WoJ on Harry

Link back to the main Dresden Files WoJ compilation



Harry has admitted (I think in SF) that he’d never even heard of the White Council until Morgan showed up to drag him before a trial.  All of his experiences with being a wizard before than come from Justin DuMorne, who from all accounts was neither warm nor fuzzy.  If memory serves, Harry mentions Justin using pain as a motivator on a couple different occasions.  Which of course really means he was using fear.

Fear is an extremely effective, albeit unpleasant, teaching tool.  Human psychology is built that way.  Introduce enough fear into a situation, and a great many psychological barriers can be immediately, permanently bypassed.  That’s why traumatic experiences leave such huge mental scars on people.  Sure, maybe you like dogs fine, but if you get mauled half to death by four or five of them, it can change your outlook on the subject.  My dog got a claw on his back leg half-ripped out by getting it tangled in something, and the vet had to pull it the rest of the way out so that it could heal.  Now he doesn’t let ANYONE touch that back paw.

Using fear to a lesser (or more at least more precise) degree lets you drive home lessons a lot faster than you would, otherwise.  Believe me, getting repeatedly popped on top of the noggin teaches you faster than anything that your high block isn’t high enough.  Experiencing what a properly applied grappling lock actually /does/ to you teaches you faster than anything how /not/ to get caught in one–they HURT.  And I mean, HURT, a kind of pain that you just don’t get to feel, most days.

While I don’t exactly back fear-oriented academia, it /is/ an awfully good way to teach people things that are going to be matters of life-and-death, such as hand-to-hand combat.  Or, in DuMorne’s case, high-stakes wizardry.

Pain wasn’t a teaching method for DuMorne.  It was an environment.  You learned to do /everything/ while in pain, because when it comes to actual wizardly conflict, you’d better be able to concentrate and focus, even if you’ve got two bullets in your guts, or if you’re on fire.  DuMorne knew darned well that when you go up against Wardens, you don’t do it without taking some lumps along the way.


Star_Controller, December 05, 2006:  “DF: Harry needs some Anita in him”

No, im not saying the series needs to become, as someone named it, a ‘bodice ripper’.  I simply find Harry’s moral time to be very tiresome.  I will admit he’s changing as the books go on, and he’s faced with more things, however times like his being huffy about Ebanezer being the Blackstaff, i found infuriating.  Eb. is Harry’s best friend on the council, yet harry was willing to throw all the good feelings they had together away for Eb. doing what he, known to Harry as a good man and wizard, felt needed to be done!  It took harry through three books to begin to re-knit his relationship with Eb.  Anita has always done what needed to be done to protect she and her people.  She might have complained about it later, and felt guilty, but she did it.

I’ve been re-reading the early books, Storm Front – Grave Peril, and it re-affirmed to me just how overly moralistic Harry was in those books.  Course, Muphey was just as bad at that point.  In those books Harry is more like Cadderly than Drizzt, to put it another way.

Any thoughts?

He’s a part-time consultant for the police department dealing with supernatural mayhem in a large city in the Midwest.  The bad guys who don’t want to kill him dead dead dead want to sign him up for their team.  He spends as much time at odds with the authorities he’s trying to help as he does with the various supernatural baddies.

I’d say he’s got plenty of Anita in him already. :)

As far as the opening statement re: Anita always doing what she must to protect her people while Harry spent three years getting over his perceived betrayal by Ebenezar . . .   where’s the connection, there?  That’s sort of like saying  . . . oh . . . “Winston Churchill was a freaking lush and a great speaker, whereas FDR’s chair had wheels.”  All you can really say to that statement is: Um.  Well.  Yes. :)

My point being, in what way did Harry not take care of business, with regards to Ebenezar?  The opening of PG shows, amply enough, that Harry kept his professional and personal life in different pockets, at least when it came to talking Council business with McCoy.  In fact, even when it was happening in BR, he set it aside well enough to get through the crisis du jour.

