Warning!All spoilers for previous books are unmarked on this page!In the wake of a personal tragedy he suffered at the end of Grave Peril and having pissed off every Red Court vampire around, Harry neglects everything in the hopes of finding a cure for the love of his life. However, he is pulled out of his blue funk by Queen Mab, who wants him to find who murdered the Summer Knight. Like with most anything involving the Sidhe, things get complicated very quickly as Harry rushes to foil a supernatural plot that could destroy the world.Summer Knight is book #4 in The Dresden Files. Now has its own Shout Out page.
Summer Knight provides examples of the following tropes:
Anti-Magic: The Unraveling, which can undo any enchantment, including a person turned into a vampire.
Bad Liar: The normally honest Donald Morgan's eyes widen with shock when Harry sees through his gambit and blurts out, "I don't know what you're talking about."
Balance Between Good and Evil: A low-level version. Summer and Winter have armies and power to rival the some of the strongest forces in the Dresden-verse. However, they are kept in check by the other. Each side must have three Queens, a knight, and for this matter an emissary. And through the year, each side gives and takes for dominion over parts of the earth. Always a balance. Until, that is, the Summer Knight was murdered and now things are threatening to become unbalanced until one side totally wins out.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Harry wants to meet Queen Titania and Queen Mab to ask them if they killed the Summer Knight. Lea takes him to the battlefield where Mab and Titania were preparing for war and tells Harry to look upon them with his Sight to seek the answers he needs. He does so and, despite them being hundreds of yards to miles away, is nearly overwhelmed by the sheer majesty and awesomeness of these two Physical Gods. Like two mountains sliding over a field, Harry realizes he is just a puny ant to them. He is in near pain even after he closes his Sight, but after some deduction he did get his answer.
Big Good: The Queen Mothers of Summer and Winter, who generally know what has caused the problems in the book but let Harry work out the problem himself when he meets them. Their hands were also tied as they cannot interfere in the plans of another Queen.
Brainwashed: Elaine reveals she was brainwashed by Justin DuMorne years ago. That's why she helped him try to capture Harry.
Breaking Speech: Already emotionally offset by finding an injured Elaine and rushing her to safety, Aurora lays out a carefully laced speech hitting Harry hard so he does not ask her directly if she had a hand in the murder of the Summer Knight.
Busman's Holiday: Billy invites Harry to his house to play some Arcanos with the Alphas. Harry grumbles that it sounds too much like his day job. He plays a barbarian instead. A "Hulk Smash" barbarian, even.
Toot-toot and fairies similar to his status love pizza. Harry used this to gain their help when fighting against Aurora. See Death of a Thousand Cuts for more.
This book introduces several characters whose lives and choices will lead to trouble for Harry. First, Wizard Samuel Peabody, the one who reads of the list of the most senior wizards, plays a major role in Turn Coat.
Second, near the end of the White Council meeting, Harry briefly mentions an old woman making a speech on new protection wards. Later this would be revealed to be Wizard Anastasia Luccio, Captain of the Wardens, who will play major roles in helping Harry in future books.
Clear My Name: In short, Mab asks Harry to clear her name of wrong doing in the death of the Summer Knight and the disappearance of his mantle.
Cold Iron: The fae, large and small, loath the metal and any mixture of metals that contain it. To harm a fae with iron is seen as a heinous and vicious act. The Winter Queen herself jumped back from a rolling nail like Harry had just tossed boiling acid at her. Aurora dies from steel blades slashing her up.
Continuity Nod: While speaking to Harry before the White Council meeting, Wizard Listens-To-Wind tells Harry, "The one you knew as Tera West sends her regards."
Convenient Decoy Cat: When Morgan showed up at Harry's apartment after Elaine arrived, Elaine hid in Harry's bedroom. During Morgan and Harry's conversation, a noise comes from the room, prompting Morgan to investigate. He opens the door, and Mister zooms out, startling Morgan, much to Harry's amusement (and relief).
Cosmic Keystone: The Stone Table which sits between the lands of Summer and Winter. It trades ownership between the two Courts on each solstice. It is a storage unit of power as well. Should one be slain on the table, the power of the person is irrevocably placed into the Fae Courts. The Big Bad plans to place the Vessel of the Summer Knight's Mantle there and kill her, the power of the Summer Mantle will become Winter's forever, completely unbalancing the two courts.
