Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 16


Chapter 16

Last time: Park escape!

I stopped at the first gas station I could find, so I could take off my boots. Old and comfortable as they were, cowboy boots were not meant for running cross-country.

Cowboy boots aren’t meant for any setting that isn’t being a cowboy. Stop wearing cowboy boots.

(I am 100% certain Harry owns at least one katana)

Harry hangs around for an hour but MacFinn and Tera don’t appear.

Could both MacFinn and Tera West have been captured?

….. yes? Why is that hard to believe?

Harry decides to call his sultry vivacious media contact, Susan Rodriguez, who is sultry and vivacious and sultry. She’s freaked out because the police have been calling looking for Harry, but Harry hints that there might be a juicy story if she plays along with him and her tone immediately changes.

Gee I’ve never seen this stock archetype before.

You'd be amazed at how long it took me to find an image of this character that doesn't involve bondage

You’d be amazed at how long it took me to find an image of this character that doesn’t involve bondage

I did, too, and leaned back against the wall. I hated to draw Susan into this. It made me feel cheap, somehow. Weak.

Is that because you don’t want a girl coming to rescue you?

It was that whole problem with chivalry that I had. I didn’t want a girl to be riding to my rescue, protecting me. It just didn’t seem right.

I swear to God I wrote that last line before I read this bit. I swear to God.

If there was a story involved, she’d go to hell itself to get it.

And I had used that against her, to lever her into helping me.

What exactly are you using against her? You explained the situation and she decided of her own volition to come and rescue you.

Harry hears a scrabbling sound that he thinks is a “signal” since it’s coming at regular intervals or whatever the fuck. A lot of stuff in this book is way more complicated than it needs to be.

It turns out it’s Tera!

She was naked,

Of course. Still haven’t gotten an explanation for why Kim was naked.

Her body is a “uniform brown” and her eyes look “alien and wild” so I guess this is her werewolf transformation? It makes her sound like a furry.

She moved with a feral sort of grace that made me all too aware of her legs, and her hips, even though I was battered, fatigued, and brooding.

For fuck’s sake Harry, go and have a wank already. You really seem to need it.

She demands Harry’s coat and he’s all regretful because now he can’t stare at her lithe, nude body (seriously) and then she tells him that MacFinn has been caught by the fuzz. I sure hope they’ve got him in a cell by the time the moon comes out.

There is nothing more to be done. We cannot reach him now. MacFinn will change when the moon rises. Murphy and the police people will die.

I can understand why Tera would feel this is totally cool, particularly as she’s not actually human and all that, but since MacFinn willingly endangered innocent people I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for him. Best case scenario is that Murphy shoots him, and then shoots Harry too for good measure.

Just then Susan and her sultriness arrive.

Raindrops were starting to come down and to make little impact circles on her Taurus’s windshield.

God this writing is so stilted

“There’s our ride,” I said. “Follow.”

Nobody actually says “follow”. Murphy was doing this with Harry earlier and it sounded super weird.

So let’s play a game here, who bets that Tera and Susan will start cat-fighting the second they lock eyes on each other, as all women in stories like this seem to do? I haven’t looked ahead and I’m guessing the answer is “yes”.

Susan turned in the seat and glowered at Tera, and I looked back to see Tera narrow her eyes and bare her teeth in what one could hardly say was a smile.


Anyway they manage to contain themselves long enough for Susan to start driving. Susan asks why Harry doesn’t just call Murphy and be like “hey Murph, werewolves” but of course Harry must perpetually not tell people things to facilitate the plot so he just says she wouldn’t listen. You could at least try, dude.

Harry has Murphy drive past his house because he needs something from his wizard basement, but it’s crawling with police. Tera volunteers to create a distraction and Harry does a bit more of his wait-she-might-be-the-killer-oh-but-that-doesn’t-make-much-sense thing. If this is supposed to be Harry’s detective instincts at work then it’s a really clumsy way of showing it.

So Tera’s plan is to strut nude in front of the police officers and they’ll all be super distracted by this. No, seriously.

Instead of answering, the amber-eyed woman stripped off my duster and handed it back to me, leaving herself nude and lovely under the rain. “Do you like to look at my body?” she demanded of me.

