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The one where everything changes.

"They've taken our daughter."

When Harry picks up the phone and hears those words from Susan, his half-vampire old flame, he is shocked. After their kinky tryst in Death Masks, she gave birth to a baby girl, put her with a foster family, and never told him about it. Until, that is, young Maggie is kidnapped by the Red Court, who seek to kill her to get at her parents.

Harry rallies every ally and resource he can get his hands on, to help storm the Red Court base of operations in Mexico, rescue his daughter, and maybe even strike a real blow in the war against the vampires.

Things don't quite go according to plan.

Changes is book #12 in The Dresden Files.


Changes provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Insurance Gag: Just after narrowly escaping the explosive destruction of the building where his office is, Harry ruefully remarks that he'd just sent in his check for the next month's rent.
  • Alliance with an Abomination: Odin ends up joining Harry.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Red Court vampire assassins and some kind of giant demon called an Ik'K'Kuox (referred to as a "devourer") were on Harry's heels. To get away from them, he made a portal to the Nevernever. But since he did it in the headquarters of the FBI, who are in a loose sense hunters, the portal lead to the Erlking's banquet hall. The Erlking is a peer of Mab and has a personal grudge against Harry due to an insult in Dead Beat, and Harry is now face to face with him at the heart of his domain.
  • Advertisement:
  • Answers to the Name of God: Inverted. Harry's landlady says that Sanya must have been sent by God. Sanya, a Knight of the Cross, replies that it could just be coincidence.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Harry to his killing Susan to destroy the Red Court for the sake of saving their daughter.
    Harry: One day, I hope God will forgive me for giving birth to the idea that came next, because I never will.
  • The Archmage:
    • Wizard McCoy using the Blackstaff kills over 100 people with just one spell. Then he repeats himself seconds later.
    • Lea is called an elder sorceress of the Winter Sidhe, second to Mab in the Queen's Court, and is given free reign to do as she pleases when helping Harry. Molly, after meeting her, upgrades her from "spooky death Sidhe lady" to "spooky, crazy death Sidhe lady." Lea approves.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Harry describes a climactic racing battle to the top of the Chichen Itza pyramid. The steps of the pyramid are very narrow and steep, and practically impossible to take at a run even for someone of Harry's height (to say nothing of a Pint-Sized Powerhouse like Murphy).
  • Awful Truth: When Harry is hesitating about killing Winter Knight Lloyd Slate to become the new Winter Knight, Mab shows Harry a live image of his daughter's plight and the horror she was seeing around her. She gives her word this is true and accurate and it is a reminder for whom Harry is going to kill Slate. Harry briefly wonders if this is still fairy manipulation, but then realizes that since it's nothing but the truth then it's enlightenment.
  • Badass Driver: Glenmael, a Sidhe lord and Lea's driver who picked up Harry and Susan, can drive under a perfect veil and moves at speeds so fast a racing patrol appears to be standing still. He is able to weave through Chicago traffic and roads so well, what should be an hour or two drive is done in fifteen minutes.
  • Back for the Dead: Susan returns after 6 books only to be sacrificed at the climax of the book
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Harry and Thomas. Sanya and Murphy. Harry and DJ Molly C, too.
  • Balloon Belly; Toot, now 15 inches tall, eats a large piece of pizza. Harry watches as part of his belly bulges out and quickly deflates.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Martin pulls off the mother of all Batman Gambits.
    • Ebenezar McCoy suspects Odin and Lea, and by extension Mab, ran a gambit on him, Harry, Harry's friends, and the Grey Council to get them into a position to destroy the Red Court.
  • Battle Aura:
    • Mouse gives off faint blue-light when he is fighting with Lea about turning Harry and the heroes back into human form.
    • When Murphy draws Fidelacchius, her body and clothes are bathed in white angelic light.
  • Berserk Button: Harry historicaly has three: hurting women, children and his family. This book mashes all three flat at once.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Red King is the ruler of the Red Court, but Duchess Ortega is The Heavy who kidnapped Harry’s daughter. She intends to overthrow her father, but gets very badly outplayed by both him and Harry.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The good news is Harry's daughter lives. Most of Harry's friends live. The Red Court is finally destroyed. And Harry and Murphy decide to finally consummate their feelings. The bad news is the defeat of the Red Court came from Harry having to murder Susan in a ritual sacrifice, and to add insult to injury he has nothing left to his name but for the clothes on his back and a borrowed staff. And then Harry finds himself shot and falling into Lake Michigan just before he was going to spend his first night with Murphy.
  • Black Magic:
    • The plot to kill young Maggie Dresden is to use her as a sacrifice to cast a curse on her bloodline.
    • Ebenezar McCoy uses death magic to kill about two hundred human mercenaries with two waves of his Blackstaff.
  • Bling of War: Weaponized. When Harry goes to meet the vampires in their home base he is told his appearance is everything. He is facing down millennia old monsters and a grand first impression is crucial. Show up like a slob or fool, and his powers of intimidation and dominating any conversation would be weakened severely. So, he needs to show up in style. Lea helps in this area by giving a conquistador-like armor. For added bonus, Arianna hates the conquistadors. Lea then gives Susan an equally impressive outfit too.
  • Bookends:
    • Harry tells Martin at the beginning, "I have literally killed people I like better than you." At the end, he does just that to Susan.
    • The White Council War against the Red Court started when one of the Reds (Bianca) took Susan from Harry and turned her into a half-vampire. He burned down Bianca's house and killed her. The War and the Red Court ended with Harry's house burned down, and the Reds taking Harry's and Susan's daughter, and Susan transforming the rest of the way into a vampire.
  • Break the Haughty: Arianna is reduced from Smug Snake to stammering wreck after Harry defeats her and sends her plans crashing into ruin.
  • Brick Joke: Lea finally got her desire of turning Harry (and company) into her hounds. One character is not amused.
    Mouse: That bitch.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Invoked. Agent Tilly, being a Living Lie Detector, has trouble dealing with Harry's Truth that vampires were behind everything. So, Harry tweaks the words so "vampire" becomes "terrorists" or "drug cartels" who are financed by shady corporations and Harry has pissed them off enough to make them take his child. Tilly sees the logic is still sound and fits perfectly, but that just means one of either three things. Harry and Murphy are crazy. He himself is crazy. Or this is the full truth.
  • Call-Back:
    • Lea repeats her warning to Harry about not allowing Mab to ever bring him to the realm with the stone table she gave him in Summer Knight when he failed to heed the warning.
    • At the Stone Table Mab is still speaking by an intermediary like in Small Favor.
    • Also referencing Small Favor, Stevie D. is mentioned by Harry as the guy who offed Torelli, who was a minor antagonist in that book.
    • Harry mentions King Gwynn of the Tylwyth Teg, a Welsh Wyldfae introduced in the short story "Curses", and summons his servants to help search for his daughter.
    • Thomas notes he still has a scar from when he last met Lea in Grave Peril.
    • A subtle one to the very first book. Then, Harry had been mocked by his skeptical mailman, who asked if he was "subtle and quick to anger and all that." Here, Harry remembers the usual quote, and decides, "Fuck subtle."
