Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Battle Ground (2020)

Go To

Warning! All spoilers for previous books are unmarked on this page!

Battle Ground is book #17 in The Dresden Files.

The one where Harry and a whole bunch of others go to war.

Ethniu, daughter of Balor and the last of the Titans, has declared war on Chicago. She leads an army of the Fomor, powerful water-dwelling magicians whose bizarre and twisted magics lend them immense power. Ethniu herself wields the nigh-unstoppable Eye of Balor, which smashed through one of Chicago's most heavily defended magical bases as if it was made of tinfoil. The only obstacle in her path is a loose alliance of disparate magical factions, several of whom care as little for humanity as Ethniu herself, and many of whom were at each other's throats mere days ago.

And one member of that alliance, of course, is Harry Dresden.

Dresden does have a couple of advantages, most notably two superweapons he smuggled out of Hades' vault. But even with those on his side, it will be a tall order indeed for Chicago's only wizard investigator to battle through Ethniu's endless legions and bring her down, especially since some of his strongest allies — the wizards of the White Council, including his own mentor Ebenezar McCoy — no longer fully trust him. And even if he defies the odds once again and succeeds, there's no telling how much — if anything — will remain of Chicago when he's done.


Battle Ground was released September 29, 2020. The first three teaser chapters were released online, as was a teaser trailer.

Battle Ground provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Achilles' Heel: Titanic Bronze renders the wearer essentially invulnerable to both physical and magical attacks, but its protection is worth a lot less against explicitly divine or infernal sources, like the Swords of the Cross or the Knights of the Blackened Denarius.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Ebenezar, Vadderung and the Erlking all get a chuckle when Harry decides there's no need to be diplomatic anymore and calls the Fomor "frogs". And considering Mab later on refers to King Corb as Ethniu’s "frog prince", she evidently thought it worthy of note as well.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Rudolph begs for his life when Harry comes after him for killing Murphy.
  • All of Them:
    • Harry is floored when all of the Little Folk in Chicago come to his aid in defense of pizza, to the point where they're described as numbering in the hundreds of thousands and are gathered enough in one space to light up the entire rooftop and surrounding streets where Harry is summoning them.
    • Relatedly, Harry is understandably uncomfortable when Ebenezar claims that this epic battle for the fate of Chicago isn't "everyone."
  • Altar Diplomacy: Mab announces that Harry will marry Lara Raith at the end of the book. She initially wants it done immediately, and she only consents to give them one year of mourning to prepare for the wedding after facing extreme objections from everyone involved, as well as acknowledging that doing it so soon after Harry's lover has died looks really bad.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • While it's confirmed that Marcone took up Thorned Namshiel's Coin back in Small Favor, it's never made clear when exactly he fully accepted the offer given by Namshiel's Shadow and became a rogue Denarian (and whether he's in control of Namshiel, or if the latter is in control of him). Hints are given to it not having happened until after "Even Hand," but it's all very vague.
    • Nemesis is revealed to have been possessing Justine since before the events of White Night, but it's completely ambiguous what exact actions Justine has performed were her own or were just Nemesis puppeteering her.
  • And Then What?: Harry essentially asks Carlos what happens when he breaks the White Council's rules, and he is going to break them. Carlos has no response.
  • Badass Boast: The book has several.
    • Harry tries and fails to do one to a fire giant. Not that Harry's list of deeds isn't impressive, it just fails because the fire giant does one better. As Harry puts it, it's a humblebrag that takes some beating.
      "I fought the Odinson and lived to tell the tale."
    • Mab delivers a laconic but really sweet one before heading to battle in earnest.
      Harry: I know the Sidhe are dangerous, but there's not enough of them. Not for what is coming at us.
      Mab: The numbers stand at one Mab to none. That advantage shall be sufficient.
    • Combined with Shut Up, Hannibal! (or Shut Up, Kirk! depending on how you view the White Council). Harry tells Carlos that the White Council has lost its moral authority, that the people of Chicago need him, and that he doesn't intend to stop helping people. He's also the Winter Knight and he just put down a Titan, so maybe they should rethink tangling with him. He's no longer afraid of them and has no intention of following their hypocritical, self-serving rules. Carlos is left with no real response.
  • Badass Bystander: Many of the normal citizens of Chicago take up arms and form impromptu militias to defend themselves against the forces of the Fomor.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Lara is one of many beings who wants to bring Harry Dresden to her side. She finally gets her wish when Mab puts her and Harry into an Arranged Marriage... but the tragic and bitter circumstances behind that arrangement leave Lara jaded.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: The Little Folk of Chicago are assembled by Toot-Toot into what amounts to a holy war against the Fomor, as Harry says that pizza itself is at stake. They prove to be a major aid throughout the entire battle, with just one example being them severing the communications between Corb and the Fomor's southern forces (leaving them open to getting annihilated by Marcone's own forces, who are then able to reinforce and support the last push in the Final Battle, saving the day).
  • Big Bad: Ethniu the Last Titan, with King Corb and Listen as her Co-Dragons. However, she's really The Heavy while The Man Behind the Man is Justine — or rather, Nemesis a.k.a. He-Who-Walks-Beside in Justine's body, who engineered Ethniu's invasion as part of a larger plan to gain access to Demonreach and unleash its inmates.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The entire book functions as this, with only brief moments between action sequences. Though special mention should go to the "Battle of the Bean", which is the longest uninterrupted stretch of fighting in the whole series up to this point, serving as the book's Final Battle.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A lot of instances, but one of the best is when Toot-Toot saves Harry from Mavra by briefly distracting her before throwing a clove of garlic into her chest, setting her internal organs on fire.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hoo boy. Ethniu has been defeated and bound beneath Demonreach and the Fomor have been driven out of Chicago with terrible losses. Harry, Maggie, the Carpenters, the Knights and a lot of other good people managed to make it out in one piece, the Eye of Balor has been sealed beneath Demonreach and Harry has his old lab back, though now with the BFS castle on top of it. Furthermore, Harry has convinced the supernatural community to start pursuing a better relationship with humanity, and is planning to start his own supernatural nation to help modernize the White Council's hidebound teachings into better and more effective methods. On the bitter side, Murphy, Hendricks, Wild Bill and Yoshimo are all dead, as are 60,000 other innocent people. Chandler is missing and presumed dead, and Wild Bill and Yoshimo were likely turned by the Black Court. Harry has been stripped of his status by the White Council and is once again facing a possible death sentence. And we find out that not only was Justine behind the assassination attempt on Etri, but she is possessed by Nemesis (who is actually another Walker, He Who Walks Beside), and the whereabouts of both her and Listen (the Hypercompetent Sidekick of the Fomor forces during the invasion) are completely unknown. To cap things off, The Masquerade is slowly yet certainly beginning to unravel (to the point where Marcone basically notes that while it still exists outside of Chicago, the citizens inside the city will take revenge on any supernatural creature that crosses their path when the Sun goes down and will only pretend during the day that the supernatural doesn't exist), and there is no telling what repercussions this will have on both the supernatural and mortal worlds (though it's suggested that Harry's recommendations of reparations might at least help a bit). Oh, and Marcone is now a Denarian, having taken up Thorned Namshiel's Coin, though he's rogue and not working for Nicodemus (instead only working for himself).