Okay I take it back: Jim Butcher is the one who needs to go and have a wank. Maybe fifty wanks. Just keep wanking Butcher, we’ll tell you when to stop.

(Hey that must be what his publisher says to him as well)

I’m a tad confused here about Tera, when Harry earlier said she’s “a uniform shade of brown” I took that to mean she had grown fur or something, but Susan doesn’t seem to notice anything unusual about her. If he just means Tera has brown skin, why specify that she’s “a uniform shade of brown”? I’m pretty sure he does actually just mean she has brown skin, but it’s an incredibly weird and awkwardly phrased sentence.

They were staring at the pool of light beneath the streetlight behind them, where Tera spun gracefully through the steps of some sort of gliding dance, moving to a rhythm and a music I could not hear. There was a primal sort of intensity to her motions, raw sexuality, feminine power coursing through her movements.

Ah yes, women’s power consists of The Sex while men’s power is all about mighty thews and blasting rods. I wonder if Harry is a fan of The Myth of Male Power.

Anyway, the police are duly distracted by Tera and her uniform shade of brown.

Her back arched as she spun and whirled, offering out her breasts to the chill rain, and her skin was slick and gleaming with water.

Yes, okay Butcher. We get it.

Harry grabs some stuff, including the two potions he made way back when, and heads out again.

“It worked,” I said. “We did it.”

“Of course it worked,” Tera said. “Men are foolish. They will stare at anything female and naked.”

“She’s got that right,” Susan said, under her breath


I wonder if this is Butcher doing that thing sexists like to do where they say “but I can’t be misogynistic, for you see I AM ACTUALLY A MISANDRIST” (hello Robert Jordan).

Harry goes to police HQ and pretends to be a janitor by wearing overalls and drinking a “blending potion”.

A sort of grey feeling came over me, and I realized with a start that the colors were fading from my vision. A sort of listless feeling came over me,

I wonder how many speed records Butcher broke while writing this.

The solid old matron of a sergeant sat at the front desk

Harry we already did this cliche with the male desk sergeant being a “warhorse” or whatever, we don’t need to see it again.

Sometimes, being able to use magic was so cool

Not as cool as being able to write well! You should try it some time.

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45 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 16

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 17-18 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. Signatus

    Ronan, is there a way you can delete my interventions in these posts? Please?

    My language gap makes me unable to explain myself and it seems like people are getting the opposite message. I would appreciate it if it could be done.
    Also I had a horrible week, and I’m not emotionally capacitated to continue this discussion. Since it seems all I’m doing is annoy or hurt other people, when it was never my intention.

  3. Elspeth Grey

    …I know that there are dancers who perform naked, but I have to say that in my experience, just the IDEA of dancing with my breasts just floating free makes me wince.

    I haven’t even managed to be offended yet, I’m just too busy boggling over the fact that this IS.

  4. Emily

    “I’m a tad confused here about Tera, when Harry earlier said she’s “a uniform shade of brown” I took that to mean she had grown fur or something, but Susan doesn’t seem to notice anything unusual about her. If he just means Tera has brown skin, why specify that she’s “a uniform shade of brown”? I’m pretty sure he does actually just mean she has brown skin, but it’s an incredibly weird and awkwardly phrased sentence.”

    Yeah, because racial minorities are definitely all one color -everywhere- throughout their body, because getting tanned by the sun happens only for white people. (I know that this was probably just terrible writing on Butcher’s part and not actual racism, but I can’t actually be bothered to give him the benefit of the doubt.)

      1. Emily

        There’s nonetheless certainly been criticism of racist implications of his work; just a bit of casual googling turns up links like http://seeking-avalon.blogspot.com/2011/07/fuck-you-jim-butcher.html I’m pretty sure Ronan had some stuff on his previous Jim Butcher post as well, like http://luciazephyr.dreamwidth.org/548703.html

        In any case, these links revealed not only problematic racial implications in his works, but also a staggering amount of white privilege and the denial that he himself could ever write racist things. Racism isn’t really about “let’s kill all non-white people” in 21st century America; it’s instead about the reinforcing of negative stereotypes, and–most importantly–the idea of the foreigner as Other. The “uniformly brown skin” line stuck out, because to me, it was another indication of a white American writer pointing to someone of different skin color and Othering them (notice that we never find it relevant to point out if a character’s white or not, unless it’s as a mark of attractiveness).

