Dresden Files

Harry Dresden

714pages on
this wiki

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a male human wizard, with a talent for thaumaturgy and alchemy working as a private investigator out of Chicago, USA. He is the protagonist and first person narrator of The Dresden Files series. As of Changes, he is 37 years old.

683125-harry dresden super

An artist's depiction of Harry Dresden.


Harry was born on Halloween, to Margaret LeFay and Malcolm Dresden. His mother died in childbirth, so Malcolm took care of him while travelling across the country trying to make a career as a stage magician. When Harry was six, Malcolm died of a brain aneurysm. Harry, orphaned, became a ward of the state.[1]

Harry first manifested his powers at age ten, during a running long jump at school Olympics in the spring. Desperate to win, he magically pushed himself about about ten feet farther than he would have jumped on his own. Though he landed badly and sprained his wrist, he won a blue ribbon that he keeps to this day.[2]

About two weeks[2] after first manifesting, he was adopted by Justin DuMorne, a wizard and former Warden of the White Council, who took him as his apprentice.

At age thirteen, Harry was given his first shielding lesson by DuMorne, who used baseballs as projectiles.[3]

At age sixteen, DuMorne tried to enthrall both Harry and his girlfriend, fellow adoptee Elaine Mallory. He succeeded in enthralling Elaine, but Harry escaped. He faced and beat He Who Walks Behind, an Outsider summoned by DuMorne to kill Harry; afterwards, he decided to go back and rescue Elaine. Harry made a bargain with the Leanansidhe in which he received power enough to defeat Justin DuMorne, a debt he would owe his godmother for years to come. Harry faced DuMorne in a duel to the death and won. He stole Bob, the air spirit of knowledge, and left, thinking Elaine died in the fire.

Harry was then found by the White Council (to his surprise; as far as he knew, there were no other wizards besides himself, DuMorne, and Elaine) and was put on trial for breaking the First Law of Magic. He was let off the death penalty due to the killing being ruled as self defence, and instead was put under the Doom of Damocles.[4] This was due to some of the Council members, notably Ebenezar McCoy. Harry was taken in as apprentice by McCoy; though this would later be found out to be because McCoy was the Council's wet-works man, and was under orders to kill Harry if he showed any signs of rebelliousness -- which happened fairly often, apparently. Harry lived with McCoy on his farm in Hog Hollow, Missouri; his days were spent with hard work on the farm during the day, and studying in the evening. Although McCoy taught him about magic, his teaching of general values and providing a stable and peaceful life and home were even more important, and crucial for shaping his life.[5] It is revealed in Changes that McCoy is Harry's grandfather.

After spending some years "getting his head together" under McCoy's tutelage, Harry attained membership to the Council, though he didn't, and still doesn't, trust them. (This is improving, albeit slowly.) He spent some years travelling across America, much like he did with his father, before settling down in Chicago.

After he first came to Chicago, he worked at a bunch of different jobs, among them being a dance partner with a senior-citizen organization, where he learned ballroom dancing.[6] He then joined Nicholas Christian at Ragged Angel Investigations, where he spent three years gaining his licence as a private investigator.[7] After this, he opened his own business, which had been open for two years as Storm Front opens.

When needed, he wears a blue unembroidered stole over his formal black robe.[8]

In the series Edit

Storm Front Edit

Main article: Storm Front

In Storm Front, Harry comes up against a two-bit sorcerer mixing sex, drugs, magic and murder, the Shadowman. Also introduced, among others, are the White Council, the Warden Morgan, Lieutenant Karrin Murphy of the Chicago Police Department's Special Investigations division, who hired Harry on a "per case" basis as a consultant, and Susan Rodriguez, a reporter for The Arcane, a newspaper that reports on the supernatural occurances in the area.

The Doom of Damocles is lifted from him in a Council meeting due to "valorous action above and beyond the call of duty", although he himself cannot attend due to still being hospitalized.[9]

Fool Moon Edit

Main article: Fool Moon

In Fool Moon, Harry faces off against several different kinds of werewolves, and gains a new ally in Billy and his gang of werewolves, known as the Alphas. Harry also concludes at the end of the novel that someone is trying to kill him, having put together certain facts from the novels. He also begins dating Susan Rodriguez at the end of the book.

