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Literature: Changes
Warning! All spoilers for previous books are unmarked on this page!

"They've taken our daughter."

When Harry picks up the phone and hears those words from Susan, his half-vampire old flame, he is shocked. After their kinky tryst in Death Masks, she gave birth to a baby girl, put her with a foster family, and never told him about it. Until, that is, young Maggie is kidnapped by the Red Court, who seek to kill her to get at her parents.

Harry rallies every ally and resource he can get his hands on, to help storm the Red Court base of operations in Mexico, rescue his daughter, and maybe even strike a real blow in the war against the vampires.

Things don't quite go according to plan.

Changes is book #12 in The Dresden Files. Now with its own shout out page.

Changes provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Always a Bigger Fish: Red Court vampire assassins and some kind of giant demon called an Ik'K'Kuox (referred to as a "devourer") were on Harry's heels. To get away from them, he made a portal to the NeverNever... which , unfortunately, just happened to lead to the Erlking's banquet hall. The Erlking is as powerful his forces as Mab is to her forces and has a personal grudge against Harry due to an insult in Dead Beat, and Harry is now within his very home at the source of his power.
  • Answers to the Name of God: Inverted. Harry's landlady says that Sanya must have been sent by God. Sanya, a Knight of the Cross, replies that it could just be coincidence.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Harry to his killing Susan to destroy the Red Court for the sake of saving their daughter.
    Harry: God forgive me.
  • Awful Truth: When Harry is hesitating about killing Winter Knight Lloyd Slate to become the new Winter Knight, Mab shows Harry a live image of his daughter's plight and the horror she was seeing around her. She gives her word this is true and accurate and it is a reminder of who Harry is going to kill Slate for. Harry briefly wonders if this isn't a deception, as it isn't a lie but the truth, then would it be enlightenment.
  • Badass Driver: Glenmael, a young Sidhe lord Lea's driver who picked up Harry and Susan can drive under a perfect veil and moves at speeds so fast a racing patrol appears to be standing still. He is able to weave through Chicago traffic and roads so well, what should be an hour or two drive is done in fifteen minutes.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Sanya and Murphy. Harry and DJ Molly C, too.
  • Badass Grandpa: And Great-grandpa at that. Senior Council Wizard McCoy is revealed to be Harry's maternal grandfather, and when he comes to save his grandson and great-granddaughter's lives, he comes fully prepared to devastate any who get in his way.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Martin pulls off the mother of all Batman Gambits.
    • Ebenezer McCoy suspects Odin and Lea, and by extension Mab, ran a gambit on him, Harry, Harry's friends, and the Grey Council to get them into a position to destroy the Red Court.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The good news is Harry's daughter lives. Most of Harry's friends live. The Red Court is finally destroyed. And Harry and Murphy decide to finally consummate their feelings. The bad news is the defeat of the Red Court came from Harry having to murder Susan in a ritual sacrifice. And then Harry finds himself shot and falling into Lake Michigan just before he was going to spend his first night with Murphy.
  • Black Magic:
    • The plot to kill young Maggie Dresden is to use her as a sacrifice to cast a curse on her bloodline.
    • Ebenezer McCoy uses death magic to kill about two hundred human mercenaries with two waves of his Blackstaff.
  • Book Ends:
    • Harry tells Martin at the beginning, "I have literally killed people I like better than you." At the end, he does just that to Susan.
    • The White Council War against the Red Court started when one of the Reds (Bianca) took Susan from Harry and turned her into a half-vampire. He burned down Bianca's house and killed her. The War and the Red Court ended when the Red King refused to give back Harry's daughter after Harry won a duel.
  • Break the Haughty: Arianna is reduced from Smug Snake to stammering wreck after Harry defeats her and sends her plans crashing into ruin.
  • Brick Joke: Lea finally got her desire of turning Harry (and company) into her hounds. Mouse was not amused.
    Mouse: That bitch.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Invoked. Agent Tilly, being a Living Lie Detector, has trouble dealing with Harry's Truth that vampires were behind everything. So, Harry tweaks the words so "vampire" becomes "terrorists" or "drug cartels" who are financed by shady corporations and Harry has pissed them off enough to make them take his child. Tilly sees the logic is still sound and fits perfectly, but that just means three things. Harry and Murphy are crazy. He himself is crazy. Or this is the full truth.
  • Call Back:
    • Lea repeats her warning to Harry about not allowing Mab to ever bring him to the realm with the stone table she gave him in Summer Knight when he failed to heed the warning.
    • At the Stone Table Mab is still speaking by an intermediary like in Small Favor.
    • Also referencing Small Favor, Stevie D. is mentioned by Harry as the guy who offed Torelli, who was a minor antagonist in that book.
    • Harry mentions King Tylwyth Teg's, a Welsh Wyldfae, and summons his servants to help search for his daughter.
  • Call On Me:
    • Harry calls on Uriel for help but the Archangel is bound by various rules. See God's Hands Are Tied for more.
    • Soon after the above, Harry calls on Mab to take up the Mantle of the Winter Knight. See The Promise for more.