  • Blasé Boast: The fire giant that Harry fights gives one of these to Harry's Badass Boast. Harry admits that it's even better than his is.
    "I fought the Odinson and survived."
  • Blood Knight:
    • The Einherjaren. By Odin's beard, the Einherjaren. They laugh raucously during the fighting, and when the Jotnar show up, they're positively ecstatic and gleefully charge into the fray en masse.
    • To a lesser degree and against a specific target, Wild Bill is downright giddy at the prospect of fighting zombies.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Marcone sneers at Ethniu for this, noting that if she had just attacked without warning, she would have crushed her opposition, but instead she had to grandstand and make speeches.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: When Carlos arrives to deliver the official announcement that Harry has been kicked off the White Council, their resulting argument is made of this. Harry is right that their justification is flimsy, the Council has no moral high ground, and they use their power to bully weaker practioners. But Carlos is also right that Harry has done a lot of shady things the past few years, including becoming the Winter Knight, keeping secrets from him despite the fact they're friends, and refusing to even try to offer an explanation as to why for any of it. It's what makes their falling out all the more bitter and tragic.
  • Breaking Speech: Marcone gives one to Ethniu when he points out she's just overcompensating for the fact her original role in Celtic Mythology was that of the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter and Love Interest followed by being the mother to a real hero.
  • Brick Joke: "For my next trick, anvils!" becomes this. Literally. Harry intentionally directs his conjuritis into creating a vast anvil to squash a powerful Black Court vampire and immediately afterwards says I Warned You.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Rudolph is reduced to a blubbering mess in a pool of his own urine and feces when Harry comes gunning for his blood for killing Murphy.
  • Broken Masquerade: Downplayed. The government arrives and blames it on a massive terrorist attack that caused hallucinations via chemical weapons. The people of Chicago don't really believe it and plenty know the truth but are willing to go along with it anyway — though as Marcone points out, this will only be superficial, during the day. At night is a very different story. Also, the Accords members think that the US Government is most likely going to take active interest in the supernatural world from then on, which heavily concerns them since they considered the US Government paranormal organization, Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, to be dangerously competent. Harry convinces the Accorded nations to make efforts to improve the relationship with vanilla humanity by stealthily making reparations.
  • Burying a Substitute: The memorial service at the end of the book has a photograph of everyone who died defending the city put into a coffin. This includes Murphy.
  • The Bus Came Back: Mavra reappears, finally revealing Drakul in the process. Thorned Namshiel returns as well as companion to Sir Baron Marcone.
    • The war sequence features cameos from many of Harry's past allies and opponents including Rawlins, Ivy the archive, the Grimalkin and even minor villains such as a rawhead.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Despite Ethniu absolutely wrecking every major power sent her way, she doesn’t come out of it unscathed either. By the time she’s imprisoned in Demonreach, she’s sustained heavy damage and is missing part of her face and an arm from the back-to-back cosmic-scale beatdowns that she’s endured.
  • Call-Back:
    • Harry remarks he's never been in a fight this big, to which Ebenezar asks about the Battle of Chichen Itza from back in Changes. Harry comments that was just the Council and the Red Court, whereas this is everyone. Ebenezar notes its "not even close" to everyone.
    • Bob notes that when Mab is expending energy against her enemies, he is still included on that list, which was mentioned for many books before being made explicit in Cold Days.
    • When Harry learns there are necromancers loose in Chicago, he flashes back to Dead Beat. This doubles as Foreshadowing, since the necromancers are in Graceland Cemetery, which in the same book was the location of his parlays with Mavra. Guess who one of the necromancers is?
    • During the fight with the Black Court, Harry pulls off a Brick Joke set up in Blood Rites.
    • Harry reminisces with the Redcap about the events of Cold Days, and the Redcap reveals he was actually The Mole for Mab in Maeve's party during the whole ordeal, though he was surprised Harry had never blundered his way into figuring it out for himself.
    • The Erlking mentions Harry's accidental trip to his domain in Changes.
    • Harry sees Mab astride a unicorn, and remembers the only time he's ever seen one back in Summer Knight, and then acknowledges that was actually just a centaur under a glamour.
    • In Cold Days Mab points out to Harry that Molly's new postion as the Winter Lady protects her from White Council punishment for her actions after she went off the deep end from guilt for the part she played in Harry's Death. When Ramirez arrives after the battle with a message from the Senior Council to tell Harry he is no longer one of them and try to basically put him under the Sword of Damocles from the first book in all but name Harry points out he is now the Winter Knight and any direct action taken by them to screw with him risks a war with Mab and The Winter Court.
    • Harry makes an analogy about Murphy's soul being like a lit house with nobody home in Grave Peril. He compares her soul to a house again when she dies, this time saying that it's empty and abandoned.
  • Cartwright Curse: Karrin Murphy, the third woman who has (genuinely) been in love with Harry, dies (after Susan and Lash).
  • The Cavalry:
    • Happens twice during the Final Battle, as first Molly's army and the Wild Hunt show up as reinforcements when it looks like Mab's forces are about to be overrun, and then shortly after when it looks like Ethniu is about to wipe out the remaining defenders, Marcone arrives with The Alliance's remaining forces, turning the tide in the heroes' favor again.
    • After Ethniu is bound, the National Guard arrives in force (read: in a whole fleet of helicopter gunships), reminding the Accorded nations why the vanillas are considered a sleeping giant.
  • Cassandra Truth: Both Murphy and Butters told Internal Affairs Detective Bradley things about the magical world during closed-session debriefings in the past that he did not believe until the apocalypse comes to Chicago.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • Rudolph the Brown-Nosed Reindeer was always cowardly and incompetent, but up until now this was mostly Played for Laughs or mild exasperation. Not so this time, as Rudolph becomes directly responsible for Murphy's death.
    • It turns out almost all the personal progress that a certain character has shown across the series had far, far less than ideal circumstances behind it. Justine managing to put herself together and grow out of her time as The Ophelia into a competent Badass Pacifist happened because Nemesis infected her and took control of her mind somewhere between right before White Night and Turn Coat at the latest. Granted, it's still unknown how much of her Character Development is Nemesis' doing, but it's still a pretty depressing twist.
    • Harry had previously thought that The Masquerade was only maintained through human stupidity and willful ignorance. He was very wrong, as he's surprised to learn here that the US government has a dangerously competent form of The Men in Black called "the Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress." Having unwittingly met them first in Dog Men, he learns here that they're regarded as The Dreaded to even the White Court and ruthlessly eliminate any potential leak of the supernatural to the public.