Cranky Neighbor: Ronald Reuel has (or had one). When Harry and a mook are causing a ruckus in his apartment, the Neighbor shouts for them to leave as she called the police. Later revealed to be Lea keeping watch and helping protect Harry from the distance.
A business type. Mab, now the owner of Harry's considerable debt to his godmother Lea, makes him a him a deal. Do three favors for her and the debt is forgiven. She even grants Harry the right to refuse the favor and she will make him suffer no consequences. So, in typical Devil fashion, her favor for this book will be linked to his personal survival where if he refuses other people will kill him.
Ace, the changeling friend of Lily, Fix, and Meryl, made a deal with the Red Court. If he could take out Harry, they would shield him and his friends from Maeve and Slate.
Didn't See That Coming: Harry was very confident he wouldn't be handed over to the Red Court as requested in their letter of appeasement because the Council, while not liking him, wouldn't give into monstrous bullies like that. But then LaFortier of the Senior council moves to strip Harry of his title of Wizard, thus meaning he no longer has the protection of the Council. If it happened, they could consider handing him over.
Didn't Think This Through: Harry thinks some tiny glass garden marbles would be enough to trip up Grum, a big, several hundred pound 12-foot tall ogre, like in Looney Tunes. Grum crushes them under his weight and later Harry learns Karin Murphy fell on them and hurt her knee. She was not amused by Harry's logic.
Disappeared Dad: Maeve the Winter Lady offers to give Harry what he wants in exchange for "his first born child". As in, she wants him to impregnate a faerie. Harry responds to said faerie's advances by pouring ice water on his crotch.
The End of the World as We Know It: What would have happened if Harry hadn't gotten involved. The Summer Lady intended to sacrifice the new summer knight on a special altar on the summer solstice, which would have resulted in the power of the summer knight transferring to winter. Since Earth's weather patterns mirror the war between the summer and winter fae, this would have resulted in an Ice Age.
Face Palm: Harry has a particularly memorable one here. He has just escaped a quicksand like death trap and is hanging by his belt from a tree branch about twenty feet up dripping mud and boots, no sooner does he thank his lucky stars that there is no one there to see him then somebody shows up!
The identity of the Big Bad can be determined by a keen reader by what doesn't get said. Harry never asked Aurora if she arranged the murder of the Summer Knight, because if he did, she'd have to say yes. She knew this, and manipulated him so he wouldn't ask.
When Harry was talking about the Winter Knight with Queen Mab, Mab mentions Slate was Maeve's pick and she "indulge[s] [Maeve] too much." It is revealed in Cold Days this indulgence is because she deeply and genuinely loves Maeve. And that love will keep her from acting on what should be a simple and proper action.
Good Is Not Nice: Discussed when Harry asks what would happen if Summer, the "good" side of the two courts, wins the war against Winter, Bob says there would be a plethora of growth in the world. Harry doesn't see to much trouble until Bob noted this included such things like Ebola and other viruses.
The Hecate Sisters: The Summer and Winter Queens are each divided into three distinct and separate Fairies: Queen Mother (The Queen Who Was), Queen (The Queen Who Is), and Lady (The Queen Who Is To Come).
Heroic Sacrifice: Meryl. A changeling, half-mortal half-troll, child of rape finally embraces her Fae side in order to gain the power to help save her best friend by charging through Aurora's Death Trap to get to Harry and help him against one of Aurora's strongest allies.
When Harry meets Mother Winter and Mother Summer and they agree to answer his questions, they chastise him when he asks a foolish and rushed question and explain while they could answer it, the answer would only explain "who" killed the Summer Knight, not the "how" and "why" which are vitally important to fully understanding the entire plot and theft. After some thinking, Harry averts this by asking a proper one.
Internal Reveal: Harry is finally straight with Karin Murphy about the Supernatural World and most of the politics.
It Is Beyond Saving: The Summer Lady plans to use powerful magic to end the battle between Summer and Winter, stopping their eternal cycle of war. Unfortunately, that would probably have doomed the whole world.
It Was a Gift: Averted. When Harry accepts the Unraveling, being such a powerful piece of magic, he asks if it is a gift, worrying about the payment to Mother Winter for it. Mother Winter calls it a "necessity" and not a gift.
