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Literature / Death Masks

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Change for the worse.

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

The One with... evil coins.

Sometimes being Harry Dresden really sucks.

Not only does a vampire named Ortega want to duel Harry in a challenge that he says will end the war between wizards and vampires, but Harry’s semi-vampire girlfriend Susan has showed up again, and now Harry has been hired by a priest to find the stolen Shroud of Turin.

Some days it just isn’t worth chewing through the restraints...

Death Masks is book #5 of The Dresden Files.


Death Masks provides example of the following tropes:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Michael and Sanya can't help but laugh over Harry's final gift to Cassius.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: The Archive. She's not even a preteen, is powerful enough that she sets off Harry's wards before she even arrives, talks like an adult, and mostly acts like one, too. But the moment she sees Harry's cat, she reacts like any girl her age would, which as Kincaid himself says, "is just plain creepy."
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!:
    • Ortega regretfully promises Harry, should he refuse to accept this duel, he will have his men and mortal assassins go after his friends, loved ones, and every living client from the past five years.
    • During the duel, Ortega does this again, now naming McCoy, Mac, the Alphas, and Harry's PI mentor, if Harry does kill him.
  • Anti-Hero: Harry fully accepts this title, compared to the Ideal Heroes the Knights of the Cross represent. This is what allows him to smash both knees and ankles and come inches from killing Cassius, a Denarian, who has only "surrendered" to prevent Michael or Sanya from touching a single hair on his head. Even just to get information on Nicodemus' final plan. Harry doesn't kill him in the end, and despite the injuries he gave him, Harry gives him a quarter for a pay phone to call for medical aid or possibly Nicodemus. Of course, the phone just happened to be on the other side of broken glass and pay phones cost more than a quarter now.
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  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Harry, in narration, mentions a basket next to his door he keeps full of anti-vampire and anti-fae items, ready for use against anyone who comes knocking in an attempt to suck his blood, carry him off to fairyland, or sell him stale cookies.
  • Artistic License – Geography: When Harry goes to Wrigley Field for the duel with Ortega, he describes the huge parking lot outside it. Wrigley Field has no parking lot. This gets Lampshaded a few times in the RPG book.
  • Badass Normal: Armed with nothing but conventional weapons and testicles the size of Mars, Gentleman Johnny Marcone joins a wizard and two holy knights in facing down two powerful demons.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Ulsharavas, an oracle spirit, is described as such. While Ulsharavas is generally benign, it would be a bad idea to anger it. So be sure to follow the instructions on how best to summon the spirit right. Harry was lucky Ulsharavas wasn't too upset about being summoned into a Cabbage Patch doll rather than a fresh human corpse.
    • Shiro is a kind, loving man. He would be the perfect babysitter and had no qualms helping Charity do the shopping. But when the Denarians are in town and he needs to draw his blade, the man becomes like his blade: sharp, cold, impassioned, dangerous, and not to be taken lightly. There is a very good reason why Nicodemus would give up Harry for the chance to have Shiro, and saving his daughter isn't that reason.
  • Big Bad: Nicodemus Archleone is the main threat, as he attempts to use the Shroud to create a plague.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Unlike all the other Denarians, Nicodemus and his Fallen Angel Anduriel are equal partners, rather than either Nicodemus in control and the Fallen Angel acting as counsel or the Fallen Angel breaking his will and having full control over the body. Though later books suggest that the partnership isn't quite as equal as Nicodemus thinks it is.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Ortega comes to town to challenge Harry in a duel. In the meantime, he gets called in to recover the recently-stolen Shroud of Turin, which has many more players and far higher stakes attached to it than Harry is comfortable with.
  • Big Entrance: After hearing a minor character state "There's nothing that anyone can do to hurt me anymore," Nicodemus blows down the wall, steps through with his two Mooks and shadow, and declares "No matter how many times I hear that, it's always a fresh challenge."
  • Blood Magic: The plague curse used by the Denarians needs blood to activate it. They want Harry's but Shiro's will work just fine.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Kincaid has the look of a professional fighter and likely assassin about him. He is the bodyguard to the seven year old Archive. Said Archive set off Harry's major warning systems in advance, telling him to take her seriously. She's also an incredibly powerful wizard, and later uses deathstone to effortlessly kill several Red Court vampires.
