus may both morally accountable for their actions in how they wield the power of their offices. When one becomes a police officer, after all, one has to enforce the law, but one also has what is known as "discretion" as to how one carries out one's duties. One can either be a genuinely caring and effective police officer, a drunken obsessive Jimmy Mc Nulty, or a heartless Inspector Javert. If one fails to uphold one's duties as a police officer, than one faces severe penalties, because of the potential damage a police officer can do. Similarly, I suspect that when one acquires a mantle of power, one has a degree of discretion in how one carries out one's duties. When Maeve failed to perform her duties, she faced severe (i.e. fatal) consequences. (Of course, the difference is that while one chooses to be a police officer. The current Winter Lady had no choice, and evidence indicates that she cannot leave the post except in the advent of her death, which is quite objectionable). While Herne may "have" to hunt things to fulfill the function of his office, and the mantle re-wires the pleasure centres of Herne's brain so that he wants to, he still has a choice as to how he carries out his duties, and it still may be possible for him to neglect or abuse the powers of his office.
- Also, I do think that the fact that Herne, Mab, Santa Claus, and all of them still engage in behavior that would only be acceptable in pre-modern cultures speak to the inherent conservative nature of Immortal cultures, and just out of touch they can be with the people they are supposed protecting. Mab still conducts her business like a monarch during the Elizabethan Era or a pharoah in Ancient Egypt, and expects to be treated as such. Herne behaves like a Viking going raiding during the summer.
- Also, I think there is a great deal of confusion over the term "metaphysical". I am somewhat hesitant to use that word, because their is no universal definition, and as such it is really hard to know what one is talking about when one uses that term. Faeries, since they can be affected by bullets, kinetic energy, gravity, and such, appear to be just as physical as humans.
- Best term I could come up with. My point was I think morality is in a way built in to the Dresdenverse where something are always good or evil regardless of what humans think, but that the standards of good and evil do not apply the same to every being. The Erlking hunting humans isn't evil because in a sense he is THE HUNT. He is not human. His power, knowledge and lifespan make him very different from humans. But then there is a difference between respecting the hunt and the prey and being a total dick who pulls the wings off of flies.
- Here is one (one of many) argument: The Erlking behaviour sounds a lot like Thomas Hobbe's "state of nature", which is downright awful for humans. In the state of nature, life is "nasty, brutish, and short". Thomas hobbes, in his Social Contract Theory, states that humans attempt to avoid, and actively fight against a return to, the "state of nature" by forming societies, and discovering effective morals, ethics, laws and social norms. Thus, in one view, those behaviors, choices, and agents that push us toward better and more effective social contracts is "good", and those behaviors, choices, and agents that push us away from social contracts and toward the dreaded "state of nature", might be called "evil". If that is what the Erlking is, than one could argue that the Erlking is overall detrimental to humans, and may be called "evil".
- However, I also recognize that one's upbringing and environment will influence one's moral development. Growing up in the Winter Court does make the study and application of morals and ethics somewhat difficult, in part because the current reigning Winter Queen appears (and I must emphasize that word "appears", since we only see Mab's actions from Harry's perspective) to favour ruthlessly utilitarian and pragmatic behaviour, and does not seem to place a high value on the concept of ''personhood' or "treating people like people"'. One only shudders to think what effect that will have on Molly Carpenter.
- I don't know if the Winter Court could be much different. The mantles come with a strong infusion of urges. We have seen Harry already have trouble with them. Now, imagining have to live with that for thousands of years. The Winter Court are heartless monsters because that is what it takes to manage a forever war. If you have to nuke a city of millions to save reality a compassionate person probable could not do that. You would have the end of reality. Now, imagine having to make that same choice again and again and again. We would call anyone who chose to sacrifice millions again and again as a monster. I doubt Michael or Harry could live with doing that over and over again through the ages. Yet that is Winter's war with the Outsiders. Mab must sacrifice millions to maintain reality and make the hard choices others do not. A heart of ice would be the only way to do so without having a mental breakdown. I know that is not something humans like to think is real, but so far that is the way the Dresdenverse is designed. For a human, Mab's actions are a necessary evil. For the Winter Fae, when living on the edge of the abyss where you have to make those harsh choices and its kill or be kill trying to explain them ideals like compassion, empathy, and others would probable go right over their heads.
- Oh, I agree that it's certainly understandable why Mab and the Winter Court would at that way. Spiking an individual's psychological arousal threshold means that they are far more willing to violate social norms in order to achieve their own ends, which can be very useful in a war. I am just curious if every scenario requires that kind of brute force "kill 'em all" approach. Compassion and empathy are important because they facilitate group cohesion, which is important for any military culture (like the Winter Court). Compassion and empathy are also important because it helps win "hearts and minds". They're important because it helps trainers ensure that recruits are pushed hard enough to learn, but never hard enough to break (see the movie Full Metal Jacket when that line is crossed). Also, in the field, you need someone to watch your back at least some of the time. You need to be able to trust your superior officers as well as your fellow soldiers, otherwise you don't have an army, you have a criminal mafia. Also, the revelation that the Winter Court fights an eternal war with the Outsiders does raise a few questions that hopefully the series will explore and answer: 1) Why were the Outsiders cast... well, Outside. 2) Why exactly do they want to get in? Are there resources or valuables in our universe that they want? No offense, but considering the huge amount of time and effort their taking into trying to get into the cosmos, there must be something pretty neat over here. 3) Must the war with the Outsiders be an eternal one? Is there a way to either negotiate a peace (in my opinion, unlikely), or neutralize them permanently? Just because it has always been that way does not necessarily mean that it must. 4) While the Winter Court's ruthlessness is understandable, that does not excuse or justify some of the heinous actions of their members. After all, soldiers today, who face greatly stressful situations, are never excused for abusing prisoners or raping women. Cultural sensitivity is important for any military, so as to not antagonize the populace and create unnecessary enemies. 5) Why aren't the Summer and Winter Courts working more closely together? One of the jobs of Winter is to fight Outsiders, and one of the jobs of Summer is to stop Winter from going too far, as well as provide Winter with logistical support and medical aid in fighting Outsiders. I would think that the two sides would have some sort of Red Phone, so that they could quickly communicate with each other and coordinate their efforts. Wouldn't be a more efficient use of resources for the two sides to work together? I raise this question because Titania refused to help Harry stop Maeve's temper tantrum in Cold Days due to her depression. If Titania had actually helped and been more involved in a constructive manner, than Lily might not have died, and the situation could not have escalated to the point of a near catastrophe. Certainly the Winter and Summer Knights working together would be more effective than them killing each other. 6) Why is there a startling lack of accountability among the Faerie Queens? Aurora, Lily, and Maeve all came dangerously close to destroying human civilization. Why has there been no attempts to reform or update the administrative systems of Faerie. Both Summer Knight and Cold Days illustrate that the current reigning Queens, Titania and Mab, are dangerously prone to allowing their personal feelings and prejudices to cloud their judgment. There is a reason why doctors don't treat family members, and cops are kept off cases involving close friends and family. 7) Is the Winter Court in some way dependent on the war with the Outsiders? Remember, cooperation and open communication have never been Winter's strong suit, and many members of the Winter Court appear to fetishize violence and conflict. Dresden himself often struggles to control his Mantle's impulses. Is it possible that the first Faerie Queens arranged for Winter to fight an eternal war so as to give them a common enemy against which to unite? Is the war kept eternal to keep them away from humanity, and to stop Winter from tearing itself apart?
- 1) I don't think the Outsiders were cast Outside so much as they're from Outside. They're Eldritch Abominations that aren't even from the same reality as us.
- 2) Doesn't seem to be a question that's been answered yet. Maybe there is some sort of resource, even one that humans can't quite comprehend. Maybe it's a way for them to become more powerful. Maybe they want to destroy our reality because they hate it and everything in it for existing. Maybe it's just in their nature to try to invade our reality, like it's the nature of the fae to bargain and play games, and the nature of a White Court vampire to feed. It's hard to figure out what kind of motives creatures that completely alien have, but whatever they are, they seem to be pretty convincing motives, since every Outsider in existence seems to work cooperatively with every other one.
- 3) They definitely don't seem interested in peace, though considering we don't even know what they are interested in it's hard to say. It's possible they might be able to be neutralized, in theory, but since Outsiders are so evil and alien that there is an entire Law of Magic devoted specifically to "don't fuck with these things, seriously," and there are millions of Winter fae in constant war with them whose actions only seem to keep them at bay, the amount of power that would go into doing so is unfathomable. Also, there's been a big deal made of Harry having power over Outsiders, so presumably most people from our reality can't actually do much to them.
- 4) Granted, but the fae pretty much universally have Blue and Orange Morality, Winter fae especially. To them, torture, rape, and murder really aren't something worth bothering about unless it's happening to them, and are perfectly acceptable ways to settle debts or repay disrespect.
