Skip to content

The Duck Quacks Some More

The Duck Quacks Some More published on 3 Comments on The Duck Quacks Some More

Mab, Little Chicago, and Demon Reach, Aka the get out of dead free plan
by Ms DucK

Ok, let’s go back a bit:

Grave Peril:
________________________________________
Here is where we first meet the winter Sidhe. And here is where it is established that Harry traded Lea his ‘life, fortune, and future’ in exchange for the power to beat Justin. (power he already had, and only needed to believe in himself, but hey.) It is also established that by breaking his word three times, his own power turns against him, his very magic now trying to force him to keep his vow. Harry later bluffs Lea (or so he believes) into an extension, but the debt- life, fortune, and future- remains in force. And then, of course, Mab buys that debt from Lea, in order to balance the scales between them. (This btw means that Harry is worth as much to Mab as the original Morgan lefay’s dagger, or fricking Excalibur) Also in this book we see Harry exit the NN near his apartment, and describe the area of his apt as a shadow version of itself. This is important later, as neither Bob or Harry remember these events in Changes. At some point soon after this book Lea builds her secret entrance into Harry’s lab; she can now enter or leave his place at will (as well as protect the NN side) since Harry’s magic and thresholds are no longer an impediment to her- since she owns them.

Summer Knight:
________________________________________
Enter Mab. Cue rock and roll music, with extra rocks in. Mab demonstrates that the clause is still in full effect, by making Harry stab himself. They renegotiate; Mab allows Harry a chance to buy himself free, in return for three tasks. The limits are Harry can say No, with no reprisals; the deal remains solely between them; she cannot send lackey’s to chastise or force him by proxy. When Mab leaves, she hurts him, both out of spite and to let the reader know the original clause is still in effect- she still owns his life, future, and fortune; he only has a chance to earn his freedom. At the end she offers him the knighthood, and agrees that all debts between them will be canceled if he accepts.

Proven Guilty:
________________________________________

Now here is our famous mystery. Who entered Harry’s lab, without his or Bob’s knowledge, and fixed Little Chicago? And why? Who would know about it at all?

Back In 2006 JenniH posted that she didn’t think Mab was responsible for Proven Guilty, as she would not sacrifice a main servitor. Jim replied:

Quote from: jimbutcher on January 13, 2008, 05:11:45 AM

Quote from: JenniH on June 19, 2006, 02:09:18 PM

Mab as orchestrator of all is just a little much for me to swallow. Seems like she loses a lot more than she gains, and I don’t think Mab is big on coming out behind in her negotiations.

Yeah. It sure looks that way from here, don’t it.

But to correct some minor stuff: the fetches aren’t even /close/ to her strongest servitors. They’re her couriers, harassers, spies and occasional assassins. Captain Kudzu was a being that was deemed more-or-less sufficient on the badassometer, but nothing to write home about. The fetches main use, to Mab, isn’t as battlefield thugs. She’s got /plenty/ of other things for that. Another mild correction: who says Mab /lost/ the battle at Arctis Tor, before Harry and Company arrived? At the end of the day, the Winter Queen was still in her fortress–but you didn’t see anyone standing around assaulting the place, did ya. Also, it has probably occurred to more than one of you that if Mab was /really/ in trouble, she could have had the entire military might of Faerie back at the fortress in moments–exactly the way they *did* come back when Harry smacked the Winter Well with the fires of Summer.

(Which goes to show that while Mab may be canny to an inhuman degree, she isn’t infallible. Just way closer to infallible than us.)

See above regarding “the question is *why*?”

Ask yourself why Mab had Molly brought in. What chain of events did that set in motion? What secondary effects came about because of it? Ultimately, Mab can always go to the Wyld and draw in more muscle to replace fallen thugs. If worst comes to worst, with just a few “seed” fae, she could rear up enough Changelings to repopulate her cadre within a human generation or two–nothing, to a being thousands of years old.

As far as she’s concerned, everyone and everything is expendable, including herself, when it comes to adhering to her (seemingly irrational and inexplicable) priorities.

(And by the way–don’t think Titania is much better. When push came to shove, she let her own daughter be murdered rather than upset the balance of the Faerie Courts. At least Mab is up front about it. Usually.)

Sacrifice her best troops? Mab would sacrifice every creature *in* Winter, every one she could bring from Summer, and every single mortal on planet Earth if that’s what she thought was appropriate. And she wouldn’t even need to add extra sugar to her cup of tea afterwards, much less lose sleep over it.

But no one does cold-blooded like the Queen of Winter. Mab’s been in the business a long time, she’s got a balance sheet, and she is *not* going to come out in the red–

–unless, of course, she really *has* stripped a gear, as Lily and Maeve believe. In which case there’s a stark raving bonkers demigoddess whose powers are no longer being held in check by the Escher-esque code of Sidhe behavior. And that’s all kinds of bad.

But hey. It’s probably not that. I mean, not *everything* that happens can be the absolute worst possible possibility, right?

