Small Favor is book #10 in The Dresden Files.No one's tried to kill Harry Dresden for almost an entire year, and his life finally seems to be calming down. For once, the future looks fairly bright. But the past casts one hell of a long shadow.An old bargain has placed Harry in debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, the Queen of Air and Darkness-and she's calling in her marker. It's a small favor he can't refuse...one that will trap Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and one that will strain his skills- and loyalties-to their very limits.It figures. Everything was going too well to last...Now has its own Shout Out page.
Small Favor provides examples of the following tropes:
Actually Pretty Funny: Michael really tries not to laugh when he hears Harry's nickname for members of the Order of the Blackened Denarius. Wanting to take away that impressive title, Harry calls them "Nickleheads."
Almighty Janitor: Harry meets one of the strongest of the Archangels in the form of a janitor.
Always a Bigger Fish:Harry is running like hell to get away from Magog and off the island. The giant gorilla-from-hell-Fallen Angel is about to catch him when Eldest Brother Gruff shows up and literally blasts a hole through Magog just so that he can get to Harry.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Nicodemus' possible plans for destroying civilisation according to Harry: Use nuclear weapons, biological or chemical weapons, crash the world economy or change everything on tv into a reality show.
The Atoner: Sanya admits this is his quest since becoming a Knight of the Cross as he was once a Denarian.
Batman Gambit: Nicodemus' plot with Lasciel is spelled out in this book. By tossing her coin at Harry Dresden and Harry Carpenter a few years back, he planned on one of them becoming infected with Lasciel. Either it was a toddler, who would have Lasciel whispering in his ear and turning him into his parents' worst nightmare or gain a powerful Wizard in his ranks. The only thing he failed to take into account was just how thick and stubborn Harry Dresden was when he grabbed the coin to save Little Harry. It is implied by Michael, this wouldn't be the first time he made such plans.
To Be Lawful or Good: Murphy suffers this dilemma through much of the book. On the one hand, she knows what is at stake not just for Chicago but the world if Harry gets found at a scene when some mob hitters just tried to take them out. That said, the harm Harry did them was in self-defense and he could be cleared, in time. But by that time the world would be destroyed and Harry likely dead and whatever the Denarians had planned would have been done. Begrudgingly, she picks Good. She doesn't like it as she still has a deep faith in right and wrong and following the law.
Beware the Quiet Ones: Mab considers the Archangel Uriel the quietest of the Archangels and also the most dangerous.
Inverted, when the absence of any mention of Harry's blasting rod becomes a significant plot point later, when he realizes that Mab took it away from him and blocked his memories of it, making all of his friends very suspicious of him for most of the book.
When Nicodemus and Harry are speaking of the assault on Arctis Tor, Nicodemus says the only question remaining is "contamination" is in his group or the Church. Not mole or any other term but "contamination." In Cold Days it is learned there is a force to which "contamination" is an appropriate description.
The Children First: When Harry rescues Marcone, the man insists Harry free the captured Ivy first. Later, when the rescue helo arrived, he insisted Ivy gets taken up first. This is in-spite of Harry assuring Gard and Hendricks it would be Marcone first. Marcone does not put children before his own life.
Harry, being the guardian of Fidelacchius, is this for the next Knight of the Cross. He ends up choosing Nicodemus. See You Will Know What to Do for why.
In a dark version, Nicodemus sees himself as one who must rightfully choose which coin to give a new recruit so the Fallen Angel and human would work well together. He considers giving Lasciel to Harry a good choice, not realizing Harry had redeemed the Shadow of Lasciel.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Eldest Gruff's fight with a massive (yet none-too-clever) Denarian is over in a single second (after he gave him several chances to walk away). There is little doubt that he could end his fight with Harry in much the same way.
Besides the general actions of the Knights of the Blackened Denarius, Nicodemus had to make a deal with Satan himself to get enough power to drill through Marcone's safe house defenses.
Mab tells Harry her interest on offering the Winter Knight position to Thomas should Harry die by the Summer Court's hands guessing he would want revenge and give him a chance to be with the woman he loved.
Deprogram: When Harry realizes someone has seriously messed with his mind, Michael takes him gently to a cot and uses a prayer and the power of Faith to help unlock the memory block placed on Harry.
Determinator: Despite the unseen amounts of torture Marcone suffered, he neither gave up nor gave in to the Denarians. He even had some wounds from when he tried to fight them back despite being overpowered on so many levels.
