Warning!All spoilers for previous books are unmarked on this page!Dark magic is afoot in Chicago. Harry Dresden, now a Warden of the White Council, finds himself dealing with the politics of the magical world, learning where the mercurian Summer Court stands in the war between the White Council and the vampires, and investigating a series of attacks by creatures that feed on fear.So having to make peace between his Holy Knight best friend's precocious teenage daughter and said knight's wife is probably not coming with the best of timing.Proven Guilty is book #8 in The Dresden Files. Now has its own Shout Out page.
Proven Guilty provides example of the following tropes:
Already Done for You: Harry and company finds Mab's gates destroyed and main guards already slain upon arriving. Harry smells Hellfire as they look about.
Always a Bigger Fish: After escaping being sold on eBay by Madrigal Raith, Harry corners Madrigal and severely wounds his jann lackey with some help from Thomas and Mouse. Then Madrigal's lackey is dragged off and devoured by the reallyBig Bad of the book, an elder fetch.
Charity Carpenter is a really good sword fighter. Who do you think Michaelís been practicing against all these years?
Rawlins holds his own pretty well, despite being the only vanilla-human in a fight involving White Court vampires, a Big Bad fetch, a foo dog and Harry.
And, as in pretty much every book, Murphy.
Batman Cold Open: The book begins with the execution of a warlock, and much of the plot of the story is about how to handle another warlock.
Batman Gambit: It is never truly said whether The Gatekeeper Rashid, Faery Queens Lily and Maeve or Mab, or God started the events in motion to help save Molly, Harry, and the members of the Senior Council but the plan works out perfectly in the end. See Gambit Pile Up for more.
Harming Harry's friends and loved ones still pisses him off. He even makes Maeve afraid of him for a brief moment when he notes her previous actions presses this button.
Threatening or even speaking of Justine in a derogatory manner is a nice way to piss Thomas off. He kneecaps his cousin Madrigal Raith for it.
Harming Harry is Mouse's berserk button. Even after being hit by a car, he chases down the men who kidnapped Harry.
Given Charity's protectiveness, harming her children pisses her off. Also Harry just being near her is a big issue.
Harry realizes a bit too late that destroying Mab's fountain with Summer Fire is a big one to the entire Winter Court. It is enough to draw back the entire Winter Army currently watching the boarder of Winter and Summer.
Big Damn Heroes: Michael is this to the training camp and his arrival helped save the novice mages and three members of the Senior Council.
Book Ends: Harry asks Molly if she has any doubt he can make her do what he says in both their first and last encounters of the novel.
Bothering by the Book: This was used to save Molly's life. During her trial, the only Senior Council Member present are the Merlin and Gatekeeper. The Merlin holds the proxy vote for all missing Senior Council members. So when he votes, he casts six votes in favor of Molly being guilty, and thus to be executed promptly. Harry halts Morgan briefly by citing the law says ever Senior Council member present must cast a vote and the Gatekeeper has yet to cast. Even if his one vote cannot change the outcome, he must still make a vote. Begrudgingly, the Merlin agrees to this and he asks the Gatekeeper what his vote is: Guilty or Innocent. The Gatekeeper, instead, chooses to debate the matter carefully in his mind, delaying the entire ordeal. He delays it long enough for The Cavalry to show up.
Call Back: When discussing giving the debt Lily owes him to Charity because of a wrong he did her, Harry refers back to how banks buy and sell mortgages. Which is how Mab described it in Summer Knight.
Michael's mission in this book is to act as this for the Senior Council members McCoy, Listens-to-Winds, and Liberty, and Luccio's training camp when they were being attacked by Reds.
Shortly after the above, Summer Fae act as Cavalry to the still retreating Senior Council and Michael.
Then at Molly's trial, Senior Council members McCoy, Listens-to-Winds, and Liberty arrive after their escape with Michael, Luccio, and the young Wardens-in-training. These three members plus the Gatekeeper are enough to spare Molly's life.
To an escaping Harry and Thomas when faced with several giant trolls, Fix acts like this to them.
Cannot Tell a Lie: The Faery Queens Maeve and Lily. This doesn't stop them from maneuvering things to not only help save Molly's life but many other in-training wizards and members of the Senior Council. And Lily telling the Merlin facts which are true From a Certain Point of View.
