Dresden Files discussion

British prisoner on demonreach

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message 1: by Christian (new)

Christian | 148 comments I’d like to start another round of speculation concerning the British “prisoner” on demonreach with whom harry talks in the first chapter of skin games.
All throughout the series we have recurring mention of a specific theme, Merlin, Excalibur and kings. What if the missing piece in this chain is actually kept on demonreach in stasis. I’m talking of course about Arthur king of Britain, the myth has that he is sleeping on the mystical island of Avalon to return in times of greatest danger.
Nobody really knows who that island is really called, harry just had named it in his own inimitable fashion.
Stasis would be one way of conserving a mortal for later need.
Harry still is the keeper of amorachious, and it would be just to sweet if he needs to hand it over to the best known wielder of Excalibur.
One of the stated possibilities of the warden is to release prisoners from the island.

I would not be overly surprised to find that Jim’s apocalyptic trilogy will require exactly this, and it would qualify definitely as a time of dire need.

Let me know what you think about those weird and incoherent ramblings.

message 2: by Jeanie (new)

Jeanie | 110 comments I don't know if it is likely, but I like the idea. ;)

BTW: The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay has an element like this... worth a read if you also like Tolkienesque fantasy.

message 3: by Carl (new)

Carl | 9 comments Intriguing idea, but i don't think so, simply because that island is supposed to be a prison, and what did Arthur ever do to warrant incarceration for 1500 years or whatever? My impression is that the prison houses the most dangerous and most evil villains the world has ever known. Not a beloved king. Also, does the prison actually provide 'stasis' for mortal beings to exist for centuries? Or does it just house dangerous, long-lived/immortal ones? I don't know.

message 4: by Christian (new)

Christian | 148 comments The thing that got me thinking along that route is that the British guy emphasized the aspect of stasis.
Also do we know that the island is designed only as a prison? The only two things we know is that it now imprisons dangerous beings, and that it was created by Merlin. So far there has been no indication what Merlin’s true intent was in creating that place.

message 5: by Slick (new)

Slick | 38 comments I thought it was just a huge remote prison keeping uber dangerous entities off the street and away from the kids. I see no reason why it couldn't hold some secondary purpose considering the staggering amount of work that went into making it.

message 6: by Dustin (new)

Dustin Adams | 2 comments The power emanating from those prisoners could be what is keeping him alive. It could be a giant battery for him I mean it has so much power it’s created it’s own major Ley-line

message 7: by Correai (new)

Correai (buddingpolymath) | 51 comments Perhaps the "prisoner" is Mordred? Perhaps the storyline will see him released and subsequently initiate a campaign against the world powers with apocalyptic potential?

Another possibility is that Merlyn has captured all of the "gods" who were prophesied to bring about the end of the world in their respective religions/pantheons. I believe there was a mentioning as how the fae "Mothers" are represented in other religions. Perhaps there are other "godlike" beings held on the island to prevent the end of the world, and someone will release them, only for Harry to be tasked with stopping the impending doom.

message 8: by Christian (new)

Christian | 148 comments I have the nagging feeling, that thinking of the inhabitants as prisoners might be a too narrow definition. Using the facilities of demonreach for multiple purposes, sounds very much like something a crafty and sly wizard might do. And Merlin should definitely qualify as that, I also think it was no accident that we learned in turn coat about Merlin’s journal, now in the possession of ebenezar McCoy, and with the promise of being turned over one day to harry. Which in itself makes me concerned for Ebenezars chances of survival.

message 9: by Larissa (new)

Larissa Nikolaus | 2 comments I think the British 'Prisoner' is the original Merlin, keeping Demonreach going, so to speak

message 10: by Monica, White Council (new)

Monica T. Rodriguez (monicatrodriguez) | 374 comments Mod
I like your arguments, Christian. They make sense. But from a storytelling perspective, I think JB wouldn't introduce such an important character so late in the series. It's one thing if it turned out to be the original Merlin, who has been mentioned in many books and has had a background presence throughout the series. But for it to be King Arthur, that would mean bringing in a new character who has only briefly been referred to throughout 15 books, with no prepping for the reader. It would mean, for example, the possibility of handing over Amoracchius to this new character, disappointing many of us who have already picked one or two characters we'd like the sword be handed to.
Just my two cents.

message 11: by Christian (new)

Christian | 148 comments I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a late introduction. The series has still 8 more books to come. Based on past experience Jim butcher loves to mention somebody in passing, just to pull that person out of the hat many books later. He is still busy resolving all the tidbits from Bianca’s party in grave peril, the return of Mr. Ferovax is pretty much promised by butcher, but he was hinting at the final trilogy for it. I would see Arthur at a very similar point in the overall story.

