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Topics - ClintACK

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DF Spoilers / It's all Mab's fault! (Battle Ground Spoilers)
« on: October 07, 2020, 04:06:55 AM »
When Ethniu takes the field and starts blasting things with the Eye of Balor, Mab counters with a psychic assault all over the city, strengthening her allies and oppressing her enemies.

Quote from: Bob
"Everything coming in from that side knows, not in its head but deep down in its guts, that it is entering the lair of a predator and that it's never going home. Knows the odds are against it. Knows that every step forward brings it closer to death.

"... She'll blunt any non-useful terror you might feel, too. And she'll encourage your aggressive tendencies. Like maybe enough so that someone who is too physically screwed up to be involved in fighting instead convinces her friends to help her and heads out into the war.

... Butters leaned in to the conversation. "What happens if Mab keeps making things worse on the enemy?"

Bob let out a hysterical little cackle. "They go insane. I mean, obviously. It's a psychic assault."

So... two things to note:

1. Without Mab "Preparing the Field" Murphy might well have stayed at Mac's. The pain from her injuries would have prevented her from riding a motorcycle and shouldering a bazooka. And her desire to protect might well have overruled her desire to kick ass.

2. Without Mab "Preparing the Field" Rudolph might not have been so insanely panicked -- not to the point that his partner had to knock him unconscious.

DF Spoilers / Swords and Walkers [BG Spoilers]
« on: October 07, 2020, 01:17:56 AM »
Now that we've seen all three Walkers on screen, I'm struck by the extent to which they parallel the three virtues represented by the Swords.

Faith: BS -- Treachery is the very definition of broken faith.
Love: BH -- the mastercraftsman of death (hate or indifference?)

I'm not quite sure how to characterize Behind. In Blood Rites, we get: "O Lord of Slowest Terror! May your right arm come to us! Send unto us your captain of destruction! Mastercraftsman of death! ... He Who Walks Behind!"

(That's also a really fun scene to reread now, since it's the moment when Lara realized that Harry is much more than he appears. "You've made me the cat's-paw for you, Dresden... Clearly, I underestimated you." "Don't feel bad," I said. "I mean, I look so stupid." -- with hindsight, that might count as their "meet cute"... *shudder*)

In Ghost Story, when we really see Behind in action, aside from Harry's fear the two emotional descriptions we get are the way Behind casually turns Stan into three piles of meat... and the righteous fury Harry feels in response.

I'm not sure whether Behind is meant to represent utter indifference as the opposite of Love, or hate and rage as the opposite of Love.

In any case, I'm expecting a scene in Empty Night, final book of the Dresden Files (not counting the Maggie outriggers.) -- the three Knights of the Cross charging into battle against the three Walkers, although I'm not sure whether Harry will be carrying Amoracchius and getting his final showdown with Behind or whether he'll be facing off against the Lord of Slowest Terror.

DF Spoilers / Revelations and Rereads (Battle Ground Spoilers)
« on: October 03, 2020, 10:23:50 AM »
Two huge character reveals in Battle Ground: Marcone and Justine.

I'm going to have to reread some books, but just skimming things for discussions, every time they appear I'm having to reassess what's happening.

At the end of Turn Coat, Justine is Harry's only point of contact for Thomas. She says it takes weeks for her to talk him into seeing Harry. Shagnasty *destroyed* Thomas. Justine's love nursed him back to mental health. She was Nemesis at the time. In Ghost Story, Justine brings him women to feed on -- he trusts her to pick his victims, knowing that the nature of their souls influences him. (You are what you eat.) And she was Nemesis the whole time.

Similarly, in Changes, when Harry meets with Marcone for their usual threats-and-banter... it's almost certain that he's taken up Namshiel's coin by then, and is studying wizardry. And there's not a hint of it -- except "Is that how you think it would happen?"

Also, I think there's a connection between these two revelations. Clearly, Marcone took the coin in Small Favor, but I bet he didn't take it up at that time. I think what pushed him over the edge to taking up the coin was the events of Even Hand. And I think that was the point of Even Hand. Justine/Nemesis got the Fomor to probe Marcone's anti-wizard defenses while she watched from the inside, and their failure was what pushed Marcone into taking up Namshiel's coin. Even Hand takes place between Turn Coat and Changes.

DF Spoilers / It's not all about Harry... (Battle Ground Spoilers)
« on: October 01, 2020, 10:46:45 AM »
It's easy to get caught up in our first-person narrator and protagonist and think, as he often does (when Michael isn't there to call him out on his unbelievable arrogance) think that it's all about Harry. Chicago's getting destroyed and it's all his fault (why? reasons.). The White Council is scheming to kick him out, again. The Red Court kidnapped his daughter. All him, right?