  • Call on Me:
    • Harry calls on Uriel for help but the Archangel is bound by various rules. See God's Hands Are Tied for more.
    • Soon after the above, Harry calls on Mab to take up the Mantle of the Winter Knight. See The Promise for more.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Susan used the sturdy leg of a well-made metal table as one.
  • The Cavalry: The Grey Council brings with it Ebenezar, Tengu, and ODIN.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Martin manages to pull this off. Twice. First, he betrays Susan by revealing her position and holding a blade to her neck, allowing the Red King to finally strike Maggie. Second, it is revealed this first betrayal was part of a Thanatos Gambit against the Red King as he wanted Susan to kill him, so Harry could kill Susan on the altar and destroy the Red Court.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Back in the first book, Harry deals with that powerful and dark piece of magic that causes the victim's heart to explode out of the chest. Here is it explained as a Bloodline Ritual which if given enough power would purge a family line from existence.
    • The Sacred Hospitality given by Donar Vadderung/Father Odin and accepted by Harry showed Odin's genuine like of Harry and the ally he could be later on.
    • Martin is mentioned again to be willing to do anything to take down the Red Court, see Thanatos Gambit.
    • A Red Court vampire explains fully turning and completely giving into their vampire demon would protect Harry from the bloodline curse. Turns out, it also works in reverse, and that complete conversion results in the bloodline curse being turned away from the turned one's family to the vampires of The Court.
  • The Chessmaster: Multiple, including Vadderung and Martin.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Harry enters the corporate headquarters of Monoc Securities and sees a pair of receptionists working at two computers whose monitors were composed of very fine mist that floated in the air as if a wispy illusion.
    Sufficiently advanced technology, I suppose.
  • Cliffhanger: Harry is shot and is dying at the end.
  • Combat by Champion:
    • The Erlking cannot know which of his guests, Harry and Susan or the Eebs and their Red Court contingent, is being honest about why they are in his personal hall. So, he decides to let the sword decide and the victor will be the one he believes.
    • At the end Harry fought Arianna in such a duel.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Harry is need of desperate help when his apartment is on fire and Sanya arrives. Justified in that this is an official power afforded anyone who wields a Sword of the Cross.
    • Harry is in need of help and apparently many of the young Wardens are shut down by Senior Council Cristos and much of the Senior Council is downed by an illness Arianna might have spread. Possibly justified in that it's hinted Cristos is The Mole and could've done something to sabotage the Senior Council.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Spunkelcrief, Harry's landlady, sleeps with a gun under her pillow, remains calm when she sees a fire in her house and helps Harry out. Later when Harry is injured and cannot save the elderly couple on the second floor, she tries to save them herself but her age and hip stop her from climbing the ladder.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In addition to being a Knowledge Broker, Odin is also this. In his home office, he has several floors of elite training facilities for his human-like mercenaries. On the other floors he has well-maintained armaments from pretty much every generation of warfare from the era of sharp stones to modern styles, including fleets of tanks. As Gard said, "One can only have as much preparation as one has foresight."
  • Cultural Posturing: British Warden Chandler "Steed" likes to speak of the rights and privileges his birth nation accords him.
    PS—Why, yes, I can in fact capitalize any words I desire. The language is English. I am English. Therefore mine is the opinion which matters, colonial heathen.
    • Ironic, considering the fact that as an Englishman, it should be "capitalise". Oddly, Harry muses on the "-ise" ending of a different word just after, so who the hell knows.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Killing with magic is a serious offense for Wizards. When Ebenezar McCoy used magic to kill nearly two hundred mercenaries it is only because the Blackstaff absorbs the bulk of the dark effects of this abuse of magic.
    • Kemmler's Darkhallow, which Harry learned back in Dead Beat, is third on Harry's list of last-ditch options, even though it would require him killing hundreds of people to pull it off.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Averted. After Susan kills Martin and becomes a true Red Court monster without a soul, she retains enough of her humanity for long enough to allow Harry to sacrifice her to save her daughter.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Susan named Maggie after Harry's mother, who died giving birth to him.
  • Deal with the Devil
    • The Knights of the Blackened Denarius play host to demons (fallen angels) in exchange for power, knowledge, and immortality. They have to willingly accept a cursed coin and let the Fallen in. Harry considers them as a possible power to call on for help in saving his daughter.
    • Harry made a deal with Queen Mab. In fact, if this person had turned him down, his next stop would have been to make an almost literal Deal with the Devil involving the Denarians. And if THAT didn't work/wasn't enough he could summon The Wild Hunt and perform the Darkhallow, a Powered by a Forsaken Child Fantastic Nuke / A God Am I empowering.
      Harry: Go Go Gadget Faustian Bargain!
  • Declaration of Protection: To a flame spirit's projection of his daughter, Harry tells her his intent:
    Hang in there, kid. Dad's coming.
  • Deconstruction: As one would expect from the sheer GRIMDARK. Changes and Ghost Story seem to have taken it upon themselves to deconstruct as many of Harry's exploits as possible, with Harry's rap sheet catching up to him. His Destructive Saviour tendencies have gotten him some flack, as has the fact that it doesn't look good when four FBI agents vanish after investigating you for murder.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The Bloodline Curse, which Harry used to slaughter the entire Red Court.
  • Despair Event Horizon: What drives Harry to deal with Mab. Crippled, with half his life destroyed, nearly empty on magic, his strongest allies unwilling or unable to help and desperate to save his daughter, he was pretty much at the end of his rope.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?:
    • When Harry arrives in Odin's outer office he flippantly insults the two secretaries sitting there, having seen one of their nails carve into the steel desk, to his escort's fear. Harry replied that with all the other entities he's disrespected, many of whom are weaker than the one he is about to see, the secretaries might feel insulted if Harry didn't mouth off to them.
    • Later, Harry does this again to the Red King via a woman translating his words into the ancient Mayan language.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • To save his child, Harry is ready to pay the price to get help. So when Donar Vadderung straight out tells him where his daughter is going to be without requiring any sort of "payment" before hand, Harry is genuinely shocked.
    • Arianna figured she knew Harry's strengths and skills fairly well. She knew what magic he liked to use and his weak points. Him using powerful ice magic because of the Winter Knight's mantle surprised her.
    • When Harry told McCoy he wanted to save the kidnapped girl, Harry's old mentor was against it. He said how sometimes one must let the monsters have their way with the child if it means billions can be saved in the future. Then Harry tells him Maggie is his daughter. McCoy is shocked and understands Harry's determination.
  • Dirty Cop: Rudolph is one and Tilly knows it. And by the end of the book, he used his corrupt connections to end Karrin's police career.
  • Disappeared Dad: Harry becomes this to his own daughter due to Susan fearing his deadly lifestyle would prevent Maggie from being raised safely. Later Harry comes to the realization that it's safest for Maggie if he becomes this again.