  • Character Death: Karrin Murphy gets shot by a panicking Rudolph, Hendricks gets skewered by Ethniu while protecting Marcone, and Wardens Yoshimo and Wild Bill die at the hands of the Black Court and their bodies were taken and likely soon to be turned. Chandler just vanished, and it's not even clear if he's dead or not.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The mysterious disappearance of Thorned Namshiel's coin in Small Favor is finally explained — Marcone had it, and has, in fact, been a renegade Denarian ever since. Even Mab didn't know.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Men in Black that appear in the Dog Men comicbook sidestory — set between Small Favor and Turn Coat — are mentioned again as a governmental Creature-Hunter Organization called the Special Collections Division under the Library of Congress.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Michael Carpenter, of all people, lets one go after learning that Harry has been expelled from the White Council and given a suspended death sentence. He uses three languages Harry recognizes and several more he doesn't.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Weirdly invoked; The Huntsmen of Annuvin have the unique ability that every time one of them dies, the rest of them get just that little bit stronger. Thus, this eventually leaves them as terrifyingly dangerous One Man Armies that are the remainder of an already Badass Army.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Mab relents on her plan for an immediate Arranged Marriage between Harry and Lara and instead agrees to give them a year long engagement period thanks in part to Molly's timely intervention. In retaliation, she orders Molly to personally arrange for the betrothed to make regular public appearances together in the meanwhile in order "to project the image of improved solidarity" between the Winter Court and the White Court. It may not sound like much of a punishment unless you, like Harry, missed the implication that Molly has never really stopped loving him, meaning that now she not only has to see him getting married to another woman in a year's time, but she also has been ordered to be the one who has to make sure Harry and Lara will look like a couple for anyone watching. Even Lara didn't manage to suppress a wince at that.
  • Cool House: Harry ends up with one — the castle that Marcone built as his personal stronghold. He insists on having it because it sits over the sub-basement that Harry had used as his lab before his old apartment building burned down.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Mab reveals that she's the one who commissioned the construction of the Bean, and had it stuffed to the brim with enough weapons that she could arm several thousand mortals if the need had ever arose.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: The Library of Congress is revealed to have a special division descended from the Masons and which investigates the supernatural. It makes them similar to the Venatori Umborum, though much better funded and trained, if probably considerably smaller. The Unseelie Accords nations view them as very dangerous.
  • Critical Research Failure: An In-Universe example. Harry refers to the Erlking as "one of Mab's most powerful vassals" early in the book. According to Word of God, however, the Erlking is a member of the Summer Court, and thus a vassal of Titania rather than Mab.
  • Cryptic Background Reference:
    • "Stars and stones" is a go-to swear for Harry, though Ebenezar chides him for it in Peace Talks, mentioning that Harry doesn't even know what that means. With the fight with the Black Court, the vampires mention in passing the Stars and Stones being as something literal. After the fight, Harry asks Listens-To-Wind what it means, and the older wizard is rather cagey, but does eventually promise to get "some people" to tell Harry about it sometime if they survive the night; a prospect that would take the better part of a year. Harry presses for an answer, but Listens-To-Wind points out that as a Senior Councilman, arrogant as they may be, he doesn't have the confidence to make the decision alone to elaborate to Harry what the stars and stones are; a concept that gives Harry pause. So far, nothing yet, and since Harry gets booted off the Council, Listens-To-Wind may be barred from talking to him. Good thing that the beings he mentioned to Harry are quite probably not bound by the same conventions.
    • Ebenezar implies that he's been part of something even bigger than this ("This isn't everyone. Not even close. It has been a while, though").
    • Happened through the series before, but elaborated upon here. The phrase "Empty Night" is a go-to swear for White Court vampires. Turns out, it really does have some religious significance, of a sort. If Outsiders finally do break through the Outer Gate, they'll start on the Apocalypse of unmaking Creation into a dark, silent, and empty void, presumably like the Outside, and hence "Empty Night".
  • Cue the Sun: The sun breaks through the clouds as the battle ends. So do the choppers.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • At one point, Harry summons the Malks of the Winter Court and sics just a dozen of them on an entire building full of the Huntsmen of Annuvin, monstrous abominations that gain more strength every time one of them is killed. The Malks clear out the whole building in under a minute.
    • The Columbus Street Ambush in Chapter 25. A Fomor horde charges across the road only for eight hundred citizens of Chicago to pop up from behind a concrete barrier, level all the shotguns that could be brought to muster, and pull the triggers until their weapons run dry. It's mentioned that almost a thousand enemy warriors died in seconds.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Titania, Vadderung (read: Odin), and the Erlking all team up to try and take on Ethniu. They're all handily defeated, but Ethniu only managed to win by the skin of her teeth.
  • Deader Than Dead: Zigzagged. Murphy and Hendricks have been marked to become Einherjaren, so they will eventually be reborn. However, it can't happen until they have faded from all living memory, so neither Harry nor the reader will ever see them alive again. Considering how long wizards tend to live, they may not come back for centuries.
  • Death of a Child: As Harry and company pass through the war-torn streets, they find an overturned crib with a red stain inside of it. Harry says that that particular image would stay with him for quite some time.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Ultimately the plan for dealing with Ethniu — swarm her and wear her down enough to give Harry a chance to use the binding crystal. It works.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable:
    • The main driver of conflict is that Ethniu is for all intents and purposes invincible. Besides the Eye and her invincible armor, she has enough raw power to counter just about everything anybody can throw at her. Hence The Plan, and though a last resort, was acknowledged to be the best shot at beating her.
    • The Eye of Balor is foiled on several occasions. Mab tanks a blast head on, Ebenezar just barely manages to absorb and redirect a blast with the Blackstaff, Marcone manages to duck and weave with Teleport Spam, and Titania redirects a shot, using it to summon a rain storm that washed away the aura of fear which empowered anything magic, including the Eye's cooldown period.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • King Corb gradually comes to note he may be on the other end of this when it becomes increasingly clear that Ethniu has a We Have Reserves attitude to his troops and fully believes that the US army will slaughter the Fomor when they arrive. The goal is purely to kill as many humans as possible in as little amount of time as they have left.
    • The finale shows that the White Council failed to consider that in expelling Harry, they forfeit their only way of controlling him other than the threat of force — and that as Winter Knight, an attack on Harry would be an attack on Mab. Ramirez is left at a loss when Harry asks what the Council will do when he defies its authority.
  • Diegetic Interface: During the bridge assault, Butters makes a comment about "Red Carets Everywhere". Because of the homonym, in the audiobook it comes across as "Red Carrots". And Harry is left wondering what he's talking about. Butters tells him "It's a Knight thing." Doesn't make a lot of sense unless you've already read "First Day" in Brief Cases. God "speaks video game" to Butters. In short, Butters gets a targeting box for enemies that surrounds them and even works through walls. And red is usually an indicator of said enemy being extremely dangerous.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Rudolph, per the usual. He utterly breaks down at the surrounding events and yet still finds time to threaten Murphy. His panic and poor gun handling cause him to shoot and kill her.
    • King Corb also qualifies particularly after Ethniu's defeat where he is seen slaughtering a path through his own men to flee into the lake.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": According to Gard, Hendricks' first name was Nathan and he didn't like being referred to by it.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Harry explains Ethniu why her countermeasures against his ability to bind and seal her failed, she completely fails to understand that her minions were played for fools by Sidhe illusions and instead of realizing that she was Out-Gambitted by Harry's allies, she believes that the only way she could have failed is because said minions must have betrayed her. By that point Harry isn't sure whether to feel pity for her or not.
  • Drowning Their Sorrows: Harry and Gard split a bottle of whiskey as they discuss the fates of Murphy and Hendricks. It's Gard's fifth bottle, too.
