"If you want to live, if you want your friends and family to live, I expect you to do more than survive it. I expect you to skin them alive."
After the events of Cold Days, Harry Dresden finds himself in a bad position: the parasite in his head is growing quickly, to the point that it's very close to killing him. On the one hand, as the Warden of Demonreach, he's safe on the island, and Demonreach is helping him by suppressing the pain the parasite is causing him. On the other hand, as a result, Harry can't leave the island, and none of his messages to Molly are getting through. Then, of course, things get worse: Mab shows up, and she's got an offer he can't refuse for him.The offer? She's loaning him to the leader of the Order of the Blackened Denarius, Nicodemus Archleone, as part of a team Nicodemus is forming to rob Hades' vault. Naturally, Harry's not exactly jumping to accept, but if he refuses, Mab will do nothing... and the Parasite will not only kill him, but once it's free, it'll go after everyone he cared about, starting with his daughter. But there's a twist: Mab doesn't just want Harry to go help Nicodemus rob the vault. She wants him to help Nicodemus rob the vault... and then screw him over in any and every way possible.Skin Game is book #15 in The Dresden Files.
Skin Game provides examples of the following tropes:
Harry is told by Karrin and Molly, "If a Knight with a sword is meant to be here, one will be here." At the end of the book these words come true, as Waldo Butters is present. He just didn't know he was capable of being a Knight.
"A good man" is used throughout the book, both in Harry's mental description of Michael, and, importantly, in Michael's of Harry.
Advantage Ball: As he is playing against Nicodemus, Harry seeks to grab this. He does so by immediately contacting Kringle for advice and, following Kringle's wisdom, buys off Goodman Grey before Nicodemus hires him.
All Just a Dream: Sadly, Harry and Murphy's smoking-hot sex scene. It's still super funny, though.
Always Chaotic Evil: Averted when it turns out that Goodman Grey is a nagloshi. Although he may not be truly a good character, he is at least willing to honorably work for the good if that is the nature of his contract.
Amazon Chaser: Harry to Karrin. He describes her as a warrior and has no trouble with her small but muscular body or the fact she could kick his ass in grappling.
Anti-Magic: The Genoskwa can ground purely offensive magic and render it ineffective. He's not as invulnerable to physical projectiles propelled by magic, though...
Artistic License - Biology: Having no tongue wouldn't entirely eliminate the pleasure of eating, as "flavor" is actually how the brain blends together the senses of taste and smell, and sensitivity to spiciness comes from pain receptors throughout the oral cavity, not from taste buds. The mechanics of eating would be tricky, but flavor could still be experienced so long as the food is well-seasoned and fragrant.
As You Know: At the end of the book, Harry details everything he's figured out about Queen Mab and Baron Marcone's plan to their faces. When asked what his point is:
Harry: I just wanted you to know I knew.
Affably Evil: Goodman Gray. In spite of him helping Harry out, Michael still says that he's done terrible things. The fact that he's at least half naagloshii probably has something to do with it.
Back in the Saddle: For his friends Harry and Karrin, for protecting his family, and by the Grace of Uriel given to him, Michael "the Fist of God" Carpenter walks back into battle once more, holding his old sword Amoracchius.
Badass Normal: Butters becomes this with an assist from Bob. With Molly gone and Harry sequestered on Demonreach, he took it upon himself to "Batman" around Chicago fighting the Fomor. Between Bob helping him construct a number of magical items and then directly assisting him in the field, he does a fair job of it.
Nicodemus nearly killed Harry to entice Karrin into killing him with the Sword, thus causing it to lose its power.
Mab, Marcone, and Hades run one on Nick and Harry, allowing Harry to obtain the Placard of Christ, the Thorned Crown, the real Shroud of Turin, and the Spear of Destiny to fight the Outsiders and destroy Nicodemus' reputation at the same time.
Uriel gave up his Grace in a gambit to save some of Nicodemus' men. It also had the side benefit of allowing Michael to act as the Voice of God, warning the various supernatural criminals that "Justice" will come to them eventually, so they best make the right choices.
A quick one by Nicodemus. He had Grey and the Genoskwa keep Michael focused on them by holding Harry and Anna hostage so he could kill his daughter without interruption.
Harry is able to provoke Nicodemus into breaking the deal by hammering in Deirdre's death, which both frees him up to fight and irrevocably trashes Nick's word in the supernatural community.
Because You Were Nice to Me: When Harry tries to convince Hannah Ascher, who is the current bearer of Lasciel, to walk away and not fight him, she tells him that after he killed the Fellowship, the Nickelheads were actually nice to her, while the White Council have been hunting her down for killing three men who tried to rape her. Needless to say, she doesn't accept his offer.
Nicodemus clearly doesn't like being reminded of how his voice has changed following his last encounter with Harry, though he manages to keep his reactions under control.
The Genoskwa is definitely not one of the Forest People.
Hades warns Harry to not insult his family in his presence. Harry quickly stops.
Deirdre for Nicodemus. Harry has to pound on the button to get Nicodemus to react, but considering how measured and unflappable he normally is, it's spectacular to see him lose his cool at all.
Best Served Cold: Mab and Marcone (with help from Hades) concoct a chillingly appropriate revenge to inflict on Nicodemus, in turn for the wrongs he did them back in Small Favor. The 'shopping trip' of gaining the other four artifacts was a welcome bonus.
Big Damn Kiss: Harry and Karrin finally re-establish their romantic relationship with rather overt nudging from Id-Harry. It also doubles as a Kiss of Distraction, as he quietly slips half of the diamonds he got from the heist to her.
Big Eater: Hannah almost always piles a lot of food on her plate when it is available.
Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The Genoskwa is one one of the former. As a result, he has powerful magical abilities he can call on, including supreme veils that hide his scent and can ground out magical attacks, even Harry's powerful Infriga. Being the current wielder of Ursiel's Coin probably helped, too. Though he really doesn't like to be compared to normal Sasquatches.
The sweet: Harry, and by extension Mab, have now got their hands on four VERY powerful artifacts that will be vital in fighting the Outsiders- and Harry thinks that Nicodemus was probably really after one of the artefacts Harry now has, making his gaining the Grail more like a consolation prize. Furthermore, there is finally a new Knight of the Cross to protect the world. Nicodemus' political power is broken, his lieutenant is dead, the Coins of two of his allied Fallen are locked in Hades' vault and his squires have deserted him, no longer convinced of his total power and fortitude. Harry has reconnected with Maggie and the "parasite" is no longer a pressing health risk- in fact, it's now a new, very powerful ally that's firmly on Harry's side. Harry and Murphy are well on their way to getting together, too. Finally, the Carpenters, Harry, and Murphy are all now freaking RICH.
The bitter is that, despite the beating he took, Nicodemus succeeded in his (stated) goal, is now in possession of the Holy Grail, and has every reason to pursue a very brutal and personal vendetta against Harry, and given how effectively he was able to do so, Nicodemus has deduced that Harry too has a child. Murphy is facing months of physical recovery and will likely never be able to kick ass like she used to. Finally, Molly would appear to no longer be fully (or even mostly) human.
Also on the bitter side; the fact that Nicodemus managed to get his hands on the coins for Lasciel and Ursiel despite those two coins having been placed in the Church's custody relatively recently suggests that the Church has been compromised in some way and that the Knights cannot be sure that any of the coins they've sealed away are safe any longer.
Boring, but Practical: In Hades' vault, Anna Valmont goes right for the fountain of diamonds, filling her sack from the spout. She chose them over the gold and other treasures because they had the highest value for their weight and would be easy to move once they got back home.
A long-term one when Harry slowly erodes the faith Jordan had in Nicodemus with small conversations. In the end, it is enough for the young man to find the strength to walk away from Nicodemus.
Harry delivers an absolutely brutal one to old Nick. Needless to say, it works. Unfortunately, it also backfires because Nicodemus realizes the only way Harry could know what having a child feels like is if he has a child himself.
Nicodemus tries one on Michael. It doesn't work.
Breather Episode: While it might not qualify by the normal standards of the trope, Skin Games was noticeably lighter than the previous few books. Harry engages in heist story antics, reconciles with his friends, meets a god he actually likes, the bad guy's plan is thoroughly spoiled, and Harry gets a delightfully WAFF filled reunion with his daughter. All in all a pretty good ending, at least by The Dresden Files standards.
Bring It: Harry asks Mab what's stopping him from dropping Mab into Demonreach when she threatens him. Mab notes that her removal from power would put the world in a very dangerous position. But if he's still willing to risk it, he can try.
Harry, and the readers, learn that Harry's actions since Changes, along with his new Winter Knight persona, have slowly and heartrendingly eroded Butters' faith in Harry. Worse, Harry's exile on Demonreach while Chicago got worse without him there to protect people anymore was the straw that broke the camel's back in convincing Butters that Harry was becoming one of the monsters that he fought. Though he eventually realizes that Harry is still the same person that he saved in a museum years ago,and his faith in Harry is more than restored. Which is actually prettyimportant.
Nicodemus' squires go from fanatics utterly devoted to him to completely doubtful of his power as a fighter or a manipulator after seeing Butters drive Nicodemus AND Tessa off in fear of the remadeFidelacchius.