      2. noam

        Racism and ignorance aren’t mutually exclusive. They go together wonderfully, actually. This guy is definitely both.

      3. Signatus

        Well, you’ve got a point there, Emily.

        noam, correct. They go hand by hand, but I meant I didn’t think it was intentionally racist.

      4. Reveen

        While Hanlon’s Razor certainly applies, there’s a point where stupidity loops back around and itself becomes malicious.

      5. noam

        I don’t know where this idea that racism is somehow less toxic when unintentional came from, but it’s pretty terrible. Racism is racism. Intent means nothing. If anything, it’s even more dangerous when it’s inadvertent, because then it’s harder to address and try to, like, fucking fix. It’s a testament to the awfulness of white western culture that so many people can be raging bigots without even noticing.

      6. Emily

        I somewhat agree with you in that unintentional racism can be just as or more toxic than intentional racism, but having been the target of a number of racist remarks in the past (or just general microaggressions), I have to say that–when it comes to reasonable people at least–I much prefer unintentional racism, because at least there’s a chance, albeit a small one, that I can make them aware of what they’re doing (does not in the least apply to fauxgressive white liberals). Besides, as I see it, there are still quite a few people out there who are genuinely trying to learn from their mistakes, and when you point out that something they said was not okay, they’re usually pretty good about making sure it doesn’t happen again. OTOH, people who are out to get you with intentional racism want a reaction out of you. If you react, you lose; if you don’t react, you’re silenced. There’s no way you can win in that situation.

        However, Butcher’s repeatedly proved that he’s incapable of even noticing the giant shitstorm of privilege that he lives in, so in this case, you’re pretty spot on with your remarks regarding unintentional racism. Otherwise, completely agree with what you said

      7. Signatus

        I think real equality comes from simply not adressing any difference at all. That is, treating certain topics as something normal, as can be homosexuality. I never really cared what people did with their lives, that is, they fall in love and decide to live together with someone of their same gender. Good for them, why should I care?

        Adressing this topics, even in a hypothetical positive way, creates a difference that does not exist, thus perpetuating the discrimination. I think nitpicking everything someone says in search for racism, homophobia or else is as harmful as extremist bigots, because they someone perpetuate that idea of; “hey, I’m different, but you have to respect me”.
        Well, no I don’t, because there is nothing nor to respect, nor to accuse you of. You are just like me, and your actions will deem you worthy of respect, not your skin or your nation, or your sexual preferences, which are none of my concern.

        1. ronanwills Post author

          But this assumes that those differences are only present because the “different” person chooses to label themselves, which isn’t the case- labels and identities are often forced onto people regardless of whether they want them, and systems of systemic bigotry and oppression don’t care one iota for the self-identity of their victims.

          I also don’t agree with the idea that people shouldn’t embrace aspects of their identity that in some ways set them apart or make them a target of bigotry. If a gay person wants their sexual orientation to be a big part of who they are and they get bullied for it, then that’s the fault of the bullies.

          In this specific case people “nit-pick” authors like Jim Butcher because they’re both reflecting and spreading harmful societal attitudes. If we stop nit-picking those attitudes aren’t going to magically fade into the ether, they’re just going to continue unchallenged. Rarely is there ever an issue where the solution is to not speak up about it.

      8. Emily

        Just to add a few other comments to Ronan’s response (which I agree with):

        In my fiction workshops (I was a creative writing major in my undergrad, please feel free to point and laugh), one of my otherwise excellent teachers once told me that if there was no reason for a character to be gay, then he shouldn’t be gay. While I don’t agree with this sentiment in the least, I disagree just as much with the other extreme.

        Here’s the thing: homophobia, racism, misogyny, transphobia, etc. are -still- problems. We DO NOT live in a post-bigotry world. When we pretend that those problems don’t exist, we’re actually catering to the dominant narrative again (white het cis male). By saying that we should pretend that queer people are the same as straight people (they are not–not because they are “lesser” or “better” or any such bullshit, but because they face a discrimination that straight people do not, and yes, this does affect their lives), you are silencing their struggles and their voices.