Jim

The part about Mab being mad (with evil smiley face) was later contradicted by Jim when someone else guessed that Mab was not insane, but wounded.Note that this post confirms two things, long suspected: That Mab had Molly brought in, and that Mab and Titania worked together to kill Aurora. And he specifically addressed the chain of events that this caused. Said chain could not have occurred unless Harry and co could reach actris tor, thus for the Plan to work Mab is required to fix it; which she could easily do; just walk thru the bottom door, fix things, and tell Bob to forget it happened.

White Night

Only a small maybe cameo here: The base was built by the Sidhe (think Mab left a hidey hole?)( confirmed in TC, how Did Titania get Morgan out?) and Anastasia complains of headaches, sex drives, and a strange female voice whispering to her in her dreams.

__________________________________________________________________

Stay tuned next week for more from Ms. Duck.

Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, Awesome

Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, Awesome published on 3 Comments on Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, Awesome

So, background.

Janelle and I met through a mutual friend on FB (whom neither of us are friends with anymore, natch) and discovered a mutual love of the Dresden Files. We talked. We conjectured. We bonded. When Skin Games came out, we conceived a plan to go to Redondo Beach for a book signing on opening day. I would drive to Pismo to her place, she would drive us down south, we would get a hotel the night before so we could get the books on our Kindle Apps the second it was released (9:00 Pacific Standard Time!), then we would buy copies and get them signed and basically have a Dresden geek fest for two days.

All was well until we climbed into the car and she told me that she didn’t like the character of Lieutenant Karrin Murphy.

What. WHAT?? That was almost the end right there, I have to tell you. How could she hate someone so beloved, someone so important, someone so faithful and true. We argued, debated, muttered, and passionately orated on the subject for the entire drive between Pismo and Redondo. As we hit the naturally hideous traffic in Southern CA, this took maybe 7 hours, thoroughly enjoying ourselves the whole time.

It is incumbent on me to give credit where it is due, Janelle is smart and knows Dresden better than most anyone, she is erudite, and she lays out a good argument. But she she isn’t correct this time. I’ll tell you why.

First…she is basing this on the evidence of the first three Books—Storm Front, Fool Moon, and Grave Peril. And if it were just those three books, I might agree with her. But character development matters, and Jim Butcher has certainly developed her character through the series. More cogent to this argument, he has developed Harry’s character.

I am not going to rehash Janelle’s arguments as you can and should read them for yourselves. Instead, I am going to lay out the defense.

Murphy is at the core, a cop. And a cop who knows very little of the Supernatural world. She knows it exists, that is why she is smart enough to ask Harry for help. But her primary drive is the protection of the people of Chicago and taking down the perpetrators. So in Storm Front when people are killed by gruesome magic, and Harry is the only Wizard around, what is she to think? Especially when she is being stonewalled, as I will discuss shortly.

And yet, she still cared for Harry. Remember the scene in Storm Front when she took him home, tucked him into bed, left him money? All the times she brought him coffee? There are many tiny scenes where she shows her care. In fact, once you move beyond the first three, those scenes come up with regularity and in more profound ways. Remember how Murphy willingly helped Harry in Proven Guilty, KNOWING she was going to face serious consequences at work, and did it anyway? We see more of that, and it will come up again in future posts as we move through the series.

Harry didn’t, or couldn’t, tell her enough of what was going on. She didn’t know about the White Council. Or the laws of Magic. She didn’t know about the Doom of Damocles over his head. Harry might have had reasons he couldn’t tell her, but it means that the information she was working from and basing decisions on was very limited. And because of that, because he lied to her (and admitted as such, not hiding it from her), what was she to do? You can only make the best decisions you have based on the information you have, and Murphy was being left in the dark. And when someone lies to you…why should you trust that person? I sure wouldn’t. It is especially difficult because she considered Harry to be an ally and a friend, so this betrayal cut even deeper. And it WAS a betrayal. Dresden made his choices with the best of intentions, but he absolutely betrayed their friendship. I don’t know about you, but I don’t react well when a friend lies to my face and betrays our confidence.

This is actually a major factor in the early books, and not just with Murphy. You see it with Butters and Billy Borden as well. Harry is forever conflicted between not wanting to lie to his friends, but not wanting to tell them the big, scary information that could get them killed. And it never turns out well. Things run much smoother when he just tells people everything. This is another area where Harry’s character develops through the series.

She had very good reasons for not being in a romantic relationship with Harry. I think of that elevator conversation in Proven Guilty. The fact that she will age normally and he will not? Very good reason not to get involved. Life isn’t as simple as I want this guy, let’s go for it. And Murphy is practical. We also get to see this slowly develop and change over the books, where both of them start to be willing to take the risk of getting romantically involved, even knowing the cost. I find it sweet, really, in my deep dark secret romantic heart.

Notice how Murphy appears to Dresden when he is using his sight

“The door burst open. Murphy came through it, her eyes living flames of azure blue, her hair a golden coronet around her. She held a blazing sword in her hand and she shone so bright and beautiful and terrifying in her anger that it was hard to see. The Sight, I realized, dimly. I was seeing her for who she was.”