It’s most likely just a big coincidence that the one sword of the cross, that has no new wielder also used to be Excalibur. And for me Merlin was always the one enabling Arthur to get that sword. While a meeting between Harry Dresden and the original Merlin would be quite awesome, I feel that harry is more sliding into the role of Merlin, than actually have hi under lock and key.

message 12: by James (new)

James | 81 comments Well Arthur (not Merlin) is to return in the time of greatest need, so there is that...

Ebenezer McCoy has Merlin's original books, so why wouldn't he just be the original Merlin with a new identity? Interestingly I just looked at the WIKI for Merlin and he is a Cambian eg the offspring of an Incubus (or a Succubus) and a human, so he is probably at least semi immortal.

Dresden's mom is Margaret La Fey, eg probably related to Morgan le Fay of legend (Arthur's half sister), so another link. That can not be coincidence in Dresden's universe.

message 13: by Monica, White Council (new)

Monica T. Rodriguez (monicatrodriguez) | 374 comments Mod
Great arguments, Christian and James. I also see Harry sliding into Merlin's role. And the idea that Ebenezer is Merlin, well, that's just cool. But i have to agree, there are no coincidences in the Dresden universe, so we might be seeing Arthur step onto the stage.

message 14: by Christian (new)

Christian | 148 comments I personally can’t really seen Ebenezar as anybody else, he already had 2 big revelations about his person in the series.
The explanation that Merlin’s journals came down the time through the lines of master and apprentice was completely logical, especially since all the other links in the chain also added to the collection. Of course one could say that all of those wizards were Merlin in disguise. It’s a possibility but I don’t think it being likely.

message 15: by Angie ~aka Reading Machine~, White Council (new)

Angie ~aka Reading Machine~ (wolffaerie17) | 289 comments Mod
All great arguments, I picture Harry more as a Merlin role with apprenticing Molly. Interesting thoughts about Harry's mother too.

message 16: by Caryl (new)

Caryl Huffstetler | 90 comments Okay, so, here's a completely wild hare of a theory after BG. The prisoner is Chandler, held in stasis to prevent a paradox. Chandler IS British; hence the accent. He's a wizard and aware of the perils and penalties for 'swimming against the currents of time'. We have no idea where or when that portal he fell into goes/went. It could have dropped him in the distant past. It might have dropped him Outside. With that kind of ambiguity at play my theory Could be plausible.

message 17: by Christian (new)

Christian | 148 comments Caryl, the only thing speaking against that idea, is that Harry knows chandler, and would like remark on the familiar voice.
After listening to the audiobook s well, i get the feeling one of the important reasons for putting Thomas into this, is the explicit permission to communicate with the same Level of security. Other than isolating Harry even more, this opens access to the English prisoner.

message 18: by Ben Fiore (new)

Ben Fiore | 48 comments Christian wrote: "...i get the feeling one of the important reasons for putting Thomas into this, is the explicit permission to communicate with the same Level of security."

Oooh! I like this idea. It'd be interesting if his role as a Venator gave him insights with some of those other prisoners that Harry wouldn't have.

message 19: by Matt (new)

Matt | 10 comments Just re-read Changes. Merlin is in the tomb. Unless Butcher changes something, it’s him.

message 20: by Slick (new)

Slick | 38 comments Matt wrote: "Just re-read Changes. Merlin is in the tomb. Unless Butcher changes something, it’s him."

I don't think there is anything confirming it is Merlin in Demonreach in Changes. It's still pretty much in the air who it is

message 21: by Christian (new)

Christian | 148 comments @Matt what makes you think it’s Merlin? After all its a prison of his design. I would love to hear your arguments.

message 22: by Alexis (last edited Aug 27, 2021 06:14AM) (new)

Alexis | 21 comments I'm not saying it's confirmed and Butcher could certainly send us a curve ball, but my money's still on Merlin too.
I think there's just been too many hints tying Merlin and Harry, too many parallels hinted, plus how it dovetails with the versions of the story that have Merlin locked in a cave and therefore not around to save Arthur's butt during Camlann.