  • Divine Intervention: First either an Angel or Archangel possesses Murphy and calls out the Red Court for their evil crimes. Then the Red King cannot touch Maggie while some bright light hovers in mid air, which is Susan, veiled and wielding Amoracchius, protecting Maggie from harm. This causes the Red King and his highest Lords to be seriously scared the gods they pretend to be have woken up and come back to kick their backsides.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Lea takes the appearance of one of the Lords of the Outer Night and the Red King doesn't notice until it's too late.
  • Eldritch Location: The Nevernever shows off its freakiness with rivers that run uphill, a realm of a huge sun with rays that can melt metal, deep cold ocean waters, and one can go from Chicago to where Maggie will be in just about 90 minutes. Going from a pitcher's mound in Aurora, Illinois one can walk up the uphill stream area and reach Giza (a 6000+ mile distance) in just a short walk. And a Way from Chichen Itza directly connecting to a storeroom in St. Mary's with no stopovers or strange lands can be made by a being of sufficient power.
  • Elemental Powers: Harry notes that his teacher, while recognizing fire was his preferred style of magic, ensured he had one mega attack in each of the other elements, so he would not be without some trump move.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Murphy temporarily takes up one of the Swords. And the possibility of a permanent position is even more open than it was before... She defies the trope, though; there are job offers for a position of a Knight of the Cross and a Valkyrie, but she isn't enthusiastic about either.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Harry acknowledges this a few times.
    • With Marcone, the man is criminal scum but protects children from his crimes and retribution. Harry appeals to hm for help by telling him the Reds have kidnapped a child and plan to do horrible things to her.
    • With Queen Mab compared to the Denarians and Kemmler's methods. She doesn't kill wastefully or recklessly. She has a code of honor which she always follows. Of the three, she is the least evil.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Mouse is still very active in this book. First he is aware of and uneasy about the Leanansidhe's presence in Harry's home. Later he growls when a person's vampire side is becoming too much for the person and acts proportionately.
  • Evil Is Petty: The Red Court buys out Harry's office building as part of a nefarious scheme. So what do they do to Harry? Blow him up when he is just sitting there? Nope. Instead, they jack up his rent for no other reason than to spite him. (And then eventually they blow it up).
  • Evil Weapon: The Blackstaff shimmered and pulsed when its wielder used it. Harry had the gut feeling it was alive and wanted to continue using its dark, destructive powers.
  • Exact Words:
    • Harry takes advantage of the Erlking casually referring to him and Susan as guests, using that phrasing to claim status as a guest according to supernatural rules, obliging the Erlking to act as a good host.
    • Not for a contract, but a definition. Lea calls Susan Harry's concubine. Lea then explains that Susan is Harry's unwed lover and mother of his child. The term does fit.
    • Harry makes a deal with the Red King for the safety of his daughter until the end of his duel with Arianna. And once Harry wins, they can all go. The Red King honors it until the duel is over and then plans to kill Maggie anyway.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Harry tells Thomas that he is an uncle. Thomas says that it should not happen, unless one of his father's by-blows survived, which never happens... and then he realizes that Harry is talking about his own daughter.
  • Eye Scream
    • The Red King sacrifices a woman by stabbing her in the eye.
    • Harry turns his hand into an ice claw to stab into the Red King's eyes and then sends soulfire-enhanced fire into his head.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Red King failed to notice Lea was disguised as one of his Lords of the Outer Night.
  • Fairy Godmother: Lea is back and free. She also gets a chance to act like a typical Fairy Godmother by dressing Harry up in appropriate clothing for his type of party. But as she is of Winter, they will vanish at Noon.
  • Fanservice / Fan Disservice: Harry's initiation as the Winter Knight. Made worse when he finds out that Queen Mab has the initiation broadcast all over the Nevernever.
    Sanya: So. Queen Mab. You hit that. You tapped that ass. Presumably, it was phat?
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: During the battle at Chichen Itza, Murphy is described as going through a crowd of vampires "like a little speedboat, her enemies spun and tossed and turned and disoriented in her wake."
  • Forensic Accounting: In the search for the location of the ritual set up by the Red King, Harry, Susan, and Martin find a staging area used by the Red Court; this includes storage areas... and inventories of shipments already sent out. They eventually find that a shipment of 'ritual' costumes went missing in transit, requiring a request for replacements. From this, they know to look in Mexico, and Harry eventually gets confirmation... from Odin, who outright gives him a more precise location.
  • Functional Addict: The Red Court vampires are revealed to all be addicted to blood. The stronger one's personal control, the greater their position in the hierarchy of the Court. The Red King is finally losing control over his addiction and becoming no more than a druggie looking for a fix.
  • Gambit Pileup: Several gambits slam into one another. Both the Red King and Arianna are plotting against one another, with Arianna kidnapping Harry's daughter to use her to kill Ebenezar and the Red King dispatching assassins to kill Harry to subvert the entire plot. Then it slams into Mab's long gambit to get Harry to become the Winter Knight and to get payback for the chaos caused in the Winter Court when Bianca gave Lea that cursed knife. At the same time, there's Vadderung and the Grey Council's gambit to help Harry, and a strong indication that at least one archangel is throwing in on the whole affair when Murphy, in a voice that didn't quite sound like her own, pronounces judgment on the entire Red Court. And topping it all is the gambit set up by Martin, who played everyone like a fiddle for about a century to destroy the Red Court. If your head is hurting trying to figure the whole thing out, then Butcher was successful.
  • Genocide from the Inside: Half-vampire Martin has a complex plot to destroy the vampires of the Red Court.
  • Genre Blindness:
    • Harry cannot believe that the White Council is actually talking about making peace with the Reds, led by Cristos' faction. The Merlin, however, isn't blind. He's invoking blindness. If the Reds want to lull them into thinking peace is at hand, then he and the other Senior Council members (save Cristos) will feign interest and appear to accept it, fully anticipating the knife in the back and be prepared to have an even larger knife to use themselves.
    • Rudolph is blind to the idea his Red Court handlers could be plotting to kill him when he has used up his usefulness.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • The team Harry assembles to save his daughter spend a few moments trying to figure out which member of the Fellowship they each are. This also turns out to be Foreshadowing, if you pay attention.
    • Lea shows this by adding an empty sword belt on the outfit she made for Susan. Later, Harry gives Susan Amoracchius. While sheathed in its scabbard, the holy sword fits perfectly into the open loop. Harry guesses she will be feeling very smug about this.
  • A God Am I: The Red King certainly thinks of himself as one. Whichever Archangel or angel spoke through Murphy clearly disagrees.
  • God's Hands Are Tied:
    • When Harry's back is broken, he calls on Uriel for help, wanting to cash in on all the help he gave Uriel and Him. Uriel arrives but tells him that Harry's condition and his daughter's situation all came from the choices mortals have made. Because of this he cannot help Harry save her. The only comfort he gives is telling Harry that Maggie is indeed his daughter and she is currently alive.
    • Ivy literally cannot help Harry. The Archive will not allow her. When pushed she does her best to point him towards Marcone but cannot do more.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • With his daughter kidnapped, Harry reaches this point. After his back is broken and he is in desperate need of power, he finally takes Mab up on her offer to be her Winter Knight. Harry later notes this is but one of three possible thresholds he could have crossed and the least dangerous of them.