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher. Page number varies by format.

Does that seem like someone who has ill intent or is going to betray him? The sight reveals truth. And Murphy is a warrior, an Avenging Angel, a protector. If she had ill intent towards Harry, the sight would have shown that.

I am going to stop here because so far, we are focused on the first three books of the series. I have much to say (Arctis Tor, Chichen Itza, AHEM), about their relationship and connections in future posts, but all in good time.

In your opinion, will Murphy remain the best friend, partner, and comrade as she has been throughout most of the series?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

_____________________________________________________

Elizabeth McKeighen loves Murphy more than almost any other character ever.

Alma Alexander: An Intro to the Weres

Alma Alexander: An Intro to the Weres published on

As The Were Chronicles series (well, the FIRST series – there are more stories to be told in this world) draws to a close with the appearance of “Shifter”, the third book, it might be time to revisit some of the issues and questions that lurk within these pages.
In random (hah. “Random” Book 1.) order, then.

1. Whose head are we in? (or, the whole triptych thing…)

This whole series started out life as a short story, a romp on the trope of Were Creatures, and my own creation, the Random Were, stepped up to take center stage. In the original short story, that was actually funny and some of that survives in the whole “my mother is a were-chicken” thing.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that what I had in my hands was much stronger meat, and the short story wanted to be a book… and then three books.

Why three books?… and why not a classic trilogy where #1 begins things, #2 carries on and #3 finishes off the story, instead of a triptych?

Because I was doing something that was pretty rare (possibly because of good reasons…) and that might have been pretty near hubris to believe to have the ability to carry off. I used a triptych structure rather the classic trilogy because these books are technically the same story arc. But they are each told in first person by a different person, and therefore the events – even when shared to the point that individual protagonists from different books all take part in the same scene – are inevitably DIFFERENT when seen from the point of view of a different participant.

Here be spoilers so if you haven’t read the books and wish to you may want to skip this next section.
Book 1, “Random”, is the Book of Jazz. Jazz is YOUNG. She is frustrated with being overprotected because of events in her family’s past over which she had no control but for which she is the one paying the price. She is curious. She is impulsive. She is empathetic. She is precocious. She is also the first in her immigrant family who is truly FROM this new place to which they have come, and carries no old-world baggage with her, not personally. She has never known that other world.

“Random” also serves to set up my milieu, this world where Were and Human live side by side in an uneasy truce – the world where acceptance is real but comes at a price and where there are undercurrents the depth of which may not be immediately obvious to the participants or even to anyone watching from the side. Jazz has to live with trying to find her own way in the world, of champing at the bit and pulling at her harness, of wanting to taste that freedom which she knows she ought to have – and she blunders into a situation where the thing she Turns into, when her Were proclivities come into play, is enough to change both herself and her world.

Moreover, the fact that her first Turn came unexpectedly early and before her long-suffering, guilt-ridden, sullen, wounded, fragile, and yet so incredibly strong brother Mal had made HIS first Turn changed the family dynamics.
Mal – the hero in Book 2, “Wolf” — had actually lived through the events only known to Jazz through the diaries her dead sister left behind and thought he was the CAUSE of her death of his sister and never stops blaming himself. He had been very young when the family left their old world and came to the new one but his roots are still back there and his attitudes and his background knowledge are drawn from THAT paradigm and his own responses to the situation in which he and Jazz find themselves are perhaps extreme but very different from Jazz’s own.
When Jazz finds out what was really behind her sister’s death, she is horrified and recoils But she is that one step removed from it all and all she can do (at least in the beginning before she becomes involved up to her neck) is to observe as a non-participant.

Mal’s response to what he understands to be his older sister’s death by overdose is always and forever colored by the fact that he was the one who had handed her those pills. His choices in the aftermath events that transpire from HIS point of view gives them quite a different shape than when seen through the Mal prism.

The story arc – spoilers ahoy – for all three books is really Celia’s, the eldest child of the Marsh family, the older sister of Mal and Jazz. And here it is in an nutshell: Celia was a self-aware young but not too young child when she came to the new country. She endured endless savage bullying at school, from both her peers and then a particularly malevolent teacher. She thought she had found a way to circumvent her Were-imposed circumstances, but failed to plan the whole thing properly and overdosed on a drug which could delay the Were Turn, the pills having been supplied to her by her younger brother Mal. She dies, but leaves behind diaries detailing the circumstances of her death. The stress of finding those diaries and learning the true story of her sister’s death may have been a factor into her premature Turn. And that in turn triggers Mal’s choice to pre-empt his own failure to Turn by trying to become something more than the Random he was born and aiming for a true Lycan (or traditional Wolf) Were alter ago,

Against all odds he succeeds and while he’s trying to find his Lycan feet, he finds out that Lycan scientists have had their own agenda for generations, and discovers that the sister he loved and thought lost was still alive but devastatingly crippled and locked away in a Were-proof fortress . He makes a plan to rescue her with the help of his friend Chalky – he cannot do anything directly so Chalky is the one who plans and executes the rescue. Celia is rescued and ‘re-born’.