Lily gives a warning that should she or her power directly assault lawfully acting members of the Winter Court, the retaliation would be immediate and consequences quite grave. This comes to play because this is what Lily wants, so all of Winter's armies will rush at Harry's team and allow Summer's armies to act elsewhere.
Michael makes mention of Outsiders trying to stop the retreat of the White Council members he came to protect and save.
The Silver Oak Leaves awarded by Titania, with Lily as the presenter, to both Donald Morgan and Harry Dresden. Both are named Squires in the Summer Court and owed one boon for their acts of bravery and fortitude in the book.
Fix's initial thought of Winter Lady Maeve's statements will have some bearing in future books.
Thomas mentions Madrigal Raith, his cousin, has been spending time with the fear-feeding House Marvola.
At the climax. Wizard Samuel Peabody is back, dutifully helping keep track of all sorts of data.
The Chessmaster: Lea describes Mab as such, with her habit of being patient and detailed about her plots. It is implied she had the Fetches go after Molly and played restrained about reacting to the Red Court's actions in Dead Beat because she, personally, was waiting for a better time to strike. So, she allowed Maeve to think her wrong, to make her work with Lily in a long plot to get Harry Dresden chasing the Scarecrow Fetch to Arctis Tor with Summer Fire and destroy her Wellspring, giving Summer their chance for vengeance. Harry gets this idea because one of the ice statues in Mab's garden was her in disguise and winked at him.
Chew Bubblegum: As Harry busts into a theater, trying to get the phobophages inside to attack him, he shouts "And I'm all out of bubblegum!"
However, Michael reveals Harry isn't the first White Council Wizard to hold this spot. Merlin, the Original Merlin, Founder of the White Council, held Amoracchius. Yes, this means Amoracchius is Excalibur.
Cold-Blooded Torture: This is the simplified way of saying what has befallen Lloyd Slate. Pun included.
Comes Great Responsibility: Discussed between Harry and Father Forthill when the Parable of Talents comes up. Harry notes Stan Lee says it simpler and quicker with "With great power comes great responsibility." The good Father agrees but feels the Parable is easier to work into a sermon.
Molly wants to continue with her magic because of this idea and uses the Parable of Talents as her justification.
Charity realizes she averted this trope, to her shame, by burying her magic and never learning to use it for good.
Michael reveals back in Death Masks he just happened to be taking the garbage out when Nicodemus threw the coin of Lasciel at Harry and Michael's son Harry. He saw Harry save his son from the darkness of the coin.
Basically a superpower of the Knights of the Cross. Harry invokes it intentionally to try and save Molly's life. It works.
Cool Sword: In the book, it is revealed Amoracchius once held the name Excalibur in its past.
Cowboy Cop: Detective Greene from Chicago Homicide is a staunch believer in the book, both book of the law and the book of normalcy, and generally follows the rules. He treads into the "Cowboy" section by omitting to mention to Molly that, as she is just a suspect in the attack and murder at the convention, she need not answer any question, can request legal counsel at any time, and most importantly, can leave if she chooses to. He doesn't even record the interrogation, which is supposed to be used to ensure the police don't use underhanded tactics exactly like this.
Maeve really did not expect Harry's response in Exact Words. After it is said, she just stared at him for a moment.
FBI Agent Rick and Homicide Detective Greene did not see Harry's intervention in their interrogation of Molly Carpenter coming, nor her being a minor, as she wasn't dressed to imply she was. Then Harry bringing in the Intrepid Reporter, who recorded all their wrong doings.
Charity didn't expect Harry to ever ask her about her being a former practitioner. The blood was seen draining from her face the moment it was asked.
Distracted from Death: Harry's trying to save a girl from a phobophage, but gets carried away attacking it and, when he turns round to check on the girl, she's bled to death.
The young warlock at the start of the book is this, by Merlin's words. He either personally killed or brainwashed his family to kill each other. Merlin firmly believed the young man he once was is dead and gone.
Harry himself worries that he might be this when he neglects checking on civilians so that he can beat up a Xenomorph.
