General Fae lore:
On a related topic, any theories on why the fey hate ‘cold iron’? There’s an explanation in a novel I’ll look up– something about having ties only to the earth and not the other elements. Sounds muddled, but it made sense when I read it. (Definitely must go look it up.)
Well, strictly speaking, in legend the faeries did not like iron of any sort–not just cold-forged, but /any/ iron or iron compound, including steel. Common ways to use this to your advantage included driving nails into the threshold to keep faeries from crossing it, or hanging a horseshoe above the door “for luck”–also to keep out unwelcome faeries.
The deepest reasons for Faeries disliking steel are rooted in the conflict of nature versus civilization, wilderness versus farmland. Hunter-gatherer cultures (generally speaking) did not have the same advanced metalworking capabilities of agricultural societies. Iron was used in /everything/ you needed to run a farm. You used an iron plow, iron was used in building, iron was used in harness and tack, to make tools, to make weapons–everything.
Iron is a metal uniquely symbolic of mankind (or personkind if you’re the PC sort), and is used by nothing else in the same way. Many baneful creatures of folklore and legend loathed the kiss of cold iron (or cold steel) and some folklore holds that the presence of iron could keep a witch from casting baneful magic at a household or individual. Folklore from the late middle ages draws upon the image of the Crucifixion to provide substances baneful to creatures of darkness–the wood of the cross, which could be used to, among other things, stake vampires, and the nails that
pierced the Savior’s hands and feet (wrists and ankles, technically) which became a bane to mischievious or malign spirits of nature.
Even in today’s society, which draws further and further away from the ‘natural’ state at a geometric pace, iron is THE single most commonly used and available metal in the world. We use it for darn near everything, in one amount or another. Iron is the substance whose presence allowed us to develop from more primitive, dangerous cultures into larger and relatively safe ones. It’s the soul of civilization, of bringing humanity’s order to
the living chaos of nature.
Naturally no faerie worth the name would like it.
2010 Powell’s books Q&A off of Youtube @1:10
Exactly what are the Outsiders? Are they like the fae, or are they something else entirely?
They are something else entirely. All the fae are part mortal. There is some bit of mortal in every single one of the fae. The Outsiders are something that comes from way beyond that. Their more the generic Hellboy fangs and tentacles croud.
Matter from the Nevernever dissolves into ectoplasm in the real world, but the faeries leave a corpse when they die. Explanation?
Faeries are a unique case in the Nevernever, as the beings who basically straddle the worlds. Plus there are other reasons which are none of your beeswax just yet.
If someone owes a being with a mantle a favor (say someone owed Lloyd a favor), and that mantle passes to someone before the favor was called in (to, say, a certain Chicago Wizard), does the person who receives the mantle get the favor?
Also, if a unique denizen of Faerie akin to Cat Sith were to die, does it have a mantle that passes on? Would the next-eldest malk be able to get more powerful?
Depends of the nature of the mantle. Not all of them are all about obligation, the way the Faerie mantles are. But as far as Faerie mantles go, yes. If you owed Maeve a favor when Maeve was the Winter Lady, you don’t get out of your debt just because there’s a new Winter Lady in town. Molly is the one who is going to collect now.
The mantle of Eldest is an important one in Faerie, and yes, it would pass on should its bearer perish.
I seem to remember that the Outer Gates are currently being guarded by Winter, but it was insinuated that they are just its current defenders. Does that mean that there were guardians before them or that they are the last of those guardians?
2011 Bitten by Books Q&A
Oh and changing over of the stone table from winter-summer/summer-winter , well there are two hemispheres, are there two tables?
One table, but it goes where it is called.
I was talking with a friend about the faerie courts, and since we live in Australia, we were both wondering what the explanation is for the seasons being reversed in the southern hemisphere. Does Titania take a vacation down south for Christmas? Or is there a seperate pair of courts for the south?