  • The Cavalry: The Grey Council, Ebenezer, and ODIN.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Martin manages to pull this off. Twice. First, he betrays Susan by revealing her position and holding a blade to her neck, allowing the Red King to finally strike Maggie. Second, it is revealed this first betrayal was part of a Thanatos Gambit against the Red King as he wanted Susan to kill him, so Harry could kill Susan on the altar and destroy the Red Court.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Back in the first book, Harry deals with that powerful and dark piece of magic that causes the victim's heart to explode out of the chest. Here is it explained as a Bloodline Ritual which if given enough power would purge a family line from existence.
    • The Sacred Hospitality given by Donar Vadderung/Father Odin and accepted by Harry showed Odin's genuine like of Harry and the ally he could be later on.
    • Martin is mentioned again to be willing to do anything to take down the Red Court, see Thanatos Gambit.
  • The Chessmaster: Multiple, including Lara Raith and Martin.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Harry enters the corporate headquarters of Monoc Securities and sees a pair of receptionists working at two computers whose monitors were composed of very fine mist that floated in the air as if a wispy illusion.
    Sufficiently advanced technology, I suppose.
  • Cliff Hanger: Harry is shot and is dying at the end.
  • Combat by Champion:
    • The Erlking cannot know which of his guests, Harry and Susan or the Eebs and their Red Court contingent, is being honest about why they are in his personal hall. So, he decides to let the sword decide and the victor will be the one he believes.
    • At the end Harry fought Arianna in such a duel.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Harry is need of desperate help when his apartment is on fire and Sanya arrives.
    • Harry is in need of help and apparently many of the young Wardens are shut down by Senior Council Cristos and much of the Senior Council is downed by an illness Arianna might have spread.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Spunkelcrief, Harry's landlady, sleeps with a gun under her pillow, remains calm when she sees a fire in her house and helps Harry out. Later when Harry is injured and cannot save the elderly couple on the second floor, she tries to save them herself but her age and hip stop her from climbing the ladder.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In addition to being a Knowledge Broker, Odin is also this. In his home office, he has several floors of elite training facilities for his human-like mercenaries. On the other floors he has well-maintained armaments from pretty much every generation of warfare from the era of sharp stones to modern styles, including fleets of tanks. As Gard said, "One can only have as much preparation as one has foresight."
  • Cultural Posturing: British Warden Chandler "Steed" likes to speak of the rights and privileges his birth nation accords him.
    PS-Why, yes, I can in fact capitalize any words I desire. The language is English. I am English. Therefore mine is the opinion which matters, colonial heathen.
    • Ironic, considering the fact that as an Englishman, it should be "capitalise". Oddly, Harry muses on the "-ise" ending of a different word just after, so who the hell knows.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Killing with magic is a serious offense for Wizards. When Ebenezer McCoy used magic to kill nearly two hundred mercenaries it is only because the Blackstaff absorbs the bulk of the dark affects of this abuse of magic.
  • Deal with the Devil
    • The Knights of the Blackened Denarius play host to demons (fallen angels) in exchange for power, knowledge, and immortality. They have to willingly touch a cursed coin and let the Fallen in.
    • Harry made a deal with Queen Mab. In fact, if this person had turned him down, his next stop would have been to make an almost literal Deal with the Devil involving the Denarians. And if THAT didn't work/wasn't enough he could summon The Wild Hunt and perform the Darkhallow, a Powered by a Forsaken Child Fantastic Nuke / A God Am I empowering.
    Harry: Go Go Gadget Faustian Bargain!
  • Declaration of Protection: To a flame spirit's projection of his daughter, Harry tells her his intent:
    Hang in there, kid. Dad's coming.
  • Deconstruction: As one would expect from the sheer GRIMDARK. Changes and Ghost Story seem to have taken it upon themselves to deconstruct as many of Harry's exploits as possible, with Harry's rap sheet catching up to him. His Destructive Savior tendencies have gotten him some flack, as has the fact that it doesn't look good when four FBI agents vanish after investigating you for murder.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Lea takes the appearance of one of the Lords of the Outer Night and the Red King didn't notice until it was too late.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?:
    • When Harry arrives in Odin's office he does this to his escort's fear. Harry replied that with all the other entities, many of whom are weaker than the one he is about to see, Father Odin might feel insulted if Harry didn't flip him off.
    • Later, Harry does this again to The Red King via a woman translating his words into the ancient Mayan language.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • To save his child, Harry is ready to pay the price to get help. So when Donar Vadderung straight out tells him where his daughter is going to be without accepting any sort of "payment" before hand, Harry is genuinely shocked.
    • Arianna figured she knew Harry's strengths and skills fairly well. She knew what magic he liked to use and his weak points. Him using powerful ice magic because of the Winter Knight's mantle surprised her.
    • When Harry told McCoy he wanted to save the kidnapped girl, Harry's old mentor was against it. He said how sometimes one must let the monsters have their way with the child if it means billions can be saved in the future. Then Harry tells him Maggie is his daughter. McCoy is shocked and understands Harry's determination.