    • Ebenezar McCoy summons the Blackstaff to help wage war against the Reds and save his grandson and great-granddaughter.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Harry is put on the end of his limits for calling in favors to help save his daughter. The White Council cannot help because they have been incapacitated. Uriel's hands are tied, see God's Hands Are Tied above, Mab is only sending one person to help her Knight. Even McCoy tells him the life of one child isn't worth attacking the Red Court as Harry plans to. However, upon learning this child is Harry's daughter, McCoy tells him to go. Later, McCoy leads the Grey Council, mixed with not just wizards but other powerful entities, to join the battle just as Harry's group was about to be overwhelmed.
  • G-Rated Drug: Sanya calls Harry paying Toot and his group with pizza this, knowing how they love it and are willing to do anything for it.
    Sanya: You are a drug dealer. To tiny faeries. For shame.
  • Guilt Complex: After Harry breaks his back and thus can't come to his daughter's rescue. He is so desperate and wracked with guilt that he decides to make a deal with Mab to become the Winter Knight to fix it and gain the magical edge he needs.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: The war between the Red Court of vampires and the White Council. Harry ends up winning it single handedly... but he is still guilty because of how he had to win it.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • For a short time after Harry got Susan's call, he was in this mode. He couldn't put the phone on the receiver and barely made it to Mac's. It was only because of Mac speaking to him with full grammar did he start to move out of it, past his shock and into Tranquil Fury.
    • After having to kill Susan, the woman he had loved and mother of his child, Harry enters into another one.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: How Harry breaks his back. He does have a severe case of Chronic Hero Syndrome, after all.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Martin orchestrated this when he seemingly betrayed Harry and Susan, only to provoke Susan into killing him, thus turning her into the youngest Red Court vampire.
    • Susan allows Harry to kill her to rid the world of the Red Court and save their daughter.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Red Court, after capturing Dresden's daughter, creates a spell that kills every older member of the target's family. Dresden and Susan rescue their daughter, but Susan kills someone in the process, and becomes a Red Court vampire. In a tear jerker moment, Dresden uses the prepared spell on her, killing her and the entire Red Court. Harry even used the knife the Reds gave him when he arrived to slit Susan's throat.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted. A crowd fails to realize someone just tried to kill Dresden, but then the characters discuss just why it worked (subsonic ammo, the shooter fired from inside a vehicle to hide the barrel and muffle the sound, etc.)
  • Holy Burns Evil:
    • Harry's faith in Magic, and the pentacle representing it, is still strong enough to hurt some older Red Court vampires.
    • The Swords of the Cross are the banes of many Red Court vampires. Karrin cut through the head of a Lord of the Outer Night, one of the eldest vampires in the court, leaving the corpse to burn.
  • Holy Halo: Invoked. When Bob helps guard Murphy from mental attacks of the Lords of the Outer Night, his essence spins about her head in this fashion.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The Swords of the Cross are Powerhouses still. The fact that all three are brought to Harry's battle and empowered gives Harry and his friends an incredible boost of power.
  • Hope Bringer: Sanya brings hope to many. When he appears and promises Harry his help, even the cynical, untrusting Martin feels a bit better about things.
  • Hope Spot:
    • It briefly seems like the group will be allowed to leave with Maggie unmolested should Harry beat Arianna in single combat. Harry wins the battle, but the Red King promptly double crosses him by claiming that since the promise was made through a translator, he never spoke any promises and does not owe Harry anything, as well as that he only promised that the kid wouldn't be harmed until after the fight was over. Now that the duel's over, he can do whatever he wants.
    • After it is all said and done, Ebenezar offers Harry some sound advice that Mab, for all her power, cannot strip Harry of his free will. Sanya tells Harry that there is hope for him to leave the position of the Winter Knight without his death as part of it. Harry seems to take this knowledge and plans to continue living a good life with this small level of hope . . . then he gets shot.
  • Horrifying the Horror: At one point, a Red Court vampire catches sight of Harry, screams in terror, and runs for its life. Later revealed to be one of the Court's best assassins, well known for retreating at the first sign of direct confrontation.
  • Human Pincushion: The fate of Arianna. Harry used his ice magic to impale her with several icicles in a surprise move.
  • Human Sacrifice: Used more than once. The plot is saving Maggie before she can be sacrificed. Harry is able to successfully rescue her, but only by sacrificing Susan in her place.
  • Hypocrite: When Harry almost lets Susan feed on him due to them both being lost in a moment of passion, Molly calls him out on it, saying "That was very stupid of both of you." Several chapters later, when she almost lets Thomas do the same thing to her, she tries to justify her actions. Harry is not impressed by her explanation.
  • I Believe That You Believe It: When FBI Agent Tilly hears Harry talking about vampires, magic, and the supernatural and his lie detecting ability doesn't flag him as lying, his first response is this idea, because if Harry earnestly believed it to be true, Harry wouldn't technically be telling a lie.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • Susan's rationale for hiding away Maggie — as both parents were not leading particularly stable lives, both were fighting a war against a very evil force, Susan was living a life on the run, and Harry was racking up even more new enemies every year beyond that, she felt neither of them were in any position to raise her.
    • Harry's final rationale for his actions at the end of the book.
      Harry: I used the knife. I saved a child. I won a war. God forgive me.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Harry wonders if the Senior Council has taken hold of it when he finds Senior Council Wizard Cristos entertaining peace talks with Arianna in front of the other six members of the Council. Subverted when Harry learns One-Man Army McCoy was the only member of the Council actually present. The other five were watching from a secure room as they aren't stupid enough to all sit in the same room as someone as powerful, malevolent, and dangerous as Arianna.
    • Harry nearly grabs it when he calls Mab's name twice in the Erlking's domain, and doesn't seem to realize that mentioning her one more time would summon her. The Erlking is kind enough to note how dangerous a situation Harry's stupidity could create. Harry realizes not only is his own hide at risk here, but summoning Mab into the realm of the Erlking, away from her base of power and into the heart of his, could lead to her death or at least great suffering.
    • Archangel Uriel calls Harry on holding it by trying to be a big hero when he was drugged up, racing up a ladder without noticing the gas grill near the flames, leading to his broken back. He also chastises him for wastefully using Soulfire, despite knowing the harm overuse can do.
    • Harry grabs it again when he assumes The Red King will honour the outcome of the duel when in previous books he's expected a double cross in the same situation.
  • Improvised Weapon: During the Red Court's attack on the FBI HQ Susan, lacking any firearms or blades, goes to a sturdy metal table and rips a leg off to make a nice club.
  • Informed Wrongness: Harry talks about the White Council as if they're cruelly leaving him to swing in the wind for the heck of it. As a matter of fact, they're incapacitated and can't help him. Langtry is presented in Harry's view as a bad guy for refusing to help save Maggie, though he cites The Needs of the Many. Admittedly, Harry's own issues are clearly in play here.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • Soon after Harry gets Susan's bombshell, he decides he needs one and goes to see Mac. He chooses whiskey. When Mac learns the reasons, he poured himself one too.