  • Bookends: The novel starts and ends with Harry contemplating things that don't belong together. At the start, it's wizards and television. At the end, it's Harry and Susan.
  • Bound and Gagged: Harry's reunion sex with Susan, after Susan's vampiric hunger threatens to get the best of her. note 
  • Breaking Speech/You Are Better Than You Think You Are/You Are Not Alone: Nicodemus use these three tropes to craft terrifying trifecta attack on Harry, attacking how he stays poor and alone to the point of martyrdom, how he could be so much richer and more powerful if he let go of some of his moral qualms, pointing out Harry's personal demons about how black magic has always held a certain appeal to the darker aspects of him. And how he is truly alone because in a hundred years all his mortal friends will be worm food and he will still be here. But he need not be alone as Nicodemus is offering him a chance to join, to become something more than what he could ever imagine he was capable of being. With what Nicodemus offers, he could discover what truly became of his parents and find any family he might still have in the world. All he need do is join.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Ebenezer reminds Harry of "Asteroid Dresden", an old satellite he and Harry found when he was a teen living with him.
    • Harry was on the Larry Fowler show in chapter 1. The man gets back to him about what happened there at the end of the book.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Butters describes how the mystery corpse's wounds came from a narrow blade like a utility knife's, Harry says he's seen such injuries before. Which is true: he had a swarm of utility-knife-wielding dewdrop faeries attack Aurora at the end of Summer Knight.
    • When discussing just how bad things are going to get, Harry tells Murphy things will be worse than the loup-garou from Fool Moon.
    • The demon from Fool Moon that Harry calls Chauncey gets a mention when Harry is considering going to him to figure out Nicodemus' plot.
    • Harry mentions the chlorofiend's attack to Susan.
    • Nicodemus mentions almost every previous book reminding Harry's quite impressive killing record (three fellow magicians, a Red Court's noble and a fairy queen).
    • Harry credits Fix with providing the unicorn-hair rope he enchanted and used to bind Susan. Harry says it was meant to tie up an ogre he'd annoyed: a possible reference to one of the villain's henchmen in Summer Knight.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Deirdre asks her father if he wanted the special bowl to collect Harry's blood. This clues Harry into what sort of ritual is happening.
    • When Shiro is holding Deirdre hostage, he purposefully cuts her throat with his blade before passing the blade over to Harry so he can run away with it. Harry later uses the fresh, clean blood on the sword to help track the Denarians.
    • Monoc Securities is introduced.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Waldo Butters is first introduced in this book.
    • Two brief instances. Both Sanya and Shiro are seen right before Harry runs into Ursiel.
    • Nick Christian, the PI who trained Harry years back, gets a mention. He would later play a small but crucial role in Ghost Story.
    • Miss Gard of Monoc Securities is introduced.
  • The Chooser of The One: Harry becomes said Chooser by receiving Fidelacchius from a dying Shiro, who charges him with finding the next Knight to wield it.
  • Colony Drop: Committed by Ebenezar McCoy. You do not want to piss off Harry's mentor. Also qualifies as a Brick Joke.
  • Combat by Champion: Harry ends up being the White Council's champion against the Red Court's champion, Ortega. Ortega cheats, Harry wins anyway, the war goes on.
  • Convenient Terminal Illness: Shiro reveals he is suffering one to Harry in a letter.
  • Cool Old Guy: Shiro, full stop. He's a Knight of the Cross who's managed to make it to old age, is one of two knights to ever escape Nicodemus, has mentored at least one other knight, and is the first person to suggest that the Red Court planned the war.
  • Creepy Child: The Archive, or "Ivy" as Harry names her. The latest of a hereditary line of women whose daughters inherit perfect knowledge of everything that has been written down, in any form, well as all the accumulated memories of every other previous Archive. Ivy has been the Archive since she was a baby, and now, at seven years old, speaks and acts like a very old adult in many ways. Harry makes an effort to treat her like the little girl she is, and as a result she flip-flops between being the Archive, which is creepy, and a normal child, which is even creepier.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Shiro believes that the Red Court wanted to use the war to break the White Council in a matter of months. They'd been planning it for years, but Bianca and Harry kicked it off way too soon. The purpose of the duel is to sue for peace, and then in another twenty years launch another surprise attack and completely obliterate the Council once and for all.
