The Dresden Files Read-Along discussion

Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, #7)
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Book 7: DEAD BEAT (Spoilers Allowed)

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Berkley Publishing Group (berkleypub) | 20 comments Mod
It’s Harry vs. necromancers as Halloween approaches. Let's talk DEAD BEAT! Spoilers through SKIN GAME are permissible, so new readers beware.


B.A. Williamson (bwilliamson) | 3 comments Woah!!! Fighting Cassius in the museum, Harry has faith that a knight will show up and save him. And Butters does! Though I’ve heard Butcher comment that he didn’t know that Butters was going to end up playing such a large role, but he definitely seems to have his future plan laid out for Waldo at this point.


David | 2 comments I wonder if the comment made by Marcone's bodyguard that Harry was fated to die in that alley will get pay off down the line. For a casual aside, that really threw me in this reread.


Meryl | 17 comments David wrote: "I wonder if the comment made by Marcone's bodyguard that Harry was fated to die in that alley will get pay off down the line. For a casual aside, that really threw me in this reread."
I'd note that she wasn't just one of Marcone's bodyguards - she's also a Valkyrie. That made her comment really catch my attention. I'm interested to see how this plays out in later books.


David | 2 comments Great point Meryl!


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Jonathan Urie (jonathanurie) | 3 comments Who the heck is Cowl?! I feel like the answer is there and we will all feel dumb when it’s revealed (thanks Jim). What are all y’all’s theories?

The thing that sticks out to me is that every practitioner’s magic has a fingerprint and the only thing that Harry notes is that Cowl is freaking strong. So, either (1) Harry has never exchanged blows with this person or (2) Cowl has figured out how to mask his aura. My current working theory is that it’s the Merlin. I hope it’s not Ebenezer McCoy.


message 7: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Urie (jonathanurie) | 3 comments ... working theory is that it’s the Merlin. I hope ...

(Comment got cut off for some reason there)


message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael | 1 comments Jonathan wrote: "The thing that sticks out to me is that every practitioner’s magic has a fingerprint and the only thing that Harry notes is that Cowl is freaking strong."

I don't recall Jim mentioning anywhere that every practitioner has a unique signature. Do you have a reference for that?


message 9: by SC (last edited Mar 17, 2020 04:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

SC (animefreak2000) | 2 comments I have frequently recommended this book. I mean, Zombie T-Rex with cornering issues and a battle cry of "Polka will never die!" not to mention masterful foreshadowing on the Butters front. What more could one ask for? Woot! Oh, and I'm on my third copy 'cause the first two fell apart from having been read so frequently.


message 10: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Urie (jonathanurie) | 3 comments Okay, so we’re both partially right:

From chapter 13 of dead beat:

There was a sense of malicious glee to the residue of whatever magic had been worked here. Someone had used their power to murder a man—and they had loved doing it. Worse, it was a distinctly different aura than I had felt near either Cowl or Grevane. Magical workings didn’t leave behind an exact finger-print that could be traced to a given wizard, but intuition told me that this working had been sloppier and more frenetic than something Grevane would have done, and messier than Cowl would prefer. But it was strong—stronger magic than almost anything I had ever done. Whoever was behind the spell that had been wrought here was at least as powerful as I was. Maybe stronger.

So, it’s not an exact finger print, but dark magic definitely leaves a trace to ones magic. And also, it’s talking about the corpse taker in this quote :)

I can’t remember which book, but there is another point at which Dresden remarks that his own power has a tinge of dark magic to it.

Anyhow, things to contemplate, I suppose :)


message 11: by Leah Tamasa (new) - added it

Leah Tamasa | 1 comments This is my favorite book in the series. It puts a huge smile on my face. I love the foreshadowing with Butters, "polka will never die" and Sue is the best. I also love the introduction of Rameriz. I'm trying to figure out who Cowl is (aren't we all). Really grateful to Jim and the read along, having something that makes me smile is really important right now.


Paulum Mortis | 35 comments Leah Tamasa wrote: "having something that makes me smile is really important right now"

I know what you mean. It’s like some people weren’t told there’s always a corillian death ray, or an international plague that is about to wipe out all life on this pointless little planet. The only way we can get on with our happy lives is by just not caring about it!

