Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch.21


Chapter 21

Last time on Harry Dresden: I don’t know!

This time on Harry Dresden: Werewolf fight!

Harry is still in the car with Susan and Tera and Tera is confused by human speech patterns.

“It’s a figure of speech. Hell’s bells, you really don’t know anything about humans, do you?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but Harry says “Hell’s Bells” a lot.

Tera can tell that the people following them are dangerous, using her animal sense or whatever. Harry tells Susan to get off the expressway and call the police, then rolls out of the car while it’s still moving.

I was pretty sure that Parker and his cronies in the Streetwolves were shadowing us, and I had a precise idea of how dangerous they could be.

Couldn’t you just have, like, asked her to stop for a second?

So I, uh, sort of threw myself out of the passenger seat of a moving car.

Don’t look at me like that. I’m telling you, it made sense at the time.

I don’t know why but this particular instance of Harry breaking the fourth wall is way more jarring than any time he’s done it before.

Harry gulps down the energy potion he made ages ago and is filled with strength.

energy came rushing into me, like it sometimes does at the end of a really good concerto or overture

Sure, Harry. Concertos. Okay.

I considered how much I loved the autumn, and composed a brief poem about it as I watched traffic force Susan’s car along and out of sight.

Don’t you have more important things to be doing right now?

It turns out the car following them is being driven by Parker, the leader of the werewolf clan that Harry managed to start a vendetta with earlier. Presumably he’s come to kill Harry/ wait for him to die while rolling out of speeding cars.

Harry uses WIZARD to blow the tires off Parker’s truck.

a pretty slick spell to pull on the fly, heating up the air inside of the tires of a moving vehicle

This is what I don’t get about the magic in these books- sometimes it’s all WIZARD ENERGY and magic just does things with no explanation, but other times it’s a more scientific process where Harry has to tamper with real-world forces. Is there some reason why he can’t just cause the tires to come off with no physical mechanism?

I mean, it’s not like this actually effects the story in any way, but if you’re going to bother taking the time to flesh out your magic system (which is usually not necessary) then at least be consistent with it.

Car wrecks, when they happen for real and not on television, are surprisingly noisy. They sound like someone pounding empty trash cans out of shape with a sledgehammer, only louder

Is there some common perception that fictional car crashes aren’t noisy? Most movie car crashes sound like the moon exploding.

“Well then,” I said with a certain amount of professional pride. “That should take care of that.”

Who the fuck are you talking to?

Parker and two of his goons come crawling out of the wreckage of the truck. Harry whistles jauntily and steps toward them, twirling his staff. Sometimes I really don’t know whether I’m meant to be taking any of this seriously.

Harry fights Parker and his hench-werewolves, one of whom is a woman. Would you believe his method of subduing her involves calling her a bitch and using magic to slap her across the mouth? Oh Harry, you’re such an old fashioned chivalrous gentleman!

Unfortunately Harry realises he massively overdid it with the magic and his strength potion is starting to fail.

I jammed the rod at him and snarled, ” Fuego. 

This is the same spell Harry used to knock MacFinn clear through a building earlier. You may remember that Harry was able to super-charge it despite being exhausted by channeling all of his negative emotions and even his tiredness into it. For some reason that’s not an option now, though, and the spell doesn’t work.

Harry pulls out his revolver and blows Parker’s kneecap off, but this doesn’t really have all that much of an effect because werewolves (just shooting him again, in the head this time, doesn’t seem to occur to Harry). The police are just about to show up when Parker reveals that there was a second car full of lycanthropes following him, and one of the occupants gets the jump on our hero with a lead pipe. The rest of the lycanthropes proceed to beat the ever-loving shit out of Harry. I am obviously greatly enjoying this but I’m also wondering how much damage Harry can take and still remain capable of moving. In real life getting wailed on like this by multiple people will usually at the very least result in injuries requiring hospitalisation, and keep in mind Harry is already severely injured and just rolled out of a moving car. Dude should be in pieces by now.

As Harry is being thrown in the boot of the werewolf-car he spots Roger Harris, FBI Asshole Denton’s subordinate, driving by and guesses that he was being tailed.

And, behind the gag, I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. I laughed, and it sounded like I was choking on raw sewage.

The pieces had all fallen into place.

I’m going to have to take your word for that, dude. Are the FBI actually behind the killings? I guess that would fit with the mystery trope of the first person the investigators talk to turning out to be the killer. There’s clearly something weird about that agent who almost shot Murph at the start, so maybe she’s going vigilante on the mafia, things got out of hand and the FBI sabotaged MacFinn’s circle in an effort to frame him. That seems to make about as much sense as any other theory, although it would only really work if werewolves are common knowledge among police officers and Internal Affairs departments and judges and so using “it was a werewolf” as an excuse wouldn’t immediately get you branded a lunatic.