Harry's other side appears in a dream. He counsels Harry to tell Murphy everything: the White Council, Nevernever, all of it, she may get eaten by a monster if he doesn't tell her and Murphy's a big girl; and Harry should ask Murphy out. Not trusting Susan Rodriguez might have something to do with Elaine Mallory. It isn't over as long as he holds himself responsible for Justin DuMorne's death and Elaine's fall. And, that Harry knows she's still alive. Until he faces reality, he won't be able to heal. Then they talk about MacFinn, the case and Johnny Marcone, Streetwolves.[10]

Grave Peril Edit

Main article: Grave Peril

In Grave Peril, Harry is manipulated into a conflict with the Red Court of Vampires, led by Bianca. Another friend of his is also introduced, Michael Carpenter, a Knight of the Holy Cross. And Harry also meets Thomas Raith, of the White Court of Vampires, for the first time. Unfortunately for Harry, Susan is kidnapped by Bianca, and half-turned into a Red Court vampire. Harry gets her back, but only by killing his host while a representative of the White Council, thereby starting a Wizards vs. Vampires war.

It is also revealed in this book that Harry has a faerie Godmother, Leanansidhe, who helped him escape DuMorne in exchange for his loyalty.

Summer Knight Edit

Main article: Summer Knight (novel)

Summer Knight begins with Harry living rough, spending all his time trying to find a cure for Susan. He is quickly ensnared into averting a war between the Faery Courts, Summer and Winter, as not doing so would send the world into one of two climates. Harry also learns that the current Queen of the Winter Court, Mab, has bought his debt from his Godmother. They haggle a deal whereby Harry will do three favours for Mab, which he chooses, and he'll be free from Fae influence. The events of Summer Knight make one favour, so Harry owes Mab two more.

It is also revealed that Elaine survived the fire with which Harry took down Justin DuMorne, and hid in the Summer Court, building up a debt to the current Summer Lady, Aurora, to protect her from those who would want to find and use her.

Death Masks Edit

Main article: Death Masks

In Death Masks, Harry meets the other two Knights of the Cross, and has to find the Shroud of Turin before Nicodemus, the head of the Order of the Blackened Denarius (Denarians being fallen angels who inhabit the 30 pieces of silver used to pay off Judas Iscariot for his betrayal of Christ) uses it to set off an apocalyptic plague. He also has to contend with a duel with Paolo Ortega, a Duke of the Red Court, and meets Susan again for the first time since her half-transformation in Grave Peril. At the end of the novel, Harry picks up the coin of the Fallen Angel Lasciel to protect Michael's youngest son.

Harry also meets Thomas Raith again, and meets Jared Kincaid, a mercenary, and The Archive (who Harry names Ivy), a seven-year-old child who is the living repository for all human knowledge.

Blood Rites Edit

Main article: Grave Peril

In Blood Rites, Harry picks up a stowaway from a job, a Foo Dog, whom he eventually names Mouse and decides to keep. Harry also has to contend with a ritual curse being sent to kill the women around Arturo Genosa, a pornographic movie director. He also finds out that Thomas Raith is his half-brother, on his mother's side. Eventually, he's pulled into a power struggle in the White Court.

Harry decides to stamp on the Black Court subversion that is happening also. In taking out the problem, Mavra, he severely burns his hand after Mavra exploits a gap in his defensive capabilities.

It's in this book that Harry learns that Ebenezar McCoy is the White Council's Blackstaff, the wet-works man who can break the Laws of Magic at will, if he thinks that the Council is being manipulated by them. Harry also learns that Kincaid is a Scion, or part demon.

Dead Beat Edit

Main article: Dead Beat

Dead Beat sees Harry being forced by Mavra (who didn't die in Blood Rites) to take a job looking for "The Word of Kemmler", the last in a series of magical texts by the (deceased) necromancer, Heinrich Kemmler‎, in order to protect Murphy, who is on holiday in Hawaii with Kincaid. While trying to deal with the group of "Kemmlerites", the Red Court launch their first major offensive on the Council, killing most of the Wardens in the process. Captain Luccio therefore makes Harry a Warden --ì the White Council needs every available wizard, and Harry becoming a Warden raises morale among the younger members of the Council.

Harry also becomes aware of Lasciel's presence in his head, and has to walk a fine line between using her gifts (such as Hellfire, which supercharges his spells, and her photographic memory) and resisting her, or else he will fall under her power.