And as far as Harry always questioning the nature of right and wrong, well, yes, he does.  Which can be annoying to some people at times, but for someone with so much, ah, /executive priviledge/, shall we say, it’s a FAR preferable flaw to possessing the kind of personality that never stops to consider it at all–or worse, assumes that anything they do is automatically right, and it’s just a matter of finding the best justification for it. :)



Susan did not take into account Michael.

Is there some reason she should?  Susan has spent what?  An /hour/ around Michael?  Maybe two?  And she’s been scorched by one of the Swords, which would appear to clearly indicate that Michael might not be kindly disposed toward her.  

At which point did she have an experience that would make her think “this is one of the most important decisions of my life.  I should entrust it to THAT guy.”

Not everyone in the books knows everything that the reader knows.  In fact, /no one/ in the books knows everything that the reader knows (since people have clearly been able to infer things about Harry’s character from his actions and thoughts which are huge blind spots to him, personally).



Quote from: gawime

Anybody else was bothered by Jim announcing in Chp 3 that Harry can do veils now because he’s been training Molly?

It’s not that Harry managed to get new abilities that bother me, but the timing of it seems off.  If I recall, Molly was doing very good veils in White Night (supposedly under Harry’s tutelage) but we didn’t hear a thing about Harry being good enough to do a decent veil then.  It’s only a few years after we’re shown that Molly can do pretty good veils that Harry announces “Hey I can do veils because I’ve been training the grasshopper to do them.”

Actually, Harry first uses a veil in “The Warrior.”

And there’s a big difference between magic done by sitting down in a lotus position, concentrating for ten minutes, maybe using props and/or circles to augment the process, and magic that you know well enough to do nownownow.  It’s the difference between shooting arrows at a target in your back yard, talking to friends, and shooting arrows at a running target through the cover of the forest.  Theory and application are in different worlds.

Harry’s always been able to do a perfect veil.  He just had to be sitting in a circle, set up specifically for the purpose, sitting down, and he couldn’t be doing anything else while he did that.  Which makes it minimally useful.

By the time he was teaching Molly, Harry had been forced to sit down and practice his veils, working them into his regular routine.  His veils suck, compared to Molly’s–but he can toss up a veil that’s not even as good as Predator camo, and at least retain enough awareness to walk or run around, and maybe pull off a couple of little tricks while he does it.  But it’s not something he was born good at.  He’s had to work for it.

Besides.  He keeps making Molly practice things she isn’t good at–like shields and kinetic strikes–because, he says, it’s good for her (and it is).  But if he sits around not practicing things /he/ isn’t good at, how does that look to the grasshopper?

It’s an ongoing process.

Quote from: kabal48

So i was just reading the Harry Dresden Security File, which has slightly scary implications if you are a council warden and i wanted to kind of continue that line of thinking but in the extreme.  The security file has a pretty good summation of what Harry has done through mostly legal means under the wizard laws but it omits some of the even scarier things that harry has access to. Namely Denarian Coins, Word of Kemmler, Mab, Bob, and Molly. Also i don’t think it mentions that sans anything but his own power he is among the top 30 strongest mortal wizards in terms of raw power.

So Question: If Harry were to actually go all the way over to the dark side could the Council take him?

My Personal opinion is that he would make Kemmler look like a run of the mill (although admittedly sadistic) grade school bully.

Link to Warden Security File: Harry Dresden

What makes you think all the other wizards of the Council, with their /centuries/ of experience, don’t have access to similar temptat–er, that is, sources of emergency power?  ;D

At the end of the day, Harry is one guy.  Wizard or not, he’s one man.  And while he might be in the top thirty for raw strength, that… really doesn’t add up to much, unless you’re moving heavy stuff or trying to break things.  The strongest guy at the gym is not necessarily (in fact, he /probably/ isn’t) the most dangerous guy at the gym.  If that person happens to be a guy and not a girl.

Harry is tough-minded, resourceful, and imaginative.  He’s friggin’ dangerous.  But no more so than any of several dozen other wizards with similar (or at least applicable) experiences and talents, and no more so than hundreds of thousands (if not more) other beings running around the planet.