Eloquent In My Native Tongue: Harry is aware of this trope, as well as how horrible his Latin is. So when Molly's trial comes around and he has to make an eloquent defense to keep the warlock from being executed for black magic, he manipulates the situation so that he can present his defense in English.
Dealing with Fae for part of the book, Harry knows this is part of the whole deal. Such as asking Lily to start at the "beginning" she asks for clarification on whose beginning.
However, Harry was able to pull this back on Maeve. In exchange for coming to a meeting, she wanted to know when Harry "flesh, strange and new to your hand, lay quivering beneath" him? When was the last time he "could taste some little lovelies' cries?" Harry notes that would be when he killed Aurora. And her body, sliced by cold iron lay beneath him as she died surprised and confused.
Later in the book, when Harry uses some Loophole Abuse to get around Titania's conscription on Lily and Fix, Fix notes that Queen Titania's exact words didn't cover what Harry did. She may be angry but won't act on it. Later, Lily freely talks about her plan because the events had already past and the conscription only held to current or future events.
False Innocence Trick: As much as one can call Leanansidhe "innocent" the imprisoned person plays the part of a person in need, knowing Harry would likely help the person be free. If not for Lea fighting from the inside and telling Harry off, Harry would have.
Fidelacchius In The Stone: When discussing the lack of people Harry's instincts tell him would be a proper wielder of the holy blade, he offers to Michael to put it in a stone and then set it in the White House lawn. Michael crosses himself and mutters, "God forbid."
Fighting from the Inside: Harry's godmother Leanansidhe has two distinct personalities, one seeming to be her normal, psycho self, but another is a quieter, more determined voice. The former wants to be free, the later tells Harry to not release her.
Mouse growls at Molly like he did against another warlock. He stops when Harry tells him so.
At the convention Molly is working at the printer has been acting up quite a bit as of late. And it isn't just when Harry's around.
Former Teen Rebel: Charity was a practitioner in her younger days, a weak one, but she did get in with a bad crowd and it nearly led her to be eaten by a dragon. She walked away from that life after Michael saved her.
Full Name Ultimatum: Though not yelled when Michael sees Molly for the first time in several weeks and finds her hair pink and she has visible tattoos and piercings, he says in a hushed voice, "Margaret Katherine Amanda Carpenter."
Gambit Pileup: The plot is initially presented as an investigation by Harry into attacks by the phages against the horror movie convention, but it rapidly becomes much more complex when Thomas starts acting secretive and tails Harry around town, then the Sidhe Ladies start plucking strings, and it gets even muddier when Madrigal Raith gets involved, planning to sell Harry on Ebay for profit. By the end of the book, it looks like Lily manipulates Harry into going into Arctis Tor, while Maeve manipulated Harry into Arctis Tor and slowed down time in the region to trap the armies of Winter so Summer could attack, and it is hinted that the entire thing might have been arranged by Mab, and then at the trial at the very end of the book it appears the entire bloody thing was planned by the Gatekeeper. And to top it all off, at the very, very end of the trial, Michael shows up, having saved Luccio, Ebenazar, and the rest of the Senior Council, alongside the Summer Court intervening in a battle between the Council and the Red Court, saving the day, which may mean that everything was planned by God. And the Black Council was apparently involved at one level or another, somewhere, and the Denarians make a small cameo somewhere in this screwball of a mess. Just as planned.
Generation Xerox: Charity was a former practitioner and fell into a bad crowd, nearly breaking the Laws of magic and could have died. When she realized Molly had the power, she feared her becoming like her and pushed her to drop her abilities, which pushed her stubborn daughter to do the exact opposite, but unlike Charity, Molly went further than Charity ever did. Further, like Charity falling in love with the man who saved her, Molly has become infatuated with Harry, the man who has helped save her father's life and namesake for Molly's youngest sibling.
Groin Attack: Harry makes up for his lack of real skill with a sword by stabbing an ogre "in the danglies." The rest of the ogres wisely back off at the prospect of getting cold iron in their privates.
Hellfire was also used in a major assault against Arctis Tor.
Hero-Worshipper: Molly full stop for Harry. It is because she worshiped him so much she kept her magic a secret from everyone, save her mother. As Harry puts it, if he was a rocker, she wouldn't want to show her skills by just being able to play the scales and nothing else. She wanted to do something grand.