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

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 22-23 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. antialiasis

    The fact so much of these books is just Harry getting beaten up repeatedly by absolutely everyone makes me have a pretty hard time seeing him as a power fantasy. He has powers, sure, but he spends most of his time failing at things and suffering for it, which makes for a pretty pathetic power fantasy. Whatever Jim Butcher’s other problems (and yes, he has many), he doesn’t shy away from making his characters lose.

    1. braak

      Being “tough” — or having the ability to survive hardship — is integral to power fantasy. Harry only ever loses in the short-term; in the long-term, his fans can indulge in the fantasy of Infinite Sticktoitiveness, because whatever he has to suffer, he always manages to endure.

      1. Number27

        And in the long long term, the times when he really does lose something and not get it back, Butcher just turns it into a giant angstfest so Harry can have MANPAIN and be RUGGED BUT BROKEN all over the place.

    2. callmeIndigo

      He doesn’t really lose, though, as far as I remember [it’s been a while since I read this]. His injuries don’t ever inconvenience him unless it would further the plot for them to do so, and his failures generally follow the same principle. It’s a contrivance, rather than a demonstration of the character’s mortality/what have you.

  3. Number27

    On Dresdenverse magic and its inconsistency: There is an in universe explanation for this. Kinda. Magic is fundamentally an act of will. At the most basic level, all a wizard ever does is think “I want X thing to happen” and their will interacts with the universe in some unknown way (in the sense that no one in the setting has the first clue why or how exactly this process occurs) and spits out magic which makes it happen.

    The way you get from there to the sometimes highly ritualistic, sometimes vaguely scientific, often totally stupid magic of one Harry Dresden (and other wizards when we meet them) has to do with the human brain and its love of shortcuts.

    Straight will working is hard so wizards create all kinds of mental and physical props to make magic easier. Harry’s various phallic symbols are one example of this, and the wildly inconsistent bastardized otherlanguageish magic words are another.

    I think the “I heated the air in the tires to cause a blah de blah effect” thing is also one. The energy potion is making Harry think faster than usual (for him at least) so he devotes some brain power to coming up with a plausible method to perform this magic thing which makes it take a bit less of his power/ work a bit better or faster or something.

    Now all of that is me giving Butcher a fair amount of credit and/or doing his job for him. The stuff I say above is in the books (though I don’t know if all of it is in this particular one) but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is consistently applied.

    It is, however, a pretty flexible framework, to the point where you can rationalize pretty much anything happening within it.

    For example, the fuego not working thing: As a function of will, magic is based partly on confidence. The reason Harry could channel a bunch of stuff into his fuego to put mac finn through a wall is that he was all puffed up and ready to do the desperate bad ass thing. Here, on the other hand, he has just realized he screwed up in managing the burst of energy from the potion so his headspace is the opposite of confident and the magic fails.

    1. braak

      Man, the thing is that this seems like it would be a really great premise for a story about a wizard, if the story started from that — like, if it was a story about will and the universe and how the mind doesn’t fully understand either — instead of a junky noirish thing about werewolves that uses this particular framework as an easy out for whatever magic happens to be necessary for the plot.

    2. Signatus

      IMO, the vibe I got was that Harry had some spheres in hermetic magic, some in enthropy, and the rod was the focus (and the bracelet, and the pendant). Summarizing, Jim’s books have always reminded me of a Mage; The Ascension game.

      1. Number27

        There are definitely parallels. The will working thing is more explicit in the WoD and the Umbra is basically the NeverNever with a less stupid name (YMMV.)

  4. April

    I think the FBI plan would be less “werewolves did it” than “Oh hey, another wild animal attack. Strange how that keeps happening.”

  5. Signatus

    So, how much longer is this book? Don’t have a clear memory as I read it over 7 years ago, but there doesn’t seem to be source material for more book.

    Guess we can all be grateful he didn’t beat the werewolf “bitch” with a rolled up newspaper. The fact that a bitch is a perfectly appropiate name for a female dog, and it is commonly used as an insult irks me. Same as vixen (commonly used in my language as an insult to prostitutes or women with a happy sexual life). Never understood that.
    Oh, yeah, and my country loves using “woman” as an insult too. Lovely!

    1. braak

      Hahah, it’s funny, “vixen” is a common idiom in English, too, but with generally positive connotations (i.e., being young and sexy).

      Female dog = bad. Female fox = good.

      Sure, English. Whatever you say, man.

    2. Austin H. Williams

      I tend to note “vixen” often enough is a compliment, like a really classy way of saying “sexy,” especially if the woman in question is a redhead. Mileage varies from culture to culture though, I suppose.

  6. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Fool Moon ch. 20 | Doing In The Wizard

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