Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 8-9


Chapter Eight

Last time: vampires attack!

This time: vampires attack!

One of the vampires let out a velvet laugh,

If you say “velvet laugh” I picture the vampire opening its mouth and a roll of cloth literally rolling out. Metaphors and similes and whatever are great and all, but sometimes they really don’t work.

“Bianca told us you’d be nervous,” he purred.

Hey, Bianca! Bianca is the vampire that Harry pissed off in the first book by making her insecure about her looks or something stupid like that. I’ve been wondering when that Chekhov’s gun was going to fire.

The second of the pair kept coming toward us from the corner of the boardinghouse.

She, too, was of innocuous height and build,

What the fuck is “innocuous” height and build? Does that just mean they’re not hulking  and ripped or something?

Anyway the vampires are all suavely dressed and sexed up and Harry warns Susan not to let them lick her, because their saliva is a potent narcotic (yes really). But it turns out they’re not here to kill anyone! They’re just giving Harry an invitation from Bianca.

“The Vampire Court,” Kyle said, a measured cadence to his words, “extends a formal invitation to Harry Dresden, Wizard, as the local representative of the White Council of Wizards, to attend the reception celebrating the elevation of Bianca St. Claire to the rank of Margravine of the Vampire Court, three nights hence, reception to begin at midnight.”

You know this is serious business urban fantasy because it has VAMPIRE POLITICS.


I smiled back at him. “Look, Sparky, you’re the herald. You should know the accords as well as I do. You’ve license to deliver and receive messages and to have safe passage granted you so long as you don’t start any trouble.”




They give Harry his invitation and he scares them off by wizarding up some wind to mess up their perfect vampire-hair.

Mister, my grey cat, came flying over the ground from the darkness somewhere and threw himself fondly against my legs.




I like the smooth grain of old woods, the heavy tapestries on the bare stone walls. The chairs are all thickly padded and comfortable looking, and rugs are strewn over the bare stone floor in a variety of materials, patterns, and weaves, from Arabian to Navajo.

God Harry is such a douche.

Susan and Harry flirt a bit and we get yet another recap of how technology and wizards don’t play well together (this needs to be set up at the start of every book so it can later be used to explain why Harry can’t use a phone).

I shuddered to think of what I could do to gas lines.

You live in a huge city Harry, there are gas lines everywhere.

There’s a brief and tedious argument where Susan wants to go to the vampire ball with Harry and Harry insists it’s too dangerous, just like the other scenes in the previous two books where a woman wants access to Harry’s world or knowledge and he insists it’s too dangerous. Yaaaawwn.

To be fair there is a bit more substance to this one. Susan is pushing Harry to take her to the ball because she thinks it will provide an excellent career opportunity, whereas Harry doesn’t even want to go to the ball because he’s assuming they’re going to try and kill him. What’s this, sensible character conflict? In a Jim Butcher novel?

It turns out Harry is actually obliged to attend because he’s a member of the White Council and the White Council wants someone at the ball to snoop. Luckily Harry manages to distract Susan by having sex with her.


Chapter Nine

It’s time for a dream sequence! Dream sequences are an original and interesting way to build interest in your story.

The dream is about Harry’s hot godmother, naturally.

My godmother came to me, pale and breathtaking in the firelight, her hair spilling down around her like a cloud of silk. The sidhe lady was beautiful beyond the pale of mortals, her eyes bewitching, her mouth more tempting than the most luscious fruit. She kissed my bare chest. Shudders of cold pleasure ran through me.

Lea has Harry manacled to some sort of thing and in only a few more days “of the dark moon” Harry will “be ready”, for something. And then fire! Someone named Justin who Harry had once “loved like a father” is getting burned alive.

Harry wakes up all in a tizzy and goes to his kitchen to grab his gun, which is a very large gun because he has a small penis.

I must have been feeling insecure that day, or something.

Seriously Butcher, pointing out how shallow and unlikable your protagonist is doesn’t stop him from being shallow and unlikable.

Turns out Michael is at the door! Harry must have Michael-sense. They’re tingling. Michael tells harry that Lydia, the woman he sent to a church the night before, is being stalked by some sort of ghost. You know, just like she said.