Long story short–if the Council ever actually took the gloves off and came after him, they’d squash him flat.  If Harry ever went totally Dark Side and wore big black cloaks and grabbed every ounce of power he could find–they’d squash him flat.  It might take longer to accomplish (like maybe days or weeks instead of hours), but short of successfully pulling off a Darkhallow or snuggling up to someone grotesquely powerful for protection, he wouldn’t have a prayer of outright victory.  He’d be doing very, very well merely to escape and survive.  And, frankly, Harry openly filling out his application for a Sith membership card would be the thing most likely to provoke exactly that reaction from the Council.

As it is, he has the advantage of being an annoyance to them, but not a threat.  He’s a fly that’s landed on a buffalo’s back.  He might irritate the buffalo, but it’s not going to go into violent action in an attempt to crush the fly unless it gets really, really, REALLY annoying and crawls up its nose or something.

On the other hand, if the fly suddenly turned into a frickin’ lion, totally different story.  THAT is completely worth a buffalo flipping out over, and bringing along several hundred of its best friends to help.  Lion might be dangerous, but have you seen that battle at the water hole video on youtube?  Buffalo are the most dangerous things in it.

Anyway, the point is that Dresden might well be one of the more dangerous opponents you could find in the White Council–in a one on one fight.  But on the scale of someone like Kemmler (who was /way/ mightier than Harry has ever been, and who still died, several times, when he took on the Council), no one bothers trying to fight fair.  The most dangerous person in the world might well be able to kill anyone reading this thread, for example–but all that means is that he’s probably way more skilled than all of us.  It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t die if one of us stuck a knife in his brain while he was sleeping.

Far more dangerous to the Council would be if Dresden decided it needed to be destroyed without going all black hat about it. :D  As a traitor, feeding information to its enemies, he could inflict far more damage to the Council than he possibly could alone–which is what haunted Morgan’s dreams at night for YEARS, by the by. :)