- I'm a tad uncomfortable in stating that all faeries share the same system of values. Also, just because Winter fae don't care about morals and ethics does not mean that morals and ethics do not exist and should not be adhered to. After all, if I feel like hitting a man, and I am certain he will not hit me, then it does not follow that hitting him is moral. It's the whole is/ought dichotomy again.
- 5) When did it mention that Summer's job included aiding Winter in the war? I'm genuinely asking, I don't remember that. Regardless, Summer's job isn't to stop Winter from going too far, it's to protect mortals from Mab, and Mab knows it. Mab isn't precisely evil - calculating, merciless, not the kind of person you ever want to even be noticed by, yes, but evil, no. Her and her court's entire purpose is to defend reality. Presumably, if she's doing something, it's not For the Evulz, she feels that's what needs to be done to fulfill her obligations, so there's no reason for her to call up Titania and tell her what her plan is so that Titania can stop her.
- In Cold Days. When Mother Summer showed harry the outer gates, there were Summer medics providing medical assistance to Winter Soldiers. Mother Summer herself provided medical aid to wounded Winter soldiers.
Allow me to elaborate. The incidents in Summer Knight and Cold Days were both the faery equivalent of a Cuban Missile Crisis. The world was nearly destroyed in large part due to the unchecked power of the Ladies and a failure on the part of the Queens to communicate what was going on and cooperate to resolve the crises. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, the USA and USSR, realizing how close they came to destruction, made efforts to communicate to each other to avoid a nuclear holocaust. There is no evidence of such efforts in the books. Of course, since Dresden was not a member of either Court until recently, and he is in a hostile relationship with Queen Mab and is therefore kept out of the inner politics of the Winter Court, it's possible that there were efforts, but we as the audience are simply unaware of them because Dresden is unaware of them
- In Summer Knight, the situation escalated because Titania was unwilling to kill (or find some other way of neutralizing) Aurora. Ronald Reuel died. Lily nearly died, and millions if not billions of humans nearly died because Titania was too wrapped up in her own grief and maternal instincts to carry out her role and duties.
In Cold Days, the situation was caused because Maeve had defected to the Outsiders and Mab was unwilling to stop her, and; because Lily was poorly informed, and was psychologically traumatized by being press-ganged to fight into a war, and was psychologically manipulated by Maeve, and was very possibly neglected by Titania, who failed to properly inform her as to the islands function. Mab was unwilling to stop her own daughter (who was already a well known rapist and murderer) from unleashing Armageddon. Titania was unwilling to help Dresden because, and this is her stated reason, "this world has little enough light left for me". Titania was willing to allow millions of not billions of people to die because she was still grieving. In both cases, it was clear that neither Queen was doing their jobs. Perhaps I am just being cynical, but those two incidents to not exactly inspire confidence in the Faerie Queens.
In both cases, the inherent flaws as to the Faerie Queen system, namely their tendency toward cryptic conversation and thus poor communication, as well as the Faery Queen's capacity to ignore their duties (which, on a side note, lends evidence to the idea that they have some capacity of choice, self-determination and free will)In both cases, it was clear that neither Queen was doing their jobs. Perhaps I am just being cynical, but those two incidents to not exactly inspire confidence in the Faerie Queens, or in Earth's chances of survival.
- 6) Titania's job is to be ruled by her heart over her head. She acknowledges that. It's very likely that if both Faerie Queens were head-over-heart, there would be absolutely no limits in the war against the Outsiders. It's a war against the Outsiders, after all. It's not exactly a high price to pay if, say, one insignificant blue speck in the cosmos gets blown up to drive the Outsiders back when you consider that all of reality is on the line. As far as checks on their power...they're Faerie Queens. They'd probably take even the suggestion as an insult(not something you want to happen, considering their power levels). Besides, the Courts tend to operate on more medieval lines of "they're the monarchs, they can do what they want".
- I'm not sure that Titania's "heart over head" philosophy is inherent to the role of Summer Queen. I suspect that it's simply Titania's personal style of rulership. After all, she and Mab are twin sisters, so it's possible that Titania is just trying to distinguish herself from her sister. Also, the reason why medieval monarchy was replaced by constitutional government is the whole "they're monarchs, they can do what they want" is a very dangerous policy. It's similar to the whole "Divine Right of Kings". It allows for a whole range of abuse and corruption. Again, I bring up the case of Summer Knight and cold Days. The faeries requirement to obey their queens regardless of what their doing is a huge hindrance when those Queen's are clearly not doing what their supposed to be doing.
- 7) Another one that's hard to say with the information we have now. I would say yes, because that's what keeps things in balance - if the Outsiders all dropped dead, it would free up millions of Winter fae to steamroll Summer and everything would be thrown out of whack, which would be fatal to just about everything on Earth. But it's hard to say how it worked before the Winter Court were the ones fighting Outsiders, and it's hard to say whether Winter fae are like that because they're there to fight Outsiders, or if they're there to fight because they're like that. It could be both, considering the nature of faeries and magic.
- Indeed. I am curious as to how Winter replenishes it's losses. It's not like Faeries have a high degree of fecundity.
- I'm a tad uncomfortable with labelling the entire Red Court as evil. I don't know, maybe it's because I'm a bit squeemish with the idea of genocide being the moral solution.
- That is good. If you do not be a least a bit squeamish it is too easy to classify an entire race as evil without investigating further. Harry once thought the White Court were all evil until he learned better. However, this being fantasy with at least somewhat objective morality an entire race can be chaotic evil which means the overall "good" thing to do is to destroy them. At worst, its because it was the only practical solution for the greater good, which again is too easy to try and justify the means and I am not saying always works. Anyway, The Red Court had held Central and South America in bondage for thousands of years through pain, death, and despair. Every Red was thoroughly inducted into this system and likely only changed people who were of like mind or who would eventually be changed or advanced with that mindset. The only way to free Central and South America was to destroy the Red Court. Ideally, you would have something in place to fill the power void. But since the Dresdenworld is more less a crapsack world that idea would require massive planning and cooperation meaning it would probable never work.
- Hey, I'm not arguing that Harry's choice was bad overall. In his place, under his circumstances, I think I would do the same thing. I just think that it's a tad sad, not to mention really dangerous, that the fate of the world is in the hands of a community organized like some sort of criminal syndicate. Also, I am somewhat confused as to what the standard of "good" in Dresden Files.
- This gets tricky and I'm not sure if there is a good way to answer. I suppose it partially depends on what species or being you are referring to. To me, a fae would have a different "good" than humans if that concept can even be applied to them.. But from the perspective of the "good guys" and the morality they answer to good depends on free will. Those who support free will and the right to choose are good hence Harry's emphasis on the power of choice and Uriel and the Knights of the Cross. Those who seek to deprive mankind of free will: The Red and White Courts, the Fallen, etc. are "evil." But for an angel, "good" is obeying God. "Evil" is disobeying God.
- I'm just curious, I thought the Red King and the Lords of the Outer Night were all immortal, like, Mab-level "fighting a shadow" immortal. How would a bloodline curse destroy them?
- You were mistaken.
- An additional point of consideration: Harry didn't plan to use the ritual that way. When he actually did have to make that choice, it was in the middle of a battle. Furthermore, it was the only way to win that battle and get his family, friends, and allies out alive. One could even make an argument that it falls under self-defense.
- True. It's one Harry's serious character flaws. When someone he considers to be family is threatens, he completely focuses on protecting that someone, regardless of the collateral damage or long-term consequences. It didn't help that everyone around him just jumped on the bandwagon, rather than say "hey, hold on, we should slow down and research this just to make sure we're doing the right thing, cause this smells like a trap and we should think things through."
- When exactly where they supposed to research it? There was a space of maybe two or three minutes between when Susan turned and when several thousand angry vampires would get to the top of the pyramid and rip everyone to shreds. Up until that moment, reversing the ritual wasn't even on the table as an option. Harry had to choose then and there between exterminating the entire Red Court or him and all his friends and family dying. There were no other options at that point.
- I'm referring to the entire affair. From the moment Dresden learned about his child's predicament, it was clear that he was struggling to maintain his objectivity.
- I would also argue that Red Court vampires are, indeed, evil— not as bad as Black Court vampires, but still bad enough to warrant total destruction. They feed off of children, and they spread corruption wherever they go (both by way of making more vampires and by buying off governments, from what Susan makes it sound like). The White Court does things n a more civilized way— making them more dangerous in the long run, because it's not as overt— which is the same problem Harry has with Marcone: they're the lesser of the evils, so he keeps on making them more powerful in order to take down more immediate threats. Ultimately, I don't think Harry crossed a line, he just did what others before him have done more thoroughly— I mean, Dracula was made to destroy the Black Court, and it was mostly successful, while Harry was (to our knowledge, thus far) COMPLETELY successful.
