Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 10 – 11

The_Dresden_Files_2007_Intertitle

Chapter 10

Last time: Harry Dresden gets attacked by werewolves! (again)

This time: unexpected gangster conversation!

Marcone had eyes the color of old, faded dollar bills

In the first book Butcher described Marcone’s eyes as “money-coloured” (BECAUSE DO YOU SEE) and was apparently so proud of this simile that he proceeded to use it approximately ten thousand more times. Then again absolutely everything about Marcone is a giant cliche.

From behind him, Mr. Hendricks looked like an all-star collegiate lineman who hadn’t been smart enough to go into the pros. Hendricks’s neck was as big around as my waist

Marcusgettingready

Must be related to Marcus Fenix.

“Now, now, Mr. Dresden,” Marcone said, a father’s reproof in his tone. “Is that any way to talk to a business partner?”

Did I mention Marcone is a giant cliche?

In the previous book Harry and Marcone had an interesting relationship, in that they developed a kind of uneasy alliance against a mutual threat. Here, Harry decides all of a sudden that he hates Marcone’s guts and thinks he’s scum. It feels very contrived.

I took off my duster and dropped it over the table in front of the door, the one covered in pamphlets with titles like “Witches and You,” and “Want to Do Magic? Ask Me How!”

This feels like it was lifted straight from a Harry Potter novel, which is a little jarring. And again: if Harry is handing out pamphlets offering to give people magic lessons, what’s stopping him from just doing some magic for the police to prove he’s actually a wizard?

Witches and You

This book would be so much better if it was about witches. I am making my 100% pro-witch stance known.

Marcone offers to give Harry information on the Lobo killings in return for Harry working for him. The terms of this employment are incredibly generous- he would get to work his own hours, set his own salary and wouldn’t be asked to do anything unlawful. Now, I know working for the mafia even in a legitimate sense would be both dangerous and morally iffy, but if someone put a contract like that in front of me I’d at least be tempted. At the same time I can’t really fault Harry for turning it down.

“Let me make you an offer, John,” I said. I saw the corner of his cheek twitch when I used his first name

Marcone gets really pissed when people don’t act respectful toward him. Because, like,

MAFIA

The Godfather has a lot to answer for.

Harry figures that Marcone thinks he’s in danger from the killer and that’s why he’s willing to offer Harry such a sweet deal.

“I am a man of business, Mr. Dresden. Would you prefer anarchy in the streets? Wars between rival crime lords? I bring order to that chaos.

Wow, I’ve never seen a fictional crime boss use exactly those words before.

Anyway, Harry gets to be self-righteous some more and Marcone eventually gives harry the information for free, presumably because he is actually afraid.

 Look up the name Harley MacFinn. Ask about the Northwest Passage Project. See where they lead you.

Harley Macfinn is totally a superhero comic name.

“Just as you should know that it was unwise to make an enemy of me. It need not have been this way.

This is like the sixth person who Harry has managed to get on the bad side of since the start of the first book. Butcher is really squirreling those plot threads away for the winter.

I hadn’t realized the depth of the disgust in me for Marcone and what he stood for. I hadn’t realized how much it had sickened me to have my name associated with his. I hadn’t realized how much I wanted to launch myself at the man and smash him in the nose with my fists.

It’s awfully convenient that you only noticed that now instead of during the previous book.

Chapter 11

Okay so Harry summons a demon and it’s all raging against the summoning circle and roaring, but then it straightens up and starts speaking in a posh accent (by which I mean an English accent because the two are as one, apparently) because it was just “following the formalities” and it’s just….It’s like a really lame Terry Pratchett rip-off. The humour in these books sucks.

The demon- “Chauncy”- keeps trying to get Harry to pledge his allegiance to the United States of not-Hell but Harry just wants information. So Chauncy offers to tell him stuff in exchange for “one of his names”.

The demon had two of my names already. If he gained my whole name, from my own lips, he could use it in any number of magical applications against me

Fantasy authors need to get off this True Name kick, the idea has been driven into the ground. Was it Earthsea? All they all just ripping off Earthsea?

Very well,” Chauncy said. “Harley MacFinn is an heir to a considerable fortune made in coal mining and railroads at the turn of the twentieth century. He is one of the ten richest men in the country known as the United States.

I like the implication here that Harry didn’t even bother doing a google search for this guy, or he would already know all of this.