That in mind, am I the only one who thinks the photograph from this weeks e-mail makes the author look like “Jim Wick”?
…for christsakes there’s even a dog


Paulum Mortis | 35 comments As for DEAD BEAT: the angel-faced dimwit from the opening chapter is adorable, but what I remember most from last time I read this book was the scenes with “Sheila.”

How… embarrassing it felt to know the secret, and what it must have looked like from bystander perspective.


Tricia | 3 comments Jonathan wrote: "Who the heck is Cowl?! I feel like the answer is there and we will all feel dumb when it’s revealed (thanks Jim). What are all y’all’s theories?

The thing that sticks out to me is that every prac..."


I just read the first confrontation with Cowl and lady....I noticed (for the first time) that their voices had a wobbly quaver to them, he even described it as watery, and when they left, there was a rancid smell.. I'd been thinking it was Simon or Justin and Elaine, who I do not trust, but this makes me think whoever it is has some Outsider influence somehow. I hadn't gotten that before.


message 15: by Joe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joe | 4 comments Tricia wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Who the heck is Cowl?! I feel like the answer is there and we will all feel dumb when it’s revealed (thanks Jim). What are all y’all’s theories?

The thing that sticks out to me i..."


Justin could be a strong contender, playing his cards close to the vest by pretending not to who Harry is, while working in a manner similar to Corpsetaker: just using a reanimated version of his own body. We know that Justin was part of the hit squad that put down Kemmler and stole Bob from the ashes of his hideout, so he'd likely have a vested interest in seeing what that last of his works were.

As to other possible contenders; assuming the quavering voices and smell were just attempts to throw Harry off the trail of the fact he did know this person (even if only in passing). Peabody feels like too obvious a choice, given the events of "Turn Coat."


Paulum Mortis | 35 comments “[Kemmler] learned how to bind to his will not only dead flesh, but shades—to rend them asunder and devour them to feed his own power. It was the secret of his strength…”

Hmm. Devouring the ghost of Leonid Kravos and going on to use the spell “Satharak no-kadum!” to swat down a pair of vamps… I’d been assuming this power had been “digested” long ago. Leaving that trace Ulsharavas could detect in DM.
Maybe Dresden got a permanent boost from eating the Nightmare?

---

To throw some kerosene onto the whole “Who is Cowl” fire... there seems to be only like four or five people in the world who knew Bob the Skull was in Harry’s possession: Karin, Thomas, Mab but not Molly, Elaine Mallory and Justine DuMorne, but not Anastasia or the Wardens.
And of course Cowl knew... somehow.


Zachary | 4 comments That's very interesting about Harry eating Kravos. The power boost he gets is definitely not temporary. I have been keeping track of the color of Harry's magic during this re-read, as evidenced by the color his blasting rod/staff runes turn when they power up.
At the beginning of the series they turn white. Immediately after Kravos they turn red. They stay red for the next few books until they start to change because of Lash's influence.


Caryl Huffstetler | 38 comments Zachary wrote: "That's very interesting about Harry eating Kravos. The power boost he gets is definitely not temporary. I have been keeping track of the color of Harry's magic during this re-read, as evidenced by ..."

That's a detail I missed, the colors of his staff magic changing. Good catch. Now I can't wait to re-read and see how that fits in after Lash makes her exit.


Caryl Huffstetler | 38 comments Michael wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "The thing that sticks out to me is that every practitioner’s magic has a fingerprint and the only thing that Harry notes is that Cowl is freaking strong."

I don't recall Jim menti..."


Dead Beat chapter 13: "Magical workings didn't leave behind an exact finger-print that could be traced to a given wizard, but intuition told me (Harry speaking) that this working.... Whoever was behind the spell ... was at least as powerful as I was...."
So, the strength of the magic can be judged as well as a general 'personality', for want of a better word, but not a definitive ID of the wizard who worked it. At least Harry can determine these things. Could a practitioner with different skills have been more precise? Molly?


Paulum Mortis | 35 comments Why is Necromancy considered Black Magic?

I can see why invading someone’s mental privacy, enthralling them, or murdering them with magic could all drive a wizard insane. Not to mention being morally wrong. Swimming against the flow of time seems redonculously dangerous, as would be breaching Outer Gates.