- One other major factor to consider in judging the Red Court's role in the wider setting, and whether they ought to be wiped out at the first opportunity, is that they're not a race of their own, they're humans who've been infected by a supernatural disease. It's not really valid to argue that they "ought" to be allowed to survive as a species or a stabilizing force in Latin America's supernatural milieu, because what they really "ought" to be, every last one of them, is normal mortal humans who'd never even heard of rampires. Their condition is a tragic perversion of what they rightfully should have been, not something inherent in their original nature. Saying that the Red Court should be left intact until an alternative power-bloc can be prepared to take its place is like saying that leprosy shouldn't be wiped out as a disease until other jobs can be found for health care workers presently employed at leper colonies.
- True, but I do think that the analogy becomes somewhat difficult to maintain because what harry did was not cure the Red Court, he exterminated all of them. Also, that kind of logic could apply to a whole host of supernatural creatures. After all, the White Court vampires could be considered a "disease" as well, as could many changelings, or children of Naagloshii. The novel Skin Game demonstrated that naagloshii, or at least the children of naagloshii like Goodman Grey, are capable of recognizing and overcoming their destructive antisocial impulses, and undergoing moral development. This does indicate that those otherwise dismissed as "monsters" do possess the capacity for moral agency.
- Also, saying that the Red Court "ought" to have been humans is a value judgment, which can be debated. From a purely biological, physiological point of view, many Red Court vampires were faster, stronger, and far more long lived than humans, although they did acquire significant physiological weaknesses.
- Also, Red Court vampires have souls. We know this because in the first novel, Harry soulgazes Bianca. Therefore, I do not think that unilaterally labelling the entire Red Court as "evil" is sound.
- Keep in mind that every single full Red Court vampire has made the conscious decision to spill blood and end the life of another to trigger their transformation. The ones who were half-turned became fully human again.
Circle disruption in book 1
- Magic circles are mentioned in Storm Front to be easily broken by physical objects, Harry was anxious of accidentally breaking their defense against the demon by clothes, and later breaks a circle himself, but in the demon scene Bob throws Harry a potion, and he catches it, and they have time to leisurely drink it. Why wasn't the circle broken that time?
- The circle on the ground has to be broken. One of the traditional ways demons escape in old tales is a single piece of straw laying over the circle. There's an invisible wall of force that extends up into the air that the demon can't cross, but other stuff can. Harry was struggling to stay inside the circle not because it would break, but because if any part of him was outside it, he would be, you know, outside of it and thus attacked by the demon.
- It's not about the circle on the ground having to be broken, it's about free will. Bob doesn't have free will, so he can throw things past the circle without breaking it. Later in the book Harry breaks Sells' circle by tossing an empty film can past it, and yes, if Harry's arm had gone out of the circle that would have broken it.
- Not free will, just will, actually. Mortal-style free will isn't strictly necessary to use circle magic, else Shagnasty couldn't have used a circle to sever Harry's soulfire-binding.
- Indeed, moving an inanimate object into a circle doesn't break it unless the one who moves it wills it to. When Harry traps Toot-Toot earlier in the same book, he draws his circle and wills it to be functional, then lays leaves and twigs over it so Toot won't see it. So long as his willpower enforces its efficacy, and does not support the leaves' ability to break a circle, it remains usable as a trap.
- It is indicated that the circle needs to be complete and unobstructed when first formed; Harry makes a point of sweeping his summoning circle before using it in rituals.
- Harry does explain early on in Fool Moon that there's more than one kind of circle, the "tiger cage" Kim Delaney asks his advice on contains three different kinds. So not all circles have to behave the same way.
- In Skin Game, how come Lasciel knew about Harry and Lash's child? Or knew so much about Harry in general? Lash never reunited with Lasciel, so Lasciel shouldn't know anything more about Harry than she did at the end of Death Masks.
- Because Harry told Murphy. Murphy has a shadow that Anduriel can listen through, and Anduriel has good reason to pay attention to Murphy specifically.
- Word of Jim is that Lasciel knew everything that Lash knew. It's likely that up until the end, they were the same meta-physical being and simply shared knowledge automatically.
- What do you mean by "metaphysical"
- Can't really describe them as the same physical being, despite both two and one together.
- So, are they the same person or not?
- Laciel is a Fallen, and once was an angel. She likely has intellectus to tell her whatever she needs to know.
Why didn't Harry summon Molly?
- When Harry couldn't reach Molly any other way from Demonreach, why didn't he simply use her true name and summon her as the Winter Lady? Whatever Mab set up to block his attempts at contact, I doubt she could have prevented that from working.
- Because its both extremely rude and Harry likely was uncertain if it could work. He didn't know Molly had been altered by her mantle so much that she could be summoned that way.
- When your head is about to split open and you've used up the conventional avenues, it's time to go for the Hail Mary play. Besides which, as the Winter Knight, Harry has both the power and the right to summon any of the Winter Queens. He did so with both Mother Winter and Mab in Cold Days, even though Mother Winter took it amiss.
- I'm not sure that the Ladies can be summoned. They are the lowest ranking immortals, and the one's closest tied to the mortal world. I could be wrong, but there is no indication that they've been summoned before.
- Probably never occurred to him that he could technically do that. He's used to thinking of Molly as his apprentice, and I don't think the change to her status has really sunk in. The same effect can be seen in his continued resistance to the idea of boinking her even after she was no longer his apprentice or a child.
- Harry has no information as to how well Molly has adjusted to being the Winter Lady, or whether she's able to use the mantle of the Lady effectively yet. For all he knows, she's still enough of a novice that having to heed a summons could hurt her, because she doesn't know how to safely cope with the energies involved. Remember, he'd dragged his feet about teaching her to open portals to the Nevernever, and we've never seen Molly summon anything herself, so that whole branch of magic-use is fairly unfamiliar to her.
Harry Dresden Iron Deficiency?
- Now that Harry is the Winter Knight, I'm kind of wondering about the iron inside his body. Would the iron inside his body affect his powers? I mean, as far as I can tell, he has red blood, which is due to the presence of iron in his blood? In addition, do faeries have iron in their bodies? Considering that "iron is found in all living organisms, ranging from the evolutionarily primitive archaea to humans" (source: Wikipedia), I'm wondering about the biology of faeries.
- It obviously doesn't impact his powers, because we haven't seen it impact his abilities in any way. Iron that has been metabolized clearly doesn't affect faeries either, presumably because it either doesn't exist in quantities sufficient to affect them or the iron outside a body has some metaphysical property that lends itself to ruining the Fae's day.
- Traces amounts of iron are found in most rocks and dirt, as well as dissolved in lakes and seawater, blown in dust throughout the atmosphere, and built into countless organic compounds. Given that dirt doesn't burn faeries' feet, Jenny Greenteeth doesn't dissolve from a dip in the lake and Toot-toot's belly didn't explode from his eating bread with a dab of Harry's blood on it, it's pretty obvious that iron has to be pretty concentrated before faeries have to worry about it.
Villain's plan in Wtt J too elaborate/visible?
- Supposedly, the villain was collecting blood from various powerful animals to use in an ascension ritual. To this end, they adopt a cover identity to infiltrate the Lincoln Park Zoo, sneak around collecting samples from all sorts of exotic beasts, and draw dangerous attention to themselves by committing murders to cover it up. Confronted by Harry, the killer rants that he's threatening plans that took many, many years to come to fruition. And yet it's perfectly legal in several U.S. states to buy most of the rare animals whose blood was required for the ritual: it's rare, but eccentric private citizens can and do own tigers, lions, leopards, apes, crocodiles, bears, whatever. Why was such an elaborate imposture necessary, when the villain could just as plausibly have bought some live animals and taken what was needed from them in private?
- Maybe you have to acquire the blood by trickery or force in order for it to have the right symbolic value? High-level rituals can be really finicky, as seen in Skin Game when the group has to sneak into the vault, not blow it open or buy access to it, in order for the Way to open.
Salic Law and the Matrilineality of wizard-level talents.
- Maybe somebody already addressed this before. If so, than please point it out. Dresden mentions in White Night that magical talents are inherited matrilineally, and that malvora's plan was to instigate a wizard holocaust by wiping out lineage's capable of producing wizards. He referred to this phenomena as "Salic Law". The only known Salic Law I know of is the one developed by the Franks during the early Middle Ages. Now, maybe it's just me, but isn't Salic Law known for it's Agnatic succession, meaning that women were excluded from receiving any inheritance? I'm curious as to why the term would then be applied to a phenomena that is usually passed on matrilineally?