Forum Timeline reply:
How long was Harry in Chicago before opening his detective business, and how long did he work with Nick at Fallen Angel?  (Also, can we get a last name for Nick?)
Harry was in Chicago for most of two years before he started working with Nick.  He spent three years at Ragged Angel.  Nick’s full name is Nicholas Christian, and he was the protagonist of three or four short stories I wrote when I was even more ignorant about writing and storytelling–and was in fact my “original” prototype for Harry Dresden.  No wizard stuff or anything, just sluething and savvy, a little karate and a gun.
How long was Harry with Ebenezar?  Was there much intervening time between when he left Ebenezar and when he moved to Chicago?
Harry was with Ebenezar for nearly three years, from sometime not too long after his 16th birthday until his 19th or so.  He roamed around for a while before winding up in Chicago, but it wasn’t Children of Israel In The Desert roaming or anything.  Call it somewhere between nine and twenty months.
2008 ComicCon Playing God panel Q&A session @0:45
Where do you find the inspiration for Harry to always manage to do the right thing and never do anything out of spite despite how bad things get for  him?  
From my Father probably.  My dad was a very unique individual.  Very quiet.  At his Eulogy I wrote “My dad was a great man.  He wasn’t a great man that shook the world, he was a great man who managed to calm it down.”  He was the sorta guy you always turned to when things went bad.  And I think he was probably a lot of the influence that I had for Harry Dresden that I had.
2009 Lexington signing:
Q:  How does Harry know so much about movies and TV?
A:  He goes to the drive-in.  Also, there’s a TV store near Wicker Park, and he sits on a bench across the street from it and watches shows with closed captioning.  Yes, Harry is often like a sad Dickens character, standing outside the window looking in.  (Jim makes sad big puppy dog eyes)
Q:  Will Harry ever get a Warden’s sword?
A:  He can’t, because Luccio can’t make them anymore.
Q:  Why don’t we see Harry making potions any more?
A:  The potions were more like a security blanket for Harry.  He wanted to be doing something, but he didn’t really know what he should be doing.  So he was making potions in case they might be useful.  Now he actually has a clue about what he should be doing most of the time.  But Harry is teaching Molly about potions.  That’s how she keeps changing her hair color – that was the first potion she learned to make.
2009 Independence signing:
Q:  Will you tell us more about Harry’s headaches?
A:  Yes. (Note:  This question and answer were repeated after Changes at the Lee’s Summit signing)
2010 Lee’s Summit signing:
Q:  Since there haven’t really been cases in the past couple of books, and with Harry’s office gone is this the end of Harry’s role as a private investigator?
A:  No, he has to work on something besides being a wizard.
Q:  Why would Harry do something as drastic as take on the mantle of Winter Knight?  He’s never had to do that kind of thing before.
A:  There was much more on the line this time.  He was desperate.
2009 Bitten by Books Q&A:
#10 Q:  “So what are some of Harry’s favorite bands? He more of a country boy? Classic Rock? Showtunes?”
Harry’s problem is that given how technology reacts around wizards, and that his apartment doesn’t have electricity, he has problems having any sort of music collection. :) He gets most of his music either live or by osmosis–and as a result, he tends to think in terms of favorite /songs/ more than a given group.
If you put his feet in a fire, though, he’d say that he likes Beethoven, Mozart, the Beatles, the Offspring, Guns n Roses, Bush, Johnny Cash, and Chicago’s own Disturbed.
2010 Bitten by Books Q&A:
#101 “When Queen Mab heals Harry to become the Winter Knight does she also heal his burned hand?”
Mab digs scars. :)
#121 “When will Harry finally get the whole truth about his past? (As in his mom, grandfather — who they REALLY are/were?)”
I doubt he’ll get much more truth than any of us do. As far as who people REALLY were… well. What Harry knows so far is all accurate. I’m really not sure of the direction of this question.
What? Professional assassin for the White Council and powerful wizardess who consorted with the White Court aren’t interesting enough? :D
#335 “Hm, will we see more of Harry Subconscious in any of the books (he is somewhat of a favorite character for me) and will we ever met Mike the Jesus of mechanics?”
We’ll run into id-Harry again, sure. :) I really ought to have Mike make an appearance, sometime. Let me check the schedule…
2010 Powell’s books Q&A off of Youtube @7:50
How old is Harry?
He was 24 or 25 in Storm Front.  He’s about 8 or 9 months younger– no he’s about a year younger than I am.  (JB’s birthday is October 26, 1971 per wikipedia)
2010 Mysterious Galaxy Q&A @4:30
Will Harry get a sword?
He can’t because Luccio can’t make them any more.  I suppose he could use another warden’s sword if he became enough like them.  Morgan’s sword for example (smirk).  If he shared the same kind of psychological profile as Morgan, if he ever got beat into that shape, he could probably be able to pick up his sword and use it.  Naw Harry is more of a gun guy really.
Do you have it planned out who Harry’s grandmother is? @6:05
Yes… Well she’s not alive any more.
Was she significant?
Well, she was a mortal.  That was about it.
Whisper radio interview @59:52
By the end of the series he’s (Harry) going to be like granite or something, nobody will be able to break him.
