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Characters from The Dresden Files, the Kemmlerites.

WARNING! Due to the books relying heavily on mystery and surprise, the pages would be virtually unreadable with excessive spoiler tags. Therefore, all spoilers except for the most recent novel (Skin Game) are UNMARKED. Tread carefully.

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     Heinrich Kemmler 

Heinrich Kemmler

Heinrich Kemmler was considered to be the most dangerous wizard who ever lived. An immensely powerful necromancer who spent over a century planning World War I and wreaking havoc in World War II, up until the White Council and every ally they could pull together gathered and killed him for good. His legacy remains, however, in a series of books spreading his knowledge of necromancy, as well as his survivng disciples.

  • Axe-Crazy: Perfectly willing to engineer world wars.
  • A God Am I: He was permanently killed while trying to perform the Darkhallow, a spell (with a few ritual-like restrictions) that would have made him a god by devouring the warrior spirits in the Wild Hunt. This goal has now been taken up by his apprentices.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: When he crosses paths with Warden Luccio in the Old West, she describes his suit and tie as 'impeccable'.
  • The Chessmaster: Spent over a century engineering World War I, after all.
  • Deader Than Dead: The White Council made absolutely sure that he is not coming back. The White Council killed him six times, and confirmed it, boot on body, every time. None of this was more than a minor inconvenience. However, the seventh time, when they called in the entire White Council, stuck, and Heinrich Kemmler is, per Word of God, finally and irrevocably dead.
    They killed him good. A couple of times. He'd come back after they'd killed him early in the nineteenth century, so they were real careful this time.
  • Evil Overlord: Necromancer-style.
  • Expy: Of Heinrich Kemmler the Lichemaster, the most powerful necromancer alive in Warhammer Fantasy.
  • Ghostapo: Was associated with the Thule Society, though Luccio noted that he was stronger than even the greatest of the Society's sorcerers.
  • Green Eyes: "Green and hard" is how they're described.
  • Killed Off for Real: The White Council killed him real good, though it took seven attempts to make it stick.
  • Necromancer: The necromancer in the setting. His schtick included not only resurrecting the dead, but also using ghosts and spirits as undead batteries for his magic.
  • Not So Different: Harry's conversation with Evil Bob implies that Harry and Kemmler might have been similar.
  • Posthumous Character: Kemmler is dead. Very, very dead. The Council killed him real good, but it took a few tries to make it stick. Seven, according to Ghost Story.
  • Predecessor Villain: He was the major baddie for his timeframe but he's long been dead by the time the series takes place. His apprentices carry on his legacy.
  • Rasputinian Death: Killing Kemmler took a lot of work. The entire White Council was called in to do it. Not just the wardens but everyone.
  • Villainous Legacy: He's long dead in the present but his evil lives on in the form of both the Darkhallow as well as his disciples who continue his evil work.
  • You Monster!: He is considered one, even by people who otherwise have no concept of morality like Bob.
    • To put that in perspective: Queen Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, boss of most of the wicked fae, someone who Harry once described as giving lessons to all the fairy-tale evil queens, unironically calls Kemmler a monster.

     Evil Bob 

Evil Bob

Evil Bob is the dark side of Regular Bob that served Kemmeler for centuries just as Regular Bob serves Harry now. While technically not a member of the Kemmlerites, he made his first appearance in the same book as the rest of them, nearly killing Harry in the process. Harry, not wanting someone to gain access to that part of him again, ordered Bob to forget it completely. Naturally, this backfires as Bob, a creature made of living information, took that order as a command to remove that part of himself like a diseased limb. This led to it becoming The Dragon to the Corpsetaker's ghost in Ghost Story. Evil Bob is still out there, last seen locked in combat with his regular self in the Nevernever, and Bob decided to run the moment Harry was clear.