- First of all, magic isn't always inherited from the mother, since Margaret Dresden's mother was a vanilla mortal according to Word Of Jim. Second, Harry was probably using "Salic law" in the far broader sense that inheritance is biased in favor of one gender, not in the technically-accurate sense: he's an American high school dropout, what would he know about old-time European inheritance laws?
- Well, considering that much of the Unseelie Accords appear to use a lot of medieval old-time European law, like wergilds and trials by combat, and that Harry, as a wizard would be trained in such matters, I would think that he at least knew something about it.
- Medieval European inheritance laws weren't written by a female. Mab wrote the Unseelie Accords. No way they'd have the same ingrained sexism, or at least not sexism in a direction favoring males.
- Can someone get me the exact wording for the "Margaret Dresden's Mother Was Vanilla Mortal" Word of Jim? There are some pretty great Wild Mass Guessings on the subject and I want to be sure that the wording was "Margaret Dresden's mother was vanilla mortal," not "Harry's Grandmother was vanilla mortal." Harry has two grandmothers, after all.
- The Word Of Jim in question explicitly states it's the one on his mother's side that it's talking about.
- When asked if Harry's grandmother is, in the context of talking about Ebenezer, significant, his answer is, "Well, she was a mortal. That was about it."
- The only spell we've ever heard Cowl utter is "Dorosh," outside of Bock's Ordered Books. The spell hits Harry with high-level Kinetomancy. Wizards often use something that sounds like another language when doing magic to avoid accidental backlash. Harry's spells are mostly based in Latin. Justin DuMorne's spells were based off of Egyptian. Elaine's magic seems to be part Old Egyptian, part Latin. Molly uses Japanese. Morgan uses German. What language could "Dorosh" be imitating? It would tell us something about Cowl if we knew what language he based his spells off of.
- I always thought it was Babylonian, though I'm not really sure why.
- Apparently it is a Russian name of unknown etymology.
Harry and Thomas's birth dates
- I've read up to "small favor" and it's mentioned that: (1)Thomas was born on st.Valentine's/lovers' day, 14 February. (2)Harry was born on Halloween/Samhein/All saints' day(or eve), 30-31 October. (3)Harry's birth date was arranged deliberately to influence his inherited wizard powers, giving him some control over Outsiders. Overall, what is the possibility that Thomas also being born on special holiday was their mother's another plan to give him some special ability, augmenting his inherited incubus powers?
- Or alternately, his birthdate was arranged to weaken his demon, and that's part of how he managed to retain his humanity.
- In a recent AMA, Jim Butcher said that there was no arrangement or special purpose behind Thomas's birth. It was simply the result of, and I quote, all the "awesome vampire sex" Maggie was having and it just sorta happened. In another Word of God, he said it's just the universe's sense of irony.
Molly's Stockholm Syndrome
- I'm just curious, does Molly have a case of Stockholm Syndrome? I just watch Game Theory, and it just got me thinking.
- What makes you think she does?
- Well, first of all, no one (at least from Harry's perspective, since he's the narrator of the series) really seams to know what mantles do to their vessels. There seems to be some serious symptoms for having these things inside you, although there has been no scientific research as to their symptoms or effects. Now, this is just me, but I would be scared shitless (pardon the language) that some weird alien lifeform just decided to park itself inside my mind and body, and I would be pretty angry to be drafted and press-ganged, on pain of death, into being some Mob Queen's (read: Mab's) "hunting falcon" (to quote Maeve). I mean, one could make the case that the Winter Court is basically one gigantic mafia family, and a lot of their members exhibit behaviour that could charitably be described as "dangerous". Like I said, maybe I'm reading too much into this, and maybe I'm drawing incorrect conclusions (if so, please tell me), but she seems to just be okay with it. Is all that money and power really worth risking becoming one of the Winter Fae? At least Harry made a conscious choice to get involved with them.
- I'm also just wondering why Harry, or no one for that matter, thought to get some sort of doctor, psychiatrist, or some supernatural/magical equivalent of those aforementioned professions, to run some tests and find out just what's going on, instead of whining and wangsting about it. After all, when you get sick or when one is concerned about one's health, physical, mental or otherwise, you go to a doctor. I know, I know, Harry's stuck on the island most of the time, and Molly was forced to go run around fixing Maeve's (and by extention, Mab's) screw-ups.
- Who exactly do you think they would be able to talk to about that sort of thing? The monsters don't care, the White Council would be more likely to chop their heads off than provide therapy, and mortal experts would think they're nuts and try to toss them in a loony bin. I can't imagine there is an overabundance of people who would be both willing and able to provide them with that sort of help.
- Why not Butters? The man's a trained and certified doctor, so he clearly has a scientific background. Plus the guys a Knight of the Cross. Even if he can't do it, maybe he knows someone. I'm just saying doing something is a lot better than just sitting around waiting for those mantle-thingies to just do whatever it is they do.
- While Molly may or may not have some kind of mental problem related to this, I'm pretty sure that it isn't Stockholm Syndrome. She never seems to express any love for Mab, any more than Harry does.
A Kringle quandary
- As of Cold Days, it's confirmed that Santa Claus, aka "Kringle", is a Wyldfae. Presumably this means that if he's wearing that mantle instead of Odin's he operates under the same rules as other faeries: vulnerable to cold iron, unable to lie, compelled to honor thrice-repeated statements, bound to make good on all debts and guest-host obligations. All well and good ... except that, fundamentally, Santa is a figure renowned for giving gifts every Christmas. How can he give presents, or fulfill the dictates of a mantle that's centered on giving children toys, if faeries can only give gifts as part of an equitable exchange?
- Different fey work by different rules, especially Wyldfae. Part of Kringle's purpose involves entering homes without a direct invitation and leaving gifts for good children. The laws that would prevent him from doing that don't apply to him. Regardless, note that there have been hints that the laws are a little bit more complicated than people think; everyone was surprised when Cat Sith teleported into Thomas' apartment without permission, and he explained that he can't take any hostile action while inside the threshold, and has to leave the place at least as nice as he found it.
- True, that loophole would explain how Kringle could enter kids' homes. Actually leaving presents is another story; the occasional tray of milk and cookies left out for him isn't of the same value for an exchange, and he's not getting "paid" in his beneficiaries' silence (like the brownies that cleaned Harry's apartment) because kids talk about Santa freely.
- I would argue that Santa is implicitly invited to any child's home, especially if they hung up stockings and left him a plate of cookies. The latter is basically an extension of the part of host.
- Alternately, the gifts are given in recompense and to justify kids' belief in Santa, which in turn ensures that he endures and is strengthened.
- By that logic, any faerie could give gifts freely to any mortal who believes in them.
- Technically, Fae can give gifts. It just leaves the one they give the gift to in open-ended debt to them. A major faux pas among the Fae, but likely far less of an issue with mortal children who don't know about the rules, aren't in any position to argue them, and aren't expected to recompense Kringle. Presumably the tray of milk and cookies are considered enough recompense by Kringle to pay off the "debt"; we already know that the "size" of the debt is irrelevant, as long as the Fae in question considers it sufficient. Remember how Summer's boon was technically repaid via taking a while to go find a donut with sprinkles on it.
- Also, who says that the kids have to be the ones paying for the gifts? Maybe Jesus is the one "buying" all those presents for good little boys and girls. Alternately, popular belief in Kringle empowers him to ignore the rule of repayment for Christmas gifts.
- It's possible that the term "gift" is more shorthand for "reward". Santa's not giving these out freely, he has a task and those eligible that do so are rewarded.
- That last would seem to be the answer; in his own myths Santa's gifts are explicitly stated to be rewards for being good enough to stay off the naughty list. Santa is bargaining in true Fae fashion: obey and be rewarded. It's an open-ended offer to all children who believe in him. (One wonders, however, what their parents think of mysterious gifts actually coming from Santa ...)
- There's also the possibility that Kringle doesn't give children presents, but instead represents some nebulous "Christmas spirit" or somehow simply "oversees" gift-giving in general. This would explain why The Masquerade doesn't shatter to pieces every December 25th with millions of parents wondering where on earth the extra presents came from.
- Hmmm... so maybe what Kringle actually does is affect the parents, not the children. He and his elves might use a mild glamour to enhance the parents' generosity towards children, in payment for the kids' belief and all those letters and cookies. Sometimes it goes well, and the parent has a "flash of inspiration" for what the perfect gift would be; other times, they overdue it a little, and you get suburban housewives punching each others' lights out for the last Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle-Me Elmo on the department store shelf.
- In Skin Game, when Dresden and Ascher go to the hotel to recruit her, the former brings up "what happened the last time you did a contract with him", and Valmont replies that "we tried to screw him and he screwed us back harder". But the last time we saw Valmont was in Death Masks, where her employer was Marcone, not Nicodemus—and Marcone didn't try to "screw them back" at all. Is this just a mistake, or is there something I'm missing?