Oh, no, they’ll just rotate interests. Mab has more power in the southern winter, Titania in the southern summer. Though, as fundamentally northern-hemisphere, basically Western European beings, they don’t have the kind of absolute reign there that they enjoy in other parts of the world, and their relationships there consist more of strong alliances and consensus influence among a much larger population of Wyld fae.
Question among my @HarriedWizard RPG group for @longshotauthor : would changelings be sterile? and if not how would the genetics work?
@DeusSolis @HarriedWizard No, not at all. And cautiously.
@DeusSolis @HarriedWizard Consider it a dormant gene group that could potentially be activated by environmental exposure.
@longshotauthor @HarriedWizard So a half-elf changeling could have kids that when exposed 2 faerydom, child could exhibit faery qualities?
@DeusSolis @HarriedWizard Yeah, though they’d need more exposure the wider the generation gap was. It would be impractical at some point.
You’ve previously said that the Sidhe and Mab came from origins like Toot Toot and kind of took on responsibility and grew. You’ve also said that every single Fae have come from mortal origins like changelings and Scions and stuff. Could you reconcile these two apparently contradictory origins?
I could but I won’t *sing song* I’m not gonna tell you.* The Sidhe were created for a reason though. They were created specifically by certain agents who no longer had as much influence on the world as they once did. I’ve hinted at that in some previous books and I’ll leave it at that and I’ll leave the rest to you. That’s perfectly enough material to come up with fan crack theory. And fan crack theory is awesome. I love reading fan crack theory. I will go through occasionally and look at the crack theory boards, and it’s like excellent. And occasionally its like ‘ooh that’s actually better than what I had planned…” (Editor’s note: This question is especially dear to me)
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.
But the thought that really hit home, especially considering the intensity of her wrath in the final scene at the church…
Mab’s not going crazy… Mab’s been wounded.
Woot. I love it when you guys work things out!
Oh, and Mab’s not using a mouthpiece because she’s incapable of speech. She could talk all she wanted–as long as she didn’t mind killing the people she was trying to communicate with. Suffice to say that the whole “words can never hurt me” thing just doesn’t apply to angry Faerie Queens.
The Wild Hunt lead by a couple of Denarians such at Thorned Namshiel, The Erlking and a bunch of Outsiders could get the job done. That would have been a fight to see (from a distance).
Which brings up the question of who can hurt Mab.
I’m still curious about who could hurt Mab. Other than Titania, nobody comes to mind.
2009 WoJ forum post:
2. the white council – isn’t mab her true name?
It’s /one/ of her Names. But God help the simp (or Council of simps) who tries to control her with that and nothing else. Ugh, that would get ugly.
2009 Independence signing:
Some conversation about Mab and Harry –
The thing is that Mab never really figures Dresden quite right. She never gets it right when she tries to predict what he will do. But Small Favor turned out really well for her.
2011 Naperville Signing
Would someone in Mab’s weight class be capable of taking a White Court demon out of a vampire?
Oh, absolutely. She could rip that thing right out of Thomas. Not that there would be much of Thomas left after she was done. Mab’s not particularly gentle that way. It’s possible that there might be some way to get out of it, maybe, but what fun would that be?
2011 Bitten by Books Q&A
I wanted to ask about the girl at Dresden’s grave. Was it Mab or Leah? Or was she someone else?
Mab and Demonreach both made sure they had a proxy present in those two conversations at Dresden’s grave.
I was wondering at the end of the book it was a little unclear to me who kept Dresden alive. I think it was just Mab but was it the connection with the spirit of the island that kept his body alive until Mab arrived?
It was Mab, /plus/ Demonreach, /plus/ the parasite.