Just Following Orders: By the end of the book, Harry had Meryl, Fix, the Alphas, and Toot-toot and his comrades carry iron into the final battle. By following Harry, they caused the deaths of several Summer Sidhe and grievous harm to the Winter Knight. Toot-toot and his fellows were even responsible for slaying Aurora. But because they were following Harry's command, neither Titania nor Mab will respond against them for the bringing of iron into the battle or their involvement in Aurora's death. But because it was on Harry's orders, he will end up bearing the full responsibilities of his choices eventually.
Kick the Dog: The Merlin's third attempt to remove Harry is this trope. He sends Morgan and another warden as a witness, wanting Morgan to kick Harry's emotional sore spots, from his evil mentor to Susan's cursed life, even hinting that Susan was a puppet of the Red Vampires from the beginning as no woman would ever want to be with Harry willingly. This was done in hopes of Harry killing, or trying to kill, Morgan. Either way, Harry would end up disgraced in front of the Senior Council and dead.
Leave Your Quest Test: After completing the task he's given at the start of the book, The Gatekeeper shows up and asks Harry whether he'll act on the newly uncovered knowledge that the Summer Lady is attempting to do something which will result in the world's destruction, or go home, knowing his job is done. After Harry chooses the former, The Gatekeeper says that if he had answered otherwise, The Gatekeeper would have killed him right then and there.
Locked into Strangeness: Changelings, Half-Human Hybrid's of a Fae and mortal, sometimes undergo dramatic changes of hair color when they hit puberty and their fae side begins to emerge, especially if they choose to become fully faerie. Lily suffers it twice, first developing grass-green hair at puberty, which changes again to snow white when she becomes the Summer Lady.
In true Fae fashion, that deal between Harry and Mab prevents her from harming him for refusing her requests, but at the end of their meeting, she harms him for simple spite.
Later Harry realizes the deal didn't cover third parties who have ties to both he and Mab. Namely if Harry fails to complete Mab's favor, she will refuse the White Council the rights to travel through her lands so they can fight the Red Court. If the White Council cannot win that, they will take up the Red Court's peace offer to end the war by surrendering Harry Dresden to them. In summary, while Mab didn't hold a gun to his head, she knew there was a gun already going that way and decided to use it to her advantage. In typical Fae fashion.
Male Gaze: Harry, despite being pierced through the hand by a steel letter-opener, and scared out of his mind by the fact that Queen Mab is present in his office, still manages to notice that she has "a great ass."
Harry: "So, I notice these things. Sue me."
Make It Look Like an Accident: Summer Knight Ronald Reuel's death to the mortal authorities. An old man apparently fell to the bottom of a long flight of stairs. Mab assures Harry it wasn't.
Mab knew how to play Harry to get him to take her deal to get him out knowing he would be forced to accept her first request, as if he didn't he would likely be given over to the vampires as an appeasement.
Notably, Lea averts this trope after being one in the previous book when dealing with Harry, as her concerns for him make her give straight and forward answers, and genuine help in finding those responsible and those who aren't.
Aurora, however, takes the cake in this book as she successfully pushes away suspicion from herself and gets Harry to angst about his inner turmoil from all the crap he's faced in the past few years. It wasn't until Harry meets the Queen Mothers does he realize how badly he was played.
Meaningful Name: Ms. Sommerset, aka, Queen Mab. "Sommer" equates to "Summer", thus making the name "Summer set." Not only a reference to coming after Winter but the fact Mid-Summer will come and Summer's reign over the Stone Table will end.
Mess Of Woe: Harry fell into this between books, due to traumatic events in Grave Peril.
Mind Rape as Drama: Murphy is having a hard time recovering from the mental beating she took at the hands of Leonid Kravos during the events of Grave Peril. Like, Valium-and-a-glass-of-Scotch kind of hard. Harry takes it upon himself to get Murphy back on her game.
The Mole: Morgan suggests Susan was this from the start for the Red Court and she never loved Harry.
Mother Nature, Father Science: All the Queens of Faerie are women. The Queen Mothers speak highly of Albert Einstein, referring to him as a sage. And Mab speaks of Time with male pronouns.
Mundane Wish: Discussed. When Harry asks if the three favors owed to Mab could be something as simple as passing her the salt three times then would the debt be fulfilled, Mab doesn't dismiss the idea.