Ooo, actually, here's a thought: We know that Mab had some Arthurian connection while she was mortal thanks to the taunting from the big baddie in the last book. We also know that in most versions of the story, Merlin is locked in a tree/cave/what-have-you by a sorceress, usually a love interest.

What if Mab was the sorceress? Maybe the story is twisted. Maybe Merlin for whatever reason went down into his own prison willingly. But maybe Mab was there and had some sort of role in it. And what if what happened back then is somehow connected to how she ended up taking on the mantle of the Winter Queen?

I can see how Butcher might be attracted to the parallels in that, given that Demonreach was also the setting for Molly taking on her mantle.

message 23: by Caryl (new)

Caryl Huffstetler | 90 comments While Jim could certainly change his mind and write it anyway he wants he has actually said that the prisoner is NOT Merlin. Has he ever actually lied to us before? Usually he just says “I’m not going to tell you”.

message 24: by Alexis (new)

Alexis | 21 comments Caryl wrote: "While Jim could certainly change his mind and write it anyway he wants he has actually said that the prisoner is NOT Merlin. Has he ever actually lied to us before? Usually he just says “I’m not go..."

Oh, I actually hadn't heard that. I guess I missed that interview.

message 25: by Matt (new)

Matt | 10 comments @Christian: at the end of Turn Coat, as Harry discovers Merlin’s journals in his Grandfather’s room, Eb mentions how Merlin’s body was never found. This leads me to believe he has placed himself in suspension for one reason or another. IMO, the best place he would do that is a place he knows, he designed the prison, he knew it’s capability. Look at Harry’s grandmother, she was infected with Nemesis and was suspended in the Heart of Winter while she (and Mab) fought the infection. Since he (Merlin) doesn’t have the assistance of Mab (or others) maybe it’s taking him longer to fight against Nemesis. Or maybe he knows he’s not needed yet…so he is biding his time. OR, I’m completely wrong.

lol. I don’t really care what WoJ says. I believe I’ve seen his writing be influenced by forums like this, or we are just very good at guessing what’s going to happen.


message 26: by Christian (new)

Christian | 148 comments @Matt I know that many of the readers are pining for Merlin to make an appearance, including fan theories that Harry will ultimately time travel becoming Merlin. I don’t know how I feel about that, there are actually sone indicators that would give some credence to such a theory.
Demonreachs fairly easy acceptance, jokes how Harry is holding to swords while Merlin only ever had one. And a comment by Harry that any wizard who managed to get himself written into history books must have been a piece of work.

The reasons I’m favoring Arthur as the prisoner, is that I like the symmetry of Harry handing him Excalibur again. And as i said the myth of Arthur lying in waiting for a tine of great need, would fit Jim Butchers kind of humor. And it’s just a nasty suspicion of mine that the apocalyptic trilogy might need much more a mighty knight of the cross, than another spell slinger, Harry has been beefing up over the years considerably.

I further do believe Butcher when he says that he doesn’t adjust his writing based on message boards. I’m fairly certain there is still one major revelation in the works for Merlin, those journals have not been introduced without reason. But I’m afraid we will have to experience Ebenezar’s death before we learn what is in them. Likely Bob is going to end up speed reading them all.

message 27: by Caryl (new)

Caryl Huffstetler | 90 comments Arthur is a great candidate for the prisoner. Although neither he nor OG Merlin would have spoken a form of English Harry would have recognized. Unless the prisoner can learn while in his suspended state that is. That too is a possibility.

I also agree that those journals were/are a breadcrumb to Harry’s future knowledge. They could tie him to the prisoner; provide him with any kind of knowledge, perhaps even the knowledge of what it means to be Starborn; perhaps even give him the knowledge to control any and all magic he has with the finesse he envies in other wizards.

message 28: by Christian (new)

Christian | 148 comments I think we will learn more after, Harry releases Thomas again, which might take a while. It might be significant that fiddelachius is back in circulation but Excalibur remains with Harry. I prefer that name as the other one is hard on my spelling.

message 29: by Kich6 (new)