    • The Wardens have the Worry Room. It is a well protected bar inside the HQ meant for one purpose: for crusty old wardens to get drunk while being frustrated at the idealism and optimism of the younger generations. In particular, the ones (like Harry) who are more forgiving of first-time offenders and want leniency. It is a place for them to release their anger and frustrations. Luccio mentions Morgan came here after Harry's stay of execution. After seeing Arianna in Edinburgh feigning innocence about kidnapping Maggie, Anastasia takes Harry there to cool down.
  • I Shall Taunt You: When discussing what Harry should wear to the final battle, so it doesn't just protect him but will also make a statement and piss off Arianna, Susan and Lea pick armor styled after conquistadors like Cortez, as Arianna hates them deeply.
  • I Will Find You: Harry to an image of his daughter.
    Dad's coming.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While it's understandable for Harry to be desperate to protect his daughter, especially given his own issues, the Merlin and Ebenezar aren't wrong to point out that there's no reason he should put the life of one little girl over all the lives the Red Court will take if they're not stopped.
  • Kangaroo Court: When Lea captures Susan and Martin in Harry's home, she offers to put on one of these. She only wants to know if it goes detainment, trial, then execution, or detainment, execution, then trial. She also asks which position Harry would like to play, Judge, Jury, or Executioner.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Every Kenku seen is wearing a katana at their side.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • Harry's long-time favorite combat choice. Pointed out by Lea:
      Lea: Honestly, child, there are elements other than fire, you know.
    • Arianna actually specifically prepares for fire by using water spells. Unfortunately for her, Harry had recently added ice to his repertoire.
    • In fact Harry's fire spell "Fuego" is so iconic of him that when he hears someone else saying the word, he's annoyed it's not him.
  • Knowledge Broker:
    • Harry calls the Archive who is literally unable to tell him anything. Harry, being desperate, tells her that if she cannot help he will use the stuff in a particular book. Desperate to save Harry from whatever was in that book, she is able to choke out a suggestion he talk to someone else who might be able to help.
    • Donar Vadderung, CEO of MonOc Securities, also known as Father Odin is one. He has such a vast network of information gatherers. If he doesn't know it already, accessing the knowledge is well within his power. He also shocks Harry by already knowing Harry has a daughter and she is kidnapped. He also knows where Maggie will be and why she was taken. It's also heavily implied—and stated outright in a later book—that he knows about Ebenezar's connection to Harry as well. The price he asked of Harry for this crucial information was nothing. He told Harry straight up.
  • The Lancer: Murphy fully accepts this position as Harry tells her to take command when he has to be away from the Fellowship.
  • Living Lie Detector: Agent Tilly claims to be one, and seems to be right about it; he is fully aware that Rudolph lied his ass off to bring down Murphy, is perfectly reasonable to Harry when he claims he had nothing to do with his office exploding, instantly picks up on the one lie Harry does tell, and when the situation is explained to him he knows that Murphy, Harry and Susan are telling the truth (though convincing him that they aren't simply insane is another issue.)
  • Locked into Strangeness: Lea after what was inside of her and was making her insane was finally removed.
  • Long Game: By the end, Ebenezar suggests Mab and Odin were using Harry, Ebenezar, and others in a long game to strike back against Red Court. As it is in Mab's tendency to be patient and wait for the right moment to strike, her retribution for the Red Court's actions in Dead Beat was held until all her pieces were in place.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Harry's daughter and grandfather.
  • Loophole Abuse: After Harry tells everyone about how Lea will drop them if she thinks they are a hindrance, she adds her help would happen as long as it is "quite convenient." Harry then promises to bring everyone home, dead or alive. However, it would be "more 'quite convenient'" if they were able to carry themselves out on their own feet. Lea accepts the argument and slight change of focus.
  • Love Redeems: Harry is forced to look down many paths, each of which can lead him to darkness. Archangel Uriel tells him he cannot help him on this quest but leaves Harry with this advice:
    Uriel: Whatever you do, do it for Love. If you keep to that, your path will never wander so far from the light that you can never return.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: It is revealed Ebenezar McCoy is Harry's maternal grandfather.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Immediately after becoming the Winter Knight, Harry's heart stops, and his friends attempt to revive him with a defibrillator. Because of magic, Harry was never in any danger, so the trope is technically averted. It's played straight in spirit, though, as Butters says using the defibrillator was "what any good mortician would do."
    Butters: [I] hit you with a bolt of lightning and tried to reanimate you!
  • Mama Bear: Susan, with ultimately tragic consequences. Her love for her daughter even allowed her to wield Amoracchius which she couldn't even touch before without it harming her.
  • Morton's Fork: After a failed attempt on his life, Harry tells Stevie D he could allow Sanya to break the backboard (he's tied to) in half. Or, he can let Marcone know that Stevie took a job to kill Harry. Considering these two options, when Harry offers a third option, he takes it.
  • Motivational Lie: While she needed little motivation at this point, Harry lies to Susan when telling her that her Fae-made armor would protect her from Martin's steel blade. It helped her give into the Mama Bear-anger she was about to hit when Martin revealed he gave up Maggie's location.
  • Must Be Invited: Averted with when Susan arrives at Harry's door. He doesn't invite her into his home not because he doesn't want to see her, but he needs to see if she is still the quasi-mortal he last knew and had sex with. If she has turned, then without a proper invitation she either cannot enter or shown some discomfort upon entering.
  • The Needs of the Many:
    • The Merlin holds this too and thinks Maggie should be left to her terrible fate if the White Council is to protect the billions of potential victims still around.
    • McCoy believes Harry should abandon his quest to save the child the Reds took for this reason. That is until Harry tells him Maggie is his child.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: The hit man Stevie D dislikes having to kill someone he is not contracted to kill. He is then thankful Butters survived Stevie shooting him to get him out of way so Stevie could kill Dresden.
  • The Nicknamer: Harry is at it again. He calls the Erlking "Erl".
  • Noodle Incident: The kenku owe Ebenezar a favour.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: As the title indicates, this book upends the entire series: the wizard-vampire war ends in a bloodbath and the destruction of the entire Red Court, Harry learns he's a father and accepts Mab's longstanding offer to be the Winter Knight, Murphy is forced to resign from the Chicago Police Department for leaving her post during a public emergency, she and Harry decide to start dating finally... and then Harry is shot dead by a sniper. Along the way, Harry loses nearly everything he considers his: his office, his car, his apartment, his lab, his staff and his leather duster, all long-standing fixtures in the series.
  • Now You Tell Me: In the opening chapters, Susan tells Harry that A) They have a daughter and B) Duchess Arianna purchased the building his office is in eight years ago and has been jacking up his rent ever since. The maintenance crew also came a while previously to "remove asbestos." Take a guess how that one turned out.
    Harry: I just mailed in my rent this morning!
  • The Oath-Breaker:
    • The Erlking notes that by losing to Harry in the Trial by Combat the Eebs proved their deception and failed to show peaceful intention in entering his domain. And if the Red King wanted to defy both law and custom by starting something over it, then all of Faerie and the full force of both Courts would strike the Red Court.