This is the under-story of ALL THREE books, and that’s what makes them a triptych, three leaves of the same thing, rather than a trilogy, a continuous three-book story which goes sequentially and chronologically and does not revisit already covered ground.

This was a conscious decision in POV focus. I had to write a story according to how it would appear if I saw it first through one prism – and then through a different prism which cast light and shadows into entirely different places – and then again through a third prism which changed it again.

In my mind these are *three different stories* and each is shaped by the detail of whose head we’re in, whose eyes we’re looking through. There is enough material that is “new” to each novel in that I’m talking of divergent lives even when certain events have been shared by more than one character – but because the same BIG PICTURE exists in all the books.

Yes, that does mean that some of the same ground is covered in each book – that sometimes entire scenes are played out again, as observed by our new protagonist. But I have never seen these are purely repetitive or padding – they’re stories with psychologically significant differences, and it fascinated me to see how changed the basic story was according to whose eyes I was seeing through, whose voice I was telling it in.
It was a calculated risk, a literary choice and a stylistic bravura, and I could only hope it would be seen and understood as that. The jury is still out on it

2. The underlying issues (or, what’s the problem here?)

The individual books took on a different character according to what the basic underlying issues turned out to be in each story.

“Random” dealt with the ideas of bullying, discrimination, acceptance, of the price of liberty and who would be willing to pay it and how much they would be willing to pay. Celia – my poor doomed Celia – was the one put through the wringer in order to illustrate these things, and Mal himself followed closely behind in those footsteps. I shone the bright lights into the shadows of these ills in our own “real” world, and I’ve had responses that tell me that those shadows have been illuminated. Because there was a recognition factor in play. Because readers responded with – “oh, not that specifically… but things like that *have happened to me*. I understand this.”

I am using the Were as the face of the persecuted ones but in fact they could be anybody at any historical or geographical context. The paw print that identifies the Were on their ID cards is a reflection of a yellow star on a coat. The herding together of the thing that is feared and mistrusted and hated is a reflection of places like Manzanar. The relentless bullying because one is somehow different from the rest is not unlike the bullying one experiences if one is gay and coming out into an unaccepting hetero world, or someone of a different faith, race, or ethnicity coming into conflict with a world which does not accept those things and responds with inflicting pain.

What this book was about was simply this: “THIS IS WHAT THIS IS LIKE”. I suppose I hoped that such things would be recognized – by those on the receiving end with an accompanying message of “you are not alone” and by those who might have meted it out in the past with a horrified realization of what they had inflicted on others. It was message of empathy and hopefully of putting someone in a bad place on a path to redemption.

Yes, ambitious.

“Wolf” was my bow to my education – it was all about science, and how science can be used and misused. Genetics, pharmacology, all the promise of the good things and all the possible ways that the good things can go bad. I dealt with addiction, with medical experiments, with the idea that sometimes people are used and abused and then discarded in the pursuit of some esoteric piece of knowledge or of power.

In “Shifter” I turned my focus on fundamentalism and how those who believe utterly that they are right and everyone else is wrong can ruin the world for everyone else around them.
I might write fantasy but these books, as one perspicacious reviewer pointed out, are more about being HUMAN than they ever were about non-human “monsters”. In fact, in this book, a lot of the monsters ARE pure human and the creatures we so love to think of as monstrous are just as fragile and vulnerable as we would be. The enemy is ALWAYS us.

What I write about are the concerns of the human mind, the human body, the human heart, the human soul.

I do not, never have, never will, aim for preaching my own gospel through the bully pulpit of my own fiction. All I do, as the writer, is choose an issue, a problem, an idea, and use the power of story to reveal it, to explain it, to disarm it, perhaps to conquer it through understanding. I hope my stories are entertaining enough to be read for their own sake – but as a reader, and most emphatically as the writer, I always want my stories to have more depth to them than just the surface glitter of pretty sunlight on the surface of water. And when I tell a story the underlying stories are always there. Not preachily, not dogmatically, I would never do that to my readers any more than I would like it done to myself, but they’re there. They will always be there.

Read all of my books with an eye to what it means to be a human being, and a part of a world where any and every human being has an individual story worth knowing, worth telling, worth reading.

3. The real thing (or, where’s the [fantasy] beef?)

A corollary of all that in Question #2 is simply this – the way I choose to tell the stories of THIS world, the stories which are sometimes too painful to address directly because they may trigger responses from readers which are entirely too close to the bone, is by cloaking them in that layer of silver tissue that is fantasy. I tell real stories which are transplanted into fantasy worlds; I aim for a bewildered recognition of a reader’s own self in the glimpse of a dragon, or medieval knight, or desert tribesman, or a lost princess, or a Were-creature, or even just another fellow human trying to make sense out of a world which sometimes stubbornly fails to cooperate or be helpful in any way at all.