  • Deal with the Devil: Harry considers calling on Chauncey the demon from Fool Moon to locate the Denarians. He stops when he has his "Eureka!" Moment.
  • Defiant to the End/Shut Up, Hannibal!: Wounded, exhausted, bound (physically & magically), hopeless, and then tempted beyond his wildest dreams, Harry refuses Nicodemus' offer with the quote "[l]ead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." When Nicodemus asks if he's sure, he follows up with his usual eloquence: "Fuck off, Nick."
  • Demonic Possession: The Knights of the Blackened Denarius act as hosts for the Fallen. How much control the Fallen has depends on the particular relationship the mortal has with the Fallen. Nicodemus is reported to be on equal standing with his Fallen, but Ursiel's host was broken of any will long ago.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Ortega was winning the duel when he decided to taunt Harry (thus pissing him off and strengthening his will), and then tried to shoot Harry with a gun hidden under his flesh mask.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The backstory of the Archive given here differs from what is established in later books. The Archive tells Harry that her mother is an empty shell with no mind, a "persistent vegetative state", because everything she knew passed to Ivy when she was born, as had happened to her mother before her. In later books, Ivy's situation is highly unusual, as the Archive usually isn't passed on until the new host is an adult with a child. Ivy's mother received the Archive early due to an accident, resented it, and committed suicide as soon as Ivy was born in order to escape the duty. It's possible the story Ivy gave Harry is the public story and her true history is kept secret, but the dispassionate Archive here doesn't seem the sort to lie about such things.
  • Emissary from the Divine: The Knights of the Cross, Michael Carpenter, Shiro, and Sanya, can be considered emissaries acting on behalf of God.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The Archive, repository of human knowledge, introduces herself to Harry by means of setting off his ward candles to show she is a major power while a distance away. After discussing the terms of the duel with Harry, she sees Mister, cries "Kitty!" and goes to pet him.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Harry is looking at crossing a line, he spots Father Forthill's tattoo of the Eye of Thoth. This leads Harry to ask if his friend Father Vincent has it, which Father Forthill affirms. This crucial fact leads Harry to realize the body from the start of the book was likely the real Vincent and the one he met was an imposter. He was right.
  • Expy: As a character, Larry Fowler owes a lot to Jerry Springer. He's even called "Jerry" in an editing gaffe at one point.
  • Faking the Dead: While he was seriously injured and in no position to fight, Shiro, Knight of the Cross did this and overheard crucial facts to the main antagonist's plot.
  • Final Speech: Following horrific torture, Shiro had just enough strength to give one.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Harry first meets up with Shiro, he advises to Shiro that he shouldn't be smoking his cigarette as "Those things will kill you." Shiro smirks and responds with "Not tonight." It's later revealed in the book's epilogue that Shiro was dying of cancer the whole time.
    • There's a subtle hint that Martin isn't really on the up-and-up when he tells Harry Susan was playing him for a patsy and actually had no interest in seeing him or retrieving her things otherwise. Susan denies this to Harry at the end of the book..
    • Nicodemus calls Harry Maggie's youngest.
    • Molly Carpenter mentions "fun time handcuffs" and suggest using restrains to make sure Susan couldn't harm him if they had sex. That's exactly what happens, only using magical handcuffs instead of "fun time" ones. Molly's interest in Harry's "fun times" can also be seen as a subtle hint towards her later developing a crush on Harry as she gets older.
    • Harry casually mentions to Ortega that killing every vampire on the planet would save many lives. Come Changes, Harry exterminates the entirety of the Red Court of vampires to save his daughter and relatives.
    • An entropy curse is mentioned to been used against Harry. A much more powerful version shows up in the next book and is considerably more important to the plot.
  • Giving Them the Strip: In a supernatural variant, Susan attempts to grapple with Ortega, but his flesh mask tears open and he slithers out of it to escape, leaving her with a disintegrating body-sheath in her grasp.
  • Good Hurts Evil: The Swords of the Cross don't like to be touched by creatures of darkness, like vampires. And even half-vampires like Susan if she isn't of a proper mindset.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Shiro sacrifices himself to save Harry's life. That Shiro was soon going to die of cancer gives it a slightly softer edge, but considering how horrible his death was, it's still heartbreaking.
    • Harry considers summoning the demon Chauncey to gain information; unstated is the danger that the demon would demand the last part of his Name as payment, information which could be used to control Harry completely.