    • The Red King considers that a deal made via a translator doesn't actually apply. And even if it did, to make a deal with mortals is beneath a god like himself.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Red King plays up the idea he cannot understand a single word of English and requires one of his human servants to translate. Even Harry's taunts and threats don't get a rise out of him. Later, it turns out he not only understands English but speaks it fluently.
    • Martin downplays this-Harry already knows that he's clever, but never realized just how much.
  • Odd Name Out: This is the only book in the series thus far whose title doesn't consist of two words of equal length, emblematic of how this book upsets every single bit of status quo the series has.
  • Oh, Crap!: This is basically the tagline for the book, considering the number of times Harry actually thinks or says the exact phrase or a version thereof:
    • "Oh, crap" (with varying punctuation) shows up five times:
      • When he realizes he's going "down the primrose path" in the garden on the Nevernever side of his apartment.
      • When all of his allies are distracted elsewhere while he's lying exhausted on the ground with an injured leg and he sees two sets of glowing red eyes staring at him from the forest.
      • When the Erlking decides to set Harry and Susan against the Eebs in Trial by Combat.
      • Thomas gets one when Harry tells him that the bloodline curse will kill him too.
      • Susan also has one when the Eebs decide to send in the Ick as their champion for the Trial by Combat rather than fighting themselves.
    • Just plain "Crap" also shows up twice:
      • When the FBI comes beating down Harry's door.
      • When Martin tells him that the ceremony is happening that night, around midnight..
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Before the end of chapter 1, Mac speaks with proper grammar, in full sentences. He warns Harry about the burdens he will have to suffer with being a father, and how the trials to come will test him in ways Harry doesn't even know yet. He will be heading into dangerous territory and tells him to not get lost.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • For a guy who'd barely ever even considered the possibility of having kids, Harry embraces this trope so completely that he shocks himself. Mess with his daughter — even before he's laid eyes on her — and he will wipe your ENTIRE SPECIES from the face of the Earth. Though he will take time off from that to perform an Off With Your Head - Your Head Asplode combo after turning you into a Human Pincushion with a possible bonus of Literally Shattered Lives to the one who planned of harming his baby girl.
    • Of course Ebenezar McCoy continues to prove he is an A-grade version. And turns out he is Harry's grandfather. So when his great-grandaughter is in danger, he brings in The Cavalry consisting of The Grey Council and a literal Physical God and proceeds to slaughter anyone allied to the Red Court en-masse.
  • Politeness Judo: Harry pulls this on the Erlking when they accidentally enter his hall. The Erlking comments that it appears they have guests, and Harry quickly seizes the opportunity to invoke Sacred Hospitality for himself and Susan. The Erlking concedes that he's not used to social protocol and that Harry has indeed got the better of him. Of course he later points out that he's well in his rights to keep and entertain his new guests for centuries should he wish so, as he receives guests so rarely.
  • Poor Communication Kills: If Harry just explained to Ebenezar or vice versa instead of keeping secrets, maybe Harry wouldn't have been pushed to such dire straits as to make a deal with Mab, believing that no one was there to help him. (To be fair, Ebenezar did silence Harry's voice during the main conversation they had pre-deal, before Harry had a chance to explain further.)
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: When discussing the Senior Council not holding the Idiot Ball and not meeting with Arianna personally, Harry mentions that they aren't "drinking the Kool-Aid." The Merlin is briefly confused before Luccio explains Harry was referring to the Jonestown suicidenote . After that, the Merlin agrees to the reference.
  • The Power of Love:
    • Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, understands the power Love can bring a person and what a dynamic property it can be. The person notes how good men would kill rivals for Love, peaceful men march to war for Love, and people seek power for Love. So she is not surprised when Harry wants to take the Mantle of the Winter Knight to save his daughter.
    • Wielding Amoracchius, Susan is able to shield Maggie when the Red King tries to harm her. It is also the fact that she is fighting for the safety of her daughter which allows her to touch the holy blade to begin with.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Fuck subtle." The context?
    Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. Tolkien had that one mostly right.
  • The Promise:
    • Harry gets Mab to promise him that in exchange for being her Knight, she will heal his wounds, arm him with weapons and knowledge, and lastly never order him to lift his hand against those he loves. Mab, after a brief debate with Harry, agrees to these. Mab also gets Harry to promise he won't suicide to escape his position as Winter Knight.
    • When Harry offers Susan Amoracchius he makes her promise to wield the sword to protect her daughter, to harm no innocents, use the sword in good faith to get Maggie home, and upon finishing the task, return the sword to Harry. She does and is able to wield the holy sword of love.
    • Leanansidhe makes Harry a straightforward promise to give Susan a proper burial to the standards Harry felt she would deserve. She will even take Harry there when he is ready.
  • Properly Paranoid: Butters knows things are serious when he gets called in to check on Harry's broken back. So not five minutes after Molly's call, he puts on a bulletproof vest before setting out. This saved his life.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    Red King: Bow. Down. Mortal.
    Harry: Bite. Me. Asshole.
  • Rabid Cop: Attempted by Rudolph as a technique to use on Harry. It failed epically, and only resulted in Harry laughing his arse off because of how hard Rudolph failed. Tilly kicks Rudolph out of the interrogation room immediately afterwards.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: When Susan hears Martin is a traitor to the Fellowship of St. Giles, leaking crucial information and arranging strike teams against them, she contains herself. When Martin confirms he was the one who told Arianna Maggie's location, then Susan loses it. She kills him by ripping his throat apart with her mouth. Just as he wanted.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: When Harry goes to rescue his daughter, he goes not alone. With him is Molly, an apprentice Wizard, Susan, former journalist and now half-vampire wielding Amoracchius, Karrin Murphy, trained police officer and fighter wielding Fidelacchius, Thomas wielding his natural powers, Mouse the dog-asaurus, Martin, another half-vampire who has admitted he would kill Harry to complete his goal, Sanya, the agnostic Knight of the Cross bearing Esperacchius, Bob the perverted spirit of intellect, and Lea, Harry's Fairy Godmother, who has free reign to do what she pleases to the Red Court.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Donar Vadderung , also known as Father Odin, gives Harry crucial information about his daughter's location and what exactly they plan to do with her, with no price for Harry to pay.
    • Agent Tilly of the FBI. He calmly listens to Harry's story and sees he is mostly telling the truth, might be insane by Tilly's estimate but still truthful, and knows Rudolph bullshitted much of the claims against Harry. Being able to tell when someone is lying because of a magical talent helps.
  • Remember the Alamo: Wizard McCoy, upon arriving with the the Grey Council, leads the charge with "Remember Archangel!" This was the first major victory the Red Court had back in just before Summer Knight resulting in the death of the most learned Wizard on vampires in the world.
  • Retired Badass:
    • Odin says he is this. He is very old and has lost much of his power. He doubts he could take on the Red Court himself at the epicenter of their evil power. Doesn't stop him from coming anyway with the Grey Council.