Don't Make Me Destroy You: Eldest Gruff genuinely tells the Fallen Angel Magog his quarrel is not with him and would allow the Denarian to live. Magog does not listen. He attacked the Eldest Gruff and was killed in one attack.
Mouse is able to tell who is a good person and who is most certainly evil.
When trapped in the Shedd Aquarium with some Denarians, Harry is hiding by the dolphin tank. Some swim by him and then down the way, start screeching and splashing the water before rushing off. Harry smiled as he now knows the Denarian's location.
Evil Order Versus Evil Chaos: Nicodemus and Tessa are this respectively. Nicodemus concerns himself with the long game while Tessa enjoys causing immediate discord and chaos. So when the two of them work together on a joint project, the situation is a whole lot worse.
Evil Overlord List: Nicodemus read most of it, but skipped the part which makes him cut the tongues out of his followers. They may be loyal guards but they cannot use radios to communicate.
Fisher King: Discussed by Harry and Sanya. There is an ancient concept of the King is connected to the land and the supernatural connection one has to the other. When the King is well, so is the land. Harry wonders if this is a requirement of becoming a Knight of the Cross as the three knights he has met are of Royal Blood going back many years. And so being asked to tend to the Denarians is part of the "tend to the land" especially in a land when there are few kings left.
Fire-Forged Friends: At the first crime scene in the book, Harry references this idea on how close he and Murphy have become. Several years ago, when she asked about the big magic spell used she would have implied she considered Harry a possible suspect. Similarly, Harry would have freaked about this implication and held back several pieces of his exposition. Now, he trusts her to not just know but know when she should stay back, and so tells her everything he can about the spell.
Get It Over With: When Harry defeats the gruff at Union Station, it tells him to finish it. Twice. Whereupon Harry says he does not kill unless necessary, much to the shock of the gruff, who had assumed he was actually in Winter Court.
Good Hurts Evil: When Harry inadvertently uses Soulfire, the fire of Creation, against a Denarian, it adds a boost to Harry's attack and does more damage.
Guns Are Worthless: Averted. Against fairies, Valkyries, and even Denarians, guns have the power to do them harm. The fairies have the strongest weakness. However, enough bullets from enough guns could take down even a Denarian. Or one good shot to the head.
Hannibal Has a Point: As truly terrible a person as he is, even Harry finds it hard to argue against Nicodemus when he talks about how the Black Council are disrupting things and causing trouble for everyone, or when he talks about how the Red Court needs to be destroyed.
Hannibal Lecture: Harry receives one from Nicodemus about how his own friends no longer trust him because of Lasciel's influence upon him and the fact they don't concretely know what has happened in the Aquarium.
Hell Is That Noise: In-universe. When the Eldest Gruff is closing in on Harry, he hears a heavy Thump getting closer and closer. Considering this Gruff's first younger sibling was about twenty feet tall, Harry is seriously worried about these Thumps. Turns out the Eldest Gruff is five feet, five-two tops. The noise is his Magic Staff as he puts it down on the ground.
Hopeless Boss Fight: When Harry sees the Eldest Gruff kill a Fallen Angel-possesed human and is wearing three purple stoles worn by members of the Senior Council Harry knows he is in one of these in terms of power. Thankfully, he is owed a favor from the Summer Court. See Mundane Wish below.
Hope Spot: A particularly devastating example occurs for Michael of all people in Small Favor. After the battle in the aquarium that resulted in the deaths of several Denarians, with their coins being subsequently collected, Michael realizes that combined with the other Denarians that they know are in the area, along with the Denarians who have already been defeated and their coins collected he, Harry and the others are within a hair's breadth of defeating the entire order of Denarians and putting an end to their war with the Church once and for all. Unfortunately, Harry is forced to use the coins they captured to barter for a meeting so that they can have a chance rescue Marcone and Ivy, during which the coins are stolen by Thorned Namshiel, setting the good guys almost all the way back to square one. And that's not even counting what happens to Michael himself.
Humans Are Warriors: Invoked by Murphy when she wants to bring the full force of the police system against the Denarians. Using words such as "terrorist plot" and "automotive bio-armor" (to explain the shapeshifting) to put everyone from the traffic cops to FBI and military on high alert. This will get her a small army in terms of manpower and arsenals of weapons. Harry briefly considers it to be a plausible action as humans, when angry and focused, could do serious damage to most every Supernatural entity, Denarians included. But the idea is put down as a mental fear-inducing attack could make things that much worse.
I Did What I Had to Do: Harry is this when he lies by omission to Luccio and letting her assume a false idea in order to gain the White Council's help in dealing with the Denarians. He risks his own life and morals so Michael and Sanya get an edge in fighting the Denarians.
Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: When Harry is facing Magog, the giant ape-beast Denarian on the island for the climax, the Denarian charged at Harry. Harry, knowing even his best wind spell would only stall and leave himself open, using his magic to cause Magog to fly into the air, over his head, and down a long hill.
Tiny Gruff is also the victim of this (though less painfully,) as Harry realises that although he can run incredibly fast for his size, his momentum is too great to change direction quickly.
I Surrender, Suckers: Nicodemus, not realizing Lasciel's shadow was no longer inside Harry, believes she took over Harry and made him go limp. Harry decides to go with the order to get the jump on him.
It's Personal: Mab has some reason to hate Thorned Namshiel and so this favor was meant to stop Namshiel from gaining more power.
Harry has a nice sack made from the scrotum of a real African lion.
After Harry talks with Jake (who is the janitor — really), Jake vanishes, leaving behind a copy of The Two Towers, which opens on some — interesting passages.
Kill Me Now or Forever Stay Your Hand: When Harry notices that Michael has been giving him sideways looks for the entire story he has Michael place his sword at his (Harry's) throat and tell him (Michael) to either cut or reveal where the sudden distrust comes from.
Knight in Shining Armor: Michael is this once more. The a key moment is when he and Harry are fighting against Hobs in a dark train station and one woman is praying to God for help and enter a man holding a glowing sword.
Last-Second Word Swap: When Harry learns that Nicodemus is likely in town, he starts saying, "Fuuuuuu..." looks at the two Knights of the Cross sitting at the table with him, and finishes, "...Fudgesicles."
Lightning Bruiser: Several of the Denarians are much faster than they look. Tiny Gruff is also extremely fast for his huge size, but his massive momentum prevents him from stopping or changing direction very easily once he has built up any speed.
Little Miss Snarker: Ivy tries to be this but doesn't quite get it right. None the less, Harry is touched as he realized she was emulating him.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Early on, Harry and Thomas are looking for an address, and find it on a street marked with a "Dead End" sign. Harry takes a moment to mutter out loud about the foreshadowing.
Long Game: Michael notes this is Nicodemus' strong suit. For a man who has lived for nearly 2000 years, fifteen years is nothing. See Batman Gambit above.
While sitting on Neutral Ground, a seven-eight foot tall Gruff tells Harry he will wait patiently until Harry leaves to fight him. Scared at the prospect of facing such a powerful Gruff Murphy steps in and tells the Gruff he will not touch Harry with her around, and if need be shoot the Gruff there. The Gruff is shocked at the idea she would use iron against him, knowing the harm it would do him, and confused why she would interfere with an affair that wasn't hers especially as fighting is forbidden on Neutral Ground. Murphy replied that as a tax payer, Harry has the right to police protection (her) and the Gruff is threatening him so the shooting would be justifiable. Add to that as the City of Chicago is not a signatory to the Accords, she could shoot him inside Neutral Ground and if Titania wants to try this again inside city limits, she is declaring war against the whole of Chicago who have plenty of iron to use against any attack. The Gruff reluctantly agrees to not fight there and retreats, also impressed with Murphy's wit.
The Eldest Gruff serves the Summer Court before the Queens orders. Harry abuses this by calling in a favor he is owed from the Court and a simple task that will take the Eldest Gruff plenty of time for Harry to finish Mab's request and thus no longer be attacked by Summer's forces.
Magic Wand: Harry's Blasting Rod. Which vanishes early on but isn't mentioned too much.
Manchurian Agent: Michael and the others suspect Harry to be one because of Lasciel in his head and he is helping the Denarians in their game plan. It is not the case, but Harry is the victim of a Memory Gambit.
Memory Gambit: Harry is the victim of one because of Queen Mab. She strips Harry of any and every memory about his fire magic and his blasting rod. He doesn't even notice the missing memories. Only when the occasional reference to the memories come about does his mind his something akin to a static wall and causes him to "short circuit", for lack of a better word. It is only when he is just waking up does his subconscious have enough power to say something is wrong.
The Mole: Helen Beckett sells out Marcone's safe houses to the Denarians. Thankfully for her there are more ambitious members of Marcone's men who are more plausible in Marcone's eyes.
Mundane Wish: Subverted, when Harry "wastes" his single wish, which could make the entire Summer Court of Faerie do whatever he wants of them, on a doughnut. The point, however, is who he commands to get his doughnut. Namely, the Implacable ManMage Killer after his head, who now abandons his deadly mission to find one particular doughnut after agreeing to fight only on the island, the Eldest Gruff knows this will take him a while and Harry should be off the island by then.