Harry and Michael banter a bit more about how Harry should tell Susan he loves her (MASCULINITYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY) and then they go out for some ghost-huntin’. The church is big.

Saint Mary of the Angels is a big church.

How big is the church?

 I mean, a big church.

Thanks Harry.

Hey let’s hear some more weird vague nonsense about magic!

The sun came up as we entered the parking lot. I felt the golden rays slice across the morning skies, the sudden, subtle shift of forces playing about the world. Dawn is significant, magically speaking. It is a time of new beginnings. Magic isn’t as simple as good and evil, light and dark, but there’s a lot of correlations between the powers particular to night and the use of black magic.

Magic is baby giggles! And dawn! And night, and shit, or whatever!

The Church had killed a lot of wizards in its day, believing them in league with Satan.

No it fucking didn’t, the Church killed people who opposed it or who were just unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The parking lot of the church has been ghosted hardcore, most likely by the ghost chasing Lydia. Harry speculates that the ghost is super powerful because of how much ghosting it did. They go talk to the priest, Father Forthill, who it turns out Harry has worked with before.

“I provided fresh clothes and a meal for her and was getting set to put her to bed on a spare cot at the back of the rectory.

Attention: the person he’s speaking about is an adult woman.

It turns out her Cassandra’s Tears kicked in so Father Forthill tucked her into bed and read to her! Yep. Adult woman.

After all this rampant infantalization Lydia left the church, so Harry and Michael resolve to go find her. Father Forthill keeps telling Harry that he should accept God and all that because he’ll need the power of the Almighty to fight the ghost. Given that said power is objectively a real and tangible thing in this world I’m not sure why Harry doesn’t want to, apart from Butcher thinking it would be too square for him to become a Christian.

Also, Father Forthill states that he’s got more agents like Michael who could theoretically help detail with the problem but states that he’s not going to tell them about it for the interesting reason that it would just spread panic. This is another one of those cases where Butcher shoots himself in the foot and then tries to ineffectually stick a bandaid over the gaping wound- if he had just not mentioned the fact that he had contact with other holy warriors I would never have asked why he doesn’t call them; even if we’re later told about these warriors I would have forgotten by that point.

Blah blah blah lots of banter okay end of chapter!

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15 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 8-9

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 10-11 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. Chackludwig

    The only way you can be a vampire margrave/-ine is if you’re undead in pre-unification Germany. The title doesn’t exist elsewhere.

    1. braak

      A+, vampires should only ever use obsolete titles of German nobility.

      “The Junkers of the Black Court are all invited to the elevation ceremony of Burgrave Bianca to the rank of Princess-Elector of the Kurfurstentum of Chicago in the New Holy Roman Empire.”

      1. Chackludwig

        And then some poser decides he doesn’t just want to a duke, he wants to be an Even Better Duke, so he starts calling himself Archduke.

      1. ronanwills Post author

        Now I’m imagining a secret society of butlers infiltrating stately homes all over early 20th century England as part of some sort of sinister political agenda.

  3. Signatus

    I’d actually love to see a realistic dream sequence. The sort of dreams that seem to go back and forth without making any sense and you wake up thinking; WTF was that?
    It would give a whole different dimension to characters.
    Dreaming as a resource to info-dump, yeah, that’s been overdone till boredom.

  4. April

    A better solution to “why don’t they call in the other Knights of the Cross” would simply be to say that they’re all busy because there’s only 3 of them, and the bad guys don’t schedule their evildoing for the convenience of the good guys. Or hell, even just say “I can call them, but they’re in Mongolia or something right now so it’d take a couple days for them to show up.” But yeah, the whole let’s-keep-our-own-people-in-the-dark-to-protect-their-delicate-sensibilities thing the Father has going on here is tremendously stupid.

    1. braak

      Alternately even, “I can call them, but I actually don’t really know where they are or what they’re doing,” if you wanted to give the impression that the good guys were kind of in over their heads, and their operations were barely sufficient.

      I mean, there’s a million options, most of them are better than “gosh, we don’t want people to KNOW that God is real and actively battling the forces of evil on their behalf.”

  5. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 6-7 | Doing In The Wizard

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