- Jim Butcher has acknowledged this as a mistake, although lots of fans have justified it as Harry not wanting to blab details about that case, and Anna picking up on his intent and playing along.
Aurora in Summer Knight
- I am rereading the series, so I'm noticing a lot of things I didn't before, but at the end of Summer Knight, something doesn't make sense to me. Harry and Aurora, who has been the Summer Lady for hundreds of years, duke it out, and Harry...wins? Aurora shot out a fire spell at him, and he manages to parry it. I remember the time he fought Lily in Cold Days, and he himself pointed out how, despite being magnitutes more experienced and powerful than he was at the time he fought Aurora, Lily had him hilariously outclassed in magic. How did Aurora not bitchslap him across Faerie the moment he showed up?
- I would say Aurora loses due to a mixture of having little combat experience, surprise, and being way more focused on the Table then the fight. From what I recall, the fight basically goes like this: Aurora has the Unraveling and is about to use it on Lily. Dresden uses wind magic to steal it. Aurora needs the Unraveling for her plan, so she just uses wind to steal it back and then creates a barrier of thorns to prevent anyone from interrupting her. Dresden gets through the thorns, and while Aurora is distracted, slugs her from behind with his staff. She kicks him away and sends some fire at him, which he deflects, and then one of her servants shows up. She orders him to kill Dresden and then grabs Lilly to kill her. The servant gets distracted by Meryl, and Dresden unleashes his fairies armed with steel, which start cutting Aurora apart and interrupts her attempt to smite them all. Overall, while a straight fight would end with Dresden losing, this was not really much of a fight. I would guess Aurora's fire spell could be deflected because it was a reflexive panic shot, not something she put a lot of power into. Aurora probably could have one-shotted Dresden if she had tried to, but instead she was distracted by trying to complete her scheme, and that let him win.
- I suppose that explanation is adequate, but it kind of paints her as an incompetent. Why even have the servant try to kill dresden if she can do it with such easy? But another theory struck me since the time I wrote this, and maybe it was because Nemesis had to corrupt her intellect as well as her will to make her its servant (much how the normally pragmatic Cat Sith was made to trashtalk Dresden in their fight in the time it should have spent just killing him), or perhaps those were the small ways in which Aurora was fighting against Nemesis from the inside.
- Magic is magic. If it was a spell powerful enough to launch Harry across all of Faerie, then it would have destroyed the environment around him. Aurora was clearly loosing a hastily-assembled spell, and Harry deflected it. He has the raw strength to pull something like that off, and the Ladies are not necessarily raw powerhouses of magic.
- My comment about Aurora bitchslapping Harry across Faerie was figurative. I mean to say that if she was truly putting in effort to the spell (and there is no reason she shouldn't unless we assume she is somehow weakened or restraining herself to counter Nemesis), Harry should have been not been able to parry the spell. And we know that the Ladies are power houses of magic as Harry took time to be in awe of Lily's strength in Cold Days, and she almost undoubtedly would be a weaker practitioner than Aurora, who had been trained in the art for centuries.
- Faeries are also extremely arrogant, and not always shown to be the most tactically minded. Aurora threw out a shot she thought would take out Harry, and misjudged. Everyone doesn't throw out as much power as they can with every shot — even the Faerie Queens must have an upper limit on the power they can wield, and don't forget that as awed as Harry was with Lily's power, he still outright blocked her "burn the whole hilltop" shot.
- Actually, Fix did that. And Harry is essentially at the height of his magical power in Cold Days, where as he had not taken his many levels of badass as of Summer Knight. Faeries are arrogant usually because they're badass, and the Ladies are essentially one of the strongest power houses in Faerie, discounting the occasional overly powerful subordinate. And while they don't always throw out all their power in every shot, I can't think of a reason (except for the Nemesis one mentioned above) why she would not hit him with her best shot right there, so close to her goal, with him being the only one who can concievably ruin it. Harry's badass, but not Lady badass.
- No, Fix is unconscious when Lily scorches the whole hilltop. Fix blocks the tiny ball of fire, the focused attack she readies to hit him with afterward. An attack that it apparently takes her a few seconds to call and focus together, which is another reason Aurora wouldn't have used it — the few seconds it takes to call that power together in so focused a fashion is a few seconds where Harry can attack her.
- Note that Aurora had already poured a lot of power into conjuring up the thorny barrier around the Stone Table, and expended who-knows-how-much of her resources fighting her way to the site in the first place. Even a Lady's supply of magic can't be bottomless.
Why did Harry need physical therapy?
- If the Winter mantle can take care of a broken spinal cord, why couldn't it let Harry ignore his physical deterioration?
- The Winter Mantle didn't automatically fix his spine. Mab did. The Mantle lets him heal faster than normal and ignore pain, not the debilitating effects of injury or not moving for 9 solid months.
- His spine wasn't actually fixed; when the mantle cuts out it paralyzes his legs. As for physical status, it's not entirely clear what the mantle does in that regard. Butters thinks it just blocks pain and lets him use enough strength to risk damaging his muscles, in which case it wouldn't be able to do much with atrophied muscles. Even if there's an actual power boost, it's still better to have reasonable strength to start with.
- Technically, Harry's spine was fixed before he donned the mantle, as restoring his body to health was one of the things Mab had to do for him in exchange for him taking on the mantle in the first place. His paralysis returned when he tried to defy Winter Law because he was threatening to break his deal with Mab, not merely because the mantle shut down: it's the same effect that temporarily incapacitated him in Grave Peril when he broke his promise to Lea. When it's just the mantle that cuts out on Harry, like when he's pierced by iron, he can still use his legs.
What happened to Rosie and Nelson?
- I'm just curious, what happened to Nelson and Rosie? Are they in a mental institution?
- No further mention of them. It's pretty likely Nelson at least spent time in a psychiatric ward. Rosie was coherent and seemingly stable in the hospital, so she might have avoided institutionalization. The White Council may have looked into helping them, but their ban on mental magic means it's unlikely they could do much.
- Father Forthill promised to get Nelson help, and probably rescued Rosie at the same time.
- Any Wo J that they'll be coming back?
Due Process and the White Council
- I'm just curious, does the white council have any regular form of due process?
- Not really. You break the Laws of Magic, you lose your head, unless a council member is willing to go to bat for you, and even then you'll probably lose your head in the upcoming (largely unfair) trial.
- ... OK. I'm wondering, what would constitute admissible evidence in a White Council trial. For instance, a soulgaze is a highly subjective personal experience.
- Examining the victims and the accused by someone qualified to do so (i.e., a Warden, the Merlin, etc.).
- Ultimately it seems to just come down to a straight vote by the Senior Council. It's not fair, but the White Council generally isn't fair.
- Think of the White Council as something like the Sons of Anarchy or the Soprano crime family. Their basically a group of really powerful people who think that their above mortal law and public accountability (whether that belief is justified or not is up to you). They're sort of like a lot of clandestine or criminal organisations. Justice and fairness are NOT on their list of priorities.
- I would say justice and fairness are priorities for many members on the Council including the late Morgan, Luccio, and Ebenezer. However, all of them have other lives and priorities like protecting humanity from wizards and rogue supernatural creatures. Lengthy trials are both a hindrance and unnecessary since black magic leaves quite a bit of evidence and is in most cases incurable to the point where Dresden, once strictly opposed to the Council's way of doing things, has come around to their viewpoint.
- What do you mean by incurable? Also, lengthy trials and due process ensure as fair a trial as possible.
- It has been stated several times that prolonged black magic use destroys the mind of the user making them a psychotic killer. That damage cannot be cured. That is why the White Council executes warlocks and why Harry agrees with it. Molly was borderline when Harry found her and she tries to be a virtuous person. Lengthy trials and heavy focus on due process are a major part of the American legal system aka adversarial legal system that focuses more on rules and procedure. For trials, The White Council sounds like it uses more of a inquisitorial justice system, found more commonly in Europe, where the judge investigates crimes and controls nearly everything. This system varies by country, but generally has more lenient rules of evidence. The goal of both systems as it is in most trials is to get to the truth of the matter. Lengthy trials and due process are considered necessary for the U. S. system. In cases of black magic where it leaves a magical taint, destroys the users mind, and other factors I don't see the need for a lengthy trial. In all the cases shown so far including Harry and Molly, all parties broke the laws of magic. The only question was whether they should die for violating the laws. The White Council trials are public and final fate is decided by a jury aka the Senior Council to try and ensure fairness.
- So, does that mean that Molly, Harry, and pre-Denarian Hanna Ascher are psychotic killers?
- Please reread the post above yours, which says in the first line that it's prolonged black magic use that irrevocably does it. Not once or twice like Harry or Molly's case. And even in their cases, we see the evidence of it — Harry repeatedly has urges to use magic to kill again, and Molly does it a couple times after.