My God, What Have I Done?: Harry postulates to Michael the reason the Fallen Angels avoid churches isn't because Good Hurts Evil and just standing there is uncomfortable, as Michael suspects, but it makes them feel and remember and feel sad. They question their choices in their existence, and after a 1000 years or more of steadfast belief you were in the right, and it turns out you were wrong and everything you did was for nothing, it is not an easy revelation to handle on one's conscious.
My Master, Right or Wrong: The Gruffs and Fix really do not want to kill Harry, but are loyal to Court and Queen. (Fortunately, the former serve in that order.)
Not Himself: Harry's friends begin to question things about Harry when he is driven to make a deal with Nick to the point of throwing in one of the Swords in on the table. His previous behavior is riddled with off aspects, such as missing his blasting rod and not using fire magic in any form. They fear someone or something has messed with his head. Turns out, they are right.
Not Me This Time: Nicodemaus is very surprised to learn about the usage of Hellfire on Arctis Tor. Shocked enough to attack Harry in his momentary rage.
Not So Different: Nicodemus tells Harry they are this. And even some of his goals would be things Harry strives for as well.
Offhand Backhand: Ivy pulls off one of these, vaporizing a Denarian jumping at her back without even looking at it.
The Elder Gruff, who has taken down three members of the Senior Council and wears their stoles as trophies, effortlessly takes down Magog, a Fallen Angel possessing a human.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Mab generally refuses to Name any Archangels so she does not summon them. Instead, she calls them by their titles. Michael is "Prince of the Host." Rafael is "The Demon Binder." Gabriel is "The Trumpeter." Uriel is "The Watchman."
When the otherwise-fearless Toot-toot tells Harry to run, he's cautious. When always-hungry Toot tells him to forget the doughnut and run, Harry knows it's something dreadful.
Harry lacks his blasting rod, doesn't do any fire-base magic and never makes mention of this to anyone. And all his friends noticed this problem. They feared his mind had been altered by some force, Michael assuming Lasciel's work. In the end, they were right about him being mind altered. But wrong on the culprit.
The second eldest, once beaten by Harry, departs with his life content he tried his best to kill Harry.
The eldest Gruff is very affable to Harry, even enjoying the fact the Three Billy Goats Gruff is still known to children. He even agrees to postpone the fight because Harry is owed one favor by the Summer Court, knowing by the time he fulfills the favor the fight will no longer be needed.
Rage Against the Heavens: After Michael is seriously injured and might die, Harry rages in a chapel for God's ineffectiveness, questioning how could he care about one person and letting Satan give the other fallen Angels a power boost. Turns out, Heaven was listening as Uriel, in human guise, talked Harry about his problems and assumptions.
Red Herring: An in-universe instance. Harry is being tracked by the Summer Court Gruffs via his Silver Oak leaf. When it is in open air, Summer knows where he is and can lead an attack. So to confuse the heck out of them, Harry activates Little Chicago and hangs the leaf in a bag of catnip above Little Chicago on an elastic cord and Mister the cat in the room. Every time the Oak Leaf went within one foot of Little Chicago,the Leaf would appear to be signalling from that location and Summer would run off to find Harry.
Refusal of the Call: When Murphy takes up Fidelacchius to protect the sword from Deirdre, Murphy unsheathes the blade just a few inches when a bright light shone from it, scaring Deirdre away. When Murphy asks what that was, Harry calls it a job offer. Murphy refuses, citing she was still a cop and couldn't become a Knight of the Cross.
Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Used by Harry when he is trying to get Luccio to bring the White Council in on the meeting between Marcone's side and the Denarians. When Luccio noted some of the trouble he caused, Harry points out the good things he has done which have helped the White Council in the war against the Red Court and groups of Warlocks.
Sanctuary of Solitude: Harry ends up in the hospital's chapel to not so much talk with the big G but yell at him for what an ass He would be if He let Michael die after all the man did in His name. Then JanitorJake shows up and they discuss things a bit more.
Screw Destiny: Harry notices that Gard was staring at Michael in a foreboding manner and decides to alter his actions to prevent what he thinks is coming. Uriel later reveals that, despite current appearances, Harry did change things for the better, since if he had acted differently, both he and Michael would have died on the island instead of Michael only being injured.
Snowball Fight: The beginning of Small Favor has one involving the entire Carpenter family and Harry.