  • Dynamic Entry: Titania drops onto the battlefield in a huge blast of lightning and brings the mother of all rainstorms along for the ride.
  • Elemental Ignorance: Harry Dresden Winter Knight tries to fight a Jotun of Muspelheim, in other words a fire giant, with fire magic. Fortunately for Harry, Murphy arrives with More Dakka while the giant's busy making fun of him.
  • EMP: A magical variant. This book explores in detail the consequences of Ethniu's stripping a large city like Chicago of anything that runs on electricity at the end of the Peace Talks. Just the blackout alone directly killed hundreds, if not a few thousands of people, that depended on some form of life support or were left trapped on elevators or the like without any way to ask for help, to say nothing of airliners falling from the sky when all their electronics dies on them. It takes weeks to get basic infrastructure back up and running, and many more may have died if not for the mild, likely fae-influenced weather.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Many of the heavy hitters from the past sixteen books align to battle a Titan of unimaginable power, including many whom have been extremely hostile to each other beforehand.
    • Marcone actually points out this is biggest flaw in Ethniu's attack on the city — had she simply caused the blackout and caused a little chaos before leaving, she would have had front row seats to the city tearing itself apart in riots and looting. Instead the Fomor army gave the 8 million citizens of Chicago something to direct their fear and hostility against.
  • Epic Fail: What the entire horrible attack turned out to be. King Corb is stated to have lost 1/5th of his army before the climactic fight, the Last Titan is bound in Demonreach, and the Unseelie Accord Nations have come together to crush one of the major factions. The Masquerade is also still intact (at least outside of Chicago — in the city, it's crumbling to the degree it's still there at all) with the fact it's clear that if the US Army had arrived earlier, they would have slaughtered the regular Fomor troops.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Mab once again shows this when she's confused about how Harry managed to get all of the Little Folk to rally for war in defense of pizza. He tries to explain that he effectively organized them into a community over their shared love of the food, but she thinks he just manipulated them by exploiting a weakness or attempting neuromancy.
    • Ethniu falls into this hard when Harry realizes Molly planned ahead and ruined her cruel gambit to murder the Carpenters and Maggie, which she meant as a way to break him completely and thus triumph in their battle of wills. She jumps to the conclusion that Listen, who led the Fomor Mooks to commit the slaughter, betrayed her, completely failing to understand that she just wasn't as clever as she believed herself to be.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • The Erlking is reserved about the Huntsmen of Annuvin, hesitating before describing their creation process as "distasteful."
    • Both Molly and Lara — yes, even Lara — are not a little horrified that Mab intends to have Lara and Harry marry immediately. Yes, Lara had planned a binding alliance beforehand and had long since expressed an interest in Harry. However, Murphy's barely cold, and out of respect for Harry and his grief, she consequently argues to have it deferred for a year.
  • Exact Words: Dresden needs to convince everyone that he doesn't have the Eye of Balor, but as a member of Mab's court he's not supposed to explicitly lie. So instead he says he doesn't know where it is. This is technically true in that he doesn't know its exact location (because he gave it to Demonreach to hide and ordered the ally not to tell Dresden where it was), and if everyone present then assumes Dresden doesn't possess it at all, that's their problem. As he's dealing with fellow supernatural beings, they're aware of this trope, but can't really do much about it.
  • Eyeless Face: Mab's unicorn has this, which makes it even more unsettling when it turns to "stare" at Harry.
  • Eye Scream: Marcone shoves a runic flintlock into Ethniu's regular eye, and causes her some discomfort. Then Odin summons Gungnir into the Eye of Balor and does some real damage. As in, the resulting power blowout disintegrates one of Ethniu's arms and half of her face.
  • Final Battle: The Battle of the Bean, where all of the heavyweights of the Unseelie Accords pit their might against Ethniu. They're all crippled/incapacitated in one way or another up until only Harry and Marcone are left standing and the former imprisons her in Deamonreach.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Thanks to Butcher's short story "Christmas Eve" (which is set after Battle Ground but was released several months earlier), readers knew Harry, Maggie, Mouse, Michael, Mab, Molly, and Vadderung (as Kringle) would survive the events of the book. Sadly, that story also confirmed that thousands of people do die with tens of thousands more left wounded.
    • In an aversion, the original release of "Christmas Eve" had Dresden referring to himself as a Wizard of the White Council, leading readers to believe he'd find a way to weasel out of their latest attempt to expel him. He actually doesn't, and is kicked out of the Council for good at the end of Battle Ground. The version of "Christmas Eve" included with ''Battle Ground changes the dialogue to instead refer to Dresden as the Wizard of Chicago.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Rudolph's Reckless Gun Usage gets brought up early on. Murphy later talks about basic gun safety with the volunteer fighters, stating that rule one is "Don't point your weapon at something you don't want dead." Murphy winds up dying as a direct result of Rudy's piss-poor trigger discipline when he has a pistol aimed at her.
    • At one point, when discussing how to crack Ethniu's defenses, it's mentioned that sufficient angelic power would be able to pierce Titanic bronze. Mab mentions that sufficient infernal power would have the same effect and that Nicodemus Archleone might be able to manage it. Sufficient infernal power winds up doing the trick. Only the Denarian in question is not Nicodemus, but John Marcone, who has secretly had Thorned Namshiel's coin since the end of Small Favor.
    • Molly tells Harry shortly before the major fighting starts that she's needed elsewhere. As he realizes at the climax, she meant moving her family and Maggie somewhere safe from Listen's mercenaries.
    • Justine's vaguely-explained recovery back in White Night turns out to have been foreshadowing: she was being possessed by Nemesis.
      • Similarly, in Cold Days, it was mentioned that she didn't seem afraid of Maeve. Presumably because Nemesis had no interest in killing one of its other moles.
  • The Ghost: Ferrovax's job is to use his immense power to hold the barrier between the Nevernever and the mortal world closed from the other side, so he doesn't show up for the fight. Given his comments in the previous book, this is probably for the better. Though worse, holding the barrier closed from the Nevernever end is harder, and he might have to enter reality to keep doing his job, in his natural form, and there's a distinct possibility that reality could go haywire if he did so.
  • Given Name Reveal: Turns out Hendricks's first name is Nathan. Who knew?
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • Drakul briefly shows up to smack around Harry, the other Wardens, River Shoulders, and Listens-to-Wind (killing Yoshimo and Wild Bill in the process), make it clear he was only aiding Ethniu's attack For the Evulz, mock Dresden for not knowing the finer points of being a Starborn (while stating he's one himself) and hinting at larger plans in the works, before leaving.
    • At the very end, Harry realizes Ethniu's attack and Thomas's attempted assassination of Etri were all orchestrated by Justine, possessed by Nemesis AKA He Who Walks Beside as an elaborate ploy to get Harry to let her into Demonreach so she could tear it down from the inside. The reveal of Nemesis's true name also indicates the Walkers are the Greater Scope Villains of the entire series up to this point.
  • Gunship Rescue: The Army National Guard arrives too late to contribute to the fight with Ethniu, but not too late to go to town on the demoralized Fomorians with a wing of attack helicopters.