  • Barrier Warrior: While not one in the traditional sense, he is the creator and sustainer of the Corpsetaker's system of wards.
  • The Comically Serious: See below under We Can Rule Together.
  • The Dragon: To Kemmler and the Corpsetaker's ghost.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: From Evil Bob's perspective Harry is an infant wizard with potential but clouded by stupid things like morality. However, when Harry rationally points out that Evil Bob stopping to offer Harry a We Can Rule Together speech is in his self-interest, Evil Bob notes he doesn't have such a thing. When Harry replied that Evil Bob had the superior advantage over Harry in most every aspect and need not make the offer but did so and offered to help usurp Corpsetaker, it must be because Evil Bob feels his interests would be better served working with a less insane Harry than the egomaniac Coprsetaker. Ergo, Evil Bob does have self-interest and can choose to act on it. Evil Bob realizes there might be some validity to this and will think on it later, but now must kill Harry.
  • Enemy Without: To Bob, as a living manifestation of dark and malign knowledge amputated from his consciousness.
  • Evil Counterpart: Imagine Bob, with all his many talents and abilities. Now imagine if he were a murderous, power-obsessed villain instead of a Lovable Sex Maniac.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Harry's Bob is less than eager to face the guy in a fair fight.
    "Bob, would you be willing to take on Evil Bob?"
    "I'd... prefer not to. I'd really, really prefer not to. You have no idea. That me was crazy. And buff. He worked out."
  • One-Man Army: If Bob hadn't intervened he probably would have taken on the Lecter army by himself and won.
  • Putting on the Reich: Evil Bob worked for Kemmler for a while, and picked up an appreciation for SS gear, as is seen when ghost!Harry assaults his wards, which have taken on the shape of the beaches at Normandy.
  • Servile Snarker: Offers to kill a Fomor minion and leave a note on the corpse to call ahead next time after the minion interrupts Mort's torture session.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Played with. While he does have some powerful knowledge and dangerous magic, Bob doesn't consider what he knows all that powerful as he primarily knows how to destroy things. Good!Bob knows things a lot of creation-based magic, which in his view is harder and more powerful. That said, this doesn't mean Evil Bob is a pushover.
  • Super Strength: He was able to grab Harry's staff with two of his fingers and lift up Harry's whole body in the process.
  • Villain Ball: He believes Bob's ruse about heading behind Harry to weaken the gate, when in fact Bob had already severely weakened the gate so it would collapse once Harry passes through. It inhibits him from helping the Corpsetaker in her confrontation with Harry.
  • We Can Rule Together: Gives Harry the usual speech about joining forces but because of the way he phrases it Harry manages to turn it into a gay joke. It takes a minute for Bob to realize he's being mocked.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: His confrontation with his other self consists mostly of grappling moves.

Contenders for the Word of Kemmler

For Quintus Cassius (whom Dresden calls "Liver Spots" during the Dead Beat case), see his entry under the Denarians.




An incredibly powerful and mysterious necromancer who, with his assistant Kumori, showed up in Dead Beat to try to harness the Darkhallow. Both he and his assistant Kumori are probably White Council members, and they're pretty much confirmed to be on the Black Council, but their identities are otherwise unknown. Cowl does, however, deny being a Kemmlerite.