Brought Down to Badass: Karrin beats Nicodemus in a fight and has the Sword of Faith at his throat. He counters by surrendering, dropping not only his weapons, but his coin and the noose that makes him invulnerable. Then he provokes Karrin into killing him anyway, anticipates her perfectly, and uses what seems like a judo move to shatter the now-vulnerable Sword.
Uriel loans his Grace (his angelic power) to Michael so he can help Harry as a Knight of the Cross once more, making Uriel mortal for the duration.
Harry himself has to wear steel thorn manacles to avoid tripping some magic-sensing sensors. As a result, he also has to survive a vicious fight with Tessa with neither his magic nor his Winter Knight powers.
Harry has not stopped arguing with Mab, but he does at least try not to challenge her in public, where her pride would force her to put him in his place. However, he doesn't waste any time openly mocking and insulting Nicodemus.
As Grey is a naagloshii, though he rejects his father's evil ways, he refuses to chance this by entering into the Carpenter's yard. Uriel doesn't say what might have happened if Grey had, but he's thankful that nothing had to happen.
The Bus Came Back: A couple of minor former characters (Anna Valmont and Binder) show up again.
Not to mention Lasciel coming back, this time in full.
Buy Them Off: Using Grey's share of the gems, Harry intends for it to be part Makes Us Even and part weregild to Marcone for the man who died during the heist. At first Marcone was playing hardball, but when he saw the diamonds, he quickly revised his opinions. Some stipulations later and the deal was done.
Harry tells Nick that he won't be a mushroom. Binder explains that it means "kept in the dark and fed on bullshit." This was first said in Turn Coat, which was also Binder's first appearance.
Grave Peril gets a reference when Harry recalls the awesome power of Michael's holy fire protection. In that book, it was used when a Red touched his cross-embroidered cloak and immolated. Here, he uses the same power to burn away the bugs Tessa spewed onto Harry.
Death Masks gets a mention. When Harry causes more trouble for Michael's family, he wonders if Charity might break out the iodine to cleanse his wounds.
When Butters becomes a Knight of the Cross, Harry remembers how Butters saved him in Dead Beat. There's also a scene with Maggie pretending to ride a T-Rex while battling evil, though whether this is another Dead Beat reference or a coincidence is left unclear.
Paranoid Gary from Cold Days, the one who was right about the boat rentals, gets a mention when he sends Karrin images of an active Iranian nuclear facility and three figures fighting near it. They would be Sanya and two Denarians.
Harry seems to be pathologically incapable of performing feats of acrobatics without screaming "Parkour!". See Running Gag. Also lampshaded by Michael.
Harry in turn notes that Michael calls out his attacks with Latin phrases.
Came Back Strong: A rare non-person variant. Fidelacchius was shattered by Murphy's improper usage of it. However, the power wasn't gone forever. When Butters proved himself worthy, he could draw on the power once more, this time as a ''shaft of angelic light, accompanied by a choir-like hum. Or to be precise, a lightsaber. Because of his belief. InStar Wars.
Came Back Wrong: Butters fears this in regards to Harry. In one of the most tearjerking scenes in the book, he details exactly why he thinks this, because after Harry died the world became horrifyingly dark. The ones left behind had to damage themselves greatly just to try filling his shoes. Then he came back, and it was like the sun rising up. Except Harry didn't help. He just became distant and cryptic, asking them to put insane amounts of trust in him without giving any explanation as to what he was doing, and actually admitting to working with the bad guys to boot. Worse, he spent months holed up on Demonreach, not leaving despite the chaos going on outside. No wonder he cited Pet Sematary.
Canine Companion: Mouse has become this to Maggie. Michael explains that he goes everywhere with her, even to school. They got him registered as her medical alert dog, claiming she suffers from panic attacks (the real reason is he's her bodyguard). Sadly, Michael notes that she probably would have a panic attack if he left. She's had a very very rough life for her age.
Caper Crew: Nicodemus is the Mastermind, Deirdre is the Partner In Crime, Harry both the Distraction and the Burglar (he's the Ice Gate specialist), Goodman Grey is the Inside Man (as a shapeshifter, he is a copy replacement of the man they needed on the inside), Anna is the Burglar, Hannah is both the Muscle and the Burglar (her fire magic gets them past the reinforced doors, and she's the Fire Gate specialist), and Binder (via his army of goons) and the Genoskwa are the Muscles. Mab, Marcone, and even Hades himself are the Backers. Grey, the Genoskwa and Hannah turn out to be Inside Men as well- Harry buys Grey's services before Nick could, while Hannah and the Genoskwa are far from just hired specialists- they're the new bearers of Lasciel and Ursiel.
Capital Letters Are Magic: When Harry refers to the Swords of the Cross, he always capitalises the "S" in Sword. He even corrects himself when Murphy pulls out Fidelacchius.
Goodman Grey mentions that he has to pay the Rent when Dresden asks him why he's taking part in the heist. He can just hear the capitalization.
Captain Obvious: When Harry asks how Mab was blocking his messages to Molly by way of Toot and Lacuna, Mab replied that she is a Queen of Faerie. They are faeries.
Casting a Shadow: Nick's shadow still contains his Fallen Angel. It's actually worse than it sounds- unless a sufficiently powerful being is blocking it, Anduriel can spy on anyone who casts a shadow by looking through their shadow.
He improves his plotting abilities, learning actual subtlety and a degree of wisdom, as shown by by talking with Kringle to discuss strategy. Mab approved of this idea and set it up ahead of time. And instead of just charging through the Ice Gate trap, he takes the time to find and learn the pattern.
For the first time Harry takes a genuine leap of faith. He threw Fidelacchius to Charity, truly believing that Michael was right, and that the sword could be remade by the power of Charity's faith.
In terms of ability, he continues to get better at casting without his full arsenal with each book. At least he has his staff this time, though.
Waldo Butters has come a long way since Harry met him eight years ago. He started out as a completely average muggle who had the misfortune of autopsying a vampire, and was reduced to cowering in the corner when zombies broke into the morgue. With the loss of Harry and Molly, he chose to step up to the plate in their wake. In addition to his combat-related skills, he's become more serious, confident, and focused. This is actually a problem at times; he isn't scared of calling Harry out on what he perceives as mistakes, though he is still patient enough to listen when his friends tell him it's all a misunderstanding. At the climax of the book, he has the faith to accept that even though he'll be killed defending the Carpenter house from Nicodemus, it won't be a worthless sacrifice. He attempts a Heroic Sacrifice and a You Shall Not Pass against Nicodemus and Tessa in order to buy the others time to escape, and it pays off big-time.
Chekhov's Armoury: By the end of the book, Harry has obtained the placard of Christ, the thorned crown, the real Shroud, and the Spear of Destiny. He plans to keep them safe inside Demonreach. Michael adds Amoracchius to the group.
Chekhov's Gag: Michael has a Mjölnir bottle opener for the ale he gets from Mac. Harry even reads the inscription "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of... THOR." In a serious moment, when Butters grips the broken Fidelacchius, he proved himself worthy and received the power of Faith in weapon form.
In Ghost Story, Uriel comments that he likes Star Wars because of the simple line between good and evil, of people fighting for the just cause, over Star Trek. Then at the end of this book, Butters' absolute faith in dying to do the right thing and try to save some lives combines with Harry's faith in the power still remaining inside the sword despite it being shattered, resulting in the sword of Faith reconstituting itself as a Lightsaber.
Chekhov's Gift: Harry keeps his promise and makes Bob a new home. It later becomes his newborn daughter's new home (as a spirit of intellect, she needed one the same way Bob does).
Chekhov's Gun: When Harry first recruits Karrin, she notes that it had been about three hours since Harry left Nicodemus with Mab, and wonders what he was doing during the missing time. Harry says he can't tell her yet. Later, it's revealed that Harry used that time to hire Goodman Grey himself before Nicodemus.
In Hades' vault, Anna gathered her prize from a fountain that used diamonds instead of water. When they get back, she's the only one with any sellable goods, so she and Harry are able to bribe Binder with a share.
Also averted, as Karrin early on points out Harry's ability to "weasel out of... bargains". However, Harry is Genre Savvy enough to rely on Nicodemus' Chronic Backstabbing Disorder in order to not have to do any weaseling.
Id-Harry points out to Harry that him being able to play music on his guitar even after Lash died was a hint that she wasn't completely gone.
Nicodemus is one. He learns the hard way that he's far from the best.
Kringle gives Harry lessons and once more fools Nick.
The Chooser of The One: Murphy still has Fidelacchius and Amoracchius. She failed in her duties as she tried to use Fidelacchius in an improper way and ended up breaking it for a time.
Michael gives Harry Amoracchius once more to keep safe on Demonreach, along with the other holy weapons he collected.
The Chosen One: While nothing is set in stone, thank you free will, Uriel notes that as far back as Dead Beat Butters had it in him to become a Knight when the time was right.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Mab knows Nicodemus is going to betray her. Harry knows it too, so she expects "superior, more creative treachery" on his part.
Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Harry notes if the real Shroud has been with Hades all along, then the one Anna stole was a fake. However, if enough people believed in it, it could have similar powers as the original.
Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The Gate of Ice averts this. When Harry took a decent length of time to discern the seconds long interval and pattern of the safe spots, the final row, being too far for him to see clearly, didn't match up with the preceding one. With the way forward and back cut off, he takes a third option.