- What is meant by "the White Councils trials are public"?
- It means exactly what it says. The trials are open up for other wizards to watch. It is not just the Senior Council and their personal executioner. In Proven Guilty Dresden tried to sway the room that Molly did not deserve to be executed to pressure the Merlin into releasing her, but because he publicly challenged the Merlin's authority he was going to have her executed anyway.
- So, the judge of a trail was going to sentence the defendant to death because he didn't like the defendant's counsel. Also, the trials are open to wizards, but are non-wizards permitted to watch?
- Yes. Michael's there at the end of Proven Guilty.
- Any system can be corrupted no matter how many checks and balances there are. In the White Council's case, a set of extenuating circumstances gave the Merlin an unusual amount of power. Normally that is not the case and when the other Council members arrived the trial worked out the way it is designed to and worked out fine. And I doubt trials are usually open to non-wizards. The White Council does not like mortal authorities involving themselves with magical affairs though there might be exceptions.
- Another thing worth noting about Molly's trial is that it occurred during the period when Peabody was influencing the Senior Council. Peabody might have induced the Merlin to be more rigid in his views in order to make him look worse as a leader. Dresden, indirectly, played right into that. Who knows how the Merlin might have ruled under normal circumstances?
Magical community and the government
- I'm just curious, what is the relationship between the White Council and U.S. government? Or rather, what exactly is the relationship between the magical community and mortal governments? Now, I understand that the White Council is based in the UK, so I realize there will be some legal differences between Dresden's circumstances and the White Council. However, it is mentioned that wizards are able to live wealthy lifestyles because of the interest on their bank accounts. Let us assume that somehow wizards are able to shield their accounts from defaulting banks and economic depressions. I am wondering how they have been able to do so without raising any flags. I know it's a bit of a big topic.
- There's absolutely no reason to assume wizards have any special power to protect their bank accounts. Divination probably helps some, centuries of experience help too, and they have access to all the techniques any other rich people do (like keeping money in multiple places in multiple countries), but there's no evidence in the books they have anything beyond that. The only wizard whose financial state we really see is Harry, who doesn't really do this kind of thing.
- What about the Census? In order to have a bank account, one must be registered as a citizen or have the right to work in the country? Sooner or later, a curious journalist or investigator may be able to poke around the Census and discover that someone has been living for centuries? Not to mention there will be bank records.
- Not every wizard has their money in the US. Off the top of my head I can think of two dozen countries - including the UK, where the Council is based - that don't require such registration.
- Fake records, nigh-untraceable accounts, lost files, change your name, copy deceased identities, criminals do it all the time. A reporter would only notice if they saw a pattern. If a wizard pretended to be their own child every thirty or forty years and changed their name that would take care of it.
- Keep in mind that many wizards have been around since before their countries even had a formal banking system. If anything, they may have been party to building the entire legal framework for identity, so they'd know exactly how to game the system. Remember one of the biggest weapons the White Court had against the Red Court was their sheer, massive economic and legal power.
The Santa Claus meme
- According to Kringle, and some commentors of the Dresdenverse, many immortals are shaped by human beliefs and ideas. Now, in occult terminology, there is the egregore, a sort of strange sentient entity composed of ideas, beliefs, and thoughts of a group of people. The concept is similar to a corporation or a meme. Therefore, are immortals, in some way, sentient memes? Could memetics be used to "track", via brain-scanning, the effective influence and power of immortals?
- It's a possibility, but we don't have the science to do that in the real world. It probably doesn't exist in the Dresdenverse either.
- I don't think so. We know most immortals predate humanity. We also don't know all the rules for how immortals interact with the mortal world. Some of Bob's remarks imply Harry's viewpoint is rather limited and cannot fully comprehend everything. We also don't know how the every changing rules of magic affect things. At one point the rules had to allow immortals to interact with Earth to allow mortals to learn about them in the first place.
The Couple in Heorot Being Virgins
- In one of the short stories, Heorot, Harry has to stop a grendelkin from raping a virgin woman and impregnating her, which would lead to her death when the creature is born. Here's the problem: Harry is introduced to the case by the woman's fiance, who tells Harry they've been together since they where 15, and it's been almost ten years. Jim, do you really expect me to believe that woman is still a virgin after all that time in a relationship, especially when it started when they were teenagers?
- Yes. Not everyone has sex. Some people do wait for marriage.
- Or take the third option.
- "Being together", in context, could also refer to how long the Braddocks had been in a committed relationship, not necessarily how long they'd been in actual physical proximity. One or both of them could have spent a chunk of those ten years off at an out-of-state college or serving in the Peace Corps or whatever, writing soppy love letters back and forth.
- Multiple times throughout the series, running water is said to "ground" magic. Is there an explanation as to how this works? Is magic like electricity?
- No, at best magic has some vague relations to energy and is often described as such, but it has different properties that make it not energy. Magical grounding does not work on all creatures like the Fomor. And we don't know if it would work on the faith based power of Knights of the Cross or a number of other supernatural beings.
- Well, technically speaking, as Richard Feynman once said: "It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge what energy is. We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount." The closest definition I've come across is from wikipedia here:
"In physics, energy is a property of objects, transferable among them via fundamental interactions, which can be converted in form but not created or destroyed. The joule is the SI unit of energy, based on the amount transferred to an object by the mechanical work of moving it 1 metre against a force of 1 newton."
- In the Dresden files, "Magic" also appears to have a similarly vague definition. We know it's the "essence" of life and creation (whatever that means). Therefore, can we really say magic is not a form of energy? Since, strictly speaking in the terminology of physics, doing magic appears to involve the application of force to do a type of mechanical work upon physical objects.
- Mostly it comes from myths like how vampires can't pass running water, and water, as an element, having cleansing/eroding qualities.
- Essentially magic/energy flows. Grounding out the spell just means you redirect the flow. The Genoskwa for example was able to ground out the magic by literally directing it into the ground when he was targetted. Similar principle is when Harry redirects the curse aimed at Inari in Blood Rites: He draws it out with one hand, through himself and channels it at one of the vamps.
- That's what all energy does. Lightning, water, etc., all energy moves toward a state of equilibrium. My question is what how exactly does it work? If it's like lightning, then it would move from an area of "negative charge" to an area of "positive charge". Is that is what is happening?
- Presumably not negative to positive, as Harry's never mentioned anything about the type of energy he manipulates having such polarities. It's probably a safe assumption that magical energies do tend to go from high-energy to low-energy states as they affect things, however, as he does refer to storing up energy or feeling himself running out of it. Indeed, that's probably the basis for calling it "energy", in the first place.
Magic circles and lasers
- Could a laser pass through a magic circle without breaking it? After all, light is able to travel through even Greater Circles (like the one that contained Ivy).
- I seriously doubt it. One point of magical circles is to contain energy. Regular light is not that concentrated to be effected by a circle. A laser is a much more concentrated beam of energy similar to a spell.
- True, but a laser generated by non-magical means is not a spell. Circles are meant to block out magic.
- No, a laser will go right through it. Regular light being "less concentrated" than laser would mean it would be more likely to be blocked instead of less likely. Moreover, we know that magic circles only block magic and magical creatures. A laser beam directed by any mortal will, or even a machine, will pass right through it. It might not break the circle unless the beam is specifically directed at the material making up the circle, however.
- Multiple times in the series, a distinction is made clear between energy produced by magic and energy produced through mundane means. For example, the ogre in Summer Knight who could casually ignore any magical fire Harry threw at him, but a fire caused by a lighter and gasoline wrecked his shit. So, following that, a laser beam created via magic would likely bounce right off a circle, while a laser created by a machine would pass right through.
- Circles can only be broken by an effort of will. A laser that falls out of someone's hand and whose beam happens to cross a Circle will not break that circle. Whether a Circle can be broken by a willful laser intrusion is a question of physics - is light a wave or a particle?
How many people died in the Vampire War?
- I'm just curious, has there ever been an official casualty list for the Vampire War.
- No, there hasn't been.
- I'm just curious, does using magic in the Dresdenverse involve a serious study of semiotics?
- It's complicated. I'll try and suss it out in a few points.
For immortals, no. The Fae are described as using magic as easily as breathing.
For mortals, the question gets a little trickier, but basically, yes, a good understanding of semiotics is necessary but not sufficient for willful and responsible magic use.
Thaumaturgy (ritual spellcasting that requires a Circle) doesn't necessarily require semiotics, but GOOD Thaumaturgy does. Demons are honor-bound to try and break out of a Circle and kill and eat the summoner whenever they're summoned, and without the signifiers for the five senses, body, and soul, they can get out and eat you. So Thaumaturgy without semiotics can make you very dead.
