The Erlking holds dominion over the spirits of fallen hunters, the energy of the hunt: excitement, hunger and bloodlust. He can call those spirits in the forms of great black hounds, then ride the winds and forests of the Wild Hunt. He carries great power as he does this.
The Erlking is devious, cunning, strong, and swift. He is not an evil being, he is a "force of nature, power and violence without conscience or restraint." Regarding children's deaths, the various tales say he either: preys on children, heralds their deaths, or he's a guardian making sure the souls of children aren't harmed or diverted as they leave their bodies.
He is about equal in power to Mab: the Erlking is to goblins what Mab is to the Sidhe—he's their ruler. Die Lied der Erlking is the book written about him by Samuel Peabody. Eldest Gruff addresses him "Lord Herne."
While trapped in Harry Dresden's circle in Dead Beat, he is over eight feet tall. He looks more or less human dressed in close-fitting leathers and mail. He had on a bucket-shaped helmet that covered his face, and huge stag horns rose up from the helmet. His eyes shone like amber fires through the slit of the visor. When he spoke to Harry, the words just appeared in his head.
- Main article: Changes
"And upon the throne sat a figure in black armor, covered from head to toe. He was huge, nine feet tall at least, and had a lean athletic look to him despite the armor. His helm covered his head and veiled his face with darkness, and great , savagely pointed antlers rose up from his helmet, though whether there were adornment or appendage I couldn't say. Within the visor of that helmet was a pair of steady red eyes, eyes that matched the thousands of others in the hall."
When he takes off his helmet, the horns are fixed to it. Though his face reflects the hideous asymmetries of his goblins, they were somehow transformed, "muted into a kind of roguish distinction." He has a crooked nose that is likely earned rather than born with. He had old faint scar, that added grace. Harry feels he has been "hand-crafted by a true master." His face holds power, and so does his presence. He has the focus of a true predator who rarely misses his prey. He bows with inhuman elegance and kisses Susan's hand.
In Cold Days, with his helmet off, he has shoulder-length, shaggy, light-brown, grizzly hair. His asymmetrical features hold a roguish charm. He had gold-green eyes. The Erlking is dressed in hunter's leathers and his sword's hilt is made of an antler. Though huge, over seven feet tall, his physical presence suggests agility and grace, similar to that of a tiger.
In the seriesEdit
- Main article: Dead Beat
In Dead Beat, Mab tells Harry more about the Erlking. The Heirs of Kemmler (necromancers) want to summon the Erlking in order to raise ancient and powerful spirits to devour them for power in a ritual spell called the Darkhallow. Heinrich Kemmler had learned a way to bind his will to shades, not just the dead (written in The Word of Kemmler). Harry plans to call the Erlking and secure him so that the Heirs can't call him. Harry goes to see Sheila who has perfect recall to tell him what was in the Die Lied der Erlking.
Later in Dead Beat, Harry Dresden summons the Erlking outside Murphy's house and traps him in a circle. He demanded to be released, inviting Harry to join him in the hunt. Harry refused. First he lets Harry feel the excitement of the hunt, then lets him feel the experience of being the hunted. After three refusals, he howls in rage unable to escape. Harry is hit on the head by Cowl allowing the Erlking to escape on his steed. He salutes Harry with his sword before he leaves to run havoc through Chicago. After Harry defeats Cowl, using a resurrected Sue the Tyranosaurs, the Erlking finds him tired and helplessly weak. Impressed with his resolve and his use of a great, long dead predator, the Erlking spares him for now.
- Main article: Changes
In Changes, Harry Dresden and Susan Rodriguez entered the Erlking's lair in the Nevernever by accident when attempting to flee from an attack by the Red Court led by Eebs at FBI Headquarters. The Eebs contradicted Harry's claim that he and Susan came there by chance. The Erlking orders a trial by combat to settle the matter. Harry and Susan battle the Ik'k'uox.
- Main article: Cold Days
In Cold Days, the Erlking—Lord Herne—attends the "birthday party" for Dresden, accompanied by Kringle and had a pleasant chat with Harry, Sarissa and Eldest Gruff. Kringle invited Eldest Gruff on the Hunt, who declined.
Harry and Murphy later encounter the Erlking leading the Wild Hunt against them. Due to quick thinking, Harry is able to non-fatally shoot the Erlking and he defeated Kringle which established Harry's dominance over the Wild Hunt. He leads the Hunt against the Outsiders, with the Erlking serving him as a lieutenant. The Erlking, relishing a fight with the Outsiders, holds the creatures off while Harry tries to stop their plans.
After the fight, Harry admits his suspicions to Kringle that he and the Erlking purposefully lost to Harry, as a way to assist in his fight. Kringle responded that the Hunt would not have followed him if Harry didn't take it, nobody gives command of the Hunt.
When Harry meets the Erlking again at court, we find out his name is Lord Herne. Herne the Hunter is a well-known figure in English folklore, appearing as an antlered man said to haunt and hunt in Windsor Great Park, which surrounds Windsor Castle; this is also a reflection of the Welsh Gwyn ap Nudd, who is lord of the goblins and of the Welsh Wild Hunt. The English name "Erlking" derives from the German "Erlkönig" ("Alder King"); the latter in turn was mistranslated from a Danish name meaning "Elfking".
The attributes of Butcher's Erlking strikingly echo those of Jareth, the Goblin King from the 1986 Jim Henson movie "Labyrinth." He is called the lord of goblins and even Goblin King on occasion; in myth, though not in Butcher's books, he is concerned, as is Jareth, with stealing away children. However, the Erlking's facial appearance reflects the asymmetry of his subjects, though it is said to have a "roguish charm"; while Jareth (played in the movie by David Bowie) is hauntingly beautiful, with long blond hair and mismatched eyes.(reference needed)
Word of ButcherEdit
"You are poor game at the moment. Because of that, and because you pleased me with your calling of the old hunter, this night you may go free. But beware, mortal. The next time our paths cross, it shall be my very great pleasure to run you down."
"Well. Well, well, well. Isn’t this interesting."
Harry Dresden: "I do thank thee for the compliment, O King. Though it is chance, not design, that brought me hither, I am humbled by thy generosity in accepting us into thine home as guests. Mine host."
Erking: "Ah. Caught out by mine own words, ’twould seem. Courtesy is not a close companion unto me, so perhaps it is meet that in a duel of manners, thou wouldst have the advantage. And this hall honors cleverness and wisdom as much as strength."
"I do not indulge in courtesy as do the Sidhe. Such matters delight them. I find that they pall swiftly."
"Nay, nay. The Knight caught my words fairly. Guests they are, Lord Ordulaka, and I will not cheapen my honor by betraying that ancient compact."
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Cold Days, ch. 5
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Dead Beat, ch. 21
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dead Beat, ch. 33
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Dead Beat, ch. 20
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Changes, ch. 35
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Changes, ch. 36
- ↑ Dead Beat, ch. 26
- ↑ Dead Beat, ch. 28 and 32
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Dead Beat, ch. 43
- ↑ Changes, ch. 36-37
- ↑ Cold Days, ch. 41
- ↑ Cold Days, ch. 42 to 52
- ↑ Cold Days, ch. 53
- ↑ Jim Butcher Dragon-Con Q&A @6:30 of youtube video