    • Harry Dresden knowingly picks up the coin of the Fallen Angel Lasciel to save Michael's son Harry from touching the cursed coin, knowing he could end up like Ursiel's host, trapped inside his own body.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Despite her good heart and avoiding submitting to her darker side, Susan cannot even touch the scabbard of Fidelacchius without some backlash.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: When the three Knights are fighting Ursiel, they hold back in an effort to try to get through to Rasmussen and convince him to give up the coin and repent. When he refuses, Michael ends the fight immediately with a single stroke.
  • I Gave My Word: Shiro gives this to Nicodemus, promising to not fight or try to escape for 24 hours. In exchange, Nicodemus promises to release Harry and not pursue him. Nicodemus, of course, breaks his word immediately, but Shiro still keeps his.
  • I Lied:
    • Shiro notes that while many vampires he has had dealings with do honor their word when they give it, Denarians do not. They have no honor. True to this, Shiro knows Nicodemus will not honor their agreement and tells Harry to run once freed. Nicodemus does just this.
    • Ortega had no intention of honoring his side of the deal regarding the duel. He not only brought a gun to the fight to shoot Harry, if Harry won his men would still kill Harry's friends and loved ones.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • After the duel was interrupted with Ortega being sniped by Martin, Kincaid shows this trope by gunning down Ortega's minions rushing the field and never missing a single shot. When Harry points this out, Kincaid asks why anyone would bother missing.
    • Gentleman Johnny Marcone shows this by shooting Nicodemus three times, each time in a spot that will not harm the Shroud of Turin Nicodemus has draped around his shoulders like a cape, and all while standing on top of a speeding train.
  • Ironic Echo: "Damn, I'm good" is what Harry thinks when he gets hold of the stolen Shroud ... and also what the thief who gets the drop on him says seconds later.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Cassius gives up his coin willingly and claims he has seen the error of his ways. The Knights can no longer touch him, despite guessing these words are all bull. Cassius even openly says it is, but because he surrendered they cannot do him harm. Harry, as he isn't a Knight, has no such restraints and takes a bat to Cassius' knees.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: Thomas brushes off Ortega's contemptuous sneers and most of Harry's lip, but objects to being told his outfit looks like something Michael Jackson might wear.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In Harry's defense, the guy deserved it so much that even Michael did not object. Well, not much.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Harry does this to Cassius by beating him (breaking most of his limbs in the process) with a baseball bat. He then gives him a quarter and tells him he can call for an ambulance from the payphone at the other end of a wide parking lot. The path to the phone involves him crawling through broken glass. And the punchline?
    Michael: Payphones cost more than a quarter now.
    Harry: I know.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Harry does this to Cassius. See above.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • When Bob sees the sigil of Ursiel Harry has drawn on a piece of paper, he tells Harry to burn it right then and there.
    • Kincaid uses special rounds in his shotgun to blast fireballs at some Red Court vampires.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Dresden Files has never been a light-hearted series, but the Denarians are the first truly terrifying group of villains to be introduced and succeed in killing one of the main heroes.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Flowing water disrupts magical power. It is harder to toss a magical spell over water than dry land. Even standing in it is a deterrent to proper casting for a human mage. Thus Nicodemus ties Harry up under a stream of running water so he can't use magic.
  • Laser Sight: At the climax of the duel, a red dot appears on Ortega's chest from Martin's sniper rifle.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: The difference between the kindly grandfather-like Shiro and the cold, deadly warrior who killed two people in the blink of the eye when entering a room is staggering.
  • Little Miss Badass: The Archive, despite being a young child in body, is not one to mess with in a fight. She could easily take Harry out. Near the end of the book, she takes command of the mordite being used in the duel between Harry and Ortega and uses it to mow through six Red Court vampires with about as much effort as using a scythe to cut through grain.
  • Logical Weakness: The Noose protects Nicodemus from any outside injury, instantly healing him. However, he is not protected from any injury inflicted by the Noose itself. As soon as Harry figures this out, he promptly uses the Noose to try and throttle Nicodemus.
  • Marked Change: Susan has a Maori-esque tattoo running from her face down to one foot and along one arm. It's normally too faint to see, but becomes more and more visible as she gets closer to losing control of her bloodthirst. (Martin, also a half-vampire with the same group, is briefly seen to have a similar tattoo, although his long experience and better control mean it doesn't show up much.)