When the Red Court kidnapped Maggie, and sent some minor hitters to blow up Harry's life, it wasn't about Harry Dresden. He was just a minor bonus. The Red Court plot in Changes was about (1) the Black Council seizing control of the Red Court and (2) killing Ebenezar McCoy with the bloodline curse. Harry and Maggie are the one weakness of the terrifyingly powerful Blackstaff.

I think the latest White Council outrage is the same.

The Senior Council has issued a death warrant for Harry Dresden, ordered the Blackstaff to execute him (on pain of treason), and then suspended the sentence.

To Harry, and to us, this feels like a return to the days of Morgan and the Sword of Damocles hanging over Harry's head. And maybe it is -- maybe we never really understood the point of that, either. Maybe that was all about Ebenezar McCoy too.

Proposed: The new Sword of Damocles isn't hanging over Harry's head at all. It's hanging over Eb's. The other Senior Councilors know Eb won't actually execute Harry. That's the point. If they un-suspend the sentence, it's a way to turn Eb into a Traitor to the White Council. It's a *political* move, probably by the Merlin's faction, to gut one of the main opposing factions in the Council. Harry's not the target, he's Eb's weak spot. And now the Merlin finally has a threat sufficient to keep his attack dog in line.

DF Spoilers / About Bob... (Spoilers All, Spoilers today's AMA)
« on: August 22, 2020, 05:57:10 PM »
Question: Who are Bob's Parents?
Jim Butcher: "Wow, really? I thought it was obvious. -- Both of Bob's parents have appeared in the Dresden Files. :)"

Okay...  Presumably one has to be (or have been) a mortal human at the time, and one has to be something more supernatural. And there has to have been a soul/mental melding and an act of loving self-sacrifice. Plus both have to still be around, to have been on screen. And they have to be old enough to pre-date Kemmler.

Possible clues:
  • Bob says faith is completely orthogonal to him (in Death Masks when he's explaining why he can't go looking for the Shroud) -- so his supernatural parent is probably not an angel.
  • His parents have both appeared on screen -- so Kemmler can't be the human parent, since we haven't seen him on screen.
  • "Mortal" parent old enough to predate Kemmler, but has still been seen on screen -- perhaps a Denarian or Fairy or an older wizard?
  • He's afraid of Mab -- could she have been his mortal birth-parent?

Possibilities -- Lea, Mab, Odin, the Senior Council, Cowl, Corpsetaker...? An earlier version of the Archive?

*shrug* I haven't got a good guess at the moment.

With everything we've learned in Cold Days, Skin Game and Peace Talks... there's a lot of good stuff in that first conversation he had with Mab, Knight to Queen. Almost every line drips with relevant portent or irony.

The portent: "Were you not strong enough to cast such defiance into my teeth, you would be useless to my purposes. To our purposes now."

The irony: "I can be a trusted enemy. I can work with you." -- Mab's pale white eyebrows lifted and her eyes gleamed. "I will never trust you, wizard."

The awesome: "I will be the Winter Knight. I will be the most terrifying Knight the Sidhe Courts have ever known. I will send your enemies down in defeat and make your power grow. But I do it my way."

The ominous: "Go on. Try to change me. The second you do, the second I think you've played with my head or altered my memory, the first time you compel me to do something, I'll do the one thing you can't have in your new knight... mediocrity..."

Gulp. It really does look like someone's messed with Harry's head in Peace Talks. We all seem to think it's Mab. Is it? And how will Harry react when he finds out??

I really, really want to see a conversation in Battle Ground where Harry asks Mab to just tell him the end goal and trust him to push in the same direction without all the added effort of trying to manipulate him into doing something helpful. He knows the score now -- he knows Winter's Purpose and agrees with it.

DF Spoilers / Ethniu in Dead Beat? (Peace Talks Spoilers)
« on: July 31, 2020, 01:47:14 PM »
Did Ethniu knock the power out in Chicago way back in Dead Beat?

We've suspected that Cowl is working with/for the fomor for a long time.

And in Dead Beat, Harry says he assumes Cowl did it -- but "If you'd have asked me yesterday, I wouldn't have thought this was possible. I don't know how he did it, but... his magic is stronger than mine. And from what I saw of his technique, he's a hell of a lot more skilled, too."

Perhaps... Cowl isn't quite as omnipotent as he appears. Like Harry, he cheats and gets huge effects by leveraging friends and favors.