Molly's justification for Mind Raping her friends and bending their wills to her demands, in order to get them off drugs and protect a developing fetus.
Harry says this is his final position on killing two people in cold blood in Dead Beat. He had never done it before and it bothered him still. But he would still make the same choice again if he could go back.
In Mysterious Ways: Both Michael and Father Forthill feel that Harry has a great destiny before him. And for the past few years, God has been carefully helping Harry develop into a man who would be in the right place at the right time. Even becoming a father figure to Molly as her teacher to help him become a better person.
Infectious Insanity: Maeve, from her view point as a Fae, considers mortal notions such as "Good," "Evil," and "Love" as a type of insanity and in hindsight believes Aurora was suffering from some mortal madness. And she claims it has been passed into Mab.
Intrepid Reporter: Ms. Lydia Stern for the Midwestern Arcane, who replaced Susan as lead reporter, is covering SplatterCon and recorded an FBI agent and Chicago Homicide detective interrogating a still minor Molly without presence of parent or lawyer and not telling her that she still has the right to not answer any questions or remain at all.
Lady of War: Charity Carpenter reveals herself to be one. She has been Michael's training partner for the past 20 years and is skilled in various forms of fighting with weapons.
Lampshade Hanging: Entering the locked-up movie theater, Harry remarks on what scene of the movie he's playing out, and even taunts the fetches by saying he'll have to try walking backwards through a door or something if they don't attack him soon.
Locked Out of the Loop: Inverted. Charity has the deep dark secret. No one else knows but Harry after figuring it out on his own.
Loophole Abuse: Harry, rather wisely for him, gets around the conscription binding Lily and Fix from helping him by selling the debt to Charity and have her call in the debt that Lily now owes Charity. So long as Harry is a third party helping Charity in her quest and not the person directly asking for help, Lily and Fix are free to help her.
Loved I Not Honor More: As Michael is about to leave on a mission from the Home Office, his daughter returns for the first time in months. It is obvious he would love to be with her, to try and mend the rift between Charity and Molly, but cannot forsake this mission and so asks Harry to help as he can in this matter in his stead.
Mama Bear: Charity Carpenter more than fits this trope. She storms the gates of Winter Faerie Capital itself to get her daughter back.
Mercy Kill: Merlin believes, on some level, killing Warlocks is this as the good person they once were was gone and could not come back after tasting the pleasures of Evil Magic. There is nothing left but a monster in human guise.
Michael goes on one just as Harry brings back Molly at the start of the book. It is to save the White Council trainees, Luccio, and three Senior Council members from a Red Court attack. Harry suspects the primary consequence of this mission was to give Molly a chance to live through her trial.
Michael postulates Harry is on a mission as well. Michael's actions just as equally saved Harry from coming to blows with the Merlin. And as being a parent causes all kinds of Character Development in a person, perhaps God is hoping Harry will develop into a stronger, wiser, more capable person by being a teacher and foster parent to Molly.
Mood-Swinger: While what has befallen the Leanansidhe will remain a mystery for a few more books, it is clear something is not right when she goes from saying she is happy to be imprisoned by Mab to demanding Harry release her.
There is the famous instance where Harry fights a xenomorph, including quoting from the movie with "Get away from her, you bitch!" as he proceeds to roast and smash the beast repeatedly until it is turned into chunky salsa. Moments later, however, he learns the "her" he was rescuing has bled out and died, and he is left to wonder if he wasted the chance to save her because he was indulging in blasting the monster repeatedly instead, and in turn whether that enjoyment had something to do with Lasciel's shadow's influence on him.
Charity has a small one when her daughter uses the Parable of Talents against her as to why she should keep her magic because she could do so much good with her power. Charity, who was a practitioner but gave up her magic, realizes she is the third servant who just buried his bag and did nothing with it, and she gave up her own chance to do good in the world with magic but chose to hide it from everyone, including Michael.
Name's the Same: The fact "Harry" is the name of the Dresden and the youngest Carpenter child is lampshaded. So Amanda Carpenter calls big-Harry "Bill."
The Nicknamer: Harry being this is no surprise, but in this book Molly takes a turn also, tagging her littlest sister Hope "Hobbit" on the spot. Her other sister Alicia objects to Molly's pet name for her (Leech).