  • Heel Realization: Harry (and by extension the readers) get a harsh reminder that despite how awesome some of them like Vadderung are and the humanization that the likes of Mab have gotten, that they are called MONSTERS for a reason. During the post-battle meeting, Harry looks around and realizes none of them give a damn about the dead and Harry realizes that that Ramirez was right that, while not one himself and not completely by choice, Harry has found himself aligned with the inhuman members of The Accorded Nations. Harry, however, does push his allies into being more cognizant of human lives.
  • Hero Killer: More like Hero Crippler, but the effect is more or less the same in regards to Ethniu. During the Final Battle against Ethniu, she goes to town on the Accorded Nations' heavyweights, and gets terrifyingly close to killing them. In order, she nearly kills Mab with the Eye of Balor; takes out the Erlking, Titania, and Vadderung simultaneously; strikes down Gregori Cristos, breaks Ebenezar's pelvis, cracks the Archive's sternum, dislocates the shoulder of River Shoulders, breaks Listens-To-Wind's back, demolishes Butters, throws Sanya to the ground, and snaps Marcone's neck — though that last one doesn't stick because he turns out to have accepted a Blackened Denarius.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hendricks jumps in front of Marcone when Ethniu thrusts Gungir at his boss, resulting in him getting impaled.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: It's not entirely clear what Drakul wants, other than that he was interested in recruiting more minions and having a bit of fun in the process.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: Harry binds Ethniu with his will and drops her into The Well below Demonreach, effectively making her his bitch. Though, Harry figures it would be very unwise to ever release her, let alone try to hijack her power.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Marcone allows Harry to take the Eye of Balor by right of victory. However, as there are no witnesses to this, it's his word against Harry's that he didn't take it himself (and as a member of Winter, Harry technically isn't allowed to lie; see Exact Words above), which Harry is able to use to blackmail him in front of the other Accorded Nations' leaders.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Listen is this to Corb's Pointy-Haired Boss, making reasonable suggestions and pointing out logical flaws with Corb's suggestions. Ethniu even points this out and prefers Listen's advice and company to Corb's (and frequently tells the latter to shut up), which is the highest of praise considering her opinion of mortals.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: When Harry finds out from Gard that Murph has been taken to Valhalla to become an Einherjarnote  he tells her to tell Odin that he'd better treat Murph better than Harry would, or else he'll end up in a cell next to Ethniu. Gard assures him that's part of the package, and that Odin will probably like Harry's attitude.
  • Innocently Insensitive: During his message to Ramirez to deliver to the Seniour Council to go pound sand after they kick him out and have the audacity to still try to control his life Harry threatens Ramirez with Molly getting involved with "You know how she is" not knowing the under the influence of The Mantle of the Winter Maiden she attacked him making his comment come across much harsher then even Dresden probably meant at the time.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Harry tells the Erlking he is Margaret LeFay's son. The Erlking's response is a deadpan "Much is explained."
    • Marcone finds out that Harry has the Spear of Destiny.
    • Subverted with Michael and Charity — they already figured out that Molly had turned into the Winter Lady, and tell her that being a fairy princess doesn't exonerate her from doing the dishes. Where they got the information from is unknown, but Michael has displayed respect for others' privacy after he casually strolled in to some other people's unfortunate secrets by "pure chance".
    • At the end of the book, Mab, the Archive, Vadderung, Sarissa, Lady Evanna, and Lara find out that Marcone is a Denarian.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Mab pulls this on Ethniu during the Battle of the Bean. After bitterly mentioning that Mab refused to bow to Balor, Ethniu demands that Mab bow to her for mercy. Mab defies her and wounds Ethniu's pride, and takes a hit straight on from the Eye. As salt in the wound, Mab tanks it and is left smiling smugly at Ethniu. Unfortunately, she's exhausted all of her power and then falls over and is left out of commission for the rest of the battle.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: For once, this trope is deconstructed. Yes the White Council does have some grounds for kicking Harry off the White Court, but that doesn't change the fact that they're a bunch of bullying old farts who have had it in for Harry for a long time, and their punishment is outrageously cruel. As a result, Harry all but tells Carlos (and the Council by extension) "fuck off and stay out of my way", and even Michael drops an F bomb.
  • The Juggernaut:
    • Ethniu, who lays the smackdown on almost literally everyone she goes up against — not through skill, but sheer power. However, it costs her, each and every time.
    • Drakul powers through everyone and everything he encounters, including Listens-to-Wind and River Shoulders, simultaneously, even after River shuts down his Teleport Spam.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: It's revealed right before the epilogue that the entire battle between Ethniu and the Formor against Mab, the Accorded Nations, and the people of Chicago was a huge example of this being played on Harry himself. The plan was to keep the latter utterly distracted by placing every person he cares about in mortal danger so he wouldn't realize that taking Justine as his guest to Demonreach so she could see Thomas would allow Nemesis to use her as a Trojan Horse to accomplish what the Outsiders failed to do in Cold Days: bring The End of the World as We Know It by releasing Demonreach's apocalyptic prisoners. It's only thanks to Harry connecting the dots before he and Justine could arrive at the island that the worst didn't come to pass.
  • Karma Houdini: Rudolph, Listen, and Nemesis-possessed-Justine all escape any form of capture or punishment/treatment, with their current whereabouts completely unknown.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: Harry encounters a kraken near the beginning of the book.
  • MacGuffin: The Eye of Balor, Ethniu's Fantastic Nuke. The various Accorded nations have teamed up to bring down Ethniu mainly so they can all be the one to acquire this thing, rather than to actually protect the mortals.
  • Magical Sensory Effect: Harry is especially concerned to intercept some necromantic Ritual Magic that has absolutely none of the usual glow of ambient power, since it means the ritualists are Strong and Skilled.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Nemesis aka He Who Walks Beside, possessing Justine, is revealed to have engineered Ethniu's invasion as part of a plan to gain access to Demonreach.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • The general reaction of Chicago's defenders when it's clear that Ethniu has taken the field.
    • To a lesser extent, the reaction of everyone sans the Einherjaren when the Jotnar of Muspelheim take the field in support of the Fomor.
  • The Men in Black: It turns out that there's a division of the Library of Congress which is supposed to "learn" about magical creatures. Even major supernatural powers think they're dangerous.
  • The Mole: Justine turns out to have been a host for Nemesis since the time she began working for Lara, right back before White Night.
  • Morality Chain: Murphy to Harry, even from beyond the grave. This and a burn from the Sword of Faith prevents Harry from murdering Rudolph outright despite the failed attempts of both Butters and Sanya to get through to him.
  • Muggles Do It Better: This book demonstrates explicitly why getting mortals involved in The Masquerade is considered the nuclear option of the supernatural world. An army made of random Chicago civilians given guns and knowledgeable leadership end up giving as good as they take against the professional Fomor invasion force, and the National Guard make themselves known at the end by annihilating the survivors with attack helicopters. Special mention to Svangar, a Jotnar so fearsome he once fought Thor and survived, who gets killed by Murphy with a "bazooka" (actually probably a modern anti-tank missile from the description, but then Harry isn't a soldier and frequently makes mistakes about firearm terminology). Even without leadership or high-grade equipment, South Side Chicagoans turned the streets into a Fomor shooting gallery.