2011 DC signing
Did Mab lie? (At the end of Ghost Story)
Mab did not lie, Mab was wrong. There’s a subtle difference to that, at the end of Ghost Story. As far as Mab is concerned, she’s telling the truth, because she’s telling the truth from her experience, as she knows it. Dresden, however, is getting an earful of truth on a more cosmic level. So we’ll see how that plays out a little bit more in the next book
2013 KC signing Q&A
Mab herself was human once, and she eventually became the, uh, the fun-loving Mab that we all know. (lots of other good stuff about the mortal (with a soul) to immortal Fae transition in this WoJ)
Can we get a break down of the biological relationships between the various Fae Queens we have seen on screen?
Of particular interest – Maeve and Sarissa, were they actually Mab’s kids (biological sense)? If so, who was Mab’s baby daddy?
Mab and Titania are actual twin sisters.
Maeve and Sarissa were twin sisters, from Mab. Their father was an Austrian composer and musician who died young.
I was wondering if Mab was the first Winter Queen?
No. Mab was not the first Mab. Mab was originally Winter Lady, and Lea was her Jenny Greenteeth. She was her sidekick and handmaiden. And so when Mab got promoted Lea did too. So she got to be much more powerful and awesome. But that was a while back. When that happened. And the same thing with Titania. The Winter Queens actually died. The last time things got awful in the wizard world. So things are about to get awful in the wizard world again and they’re a bit nervous. They’re a bit nervous about Dresden. Well, Titania is very nervous about Dresden. Mab is keeping her enemies close.
2015 Grid Daily interview
At a Con you attended recently, you mentioned that the reason Mab owes favors to some unsavory characters is due to debts she accrued when the Winter Fey first assumed the duty of manning the Wall.
Regarding that favor, it was a situation where Mab needed to be in two places at once and couldn’t. So Anduriel loaned her Nicodemus to step into one of the places she couldn’t be. Man has since learned better than that and now she has somebody that will step in for her when she needs to be in two places at once. Which is why the Leanansidhe has got so much power and generally shows up whenever Mab isn’t there. If you’ll notice in the books, the Leanansidhe and Mab very rarely show up in the same place at the same time. That’s because Leanansidhe is covering things that Mab should be doing, while Mab is wasting her time on Harry Dresden. And vice versa.
2009 Chicago signing:
Q: How/when did Harry find out Lea is his godmother? Is Lea Thomas’s godmother, too?
A: Lea was around when Harry was in middle school, although he didn’t know who she was. She was just a lady who sometimes did nice things for him. He found out who she is after he became Justin’s apprentice. Lea is not Thomas’s godmother
2009 Independence signing:
Q: Is the athame a channel for some kind of power that was hurting Lea, therefore when Mab took it away, she was injured fighting off whatever that power is?
A: Do you really think I’m going to answer that? The one thing I will tell you is that Mab truly did what she thought was the best thing for Lea by encasing her in ice.
2009 Bitten by Books Q&A:
#104 “What did Harry get out of the deal with his fairy godmother? We know what she got, but what did he get out of it, specifically? Was it a power boost (temporarily or permanent)? An augmentation of his abilities, or access to something he couldn’t do at the time? Was it defensive or offensive in nature?”
Mostly what he got out of the deal with Lea was confidence–her torture sessions essentially handed Harry Dumbo’s magic feather: they made him think he was better, stronger, and faster without actually altering a damned thing, otherwise. And it worked. He overcame Justin.
Granted, there was no reason he couldn’t have done what he did completely on his own–but he didn’t know that at the time. So, in a very real way, Lea kept her side of the bargain, to make him strong enough to face Justin.
It just wasn’t a terribly benevolent or friendly way to arrange it. Those wicked faeries. Go figure.
2011 Bitten by Books Q&A
After Harry defeated He Who Walks Behind, how did he make contact with the Leanandsidhe to bargain for the power to face Justin DuMorne? I think that’s the only part of that story you haven’t covered yet.
With relative simplicity, since she’d basically been lurking about near him, unseen, from the time he was born.
She judged everything that had happened to him a valuable learning experience, up until the point where DuMorne wanted to break into his skull. She couldn’t take on the Walker directly, but once that obstacle was out of the way, she appeared to ickle Harry right quick.