My Country, Right or Wrong: When Harry points out to Talos, Lord Marshal of the Summer Court, Aurora is insane. He simply replies, she is still his Queen and must follow her commands, even if it means the end of the world.
Never Mess with Granny: Excluding the fact Mab and Titania are old enough to be many peoples grannies, this trope applies to Mother Summer and Mother Winter who may appear to be old ladies but are by far the strongest of the Queens, able to read minds without Harry even sensing them doing it. They are also strong enough that Aurora must use Harry as a patsy to get the Unraveling as Aurora is far to weak to try and steal it. Furthermore, Mother Winter is able to produce the Unraveling, a piece of Antimagic capable of dispelling any enchantment, including the Vampire Curse Susan suffers from.
No Conservation of Energy: Averted. Magic in the Dresden-verse must still fulfill the Law of Conservation of Energy as it is neither created nor destroyed, and what one puts into a magical spell will always impact what comes out. The former aspect of energy not being capable of being destroyed, only transformed or change, leads Harry to realize the Summer Knight's mantle must be in some vessel but changed to be inert, giving the appearance of imbalance.
When the Senior Council is considering candidates to replace a vacant spot, several of the reasons for these venerable men and women not present are Wizard Gomen "sleeping off that potion." Others interesting reasons include one man "got real married," the wizard is "living under the polar ice cap," and "Pyramid sitting."
During his second apprenticeship, Harry burned down Ebenezar's barn and permanently scared off the old man's cat by doing... something... with the laundry.
Not a Game: Harry repeats this once more to the Alphas and, for their first time, Fix and Meryl that the battle they are going into is a serious thing.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Harry once more. He is smarter than he lets on. He impresses Mab by showing his intelligence by deducing her to be a fae. Later gives a well-reasoned argument on why Mab and Titania are innocent. It is lampshaded by an Elite Mook.
Lloyd Slate the Winter Knight: Spooky. He doesn't look all that smart.
Obstructive Code of Conduct: The Queens cannot directly get involved with the plans of each other. So, while Mother Summer and Mother Winter know who the thief was, why the murder happened, and how, they cannot stop the Big Bad or stop Mab and Titania from marching to war.
An Offer You Can't Refuse: Played with. Harry's agreement with Mab forbids her from directly applying this trope to him or his friends. That said, Mab is a chessmaster and set things up knowing there would be another group, separate from her, holding a similar threat which would force him to do as she wants.
When Harry tells Bob everything about the current case, once all the "Are you stupid/insane for working for Mab?" lines are done and Harry's leaving, Bob genuinely warns Harry to be careful on this case. Women were always his weak point and none of them have been as dangerous or powerful or beautiful as Mab.
When Aurora tries to kill Dresden by drowning (with a justified aversion of Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?), Elaine's perfectly calm, callous attitude is what tips off Dresden to what he needs to do to save himself.
Physical God: The six Fae Queens are on different tiers with the Mothers being the strongest, then Mab and Titania, and finally Maeve and Aurora. Lea notes the Queens are on par with archangels and lesser gods. When Harry looked upon Mab and Titania with his sight, he was nothing but a "flickering spark" against these two "blazing fountains of light and magic." It had been here since the "dawn of life, and would until its end."
Plot-Triggering Death: Ronald Reuel's death and Mab's interest in it starts off the major plot of the book.
Poor Communication Kills: Had Mab and Titania just talked with each other or their Mothers, the truth would have been realized.
Puberty Superpower: Changlings, half-human and half-Fae, generally show their Fae side when they hit puberty.
Punny Name: A very subtle one. Dresden is being guided by a fairy so small, she only appears as a small bright red light that can blink on and off. Her name is Elidee (LED).
Only the Worthy May Pass: When Harry meets Mother Winter and Mother Summer, they examine him, seeing his inner pain and previous actions, and then ask him some questions to see what sort of man he is. In the end, they decide he is a far wiser man than he lets on, and a wiser person than the Big Bad for understanding things the person doesn't. Because of this, they deliver to him the Unraveling.
Rage Breaking Point: Invoked. Morgan claiming Susan never loved Harry and was a mole all the time was supposed to push Harry beyond this, so Harry would either kill or attempt to kill Morgan, with a convenient witness outside Harry's listening in, as the Merlin's third plan of dealing with Harry.
Rape as Backstory: One of the changelings is the end result of when a male troll raped a female mortal.