  • Dirty Cop: Rudolph is one and Tilly knows it. And by the end of the book, he used his corrupt connections to end Karrin's police career.
  • Disappeared Dad: Harry becomes this to his own daughter due to his deadly lifestyle.
  • Divine Intervention: First either an Angel or Archangel possesses Murphy and called out the Red Court for their evil crimes. Then the Red King cannot touch Maggie as Susan, veiled and wielding Amoracchius, is protecting her from harm. This causes the Red King and his highest Lords to be seriously scared the gods they pretend to be have woken up and come back to kick their backsides.
  • Elemental Powers: Harry notes that his teacher, while recognizing fire was his preferred style of magic, ensured he had one mega attack in each of the other elements, so he would not be without some trump move.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Murphy temporarily takes up one of the Swords. And the possibility of a permanent position is even more open than it was before... She defies the trope, though; there are job offers for a position of a Knight of the Cross and a Valkyrie, but she isn't enthusiastic about it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Harry acknowledges this a few times.
    • With Marcone, the man is criminal scum but protects children from his crimes and retribution. Harry appeals to his help by telling him the Reds have kidnapped a child and plan to do horrible things to her.
    • With Queen Mab, compared to the Denarians and Kremmler's methods. She doesn't kill wastefully or recklessly. She has a code of honor which she always follows. Of the three, she is the least evil.
  • Evil Is Petty: The Red Court buys out Harry's office building as part of a nefarious scheme. So what do they do to Harry? Blow him up? Nope, they wait eight years to do that. Instead, they jack up his rent for no other reason than to spite him.
  • Evil Weapon: The Blackstaff shimmered and pulsed when its weilder used it. Harry had the gut feeling it was alive and wanted to continue using is dark, destructive powers.
  • Exact Words: Harry makes a deal with the Red King for the safety of his daughter until the end of his duel with Arianna. And once Harry wins, they can all go. The Red King honors it until the duel is over and then plans to kill Maggie anyway.
  • Eye Scream
    • The Red King sacrifices a woman by stabbing her in the eye.
    • Harry turns his hand into an ice claw to stab into the Red King's eyes and then sends soulfire-enhanced fire into his head.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Red King failed to notice Lea was disguised as one of his Lords of the Outer Night.
  • Fairy Godmother: Lea is back and free. She also gets a chance to act like a typical Fairy Godmother by dressing Harry up in appropriate clothing for his type of party. But as she is of Winter, they will vanish at Noon.
  • Fan Disservice: Harry's initiation as the Winter Knight. Made worse when he finds out that Mab broadcast it all over the Nevernever.
  • Functional Addict: The Red Court vampires are revealed to all be addicted to be blood. The stronger one's personal control, the greater their position in the hierarchy of the Court. The Red King is finally losing control over his addiction and becoming no more than a druggie looking for a fix.
  • Gambit Pileup: The events in Changes have several gambits slamming into one another. Both the Red King and Arianna are plotting against one another, with Arianna kidnapping Harry's daughter to use her to kill Ebenezar and the Red King dispatching assassins to kill Harry to subvert the entire plot. Then it slams into Mab's long gambit to get Harry to become the Winter Knight and to get payback for the chaos caused in the Winter Court when Bianca gave Lea that cursed knife. At the same time, there's Vadderung and the Grey Council's gambit to help Harry, and a strong indication that at least one archangel is throwing in on the whole affair when Murphy in a voice didn't quite sound like her own, pronounces judgment on the entire Red Court. And topping it all is the gambit set up by Martin, who played everyone like a fiddle to destroy the Red Court. If your head is hurting trying to figure the whole thing out, then Butcher was successful.
  • Genocide from the Inside: Half-vampire Martin has a complex plot to destroy the vampires of the Red Court.
  • Genre Blind: Rudolph is blind to the idea his Red Court handlers could be plotting to kill him when he has used up his usefulness.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • The team Harry assembles to save his daughter spend a few moments trying to figure out which member of the Fellowship they are. This also turns out to be Foreshadowing, if you pay attention.
    • Lea shows this by adding an empty sword belt on the outfit she made for Susan. Later, Harry gives Susan Amoracchius. While sheathed in its scabbard, the holy sword fits perfectly into the open loop. Harry guesses she will be feeling very smug about this.
  • A God Am I: The Red King certainly thinks of himself as one. Whichever Archangel or angel spoke through Murphy clearly disagrees.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: When Harry's back is broken, he calls on Uriel for help, wanting to cash in on all the help he gave Uriel and Him. Uriel arrives but tells him that Harry's condition and his daughter's situation all came from the choices mortals have made. Because of this he cannot help Harry save her. The only comfort he gives is telling Harry that Maggie is indeed his daughter and she is currently alive.
  • Godzilla Threshold: With his daughter kidnapped Harry reaches this point. After his back is broken and he is in desperate need of power, he finally takes Mab up on her offer to be her Winter Knight.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Harry is put on the end of his limits for calling in favors to help save his daughter. The White Council cannot help because they have been incapacitated. Uriel's hands are tied, see God's Hands Are Tied above, Mab is only sending one person to help her Knight. Even McCoy tells him one life of a child isn't worth attacking the Red Court as Harry plans to. However, upon learning this child is Harry's daughter, McCoy tells him to go. Later, McCoy leads the Grey Council, mixed with not just wizards but other powerful entities, in just as Harry's group was about to be overwhelmed.