  • Neck Snap: Ethniu tries to kill Marcone with one of these. Thanks to Thorned Namshiel's coin, it doesn't take.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: A variant where Harry, on learning that Murphy has been taken to become an Einherjar, protests that she did not "die well", and Gard rips into him, pointing out she died killing a Jotun to save someone she loved, calling it "the culmination of a life of habitual valor". She insists that to claim anything otherwise is to cheapen her death. Harry concedes the point.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: The number of immortals present means that there's a lot of this going around, with Ethniu as the chief example, being fully encased in Titanic Bronze — an alloy of Olympian Bronze and Mordite which renders her virtually indestructible so long as her will remains strong enough to power the effect.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: Averted. Bicycles are one of the few means of transportation still available in Chicago after the Eye kills pretty much anything that runs on an engine. Harry himself borrows Gary's bike to get from McAnally's Pub to the Bean.
  • Noble Demon: Marcone lets nearby civilians into the BFS castle when they need protection after Harry demands he act like the Lord of Chicago, and fights beside Harry to defeat Ethniu.
  • Noodle Incident: A Jotnar Harry fights claims to have fought Thor himself and lived. He offers no further details, but he brings it up in response to Harry listing his own achievements without context, so it's only fair.
  • No-Sell: Ethniu spends most of her screentime protected by her Titanic Bronze armor and the fact that she is an order of magnitude more powerful than any supernatural being we have seen so far, to the point where one scene consists entirely of various supernatural heavies giving her their best shot, doing Scratch Damage at best, and then getting offhandedly flattened, one after another... but perhaps the most unfair awesome-to-nope instance is when she is completely unfazed by Listens-To-Wind's orbital tactical grizzly strike.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Carlos tells Harry that he's been suspended from the White Council, and is under the threat of death should he act out — from his own grandfather no less. Harry tells him he's gotten strong enough that he doesn't give a damn what the White Council thinks of him, and that following through on that cruel threat would be a great way to start a war with Winter that the Council really can't afford.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: By the end of the book, Murphy is dead, Harry's been kicked off the Council and forced into a betrothal with Lara, and Justine is revealed to have been possessed by Nemesis and has gone on the run, all on top of the fact that while The Masquerade remains mostly intact, it's been worn exceptionally thin, with the Accords members deciding (on Harry's advice) that they're now going to do limited intervention into mortal affairs, if only to build some trust before the inevitable Broken Masquerade.
  • Oh, Crap!: Rudolph's reaction when he realizes that he's just killed Murphy and that Harry is getting ready to rip him in half.
    • The reaction of absolutely everyone on the Accorded side when they arrive to stop a necromantic ritual in Graceland Cemetery and realize that not only are the necromancers actually ancient Black Court vampires, but the guy leading them is none other than Drakul, an ancient being of unbelievable power and Dracula's even more powerful father.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Murphy can quickly tell how bad the situation is because Harry isn't making jokes about it.
    • Michael is so pissed when he finds out that the Council has evicted Harry that he curses excessively.
  • Opportunistic Bastard:
    • The White Council holds their vote to expel Harry while Ebenezar and Listens-To-Wind are in surgery after the battle, robbing Harry of two sympathetic voices on the Senior Council. Since the Merlin apparently holds the proxy of any missing Senior Council member during a vote, that would give him ample opportunity to have Harry removed.
    • When Harry returns to the Bean after protecting the daycare, he and Mab have a talk where Mab states that most of the Accorded Nations, the White Council included, are fighting less to uphold their treaties and more for a crack at claiming the Eye of Balor after the battle. Of course, this being Mab...
  • Pet the Dog: Mab ensures that Murphy will be honored and renowned throughout Winter for their deeds. Furthermore, Harry convinces the Accorded nations to start making reparations to the mortal world in preparation for the inevitable day when the Masquerade finally falls.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Harry ordered Goodman Grey to defend Justine from everything. So when the power went out and a bunch of the White Court's mercenaries swarmed her place to protect her, Grey assumed the worst and fought them all off, injuring many. Lara rips into Harry for this, losing her usual cool and snapping at him to just communicate next time.
    • This trope gets deconstructed hard at the end of the book, when Harry's expelled from the Council for constantly flouting their authority and acting like he's been enthralled by the White Court.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Played for Drama from Michael, of all people, after Harry's informed that he's now outcast from the Council and that if he doesn't toe the line, the Blackstaff will be sent to kill him. Harry actually falls over in shock. It then evolves into a Cluster F-Bomb done in multiple languages (Latin among them). Since it was delivered at Karrin's grave, you can't really blame him, though.
      Michael: Those fuckers.
    • Played for Laughs when Randy, one of the Badass Bystanders rallying against the Fomor, tries to come up with a reason to his despairing comrades about why they're going to win and gestures to Harry:
      Randy: We've got a wizard! Fuck those guys!

  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Played for Laughs when Drakul gives a brief one to Harry, explaining why he isn't going to give even the pretense of offering Harry immortality (beside the fact that he often does so just to see people's reactions): Harry has no class or gravitas, and about five minutes was all that he could stand of Harry.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Rudolph tries to arrest Harry again at the start of the book, and both Harry and Bradley angrily point out he's dancing around with his finger on the trigger like a madman. This turns tragic later on when Rudolph still hasn't learned, continues to keep his finger on the trigger, and accidentally shoots Murphy through the neck, killing her.
  • Reincarnation: Gard reveals that Murph was taken to Valhalla to become an Einherjar given the circumstances of her death. Unfortunately, she will not be able to return to Earth "until the memory of her has faded from the minds of those who knew her", so she's Killed Off for Real as far as the series proper is concerned. Ditto Marcone's bodyguard Nathan Hendricks.
  • Retirony: Murphy's old partner Rawlins shows up and mentions that he's only got two weeks until retirement. When Dresden mentions that a supernatural war just broke out, he comments that he's about to die from cliche poisoning. No mention is made as to whether or not he actually died in the battle.
  • The Reveal:
    • Marcone took Thorned Namshiel's coin back in Small Favor and has been a rogue Denarian ever since.
    • We find out why Thomas attacked Etri in the last book: Justine is possessed by Nemesis, who threatened to kill her and the baby if he didn't do so.
    • As an addendum to the above, we also find out that Nemesis' true name is He Who Walks Beside.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Harry and the inhabitants of Chicago go on one against the Fomor — while it's only a thousand or so volunteers, once they're well armed and properly guarded, their contribution takes all the supernatural powers aback.
    • Harry, again, after Rudolph kills Murphy. It takes both Knights of the Cross to stop him and talk him down, and that too by the skin of the teeth.
    • Marcone notes that while the official response will likely prevent the end of the Masquerade, the people of Chicago will remember and while they'll act normal by day, a lot of them will probably reach for guns and hunt anything even remotely supernatural when night falls.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Played for laughs, when Bob's reaction to seeing Ethniu is to say he's fleeing to Utah.
    • King Corb flees in terror when Ethniu is defeated, reaching Dirty Coward levels when he runs over his own troops in the process.