Mary Poppins, the Queen of Nannies, had it wrapped up in that maxim that it’s a spoonful of sugar which helps the medicine go down – and sometimes that little bit of sugar is all that is necessary. You provide the reader – to change the metaphor completely – with a beef sandwich of a story – the two layers of bread are the fantasy disguise and they are nice and fresh and fragrant enough to tempt the eyes and the hands and the taste buds – but when you bite into it and the taste floods your mouth it’s the inside layer, the beef, the fundamental truth, that gets chewed on, too.

All fiction is fantasy, really, because all fiction is essentially a lie and therefore a fantasy by definition. But the sub-genre of fiction that is directly identified by that moniker implies that you are telling stories of what can never really be. Things like fairy tales and the Syai Empire, Narnia and Middle Earth and Hogwarts and Westeros. Things are bigger there, bigger than life. They can be both more obvious and more subtle (depending on the power of the storyteller) but they are still dismissed as, uh, impossible, fantastical, you know, “kid’s stuff”.

Except that they are not. They have never been. As GK Chesterton once said in a favorite quote, fairytales are not there to tell our children that there are dragons out there, it is to tell them that dragons can be conquered. True fantasy – while bringing delight and enchantment – also arms its readers against real monsters and tells those readers that the monsters can, in fact, be conquered.

This is the strength of fantasy. This is what I hope to reach for by choosing to tell my stories in this genre. The beef is quite simply the truth… given taste and allure by a condiment called “fantasy” which is sprinkled on it with a hand that can be as liberal or as frugal with that application as is deemed necessary.
The stories I tell are all true. Just close your eyes and stop staring at the bread before you take a bite. It won’t take long to discover the beef hidden inside. And no, I am not cheating. I have ALWAYS been offering you a sandwich, not two pieces of fairy bread hiding between them something you never knew was there.

Fantasy is a perilous and beautiful land. But it’s how you engage with it that matters. It is entirely possible to stay on the road and look neither right nor left and the road will still be a fantasy highway – but look to the sides and you see more than the highway – you see the world it runs through. And the story – which can be just the journey, and that’s fine too, but it’s sometimes just so inadequate… – becomes more than just putting one foot in front of another. It becomes not a journey so much as a context, and the context begins to draw you a picture of who you really are, deep inside.

Alma Alexander

___________________________________________________

almaalexander
I am a woman by God or nature, a writer by profession, a scientist by education, and a duchess by historical accident.

I read because I love stories, I write because I love to build worlds and spin dreams like the Fates spin lives. I blog to share my eclectic interests — books and writing, travels on earth and in space, puns, animals, photography, the environment ….

I am Alma Alexander and my greatest joy, my greatest passion, comes in building my own worlds. I have written and published well over two million words, most about places which never existed before I imagined them into being.

I was born in a town on the banks of the Danube in a country which no longer exists. When I was ten, I left the country of my birth, never to live there again. I have lived in five countries on four continents and now spend a good deal of my time in the realm of Cyberspace.

More than a score of my books are in print, including my YA series, Worldweavers, which Voya has recommended for those suffering from Harry Potter withdrawal, and The Were Chronicles, which creates a whole new shifter universe. One of my novels, The Secrets of Jin-shei, has been published in 13 languages and has touched readers around the world. Just recently, for example, a young woman talked excitedly about it in a video on her blog. I think she liked it, but since it was in Portuguese.…?

I was born on the fifth day of July six years before man walked on the moon, and I am married to a man who wooed me over the Internet and lured me to America. I am owned by two cats.

Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, Antagonist

Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, Antagonist published on 8 Comments on Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, Antagonist

fallen murphy

Part I (of MANY)

Judging by the various threads, comments, and pot-stirring in the Jim Butcher Appreciation Society, the topic of Karrin Murphy is a polarizing one. Some express mild shock and genuine bafflement when it’s suggested that Murphy is not the paragon she appears to be from Summer Knight to Changes. But a reread of Storm Front and Fool Moon reminds us that while she’s never been the boss fight, she was an antagonist more surely than Donald Morgan. Hear me out. An antagonist is someone who “actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something”. In this case, Murphy actively opposes and is hostile to Harry Dresden. An old, old interview with Jim Butcher that was published back when Death Masks just came out and Furies of Calderon was still Shepherdboy’s Fury, reveals his motivation in creating the characters of John Marcone and Karrin Murphy:

“I needed someone to provide both threat and distraction for Harry in Storm Front, for example, and got two characters who could do those jobs. John Marcone got to show up as the negative criminal element of the story, the human face of lawlessness and crime. Karrin Murphy is his opposite in number, representative of the law, society, and order. Neither one of them seems to do much for Harry that doesn’t make his day worse and worse, nine times out of ten, but no one’s perfect.”