  • Guilt Complex: After Harry breaks his back and thus can't come to his daughter's rescue. He is so desperate and wracked with guilt that he decides to make a deal with Mab to become the Winter Knight to fix it and gain the magical edge he needs.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: The war between the Red Court of vampires and the White Council. Harry ends up winning it single handedly... but he is still guilty because of how he had to win it.
  • Heroic BSOD: After having to kill Susan, the woman he had loved and mother of his child, Harry enters into one.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: How Harry breaks his back. He has a severe case of Chronic Hero Syndrome after all.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Martin orchestrated this this when he seemingly betrayed Harry and Susan only to let Susan kill him and thus turn into the youngest Red Court vampire.
    • Susan allows Harry to kill her to rid the world of the Red Court and save their daughter.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Red Court, after capturing Dresden's daughter, creates a spell that kills every older member of the target's family. Dresden and Susan rescue their daughter, but Susan kills someone in the process, and becomes a Red Court vampire. In a tear jerker moment, Dresden uses the prepared spell on her, killing her and the entire Red Court.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted. A crowd fails to realize someone just tried to kill Dresden, but then the characters discuss just why it worked (subsonic ammo, the shooter fired from inside a vehicle to hide the barrel and muffle the sound, etc.)
  • Hope Spot:
    • It briefly seems like the group will be allowed to leave with Maggie unmolested should Harry beat Arianna in single combat. Harry wins the battle, but the Red King promptly double crosses him by pointing out that since the promise was made through a translator he does not owe Harry anything, as well as that he only promised that the kid wouldn't be harmed until after the fight was over. Now that the duel's over, he can do whatever he wants.
    • After it is all said and done, Ebenezer offers Harry some sound advice that Mab, for all her power, cannot strip Harry of his freewill. Sanya tells Harry that there is hope for him to leave the position of the Winter Knight without his death as part of it. Harry seems to take this knowledge and plans to continue living a good life with this small level of hope . . . then he gets shot.
  • Horrifying the Horror: At one point, a Red Court vampire catches sight of Harry, screams in terror, and runs for its life. Later revealed to be one of the Courts best assassins.
  • Human Pincushion: The fate of Arianna. Harry used his ice magic to impale her with several icicles in a surprise move.
  • Human Sacrifice: Used more than once. The plot is saving Maggie before she can be sacrificed. Harry is able to successfully rescue her, but only by sacrificing Susan in her place.
  • Hypocrite: When Harry almost lets Susan feed on him due to them both being lost in a moment of passion, Molly calls him out on it, saying "That was very stupid of both of you." Several chapters later, when she almost lets Thomas do the same thing to her, she tries to justify her actions. Harry is not impressed by her explanation.
  • I Believe That You Believe It: When FBI Agent Tilly hears Harry talking about vampires, magic, and the supernatural and his lie detecting ability doesn't correct him, his first response is this idea because if Harry earnestly believed it to be true, Harry wouldn't be technically telling a lie.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • Susan's rationale for hiding away Maggie, feeling as both parents weren't now the most stable and both fighting a war against a very evil force, and Harry racking up new enemies every year, neither was best equipped to raise her.
    • Harry's final rationale for his actions at the end of the book.
    Harry: I used the knife. I saved a child. I won a war. God forgive me.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Harry wonders if the Senior Council has taken hold of it when he finds Senior Council Wizard Cristos entertaining peace talks with Arianna in front of the other six members of the Council. Subverted when Harry learns only McCoy was the real one on the Council. The other five were watching from a secure room as they aren't that stupid to sit in the same room as someone as powerful, malevolent, and dangerous as Arianna.
    • Harry nearly grabs it when he nearly called Mab's name a third time in the Erlking's domain. The Erlking is kind enough to note how dangerous position Harry's stupidity is walking into. Harry realizes not only is his own hide at risk here, but summoning Mab into the realm of the Erlking away from her base of power and into the heart of his could lead to her death or at least great suffering.
    • Archangel Uriel calls Harry on holding it by trying to be a big hero when he was drugged up, racing up a ladder without noticing the gas grill near the flames, causing his broken back. He also chastises him for wastefully using Soulfire, despite knowing the danger overuse can do.
  • I Shall Taunt You: When discussing what Harry should wear to the final battle, so it didn't just protect him and make a statement, but also piss off Arianna, Susan and Lea pick armor styled after conquistadors like Cortez, as Arianna hates them deeply.
  • I Will Find You: Harry to an image of his daughter.
    "Daddy's coming."
  • Kangaroo Court: When Lea captures Susan and Martin in Harry's home, she offers to put one of these on. She only wants to know if it goes detainment, trial, then execution, or detainment, execution, then trial. She also asks which position Harry would like to play.
  • Kill It with Fire
    • Harry's combat choice du jour. Pointed out by Lea:
    Lea: Honestly, child, there are elements other than fire, you know.