(What’s that? Computers don’t work around wizards? Get Murphy to do it then)

Harley QuinnMacFinn is buying up huge tracts of land for a wildlife preserve (which is probably for werewolves). One of the first Lobo victims was an industrialist who was trying to block the project.

Harry wonders if MacFinn could be the werewolf.

MacFinn is a member of an ancient family line from an island known as Ireland

I have never heard of anyone with this surname, but a Google search reveals that it is an actual name, just an unusual one- the first Wikipedia hit for it is the page for this book. There are also several places called MacFinn, but as a surname it appears to be very rare.

I don’t know why American depictions of Ireland always pick out relatively unusual or obscure features (like red hair) and use them consistently. It would be like if 90% of foreign depictions of the US had people in river-boats hunting alligators or something.

(Also not really blaming Butcher for this since it’s the sort of thing a demon probably wouldn’t realize, but referring to “an island known as Ireland” is sort of opening a can of potentially major political worms)

Sometime in the murky past, legend would have it, the man known as Saint Patrick

We’re not

We’re not actually doing this are we

Sometime in the murky past, legend would have it, the man known as Saint Patrick cursed his ancestor to become a ravening beast at every full moon. The curse came with two addenda. First, that it would be hereditary, passing down to someone new each and every generation. And second, that the cursed line of the family would never, ever die out, lasting until the end of days.

Yep, we’re doing it. Also really curious how that last condition works, are his family members compelled to have children or something?

Chauncy knows who exactly the killer is but won’t tell Harry anything else.

There is a limit to how much I may involve myself in mortal affairs.

That limit is exactly enough to get the plot moving along, but not enough to actually resolve it early.

Chauncy explains that Marcone now owns a majority share of the business interests of Harding, the guy who was opposing MacFinn’s wuffle reserve. This immediately makes me think that MacFinn killed Harding and then Marcone got the business and is naturally afraid that this makes him the next target (remember, one of the previous victims worked for him) but the theory Harry comes up with is that Marcone killed Harding as part of a scheme to make MacFinn pay through the nose for the land, even though Harding was obviously killed by a werewolf so this idea requires the assumption that Marcone has one working for him and doesn’t explain the other murders at all. Surely assuming MacFinn is the killer is far more parsimonious given the current information.

Chauncy adjusted his wire-frame spectacles. “Your reasoning would seem to be sound.”

What no it isn’t what kind of demon are you

I nodded. “My name,” I said, “is Harry Blackstone Dresden.” I carefully omitted “Copperfield” from the words, while leaving the tones and pronunciation the same.

Jesus, Harry’s parents just didn’t give the poor guy a chance, did they.

Chauncy randomly drops the drama-bomb that the denizens of not-Hell knew Harry’s mother and that “the Dark Prince” really wanted her soul when she died but she managed to redeem herself somehow and want to (presumably) not-Heaven. He offers to spill the beans for Harry’s last name.

My father had perished in his sleep, of an aneurism, when I was young. My mother had died in childbirth.

Or had they?

I’d really love it if Chauncy was just fucking with him here and it turned out his parents did actually just die from totally mundane causes.

I’ve read several times of this trope relating to dead parents in fiction where the father is venerated and has a massive impact on the child’s psyche while the mother kind of gets shunted off to the side. But here, if I’m remembering the first book correctly Harry seems to fixate very heavily on his mother, while his Dad is basically a non-entity.

The price is comparatively low. What need have you for your immortal soul when your body is finished with it?

This seems to suggest that there isn’t a a traditional afterlife in this universe, in the sense that people remain conscious and sentient beings. Which would be interesting.

We are watching you, wizard!” he screamed. “You walk through shadows and one night you will slip and fall. And when you do, we will be there. We will be waiting to bring you down to us. You will be ours in the end.

I cannot imagine why anyone would want to willingly spend time in Harry’s company. If I was the demons I’d be paying him money to stay away.

And yet another potential enemy introduction. This must be the sixth or seventh one so far. Also, it’s kind of telling that so many of Harry’s interactions end with people swearing to murder him.

Anyway Harry gets a call from Murph telling him that- DUN DUN DUUUN- it seems MacFinn has been killed. Which admittedly scuppers my theory but based on the evidence we had a minute ago it was perfectly sound.