Senior Council Members Listen-to-Winds and Martha Liberty, after some observing Harry, give him their support. The Gatekeeper also proves to be one by allowing Harry the trial to test himself, as well as taking the responsibility to kill Harry if he failed.
Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, shows this by hiring Harry for finding the mantle of the Summer Knight. As Murphy points out, she could have selected anyone to be her emissary, including a yes man, but she picked a determinator like Harry, who wouldn't give up and would suspect even Mab of being the murderer.
Revenge by Proxy: Discussed in Harry's bargain with Mab. He explicitly included Mab cannot bully him via his friends.
Mab tested Harry in their first meeting when she was under the alias of "Ms. Sommerset." She needed to see if he would be perfect for her needs, and despite Harry's first appearances being disastrous, he proved himself. See Spotting the Thread for more.
When Harry meets with his old mentor Ebenezer McCoy, McCoy tells him how much trouble he will be facing, but if Harry were to play politics and support certain members on the Senior Council and their agendas, he could be saved. Harry, being Harry, tells Ebenezer to forget it, using a few choice words and some from Ebenezer himself. Turns out two Senior Council are there, watching Harry's reaction. They finally agree to support him, though Martha Liberty did dislike his and Ebenezer's choice of words.
Harry had solved the mystery as assigned to him by the council and Mab, but in the process he uncovered a plot to permanently alter the balance between Winter and Summer, which would cause a new Ice Age, among other things. The Gatekeeper of the Senior Council pointed out to Harry that he could try to stop the plot at great personal risk, or he could go home, since his job was technically done. Harry said he would try to stop the plot. The Gatekeeper was pleased, and said that if Harry had answered differently, he would have killed Harry himself.
Also, the Summer and Winter Mothers give him one. They ask which is more important; the Body or the Soul? The correct answer is basically, "That's a stupid question". When he passes, they comment Harry understands what Aurora does not.
Spotting the Thread: When Harry puts it together and recognizes the "client" before him is a fae, he finally tested it by rolling a steel nail at her. She jumped back like Harry had thrown boiling oil at her. Impressed, Mab asks what gave her away. Harry lists the unlocked door to his office which should be locked, her avoiding directly answering his inquiries, and Mab, while dressed in what looks like a $3,000-pantsuit, lacks any purse.
At the beginning, when all levels of Fae are choosing Summer or Winter's side, Toot-toot and his allies have not. In the final battle, they choose to side with Harry "Pizza Lord" Dresden who, while working with Winter at this time, is not one of their common allies.
The Gatekeeper of the Senior Council does this at the start when the council is voting on whether Harry deserves the rank of Wizard. He decides to hold and calls for Harry to complete a Trial to deem his worthiness or failure as a Wizard.
They Call Me Mister Tibbs: When Murphy was being patched up after a fight, Georgia calls her "Lieutenant." Murphy tells her anyone who helps patch her up after a battle can call her "Karrin." Except Dresden.
Took a Level in Badass: The Alphas had gone from skinny New Meat to the the supernatural world in Fool Moon to muscular, seasoned fighters more than capable of helping Harry and Murphy should they need it.
Trust Password: Of a sort. Harry didn't believe Mab when she claimed his godmother sold his debt to Mab. This debt is so significant that Lea could control Harry's physical body against his free will. So Mab proves she owns the debt by forcing Harry to act against his will by stabbing his hand with a letter opener.
Wise Beyond Their Years: From the view points of the Queen Mothers of Summer and Winter who have been around for millions of years, they see Albert Einstein as this, calling him a Sage for his insight that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. They also see Harry as wiser than he appears and call him out for not thinking clearly.
Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: A perfectly justified example. When the topic of killing a captured Harry comes up, it's pointed out that all wizards have the ability to use the spark of magic generated by their own lifeforce for what's called a death curse. As the name implies, it's not something the user will survive, but generally it results in a Heroic Sacrifice to which the term "blast radius" is appropriate. This makes Aurora change her mind about how to kill Harry and opts for a slower drowning and leaving him so when he dies she's out of range.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Because of her insanity and other things, Aurora believes herself the heroine by seeking to end the constant war between Summer and Winter.
You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Harry uses his Sight to look upon Mab and Titania at the Valley of the Stone Table. He was barely able to hold it together after seeing the true awesomeness of their power and how puny he really is to either of them.