  • Affably Evil: While not as friendly as Nicodemus or Marcone, Cowl is pretty respectful of Dresden.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Is he really Necessarily Evil or just evil?
  • Black Cloak: Harry, of course, makes lots of bad jokes about it.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: First seen in Grave Peril with the rest of Chekhov's Army, giving Lea the athame. Not really introduced until he shows up 4 books later with the rest of Necromancers-R-Us.
  • Determinator: Again, a car thrown at him, multiple death curses, or the Darkhallow destabilizing and literally exploding in his face will not stop this guy.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: He, or someone dressed like him, shows up way back at Bianca's party in Grave Peril, handing Ferrovax and Lea their presents. Nothing in that appearance indicated how important he'd become later on.
  • Evil Counterpart: Dedicated, a bit curmudgeonly, and uses dark power for what seem to be good-ish purposes. Getting even more pronounced as of Zoo Day, where he's strongly implied to have acquired one of the pups from Mouse's litter
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He has disdain for Kemmler, whom he calls a "Madman". Though he does admit later to being one of his students.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Who may or may not be Necessarily Evil, if you believe him.
  • The Faceless: His cloak conceals his true appearance.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: We know what he was after in Dead Beat specifically, but his long-term goals are still mysterious.
  • Implacable Man: See above, the car.
  • In the Hood: Part and parcel of his aesthetic.
  • The Man Behind the Man: To Vittorio Malvora, in White Night. Likely to a lot of other things, too.
  • Necromancer: He'd have to be, in order to make use of the Darkhallow and be Kumori's mentor, though he doesn't use these abilities as often as the other members of the Necromancers R Us.
  • No Name Given: Introduces himself as "Cowl", but it's pretty obviously not his real name. This has generated a lot of Epileptic Trees.
  • Not So Different: Harry notices a lot of similarities between the two of them in Dead Beat, and is appropriately disturbed by the implications. In particular Cowl gives the same musing of "I don't think I am mad, but if I were mad, would I notice?" that Harry had himself gone through earlier in the book.
  • Villain Respect: Cowl is respectful of Dresden's abilities, both magical and deductive. He in fact notes that he believes Dresden really could have contained the Erlking the entire night. Something Harry himself doubted he'd actually be able to do (describing his chances as a spider's chance of entrapping a tiger).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Why does he want to become a god in Dead Beat? He thinks it's inevitable that someone will and considers himself the least possible evil (and when you look at Corpsetaker and Grevane, he probably has a point ...)
  • Wicked Cultured: Prefers Goethe.



Cowl's apprentice/sidekick. Apart from the fact that she's female and a pretty solid Well-Intentioned Extremist, she's almost as much a blank slate as her boss.

  • Anti-Villain / Token Good Teammate: Compared to the other members of Necromancers-R-Us. She took time, and more importantly, magical strength in a time when she could need it against other wizards and her master's competition to save a man's life.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Believes she's this, but only time will tell for certain.
  • Black Cloak: Apart from being slightly smaller and having a female voice, she's pretty much identical to Cowl when her hood's up.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: How she views herself and Cowl. Harry disagrees.
  • The Dragon: To Cowl.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Who serves an enigmatic master, no less.
  • Evil Counterpart: Just as Cowl is one to Harry, she seems to be one for Molly: a younger, female apprentice who strays dangerously close to misusing her powers (but remember to add a mental "maybe" next to "Evil").
  • In the Hood: Though unlike Cowl, she's willing to let it down every once in a while.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: This is why she wants everyone else to. Harry points out that by preserving everyone, she would be keeping around the tyrants, the torturers, the genuinely evil people as well as the intellectual all-stars.
  • Necromancer: Like her mentor, she doesn't directly use her powers to raise the dead like the other antagonists in the book, but she does use it to keep a dying man alive long enough for paramedics to save him.
  • Pet the Dog: Using her necromancy to save a dying man's life. Harry is disturbed at the implications. Subverted when it's later revealed that the process was excrutiatingly painful for the "patient," and that he might have been permanently negatively affected by the process.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: More explicitly than Cowl; she genuinely believes that she can use her necromancy to benefit humankind.

     Capiocorpus, aka the Corpsetaker, aka the Grey Ghost 

The Corpsetaker

One of the disciples of mad necromancer Heinrich Kemmler, the Corpsetaker is a necromancer who specializes in mental magic, raising spectres, and using dark magic to allow him/her/it to jump between bodies. Violent, savage, and thoroughly insane, behind a veneer of affable friendliness. One of the members of the Kemmlerite gang that showed up in Dead Beat to initiate the Darkhallow. When Harry encounters the Corpsetaker, he/she/it has stolen the body of a college student named Alicia. Returns for another round in Ghost Story as, well, a ghost.