  • Martial Pacifist: Shiro advises Harry that he should try to make peace before going into the duel. To offer some olive branch to the Red Court. And if that fails, fight to win as sometimes fighting is the necessary action.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Just as Harry is planning a potential Heroic Sacrifice to summon the demon Chauncey to gain knowledge of Nicodemus' plan, Father Forthill's sleeve just happens to fall just right to reveal his old tattoo, the information attached gives Harry the clue he needed to piece the situation together himself, rather than summoning the demon. As Chauncy has three fourths of Harry's True Name, it seems likely he would demand the fourth as payment, and that would be...unhealthy for Harry if a high ranking demon or a rival practitioner ever asked Chauncy for it.
    • A piece of cloth nearly 2,000 years old suddenly gaining the tension strength to haul two large men, one with armor, out of a river. Harry even notes it should have gotten soggy and ripped.
  • Mystical Plague: In the Dresdenverse, the Black Death was originally created by Fallen Angels through magic. This book centered on Harry recovering a religious artifact before the Fallen could use it to create another plague.
  • Nausea Fuel: In-Universe. To combat the addictive saliva of the Red Court vampires, Harry whips up a potion to ruin the bliss that the heroin-like saliva gives. With a base ingredient of stale coffee, Harry added hairs of a skunk for scent. Some sandpaper for touch. A photo of Meat Loaf for sight. A rooster's crow for hearing. Powdered aspirin for taste. For the mind, the surgeon general's warning on a cigarette pack. It works so well, the saliva only makes him itch.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Deirdre, whose hair morphs into prehensile blades, notes "Madame Medusa" isn't exactly original.
  • Noble Demon:
    • Ortega does a very good job of pretending to be one, and even makes Harry think that he's responding to the crisis far more reasonably than the White Council has, but it's all a front.
    • Marcone, on the other hand, is one. And Harry knows it. Marcone may be an evil man running all crime in Chicago, but he does have a strong code of honor and sense of responsibility. Such as going out of his way to save Michael and Harry's lives when they were drowning in the river and then calling Murphy to tell her where they are, when he could have just walked away with the Shroud.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Part of Nicodemus' attempt to woo Harry to the dark side is to offer him breakfast. Harry was already hungry before he got captured some many hours earlier, so it's not a small temptation.
  • Not So Different:
    • Ortega offers to turn Dresden into a vampire rather than kill him in a duel, claiming they are not so different. Dresden fishes until he establishes that Ortega preys on children as proof that they are very different.
    • At one point another villain, Nicodemus, actually says "We are not so very different, you and I..." to Harry. That said, Harry's response on how they are different is pretty accurate.
    • Not stated, but when Harry finds out Marcone's secret he mentions that he can't hate him anymore, since he isn't sure that, if he were him, he wouldn't make the exact same choices.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Ortega (a Red Court vampire) acts stupid about all things supernatural on the Larry Fowler show, claiming it is all fake and those who profess it to be real are charlatans.
    • Thomas, who acts like a drunken, unreliable playboy with no sense or restraint. In reality, he warns Susan and Martin about Ortega's attempt to force Harry into combat by champion and thus saves Harry's life, and even manages to bag a Red Court vampire in the ensuing chaos.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: Bob is a spirit of knowledge and logic. That is his domain. As such, areas involving faith (such as the Shroud) are outside his jurisdiction because such items don't have a rational basis to them. He's not keen on poking his nose into matters of faith for fear of angering angels, fallen or otherwise.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Bobnote  is terrified when he sees a sigil of a Fallen and urges Harry to burn the piece of paper it's drawn on.
  • The Paladin: Besides Michael, Harry meets Shiro, who holds the Sword of Faith, and Sanya, who holds the Sword of Hope. Both are generally nice fellows but when Harry's captured and Shiro shows up to rescue him, Harry's shocked by Shiro's skill, lethal efficiency, and utter fearlessness in the face of the Fallen.
  • The Promise:
    • Shiro makes it clear, unlike other supernatural beings, the Denarians will not honor their word.
    • Shiro makes a promise to not fight or try to escape for 24-hours if Nicodemus gives up Harry and not pursue him. Despite knowing Nicodemus plans on violating his end as soon as Shiro lets Deidre go, Shiro keeps his word and does not fight even knowing he was about to be tortured.