Murphy is hostile to Harry from the beginning. While Dresden is a police consultant that Murphy has worked with time and again, she treats him more like a confidential informant: he is expected to drop everything and serve her: ““Dresden, I’ve sort of got a pair of corpses with no leads and no suspects, and a killer walking around loose. Your appointment can wait.” Murphy shows no real professional courtesy toward Dresden. She treats him like a confidential informant—someone who is useful to her, someone she can dominate, and someone who is just like every other criminal she comes across, except that she’s using him to gain access to other criminals.

This behavior does not change in Fool Moon.

Murphy forgets halfway through the books that she’s hired Dresden to seek information on her cases, and then suspects him of being the perpetrator. While this is more spectacularly done in Fool Moon, the pattern is also evident in Storm Front. Murphy orders Dresden to the scene of the crime, orders him to figure out how two people were murdered by magic (ignoring the fact Dresden told her he couldn’t), then—when he reveals he’s been doing exactly as she told him to, but with methods she disapproves of—she threatens to arrest him. Then, when Dresden’s fighting for his life and hers against a scorpion that came to life because Murphy wouldn’t listen, she shackles him to her. This reveals the prideful, arrogant, and often stupidly focused mentality of the main cop character in the Dresden Files. Dresden was owed an apology at the end of Storm Front, but Murphy conveniently forgot what a stubborn fool she was attempting to arrest him while they were under attack by a magically constructed scorpion.

Fool Moon is even worse. She shows up at the beginning just in time to pick up a scrap of paper she would later use to incriminate Harry Dresden in the death of his first “apprentice” (though Kim Delaney was not nearly as strong as Molly Carpenter has proven to be, nor was it an official apprenticeship; Harry was more of a mentor). There had been a death, and it was not until they were driving to it that it is revealed to be outside of her jurisdiction. The FBI shows up to intimidate and threaten, and after Agent Benn has taken out her gun and fired at Murphy, Murphy goes along with the lie that it had been an accident. Murphy upholds the law as long as a fellow law enforcement official is not the one breaking it.

Her greetings to Harry are, in general, angry and impatient: “About time, Dresden. Get up here.”

Murphy manipulates Harry into helping her: “After that, it’ll be simple for them to get some charges going on me for complicity or obstruction. And they’ll probably try to get to you, too. Harry, we’ve got to catch the killer, or killers. Or I’m history.” There is no logical reason for Dresden to be indicted for the events of Storm Front, nor would an investigation turn up incriminating evidence against a licensed investigator doing his job. Both times, Murphy dragged Harry into the case; both times she bullied and harassed him into the job—usually by threatening arrest—and both times she built a case against him (including a paperwork trail) at the same time he was helping her.

Murphy does not see a happy ending for a romance between them. Several times in the series, Murphy threatens Dresden that a romance would not end well for him. The first of these occasions happens in Storm Front, and sets the tone of their friendship.

And here we venture forth into speculation. Chapter Two of Storm Front introduces the reader to Murphy (in the flesh, as it were). They meet outside the Madison and head together to the grisly crime scene, and Dresden has a niggling doubt about her: “My shadow and Murphy’s fell on the floor, and almost looked as though they were sprawled there. There was something about it that bothered me, a nagging little instinct that I blew off as a case of nerves.” Butcher has used shadows for very interesting things later on in the series – for one, Nicodemus Archleone can listen in on almost any conversation he wants to by using his Denarian, Anduriel (whose name, coincidentally, I’m sure, means “shadow of Uriel”). Later on in Storm Front, Dresden mentions that the mark He Who Walks Behind has on him “could still be seen upon me by those who knew how, by using the Third Sight, stretching out behind me like a long and horribly shaped shadow.” Whatever it is that caused that moment of doubt has not been made clear. Yet.

There is also the fact that some of Murphy’s backstory contradicts itself. In “Restoration of Faith”, set no more than four years prior to the events of Storm Front, Murphy is a young beat cop. In Storm Front, she is a lieutenant and department head “who had to fight and claw and play dirty with the hairiest men in Chicago to get as far as she has.” Making lieutenant and becoming a department head in less than three years is not only highly unlikely given the amount of time one has to stay at one rank before one can test for a higher rank, but is a meteoric rise that could hardly have been hampered by institutionalized sexism. There are several possibilities for this: 1) Butcher neglected his research in this one area, 2) Murphy is a plant from someone who can pull strings (like government spooks) at a city level, 3) Murphy isn’t human, and can enforce her will and remake her little corner of reality, etc.

In closing, at the 2011 Boston signing, Butcher mentioned this: “I know that a lot of the folks that are generally perceived as bad guys aren’t necessarily, there are several who are currently perceived as good guys who aren’t necessarily, and we’ll continue to have those fall out over the next several books.” Lieutenant Karrin Murphy is the prime candidate for the betrayal that will hurt Harry all the way to his core. I’ve got an idea of who will eventually unmask her and why, but that will have to wait for another day.

Do you think it's possible that Murphy will turn out to have been Harry's adversary all along?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

___________________________________________________________________________

The talented Andrea Gonzales is responsible for the lovely photograph. She can be found at various spots on the web, including here.