Crippling Overspecialization: Hannah Ascher does fire magic, and only fire magic. She's even better at it than Harry, but skill doesn't equal versatility. Even with Lasciel in her head, she still can't do any other kinds of magic.
Crystal Prison: Demonreach. There are some crystals the size of small houses.
Cute Monster Girl: Deconstructed by Harry, who mentions all of the beautiful monsters who, literally, have wanted to eat him. It's why he's instinctively leery about Ascher's advances. Bonus points, Ascher is Lasciel's new host at the time.
Harry's new daughter in her wooden skull.
Deadly Nosebleed: Unusual example with Uriel, who gets hit in the face with Harry's aluminium arm brace, causing a nosebleed. That, in turn, causes everyone to realize that a freaking archangel normally doesn't bleed at all, revealing that he has become mortal.
Deadly Upgrade: The Winter Mantle blocks Harry's natural inhibitors and sense of pain, allowing him to work harder, longer, and ignore more pain than he should be able to. Butters compares it to being like a professional boxer or American football player who pushes himself so hard that he'll have to retire in his thirties. If Harry doesn't take some time to cool down, he's going to fall apart soon rather than later. On a related note, Harry realizes that one of the side effects of the earring Mab gave him is that it forces him to rely on the Mantle more.
Practically everyone. Even Nicodemus, who is normally unfailingly polite, occasionally indulges.
Of Harry's prisoners, in contrast to the others who continuously spew out threats or offers, the one that "just sounded... British" simply tells Harry to "piss off" and berates him for not understanding the concept of "stasis".
Declaration of Protection: Molly tells Harry that she will protect her family's home from now on, at least from muggle threats. With her finances, she will buy a house down the street and set up a contingent of Sidhe soldiers there to watch her family's house 24/7.
Desperate Object Catch: Harry throws Fidelacchius's hilt to Charity, hoping her faith will let her wield it when all else has failed. It bounces away from Charity and lands in Butters's palm, restoring the Sword and making him a Knight.
Determinator: Michael Carpenter definitely considers Harry this. It's one of the reasons he's not worried about Harry losing the fight with the Mantle and becoming a monster.
Michael: Because I know you, Harry Dresden. You are pathologically incapable of knowing when to quit. You don't surrender. And I don't believe for a second that you actually intend to help Nicodemus do whatever it is he's doing.
Nicodemus didn't see Harry having bought off Goodman Grey before Nick made his offer.
He also doesn't seem to have anticipated Uriel loaning Michael his Grace so he'll be a match for the Denarians when he leaves his protected home. If he had, he probably wouldn't have done the nose-flick...
During the heist, Anna finds that the vault door she has to open is not the same as the one Nicodemus gave her the schematics to. Considering all the Claymore mines and Norse runes scattered around, she's not happy about having to try it blind.
Many didn't expect that Butters would become the next Knight of the Cross, wielding Fidelacchius, and his Sword would be a lightsaber. Even Uriel was surprised by that last part.
Butters: A Jewish Knight of the Cross?
Harry didn't foresee that the parasite is his child, made from Lash's act of sacrifice, which was motivated by unconditional love. By extension of this, it makes Harry pregnant with their child. Murphy fell on the floor laughing at this when he explained it to her.
Harry didn't foresee Hades giving him Sacred Hospitality after being caught "breaking in".
Didn't Think This Through: Harry accuses Nicodemus of doing this after sacrificing his daughter in Hades' domain, pointing out Hell is non-discriminatory in its punishments, whereas in Tartarus, they get personalized.
Hades takes Harry to a private study to share a pleasant conversation and some wine.
Distracted from Death: Nicodemus knows Tessa wouldn't approve of his plan to sacrifice their daughter to open the Gate of Blood, so he sends her to Iran to cause trouble for Sanya. She still tries to interfere with the mission, though.
Don't Fear The Reaper: Hades turns out to be a pretty nice guy, or at least a very reasonable one. He has a job to do, and he will do it. That's all..
Does Not Know His Own Strength: The parasite/child of Harry and Lash will have all the knowledge of the Fallen Angel and the love for Harry's comrades that Harry has. When she is born, she will seek them out to help them, but because of her naive mind, she won't comprehend all the harm she could do by helping them in the wrong way. Or, as Harry puts it, Maggie would get a very dangerous invisible friend.
Double Meaning: Early on, Harry passes on a chance to sleep with Ascher. Later, she tells him "thanks for turning me down" and that it's much easier to "just open up and let someone in." This takes on new meaning when you learn that she's the new bearer of Lasciel. "You had a chance for that and you turned it down?... I'm not making the same mistake."
Everything between Harry and Grey takes on a double-meaning when you find out that they've been speaking in code the whole time.
The Dragon: The Genoskwa and Deirdre are this to Nicodemus.
Elite Mooks: Harry considers the Sidhe sailors and guards Mab brings with her to be this. Yes, they're dangerous on their own, but compared to Mab they aren't that impressive.
Enemy Mine: Harry calls Mab a dangerous murdering villain, but notes she is still their dangerous murdering villain and the human world needs her dark and deadly powers to protect them from the Outsiders.
Mab and Marcone worked together to set up Nicodemus in order to take him down.
Empowered Badass Normal: Butters is the new Knight of Faith. (At this time, the picture for that trope is Batman with a lightsaber, which is exactly what Butters' is compared to, and what the sword becomes.) (Which makes one wonder if perhaps Mr. Butcher is spending a bit too much time on this site himself.)
Erotic Dream: Harry has one hell of a sex dream about Murphy. Sadly, it turns into a nightmare, but it's definitely one for the books before that point.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Nicodemus, though it doesn't keep him from killing Deirdre- unless you take their last exchange seriously, wherein he explains that she will be safe from "the Enemy" in Hades's realm (either unaware or not thinking of what Hades actually does to spirits stuck in his realm).
There's a third alternative that fits this trope: whatever 'the Enemy' happens to be is so horrible that Nicodemus considers Deirdre's fate in Hades' realm to be better than what she'd get at 'the Enemy's' hands.
Given that Nicodemus and Deirdre were literal servants of Hell, and from some previous statements of theirs, it's entirely possible that the Enemy is God, and Nicodemus views Heaven itself as Hell. Scary thought.
The reason that Tessa interferes is because she knew her daughter would die if the plan went through.
Everybody Hates Hades: Averted in full force. Hades is pulling the strings behind the whole heist, along with Mab and Marcone, primarily to get some powerful weapons into the fight against the Outsiders. When he meets Harry, he's very cordial. And he's a dog lover, just like Harry. He does find the trope a bit annoying though, if his talk with Harry is any indication.
Exact Words: When the fae are involved, this should be taken into account.
Michael: Faeries. I never understood why they're such lawyers about everything.
When Harry asked Mab what she would do if he refused to get on her boat, she replied "nothing." If he refused, she would leave without so much as throwing an insult his way, and his parasite would fatally break out of his head in just about three days and then be off to hurt his friends.
Mab promised Nicodemus that Harry would serve him until he obtained the item he wanted. She fully expected Harry to betray Nick the moment he got it in his possession, which, of course, he did.
Mab refers to the parasite in Harry's mind. As Id-Harry notes, many could call a fetus the same thing.
Harry asks Kringle if he is really a different person from Donar. Kringle tells him, legally, yes. Had Mab called on him as Donar, Donar would have said "Get in line." But calling him to a meeting as Kringle of the Winter Wyldfae, and he must come to his Queen's command.
Nicodemus said he wanted the Holy Grail. When Harry found the other items from the Crucifixion on the same altar, he hid them all save the Grail. Nicodemus had to get that before Harry could openly thwart him- but that was the only thing he was promised, even if it wasn't what he was really after. That's what he said he wanted, so that's what he gets.
Michael offers to leave his zone of protection in exchange for his friends' safety. He never promises to actually surrender.
Eye Scream: When Grey takes on Ursiel-Genoskwa, he goes for the Genoskwa's eyes first, forcing him to stay in Ursiel-form to be able to see.
Fallen Angel: Uriel risks becoming this if Michael cannot return the Grace Uriel bestowed upon him, or if Michael abuses the power. Considering the damage the last archangel did when he fell, Michael and Harry do their best to make sure it doesn't happen twice.
Fate Worse than Death: Harry briefly considers the fates of those who ended up royally pissing off the Greek gods, like Tantalus and Sisyphus, and then realizes Deirdre will likely be suffering from a similar fate all too soon. As Harry noted, Hell is just Hell- indiscriminate when it comes to punishing the evil. The Underworld specializes in very specific torments for the worst people, and Deirdre definitely fits that bill.
Faux Affably Evil: As usual, Nicodemus is very cordial and self-controlled, but the "ugly" look in his eyes that Harry has described in previous books seems to come out much more quickly now, though it doesn't affect his smile.
Fear Is the Appropriate Response: When the Sword you thought destroyed reconstitutes itself in the hands of a true Knight, and it comes back not as a physical blade but Laser Blade, able to cut through your sword like a katana through a toothpick, and a Foo Dog that terrifies your Fallen partner is behind you, yes, Nick, fear is the appropriate response.
Flat "What.": When Harry tells Karrin they cannot kill the parasite but must save it she gives a flat look and this response.