        Not only that, but–unless you’ve very clearly structured an imaginary world in which that prejudice doesn’t exist, and even then, I’m hesitant to hand the writer carte blanche–it’s disingenuous to write queer characters who don’t face queer issues. It certainly shouldn’t be the -entire- part of their storyline or character, as queer people have lives and interests beyond queer, but since we’ve talked about Orientalism previously–it’s like writing an East Asian character who acts like a white American in every way. Culture is not limited to race or nation; it extends to other things like sexual orientation and gender identity.

      9. Alice

        “In my fiction workshops (I was a creative writing major in my undergrad, please feel free to point and laugh), one of my otherwise excellent teachers once told me that if there was no reason for a character to be gay, then he shouldn’t be gay. ”

        There’s always a reason for a character to be gay – representing the diverse nature of humanity. Gay people exist. PoC exist. Trans people exist. Writing such characters into fiction needs no reason other than the fact that such people deserve to be represented in fiction. Doing otherwise is simply erasure … which cishet white people frequently have no problem with because of privilege. But seriously, I don’t need to justify my existence anymore than a writer needs to justify writing a gay character. Is there a reason for a character to be straight? Is there a reason for a character to be white? Oh right, yeah, racism and heterosexism. Except those are shitty reasons. That teacher is a privileged asshole. I grew up without ever seeing myself represented in fiction or media. I bet they got to see themselves.

      10. Emily

        I definitely agree–the only thing I really regret about that incident is that I was a few years younger and didn’t feel comfortable speaking out. For the record, he was a white cishet male. /sigh So… no big surprise there.

      11. Signatus

        You guys have a point.

        Alice, I really like Trudy Canavan because she does represent homosexuality in her books, and while they are not stellar books, I find the treament she does to them is pretty decent (you might digress, tho). It is a cultural taboo in her world as well, tho. Anyways, I found those relationships to be the best part in her books, always kept me reading wanting to know more about them.

      12. noam

        Emily, you’re totally right, I should have clarified that I was referring to liberal assholes who think they can never be racist just because they don’t mean to be. Openly racist people are very dangerous, especially in an environment that accepts (or encourages) their behaviour. I didn’t mean to belittle or dismiss the shittiness of overt and unapologetic racism.
        Signatus, I strongly disagree with you. I think not addressing social issues is the same as perpetuating them, and honestly I do not appreciate your condescending “acceptance” of the existence of homosexuality. We do not require your approval; your passive tolerance doesn’t make our lives safer or our rights any less infringed upon. I am not just like you. I face hurdles that you do not. You have institutional power over me. To ignore this fact is to allow you to keep that power, and that is not something that I want. Thank you.

      13. Signatus

        You’re correct, Noam. You do not need my approval, that is exactly what I have meant throughout this whole time. Your rights, which are unjustly vulnerated, are inherently yours, not something I should have to give you because it is not mine to give. It is yours by birthright. The fact that people say “I respect their rights” to me is fundamentally wrong, because it means these people are discriminating, maybe in a positive way but it is discrimination nonetheless, and where there is discrimination, there can’t be integration.

        Forgive me if my opinions on the subject have made you think there shouldn’t be a fight for the rights, or to ignore the issue as if it didn’t happen. NO, I never meant that, you should fight for your vulnerated rights, same as us women fought for them when we were treated like sub-humans.
        What I mean to state is that, to me, such differentiation is unconcievable. It should be addressed, but by trying to aquire a normalization about the issue. My country was actually one of the first (if not the first) to instaurate homosexual marriage, and adoption. It is viewed as something normal, a choice, and that’s it.

        That is why I refuse to say “I respect” because it is not mine to give. It is something that belongs to you.

      14. noam

        Sorry, Signatus, I misunderstood you and got defensive. I get the language gap thing, happens to me all the time. I’m sorry if I made your week shittier.