  • The Prophecy: Harry learns that an angelic prophecy states Should Harry seek the Shroud, he will die. So Michael was trying to save Harry by keeping him in the dark and away from the entire situation. However, it turned out Nicodemus waylaid the messenger before it could all be delivered. See Prophetic Fallacy.
  • Prophetic Fallacy: As Harry learned from Ulsharavas, the message was indeed messed with, leaving the second half off. The whole message was Should Harry seek the Shroud, he will die. If Harry does not seek the Shroud, the Knights will perish and so will the city.
  • Public Domain Artifact: So many.
    • This book introduces the Denarians, who are humans given power or possessed by fallen angels residing in the thirty silver coins used to bribe Judas.
    • One of the Denarians, Nicodemus Archleone, wears the noose with which Judas hanged himself, which makes him impossible to kill except with the noose itself.
    • They're after the Shroud of Turin.
    • Also featured heavily in this book are the Swords of the Cross, named so because they supposedly each have a nail from the cross in them.
  • Questionable Consent: Zigzagged. Harry has sex with a bound Susan while she is mad with vampiric hunger and desire and beyond any possible threshold for being able to give informed consent. At the same time, Susan is extremely hungry for blood and Harry is trapped in the same room with her behind magical wards. She's extremely close to just outright killing him and drinking his blood, which will turn her into a full Red Court vampire, which she considers A Fate Worse Than Death. Harry resorts to using sex to wear out and calm Susan so she can regain control of herself. This part is a little iffy, but Susan and Harry are in love with each other, and both want to be together, which might imply consent on Susan's part. Also, the scene is written as Harry himself losing control a little bit at the chance to be with her, rather than a calculating "this will calm her down" idea. And in the morning, Susan, fully in control again, seems to have no issues with what happened - their conversation is highly reminiscent of exes discussing their "Once more for old time's sake" hookup.
  • Retired Badass: Father Forthill casually mentions things he used to fight in his younger days.
  • Ring Ring Crunch: An exhausted Harry is woken up by his Mickey Mouse alarm clock and nearly smacks it, but stops because he "wouldn't sleep in the same room with a person who would want to smack Mickey Mouse."
  • Running Gag: Harry loses his coat halfway through the book, which everyone comments on afterwards.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Harry is first attacked by Ursiel in full demon form, he realizes that he's out of his league and doesn't even try to fight, just runs.
  • Secret Keeper: Harry discovers Marcone's deepest secret. A young woman who is in a coma. It is for her Marcone acquired the Shroud in hopes it could revive her from her long coma. Marcone tells Harry if he ever tells anyone this, he will kill him personally.
  • Self-Destructing Security: The stolen Shroud of Turin is kept like this, with a remote to deactivate the security. In this case it's a precaution against the seller being subjected to You Have Outlived Your Usefulness after handing it over.
  • Shooting Superman: Anna Valmont's reaction upon meeting Nicodemus is to interrupt his Evil Gloating by shooting him. When this turns out to have no effect aside from irritating him, she just keeps shooting until her gun is empty, all while he just stands there, sighs, rolls his eyes, and waves his hand in a "let's get this over with" gesture.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • It is Shiro's honest belief that Harry did not cause the war. Harry's rampage kicked it off, but Shiro notes the Red Court had been slowly preparing for the war for years. In fact, it started a decade or two sooner than anticipated.
    • Shiro also holds that Harry is someone Nicodemus is scared of. To get Harry at odds with the Knights, he went to great expense to stop the second half of an angelic prophecy. He even offers Harry a join-or-die situation to try and stop him. In the end, Nicodemus was right to fear Harry as it was Harry, not any of the Knights, who pieced together the crucial data, knew where the Denarians would strike, called in favors with the Police to shut down plan A, and called in Marcone to help stop plan B. And in the end, Harry realized Nicodemus' noose may protect him from any harm, but it wouldn't protect Nicodemus from the noose itself being used to choke him.
  • Spot the Thread: Harry finally realizes the man he knows as Father Vincent is not him because the man in the morgue had the tattoo of the Eye of Thoth, a tattoo no one else still alive beside Fathers Forthill and Vincent could have, therefore the dead man must be Father Vincent.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Ursiel's demonic form is bear-like. Presumably this was an overt pun back in Roman times, when everyone knew "Ursus" was Latin for "bear".