Further support: When Harry's talking to Mab, by the lake, we get this:
Quote from: Dead Beat
Thunder rumbled over the lake. Off in the southwest, lightning leapt from cloud to cloud.
Mab turned her head to watch. "Interesting."
"Uh. What's interesting?"
"Powers at work, preparing the way."

DF Spoilers / Lara's First Favor [PT Spoilers]
« on: July 31, 2020, 03:22:07 AM »
Any good speculation on what Lara's first favor from Mab might have been?

A few:
  • Upgraded magical defenses at Raith Chateau
  • An introduction to Vadderung, resulting in the hiring of Freydis
  • A dopplegänger for Thomas (who is actually hanging out at the Chateau, safe behind the upgraded magical defenses)
  • Sanctuary in Winter territory for the White Court, should Chicago fall to the fomor
  • Forgiveness for the capture of the little folk back in White Night
  • A supply of sidhe bedmates to feed on
  • Help narrowing down possible sources of the leak in her organization
  • Something relevant to the Oblivion War


DF Spoilers / Where did the Snarky Wiseassery Go?
« on: July 30, 2020, 03:50:02 PM »
I've been skimming around and rereading favorite bits of other DF books for discussions, and I think I realized what's missing for me in Peace Talks that *isn't* just the fact that it's Act I of a three act novel: It's the mood.

Harry Dresden is, above all, a snarky wiseass with a heart of gold. He's the happy warrior making jokes in the face of certain doom, always ready to lighten the mood with a self-deprecatory aside, always able to laugh at himself.

Many of the greatest moments of the series revolve around this -- eating his donut and not explaining, because secrets are like wizard crack; deflating Gatekeeper's concerns by pointing at his bandaged head and saying, "Dude."; the building was on fire and it wasn't my fault; and on and on... Even in Changes, with his daughter in danger, he lightens the mood when he's showing Susan and Martin the map he made of the storage bunker.

In Peace Talks, Harry Dresden is bitter and angry all the time. The snarky wisecracks have been replaced with bitter sarcasm, the self-deprecation with self-pity and whining, and worst of all the courage to not back down has been replaced with an eagerness to do violence.

What makes it particularly weird is that he's constantly surrounded by people who are making happy snarky wisecracks, and Harry spends the whole book playing the curmudgeonly straight man for *everyone*.

(click to show/hide)

Fear is a prison. But when you combine it with secrets, it becomes especially toxic, vicious. It puts us all into solitary, unable to hear one another clearly.
That's Harry, in this book. He's tired and sick and afraid to trust anyone, even the people he loves. And it makes him bitter and angry.

I miss the Happy Warrior.

Hoping this is part of the setup to Harry learning what he really, really needs to learn from River Shoulders and/or LTW.

Proposed: When a faerie who cannot lie tells you that she cannot do something, she's probably not speaking metaphorically.

Theory: Molly literally cannot tell her parents that she's the Winter Lady.

In Cold Case, we learned that there are things Molly literally can't say or tell people, without a fair bargain in place. She tries to tell Carlos what she's doing in Unalaska, and it keeps coming out as Maeve-style subtlety-of-a-two-by-four flirting instead.

Similarly, when Harry asks her to tell him how she's handling being Winter Lady, she says: "Can't, literally. Faerie mystique and all that."

When he raises the subject of telling her parents: "I will," she said with a bit too much instant assurance. "You know. When I find a way to bring it up." Perhaps she means this literally as well -- she can't just bring up the subject and tell them, without some sort of pretext or bargain or way to make it her duty to tell them.

In Peace Talks, Harry cuts off her explanation fo why she hasn't told them, assuming that he understands. What if he doesn't? What if her explanation was going to be that it could harm the cause of Winter to have Michael angry, and she literally can't take that risk without a benefit to Winter to balance the scales. Through the rest of the conversation, she says things like: "I can't," (italics in the orignal), "It hurts," "I can't," "I can't," and "I can't ask you to do that."

Remember that she can't lie. When she says that she can't do something, we should assume that she's being completely literal.

It's a horrific conversation when you parse it that way -- she's weeping and begging him to help her and he just thinks she needs a hug and some emotional support.

DF Spoilers / The Eyes Have It
« on: July 28, 2020, 05:42:49 PM »
They say history never repeats, but it rhymes.

We've now got a large number of important characters in the Dresdenfiles who have lost an eye and gained power thereby.

The classic Odin image of a scar running through the empty socket is even echoed in the scar Harry Dresden gets over his right eye from the Naagloshi fight: "I had two beautiful scars, though, one running down through my right eyebrow, skipping my eye, and continuing for an inch or so on my cheekbone..." (Turn Coat) -- although Dresden hasn't actually lost an eye... yet.