    1. Straw Man

      I don’t think it has anything to do with race: I think he’s trying to say that she was tanned all over–even the no-no places! Which means she must sunbathe (or otherwise cavort around) totally naked! Like, regularly! (And the readers scurry off for another 50 wanks…)

  5. Reveen

    It doesn’t matter how OMGHAWT you are, stripping in front of police officers is gonna get you arrested. Uh, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

    That really does sound like one of those “reverse-sexist” types would say. But
    “men are stupid and obsessed with sex” will easily segue into “so evil women control men with vagina!”.

    But I don’t think we have to worry about anything that insidious from Butcher thus far. This is laughably transparent.

  6. Signatus

    Women actually make some heck of good spies, mostly because men rarely see them as threats in comparison to how suspicious they would be around men buying them a drink and feigning interest.
    However, I’m pretty sure these men where wondering WTF was going on with the naked woman, more than it being a sexual thing. The effect would have been the same had it been a man shaking his wang in front of them. Humans tend to get distracted by things that are out of the ordinary. However, one would expect policemen to be above such petty distractions when in duty…

    1. Signatus

      Was thinking exactly the same thing… and the longsword he gets even later on and keeps to himself because… reasons.

      1. braak

        I think the sword he gets is actually the one that the Japanese guy had, which means it’s a Zatoichi-style weapon — both a katana AND a sword-cane.

    2. Emily

      I winced so much when I saw this. Gonna go out and admit my prejudice here (I’m Japanese), but I do actually get personally offended every fucking time a white Westerner decides to use anything Japanese for “omg t3h coolz”. cultural appropriation or something~

      1. Signatus

        Never understood the obsession with katanas, and I have one hanging from the wall (along with a bunch of other swords, collector’s interest). It is a fine sword, sure, but it makes no fucking sense for a westerner to choose it over a more culturally appropiate weapon. Long swords, gladius, broadswords, scimittars, sabres, there are a broad variety of sharp weapons to be use that make more sense in certain cultural contexts.

        To be totally honest, tho, the katana’s bearer was actually japanese. Harry only came to keep it when he died.

      2. Emily

        Yeah but… why keep it? /sigh Like I’m barely willing to accept that maybe there’s some bullshit in-universe explanation for this, but it’s just a (minor) symptom of the whole business of “Asian things are EXOTIC and INTERESTING and T3H COOLZ so I must have them in my SFF!” and it’s just like “please stop”

      3. Signatus

        That’s what I don’t get. It’s been like, what? 6 books? And Harry still hasn’t found a good bearer for either Fidelacchius (the Katana) or Amoracchius (the londsword)? Why has HE got to find a good bearer when there is a third Knight of the Cross who is far more competent than he at that sort of things?
        Then there is the fact the Katana bearer (whose name I forgot) is the archetypical wise, mystic, old japanese who lives in meditation and the mastery of the body and the spirit and such… which is very original.

      4. Signatus

        All three swords are forged from the three nails used on the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified. That kind of explains it.
        Why a katana was forged from such metal? T’was cool, I guess.

      5. Signatus

        Well, Jesus was crucified by the romans, and the later church adopted latin as their languange. The Knights of the Cross are a holy order linked to the roman catholic church, which does explain the lain names.

        It still does not explain WHY A KATANA!

      6. ssellis

        Sure, but the New Testament was originally written in Koine, marketplace Greek, and while one of the later churches spoke Latin, the other spoke Greek. Of course the Templars are everybody’s favorite lazy cliché historical conspiracy, but on the other hand, contemporary Palestinian Christians have more in common with Orthodoxy than Catholicism—and that’s the Christianity of the East. If an author’s going to be all multicultural on the front end of history, with katanas and whatnot, why not do it on the back end?

      7. Austin H. Williams

        Sselis – Everything you’re saying is spot on. In answer to your question of why Butcher won’t be more accurate/multicultural on the backend, I think we just have to tragically remind ourselves that we’re asking questions someone who is competent and talented would have asked themselves long before. We’re assuming that Butcher’s baseline is, in fact, much, much higher than it evidently is.

      8. Signatus

        Good observation Sselis. If he had limited to european swords, it would have been infinitely easier, but he had to introduce exotic elements because they are cool.

  7. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 15 | Doing In The Wizard

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