The views expressed in this post don’t necessarily reflect the views of the people in the photograph, but they did give their permission.

Molly’s Nifty Trick

Molly’s Nifty Trick published on 2 Comments on Molly’s Nifty Trick

In the Dresdenverse short story “Bombshells,” the only story told in first-person POV by Harry’s apprentice Molly Carpenter, she describes a way to incorporate math (!) into her version of the first spell she learned from him- the tracking spell- and uses it to estimate the distance to her target (Thomas Raith, using a few of his hairs) without having to actually go all the way there. This occurred to me as pretty significant because it’s not something Harry ever showed her how to do (or even figured out for himself) and it’s a vivid demonstration of Molly’s own strengths and intelligence.

Here’s how she did it.

The basic idea is that if the target of your tracking spell is close to you, and you’re moving, it will appear to shift a lot relative to your position. If it’s really far away, it won’t appear to move much at all when you move- it stays pretty much the same direction from you. Compare looking at faraway things as you drive past them to the things right at the side of the road that whoosh by your window. You may have even used some form of this trick in video games like Call of Duty, Skyrim, Arkham City, or anything else that lets you see a pinned location relative to which way you’re facing. For many years (before electronics got decently sophisticated) airplane pilots used bearing changes and a mechanical calculator to fudge estimates of their distance from radio navigation aids.

Jim Butcher didn’t stick an actual equation into the story, and rightly so, because it would have dragged the pace down to nothing and alienated the readership. But for those of us who are obsessive nerds who enjoy that level of detail, it’s surprisingly easy math to do. Despite the implication that Molly’s technique would involve high-school-level trigonometry, you can do it in your head, using only an ordinary magnetic compass and a tracking spell (or its equivalent).

Step 1: Go ahead and put that blood or hair or whatever in your mouth and follow the tingle of your lips (like Molly does) or dangle it from a string or a chain (like Harry Does, if you don’t relish the idea of putting such things in your mouth) and determine the direction of your target. Use the compass to determine the exact number of degrees that is relative to magnetic north. For now, let’s say that the target happens to be directly (0°) north of us.

Step 2: Turn so you’re facing perpendicular to the way the tracking spell points, so the target is directly to your right or to your left. For example, with our hair donor directly north of us, we’d need to face directly east or west. Now, walk a reasonable distance to measure (Molly uses the convenient unit known as a “Molly-pace”) keeping the target exactly off your shoulder. Make sure to go at least far enough to register a slight change in the direction you’re facing according to the compass.

Step 3: Measure the change in your compass bearing. Continuing our example, let’s say we started with our target directly north of us, and walked fifteen paces west. Checking the tracking spell against the compass, our target is now four degrees east (004°) of dead north, and we’re not facing directly west anymore- we’re facing four degrees north of that (274°). We’re now ready to plug in some numbers. Do not fear trigonometry- that’s not what we’re doing. Instead, do this:

Step 4: (Molly-paces x 60) ÷ degrees changed = Molly-paces to the target
To finish our example, we took fifteen paces to travel four degrees. Fifteen times sixty is nine hundred. Divide that by four degrees, and we’ve got a result of two hundred and twenty-five paces to the target… however far that is. If you’re not as tall as Molly, your results may vary.

I’m certain that the math nerds in the crowd started mumbling about cosines and reached for their scientific calculators before this last step. The reason this trick works, however, is not because it’s a 30-60-90 triangle, nor because it approximates an isosceles triangle. What we’ve done is approximate an arc-length of a circle.
As we already know, a circle (a) contains 360 degrees, and (b) has a constant ratio between its circumference and diameter, known as pi, or 3.1415926blahblahblah, which, for the sake of rough simplicity, we will approximate as 3. What Molly’s trying to figure out is the distance (in Molly-paces) from the center of the circle (the target) to the perimeter, a portion of which she’s just paced off. That distance (the radius ) is half of the diameter, so we’re going to use (in rough simplicity, 6) as the total number of Molly-paces it would take to walk around the entire circle, and then solve for

Since we know how much of the circle we’ve walked around (“degrees changed” out of 360), we also know what portion of the circumference we’ve paced off (“Molly-paces” out of 6). Since these are equal portions, all we need to do is simplify:

degrees changed = Molly-paces 360 6r

degrees changed * 6r = Molly-paces * 360

degrees changed * r = Molly-paces * 60

r = Molly-paces * 60/degrees changed

TA-DA!

It’s not terrifically precise, but it doesn’t have to be. It was close enough for Molly to locate Thomas in Svartalheim, and now you’re just that much cooler (and/or more dorky) for knowing it. Now, for your homework, go find Mouse. Ten paces off your shoulder gives you two degrees of bearing change.

Did Jim Butcher sit down and figure out the mathematics in Bombshells as Andy Hammond describes in his guest article, Molly's Nifty Trick?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

__________________________________________________

This wonderfully nerdy guest post was brought to you by Andy Hammond!