    • Michael Carpenter gets a mention, but Harry refuses to even tell him about the situation. Yes Michael would join Harry without hesitation but that isn't the problem. First, he isn't back to his old form after his intense injuries. Second, right now he is on the "No Touch" list so Supernatural Baddies won't come after him as long as he stays out of the current fights. If he does this, it opens back up the can of worms he fought hard to close back in Small Favor.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Harry has done plenty of things to piss off the Red Court and Arianna in particular, so what better way to hurt him than go after his daughter? It is partially subverted because while killing Harry would be nice, it is just the bonus. The real prize is to kill Maggie's great-grandfather by using Maggie, in retaliation for his killing her husband Duke Ortega back in Death Masks.
  • Right Behind Me: While in Edinburgh, Harry starts making a crack about the Merlin, who appears from a secret passageway behind a picture.
  • Ring of Fire: Harry and Susan fight in one against Red Court minions in the Erlking's personal hall.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue:
    • The book is basically entirely this with Harry well beyond his typical rage and into that serene tranquil attitude.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Arianna's whole plot is pretty much this, seemingly against Harry. But Harry's not the actual target. He's just the cherry on the top. The goal was to kill Ebenezar McCoy, Harry's grandfather.
    • Once Harry destroys the Red Court bloodline, destroying the curse even in those half-vampires, the human slaves and other prisoners are freed by Harry's side. They Zerg Rush those who willingly served the Red Court with great anger.
  • Sacred Hospitality:
    • Harry is smart enough to realize when he was sitting before Father Odin that refusing his hospitality and not accept the food and drink kindly offered would be a heinous insult to his host.
    • The Erlking begrudgingly grants it to Harry, Susan, and the Red Court agents who followed them into his domain when the Erlking calls Harry and others "guests." Once Harry and Susan won the trial by combat and thus worthy of the hospitality, it was revoked from the rest of the Red Court contingent that pursued Harry and Susan into the Erlking's domain.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Because Wizard Cristos is entertaining peace talks with the Red Court and because the Merlin thinks this is a prelude to draw them into a false sense of complacency and wants the Reds to think the ruse is working, the Merlin orders Harry to not try and save the child. Harry ignores this order and does what he will anyway.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Estaban of the Eebs is known for running when things get bad. It's one reason he's still alive.
  • Secret-Keeper: Harry tells Mac about Maggie.
  • Secret Test of Character: Harry guesses that the person offering him food and drink in Sacred Hospitality is also doing this to see Harry's reaction.
  • Self-Deprecation: A meta case; After Murphy and Dresden give Agent Tilly the basic plot synopsis of this book, the FBI agent snarks that it all sounds like "the plot of some cheesy novel."
  • Shave And A Haircut: Harry uses the first half as a signal to Agent Tilly he isn't one of the attackers attacking the FBI HQ as the man might just shoot if Harry opens the door after just a simple knock.
  • Shoot the Dog: Martin provokes Susan into killing him with her teeth, which turns her into a full vampire, and then leaves Harry to cut his child's mother's throat with a ritual-charged knife, wiping out the Red Court completely in the process.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Harry's armor thanks to Lea.
    Harry: This is ridiculous. I look like the Games Workshop version of a Jedi Knight.
  • Spanner in the Works: Harry is able to find out that Maggie is in Mexico because the minions in charge of shipping the ritual gear got careless and forgot to send everything. As such they had to send another shipment and keep the records for a checkup; As such Harry was thus able to find the records for the second shipment and narrow it down, which ultimately contributed to his reaching Maggie in time to stop the sacrifice.
  • The Starscream:
    • Arianna is this to her "father" the Red King. She knows he is losing his control over his addiction and now is a good time to destroy him and become one of the Lords of the Outer Night, if not the full Red Queen.
    • In fact The Red King knows Arianna is not the only Starscream to him. When Harry tells him his Death Curse will forever bind the King's ability to feed, the King knows his Lords of the Outer Night wouldn't hesitate for a second to kill him.
  • Stealth Pun/Visual Pun: Harry sees pretty much the entire Red Court standing on a ziggurat, with higher ranking vampires on each level. After a bit of explanation on how their promotion system works and how they trick mortals into thinking they are gods, the reader realizes he is being shown a pyramid scheme.
    • Vadderung's secretaries use computers made entirely of mist. In other words, their data is in the cloud.
    • Mab having sex with Harry on the Stone Table when he becomes her Winter Knight was "broadcast" to all sources of water throughout Faerie, including the rivers that the Little Folk like Toot-Toot were watching from. Or, in other words, it was being streamed.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In the climatic battle, Harry asks Lea to do something as they were being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Lea obliges and uses a gem to rip open a Way. And out comes the Grey Council ready and willing to fight for Harry's cause. And then along comes Odin near the end.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Invoked by the Red Court, who hit the White Council with a plague to ensure that they can't help Harry at Chicen Itza. Harry being Harry, he puts it down to them refusing to help For the Evulz.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Half-vampires like Martin and Susan get the perks of the evil Red Court, including longevity, super strength, and other enhanced senses. The downside is a drive to drink human blood. The more they use their dark side the greater the urge for blood. Lea notes they were using it more than they realized if they were passed out like they did from her binding method.
  • Take a Third Option: Stevie D is offered the choice between facing Marcone for his actions, surviving the violence Sanya threatens, or telling Harry and Sanya everything about who hired him and all the details pertaining to this hire in exchange for being let go. Stevie picks number 3.
  • Tengu: The Kenku, either Tengu or some variant of them, are mentioned and seen in the book.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Martin set up events so he, having betrayed Maggie's location to Arianna, would be next to Susan when she finds out, fully expecting her to kill him in front of the altar the Bloodline Curse would be launched from. This is to force Susan to become the youngest of the Red Court, and Harry Dresden in the same room so he could slay a transforming Susan to end the Red Court forever.
  • Threshold Guardian: Harry has one Way to his home from NeverNever thanks to Lea. As part of her promise to protect Harry, the creature would attack anything that gets near the exit, even Harry. Justified as shapeshifting magic would be something most nasties in NeverNever could do.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Harry confronts Susan about their daughter, he says that when he's angry things blow up, but he's actually some way past this point. This is also present in some way throughout the rest of the book, where Harry's anger simply makes him more focused and single-minded than he's ever been before.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Harry learns he has a daughter and that she has been kidnapped by the Red Court. Within the first four chapters, Harry's office building gets blown up. In the rest of the book, his car gets crushed and his staff inside it destroyed, his house gets burned down, his back gets broken when he falls off a ladder trying to get his neighbors out of the burning house, he is so desperate for a way to help his daughter that he finally accepts the mantle of the Winter Knight (including having to murder the previous knight), he is forced to kill the woman he loves and mother of his child, Murphy loses her job because she had been helping him, his leather duster is destroyed, and at the end of the book he gets shot and apparently killed.
  • Trial by Combat:
    • When Harry and Susan are pursued by the Eebs and their vampire hit-squad into the Nevernever, they end up in the Erlking's lair. Due to competing claims by Harry and the Eebs the Erlking challenges them to a trial by combat to determine who is right. Harry wins, and the Eebs and their hit-squad are devoured pretty much on the spot by the Erlking's minions.