    • Listening to headphones, Thomas bobs his head in a manner that's not much in synch with the music, which makes him a White guy with no rhythm.
  • Take That!: Harry brews a potion designed to render addictive things (such as vampire venom) unappealing, and as with all potions, has to use ingredients for each of the five senses, in this case things that are unappealing to the senses. For something unappealing to sight, he uses a photo of Meat Loaf.
  • Take Up My Sword: Averted. Shiro doesn't ask Harry to become the next Knight of Faith. He, instead, asks Harry to find the next person who would be right for the Sword.
  • Tempting Fate: After seing a magically murdered corpse in morgue, Harry remarks to Murphy the Fallen aren't allowed to do something like. And he gets attacked by a Fallen right outside the morgue.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Harry accidentally grabs hold of Anna Valmont's breast when she stumbles against him while getting out of bed. The stumble was done deliberately so she could pick his pocket.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Used deliberately by Kincaid. He loads a series of sawed-off shotguns with Dragon's Breath rounds — rounds that generate a massive cone of extremely hot flame, but warp the barrels of the guns to the point where they cannot be used again. Kincaid thus keeps several shotguns loaded with these on hand, and they prove extremely effective against Red Court vampires.
  • Traintop Battle: The final battle between Harry and his allies and Nicodemus and his demons takes place on top of a moving freight train.
  • Truce Zone: Mac's pub comes up again as a place where both sides set up the particulars of the duel.
  • True Neutral: In-Universe. For the duel to commence under the writings of the Accords, a neutral party must be picked to arbitrate the circumstances of the duel. The Archive was chosen as neutrality is one of her strongest traits.
    • Bob, as a spirit of intellect, does not understand concepts like good and evil, making him this. So when he gets scared by a demonic sigil that Harry drew on a piece of paper, it makes Harry get very nervous.
  • Villain Ball:
    • Ortega saw what Harry did at Bianca's when it came to trying to get Susan back. He should have not told Harry his people planned on violating his word to not harm Harry's friends if Harry won and killed him.
    • Nicodemus should not have agreed to trade Harry for Shiro. He knew perfectly well that Harry could screw up his plans. Not only did Harry stop him, Harry realized the Judas Noose did not protect Nick from being strangled by it. Even the Denarians' "victory" in eliminating Shiro didn't accomplish much, as the old Knight was already dying.
  • Villainous Valour: While his Noble Demon act may have been a facade, Ortega was still willing to face Harry's Death Curse in order to give the Red Court an edge.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Marcone is revealed to be one when Harry learns he had the Shroud stolen not for his own personal collection but to try and revive a woman in a coma.
  • When Elders Attack: Excluding the fact several of the Denarians are centuries old at a minimum, Shiro easily represents this idea. When Harry is about to be killed, the man bursts into where he is, killing two guards in a fraction of a second and then takes Nicodemus' daughter hostage. Not bad for a guy old enough to have seen Elvis in concert.
  • Worf Had the Flu:
    • Sanya, the newest recruit of his team is injured in near the beginning and it affects his performance.
    • Shiro's age is catcing up to him, plus having terminal cancer, which impedes his performance and noted by his opponent. However it is revealed that he was holding back later, and is clearly the most dangerous individual in the story.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Harry considers making peace with Ortega, but upon learning he and his ilk feed on children in a nearby village, Harry refuses any offer the man could make him.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Snakeman Cassius surrendered to Harry, Michael, and Sanya and asked for mercy, fully expecting them to be Ideal Heroes and not harm him anymore. He was right for two out of the three. Harry, however, isn't an Ideal Hero. See Anti-Hero for more.
  • You Will Know What to Do: Shiro gives Fidelacchius to Harry and tells him to trust his heart and will know who is the next to give it to. See Skin Game for who ends up with it for good.
  • You Said You Couldn't Dance: Harry sweeps Susan off her feet as a means to get away from some Mooks. She quotes this trope — it turns out Harry moonlighted early in his career as a dance partner for a senior citizens organization. It's only rock that he can't dance to.
    Harry: Tough to tango with someone with lumbago. It requires great skill.
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: When Harry asks Marcone why he didn't just tell him Father Vincent was a fake and instead went for assassinating Father Vincent even if Harry was close by and would assume it was against Harry, Marcone's response is pretty much this.


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