The spirit of Demonreach gets a first name: Alfred.
Hades has a Three Headed Dog just like in the stories. Hades explains that the proper translation of Cerberus is "spotted."
Harry: ...you named your dog Spot? Hades:[pets Cerberus] Who's a good boy? Spot is.
Foil: Ascher, to Harry. Both killed people with fire magic as teenagers (in self defense too, provided she isn't lying), both are especially noted for their skill with fire magic (in Harry's case, it's his most well-known skill; in Ascher's case, it's literally the only kind of magic she can do). Both were offered and took Lasciel's Coin, though Harry took it to save the soul of a child while Ascher took it to join a new family. However, whereas Harry rejected the temptation to accept Lasciel, Ascher embraced it. Furthermore, they have fundamental difference in their views of magic, power, and how a wizard should use them. Finally, Ascher's fire magic skills (which far exceed anything Harry was ever capable of), serve as a foil to his increasing skill with and reliance on his Winter Knight powers.
Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Not only does Harry firmly denounce Everybody Hates Hades, but he even goes on to suggest that Hades is very likely the most responsible of the Olympian siblings by a wide margin. Reason being there were never any myths about Hades shirking his duties or doing anything unnecessarily cruel, whereas myths about Foolish Siblings Zeus and Poseidon had them getting up to weird shenanigans all the freaking time. Even the myth about Hades kidnapping Persephone turned out to be inaccurate.
When Ascher and Harry go collect Anna, Anna realises that part of the first job- collecting needed information- was an audition. Later, Harry realizes part of being able to break into Hades' vault, bypass the traps, and get the goods was also an audition for Hades.
When Ascher uses her fire-manipulation to pass through and extinguish the first gate, the cooling chamber that's left behind is covered in half-melted limestone formations and fragments of stalactites that have fallen from the ceiling. Next time she uses her fire powers, Harry deflects her Hellfire-blasts upwards and they melt the vault's roof, collapsing it on top of her.
Harry hears a voice when he wakes up, saying "She's right in front of you, you fool!", and later Id!Harry tells him to "remember how the dream ended", the dream in question ending with Murphy pulling a gun on him and telling him that 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'. Both of these are his subconscious trying to warn him that Lasciel is back and out for Harry's blood, and her coin is in the possession of Hannah Ascher.
The appearance of an active Magog on a satellite photo acquired by a Paranet hacker also foreshadows this, as Magog's coin, like Lasciel's, was last seen in Church custody. If he's loose, she can be too.
Before the formal reveal of his miracle, Uriel volunteers to get something, then has to pause and ask Michael where it is. An archangel with absolute Intellectus would already know.
Grey and the Genoskwa have a quiet conversation in a language unfamiliar to Harry, hinting that they both have roots in Native American folklore, one as a sasquatch and the other as a half-naagloshii.
Binder protesting that Grey 'turned his coat' in favour of Harry. Not only a rather appropriate play on words for a shapeshifter, but Grey is apparently (partly) a naagloshii, like the Skinwalker of Turn Coat.
Way the heck back in Dead Beat,as Harry is being beaten by Cassius, he desperately wonders if a knight will show up and save him. Instead, Butters (and Mouse) show up and save him. Eight books later, and look who's a knight...
One of Michael's defining traits has been his willing to choose the mission over his family because he thought it was the right choice to make. Near the end of the book, Butters made the same choice. He could have gone back to Andi after dropping Murphy off, but he chose to return to the Carpenter House in case they needed more protection. His last wishes have Bob go back and tell Andi he does truly love her. Just like Michael would.
While never appearing exactly the same each time they meet, Uriel usually takes on an adult human male form with varying degrees of physical fitness.
The parasite's face takes on an amalgamation of all the women Harry has known and loved in his life, like Lash, Karrin, Ivy, Susan, Elaine, and Kim Delaney, but notably not Molly.
Gambit Pileup: By the end of the story, we have Harry plotting to betray Nicodemus, Nicodemus planning to betray Harry, both of them having taken steps to carry this out even before the mission began, and on top of that, the entire heist was set up from the very beginning by Queen Mab, John Marcone, and even Hades himself with the intention of screwing Nicodemus over.
As soon as Harry hears of Mab's arrival, he immediately assumes she wants him to perform a task of some kind, starts thinking about all the different sorts of leverage Mab has on him this time to force his compliance, and pre-emptively concludes that he's really not going to like this newest job. Surprise, surprise, he's absolutely right. Who would've guessed?
When Harry is talking with Kringle about his situation and working for Nicodemus, he correctly guessed some of the people inside the crew would have grabbed a Coin. Which Coin exactly was still a mystery, but to even the odds, Harry would need his own subversive agent. Kringle agrees and notes for a job like this only four men would be on Nick's radar, three of whom are indisposed for one reason or another, and that leaves Goodman Grey.
Harry asks Murphy to be his second because she is incredibly street-smart. She didn't have supernatural senses or abilities and never needed them to kick ass. Against other supernatural forces, her brains and experience trumps even Thomas' abilities.
Harry is told he is going to a fancy party to pick up Anna. He instantly knows that this isn't going to end well. It never goes well when he has to go to a party dressed up. When the Fomor show up to attack Anna for stealing their data he even says that he knew it.
Binder only accepts payments in cash, rather than favors. Money is far simpler and doesn't come with any strings attached.
When Harry and Karrin are in trouble, Uriel cannot intercede to save them. He can, however, give Michael his Grace, helping him do something Michael had already chosen to do. This does mean that Michael spends the latter half of the book technically an archangel, but if he does anything untoward with it, Uriel will Fall.
During the heist, Hannah is about to be killed by a fire salamander. As she chose to walk into the fire, Michael has no special protection to give him the ability to save her. Nicodemus, however, is perfectly capable of helping, and does so.
Hades. He has a job, and he takes it very seriously: guarding his vault and guarding the souls under his care. All he wants is for people to follow the rules, and is quite pleasant to people like Harry and Socrates. But when Harry asks if Deirdre would get off scot-free for her centuries of evil, he notes that Harry should reread some of the classics. Harry immediately thinks of what happened to Tantalus and Sisyphus.
For his part, Uriel doesn't hesitate to slit a squire's throat open when they break into the Carpenter's house. He is Heaven's Black Ops guy, after all.
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: When Nick and Tessa show up with their human enforcers to torch the Carpenter house, Charity is careful to say "darn" instead of "damn," due to Uriel's presence.
Greek Mythology: Well, they're robbing one of Hades' vaults in the underworld. And Harry's daughter grows in his head, until she bursts forth, fully-formed, like Athena. Athena is the goddess of wisdom, and Harry's second daughter is a spirit of Intellect, like Bob, and is all about knowledge.
Guttural Growler: Nicodemus has become one thanks to the damage Harry did to his throat in their last encounter.
When Harry tells Michael what happened to Susan, how he killed her to save Maggie, Michael asks how Harry was able to restrain her and Harry just says that he didn't. Michael then realises that what happened to Susan was this trope, not a murder.
Lash's act back in White Night is called this again.
Butters fully intended to do this, even giving Bob a final command to return to Andi and tell her he loves her, before going to face Nicodemus, Tessa, and Nick's goons alone. He didn't expect to win, just buy time until someone could get there to save the day. Luckily for him, things don't go according to plan, but in a good way.
Hero of Another Story: Sanya is not present because he is in Iran stopping two Denarians from causing nuclear problems.
He Who Fights Monsters: Harry is still scared of becoming this. In a chilling inversion, Michael suggests that what Harry should truly be afraid of isn't what Mab will do with him if she succeeds in turning him into her personal monster, but rather what she'll do with him if she can't.
Harry defeated Lasciel/Hannah by redirecting her own Hellfire into the ceiling above her.
Nicodemus critically wounded Karrin and took her out of commission, a would-be Knight who didn't fully understand the purpose or the power of the blades. Harry replaced her with Michael Carpenter, a true Knight, fully empowered by the Grace of Uriel, and someone who knows Nicodemus' tricks and methods better than Karrin.
Nicodemus tricked Karrin into destroying the Sword of Faith, but with the base form gone, it allowed Butter's different style of Faith to reforge it into his version, a lightsaber far stronger than any blade.
Holding Hands: Discussed early in the book, when Karrin and Harry are sharing their fears. She's afraid he's going to die, and he's afraid of what the Winter Mantle is doing to him (especially what it would do if he was with her). She takes his hands, and Harry muses on the closeness such a simple act brings.
Holy Burns Evil: A power of the Knights of the Cross. Acts of evil, especially by the Denarians, can be destroyed by the Knight's blessings. Michael calls out "Lava quod est sordium" and burns away a horde of Tessa's bugs.
Home Field Advantage: Being Demonreach's Warden and having spent several months becoming very familiar with the island's defenses, Harry gets a big one while on the island. How big? He considers a rematch against the Walker that gave him no end of trouble in the previous book would be a Curb-Stomp Battle in his favor.
Harry realizes during his conversation with Hades, the god knew they were coming and is pretty much aware of everything going on in his domain.
Butters revealed that Harry is this to him and many others, but his working with Mab and then staying on Demonreach for a year hurt their faith in him quite a bit.