    • Arianna actually specifically prepares for fire by using water spells. Unfortunately for her, Harry had recently added ice to his repertoire.
    • In fact Harry's fire spell "Fuego" is so iconic of him that when he hears someone else saying the word, he's annoyed it's not him.
  • Knowledge Broker:
    • Harry calls the Archive who refuses to tell him anything. Harry, being desperate, tells her that if she cannot help he will use the stuff in one book. Desperate to save Harry from whatever was in that book, she is able to choke out a suggestion to look at another book.
    • Donar Vadderung, CEO of MonOc Securities, also known as Father Odin is one. He has such a vast network of information gatherers. If he doesn't know it already, accessing the knowledge is well within his power. He also shocks Harry by already knowing Harry has a daughter and she is kidnapped. He also knows where Maggie will be and why she was taken. The price he asked of Harry for this crucial information was nothing. He told Harry straight up.
  • The Lancer: Murphy fully accepts this position as Harry tells her to take command when he has to be away from the Fellowship.
  • Living Lie Detector: Agent Tilly claims to be one, and seems to be right about it; he is fully aware that Rudolph lied his ass off to bring down Murphy, is perfectly reasonable to Harry when he claims he had nothing to do with his office exploding, instantly picks up on the one lie Harry does tell, and when the situation is explained to him he knows that Murphy, Harry and Susan are telling the truth (though convincing him that they aren't simply insane is another issue.)
  • Locked into Strangeness: Lea after what was making her insane was inside of her was finally removed.
  • Long Game: By the end, Ebenezer suggests Mab and Odin were using Harry, Ebenezer, and others in a long game to strike back against Red Court. As it is in Mab's tendency to be patient and wait for the right moment to strike, her retribution for the Red Court's actions in Dead Beat was held until all her pieces were in place.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Harry's daughter and grandfather, revealed in Changes.
  • Love Redeems: Harry is forced to look down many paths, each of which can lead him to darkness. Archangel Uriel tells him he cannot help him on this quest but leaves Harry with this advice:
    "Whatever you do, do it for Love. If you keep to that, your path will never wander so far from the light that you can never return."
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: It is revealed Ebenezer McCoy is Harry's maternal grandfather.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Immediately after becoming the Winter Knight, Harry's heart stops, and his friends attempt to revive him with a defibrillator. Because of magic, Harry was never in any danger, so the trope is technically averted. It's played straight in spirit, though, as Butters says using the defibrillator was "what any good mortician would do."
  • Mama Bear: Susan, with ultimately tragic consequences. Her love for her daughter even allowed her to wield Amoracchius which she couldn't even touch before without it harming her.
  • Morton's Fork: After a failed attempt on his life, Harry tells Stevie D he could let the cops take him on attempted murder of Butters and Harry and assaulting Father Forthill. Or he could turn him over to Marcone, who would be displeased by him taking the job. When Harry offers a third option, he takes it.
  • Motivational Lie: While she needed little motivation at this point, Harry lies to Susan when telling her that her Fae-made armor would protect her from Martin's steel blade. It helped her give into the Mama Bear-anger she was about to hit when Martin revealed he gave up Maggie's location.
  • The Needs of the Many: McCoy believes Harry should abandon his quest to save the child the Reds took for this reason. That is until Harry tells him Maggie is his child.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: The hit man Stevie D dislikes having to kill someone he is not contracted to kill. He is then thankful Butters survived Stevie shooting him to get him out of way so Stevie could kill Dresden.
  • Now You Tell Me: In the opening chapters of Changes, Susan tells Harry that A) They have a daughter and B) Duchess Arianna purchased the building his office is in eight years ago and has been jacking up his rent ever since. The maintenance crew also came a while previously to "remove asbestos." Take a guess how that one turned out.
    Harry: I just mailed in my rent this morning!
  • The Oath-Breaker:
    • The Erlking notes that if the Red Court challenged his authority, as Summer King, by trying to reclaim the vampires who invaded his land, after losing to Harry in the Trial by Combat, then it wouldn't just be an insult to Summer, but all of Fairy and the full force of both Courts would strike the Red Court.
    • The Red King considers that a deal made via a translator doesn't actually apply. And even if it did, to make a deal with mortals is beneath a god like himself.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Red King plays up the idea he cannot understand a single word of English and requires one of his human servants to translate. Even Harry's taunts and threats don't get a rise out of him. Later, it turns out he not only understands English but speaks it fluently.
  • Oh Crap: The tagline for Changes can pretty much be summed up as this, considering the number of times Harry actually thinks or says it.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Before the end of chapter 1, Mac speaks with proper grammar, in full sentences. He warns Harry about the burdens he will have to suffer with being a father, and how the trials to come will test him in ways Harry doesn't even know yet. He will be heading into dangerous territory and tells him to not get lost.