  • Rashid, the Gatekeeper: "One of his eyes was dark. The other had a pair of horrible old silver scars running through it, from his hairline down to his jaw. The injury had to have ruined his natural eye. It had been replaces with something that looked like a stainless-steel ball bearing." (Turn Coat) Here, we see him use the eye to somehow harness his Foresight in a safe manner or let him calculate future probabilities or something. Later, in Cold Days, we get to see that the eye is made of the substance of the Outer Gates and helps to detect Nemesis, making it possible for the Gatekeeper to do his job.
  • Donar Vadderung, CEO of Monoc: "A black cloth patch over the other eye combined with a vertical scar similar to my own..." We've never seen under the eyepatch (although, interestingly, Kringle has two normal eyes...), but the legend is that Odin sacrificed his eye for Wisdom. And he talks about having excellent foresight, when he meets Harry in a room made of stainless steel (just like Rashid's eye *appeared* to be).
  • Ethniu, Last Titan, Daughter of Balor: "One of her eyes was a crystalline emerald green. The other... On that perfect bronze face, the mutilation of her eye stood out like a gallows in a public park. The orbital ridges around the socket were covered in white, granite-like scars, as if the biggest ugliest cat you'd ever seen had scratched it out. It wasn't sunken, though the lid was closed. That mangled eye bulged ever so slightly, as if it had been meant for a being considerably larger than she was."

    Of course, she didn't get foresight or wisdom, but rather a WMD.

Did I miss any?

Do we think Harry's going to lose that right eye at some point? Perhaps in a rematch with the Naagloshi in Battle Ground?

DF Spoilers / What if Eb is 100% correct about everything?
« on: July 27, 2020, 09:40:13 PM »
We've seen Harry as an unreliable narrator before -- in Small Favor when Mab messed with his mind and his memory, and in Changes when he omitted significant events that had been wiped from his memory, and in another way in Skin Game to keep us in the dark about his clever scheme.

What if Harry is horribly wrong about both the Svartalves and the White Court, maybe even about Thomas?

We've seen Thomas keep secrets and manipulate Harry before to a lesser degree, like in Backup (for good reasons) and in White Night (less so). Could all of the scenes about Justine being pregnant and Thomas worrying about being a father *all* be a manipulation to get Harry acting on instinct?

If Harry had come out of the apartment (after watching Svartalves terrorizing Maggie) and started a fight... or if he'd tried to rescue Thomas... either would have constituted Mab's Winter Knight blatantly shredding the Accords within the first hour of the truce for the Peace Talks. It would have been a blow to Mab almost as serious as being kicked through several walls by Ethniu.

And we see Lara throwing the sex-mojo-whammy at Harry multiple times. It doesn't work to sex-whammy him, but it certainly does change the subject when he's asking uncomfortable questions about what's going on.

Big picture: the local Powers of the Accords are getting together for a meeting to discuss dealing with the Fomor, and Harry spends the whole book dealing with a prison break that could blow up the Accords and lead to millions of innocent deaths. It's sort-of like him to get obsessed with saving family, but it's unusual for him to so completely lose the big-picture plot. How sure are we that he hasn't been mind-whammied?

Could Mab have done it to him again -- perhaps as Lara's first favor? (If she just made him extra vulnerable to Lara's influence, it would explain why she needed to so graphically warn Lara against feeding on Harry, in their first scene.)

DF Spoilers / First Line?
« on: July 27, 2020, 09:21:36 PM »
Do we have a first line for Battle Ground yet?

DF Spoilers / Visa Issues (Peace Talks Spoilers)
« on: July 25, 2020, 05:09:49 PM »
A few factoids:
  • Lara has earned three favors from Mab (Mab and Lara in Harry's back seat, Chapter 6
  • She earned them by "working with Mab on some visa issues some of her people were having" (Lara to Eb, Chapter 32)
  • Molly has been busy in eastern Russia for two weeks recruiting Leshy (Eastern European shapechanging forest spirits) (Chapter 16, when he summons her)
  • Molly says that she has been handling transport for Winter troops and can provide them once they know where they will be needed... right before Mab says that all Winter troops are urgently needed elsewhere, but not that Molly can't actually provide troops(Chapter 30)

Speculative Theory: Molly has recruited a small army of Leshiye and brought them to Chicago using purely mortal transportation, facilitated by the White Court. Reason: The Fomor will know what troops have been brought to Chicago through the Nevernever. These troops can be hidden among the human population (shapeshifters) and won't be accounted for in anyone's balance-of-forces calculations.

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