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21 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 10 – 11

  1. Nerem

    Alice: Because of you mentioning your books, I checked them out, and I quite enjoy them! I couldn’t figure out how to email you or anything, so I hope you see this sometime.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 9 | Doing In The Wizard

  3. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 12- 13 | Doing In The Wizard

  4. rmric0

    “I like the implication here that Harry didn’t even bother doing a google search for this guy, or he would already know all of this.”

    I actually like this rule, and while it doesn’t really make all that much sense it tends to be applied relatively consistently (unlike spell fatigue) and to Harry’s detriment. It’s also a nice way around a lot of the problems facing modern hacks where problems could just be solved with a cell-phone call.

    On the other hand, why doesn’t Harry just have like a shabbos goy? Some mortal to drive his car, answer his phone, use a computer and all that stuff? This is particularly glaring later when we see that there’s this whole ancient wizard hierarchy and no one has thought of this (though surely there must be a Jewish wizard who has come across the practice). Though I guess Harry doesn’t make enough money to keep someone on staff (because he’s not willing to actually demonstrate his wizard powers).

    Reply
  5. braak

    You can see why Harry had to have such an intense visceral reaction to Johnny Marcone, though. If Butcher doesn’t establish that Harry hates Marcone in one scene, then the subsequent scene in which he suspects Marcone of a crime despite all countervailing evidence does make any sense.

    Reply
  6. BDG

    The name thing might have historical precedence if Harry wasn’t a white man in America. The Navajo people have a bunch of interesting naming rules, such as not naming people and pets after dangerous animals because it would literally be calling those animals to you. Special naming is also a feature of other southwest nations. But seeing as Harry (and Butcher, one of the main things that bother me about the Dresden Files is the gross amount of cultural appropriation in it…am still a fan however) is not of the Navajo nation and is actually just a normal white American he’s SOL.

    And to be fair to American’s I’ve seen numerous peoples assume you’re either a cowboy or an idiot depending where they’re from (up here in Canada is leans to idiot).

    Reply
      1. Andrea Harris (@SpinsterAndCat)

        The internet is a research tool, just like any other. Inaccuracy and misinformation have existed since before writing. And really, if you can’t sift truth from fact on the internet, you’re not going to be able to do it in a library, and anyone you have do your work for you can tell you whatever they want.

        But I’ll help. Google “Navajo naming conventions”. Skip the first result, which leads to a tvtropes forum where an argument about racism quickly derails the original question.

        Reply
    1. Signatus

      Could have been interesting if it hadn’t been overdone till boredom. A Navajo character with such naming conventions (I admit it is the first time I read about it) could be interesting. Typical magic user making an emphasis on naming, true names and stuff is the typical fantasy trope.

      Reply
      1. welltemperedwriter

        It’s pretty common in European and American folklore and magical traditions, which is probably how it got into fantasy. It pre-dates LeGuin but I suspect Earthsea is indeed the main source of the trope at present.

        But the idea of being able to control an entity by learning its name goes a long way back and is really common. Stories like “Rumpelstiltskin” are cases in point.

        Reply
  7. Signatus

    Nobody can write about witches like Terry Pratchet. Anyways, it is interesting why much of fantasy seems to fixate so much on male mages and sorcerers, and not so much on female sorceresses. So far, I can name but a few out of my mind, and all of them are very, VERY minor characters, which may be important for the plot, but appear only every now and then. I guess it has a lot to do with how most fantasy writers tend to be males.

    As for the whole true name thing, that’s bullshit that has been overdone till boredom, each writer with a more contrived and stupid explanation than the previous. Paolini makes an emphasis about this whole thing in his books, as magic comes from true names, and truth and some ancient language, yet changing the nature of one’s self can change the true name and… I never really cared about any of that. Seems like every idiot likes to talk about true names.
    Names are just ettiquettes we put on ourselves to facilitate the comunication with other members of our species. A wolf’s “true name” is the scent of his butt, because scent and visual language is their main form of comunication. Other species like dolphins do use names.
    Anyways, I don’t know about you, but I have over 10 different names. My real name is the one on my ID, but my friends call me one thing, my dad calls me something else, so does my mate. I have one totally different name on my FB and my forum friends (who have become RL friends), call me by my forum nickname. In all cases, I’m the same person hiding behind different names. Which is my true name? The one on my ID? The one my father gave me out of love for his “little girl”? The one my friends know me for? The name my mate whispers in our intimate moments? Or the one I like best and thus use in my FB account?
    In the end, a person is nothing but his acts. Names are nothing but the evolutionary response to our complex, spoken language.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      “Anyways, it is interesting why much of fantasy seems to fixate so much on male mages and sorcerers, and not so much on female sorceresses”

      For some reason children’s fiction seems to feature a lot more witches, I think because fantasy aimed at younger readers is more frequently either gender neutral or aimed at girls.