Something Only They Would Say: When Harry first meets Mab in the story, he finds the fact she is speaking with a malk as an interpreter strange and doubts who she is. Mab replied that Harry doubted who she was the first time they met. She then recites the terms of their deal. Harry agreed and believed she was the real deal.
Speak of the Devil: Besides Lucifer himself, Mab does warn Harry to not call "Uriel" by his name.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Thomas and Justine are still apart from each other due to his inability to even touch her. Harry warns him that by becoming a Nicklehead, the angel could offer to end that issue to coerce him into taking up the coin. Later, Mab noted should Harry had failed and died, Thomas could become her Winter Knight for both vengeance and her power ending the same problem.
Super Speed: Several of the Fallen, including Magog, the giant ape-beast, and the stone golem, have this power.
There Was A Door: Used twice by gruffs, once because the door is baneful steel, and the other time because a twenty-foot faerie couldn't have fit.
They Have the Scent: Summer-aligned forces track Harry by his fire magic, as he once absorbed Summer fire and the taint is still there, so using it alerts them, and the Silver Oak leaf of the Summer Court. Mab "helps" with Harry keep them from tracking the first method. The second way was stopped by Mister. See Red Herring above for more.
Time Abyss: When Harry is describing the advantages the Denarians have, beyond the super strength, shapeshifting, and powerful magic, he considers the Fallen Angels themselves the strongest advantage for this trope. Not only do they likely predate the Creation of the Universe, they have had 2000 years living in a human mind and knowing how it ticks. They would know all the ways to tempt a person and what pains to make them feel, all in the name of converting someone to their cause. And then once they have a partner, they can give this wisdom to them and make the host a truly terrifying force.
Harry gains Soulfire thanks to the Archangel Uriel.
Harry was previously touched by Summer Fire in Proven Guilty. This allows Summer to know his location when he uses fire.
Training from Hell: Harry uses a family snowball fight at the Carpenter house to teach Molly how to create a defensive shield. Charity comments on this and Harry remarks that it's good training. Charity asks if that's how Harry was trained and Harry replies that Justin used baseballs.
Traumatic Haircut: The Denarians, namely Tessa and Rosanna, did this to Ivy by cutting off her beautiful hair, leaving only bits of it as part of their torture.
Unreliable Narrator: Harry's usually pretty straight with the readers, but on this occasion it's played with when he leaves out a minor, but significant event in the plot because he had his memory of it blocked. Also used as a handwave for inconsistencies from early in the series, such as one minor character whose name changes in between books (Harry heard it wrong the first time), or when Butcher gave Wrigley Field a parking lot that it doesn't have in real life.
Harry unleashes Pyrofuego in a beam of destruction that blasts straight through one of the Denarian's hearts, and even apparently negating their Healing Factor.
A little before this, the Denarians attempt to turn Harry's Unstoppable Rage against him by showing him the tortured body of Ivy, which they knew would push him to an unthinking fury and break his promise, which in turn would unmake the Sword he had promised in exchange for her. Fortunately, Harry figures out the plan just before his rage gets the better of him, mostly because he had already been manipulated into almost getting the sword destroyed and is not dumb enough to make that mistake twice.
What the Hell, Hero?: Harry calls out Eldest Gruff, the Champion of Summer. Harry asks why Titania would want Ivy in the hands of the Denarians and when Gruff replied it wasn't his place, Harry countered that as champion, it should be his place to challenge and question Titania. The old Faerie is unfazed and replied the question back asking if Harry understood Mab's reasoning for wanting to save Marcone.
Xanatos Speed Chess: The Denarians play a mean game. Harry and Michael note on several occasions that the Denarians seem to plan things out so that no matter what happens they can still come away with some advantage. Fortunately, in Small Favor Harry proves that he is also becoming quite an adept player of Xanatos Speed Chess and manages to play the Denarians to a draw at the end of the book.
You Are Not Alone: When the Denarians have Ivy, Harry writes her a letter that he knows will become part of Archive's vast knowledge. The letter assures her she isn't alone and they are looking for her.
You Killed My Brother: Mab notes to Harry that had he died by Summer's hand, or even the Denarians and thus could not be her Winter Knight, she would approach Thomas to become the Winter Knight with this trope in mind. She assumed the man would enjoy seeking vengeance against his brother's killers.
You Will Know What to Do: Five years ago, Shiro gave Harry Fidelacchius and told him he would know who he should offer it to when the time is right. Harry realized he was meant to offer it to Nicodemus. Harry realized that with this sword, one of the banes to Nicodemus' plots, as a bargaining chip he could get the edge in the negotiations and save Ivy.