Yah, well he’s going up that way anyhow.  I’m planing on a big old Apocalyptic Trilogy to cap off the series with in the future and I’ve gotta have him whipped into superhero shape by then. (Editors note:  The tone of this comment was snarky)
2011 Orbit books interview
could you give us one little-known fact about Harry and his world?
Harry loves horses! He doesn’t get to ride much anymore, but when he was living with Ebenezar on his farm in the Ozarks, they went riding all the time. Granted, given his size, it might be fair to say that horses don’t like him nearly as much as he likes them, but I wouldn’t want to be presumptuous about the opinions of Equine-Americans.
2011 Fast Forward, Contemporary Science Fiction interview
On Harry empowering the people around him :
I think in the series, one of the things that I hadn’t actually planned out which has come forward is that the main facet of Dresden’s character is not that he’s personally tough, or personally a good wise ass, but that he is able to empower the people around him to become something more than they were.  And as he does that suddenly he finds himself standing with these allies who are very, very capable.  In part because he’s shown them how to be so.
2011 NYC Signing Q&A
Is Harry left- or right-handed?
He’s a righty.
At the end of Changes Harry had a memory blank. Are we ever going to find out what he blanked out?
No, on account of it wasn’t inflicted by anyone else; he did it to himself.
2011 Bitten by Books Q&A
Now that Harry has used magic in this book without and tailismans, will he be a stronger/more adept wizard with his magic in the next book?”
Harry really hasn’t gotten all that much stronger since the series started. He’s gotten more efficient, more skilled, and smarter, and inasmuch as that makes him more powerful, that will continue. I mean, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger…
Oh wait. :)
Kansas City release party Q&A
You’ve mentioned several times that marriages are used to seal pacts and alliances, will Harry be forced into a marriage, and will it be with Lara [Raith]? 
What makes you think that Harry hasn’t been forced into a marriage already?  I mean, the whole thing with Mab, come on. Read more book. Read the most recent one, and see if that doesn’t give you more answers. Certainly, he’s in it deep with Mab at the moment, because there’ll be none of this, “He’s going to get out of this because he was technically dead”—no, it’s too easy.
2012 Reddit AMA:
ginnerben: Throughout Changes (and Ghost Story, to a lesser extent) you systematically destroy most of Harry’s connections to Chicago. He loses his house, his car and his office. He graduates his apprentice. His “pets” get re-homed. At this point, he has friends and family in Chicago, but he’s not needed there (Or at least, not more so than having a world-class wizard is needed anywhere, with the darker turn of the world after the return of the Fomor). Is this a deliberate shift to a more international (/inter-dimensional, bearing in mind the beginning of Cold Days), less tied-down Harry, or is it just the only way you can actually change anything for a character who’s so resistant to change?
Jim: 1) Heh. Everything Harry lost in Chicago in “Changes” was a /thing/. It was the building he lived in. The furniture he sat on. The office he sort of had considered giving up because it was so expensive anyway. The metal and leather and plastic he drove around in. The two really key things he lost were: 1) Susan and 2) his freedom. And not because of any deal he made with Mab or anybody else.
Kids are huge. Suddenly there’s this person in the world who is going to be reaping the consequences of your decisions, for good or for ill. Suddenly it’s not just /you/ you’re looking out for any more. It’s not just /your/ life you might be screwing up. That changes your perspective. It can make you stronger and truer, or it can make you bitter and desperate. Some people react to that by becoming something more than they ever thought they could be–and some turn into something despicable. Kids are a fire, man, something that burns unnecessary things away and changes whatever is left. How you see yourself, how you look at the world, the future, your choices. Everything.
2013 KC signing Q&A
When Harry is battling Sharkface in the end, is that all in his head, or did everybody there hear?
And the answer to that is yes. It’s all going on in his head, and everybody there heard. Which, if you’ll remember the closing to book 1, because book 1 was written from the perspective of a guy who has already finished his story, um, all the books are really, they’re him looking back, you get to the end book 1, and Harry says “My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, but conjure by it at your own risk” which, you know, there’s a reason for that. Figured I’d just throw that in there. Really, Harry’s one of those guys whose name is more dangerous to other people than it is to him, in a lot of ways, a lot of people would be vulnerable by doing that, he’s not. We’ll get to see that in the future.
Salt Circle interview
Given the events of Changes through to Cold Days, what’s Harry’s relationship with the White Council now?
He doesn’t know yet, I don’t want to give too much of that away, but uh, goodness, they are not going to be terribly pleased with him. The last wizard that they had that was running around, dying and then coming back again kinda caused them a little bit of trouble. They don’t really appreciate that sort of thing too much, so as usual Harry is showing all the signs of being a horrible monster and if you don’t know him that’s what he looks like. And the White Council, they’ve never really had any patience for him and I’m sure that they will continue to be their charming and generous selves.