  • Axe-Crazy: Of all of the Kemmlerites, Corpsetaker is probably the most unbalanced and twisted. Mental magic does that, of course.
  • Big Bad: She is the primary threat in Ghost Story, planning on giving herself a new body in order to return to life.
  • Body Surf: Until Ghost Story, fans weren't even sure if the Corpsetaker had a physical gender.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Harry manages to kill her after she takes over Luccio.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Performed it on Mort in Ghost Story and her old body in Dead Beat.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Her final fate is implied as the screams of the wraiths destroying her spiritual essence sounds like a "southbound train".
  • Fallen Hero: Ghost Story reveals that she was once a member of the White Council before defecting and joining up with Kemmler.
  • Grand Theft Me: Her main M.O., swapping souls with anyone with magical talent whenever it suits her. It even works on Warden Luccio, and her ghostly spirit has plans to do so even after her death. That said, she needs a lot of power to be able to do it from spirit form.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Gets taken down with the wraiths she used on Mort. Mort is even the wielder of them.
  • Karmic Death: In Ghost Story, Mort destroys her with the same wraiths she had used to torture him.
  • Mind Rape: One of the Corpsetaker's specialties is to violate the minds of her victims.
  • Necromancer: Her particular brand of the craft seems to focus on spirits and other "intangible" undead rather than physical zombies.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Precisely what gender the Corpsetaker originally had is not clear. Whether the concept of gender really applies to a necromancer who seems to exist purely as a body-hopping mind is up in the air. As of Ghost Story, she appears to be female.
  • The Unfavorite: Evil Bob once comments, while trying to recruit Harry, that Kemmler wasn't terribly fond of her either.
  • Villain Ball: She leaves a powerful ectomancer alone in a room with some very strong wraiths. Mort even lampshades how foolish this was before killing her off once and for all.
  • Villain Team-Up: She works with the Fomor to regain a real body.
  • Weapon of Choice: A tulwar.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Harry stops to mention them.

    Li Xian 

Li Xian

A ghoul serving under the Corpsetaker, both as her assistant and drummer to control her spectres.



The first of Kemmler's disciples, Grevane is a leathery old man who was Kemmler's "favored" student. Grevane's specialty is in raising large numbers of powerful zombie minions. As in, hundreds of them at a time.

Grevane was also associated with the Thule Society, though it's not clear if he was a member.

  • Axe-Crazy: He projects a sense of calm and control, but he frequently loses it when things don't go his way or someone interferes.
  • Character Tics: He's seen constantly beating a small booklet against his thigh. This looks like a nervous tic, but Harry explains to Butters (and the audience) in short order that the magically-raised dead need to hear a "drumbeat" to simulate a beating heart to keep them under control.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Grevane doesn't appear to understand that the reason Harry is protecting Butters is because he's Harry's friend.
    • When cornered, Harry threatens to burn the Word of Kemmler, and Grevane tries to call Harry's bluff, saying he knows Harry wants the power as much as he does.
      Harry: God, you people are dysfunctional.
  • Evil Brit: He has a British accent and is a total psychopath.
  • Evil Old Folks: One of the Kemmlerites who clearly show his age, and a crazy sonofabitch to boot.
  • Fatal Flaw: Completely full of himself. Harry notes that he doesn't even bother with a death curse because the thought that he might ever die simply doesn't cross his mind.
  • Frozen Fashion Sense: He wears a tan trench coat and, to Harry's disbelief, a black fedora; making him look like he takes fashion cues from Humphrey Bogart.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: He has a notable scar on his upper lip which gives him a permanent sneer.
  • Magic Knight: Almost as dangerous with his weapons as he is with his spells and zombie minions.
  • Necromancer: The most traditional of those featured in Dead Beat.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Grevane's zombies are less shuffling mindless flesheaters and more like Terminators. They have the speed to catch up to Harry's car, and have the strength to rip it apart afterwards if they get the chance.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: His powers aren't the flashiest, but it's hard to argue against a literal army of the dead. Ones that fight like T-800s.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: Yes, really. A pretty deft hand with a kusari-gama for a man of his age and . . . nationality.
  • Weapon of Choice: A Kusari-gama which he is quite skilled with.
  • You Make Me Sic: When he first meets Harry, he gets flustered at his grammarnote  and starts trying to correct it.
  • You Fool!: Calls Harry a fool in their first meeting.


Example of: