Dead Beat by Jim Butcher (Flash Impressions)

Happy Saturday!

deadbeat_large

Summary

THIS IS IT, FOLKS! THIS IS IT! IT’S THE MOTHER FUCKING ZOMBIE T-REX EPISODE! 

Sue_facing_Chicago

I’m disappointed that in every “Dresden rides Zombie Sue” picture, none of them feature Butters in his polka suit. 

I have been looking forward to this book pretty much since I started the Dresden Files.  I don’t think I was aware that the zombie t-rex meme was literally a scene from one of the books but when my friend Brad who Introduced me to the series told me so, I have been deeply excited for it.  I figured this would be a nice contrast to the last post about Fool Moon (book 2) which might be the weakest book in the series.

A Story: The Black Court blackmails Dresden (via Murphy) into finding The Word.

B Story: What the fuck do zombie herding Zombies want with Butters?

C Story: Is Shiela Harry’s new squeeze?

Thoughts

(***spoilers ahead, duh***)

My primary thought here is summed up in the scene where Butters and Dresden are are in The Beetle and Dresden screams in pure elation to be alive and general horror of the given situation they just barely escaped.  This scene reminds me so strongly of the scene in Rick and Morty S03E06 “Rest and Ricklaxation” 

From here on out I will never be able to unmake the association between Rick/Dresden [the cynical type who understands the nature of everything] and Butters [who kinda knows about the nature of everything but has an unrelenting sense of innocence])

This leads into my next thought that up to this point in the series Dresden has been over his head every single book. However there has always been a MacGuffin or a piece of information that allows him to forge a piece of plot armour/weapon that enables him to survive. Though this is the first book where I was thinking to myself “for realz how is Dresden supposed to get out of this one? He literally threw a car on his nemesis and he didn’t die. And there’s like 3 more of them. Plus they can summon zombies AND ghosts AND corpse steal AND  mind control. Srly.” So for the first time in the series he is completely out muscled, out brained, and out magiced (is that even a word? Well it should be). I felt Dresden was so cornered I was getting sympathy claustrophobic until he agreed to let Lasciel help him, which is when things really change.

Speaking of change, apparently Marcone changed future history by saving Dresden’s life, as according to Guard Dresden was supposed to die by the ghoul in that back alley (which would have made for an anti-climatic climax to the series(1)) however now this makes for some interesting implications in the future. As in, will Marcone have to pay a price for altering someone/something’s “grand plan” and almost more importantly regardless of why Marcone says he saved Dresden and subsequently changed the future, a question is raised: why does Marcone keep saving Dresden’s life so regularly? Is it because he senses Dresden is a man who is running out of not completely evil options and will eventually view working for Marcone as the “least of his evil but necessary options” which would benefit Marcone greatly? Or is it because Marcone has someone in his network who is invested in keeping Dresden alive and by proxy Marcone is keeping Dresden alive, again to protect his (Marcone’s own interests)? Or does Marcone have another secret that wasn’t revealed to either us, the reader, or Dresden via the soul gaze? Or, speaking of soul gazes, did Marcone see something in Dresden when they soul gazed that fundamentally changed him/confirmed something he suspected about Dresden (since we have never seen the soul gaze from the perspective of someone looking in on Dresden but from the reactions throughout the series it’s something pretty goddamn profound).  As you can tell, the Marcone Mystery is really wearing at the back of my mind throughout this series.

At this point in the series Dresden has begun a noticeable descent into darkness: he has voluntarily used hellfire more than a couple of times, has accepted a decent amount of help from Lasciel, and has not only memorized The Word (a tome of dark, mostly necromantic, magic), used necromancy (even though it wasn’t on a human and therefore

the-bird-is-the-word

This is some deep shit.

wasn’t a violation of The Seven Laws of Magic and maybe the most notable/significant is Dresden’s promise to Mavera of the Black Court who incited this whole search for “The Word” that if she EVER threatens him or one of his friends again, he will not stop in the face of anything to become an Evil Overlord Demi-god and his first victim will be Mavera. This to me shows a crack in his morale armour making a specific exception to break everything he believes in to exact justice on an evil creature.

Speaking of dark magic, Cassius uses (or should I say wasted) his death curse on Dresden saying “Die alone”. However as Dresden’s father tells him in a dream, if i recall right, what we all kind of know after a certain point in life: we all die alone. Just like being born, or even life from your own perspective honestly, is a journey you have to walk in some sense alone.  Friends, lovers, family aside, we all have to live in our own personal cage alone the entire time. Sometimes we have company but they’re always intrinsically separated from us in our personal journey as we are them by the same bars that bind all of us individually. In that ironically sad way, we are all united in the fact that we face both life and death alone. So as pessimistically as it sounds, I am viewing it as an optimist that Cassius wasted his death curse on Dresden by “cursing” him with the infallible fact that the fact is: we all die alone and therefore Cassius changed nothing.    