Now, prior to Cold Days Dresden still owes Mab one favour, does he still owe her that favour or did the events of Cold Days make up for his obligation?
Technically yeah, he still kind of owes her that one favour, but on the other hand, he also sort of owes her his complete loyalty, devotion and obedience so the extra favour is, you know, it’s like “yeah okay, he also does have a hand grenade in his hand while he’s sitting on top of a nuke that’s about to go off”, so you know, technically she could probably mess with that if he somehow got out of being the knight, But uh, generally speaking that didn’t just get wiped away, Mab keeps very good books and that’s not something that’s going to be, she does not let things slide, it does not happen.
Mysterious Galaxy Signing Q and A
Regarding Harry’s first use of magic, in Proven Guilty he tells Molly the story, and in Ghost Story he reflects back on that.  The stories overall are the same, but there are a lot of small details.  That can be explained, but I was wondering if that was proof that changes [unintelligible] may have happened in the series?
Yeah, it’s happened several times, and I’m not going to tell you where because I’m going to use that in a book.  I’m trying to write Harry as much like a person as I can, and people remember things differently, especially over time.  You think you remember thigns perfectly, but a lot of the time, I’ve run into people that I haven’t seen in 20 years, and they’ll say, “Do you remember this?” and I’ll say, “No, I don’t remember that at all!”  They’re like, “Yeah, yeah, you totally got into this fight and beat this guy up.” “I did?”  “Well, it pretty much looked like it from where I was standing.”  And I don’t remember it like that at all, I just remember helping him up off the floor.  Or something like that.  But the point is that we remember things in very odd ways and you can see it in the short term when an investigator goes around and tries to get all the witnesses who just saw something to tell him what they saw.  And everybody saw something a little bit different and it just gets more skewed and magnified over time.  So, Dresden was telling Molly what she needed to hear, mainly, because he was concerned about her.  And he was more or less stating what happened, but he’s not the most reliable narrator in the whole world, because people aren’t.  And that’s one of the great things about people, I think, UI don’t know if it’s going to kill us, or if it’s going to be the only way we manage to get by, is by saying, “Oh, I’m really not quite sure what happened that far back, maybe we should just move ahead.”
Booktalk Nation Interview 5-15-14
Does Harry have an incorrect understanding of the Dark Hollow and other parts of the world?
Oh god yes.  I won’t say Harry is clueless, but his understanding of lots of things including the way that magic works is incomplete in many ways.  If only because he hasn’t been trusted by a lot of the wizarding community by a lot of the people who could have taught him better.  And a lot of the people who do know better aren’t correcting him because they think it’s important to learn these things on your own.  Harry’s going to be stumbling across things where he goes “Oh, well I didn’t understand this exactly right.”  Like for example the literal Outer Gates.  That was something he did not know actually existed.  He thought that was a metaphor for a long time.
2014 AMA
How much of a pause would the White Council take if Harry were to start flagrantly breaking the laws and saying “Come at me bro” while Winter Knight? Would his connection to Mab provide much protection?
They wouldn’t pause long at /all/ in that case. And Mab would look at him and say “you started this: finish it.”
2015 Grid Daily interview
Will Dresden be featured in any of the spinoff stories?
Very possibly.  I like the character a lot.  Although I think he will be very different in the spinoff stories, because when you’re not seated inside his point of view you don’t see how scary he is to everyone around him.  He is creepy.  For one thing, he’s huge and dark and scarred, and never makes eye contact with anybody.  He doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does he usually says something that is reasonably incisive or makes fun of someone.  It would be a little eerie hanging around him if you weren’t close enough to see behind the mask that he wears.  He would be a totally different person showing up in a place like that.  Although it would be fun to do a series of short stories showing people seeing Dresden from the outside.  Maybe I’ll do that in the future sometime.
2013 Geek Hard interview
Harry’s gone back to it so many times, he’s hung out in the grave, he’s called the Mothers, he’s done all that stuff and it was just sitting there, and that’s a looming thing to have over you in that character.
On the other hand, though, that’s not really a thing of fear and trepidation at this point, it’s a place of power. It’s not a particularly pleasant kind of power but uh, that’s somewhere that he can go where he’ll have access to things that he wouldn’t have elsewhere. And Harry’s been dead, done that. Not as scary as everybody makes it out to be, you know, so he’s got a slightly different attitude about now. He’s not in a hurry to check out or anything but neither is he terrified of it. So having his own grave it’s like, well, “it’ll be nice to have a nice place someday”.


Link back to the main Dresden Files WoJ compilation