His double is part of a three-way internal dialogue with Lasciel's shadow right after Harry was tortured by Quintus Cassius. The discussion centers around how much use to make of her abiility to enhance Harry's abilities, how much to trust her. And around the contents of the Word of Kemmler.[11]

Proven Guilty Edit

Main article: Proven Guilty

Proven Guilty sees Harry investigate black magic in Chicago, at the behest of the Gatekeeper. He also finds himself up against faerie constructs based around horror films, and leads a charge on the Winter Fae capital, Arctis Tor, in order to retrieve Molly Carpenter, Michael's oldest daughter, who is later revealed to be the warlock behind the black magic. At Molly's trial, Harry "becomes a politician", in his own words, cutting off the Merlin's choices until the Merlin is forced to allow Harry to take Molly under the Doom of Damocles.

White Night Edit

Main article: White Night

Women with the ability to use magic (too weak to be full wizards) have been disappearing. It looks like the White Court may be taking a more active role in the war between vampires and wizards and it looks like Thomas is connected. To make things worse, Thomas isn't answering Harry's calls. Several rivaling interests among the White Vampire are interwoven into a thicker, yet well coordinated plot full of surprises and tag-team dueling action.

Small Favor Edit

Main article: Small Favor

Harry loses his ability to charge his spells with Hellfire and has to make do without it for his favor to Queen Mab and the recent resurgence of the Denarians. Towards the middle of this book, he gains the ability to use Soulfire, the divine equivalent of Hellfire fueled by his own soul, though it will regenerate given enough time, and acts which are "good for the soul."

Turn Coat Edit

Main article: Turn Coat

Morgan arrives on Harry's door, injured and on the run; he's accused of the murder of a Senior Council member, though it's a setup. Harry assists the White Court, which has also been set up by the Black Council, in proving Morgan's innocence. During his investigation, he claims a Sanctum, has to fight a Skinwalker and is finally able to pinpoint a traitor in the White Council. Meanwhile, Harry's brother is kidnapped and darkened by the Skinwalker. Harry throws down a challenge of violence to the remaining Senior Council members.

Changes Edit

Main article: Changes

Harry is informed by Susan that they have a daughter, Margaret Angelica, who has been kidnapped.[12] Surrendering to Queen Mab's wishes and becoming the new Winter Knight, Harry is - with the help of his friends and the Grey Council - able to obliterate the Red Court and rescue his daughter. The novel ends with Harry drowning, having been shot by an unknown assailant. As he drowns, he hears two voices; one male (Quintus Cassius) and one female.

Ghost Story Edit

Main article: Ghost Story

Harry is sent back to Chicago as a ghost to solve his own murder. Mortimer Lindquist is kidnapped by a cult worshiping Corpsetaker's ghost and Harry rallies his friends to take her down. He also learns that he arranged his own murder, so Mab couldn't claim him, then Molly erased his memories. Uriel gave Harry a second chance since his suicide was influenced by a fallen angel. When Harry "moves on", however, it turns out that Mab and Demonreach have kept his body alive all the time. The Queen then takes the resuscitated Knight to her domain.

Cold Days Edit

Main article: Cold Days

Harry wakes at Arctis Tor and spends three months in a combination of physiotherapy (under Sarissa) and naked combat training (under Mab) before accepting his first assignment as the Winter Knight -- to kill Mab's daughter Maeve, who is immortal, and already apparently dead set on killing Harry. In Chicago, Molly helps him gather resources and allies, while warning him that Demonreach is soon to explode, taking most of the Midwest with it. Harry learns of Nemesis, a secret way that Outsiders gain influence in the world. Nemesis, aka The Adversary, is likely behind the Black Council. With the help of the Wild Hunt, Mab, and his usual allies, Harry prevents the Outsiders and their thrall Maeve from staging an apocalyptic prison break on Demonreach. Maeve and Lily are killed, Sarissa becomes Summer Lady, and Molly becomes Winter Lady. Harry is left alone on Demonreach.

Skin GameEdit

Main article: Skin Game

Magic Edit

576043-untitled1 super

Harry Dresden using one of his spells.