Evocation (on-the-fly spellcasting) requires an effort of will. Harry says nonsense magic words because if you use words that have connotations attached to them (other than "I say 'Fuego,' fire comes out"), it can poison the purity of your will and make your magic do something unexpected. Using a signifier that has multiple signified objects is VERY irresponsible.
This is not to say that knowing Semiotics makes you a skilled magician. Harry clearly understands the concept, but that doesn't stop him from setting everything in sight on fire.
- Okay, so does that mean that the paradigm set of the symbol has to be unique to the wizard? Does that mean the symbols have to be meaningful only to the wizard in order to master their magic? When I mean symbol, I mean anything that conveys meaning or stands for something else. Not just drawings or sign posts, but also words or body language.
- It should be unique to the wizard, yes. Just remember that the signified here is the set of feelings and thoughts that go along with conjuring a particular spell, not the spell itself. The spell is just the consequence of gathering energy and expelling it in an effort of will. You're recreating a mindset, and the trigger is usually (but probably doesn't have to be) a magic word. It is, however, much faster to say a word than it is to draw something or write your spell in calligraphy, so I imagine it is, in large part, a convenience thing. That does not mean, however, that the symbols have to be significant only to the wizard. Two wizards could use the same magic word to cast entirely different spells, because the words establish different mindsets for each wizard. And even if two wizards linked the same magic word to what they think are similar spells, they'll still end up with different results because the two wizards have different understandings of magic and different expectations of what the spell should do. And linking magic to your body language is no doubt possible, but again, very very stupid. You'd end up rolling over in your sleep and calling down lightning or something. Or you'd shoot fire every time you looked at someone the wrong way. The fact that it can be done does not make it a good idea.
- Just remembered: In Turn Coat, Listens-To-Wind does the dance that protects him from incoming projectiles. He might be singing, too, but in any case, he's using magic that's not just "say word, magic comes out."
- Would it therefore be possible to create a "General Theory of Magic", like the one that appears in the rpg Ars Magica?
- It's complicated. I'll try and suss it out in a few points.
Faerie Mantles and Technology
- It has been established that while powerful wizards (like Harry) make technology go sideways, members of the Faerie Courts do not. This is cited at the end of Skin Game as proof that Molly is no longer human as the Winter Lady. But Harry, her Winter Knight by this time, still make technology go sideways even though he also possesses a Faerie mantle. Is the difference between mantles, their bearers, or how much they have allowed the mantles to change them?
- Because Harry is still human. He just has additional power as the Winter Knight, but it hasn't changed what he is.
- Moreover, Harry is still a human wizard. Knightly mantles don't necessarily have an impact on technology by themselves; Fix seems to make free use of modern vehicles without worrying about them breaking down on him all the time, and his predecessor was able to escort the changeling kids to Disneyland without fear that he'd spoil thousands of guests' vacations by shorting out the park's equipment.
Faerie Titles & Species
- Does the Winter Knight remain human and the Winter Lady become Fae no matter what?
- Yes. The Winter Knight is by definition human. Him or her being human is the entire point of the office. Likewise, the Winter Lady 'is fae by definition.
- I wouldn't say the Winter Knight is by definition human. Mab made it clear that Thomas could become the Winter Knight. They have to be some vague definition of "mortal." White Court Vampires may be far tougher than humans and call themselves immortals, but compare to a being like Mab they are far from it. Humans are usually chosen probably because they are so easy to kill or inexperienced. But the knight mantle does not change the fact they are mortal. We know the Winter Lady mantel aside from changing you into a fae makes one completely immortal.
- Mab said that Thomas could be the Winter Knight because his capacity to love made him human enough for the position. The whole point of the position is that it's a mortal agent of the queens — having it be anything not human doesn't make any sense.
- Possibly one of the Forest or Rock People might qualify, as the Bigfoot stories seem to imply they're more of a magic-enhanced human subspecies/offshoot than a purely supernatural race. Aside from them, changelings, and Whites, the non-human candidates for "mortal" seem pretty limited, unless a turtleneck switches sides in the Faerie/Fomor conflict or one of those aquatic-Americans from the Shedd wants to try out for the job.
- Remember that when we're talking about "mortal" in this context, we're not talking about lifespan. In the Dresdenverse, the distinction between mortals and immortals isn't merely death — pretty much everything can be killed — but free will. Mortals have it, the vast majority of supernatural nasties don't. White Court vampires are fairly unique in that they're basically just humans with a parasite inside them; they still have a human's free will, but most of them choose to obey their Hunger rather than exercise it. One expects that any sufficiently strong-willed White Court vampire, in touch with their human side, would have the free will to qualify as a mortal Mantle-wise.
Forgotten Magical Immunity subplot?
- I'm rereading the series and got to Blood Rites, and it has something I completely forgot about. Lord Raith is immune to magic. Harry couldn't hit him with anything. Freaking Blackstaff Mc Coy couldn't touch him after 3 attempts on his life. Okay, this is one of the biggest power sets that a person can have in the series, only available to the demigods like Shagnasty and Outsiders and stuff. But at no point does Harry even wonder about looking further into this? Given that Raith was using an Outsider to fuel his curse, my speculation is that that might have something to do with it, but as far as I remember, no in universe queries are made about it.
- That it had something to do with the Outsider is the generally accepted theory. As for being immune, it's not only demigods — the Grendelkin is functionally immune to magic via counterspelling, Ogres are resistant to magic to the point of being immune, etc. It's not that unheard of.
- This does bring up a good question about if Raith would actually be immune to Harry's magic. If it was, as is generally accepted, that his immunity was due to being under the protection of an Outsider. Then Harry's status as a Starborn could have allowed him to negate that. Except he never bothered to try since he was told it was a waste of time and energy.
- Unless I'm mistaken, Harry throws a spell at him during the fight, and the protection just gobbles it up.
- Sharkface was also highly resistant to Harry's magic and it took a soulfire-inbued harpoon of fire to get him to even actively defend himself (and soulfire's whole point is that it gives magic more physical properties, and physical (or "normal") damage is the one thing Outsiders are not immune to, as shown by Harry burning He Who Walks Behind using a gas-station explosion and Sharkface with a bullet to the head). It is more likely that as a starborn he is more capable of beating the Outsiders in a battle of wills (see his Battle in the Center of the Mind against Sharkface) rather than in a battle of spells.
- I doubt it's him getting general Outsider magic immunity; Dresden does seem to be able to bypass their immunity to magic. Sharkface is so tough that the spells he's hit with don't hurt him, but they don't simply slide off. Of course, Lord Raith is very old and has had a lot of time to make bargains with many entities, Outsider and otherwise.
- Harry didn't have access to soulfire when he went up against Lord Raith, and we haven't seen any evidence that Ebenezar can use it. It's entirely possible that if the head Raith had fought post-Small Favor Harry, Dresden would have blown his otherwise-magic-resistant ass away with silver fire and the White King would've died with a dumb Didn't See That Coming look on his face.
The Thematics of the Fae Courts
- Why are the fae divided into Summer and Winter? In-universe, I mean, not in their original myths. And no, I don't mean the in-universe explanation either, I mean on a conceptual level.
I bring this up because, as shown in Cold Days, Winter has been fighting the Outsiders for who knows how long, possibly since even before humanity existed. However, the whole concept of "winter" and "summer", as in the seasons, is a human construct that is more-or-less unique to northern-hemisphere cultures (because of obvious reasons). An African or Aboriginal tribe or even something like an Ancient Sumerian city-state would have no idea about this "winter" thing, yet they had to encounter the Queens and their season-based elemental powers and minions before, and presumable said queens and minions have been protecting them as well. So which was first: the Faerie Courts influencing reality to make a relatively narrow part of the world conform to their theme, with alternating hot-cold seasons, or the Fae and the Nevernever changing into that because of said seasons' effects of humanity?
Also, one would think that the Outer Walls would be manned by all sorts of pantheons, the Outsiders being something that concerns the entirety of existence after all, yet it is only manned by the Winter Fae under Mab. Where are the Chinese dragons, Japanese tengu and other assorted Asian, African, Australian and Polinesian deities and spirits? Hanging around at home and playing poker and leaving all the work to Mab and co.? No wonder she is that irritable...
- Word of Jim is that there used to be others who protected the Outer Gates, but that it's either Winter's turn right now, or Winter is the only one of those groups that are still defending the Gates. Also, while Winter fae are from northern, specifically Celtic, myth, the Dresden Files takes the general view that mythical creatures take other forms — so while, say, Australia might not have a Mab, they might have a similar figure who Mab kind of slips into. Sort of like how Kringle encompasses all the various Santa-esque myths.
- To non-temperate cultures, the Courts may be associated with the Wet and Dry seasons: whichever is most and least bountiful. Or they might default to a Day Court/Night Court system in regions where the seasons aren't significantly different in abundance.