Michael is still this to Harry, giving him hope that he can resist becoming a monster, but also, when he accepted Uriel's Grace to walk back into battle, he turned the tides of Nicodemus' darkness.
Nicodemus fears Michael's position as this because he knew that if Michael knew Nicodemus planned on sacrificing Dierdre, Michael would have talked with Dierdre and could have gotten her to change her mind in the final moments before the dagger struck.
Hot for Teacher: Ascher notes she has tried to get into Binder's pants for a while and failed.
The way this is phrased, it might also refer to Binder's implied refusal to accept a Denarius - we're never told he was offered one, but the parallel fits Ascher's later comments, see Double Meaning below. The reason cited for his refusal? Rule One: no attachments or complications.
Huge Schoolgirl: Harry notes that Amanda Carpenter (who is roughly 16 by this point) is slightly taller than her sister Molly. Remember that Molly is close to 6 feet tall herself. Amanda's even wearing her school uniform when Harry notes this, despite being at home.
Humanity Ensues: Uriel transubstantiates to help Michael. He spends the rest of the book helping Charity with domestic chores.
Humans Are Flawed: While Butters is having trouble with the new Harry, Murphy's counter is this. Yes, Harry has some issues now, but by not trusting in him and shunning him in fear of what he might become, Butters' lack of faith will only serve to push him down that path. In other words, he has to have faith in Harry and help Harry have faith in himself.
Human Sacrifice: The only way to pass the Blood Gate is by this- specifically, by sacrificing someone loyal and trusting enough to pull the lever, as only a ghost can do so. Nicodemus sacrificed Deirdre.
Humiliation Conga: By the end of the book, Nicodemus suffers one. The resolution of the plot leaves him with almost nothing. His daughter is dead, his squires have defected, any reputation he had as a fair dealer is ruined, and he is responsible for improving a Sword of the Cross... Mab and Marcone were thorough in taking vengeance on him. And yeah, he has the Holy Grail, but Harry thinks he was actually after one of the other treasures related to Christ- and they're all in Harry's possession.
Hypocritical Humor: When Michael notes to Harry calling out "parkour" every time he jumps, Harry notes the hypocrisy as Harry never called Michael out on his Latin phrases.
And a bit of Villain Ball: Harry considers anyone who is stupid enough to draw a weapon on Hades during the heist to be a complete and utter idiot who deserves any retribution the god chooses to dish out.
The Winter Knight Mantle grabs this at times for its "act first, think about consequences never," attitude. Take when Harry saw Binder and it angered Harry. The Mantle wanted Harry to storm out and kill the man. Harry had to rationally dissuade this desire until the Mantle relented.
Michael chides Harry for his arrogance and self-destructive guilt complex. He tells Harry that he needs to accept his imperfections and own flaws and stop mentally flagellating himself over his mistakes, especially the ones that weren't his fault.
Harry's subconscious is flabbergasted that Harry completely fails to recognise that Hannah has Lasciel's coin. He grumbles that they'll likely be dead within 48 hours.
Butters. Butters, Butters, Butters. Not only does he think that his listening device will somehow go unnoticed by a group operating on Harry's level, but he actually follows Harry to the evil hideout, thinking that his collection of shabby toys thrown together under Bob's tutelage will be enough to let him get away. He then leads Michael's archnemesis, who would love nothing more than to torture him to death over as long a period of time as he could get away with, right to his house, knowing full well that he has mortal goons who are not prohibited from entering.
Murphy picks it up again by bringing the Sword of Faith into the fight, despite her previous reluctance to put the Swords in danger - which, as it turns out, was for a good reason.
I Gave My Word: As always, Mab is bound by this, and by extension, Harry is too. Nicodemus is inevitably going to betray them both, so Mab requires Harry to be a better traitor while keeping his word. She thinks it's a fascinating "game".
Harry chooses to ignore the advances of a very beautiful woman, both because of the job and because he's been propositioned by quite a few beautiful women in the past who wanted nothing more than to eat him alive. Literally.
Harry had several opportunities to ruin the mission before it even got started, all of which would have left him without blame and would have satisfied Mab's debt to Nicodemus. The only reason he didn't take any of those chances is because they would have required him to allow at least one innocent person to be killed, which he obviously wasn't willing to do. He even says on one occasion that 'Mab would have applauded that solution'. Had Harry done the 'smart' thing, he would have unknowingly screwed over Mab and Marcone's master plan due to never even making it to the vault.
The Cosmic kind. In the books thus far, each time Nicodemus faced against the Sword of Faith, he lost. He lost in Death Masks because of Shiro's actions. His coveting the idea of destroying the blade in Small Favor led to his defeat once more. In this book, even when he shattered the blade, the Sword still beat him. By his own actions, Nicodemus allowed for the Sword to gain an even more powerful physical form. Simply put, a simple faith in a power greater than the self overcame his dark pride each time.
Ironic Echo: When Fidelacchius is destroyed due to being misused by Murphy, Nicodemus says "Ah," with an air of complete satisfaction. Later, when the Sword is recreated by Butters, Uriel does the exact same thing.
Ironic Hell: Given the kinds of punishments classical mythology shows being handed out in the Greek underworld, this is likely to be Deirdre's final fate.
I Surrender, Suckers: Facing Murphy and Fidelacchius, Nicodemus surrenders and lets go of both his Coin and the noose of Judas - and orders the Genoskwa to kill Harry, deliberately goading Murphy into attacking him. When she does, it causes Fidelacchius to lose its power, giving Nicodemus the opportunity to destroy one of the three Swords of the Cross. Which of course he promptly takes.
It's Personal: Harry and Murphy know that while Marcone doesn't take intrusions into his mortal territories very well, Mab takes people fucking with her even less well. Both tend to be very methodical and exact in their vengeance.
Hannah hates Harry Dresden for eliminating the Red Court, as it also killed the Fellowship of Saint Giles, who were both her friends and her financial support. This made it easy for Lasciel, who hates Harry for rejecting her and subverting her shadow, to work with her as they plan his downfall.
Jerkass Has a Point: When Harry tells Murphy his new job and the expectations Mab has for him, Murphy notes Mab does have a point that Harry is good at outwitting people more powerful than him.
Grey may not like Harry's quirks, but when the man makes a good point, he does agree with it. Though whether or not Grey's dislike of Harry was an act is unknown, as he was secretly working for Harry the whole time.
Just in Time: Played with as Harry is reminded that the Knights of the Cross will be there if one is meant to be there. Sanya is prevented from showing up, but when all hope seems lost, Waldo Butters finds faith in his limited skills and seeks to delay Nicodemus' assault, even knowing he will likely die. So he found the courage of his convictions in time to help save many people.
Karma Houdini: Looks like it's going to happen with Deirdre, however then Hades tells Harry to "consider [the] classics." Harry realizes that if anything Deirdre only ensured that she's face the most horrific and appropriate punishment for her crimes.
Kill It with Fire: Hannah Ascher has killed several people with her fire magic (but she claims that the first murders, at least, were in self-defence).
The first Gate to Hades' vault is the Gate of Fire, a small cavern filled with huge roaring fires coming from every direction. As a large portion of the supernatural world are at least weakened by fire, it is the ideal first defense.
Nicodemus plans on burning Michael's home with the children inside.
The Lancer: Murphy has become this for Harry, arguing his case and situation to Butters and others when they have issue with something Harry has done, but also giving it straight to Harry when he is making a bad move.
Laser Blade: Fidelacchius becomes one in Butters' hands.
The entire plot was set up by Mab and Marcone to destroy everything Nicodemus had, in punishment for prior grievances.
A positive one: after years of serving the Lord with no monetary reward for their work, the Carpenters get one-fifth of the diamonds stolen from Hades' vault. Charity insists to Michael (who is still hesitant to take several million dollars in diamonds) that it's a divine gift. After all, they have children to put through college, and grandchildren will be coming soon.
Loophole Abuse: Uriel cannot act in mortal affairs when no free will has been affected save for choosing to answer the prayer of Michael Carpenter directly. Michael wished to be able to walk into battle once more to save his friends and Uriel gave him that chance... by giving Michael his Grace, God's Power in Uriel, to heal Michael for a short time (although to be fair, Uriel had limited options at that point).
The Carpenter house is protected from supernatural attacks. So, Nicodemus plans on attacking with guns and his men. After this, Molly plans on closing the loophole by buying a house down the street and having some Sidhe guards standing watch over her family's house 24/7, without their knowledge.
The entire plot is based on Loophole Abuse. Specifically, Harry and Nicodemus are obligated to work together 'until such time as they have accomplished their mission'. Naturally, they betray each other the moment that Harry gives Nick the Holy Grail.
Loved I Not Honor More: Once more Michael donned the armor of the Knight and left his wife and children behind to do battle against a great evil.
MacGuffin: The Holy Grail. Harry even refers to it by the trope name on one occasion.
Magic Feather: When Harry was sixteen and needed the strength to kill his Evil Mentor, his godmother didn't grant him the strength, she tortured him until he found the strength within himself.
Butters theorizes that the Winter Mantle doesn't actually provide that much power to its bearer, it just allows the bearer to ignore the instinctive limits humans place on their own strength at will, which is very bad for one's health if one does it for too long or too often, as those instinctive limits are there for a reason.