  • Papa Wolf: For a guy who'd barely ever even considered the possibility of having kids, Harry embraces this trope so completely that he shocks himself. Mess with his daughter — even before he's laid eyes on her — and he will wipe your ENTIRE SPECIES from the face of the Earth.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: When discussing the Senior Council not holding the Idiot Ball and not meeting with Arianna personally, Harry mentions that they aren't "drinking the Kool-Aid." The Merlin is briefly confused before Luccio explains Harry was referring to the Jonestown suicidenote . After that, the Merlin agrees to the reference.
  • The Power of Love:
    • Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, understands the power Love can bring a person and what a dynamic property it can be. The person notes how good men would kill rivals for Love, peaceful men march to war for Love, and people seek power for Love. So she is not surprised when Harry wants to take the Mantle of the Winter Knight to save his daughter.
    • Wielding Amoracchius, Susan is able to shield Maggie when the Red King tried to harm her. It is also the fact she is fighting for the safety of her daughter that allows her to touch the holy blade to begin with.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Fuck subtle." The context?
    Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. Tolkien had that one mostly right.
  • The Promise:
    • Harry gets Mab to promise him that in exchange for being her Knight, she will heal his wounds, arm him with weapons and knowledge, and lastly never order him to kill his loved ones. Mab, after a brief debate with Harry, agrees to these. Mab also gets Harry to promise he won't suicide to escape his position as Winter Knight.
    • When Harry offers Susan Amoracchius he makes her promise to wield the sword to protect her daughter, to harm no innocents, use the sword in good faith to get Maggie home, and upon finishing the task, return the sword to Harry. She does and is able to wield the holy sword of love.
    • Lea makes Harry a straightforward promise to give Susan a proper burial to the standards Harry felt she would deserve. She will even take Harry there when he is ready.
  • Properly Paranoid: Butters knows things are serious when he gets called in to check on Harry's broken back. So not five minutes after Molly's call, he puts on a bulletproof vest before setting out. This saved his life.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    Red King: Bow. Down. Mortal.
    Harry: Bite. Me. Asshole.
  • Rabid Cop: Attempted by Rudolph as a technique to use on Harry. It failed epically, and only resulted in Harry laughing his arse off because of how hard Rudolph failed. Tilly kicks Rudolph out of the interrogation room immediately afterwards.
  • Rage Breaking Point: When Susan hears Martin is a traitor to the Fellowship of St. Giles, leaking crucial information and arranging strike teams against them, she contains herself. When Martin confirms he was the one who told Arianna Maggie's location, then Susan loses it. She kills him by ripping his throat apart with her mouth. Just as he wanted.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: When Harry goes to rescue his daughter, he goes not alone. With him is Molly, an apprentice Wizard, Susan, former journalist and now half-vampire wielding Amoracchius, Karrin wielding Fidelacchius, Thomas wielding his natural powers, Mouse the dog-asaurus, Martin, another half-vampire who has admitted he would kill Harry to complete his goal, Sanya, the agnostic Knight of the Cross bearing Esperacchius, Bob the perverted spirit of intellect, and Lea, Harry's Fairy Godmother, who has free reign to do what she pleases to the Red Court.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Donar Vadderung , also known as Father Odin, gives Harry crucial information about his daughter's location and what exactly they plan to do with her, with no price for Harry to pay.
    • Agent Tilly of the FBI. He calmly listens to Harry's story and sees he is mostly telling the truth, might be insane by Tilly's estimate but still truthful, and knows Rudolph bullshitted much of the claims against Harry. Being able to tell when someone is lying because of a magical talent helps.
  • Remember The Alamo: Wizard McCoy, upon arriving with the the Grey Council, leads the charge with "Remember Archangel!" This was the first major victory the Red Court had back in just before Summer Knight with the death of the most learned Wizard on vampires in the world.
  • Retired Badass:
    • Odin says he is this. He is very old and has lost much of his power. He doubts he could take on the Red Court himself at the epicenter of their evil power. Doesn't stop him from coming anyway with the Grey Council.
    • Michael Carpenter gets a mention, but Harry refuses to even tell him about the situation. Yes Michael would join Harry without hesitation but that isn't the problem. First, he isn't back to his old form after his intense injuries. Second, right now he is on the "No Touch" list so Supernatural Baddies won't come after him as long as he stays out of the current fights. If he does this, it opens back up the can of worms he fought hard to close back in Small Favor.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Harry has done plenty of things to piss off the Red Court and Arianna in particular, so what better way to hurt him than go after his daughter? It is partially subverted because while killing Harry would be nice, it is just the bonus. The real prize is to kill Maggie's great-grandfather by using Maggie, in retaliation for hi killing her husband Duke Ortega back in Death Masks.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue:
    • Basically Changes is entirely this with Harry well beyond his typical rage and into that serene tranquil attitude.
    • Once Harry destroys the Red Court bloodline, destroying the curse even in those half-vampires, the human slaves and other prisoners are freed by the Harry's side. They Zerg Rush those who willingly served the Red Court with great anger.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Arianna's whole plot is pretty much this, seemingly against Harry. But Harry's not the actual target. He's just the cherry on the top. The goal was to kill Ebenezer [McCoy], Harry's grandfather.
  • Sacred Hospitality:
    • Harry is Genre Savvy enough to realize when he was sitting before Father Odin refusing his hospitality and not accept the food and drink kindly offered would be a heinous insult to his host.