      Reply
      1. Signatus

        But you mean witches as in evil witches trope, right? I meant more as in Hermione from Harry Potter, or Sonea from The Black Magician trilogy. The closest examples I remember about female sorceresses are the Dark Elf books from R.A. Salvatore. Female drows are normally powerful sorceresses… and evil, very evil. I remember only one female good mage in such books, she is the queen/leader/whatever from some city state somewhere in Faerun, and while very powerful, she’s a secondary character with little to no importance for the plot (forgot her name, tho).
        I don’t remember a single female character in dragonlance who was a protagonist and a mage. Nor in Brent Weeks’ Night Angel trilogy. Even my so loved Death Gate Cycle rarely features female magicians, all seven books centering around Haplo and Alfred. Only exception I can think of, and let’s not take it all that seriously, is Tracy Hickman’s Bronze Chanticles, and they don’t really count as the main female magician protagonists are faeries. The real magician section of the book is male centered.

        Reply
        1. ronanwills Post author

          No, witches as in protagonists. I remember when I was a kid reading a lot of witchity kids books (I’m talking middle grade or lower here).

          I know Diana Wynne Jones wrote at least one book focused on witches. They were sort of like harry potter wizards and could be male or female, but the protagonists-who I believe were the only two to actually use magic-were girls. There was only one male magic user and he was from another dimension or something and only showed up at the end.

          Looking back on it, a lot of books written for children are really weird.

          Reply
      2. Alice

        “For some reason children’s fiction seems to feature a lot more witches”

        I have a children’s book out that features a witch protagonist (and a lesbian one at that), but I did that because I thought the opposite – that most fiction seems to focus on male magic users, and I wanted to try and change that. If there are a lot of kids books with witch protags, I wish I had known about them, would have loved to read them.

        Reply
        1. ronanwills Post author

          Admittedly I could be extrapolating my vague childhood memories further than they actually warrant.

          (Any chance you could tell us the title of your book? It sounds interesting :3 )

          Reply
      3. Alice

        It’s called Jinx, you can find it on Amazon if you look up that title and my name (Alice Rozen). Unfortunately I had to self publish it on kindle, as I couldn’t find a publisher willing to publish a children’s book with a lesbian protagonist, and I wasn’t willing to make her straight (I’m a lesbian myself).

        Reply
      4. Andrea Harris (@SpinsterAndCat)

        You need to go back further in time, to stuff published in the 60-early 80s, to get fantasy aimed at young adults (juveniles as they were called then) featuring female characters playing witches and sorceresses and so on. For example, Andre Norton’s Witch World novels had an entire nation where only the women could practice magic, and therefore they ruled the country (in other parts of that world men could do it too). Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover stories are full of women wielding magical psychic powers. C.J. Cherryh wrote some fantasy and sci-fantasy early in her career, before she went in for hard SF, with women who either were magic-users in some way. In fact, this whole idea of no witches, or at least no good ones, and no significant female characters, and men charging about all over the place where women are fainting maidens or Girl Sidekicks or whatever, is pretty strange to me. Maybe I just avoided books like that; most of the SFF I’ve read has been written by women, not because men are icky or anything, but that male authors seemed to care about things that didn’t interest me, like getting revenge against rivals, or Getting The Girl, or becoming more politically powerful (rewarded with the rulership of the planet or some nonsense), and there were too many physical fight scenes. Buddy-explorers stuff I did like, because the situation was less about gain and “manhood” and more about survival and friendship. I’m thinking maybe that one of the major reasons SFF in general has backslid into sexism is because of our increased emphasis on (Cis, Hetero) Marriage and Family. Not coincidentally, the romance industry went from a middling genre of potboilers to a multi-billion-trillion dollar juggernaut. And then there was Star Wars, the science fiction movie franchise for people who didn’t like science fiction.

        Reply

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