Kich6 | 1 comments Merlin and Arthur always seemed to be a pair so is it likely one will be introduced without the other? With the sword Excalibur still unclaimed it’s difficult to rule out that the prisoner could be Arthur. Harry will not wield the sword so will probably be the “Merlin” of the duo if not literally than figuratively. I agree with others that we only know the island to be a prison in it’s “recent” use. Just like Harry chose to put Thomas there for safe keeping, I don’t think we can rule out that Arthur may have been put there for similar reasons and not as a prisoner. With so many books to go does this seem too obvious that Butcher would have easily revealed this so clearly now though? Seems convenient. The following may be for another thread but there is another character who is mentioned in passing but we really know nothing about except through Harry’s eyes, his father. Does it seem likely that a powerless human would have a child with such a significant fae and daughter to Blackstaff McCoy? Harry’s father may be the person from the past that blows this easy Arthurian theme out of the water.

message 30: by Monica, White Council (new)

Monica T. Rodriguez (monicatrodriguez) | 374 comments Mod
Good point, Kich! Harry's father is someone usually overlooked. But he must have a role as well, as we've not been allowed to forget him.

message 31: by Cody (last edited Dec 02, 2021 12:00AM) (new)

Cody Tharp | 2 comments Ahh finally. I would love it to be Arthur, and for Michael to meet him. It would be very entertaining. However, given the prisoner's demeanor, I highly doubt it's King Arthur.
That being said, I also consider Merlin a decent candidate for the fact that he seemed old, jaded, and tired.
He refers to Harry as a Novice, and considering he's the only prisoner there that seems to be there of his own merit, the questionable behavoir of Merlin in mentionings of him in previous books, and his accent, it very well may be.
Old or Middle English wouldn't be an issue to keep it from being him either, due to learning he can manipulate time, and cast through the fourth dimension.
However, Occam's razor states that the scenario that makes the least amount of assumptions tends to be the correct one, and there is someone who I've not seen mentioned, who, if my memory serves, was mentioned to be from the English Commonwealth. He would be closer in the timeline to Harry's saga, and the reports of his death were... questionable. Not to mention his assisstant (who is also possibly his mind child), slipped through the White Council's fingers already.
The person to whom I hint, would be Kemler.

We already know he taught the corpsetaker her tricks, and that he shares as many parallels with Harry as Merlin does.
He died on Harry's birthday, and was said to have a place he could hide even from TWC.
Butcher has been setting up an appearance for him since book one, and if we think back:
The first outsider to make an attempt on Harry, inevitably marking him for life, was called up by Justin Dumorne, who had the aforementioned assistant before Harry.
In Cold Days the Outsiders make a ridiculously thorough attempt at releasing those within Demonreach.
Evil Bob mentions something along the lines, that the Master will return.
Butcher tends to theme each book based on the number in the sequence.
Examples; books 5 10 and 15 all focus around the Knights of the Blackened Denarius; Books 4 8 and 12 focus heavily around the Fae. Following this trajectory, 7, 14, and 21 (which would be in the apoclyptic era) dont explicitly all focus on Necromancers, but if my connection is right, then then 7 and 14 do focus around Kemler. Food for thought.

There are so many correlating events, that it almost seems obvious. To the point that the only other one it COULD be would be Merlin.
Merlin, though, would be bad news for those released, not a boon, considering he built the place.

There is an octavarium type plot at play here, as well as a definite twist in the works.
Who is it? The Dread Necromancer Kemler, biding time until the right moment to re-enter the world?

A crabby Merlin trying to atone for some unknown past transgretion?

Or none of the above?
Regardless, I'm looking forward to the next few installations into the series.

P.S I wonder when Harry will close the Journal he's been writing, or maybe the person reading it, and the stories begin being told in the present tense, rather than in a past tense?


Edit: For some reason I don't think it's Malcom. He's described being very Americana, and a normie. Harry knew him all the way up until his death, and his story is one of the few straight forward ones in the series. Not to mention, the reaction to his son being the Warden would be entirely different.
Though as always, I could be wrong.

message 32: by Cody (last edited Dec 01, 2021 11:49PM) (new)

Cody Tharp | 2 comments Alexis wrote: "I'm not saying it's confirmed and Butcher could certainly send us a curve ball, but my money's still on Merlin too.
I think there's just been too many hints tying Merlin and Harry, too many parall..."

This is a great point. Especially considering in BG it is revealed that she DOES have some form of lovers quandry with Merlin. However, I couldn't tell if it was a mentor/teacher or lover style quandry. However the prior makes the two parallel with Harry and Molly quite neatly.

We shall see.
Also... the quote header cut off before the point you made to which I'm referring.

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