But animating a bunch of corpses and having them pick cotton in lieu of slaves… what’s ethically or psychologically wrong with that?


Caryl Huffstetler | 38 comments Paulum Mortis wrote: "Why is Necromancy considered Black Magic?

I can see why invading someone’s mental privacy, enthralling them, or murdering them with magic could all drive a wizard insane. Not to mention being mora..."


Because picking cotton is NOT what zombies get used for int he main.


message 22: by Joe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joe | 4 comments Paulum Mortis wrote: "Why is Necromancy considered Black Magic?

Mort explains somewhat early on: ghosts are terrified of Kemmler and his disciples. Necromancers don't just conjure up some zombies, they can influence ghosts too, and within what we see of them through out the series (Ghost Story in particular), most ghosts could arguably be considered just as sentient as any human. Which is where the violation of the Laws comes into play.


Chris | 4 comments Die Alone. I was curious about peoples thoughts about a future situation on a boat. If memory serves correctly, Mab said that she had to revive Harry and then keep him alive. I wonder if this might have been related to the death curse?


message 24: by Caryl Huffstetler (last edited Mar 28, 2020 07:40PM) (new) - added it

Caryl Huffstetler | 38 comments Chris wrote: "Die Alone. I was curious about peoples thoughts about a future situation on a boat. If memory serves correctly, Mab said that she had to revive Harry and then keep him alive. I wonder if this might..."

Oh definitely! He did die, alone. His body was maintained by Mab and Demonreach/Alfred while his spirit wandered. I guess in a 'persistent vegetative state'. And I love the line in Ghost Story, "Oh, That kind of hell."


message 25: by Yasmin (new)

Yasmin Mazur | 53 comments Joe wrote: "Paulum Mortis wrote: "Why is Necromancy considered Black Magic?

Mort explains somewhat early on: ghosts are terrified of Kemmler and his disciples. Necromancers don't just conjure up some zombies,..."


I'll bite and play devil's advocate:
1) most ghosts are not sentient - they are stuck in their loops and can barely pay attention to the fact that whatever killed them is not there anymore. The soul has moved on already - what you get is an imprint which will dissolve once its prime objective is achieved. Sure - there are exceptions that seem to be more aware - but they still don't have a soul of their own.
Don't get me wrong - I'm against torture as a rule, even of things that are not sentient - but you can hardly claim ghosts are equal to people.

2) If the ghosts are maybe capable of feeling something, the zombie corpses definitely don't feel anything, and they are the majority of what a necromancer raises. You get free workers that can go on forever without getting tired. I know I would like my body to be useful after my spirit has left it, and I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't mind donating their corpses to the betterment of mankind if that was an option. or the betterment of their family.

3) messing with the "so called" natural order by bringing people back from the dead - no, seriously - how is saving someone's life a bad thing?!

4) the mind-control magic Corpsetaker uses is not necromancy, Molly was using some of it without the same feeling of dark magic, so that's just another proof those necromancers started as regular wizards.

5) The White Magic version that Harry uses is just as lethal as necromancy - even more so when he really pours some juice into it. He has killed plenty of things with his own anger and life energy, not to mention what the dark council was up to. All those warlocks at the begining of the series were using white magic from lust and fear to kill people - so you can't claim White Magic is good - not when Kumory used the Black Magic to bring someone to life.

To summarise - white and black - same thing - it's not the magic that determines what you are, it's your own choices of how to use it.

Of course - if you don't ask for premission before raising someone from the dead - you are basically raping them into your will - so I get why the white council is against it - expecially the part where the necromancers are killing more people to get more ghosts - that's a big no-no - but you can say the same about gun use, and we all know how the americans won't give those up.

I suppose the white council is opposed because mostly what you do with necromancy is against the 7 laws - but not everything, and you can break those just fine with white magic.

the defence rests ;-)


message 26: by Wordwizard (new)

Wordwizard (wordwizardw) | 10 comments Paulum Mortis wrote: "As for DEAD BEAT: the angel-faced dimwit from the opening chapter is adorable, but what I remember most from last time I read this book was the scenes with “Sheila.”

Actually, it's "Shiela" not "Sheila" which is unpleasant. Can't Lash spell "female crocodile" correctly?


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