2012 Beaver Creek signing
The Leansidhe nature seems to conflict with that of Winter – and she seems to be much more Summer-y, since she wears lots of reds and greens and so on.
They’re not elementals. They’re not divided along the lines of – specifically – of the classical elements. They’re more about the elemental portions of the soul, which – okay, that’s getting really technical and highfaluting. But the point is, Lea drains people’s blood and drinks it, and that was how she made her bones in the fairy world. She’s an actual legendary figure, where bards and poets and painters and so on would come to her and seek her inspiration. And she was kind of this vampire-muse – that was the original Leansidhe – that’s her original story. And in the DF universe that was how she made her bones, that’s how she impressed big Mab. It was like – oh wow – you took these guys who were out there just seeking to create something beautiful and yet increased your dark and evil power – Well done!
2009 Lexington signing:
Q: How big will Toot get?
A: Depends on how much influence he has in the world. That’s how the sidhe gain their size and power. Mab wasn’t always as big as she is now.
2010 Bitten by Books Q&A:
#150 Is Toot-toot’s increase in size due to his actions, or the title and followers he has acquired doing Harry’s bidding?”
It’s due to /Harry’s/ actions, mostly. Toot done hitched his star to Harry’s wagon. As a result, he’s taken actions he never would have taken on his own, some of which had major consequences. Toot has effectively become a much more powerful being than he was as an independent dewdrop faerie. The physical growth is a reflection of that fact.
I mean gosh, where do you think the Sidhe came from in the first place?
2009 Kansas City Q&A @41:45
With all the things Toot Toot and the Za Lord’s guard have done that made a difference, and with Toot getting bigger, is that going to upset the balance in the Summer court?
The answer is no, because they are not Summer anyway, they are wildfae. And everybody over in summer is going to blame Harry for everything they do. They regard them as a tool and Harry is the guy holding it. Harry would tell you that he’s probably the tool but… Anyway Toot Toot’s been growing because that’s where the Sidhe came from to begin with. They weren’t always all tall and glamorous, they kind of got that way.
Will Toot Toot’s changes change his name?
Yes, and No. It depends on how quick it happens. His name is kind of stretching to fit him as he goes. Really though he’s motivated by pizza, yaknow. He likes Harry and all, but he’s motivated by pizza.
Why not pizza? Oh my gosh have you had pizza?
The Farie Kings (Odin WoJ’s get lumped in here)
The ErlKing* (aka Herne the Hunter or Cern, the Celtic Horned God) and the Wild Hunt are part of the celtic isle mythology…the point IS the hunt. People are the foxes. (The Erlking in actual mythology is a german baddie that Jim apparently appropriated for Herne.)
2010 Dragon-Con @6:30
Where are the Farie kings? Do they exist?
Yes they do. The Erlking as sort of the Hunter king, and Santa Clause, the Winter king who is not the commercial Santa Clause. The kings are sort of the opposite of the queens in their given season. They are independent of their Queen’s courts. The Erlking is a summer king and he is not a particularly friendly guy, whereas Santa Clause, one of the winter kings, is kinder, the spirit of generosity in a time of bleakness. Yah I’ve gota have Harry ask Mab about him so she can roll her eyes.
Priscillie asked Jim if the Erlking is Wyldfae at DragonCon and posted this reply:
Jim: He is wyldfae. He isn’t a subject of Mab or Titania. That’s what Wyldfae means. But his origins are in the Summer-side of the cycle of seasons, just like Titania’s are.
Ditto Santa, only in Winter.
(He /is/ beholden to Mother Summer, but basically everyone in Faerie is, so.)
(I mean, that’s like saying “you must obey the law of gravity.” Duh.)
Priscellie: You mean the Erlking has not learned to throw himself at the ground and miss?
Jim: Something like that, yes.
If Grandma says “Dearie, I’d really like you to do this for me,” you just DO it. Or granny’s roommate might pick up her shears.