Magitek: With Bob's help, Butters creates several magical devices from ordinary muggle things, including a listening device covered in runes that could be put into Harry's bandages and not break in a half a second.
The cause of the plot: Mab owes Nicodemus a favor, so she lends him her Knight for a single job. Of course, she actually hates him, so she fully expects Harry to find a way to screw Nick over the second the job is done.
Nicodemus noted that in Mab's eyes, Harry's inept attempt to capture Butters and take him safely away from Nicodemus was paid back by Nicodemus nearly killing Harry in a ploy to destroy one of his greatest enemies. As Harry was in no real danger from Nicodemus, he was just playing the part up for the ploy, and he didn't violate the agreement.
Harry paid Marcone weregild for the killed guard and not seeking retribution against the thieves for robbing his place. Harry and Marcone think this finally covers Harry saving Marcone's live back in Small Favor.
Mama Bear: The reason Tessa fights so ferociously to try to sabotage the heist is to protect her daughter from sacrificing herself.
Masquerade: It is discussed when Anna reveals she has been a data thief for the past few years getting stuff from or for the Fomor, White Court, Venatori, Svartalves, and several other supernatural crews. She noted it wasn't that hard to find information about them. Harry notes there isn't a need to since humans generally ignore the truth when it hits them in the face.
Meaningful Echo: A subtle one. Nicodemus gives as satisfied sigh when Fidelacchius breaks. Uriel makes the same sound when it's restored.
Megaton Punch: Mab responds with a massive slap when Harry calls her a bitch. It slams his head into an elevator door hard enough to leave a head-shaped dent in it and make it difficult for the doors to open.
Averted with Harry as he still doesn't have his force rings.
He does, however, have a staff built along the same principles that packs a wallop equal to 77 of the original.
Goodman Grey, who is trying to be a good man while still being generally gray in the morality area.
The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: If Grey's not careful, he can become too much like the person he's imitating. For instance, when Grey became Harvey during the heist, he dipped into Harvey's mind a bit too much, feeling and saying things Harvey likely did just before his death.
Mr. Seahorse: Turns out Harry's "parasite" is actually his daughter, growing in his head. The daughter of a spiritual entity, not a physical one. Yes, it is still pretty weird.
The Mole: Michael and Harry fear that someone inside the Church is helping Nicodemus get his coins back. There are also two in the hired gang - Ascher for Nicodemus, and Grey for Harry.
Multitasked Conversation: Watch for any time Goodman Grey uses the word wizard. Whatever comes next is a sincere question to Harry; the first word(s) of Harry's reply are his sincere response.
Mundane Solution: Harry's first job when the heist officially starts is to make a distraction. As Marcone is savvy enough to have a magic detecting system, Harry uses Roman candles.
Mundane Utility: Deirdre's Combat Tentacles hair can also be used to squeegee water off a floor, and she can lift Harry up with her hair without hurting him.
My Beloved Smother: Hades reveals Demeter was this to her daughter when Persephone and Hades fell in love. She refused to let her little girl go, so Hecate, goddess of crossroads, was kind enough to help her look, and led her around and around in circles for months. Hecate's wedding gift was a Demeter-free honeymoon.
My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Goodman Grey turns out to be a naagloshii, or the child of one. He explains to Harry that he is no more bound by his species' tendency towards sadistic torture than Harry is bound to his mother's acts as a warlock. And on top of that, after risking his life multiple times in Harry's employ, he bills Harry the outrageous sum of one dollar.
Things go very badly for Harry when the inverse of this trope occurs with the Genoskwa. Unlike other Sasquatch, who Harry associates him with at a glance, he is not a herbivore, mild-mannered, nor in any way "an easy-going sort who abhors violence." He will rip you apart if it amuses him and then feast on your bones.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Nicodemus hadn't attacked the Carpenter house a second time to get at Maggie, there would have been no opportunity for the Sword of Faith to be restored.
Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe: Michael outright calls Demonreach the thing of his nightmares. He was on the island once, and after the trauma he suffered there, and the darkness he could sense, it still terrifies him years later. He then tells Harry that Murphy and Thomas would feel the same thing (Harry, because of his link to it, doesn't) but they still come to see him out there.
Noble Demon: Nicodemus notes that while he's done some horrible things in the past few millennia, he always pays those he hires well. The basic pay rate for this job? $2,000,000 per person, plus whatever they can carry out of the vault. All subverted, though; he still fully intends to kill Harry and Valmont once the job is complete.
Deirdre and Nicodemus say a few stray things that imply they are working to oppose the Outsider threat of Nemesis.
Also Goodman Grey, who helps Harry against Nicodemus despite being the son of a naagloshii.
No, Except Yes: When Harry asks Karrin to be his second, she notes that he wants her help to rob a Greek god. Harry corrects her and says they will merely burgle Hades, as Harry isn't planning on threatening said god if he shows up.
No Sell: In Harry's first altercation with the Genoskwa, he hurls his most potent Winter magic at it, with about as much effect as if he'd thrown a balled-up tissue.
Not Hyperbole: Several times throughout the book, Harry considers screwing over Nicodemus early, before realizing that Mab would crucify him if he did. Then on second thought, he realizes that not only is she quite likely to stick him up on a cross, it would be a mercy compared to what she did to Lloyd Slate.
Not Quite Dead: A variant with Fidelacchius: Murphy appears to have depowered it, thus letting Nicodemus destroy it, but Butters' faith rekindles its power.
Not So Different: Nicodemus compares his slaying of Deirdre to what God allowed Lucifer to do to Job.
Averted with Harry. When he briefly considers how Nicodemus slaying Deirdre isn't that different from him killing Susan, he internally counters that Susan made her choice willingly and died to save their child and the millions of people who would be victim to the Reds if they failed that day.
A rare non-villainous example - Hades and Harry turn out to have quite a bit of common ground.
The Oath-Breaker: Being an oath breaker in the supernatural world is a dangerous position to be in. As many beings in the supernatural world count decades the way humans count minutes and have equally long memories, break a deal with one of them and the being will not forget it. What's more, if the betrayal is severe enough, the betrayed will tell the rest of the supernatural world. Mab hopes Harry will push Nicodemus into becoming this to help destroy the man further, and he does.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Harry once again plays to his strengths. He spends a majority of the book playing dumb about knowing Nicodemus can hear his conversations because of Anduriel's power. He has to keep up the ruse and say things he would even in the privacy of Karrin's home, like planning to stab Nicodemus in the back.
An Offer You Can't Refuse: Mab acknowledges Harry is capable of refusing her request and stay on Demonreach, then he would face the consequence of him dying then the Parasite emerges and then it will hunt down his friends and family. Once he is off the island, she makes it clear she wouldn't permit him back there, so if he still refuses he would die still. So while Harry can choose to refuse, Mab (being Mab) made sure the worst possible outcomes would result should Harry tempt such a choice.
Grey makes it a point to mention several times over that he's a mercenary who's completely loyal to whoever his employer is. Once he's hired, that's it. No chance of being suborned. Fortunately for the Good Guys, Harry got to him before Nicodemus for the whopping price of $1.00.
Uncle Binder's Rule Number One: money or nothing.
The Only One I Trust: Nicodemus tells Deirdre that she is the only one he has complete and absolute trust in. He needed someone who would allow themselves to be killed so that after, their shade would still be willing to open the Gate of Blood.
Only the Chosen May Wield: Any Sword of the Cross can only be used at full power by the right person with the right intent. Nicodemus even notes that there are many knights who take up the Sword for one job and leave it once their work is done. He claims Murphy is this after she breaks the Sword of Faith, as she was the right person in the right time to use it when she went with Harry to save his daughter, but not any more.
Only Smart People May Pass: The Gates to Hades' vault are formidable, but not insurmountable with the proper planning and resources. This is because Hades actually wants people with those traits to get a hold of what's inside.
Molly can use a cell phone now. Harry finds this very terrifying, because human wizards can't.
Orphaned Punch Line: Harry keeps missing the setups or punch lines of Binder's off-color stories.
Our Phlebotinum Child: Apparently, if a copy of a Fallen Angel possessing a person loves her host enough to sacrifice herself for him, a spirit of intellect is born.
It's stated that when any shade and a mortal share an act of love, it's possible for a Spirit of Intellect to be created. That Lash was the shade of a Fallen just makes the Spirit all the more dangerous.
Out-Gambitted: Mab and Marcone play Nicodemus like a violin. The punch line is brutal.
Papa Wolf: Id-Harry is this all the way. As the basic animal drives of Harry Dresden, he believes firmly in protecting the offspring of Harry, whether they be blood like Maggie or spirits like what came from him and Lash.
Parental Incest: Yep, Nicodemus and Deirdre are still getting it on and thoroughly squicking Harry out. Deirdre claims that they've been together for so long that mortal words cannot be used to describe their relationship.
Parental Substitute: While Michael and Charity love Maggie as if she was their own, they are well aware that they aren't her biological parents. They both encourage Harry to take over the role, both for Maggie's sake and his own. When Charity mentions paying for her kids' college, if you do the math you'll notice she's including Maggie in that count.
Place of Protection: Thanks to the angel contingent, Michael's house is still a secure place from any supernatural threat seeking vengeance against him or the family. Normal humans, however, can bypass this as they have free will and angels cannot stop them from acting evil. Molly, seeking to close this loophole, plans on putting some Sidhe guards in a house close by to take care of muggle threats.