    • Also, Harry duels Duchess Arianna Ortega in an example of this trope in order to retrieve his kidnapped daughter. Because both have equally legitimate claims for collecting blood debts the Red King decides to take the option that will potentially allow both to try to settle their claim.
  • Truce Zone: Harry calls Marcone for a meeting not at Mac's tavern but Burger King.
  • The Unapologetic: Susan is very clear and unapologetic about hiding Harry's daughter from him for years. She considered it the best solution then and won't waste time worrying about "what-ifs". Harry is furious and although he comes to understand why she did it, and even accepts he'll have to do much the same thing, he still unapologetically tells Susan they are through and could never be together again. Susan expected this would happen when she made the choice to hide Maggie and not tell Harry, and while she is heartbroken to lose him, she doesn't regret the choice and would do it again to protect her child.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Martin and Susan duly acknowledge that in a fight Harry is Badass, but Martin dismisses Harry's investigative abilities and intelligence. So when they need to get to a transport hub in New Mexico, he and Susan can't see how Harry could come because they would need to fly. Then Harry reveals that he has visited the place already using a Way and it goes a lot faster than any plane. Susan just smiles.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Harry saves Dirty Cop Rudolph twice from Red Court assassinations, once at his house and then at the FBI headquarters. Does the man see the error of his ways? Or at least drop the vendetta? Nope. He pushes on and gets Murphy removed from the force.
  • Unholy Nuke: The Bloodline ritual, which takes out everyone related to a sacrificial victim. Harry uses it to take out the entire Red Court.
  • Villain Ball:
    • The Erlking accuses the Eebs of holding this because they were too focused on the chasing of Harry and Susan to consider where the portal into the NeverNever could lead and the chance something there, like him, could have no love for them and kill them on sight.
    • Arianna discounts any idea that Harry could expand his magical attacks beyond fire for the purpose of fighting her. Her reliance on water magic lead to her quick defeat.
  • Watching Troy Burn: In Changes, both Harry's office and apartment are destroyed by Red Court terrorists. In both cases, the vampires used incendiary explosives from a distance, leaving Harry nothing to do but rescue the inhabitants in the buildings and watch them turn to ash.
  • We Have Reserves:
    • When Harry and friends attack the Red Court, they first fight Esclavos de sangre or Blood Slaves. These are Reds who have lost control of their addiction and now it rules them. Martin notes their loss isn't something the Reds mind because of the disdain the Reds have for those who cannot control their addiction.
    • Generally the Red Court's main advantage, and the reason that the rescue mission looks so hopeless: Harry and company might each be match for dozens or even hundreds of vampires...but there's thousands.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Martin was willing to go to some extreme ends to destroy the Red Court. He played the long game for several hundred years by being a mole on the Red Court. In this book, he betrayed Susan by telling Arianna about Maggie, revealed where Susan was hiding, and then enraged her to the point she would kill him and turn into a full Red Court Vampire. He makes sure Harry is in the right place at the right time in order to kill vampire-Susan on the altar, resulting in the destruction of the entire Red Court using the very curse they planned to use against Harry. Only through a Soulgaze at the last minute did Harry learn the truth of his actions.
  • Wham Episode: Let's just say the book lives up to its name.
  • Wham Line:
    • The first line is "I answered the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, 'They’ve taken our daughter.'".
    • A bit later: "I can't feel my legs."
    • Martin holding Susan with a knife to her neck reveals the reason Arianna targeting Maggie is because Maggie is the great-granddaughter of the man who killed Ariana's husband. Lampshaded by Harry.
      Harry: [thinking] If I hadn't been more or less motionless, I would have frozen into place.
    • And, of course, almost at the very end:
      Harry: Why did I pick the shirt with a bullet hole in it?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Martin rips into Harry's attitude towards Susan for her keeping Maggie secret and "safe" by describing the fate of the foster family Maggie lived with, being literally ripped apart by vampires, pieces laid out that Susan and Martin had to slowly piece together and all the while the smell of blood drove them mad with hunger and Susan facing the horribly unpleasant urge to feed from what could be her own daughter's body.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Harry has moments like these in the series, but it is most exemplified here, where several characters tell Harry that the current crisis will "show him who he really is." Well, threaten his kid....
    Harry: I will make Maggie safe. If the world burns because of that then so be it. Me and the kid will roast some marshmallows.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve:
    • The Red Court's sacrifice will have to go off around the astronomical midnight for optimum effect.
    • Lea's gift of clothing, as typical for a Fairy Godmother, lasts only until Twelve. Twelve noon. She is of Winter after all.
  • While Rome Burns: Harry will do whatever it takes to save his little girl, and if the world burns as a result, he and Maggie will roast marshmallows while it happens.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Court plans on sacrificing Maggie to kill Harry's and Susan's families.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Harry invokes this aspect of Marcone to get him to ask for help saving Maggie.
  • World Tree: When Harry sees the entrance/exit in NeverNever to Odin's home on Earth, he passes through the trunk of a tree.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • The Erlking is impressed by Harry's intelligence and power, by first using the Erlking's mistake of calling Harry his guest to gain protection, and then how he defeated a powerful Red Court beast.
    • After the climactic battle, Odin raises his lance to salute Harry. Though they weren't enemies, he recognizes Harry for all he has done and the wisdom he has shown.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • Lea hints that she, and by extension other Sidhe, could remove the vampire curse from Susan Rodriguez and other half-turned people. In the end, Harry does end up curing all the half-turned sacrificing freshly fully-turned Susan.
    • After the climactic battle, it's set up that Murphy and Harry are finally going to resolve their UST... and then we get the ending.
  • You Are Not Alone: Harry and his Fellowship of allies are in danger of defeat when the Grey Council arrives. Harry briefly thinks that "We are not alone."
  • You Are Worth Hell: Though Maggie had no idea who her real father was, Harry felt there was nothing off limits when it came to rescuing her. The top three options he considered were accepting Mab's offer to be her Knight, calling on Lasciel's coin, and using the ritual to the Kemmler's Darkhallow. He picked Mab because at least she has standards he can live by.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Harry's office, car, staff and apartment are destroyed by the vampires, pretty much guaranteeing that Harry has no place to come home to (making it that much easier for him to take up Winter's Mantle).
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Happens to Rudolph by his Red Court handlers. Three attempts were made against him. The first was moved to Harry when Rudolph told them he couldn't keep Harry in jail. The second was an assault at his home but Harry interfered again. The third would have been at FBI Headquarters with a full assault force after him, Harry, and Susan. But Harry, again, saved his life.
    • Harry warns his friends to be very careful in the final battle as becoming a hindrance would quite likely mean Lea will either not move to help them or will even hasten their defeat. Her primary goal is Harry's success. Nothing else matters. He then makes the trope work ''for'' them by making it clear to Lea that he will not leave any of his friends behind, dead or alive, and it will be a lot easier and less likely to impede the mission if they can go under their own power than if Harry has to carry their dead bodies.
  • You Owe Me: Though it wasn't seen, Ebenezar McCoy was owed a a favor from the Kenku, a Tengu-like group of creatures. He figured helping Harry's assault would be a good time to call in the marker.