2012 Reddit AMA:
sapph42: You’ve talked about beings who were on similar (or greater) power levels as Mab – Titania (obviously), Drakul, and Ferrovax to name a few. However, I believe that list was generated before Changes. Where does Odin fall on that list? Hypothetically (assuming they exist), where would entities such as Zeus or Quetzalcoatl fall?
Jim: 4) Your question presupposes a linear hierarchy–which isn’t surprising, since the series has come from Harry’s viewpoint, and Harry is a straight-lines kind of thinker. Power is a much more nebulous thing than that, and something that is problematic to quantify. I think a reasonably simple argument could be made that Molly is a /much/ more powerful wizard than Dresden, for example. And in many situations, she probably is. Dresden tends to think in terms of “who would win this slugfest” when he’s dealing with the supernatural world because, well, of all the slugfests.
Odin isn’t gonna slugfest with you. He /could/. But that isn’t the Allfather’s style. Odin saw you coming last year, and he made his countermoves to what you’re doing right now a week and a half ago. For guys like him, fights are what happen when you /fail/ to win with /real/ power–knowledge and forethought.
Of course, sometimes everyone’s knowledge and forethought cancels each other’s actions out, and then it’s time to get all Monday Night Nitro. No one in the Dresden Files universe is really sure how that would shake out. But everyone on that level knows that they might be about to find out
Dudesan: You’ve described Santa Claus as being the Winter King. What does that title mean? Do Winter and Summer each have a trinity of Father/King/Prince, like they do with Mother/Queen/Lady? Is the King necessarily the consort of the Queen? If so, will we be seeing Oberon at some point?
Jim: 5) The Faerie realms just aren’t that structured. It’s more accurate to say that he is /a/ Winter King. Or even more accurately, that he is a free Wyld Fae who is of a power level that is on par with Mab’s and happens to neighbor her sphere of influence, and finds it simpler to show up to family dinners during the holidays and make polite than to start staking out boundaries and establishing treaties.
Oberon… well, the guy kind of wound up between Mab and Titania in one of those romantic triangle things, back around Shakespeare’s day. He didn’t make it.
2013 KC signing Q&A
Is Kringle Fae?
His mantle, yes, is part of the Winter Court. Which does not necessarily mean that he himself is Fae as much as the fact that his mantle is. While he’s there, he’s got to pay deference to Mab. If Mab gives him a command, he has to obey it.
2013 KC signing Q&A
If you’re (a powerful immortal being) in the real world, well, the problem is that you’re in the world, and you’re kind of mortal, and something could come along and try and whack you, if they’re fast enough, or good enough, or lucky enough. Which makes Odin a kind of special guy, because he doesn’t mind it, he thinks it’s awesome.
Is The Erlking a mantle in the same way as the other Fae titles? I know he’s referred to as Herne at one point in Cold Days, so that got me thinking, considering that he’s also iirc the Summer King.
There is no such thing as a Summer King in the Dresden Files faerie cosmology. Mab and Titania need a King like a fish needs a bicycle.
There are a ton of independent rulers of the Wyld, though, much like the Erlking, who is a member of the Winter Court more or less as a sign of courtesy and respect. They will occasionally make alliances (and dalliances) with the great rulers of the Sidhe.
Vadderung is Santa Claus, is he also St Nicholas?
And Father Christmas and Sinterklaas and a variety of others. But in our modern era, a lot of people wear multiple hats on the job.
@longshotauthor is it possible for the Erlking to create a Wyld Knight or some equivalent?
@SuperSnapper61 Engh. He could feasibly take a part of his own power and fashion a new mantle from it. Much weaker than the WK though.