Harry turns down Hannah's advances because, according to him, "You would not believe how many times I've had pretty girls who would have eaten me alive, literally, make a pass at me. Makes a guy a little tense about it." Naturally, he is proven completely correct when, near the end of the book, Hannah is revealed to be sharing her body with Lasciel, who is nothappy about the fact that Harry refused to take up her coin.
Murphy has apparently obtained an AT4 rocket launcher. Harry is incredulous of the idea that they'll ever need a weapon that powerful. He shuts up when they run into the Genoskwa.
Psycho for Hire: The Genoskwa. Goodman Grey outright states that he's "a monster for hire."
Nicodemus wants Mab's (and by extension, Harry's) help to swipe the Holy Grail from Hades' Vault.
When they do reach Hades' vault, Harry recovers four other relics of the Crucifixion: the crown of thorns, the (true) Shroud of Turin and what are likely the placard from the Cross and the head of the Spear of Destiny.
Punch Clock Hero: Marcone is more than willing to have his men protect people from the Fomor or other supernatural threats, if they are paid up on their protection bills.
Punny Name: To get into the party, Nicodemus' alias for Harry is a "Mr. Oberheit."
Harry and Michael are of the opinion that Nicodemus was actually after the head of the Spear of Destiny, and was lying to the crew the entire time over which artifact he was going for. Making the Grail more of a Consolation Prize.
Raging Stiffie: Harry, after one particularly fantastic sex dream about Murphy while sleeping in her bed. It's so prominent Murphy notices it underneath the covers from the other side of the bedroom.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Hades. Harry notes in ancient times that while many of his siblings and family were shirking their duties, Hades never did. Even now, he knows the powerful items he keeps in his vault will need to leave when the time has come for them. His only requirement is that the person who takes them proves that he is capable of handling them.
Id-Harry notes that Karrin has been getting a non-verbal one frequently from her ex-husband FBI Agent Rick because he married her less successful, less ambitious younger sister.
Michael, acting as a proxy for an angel or Him, calls the thieves and villains out on their choices. He calls them out saying they don't understand that they don't understand true power comes from one's own choices and their false power cannot protect them from the consequences of their choices. There is a "Judge" and "Justice" and they "will receive what [they] have earned."
Red Herring: Jim Butcher sets up a couple as to who might be Lasciel's new host. Harry has a sex dream where Murphy seduces him and then turns into Lasciel. Mister won't stay in the same room with Andi. And Anna Valmont wants to work The Caper to give her a chance to double-cross Nicodemus, whom Lasciel also had a rivalry with.
Relationship Upgrade: Harry and Murphy. Possibly. Maybe. The book ends with them (finally) making out, anyway.
Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: When they find out that the door Anna is meant to unlock is not the one she had practiced for, Anna is worried, but Harry gives her a pep talk reminding her how she robbed Harry, swiped his car, and stole the Shroud from the Vatican. If she can do that she can handle the surprise door of some Chicago gangster.
Add Goodman Grey to the list of characters who've recognized Murphy from Susan's old loup-garou footage.
The Reveal: Hannah and the Genoskwa are the bearers of Lasciel and Ursiel, Hades and Marcone are in on the plot with the express intention of screwing over Nicodemus, Butters is the new Knight of Faith, Goodman Grey is part naagloshii.
Answering a question that's been lurking since Ghost Story regarding an event that happened in Changes, Lasciel refers to a whisper in Harry's ear that should have gotten him killed, which either means that she was the one who said the seven words that provoked him into his suicidal course in Changes, or she was aware of the gambit made to kill Harry.
Harry tells Michael everything about Maggie's kidnapping and Susan's last moments.
Harry hired Goodman Grey. And used him to run a Long Con against Nicodemus.
Reverse Mole: Goodman Grey is actually Harry's man, as Harry hired him first. He just pretends to be with Nicodemus for much of the heist.
Rhetorical Question Blunder: Michael, trying to pound an argument into Harry's skull, asks some standard rhetorical questions: "Are you perfect?" "Are you omniscient?" "Can you go back in time and change the past?" The last one is a bit of a sticking point for a minute, because wizards can theoretically do that (otherwise there wouldn't be a Law of Magic forbidding it), but Harry doesn't have any idea how to go about it anyway.
Binder keeps telling off-color stories, but Harry's never in the room to hear the whole joke.
Harry simply using the word 'wizard' to explain something.
Sacred Hospitality: Mab gives Mac a deep nod of the head and a compliment for allowing her use of his bar for a meeting. Mac, in turn, compliments her with, "May your scales always return to balance." Mab gave him a smile, and called him a flatterer..
Hades offered this to Harry upon being caught and taken to his private study.
Harry teeters close to violating it when Mab, and by extension him, were granted it inside Marcone's castle.
Sadistic Choice: Nicodemus organizes a Xanatos Gambit around this and the fact that Karrin is a Violently Protective Girlfriend to Harry. He surrenders to her when she wields the Sword of Faith, but not before ordering the Genowska to kill Harry. The Genowska slowly starts crushing Harry's skull, while Karrin is helpless to stop it. In a rage, she strikes at Nicodemus with the Sword, breaking her word and unmaking the Sword.Nicodemus is a real bastard.
Michael: I have a family. I am rich beyond measure.
Hilariously, Ascher and Binder both look at him like he's speaking a language they've never heard before.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Demonreach is still holding some nasty prisoners and when Harry walks by, they either threaten him or try to seduce him into freeing them. Or they threaten him and then try to seduce him. Except for the prisoner that "just sounded... British", who tells Harry to "piss off" and insults him for not understanding what "stasis" means.
Secret Secret Keeper: Charity figured out Molly was involved in Harry's attempted suicide and doesn't like Harry for it, but at the same time didn't tell Michael either. Michael has figured out something is up, but has come to the extremely incorrect conclusionthat Harry and Molly slept together at some point. Harry only realises what Michael's concluded after the conversation's over and he can't explain.
Someone to Remember Him By: As it turns out, the parasite was this, born from the ultimate sacrifice Lash made for Harry out of her unconditional love. In a reverse of the typical case, Harry is the one carrying the child.
Speak of the Devil: Because they are going to rob Hades' vault, Nick tells the crew to not speak the Lord of the Underworld's name, for fear that he might hear it and start observing them. In fact, such entities always know when they're being discussed. Harry surmises that this lowers the danger level; Hades probably doesn't take much notice of any individual who uses his name, as many do every day. But there's a chance that he just might take notice of them, so he goes along with not mentioning him by name.
Spirit World: The Nevernever's portal relationship to Earth is explained a bit more. Making a portal into the Nevernever and reaching the same location every time requires the Earth side to remain relatively unchanged- in fact, it must be both physically and metaphysically unchanged. For example, a place being altered by fire or natural events would change the physical aspects. On the metaphysical level, if the location was altered in a certain way, like being the site of a murder or like opening a previously-secret area to the public, this would probably cause that secret area it connected to in the Nevernever to then be unreachable from that location on Earth. In this case, the problem is that in order to create a Way into the secure vault of the Lord of the Underworld, the crew has to first break into a secure vault of a lord of the underworld in the physical realm (being Chicago, they go with the vault of a criminal lord, aka Marcone), without compromising the integrity of the vault in anyway that would make it unsecure.
Spot the Imposter: Deirdre notes that while her mother may buy Grey's disguise as Nicodemus for a few minutes, her Fallen companion, Imariel will notice Anduriel's lack of presence far more easily.
The Spymaster: It is noted that Nicodemus is very good at gathering information. Any shadow cast by a living being can be possessed by his Fallen and used to listen to everything being said. Sometimes he can even see through them. He can only be repelled when a being of sufficient power (such as Mab) is shielding the area, or at safe places like the Carpenters' or Demonreach. The shortcomings of this trope are also explored: Nicodemus is excellent at being The Man Behind The Man or planning things out to have others act, but he is very much not a leader, and Anduriel is not the strongest of the Fallen in combat. He is manipulative and deceitful, but cannot win in a stand-up fight. Unfortunately, he knows it, and acts accordingly.
Supernatural Aid: Kringle gives Harry a gift of knowledge to help him prepare against Nicodemus. Harry is worried about the price (as Kringle is a fae), but Kringle calls it a belated Christmas present.
Sure, Let's Go with That: After Harry said he dealt with Butter's eavesdropping and his escape so the matter wouldn't be spoken of, and met Nicodemus' standards, Binder assumes that Harry mind raped Butters into not talking. Harry doesn't correct him on this.
Sympathy for the Devil: Michael feels sorry for the men and women who serve Nicodemus, as they are raised from birth thinking that he is their Lord and Saviour. They follow him and though some may question him, often they are pushed by the pressures around them into toeing the line. Then there is the removal of their tongues, rendering them incapable of even the slightest speech to communicate, unable to eat for pleasure's sake, and effectively isolating them completely, so all they have left is Nicodemus. For that matter, Uriel feels sympathy for them as well.
Talking in Your Dreams: Harry and Molly's first conversation is in their dreams, when he reveals his condition and she reveals why she hasn't been able to even see him.
Tempting Fate: Harry makes a comment that one of Nick's cult members still has a tongue, and jokingly recommends that Nick should cut it out so the others don't get jealous. Nick then removes said tongue.