  • Screw Your Ultimatum!: Ramirez informs Harry he's been expelled from the White Council — due to the Merlin holding the vote while his two biggest allies were conveniently in surgery — and, moreover, been given a suspended death sentence in absentia for using magic to kill human Fomorians during the battle. This essentially puts him back into the legal situation he started the series in. Harry, however, has officially had it with toeing the Council's line, and tells Ramirez flat-out that he's going to continue doing whatever he has to do to protect Chicago and his loved ones and that if the Council has a problem with it, he's still the Winter Knight so they can tell it to Queen Mab — if "the guy who soloed a Titan" doesn't come for them first.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: That's what the prison on Demonreach is for, and it's agreed by all concerned that, given Ethniu's sheer power, it's their best shot at defeating her. He-Who-Walks-Beside, the being possessing Justine, turns out to have orchestrated the whole thing just to get onto the island to stage a jailbreak.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: In that they're mechanically simple and therefore more reliable in the presence of magic than automatic firearms, require significantly less training to use accurately, and in the conditions of urban warfare their lower range doesn't matter. The Winter Court turns out to have been stockpiling them inside the Bean, and Harry, Murphy, and the Knights distribute them to a regiment-sized group of human volunteers, many of them hunters or retired military. Three hundred hold the fort against a Fomorian flanking attack while Harry leads eight hundred in an ambush at a a bridge. They kill over a thousand Fomorians in the first volley.
  • Shout-Out: Oddly enough, one for the YA fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain with the Huntsmen of Annuvin.
  • Sore Loser: Ethniu has an epic case of this when she's defeated by Marcone and Harry working together, Heaven and Hell powered, plus all the citizens of Chicago. Her response is that she was betrayed by Listen and that's the only reason she could have lost.
  • Spiteful Spit: Hendricks gives one to Ethniu as she kills him.
  • Spotting the Thread: Ethniu shows Harry a memory pulled from her mortal soldiers showing them entering the Carpenter home and massacring everyone inside, including Maggie. Harry quickly figures out it's a fae illusion since the memory has no sign of Mouse. This thread was deliberately left by Molly so Harry would see through it.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Happens to the Erlking after he takes on Ethniu. He grows everything back...eventually.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • It's mentioned that even without the literal invasion by the Fomor, Ethniu's massive hex cast over Chicago with the Eye of Balor almost instantly caused several thousand deaths (i.e., numerous car crashes, people's pacemakers suddenly stop working, friggin' planes falling from the sky...). Naturally, the effects were made even worse since the lingering effects of the hex make it nearly impossible for any form of efficient organized response to happen, resulting in the city police being very stretched as they struggle to maintain any semblance of order.
    • It turns out that Reckless Gun Usage plus the world going to hell around you is a great combination for getting someone shot accidentally.
    • After kicking off a magical world war, an epic case of Poor Communication Kills in the last book with the Wardens, being appointed the Winter Knight, his former apprentice being promoted to be the Winter Lady, spending lots of time with the leading family of the White Court, and generally being The Last DJ, it's not exactly surprising that the White Council voted to exclude Harry (though it involved the Merlin cheating by holding the vote while McCoy and Listens-to-Wind were in surgery). His various clashes and constantly keeping information from Carlos has also infuriated the latter, to the point that he no longer trusts Harry at all.

      This gets turned around on them: Harry has had enough of them and their Lawful Stupid nature and has come to see them as nothing more than petty bullies. He washes his hands of the Council and tells Ramirez outright to stay out of his way and he'll stay out of his. Carlos, and the White Council by extension, is reminded that Harry is still a member of the Winter Court as the Winter Knight, who are the much bigger fish to the Council, with him having personal connections to the queens. Carlos is understandably gobsmacked.
  • Taking the Bullet: Hendricks takes a spear for Marcone.
  • Taking You with Me: The Einherjar go into battle against the Jotnar knowing most, if not all of them would die, but they take a considerable number of giants with them through the liberal use of explosives.
  • Teleport Spam:
    • Drakul's favorite tactic, which River Shoulders stops — though that doesn't help very much.
    • Marcone, wielding Thorned Namshiel, copies it far more effectively, partly because he's dealing with someone who's extremely Unskilled, but Strong.
  • Terror Hero: Harry soulgazes a kraken and realizes that it's terrified of him. The exact same thing happens with Detective Bradley. More generally, he's established as this at the end of the book. He decides that he's okay with it.
  • Touché: When Harry demands his lab back and makes the accords think Marcone took the Eye of Balor, Marcone's only response is to concede and pack up, as said scenario was technically one Marcone had engineered.
  • Two-Part Episode: With Peace Talks. Apparently, one of the reasons Peace Talks took so long to be released was that the initial draft turned into a David Eddings level Doorstopper. The publisher gently suggested to Butcher that perhaps it would be better served as a two-part story. Butcher split up the character developments, came up with a second Action Plot and re-wrote both parts into the final Peace Talks and Battle Ground, which were released less than three months apart in 2020.
  • Uncertain Doom: No one is sure what the hell happened to Chandler. He was hit by a teleport spell no one recognized and doesn't show up again even when everything is over. Additionally, Gregori Cristos of the Senior Council does not have his survival confirmed after the Final Battle.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Harry and Murphy save Rudolph — again — and Murphy gets a bullet for her trouble.
    • Arguably, the White Council banishes Harry from their organization, strips him of his Warden status, and enacts a bunch of draconian laws that make him a keeper of The Masquerade as well as subject to random searches. Carlos is taken aback when Harry just basically says, "No, I am not going to do that." It's severely YMMV, however, given that he's been acting as The Last DJ since before the series even started, plus his extremely sketchy public record.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Ethniu. She does have some skill and sophistication — its just as Harry notes, she lacks real combat experience against those who can hurt her. The terrifying thing is that she's so powerful that even when up against the likes of Mab, it doesn't matter.
  • We Have Reserves: Ethniu treats the Fomor as cannon fodder and has no strategy other than to send them as wave after wave against the Unseelie Accord nations, despite the fact she has a magical WMD. This is due to wanting to spread as much fear and horror as possible. It backfires horribly when Harry rallies the citizens of Chicago and it turns out the secret weakness of the Fomor is guns. King Corb also points out they don't have reserves and he's lost a fifth of his entire army before the US military arrives.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Ramirez, to Harry, in the epilogue. Harry was kicked off the White Council, Carlos is clearly bitter with both the Council and Harry that it came to this, and especially with having been selected to be the one to deliver the bad news. (It probably didn't help that the pretense they used against Harry, using magic to kill human(ish) servants of the enemy, probably had Carlos feeling incredibly hypocritical after the events of Cold Case.) Carlos reads Harry the riot act, telling him he was now under suspended sentence of death, and should Harry step out of line, his grandfather would have the choice of killing him or being charged with treason. Harry calls Carlos out on this, and Carlos in turn calls him out right back. He lectures Harry on his decision on becoming the Winter Knight, and his secrecy and his actions of the past few days, including refusing the chance to exonerate himself, especially when they're supposed to be friends. Carlos makes it clear that he blames Harry for Chandler's potential death, and Bill and Yoshimo's confirmed deaths, and all of the deaths and events of the past few days, largely because Harry didn't trust him. Harry simply counters that he's not going to follow the Council's demands, and states the terms will be that he will act as he was previously and will leave the Council in peace, provided they do the same. They exchange a few more jabs before Carlos leaves.