@den_down_unda @jim_turnage The Erlking is simply not on the same scale of power as Mab, though he could probably hand Molly her head.
i am fairly certain, but not positive, that it is not possible to hold both Mantles at once. Also i do not think that holding both was what Slade was planning. Slade and the Summer Lady were planning on taking the Summer Knight out of the equation, and thus causing a war. During this war, the Summer Lady would be able to take Lily, the follower of Summer that she put the Mantle on, along with the Unraveling, and sacrifice her for Winter on the Stone Table, thus giving Winter the Energy that went along with the Knight’s Mantle, not the Mantle itself. At least that was how i interpreted it. The Stone Table doesnt transfer the actual thing that is Sacrificed on the Table from Summer to Winter and vice versa, but the energy and power that it holds.
2006 forum WoJ post:
Answer to question about if Gard has issues with iron
Not all beings of the Nevernever have a particular problem with iron. Faeries are the ones with serious iron issues. Smiley Most things from the Nevernever only develop serious iron issues when you use it to, oh, chop their HEADS off.
2009 WoJ forum post:
1. the mothers – how does a queen become a mother? like after a thousand yrs, old winter dies and mab becomes the new mother?
Essentially abdication. The previous mother wearies of her duty and moves along. There’s been one new Mother Summer during recorded human history. Mother Winter has never retired.
2013 KC signing Q&A
How often do the Ladies’, Queens’ and Mothers’ mantles change?
Uh, the Ladies, Queens and Mothers, their mantles change very, very, very rarely in general. I mean, Mab’s been there for better than 1,000 years. And Maeve’s been there….there was a Winter Lady before Maeve, uh, in Mab’s time. And she didn’t fare so well the last time a Starborn was running around.
More on Fae mantle changes
if the Ladies become the Queen, what happens to the Mothers at that point? The thing is that the Mothers are kind of the foundation. So, it’s not so much what happens to them because the little mantles changed. It’s what happens to the little mantles if the big mantles change. So, if someone whacks the being that is, for all intents and purposes, Baba Yaga, and then Mab succeeds, then Mab becomes the new Baba Yaga, and Molly gets drawn up to Mab, and they have to find someone else to become the new Lady. But on the other hand, the Mothers are extremely powerful beings (continued in the cosmology/mantle sub-section)
2009 Independence signing:
Q: The first gruffs seem to be different from the later sets in terms of looks, smell, and fighting approach. Were they sent by someone different?
A: No, they’re part of the same family. The first are just the newer gruffs, those most recent from being Changelings. They attacked Harry simply because Mab declared that she had chosen him as her emissary.
If the faerie queen dies, do you get out of the contract?
You just have a different faerie queen show up to… the faerie queen is an office, it’s not a person, Lily found that out the hard way, you know, so…
2011 NYC Signing Q&A
Are Fix and Harry gonna go toe to toe?
Maybe. And Fix is a lot better at doing his Knight stuff than Dresden will be. Sure, you know, hand Harry a bunch of new power, you just know that means he’s gonna get beaten up harder. That’s really what it’s there for, you know.
2012 Reddit AMA:
sapph42: Could the Summer Court bestow the Mantle of the Summer Knight
(is that capitalization all correct?) on someone who held the Mantle of the Winter Knight? What would holding both Mantles do to a person? If it is possible, and is not fatal, how would such a person resolve their conflicting obligations? Would they still have obligations if they lived, but no longer held the Mantle(s)?
Jim: 2) That’s a fascinating question. I think they /could/, but it would do horrible things to the head of the person who got it. Reuniting two things that were meant to be divided just cannot be good for the person standing around when it happens… (Jim has also compared this to a matter/anti-matter reaction. #203)
sapph42: When Dresden killed Aurora, her power flowed to the nearest vessel of Summer, which happened to be the presumably mortal Lily (the Summer Knight). If Dresden killed Maeve, would he become a Winter Lord, or are there rules in place mandating gender?
Jim: 3) There are rules in places of course. (On the other hand, Harry’s the kind of guy that says, “That’s what my captain keeps telling me.”) But the real rule in play here would be a much simpler one: you can’t fill a cup that is already full. You need an empty one. Or a really big one that isn’t topped off.