    • The Erlking begrudgingly grants it to Harry, Susan, and the Red Court agents who followed them into his domain when the Erlking calls Harry and others "guests." Once Harry and Susan won the trial by combat and thus worthy of the hospitality, it was revoked from the rest of the Red Court contingent that pursued Harry and Susan into the Erlking's domain.
  • Secret Test of Character: Harry guesses that the person offering him food and drink in Sacred Hospitality is also doing this to see Harry's reaction.
  • Shoot the Dog: Martin provokes Susan into killing him with her teeth, which turns her into a full vampire, and then leaves Harry to cut out his child's mother's heart with a ritual-charged knife, wiping out the Red Court completely in the process.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Harry's armor thanks to Lea.
    "This is ridiculous. I look like the Games Workshop version of a Jedi Knight."
  • Spanner in the Works: Harry is able to find out that Maggie is in Mexico because the minions in charge of shipping the ritual gear got careless and forgot to send everything. As such they had to send another shipment and keep the records for a checkup; As such Harry was thus able to find the records for the second shipment and narrow it down, which ultimately contributed to his reaching Maggie in time to stop the sacrifice.
  • The Starscream:
    • Arianna is this to her "father" the Red King. She knows he is losing his control over his addiction and now is a good time to destroy him and become one of the Lords of the Outer Night, if not the full Red Queen.
    • In fact The Red King knows Arianna is not the only Starscream to him. When Harry tells him his Death Curse will forever bind the King's ability to feed, the King knows his Lords of the Outer Night wouldn't hesitate for a second to kill him.
  • Stealth Pun/Visual Pun: Harry sees pretty much the entire Red Court standing on a ziggurat, with higher ranking vampires on each level. After a bit of explanation on how their promotion system works and how they trick mortals into thinking they are gods, the reader realizes he is being shown a Pyramid Scheme.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In the climatic battle, Harry asks Lea to do something as they were being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Lea obliges and uses a gem to rip open a Way. And out comes the Grey Council ready and willing to fight for Harry's cause.
  • Take a Third Option: Stevie D, when offered the choice between facing the cops for his actions, facing Marcone for his actions, or telling Harry and Sanya everything about who hired him and all the details pertaining to this hire in exchange for being let go, Stevie picks number 3.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Martin set up events so he, having betrayed Maggie's location to Arianna, would be next to Susan when she finds out, fully expecting her to kill him in front of the altar the Bloodline Curse would be launched from. This is to force Susan to become the youngest of the Red Court, and Harry Dresden in the same room so he could slay a transforming Susan to end the Red Court forever.
  • Threshold Guardian: Harry has one Way to his home from NeverNever thanks to Lea. As part of her promise to protect Harry, the creature would attack anything that gets near the exit, even Harry. Justified as shapeshifting magic would be something most nasties in NeverNever could do.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Harry confronts Susan about their daughter, he says that when he's angry things blow up, but he's actually some way past this point. This is also present in some way throughout the rest of the book, where Harry's anger simply makes him more focused and single-minded than he's ever been before.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Harry learns he has a daughter and that she has been kidnapped by the Red Court. Within the first four chapters, Harry's office building gets blown up. In the rest of the book, his car gets crushed, his house gets burned down, his back gets broken when he falls off a ladder trying to get his neighbors out, he is so desperate for a way to help his daughter that he finally accepts the mantle of the Winter Knight, he is forced to kill Susan with his bare hands, Murphy loses her job because she had been helping him, and at the end of the book he gets shot and apparently killed.
  • Trial by Combat:
    • When Harry and Susan are pursued by the Eebs and their vampire hit-squad into the Nevernever, they end up in the Erlking's lair. Due to competing claims by Harry and the Eebs the Erlking challenges them to a trial by combat to determine who is right. Harry wins, and the Eebs and their hit-squad are devoured pretty much on the spot by the Erlking's minions.
    • Also, Harry duels Duchess Arianna Ortega in an example of this trope in order to retrieve his kidnapped daughter. Because both have equally legitimate claims for collecting blood debts the Red King decides to take the option that will potentially allow both to try to settle their claim.
  • Truce Zone: Harry calls Marcone for a meeting not at Mac's tavern but Burger King.
  • The Unapologetic: Susan is very clear and unapologetic about hiding Harry's daughter from him for years. She considered it the best solution then and won't waste time worrying about "what ifs?" Harry understands and tells her simply they are through which Susan expected years ago when she hid Maggie away and isn't sorry for that either.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Martin and Susan duly acknowledge in a fight Harry is Badass, but Martin dismissed Harry's investigative abilities and intelligence. So when they needed to get to a transport hub in New Mexico, he and Susan couldn't see how Harry could come because they would need to fly. Then Harry reveals that he had visited the place already using a Way and it goes a lot faster than any plane. Susan just smiled.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Harry saves Dirty Cop Rudolph twice from Red Court assassinations, once at his house and then at the FBI headquarters. Does the man see the error of his ways? Or at least drop the vendetta? Nope. He pushes on and gets Murphy removed from the force.