Moving on to a brighter subject, the nature of white and black magic, is thrown in to an interesting new light when Kumori (Cowl’s, one of the Necromancers, apprentice) tries to justify Necromancy with her personal “perversion” of the black art using it to bring one of Marcone’s people who was at the brink of or beyond death back to life allowing him a “second chance”.  I don’t know if Dresden is convinced but I feel like his fundamental ideas about Necromancy has been challenged similarly as when he learned that his mentor and sort-of father figure, Ebenezar McCoy, holds the office of “Black Staff” for the White Council (ie he is the go to guy to “pervert” the use of white magic to kill people for the White Council, or maybe he uses Black Magic to kill, at this point in the series (I’ve read through “Proven Guilty” book 8 and some future books) we don’t know how he kills as the “Black Staff”. All we know is that it makes Kincaid so mad that he has an almost show-down duel with him on sight.

Whilst on the subject of Kincaid, holy shit: I mean the groundwork for it is laid (pun not intended) for Kincaid and Karen, in Blood Rites to hook up however it still surprised the hell out of me.  Mostly because when Dresden has used The Sight on Karen and Kincaid, he always sees Karen as an avenging angel figure and then at the end of Blood Rites he sees Kincaid as a 20 foot (6.098 meteres) fucking demon.  Talk about a match made…somewhere other than heaven. However maybe Karen is getting dark enough to be attracted to someone that dark, because if I remember correctly the first time we see Dresden use The Sight on Karen (by accident) she was a blazingly white and clean avenging angel but as the series progresses and he sees Karen again with The Sight, multiple times, he sees her as progressively more blood stained and worn by the horrors she’s seen and had to commit (because of Dresden).  This even more makes me wonder not only “What do other wizards see when they use The Sight on Dresden but what does everyone see that’s so profound when Dresden Soul Gazes them? Wheels within wheels…

The rest of my thoughts are kind of miscellaneous:

-I have to say I am really disappointed that Shiela turned out to be Lasciel in disguise. I’ve been rooting for Harry’s…Hairy…

bad joke

-Pro-foreshadowing: When Dresden is being attacked by the former Denarian Cassius “Snake boy” attacks Dresden and Dresden thinks “Gee right now would be a great time for a knight of the cross to show up and save the day” and then A WILD BUTTERS APPEARS! Which, since I’ve read Skin Game, I know Butters will become the next wielder of Fidelacchius or the Sword of Faith.  I heard in an interview that Butcher was planning, originally, to kill the poor little bastard in Ghost Story.

wild butters

Speaking of Butters, The Zombie T-Rex was made possible BECAUSE of his polka suit and because of Butter’s and his polka suit the “Best Dresden Contraption Award” goes to: Blood Rites and Dinosaur Sue (the Zombie T-Rex).

I really liked the Erl King and how he respects Dresden as a “fellow predator/hunter” and invites Dresden to join The Wild Hunt and I really like how Dresden turned him down creating, inadvertently, another figure who wants to kill Dresden but is so much of a background character that I can see us, the collective reader, forgetting about the Erl King until he pops up again.  

Conclusion

In conclusion Dead Beat was one hell of a fucking ride.  It was like a good punk rock show: hard hitting, fast as fucking hell, and deeply satisfying that you got out the other side (mostly) unharmed(2).  I had trouble understanding how Butcher was going to top himself after such a fucking amazing book but he pays the bill with Proven Guilty with a less “overly epic” novel but a book that my boyfriend described as a “more intimate book”.  

Stay tuned for next week when I cover the heartfelt, intimate, and at times troubling (not in quality but in the way Butcher makes you feel for the characters) eighth book of the Dresden Files: Proven Guilty or as I refer to it as “How Dresden overcomes temptation and gains an apprentice”

-fin

Footnotes:

  1. It would be annoying to see the series, with so much potential, end here with such banality. Maybe if it was me, sure a ghoul throwing a shuriken into my leg would end my story given my bitch status but this is mother FUCKING Harry Dresden.  Don’t try to a fly a pair of Hoover flags (“‘Hoover flag’ was an empty pocket turned inside out” source: Hooverville wiki) and try to sell me an early death for Dresden. He clearly has way more entertaining strife to come.
  2. For the record, I am frequently spinning one or many NOFX cds when I’m writing these/writing in general. If you haven’t listened to them yet, I’d recommend either their their concept album “The Decline” or the politically hard hitting and hilarious “The War on Errorism” 
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