Mythological Mantles, Aspects, and Masks in Fantasy Literature

Mythological Mantles, Aspects, and Masks in Fantasy Literature published on 1 Comment on Mythological Mantles, Aspects, and Masks in Fantasy Literature

Forgive me for getting all academic here, but I’m going to put on my graduate school hat for a moment. As a fan, I just read stories and revel in their flow and fun. But occasionally, I like to admit that I do indeed have a Master’s degree in Communication Studies and dust off the passive voice, complex sentences and gobbledygook that makes it sound like I am a Deep Thinker. So here we go…

Mantles of power, varying aspects or incarnations of gods, and the masks they can wear are a mainstay of fantasy literature and represent the need and ability of characters, and humanity, to change.

As an example, take Odin. The All-Father. Far seeing, wise, powerful, the leader of the Norse Pantheon. He is also frequently mentioned in modern fantasy. Jim Butcher references him in The Dresden Files. Kevin Hearne has him as fairly central figure in The Iron Druid Chronicles. Rick Riordan features Norse gods in his new series featuring Magnus Chase. And of course, Odin is also an important figure in Marvel’s Thor movies.

odin

Physically, Odin is represented in all of these worlds as a male older figure with one eye. The one eye is a notable trait – indeed a symbol — derived from the original Norse myths, representing Odin’s sacrifice for wisdom.
In Butcher’s Dresden Files, Odin is only one aspect of a multi-faced character. Vadderung is the contemporary Odin, who lives in a modern day version of Midgard with a company front company front called Monoc Securities. Monoc is yet another ode to the one eye of Odin, as monocle in Latin literally means one eye. Sometimes Odin appears in another aspect, as in Cold Days, when he appears as Kringle, or as we may know him, Santa Claus.

The concept of a god wearing multiple mantles or aspects is not singular to Butcher. Lucienne Diver, who has not yet used Norse mythology in her Latter-Day Olympian series, uses the concept of varying aspects and incarnations as well. In her latest book, Blood Hunt, coming out at the end of October, she plays on this theme heavily. Apollo, for example, literally morphs physically into a member of the Egyptian pantheon. By using this technique both authors present the idea that gods represent concepts and that belief systems have universal needs, met and realized by similar aspects of what is essentially the same god.

Kevin Hearne uses Odin as an individual figure, but plays with the concept of multiple aspects with other characters. For example, he asks a devout Christian woman to imagine the Mother Mary, and when Mary appears, she looks as the woman imagined. Even Jesus changes looks/aspects/mantles depending on the belief system of His believers (read the sharply written Hammered).

One subtle but important difference does exist between the aspects of a god and the mantles. Previously, I have discussed them as if they were exactly the same thing, and they are not. A mantle can have a far deeper meaning as not just one face of a godlike incarnation, but a cloak of power that one can sluff off and hand to someone else. Or, more accurately, a cloak that transfers to another person once you die. Butcher does this beautifully in the ending scenes of Cold Days, as the Ladies’ mantles transfer to other vessels. They actually take a type of physical form and fly into the new vessels’ chests.

Confusing matters more, only a few pages later, in the same exact book, Butcher alludes to mantles as masks. “Masks, mantles,” Kringle said, “What’s the difference?” (Cold Days)

santaclaus

For readers, the difference is subtle yet instructive. While many of us wear masks, displaying different aspects of who we are or hiding part of ourselves, the masks can be removed and our true selves revealed. Humans can wear masks and it simply hides parts of who we are. Mantles, on the other hand, are components of godhood or at least fantastic power. Harry Dresden is handed the Winter Knight’s mantle, not the Winter Knight’s mask.

Another key difference is that Mantles typically bring responsibilities and burdens, and the very real possibility that the bearer will lose who he or she is and become what the Mantle wants them to be. This is Harry’s continued battle as he feels the power of the Winter Knight try to change who he personality and values. Even Molly, who now carries the Mantle of the Winter Lady, is changing in front Harry’s eyes, becoming less wizard and more Fae. She is absorbing and changing due to power given through the Mantle.

But, it should be noted that Molly wears a mask as well, displaying different aspects to different people, playing a challenging game that will inevitably fail. Winter Lady to the Fae, dutiful daughter to her mother and father, wizard and friend to Harry. The problem with masks, unlike mantles, is that they can slip. Mantles overpower. Masks hide. And tiny differences can signal the slipping of a mask and the revelation of the mantle’s changes, such as when Molly successfully uses a cell phone.

Whether an aspect, mantle or mask, the writer’s ultimate goal is give his or her character a reason to change. The changes can represent different incarnations of the same things such as when Diver’s gods morph from one pantheon to another, or challenging and terrible powers such as Dresden’s Winter Mantle, or even the power of individual belief, as in Hearne’s Jesus.

_____________________________________________________
Follow Joelle Reizes:
Blog at www.slipperywords.com
Twitter @JReizes
Facebook at both Joelle Reizes and Joelle M. Reizes

Primary Sidebar