  • Wham Episode: After all the dust settles, the mortal and supernatural worlds are increasingly aware of each other, Murphy and Hendricks are dead, Mab abruptly reveals that Harry's going to marry Lara after a year of mourning, Justine is revealed to have been possessed by Nemesis — actually a Walker, He-Who-Walks-Beside — ever since she started getting close to Lara and to have engineered the events of both Peace Talks and Battle Ground, and Harry is now an outcast from the White Council and under suspended sentence of death. Also, Drakul is a Starborn, implying he has the power to repel Outsiders just like Harry and Elaine, and Listen heavily implies that he may be one too.
  • Wham Line:
    • Marcone sitting up after his neck has been broken by Ethniu is enough of a shock on its own, but he does take the opportunity to snark a little:
      "Honestly, Dresden, did you think I would stop with just a title?"
    • And another, when Listen explains why he is far more valuable to Ethniu and Corb than he appears:
      Listen: How many Starborn are there wandering about, this close to the endgame?
    • Mab manages a hell of a line near the end of Chapter 7, when she issues a magical warning to everyone, magic and mortal alike, about to be affected by the events of the book.
      "Accorded nations, stand to arms. Mortal men of Chicago, remain in the homes that offer you your only safety. The enemy has come for this city."
    • In-universe, Harry does a great one to let the Accorded nations know about Marcone's new status.
      "Prove it. Sir Baron."
    • When recruiting Mac's help for protecting civilians in his tavern, Harry finally gets an insight on just who the mysterious, stoic barkeep may truly be. The next time he refers to Mac, his description includes the words "ex-angel".
  • Wham Shot:
    • Rudolph accidentally shooting Murphy in the neck and killing her.
    • Marcone having his neck broken by Ethniu... only to sit back up and snap his neck back into place.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Or rat in this case. Rudolph disappears from the book completely after Sanya and Butters stop Harry from killing him in revenge for Murphy's murder. Nothing is said about Rudolph being arrested or held accountable for his crime. Given that Murphy's body was taken away by the Winter Court fey and Harry and the two Knights of the Cross were the only witnesses, it's extremely unlikely that Rudolph will face any legal consequences.
    • The last time Listen is seen, he's getting 18-20 tons of earth dropped on him by Harry, but at the same time he and the other defenders of Chicago Never Found the Body.
  • Worf Had the Flu: The Battle of Chicago takes place near midsummer, where Mab is at her weakest and thus isn't as powerful as she normally would be. Titania, however...
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • invoked Drakul is impressed by Harry's defiance, resisting his raw will, and lamenting that his own heir lacked that same strength. However, he also observes that while he would normally offer "the dark gift of immortality", five minutes of Harry is about as much as he can stand.
    • A flame giant from Muspelheim identifies Harry as such, asking him who he is so he may have the honor of knowing who he will be trying to kill.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Fomor have no compunctions about slaughtering children along with everyone else. At one point, Harry and company rush to the defense of a daycare being besieged by a group of Huntsmen.
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • It's revealed right before the epilogue that everything happening in both Peace Talks and Battle Ground was one big multilayered Xanatos Gambit played by Nemesis a.k.a. He-Who-Walks-Beside. It goes like this: Just when Ethniu and the Fomor launched their attack, the Outsiders pressed their siege on the Outer Gates, meaning that if Mab tried to divert her troops from the Gates to Chicago, this could allow the Outsiders to break through, and if she didn't, she was forced to make do with minimal forces and in midsummer to boot, which is the lowest point of her power during the year. Even the result of the battle in Chicago was irrelevant for the Outsiders — if Ethniu and the Formor won, Winter and the Accorded Nations would fall, leaving nothing to stop them from breaking through the Gates, and if they lost, it would be at a great cost and Muggles would get exposed to irrefutable proof of the supernatural, making them afraid of the supernatural (which greatly serves the Outsiders' purposes). Even Harry himself was accounted for in this; if he died in the battle, it was one less Starborn and capable Winter Knight to worry about, and if he managed to survive, he was likely to be in no condition to see perhaps the ultimate case of Kansas City Shuffle in the series so far — tricking him into bringing Justine to Demonreach as his guest, allowing the Walker to use her as its Trojan Horse and pull off what they failed to do in Cold Days and bring about The End of the World as We Know It by releasing Demonreach's inmates. This last part of the plan failed only because Harry didn't let his loss, emotional pain, and utter tiredness stop him from trying to understand the one piece of the puzzle that didn't fit the rest: why did Thomas attack the leader of the Svartalves all the way back to the first chapters of Peace Talks? This got even the Walker to lampshade that Harry doesn't look or sound as intelligent as he really is.
    • Marcone dumps one that Harry feared he had in mind for another one that he has one in the works. After Ethniu is sealed, the Eye washes up on the beach, between a battered, exhausted Harry and a relatively fresh Marcone. Harry is afraid that Marcone might simply murder him and take the Eye and the Spear of Destiny, but Marcone worked out the scenarios and decided that he would let Harry take the Eye and walk away. Harry doesn't know what he's planning, but Marcone simply answers that, while they will fight out their differences one day, he's learning the benefits of long term planning and time favors him. After this, Marcone credited Harry as the sole victor against Ethniu, implied to be, in part, preying on the White Council's fear of Harry to get him expelled, partly to keep the Eye out of the hands of the Council, and hurting Harry in the process didn't hurt.
      • The immediate aftereffects comes back to bite him. Harry claims a right of reward from Marcone for defeating Enthiu and defending Marcone's city, essentially blackmailing Marcone in front of the other Accorded nations. Marcone tries to argue that Harry has the Eye, and that would serve as reward enough, but Harry had Alfred stash the Eye so that Harry could honestly say that he doesn't know where it is (adding credence to it, the Winter Knight's mantle forbids him to explicitly lie or lose its power temporarily, which most of the parties present know). Harry uses this to lay claim to Marcone's castle, which was built on the site of the apartment he lived in until the Red Court burned it down in Changes; though Marcone was furious, he couldn't say no to Harry without jeopardizing his hard-won rep to the other nations.
  • You Shall Not Pass!:
    • Most of the book consists of a series of holding actions to defend Chicago and wear down Ethniu to the point where Harry can seal her away.
    • Harry and Murph go to evacuate a day-care center to find none other than Detective Bradley singlehandedly defending the door against a squad of Huntsmen with his service weapons. They break the siege for him and he escorts the evacuees to safety.
    • Harry uses the Winter Mantle to form a crowd of Muggle volunteers and Winter Court warriors into an army, with which he inflicts grievous losses on the Fomorians in a defensive battle near the Bean. It also turns out after the fact that the heavily armed inhabitants of the South Side were a hornet's nest that the Fomorians shouldn't have poked: they almost singlehandedly destroyed an entire wing of the enemy army, freeing up Marcone's forces to join the main battle.
    • Harry explicitly invokes Gandalf's famous line when he and Butters destroy a bridge the Fomorian shock troops were using to sneak up on their forces. Tellingly, he uses the movie version ("shall not"), rather than the original book one ("cannot"), since he is much more of a movie buff than a reader. Unfortunately, Butters is too busy demolishing the bridge to appreciate the reference.

Alternative Title(s): Battle Ground