- As for other cultures' mythical beings, just because they're not guarding the Outer Gates doesn't mean they might not have other responsibilities. There may be other threats out there that need opposing, or natural forces other than the seasons that require overseeing; for example, Eastern dragons may be obligated to oversee Earth's rivers and rainfall, with which they're often associated in folklore.
Drinking Love's Poison
- Ok, so we know that a life marked by love is deadly to the Raiths, that trying to touch it burns and causes agony. But what would happen if a White vampire were to push through that, and drink the protected life even though it was burning him?
- They can't. It just doesn't work.
- Its poison. Poison whose mere touch causes severe burning. Not just pain, outright burning of the physical body. Its pretty obvious exactly what would happen to a White Court who continued contact with something that caused that kind of damage.
- Their Hunger would probably flip out and force them to turn the prey loose under such circumstances. Madeline's lust-gluttony aside, the Whites' demons don't want themselves or their host/alter-egos to get burned to death.
Butters and Fidelacchius
- After Changes, why didn't Uriel ask Murphy to give Butters the sword? It's not like Justice League Chicago didn't need it.
- That's not how Uriel or the Sword work. Uriel is almost never so direct, and Butters was not ready for the Sword at that point. He had to go through his own growth and development to get to the point where he could be a Knight.
Harry's spirit daughter and Molly
- Why doesn't Harry's spirit daughter take any features from Molly? The little intellect spirit takes after Lash, Murphy, Ivy, Susan, Elaine, and even Harry's first apprentice Kim. These are all women that Harry loves or cares for deeply. After spending years teaching Molly, you'd think that Harry would've developed a significant amount of affection for her, even if that affection isn't romantic in nature. So why isn't Molly mentioned at all when Harry's other daughter is being described?
- Perhaps it's a symbolic thing? Molly gave the spirit freedom by taking it out of Harry. Admittedly, the spirit didn't know that was going to happen (I'm assuming she chose her own appearance), but from an authorial viewpoint it makes sense.
- It could be a matter of individualization. For example, babies don't have much sense of self until after sufficient interaction with their parents, the first "others, different from me" they become aware of. Harry's apprentice, unlike any woman on that list, made psychic contact with the spirit and that action probably taught hernote how to difference herself from Molly and that's why the spirit didn't take any features from her to build the appearance she presented to Harry.
- Or it could be that the spirit doesn't take after Molly for the same reason she doesn't take after little Maggie directly, or Charity and the other Carpenter daughters either: she thinks of herself as Maggie's new baby sister, and part of her wants to stand out among her sister's many foster relatives, same as Maggie herself stands out. Remember, Lash once changed her hair color because Harry had too many blondes in his life already; the spirit may be taking after her Mom in this.
- Perhaps little Bonnie resents Molly for assisting in her father's suicide? Children often see things in black-and-white, even if their parents don't.
- The troper amaROenuZ suggested on the fridge page that the people Bonnie modeled herself after are women who Harry failed in some way, not just the women he cared about.
- The little spirit had psychic contact with Mab during Harry's post-Changes coma, and could surely sense how possessive and domineering the Winter Queen is. She also knows what Harry's been going through, and that Molly is the new Winter Lady. Considering how the last Winter Knight betrayed Mab to a Lady, and the previous Winter Lady likewise betrayed her, would it really be wise for the spirit to assume a guise that proclaims to the world how deeply Harry cares for that office's current incumbent? Harry's new daughter may have been protecting her daddy from his Queen's own paranoia, avoiding any resemblance to Molly (or Sarissa for that matter).
- During a Reddit interview in 2015, Jim stated that Bonea wants to resemble Maggie because she wants Harry to accept her as his daughter. Molly isn't Harry's daughter, so...
Mouse 'winning' Harry
- Okay, so in Changes, Mouse boasts that he 'won' Harry, implying that his adoption by the latter was intentional. But how does that work, exactly? Mouse was just a puppy when he first met Harry. How did he know Harry would be a good owner? How could he know Harry would even adopt him at all? Plenty of people just leave stray dogs at shelters. Is Mouse precognitive?
- I think that comes from the scene where Lea asks Mouse what Harry ever did to win the loyalty of a Foo Dog like him. IMHO, Mouse said it's the other way around in the sense that Mouse made a conscious effort to earn Harry's loyalty by being the best Canine Companion he could for Harry. Considering how difficult is for Harry to actually put his trust on someone, that's quite an accomplishment.
- Mouse is a spirit-guardian in dog form. The implication is that the Powers That Be decided that Harry needed a protector and the spirit that would be incarnated as Mouse won the position. The actual events were simply Destiny putting the pieces in place. If Harry has an important destiny (as we all know he does) then winning the right to be his protector would be a great distinction for a guardian spirit.
- Or Mouse could be referring to how, as a tiny puppy in Blood Rites, he'd been so determined to pay back the man who'd saved him and his litter-mates from their abductor that he dared to hide in Harry's car in the first place. None of Mouse's siblings had the nerve to try that, so Mouse "won" himself a cool new wizard companion whose adventures routinely save whole cities, while his brothers and sisters lost their chance and went back to a boring life as temple guardians.
Mab lied in Ghost Story
- This is the very near end of the book. Mab tells Demonreach how Harry is hers to shape how she wishes. That's when Uriel whispers in his ear "Lies. Mab cannot change who you are." I'm a bit puzzled, since Faeries can't lie. It would seem odd that she would believe what she says and misunderstand how her own power works. Maybe she just meant it in a figurative way, and Harry just took it literally?
- As Harry pointed out in Cold Days, one of the Sidhe can't lie, but they can be mistaken. It's possible that all her experience is telling Mab that she can change her Knight in a fundamental level because that's how it went every time she tried before. However, not because something is unprecedented, it means it's impossible.
- I considered that, but it's the precise word that Uriel speaks. "Lies." If she was simply mistaken, that's a very odd word to use. You would think that Uriel would be very precise with these particular words, since they are supposed to be the seven words of truth to counter Anduriel's seven words of lies he whispered to Harry. If Mab was merely mistaken instead of intentionally lying, then the first of the seven words is simply not true.
- Uriel only has seven words to work with — "lies" gets across the point he's trying to make to Harry the most economically. It's a lie in that what Mab's saying isn't true — it's not a conscious lie, but it is still a lie. That's what Harry needs to hear.
- I feel like "Wrong." or "No." would have worked just as well. The "Mab cannot change who you are" is the important bit of that anyway. The first word is simply an objection to what Mab just said, so a number of words would work. "Lies." works, but is somewhat inaccurate, so I guess I'm just surprised. I would have expected better from an archangel that's disciplined in the art of using words to shape reality.
- It makes sense if we assume Uriel wasn't just informing Harry that Mab couldn't change him, but also making sure that Harry would catch on that Uriel's seven words are his Heaven-endorsed counterbalance to the Fallen's previous seven-word lie. That makes Uriel's reassurance that much more powerful - it's got the weight of a holy promise about it, not just a friend's comforting platitude - and gives Harry a bit more insight into the rules which angels operate under. Uriel's only got seven words to work with, but making one of them "lies" conveys a lot of meaning.
- Perhaps it only became a lie at the moment Uriel spoke the word "Lies". So long as Harry believed Mab could corrupt his nature, it really was possible for her to do so, simply because his fear that he'd be too weak to resist her manipulations is what made him susceptible. When Mab said she could do whatever she wished with Harry, his self-doubt meant that it was still true; when he heard otherwise from a freakin' archangel, and trusted what was said, it suddenly wasn't true anymore, because that's exactly the validation Harry needed to make it so.
Is God that different from some of the villains?
- This may be me playing a bit of devil's advocate, but it has been bugging me for a while. In the Dresden Files, the main defining feature of the good guys is they fight for "freedom" and "free will" while evil is all about control and taking away the freedom of others. Mab herself has said freedom is one of the few things really worth fighting for and the one thing everyone wants and Uriel's whole job is to protect the free will of humans. God and his angels are supposed to be one of the most powerful forces of good in the universe. Yet, apparently this applies only to humans. From conversations with the angel of death and Lasciel it sounds like angels were created with the capacity for free will, but are forbidden to use it beyond whatever role God assigned them at the dawn of time? He created a race of intelligent beings with the capacity of choice and then forbid them to use it? Doesn't that sound a lot like slavery (like what the villains are trying to do) and a tad hypocritical along with some pretty bad favortism? Or am I misreading it?
- I think you are misreading it. There are certain moral rules angels are bound by, just as there are certain rules humans are bound by, but within those rules the angels are free to do as they wish. And they can break those rules if they want, it's just that there are consequences, just as when humans break the rules. Or at least, that's how I read it.