Not Me This Time: Madrigal Raith is not the one who summoned the phobopages or cause the trouble at the convention. He was set up to take the fall though.
Near the start of the book, when Harry is talking about the White Council's dispensing Justice on a Warlock, and just how far this young man went and how incapable the police currently are in detaining such a man, Murphy is shocked and angered. After a minute, she wonders if this is how civilians see her and police when the police must act in the best course but the civilians lack all information.
Harry realizes Molly's infatuation is based in part in how similar their relationship is to Molly's parents. Michael/Harry saved Charity/Molly from an evil group the lady got herself entangled with and not fully understanding the risks of their choices.
Not What It Looks Like: Harry does try to explain away a teenage Molly walking out of his hotel room's shower in nothing but a towel, but Charity never gave him the chance and slugs him.
The Oath-Breaker: Harry sees what befalls the traitorous Winter Knight Lloyd Slate for breaking his oath to the Winter Queens, and all of Winter. He is frozen, tortured to the point of near death, removed, healed and tended to by Mab, only to be put back in once he is well. Rinse and repeat.
Obstructive Code of Conduct: Titania still has issues with Harry after the events Summer Knight. So she creates a code of conduct and places it upon Lily and Fix, preventing them from speaking of matters that could help Harry out.
Harry makes Homicide Detective Greene and FBI Agent Rick each suffer one upon telling them that Molly, who they are interrogating without Mirandizing, is also a juvenile so she cannot give consent to being spoken to anyway.
Harry also makes Maeve suffer one by revealing he was the one to kill her handmaid Jenny when Maeve sent Jenny to Billy and Georgia's wedding to destroy them. Because they were his people when they killed one of Maeve's favorite minions, he's the one who should be targeted. Since it was Harry's friends, it upsets him greatly.
Harry is told by Maeve Mab is insane like Aurora was. Lily and Fix are suffer one as well.
Harry learns that every Fae in Winter is coming to kill him. Personally.
He has another one later in the same book, when he realizes that his out maneuvering of the Merlin in trying to save Molly's life has actually resulted in forcing the Merlin to have her KILLED, both because the Council can't have one of its regional commanders kept busy with an apprentice during a war, and to show that he still has more power than one young upstart wizard/warden.
A third time for Harry would occur when Michael admits, while he has known about Lasciel's shadow being inside Harry since the night of the infection, if Michael believes Harry is going to embrace the Fallen, he will end Harry. After a moment of thinking on it, Harry is happy and would want that as well.
Charity suffers from one learning Molly has violated one of the Laws of Magic and would likely die, that's assuming she is rescued from Mab's personal spies and assassins. who have kidnapped Molly.
One Phone Call: Molly claims she can't call her folks because she used her one phone call to ask Harry to come bail her out. Harry points out that it doesn't actually work that way.
Out-Gambitted: Harry, by using things like the rule of law, due process, and an Intrepid Reporter, makes Homicide Detective Greene and FBI Agent Rick quake with fear when he reveals they are illegally interrogating the minor Molly Carpenter without her parents or lawyer present. And the Intrepid Reporter recording everything.
Power-Up: Harry realizes that the fiery butterfly Lily gave him and his companions as a guide to Mab's home, was a subtle way of giving Harry this. Drawing the butterfly into his staff, his fires become blessed by Summer Fire and gives him a bigger boost against the Winter phobophages.
Precision F-Strike: Michael, being a very reverent man, does not like taking the Lord's Name in vain. So when he sees his eldest daughter with pink hair, piercings, and visible tattoos, he says "God's blood."
Pride: Charity suffers this vice. Because of her past experiences with magic nearly led her to either be threatened by a Warden or killed by an evil dragon, she considers magic nothing but trouble and refuses to accept that Molly could have done something good with it. Her pride and stern belief drove her to push Molly to give it up, which made the equally prideful Molly refuse and try to prove her mother wrong by helping people but only ends up harming two people. While Molly does relent, it takes Molly citing the Parable of Talents to make her mother see just how bad she is acting.