  • Unholy Nuke: The Bloodline ritual, which takes out everyone related to a sacrificial victim. Harry uses it to take out the entire Red Court.
  • Villain Ball:
    • The Erlking accuses the Eebs of holding this because they were too focused on the chasing of Harry and Susan to consider where the portal into NeverNever could lead and the chance something there, like him, could have no love for them and kill them on sight.
    • Arianna discounts any idea that Harry could expand his magical attacks beyond fire for the purpose of fighting her. Her reliance on water magic lead to her quick defeat.
  • Watching Troy Burn: In Changes, both Harry's office and apartment are destroyed by Red Court terrorists. In both cases, the vampires used incendiary explosives from a distance, leaving Harry nothing to do but rescue the inhabitants in the buildings and watch them turn to ash.
  • We Have Reserves: When Harry and friends attack the Red Court, they first fight Esclavos de sangre or Blood Slaves. These are Reds who have lost control of their addiction and now it rules them. Martin notes their loss isn't something the Reds mind because of the disdain the Reds have for those who cannot control their addiction.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Martin was willing to go to some extreme ends to destroy the Red Court. He played the long game for several hundred years by being a Reverse Mole on the Red Court. In this book, he betrayed Susan by telling Arianna about Maggie, revealed where Susan was hiding, and then enraged her to the point she would kill him and turn into a full Red Court Vampire. Then have Harry, who is in the right place at the right time, kill Susan on the alter to kill the rest of the Red Court using the very curse they planned used against Harry. Only a Soulgaze at the last minute did Harry learn the truth of his actions.
  • WHAM Episode: Changes. Let's just say it lives up to its name.
  • WHAM Line:
    • The first line of Changes is "I answered the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, 'They’ve taken our daughter.'".
    • A bit later: "I can't feel my legs."
  • What You Are in the Dark: Harry has moments like these in the series, but it is most exemplified here, where several characters tell Harry that the current crisis will "show him who he really is." Well threaten his kid and in the dark...
    Harry: “I will make Maggie safe. If the world burns because of that then so be it. Me and the kid will roast some marshmallows.”
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve:
    • The Red Court's sacrifice will have to go off around the astronomical midnight for optimum effect.
    • Leah's gift of clothing, as typical for a Fairy Godmother, lasts only until Twelve. Twelve noon.
  • While Rome Burns: Harry will do whatever it takes to save his little girl, and if the world burns as a result, he and Maggie will roast marshmallows while it happens.
  • Windows of the Soul: Soulgazes occur in the book.
    • Molly sees Thomas, after which she nearly gives herself to an injured Thomas after seeing all the pain he has known.
    • In the last moments of his life Martin looks into Harry's eyes. It is here Harry sees after mourning the lose of his mortal life, he became a devoted follower of the Red King and went on the mission to destroy the Fellowship of St. Giles. But being among these people tarnished his love of the Red King and he became driven to end the red King at any cost. Even if it meant pushing Susan to kill him, so she would turn into a vampire and Harry present, ready and able to kill Susan.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Court plans on sacrificing Maggie to kill Harry's and Susan's families.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Harry invokes this aspect of Marcone to get him to ask for help saving Maggie.
  • World Tree: When Harry sees the entrance/exit in NeverNever to Odin's home on Earth, he passes through the trunk of a tree.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • The Erlking is impressed by Harry's intelligence and power by first using the Erlking's mistake of calling Harry his guest to gain protection and then how he defeated a powerful Red Court beast.
    • In the end of the book, Odin raises his lance to salute Harry. Though they weren't enemies, he recognizes Harry for all he has done and the wisdom he has shown.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: At the end of Changes, it is strongly implied that Murphy and Harry were finally going to resolve their UST, and then we get the ending. In the same book, Lea hints that she, and by extension other Sidhe, could remove the vampire curse from Susan Rodriguez and other half-turned people. This gives Harry some hope that she could be cured. In the end, Harry does end up curing all the half-turned sacrificing freshly fully-turned Susan.
  • You Are Not Alone: Harry and his Fellowship of allies are in danger of defeat when the Grey Council arrives. Harry briefly thinks that "We are not alone."
  • You Are Worth Hell: Though Maggie had no idea who her real father was, Harry felt there was nothing off limits when it came to rescuing her. The top three options he considered were accepting Mab's offer to be her Knight, calling on Lasciel's coin, and using the ritual to the Kemmler's Darkhallow. He picked Mab because at least she has standards he can live by.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Happens to Rudolph by his Red Court handlers. Three attempts were made against him. The first was moved to Harry when Rudolph told them he couldn't keep Harry in jail. The second was an assault at his home but Harry interfered again. The third would have been at FBI Headquarters with a full assault force after him, Harry, and Susan. But Harry, again, saved his life.
    • Harry warns his friends to be very careful in the final battle as becoming a hindrance would quite likely mean Lea will either not move to help them or hasten their defeat. Her primary goal is Harry's success. Nothing else matters.

Turn CoatLiterature/The Dresden FilesGhost Story
CerberonLiterature of the 2010sThe Chaos Knight

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