There Are No Coincidences: Michael Carpenter honestly believes that when it comes to the Swords everything happens for a reason. God's plan takes every human choice into consideration.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: To get to Hades' vault, the crew needs to open a Way from a corresponding point in Chicago. They pick a powerful bank vault. However, the owner of the bank knows about the supernatural world. So, as a deterrent, the midway room between the outer door and inner door to the vault is guarded by Claymore mines. One mine is capable of carrying around three hundred or so metal pellets, making it a giant shotgun. Harry guesses that there could be one mine every square-foot or so, walls and ceiling included.
Thicker Than Water: Referenced by Hades — while he acknowledges that nothing Harry says about his brothers being foolish and irresponsible is untrue, he warns Harry that they are his family and he should have a care how he speaks about them.
The Gate of Fire tests skill, with an entire hallway filled with flames hot enough to incinerate nearly anything. Only an extremely skilled fire mage can pass. Oh, and there's also a hidden salamander, so it's testing courage in the face of unexpected adversity as well.
The Gate of Ice tests speed and intelligence, with giant cubes of ice with spiked sides rotating at high speeds. Harry wisely takes the time to look for a pattern, instead of just blasting his way through.
The Gate of Blood makes it impossible for one person to reach the vault. Only a shade can open the Gate, so it has to be opened by someone willing to die for the sole purpose of aiding the rest of the party.
In fact, the purpose of the Gates is to weed out anyone without the skill or intelligence to get inside, and in reach of the incredibly powerful weapons Hades keeps stored in his vault. And even if they do, Hades himself is there.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Nicodemus wounds the salamander by tossing his sword at it. Lampshaded by Harry's musings that, while swords aren't designed to be used that way at all, Nick's had two thousand years to practice doing so.
Time Master: When he appears, Uriel can stop the events around him, including the falling of sleet and the barking of a dog. Hades does the same later.
Took a Level in Badass: Butters. Lampshaded by Murphy. He went from being a scared, quivering little blob of mortician to being a badass expy of Batman capable of outrunning a crew of supernatural baddies quite handily, having harnessed Bob more effectively than Harry ever dared. And then he takes up the Lightsaber of Faith and runs off Nicodemus and Tessa.
To be fair, Harry's failure to exploit Bob so is not because of a lack of imagination or courage. It's because the consequences of Bob falling into the wrong hands while being so used are terrible to contemplate.
Tough Love: Molly reveals that the Winter Sidhe have been showing their love and concern for Molly the best way they can: By attacking her in her dreams to help toughen her up and make sure she is ready for the tasks ahead of her.
Tranquil Fury: After Nicodemus brutally beats down Karrin, Harry enters into this mode. Michael was expecting his unstoppable rage. Harry replies that he needs a clear head for the trials ahead.
According to Deirdre, Nicodemus just glowers silently when he's really pissed off (which she recommends Gray do when impersonating him).
Undying Loyalty: Murphy makes it clear she is loyal to Harry and will trust him.
Unperson: Nicodemus performed a deliberate version on himself. He spent years eliminating his enemy's records of him and the atrocities he committed, leaving behind an unquestionably malevolent but still Noble Demon persona. This has helped him keep up the facade that he pays his people well and doesn't betray them.
The Un-Smile: On the way to the aforementioned party, Ascher suggests Harry smile. He does so. She then asks for a more natural one and not this type.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: As befits a heist story, we don't see Harry's true plan until he lays it out in a flashback. Justified, as Kringle warned Harry that Anduriel can listen in on anyone who casts a shadow, outside of a few secure locations or in the presence of another being who is strong enough to block him. Anything he said was at risk of making it back to Nicodemus, so he had to keep his plans in his mind until they were ready to be put into motion. Also the reason for the Poor Communication Kills between him and Butters.
Harry worries what will happen if he officially takes custody of Maggie, as he has a lot of enemies who may try to hurt her. Michael notes that the last time someone tried to hurt her, Harry destroyed the entire Red Court, one of the most powerful organizations in the supernatural world, so no one is going to be stupid enough to do that again. However, after Nicodemus kills his own daughter, he is in a damaged enough mental state to think that this is a good idea. It doesn't work, though.
Played with. Initially, it seems like Nicodemus is going to ignore everything Harry says, even when he brings up good points about the problems with the operation. He decides to take them seriously after all, and even mentions that it would be foolish to hire experts and not take their advice into consideration.
Upon discovering that Harvey's office is in the same building as a bank, Dierdre tries to continue with the original smash-and-grab plan. Harry and Grey both stop her, noting that it would cause far too much trouble, and opt for a stakeout instead. Harry notes that the problem could have been avoided if Nicodemus had grabbed Harvey's schedule earlier.
Part of the Breaking Speechincluded Harry telling Nicodemus that his killing Deirdre in Hades' realm wouldn't make her safe and protected, because instead, she'd be enduring a special hell made just for her.
Hannah Ascher and Lasciel grab this by just focusing on trying to roast Harry's hide with Hellfire, not considering where he is redirecting the fire to. Note that Ascher had Lasciel riding shotgun in her head and Lasciel knew everything Lash said and did to tempt Harry and knew what that Lash learned about Harry. She was just so consumed by anger, it blinded her to Harry's simple counter.
Villainous Breakdown: Harry pushes Nicodemus about his daughter's death to the point he EXPLODES. This costs the latter everything.
Violently Protective Girlfriend: Murphy is still very protective of Harry. So much, she doesn't consider the consequences when she tried to kill a defenseless Nicodemus who had surrendered to her with Fidelacchius. It caused the Sword to shatter.
Walking Spoiler: Lasciel, and to a lesser extent Ursiel, both of whom were believed to be contained.
We Need a Distraction: Nicodemus knows there is only one active Knight of the Cross and if he doesn't have another scheme dangerous enough to warrant his presence, Sanya will come along and mess things up with the heist. So, he decides to have Tessa's crew mess with the nuclear reactors in Iran. It works.
What the Hell, Hero?: Butters brings up to Harry his change in attitude and how things are still getting worse while he was on the island. And with Molly gone, few can pick up the slack. And what is the first thing Harry thinks about when he sees Butters? Giving him a new vessel for Bob to repay a debt, which Butters also calls him out on.
At least one person brings up the point that Harry took out most of the Fellowship of St Giles along with the Red Court.
When You Coming Home, Dad?: The beginning of Harry's first conversation with Maggie has shades of this. Justified, as Maggie is ten, and this is the first time she's spoken to her father ever.
Will Not Tell a Lie: Michael Carpenter, even retired, doesn't like to tell lies. He is an honest man. Knowing this about him, Binder looks to Michael to confirm whether Nicodemus or Harry is the one telling truth about the other's supposed betrayal. Even at this point, with everything else that had gone on to complicate matters, everything Michael says is factually true.
When Harry is almost finished in his dream about Karrin and him having sex, she puts a gun to his head, says "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned", and Harry wakes just as she pulls the trigger.
Hannah Ascher turns out to have been on good terms with the Brotherhood of St. Giles, and had to watch as several of her closest friends turned to dust in front of her when Harry killed the Red Court in Changes. Worse, they were also her financial support, and as a result, she ended up on the streets. Which is why it was so easy for Lasciel, furious with Harry for being the first to turn down her coin, to corrupt her.
The Fomor are still going after children. Some were even taken off the streets last Halloween.
The parasite's first target would be Maggie. Unlike other versions of this trope, this isn't out of malice, but out of fear and a desire for help. But the parasite is still a dangerous entity who wouldn't have anywhere to go except inside Maggie's head.
Harry: Maggie was about to get a very dangerous invisible friend.
Nicodemus tries to kill the Carpenter children and Maggie in the climax.
Murphy using the Sword of Faith in anger to kill an unarmed, de-Coined Nicodemus causes the sword to be vulnerable, allowing Nicodemus to shatter it.
Nicodemus's sword gets damaged when he throws it at the salamander and one of its edges melts from the creature's incandescent body heat.
Butters' Lightsaber of Faith, formed from the broken hilt of the Sword, cut through Nicodemus' blade with ease.
Xanatos Gambit: Dresden suspects that Mab is running a very simple one. If Harry succeeds in out-maneuvering Nicodemeus, she gets what she wants. If he fails, he was unworthy to be her knight, and she gets rid of him while setting his friends against Nicodemeus, rather than her.
You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Michael to Harry. He notes that Harry isn't omniscient, all-powerful, and cannot change the past. He is a flawed person. But then, so is everyone else. He may be far from perfect but he is a lot better off than he gives himself credit for.
You Can't Thwart Stage One: As part of his deal with Mab, Harry is forbidden from even trying to keep Nicodemus from robbing the vault. And once that's done, then Harry can thwart Nick to his heart's content.
You Did Everything You Could: Murphy reminds Butters that while he did fail to save most of the children from the Fomor, he was able to save some of them.
You Need to Get Laid: Id-Harry's major complaint about Dresden is that he really needs to have some sex. Even if it is with some Sidhe women, which is generally regarded to be a bad idea
Zip Me Up: Hannah does this with Harry as part of her seduction play. Harry even notes that she could almost certainly reach the zipper herself, and is likely doing this just to needle him.