Rage Against The Director: When the Big Bad fetch attacks at the Full Moon Garage, it takes the form of the Scarecrow, a Pumpkinhead-Expy from director Darby Crane's horror films. One of the targets it attacks is Crane himself aka Madrigal Raith, and it scares the living crap out of him.
Red Herring: Harry realizes Madrigal Raith was set up to be this with the fetches, to make it look like he might have called them to feast upon the fear they spread.
The Reveal: Charity was a former practitioner, and has known for some time her daughter is now one.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Harry finds his godmother Leanansidhe trapped in a frozen fountain by Mab's power. While Lea was no angel before, it is clear when Lea mood swings and changes voices urging Harry to leave her, Mab had a very good reason hold her in a prison.
Secret Keeper: Harry keeps the fact Charity is a retired practitioner a secret.
Secret Secret Keeper: Michael reveals at the end of the book, he has known since the end of Death Masks Harry took the coin of Lasciel to save his youngest.
Signature Scent: Harry realizes Hellfire was used in Mab's home by the scent the flames left behind.
I started to get annoyed, but was struck by the disturbing thought that if I did, I would be coming down on the same side of the situation as Charity, which might be one of the signs of the apocalypse.
This is Harry's assessment of Lily, the Summer Queen. Based on what Meryl told him back in Summer Knight, Lily isn't the wisest of people. That said, she has become well adapted to her mantle's power.
Molly also fits as she saw noting wrong with imposing her will over her two friends, not considering the true morality of her action and any potential consequences of it.
So Proud of You: Ebenezer to Harry for moving to protect Molly and all his other actions in the book.
Squick: In-Universe. Harry and Murphy have a little moment of this when they discuss the fact Murphy's second ex-husband, FBI Agent Rick, is now married to and sleeping with Murphy's youngest sister.
Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: Rawlins "conveniently overlooks" Harry snooping around a crime scene. Later, when Harry needs to illegally pick a lock, he tells Murphy to "look at that zeppelin", and she grudgingly turns her back so he can get on with it.
Take That: Several of the forms the fetches take are snarked at by Harry,
"That was Bucky the Murder Doll." "Kind of a wimp." "Must have been the runt of the litter." "Personally. I never understood how anyone could have found that thing frightening to begin with."
Though it's actually used as a plot point... since none of the people in the group were particularly scared of Bucky, that's why it was such a wimp.
Temporal Paradox: Messing with the currents of time can cause this, so it is one reason the Senior Council has a law against it. Rashid gets around this by giving tiny hints to nudge things in a different direction. As Bob explains, if an owner of car was told it was going to be stolen, Rashid cannot tell the owner it will be by a message from the future and the owner moves to protect it or this will cause a paradox. He can suggest it is moved from the street to a garage. It will still be stolen but the results, such as in the former the car owner is shot and killed in a mugging for the car and later is just knocked out and no other serious harm done, can vary completely.
To Be Lawful or Good: Murphy faces the dilemma once again. On the morning of her needing to take over the SplatterCon attack case, due to other men being taken out in the previous attack, Murphy agrees to help Harry rescue Molly, knowing it could end poorly with her if she is gone too long. So she picks Good, namely because legally, they don't recognize magic or jaunts into Fairyland on rescue missions as reasonable excuses for leaving her post unannounced.
Lily was willing to sacrifice Harry and his friends in their rescue attempt of Molly, all to hope Harry would use Summer Fire on Mab's Wellspring, pissing off every Winter Fae.
When Harry cites the evil in Molly's choice to bind her friends' will and alter their minds, she repeatedly tried to claim she did nothing wrong. It takes a few times for the depth of what "nothing wrong" really meant and how wrong she really went.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Two examples of untrained practitioners whose minds are tainted and warped by Dark Magic. The Korean boy in the start of the book and Molly Carpenter who must fight against those urges from now on.
Worth It: Murphy considers going with Harry to help save Molly worth any professional repercussions she will face because of vanishing for an entire day.
You Never Asked: FBI Agent Rick and Homicide Detective Greene never asked Molly Carpenter her actual age before interrogating her. They just started asking her questions in regards to the murder and attacks at the convention. When Harry reveals she's still a minor, both have Oh Crap moments. It only gets worse when Harry reveals he had an Intrepid Reporter hiding behind the door, listening to everything.