Harry Dresden uses several objects as magical foci, most prominently his staff, blasting rod, shield bracelet, and energy-storing rings. He also uses his silver pentacle pendant inherited from his mother. For his personal spells, he uses pseudo-Latin; for this he also draws on various other Latinate languages, including Spanish and Italian.

Harry describes himself as being bad at delicate magic, being better with undelicate magic.[13] What he lacks in the precise application of magic, he can sometimes make up for by using a lot more power for his spells than would be necessary if he were more skilled, going for quantity instead of quality.[14] He is especially good with things requiring the redirection of energies.[13] But although he might not be very good at them, he states that he is able to learn and use finer magic with a lot of practice and concentration.[15] By the time of Changes, Harry is even able to create passable simple veils, due to having to teach them to and practice them with Molly.[16]

Items Edit

  • Staff — A long staff used for channeling magic. Also works well as a bludgeoning weapon. It's proper to wield the staff in the left hand[17].  
  • Enchanted Duster — One of his signature pieces of gear, a long leather coat enchanted to work as armor against various attacks, and given him by Susan Rodriguez gave in Fool Moon.[18] First appears with the armored enchantments at the beginning of Blood Rites: fighting Shen[19] and later when a Black Court vampire.[20] In Cold Days, Molly Carpenter buys Harry an inverness coat to replace the ruined duster.
  • Blasting rod — A rod used for channeling fire spells.[17]
  • Shield bracelet — A bracelet with tiny medieval shield charms on it. Used for creating force fields. The bracelet began as a simple silver construction, but has evolved to feature a chain of multiple metals woven together and shields of different metals.
  • Energy-storing rings — Rings which are enchanted to store a small fraction of kinetic energy into them at all
    Dresden files ring by mad queen1013-d34s074

    Artist's depiction of Harry's energy-storing ring. (

    times. Harry first owned only one copper ring, and and later had rings made of silver for each of his fingers. They are described as simple bands with a number of runes inscribed on the interior. As of Small Favor, he had upgraded these rings from single bands to three bands stacked on top of each other, with each band capable of holding the same amount of energy as one of the previous rings.[21]
  • Silver Pentacle Pendant — A pendant Harry inherited from his mother. Used for various spells, including tracking Thomas's identical pendant[22] and as a focus for calling up wizardly light. Once used to kill a loup-garou.[23]
  • Margaret’s jewel—Also, in Changes, Harry gained a red jewel that he has joined to the center of the pentacle. This jewel contains Harry’s mother, Margaret LeFay's vast knowledge of the Ways.[24]
  • A cane sword, able to channel earth-based magic ~ victorian, has a slender three-inch steel blade inside.[25]
  • Dead Man's Talisman — used to protect him from spirits. In Grave Peril, he gives it to Lydia who had asked him for protection from a hostile spirit.[26]
  • Enchanted Rope — The rope is Faerie make, it has hair from a Unicorn woven through it. Holds where handcuffs won't. The spell Harry put on it that operates it with his will is set to his apartment and won't work elsewhere.[27]
  • Sending Stone (aka Speaking Stone) — a smooth piece of fire-rounded obsidian that Harry uses it to communicate with Ebenezar McCoy. Harry keeps it in a cigar box amid some other miscellaneous stones as camouflage.[28]

Other possessions (non-magical)Edit

  • Blue Beetle — Harry Dreden's VW bug car 
  • Mickey Mouse alarm clock [29] [30] [31]
  • Original Star Wars poster [32] [33]
  • Book: The Hobbit
  • Book: The Two Towers, given to Harry by Uriel. Twice, it gave Harry messages from Uriel. [34]
  • Mundane weapon backup: Harry started off with a Smith and Wesson .38 Chief's Special revolver,[35] upgraded to a unknown .357 revolver, medium barreled[36], and his most recent firearm is a Smith and Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver. In Changes: acquired two guns from bad guys: Security Guard's .40 caliber + Gunman’s nine millimeter,[37] though it's uncertain what happened to the last 3 pistols. As of Cold Days he has a Winchester rifle.[38]

Harry's double or unconscious selfEdit

He's Harry's internal self that sometimes, generally leans a little to the dark side of choices. He shows up occasionally in dreams, or when Harry's unconscious, or with Lasciel's Shadow. His commentary isn't always dark, though.


He is better groomed than Harry wearing a black leather duster instead of a canvass one. His pants, shirt and boots were all black and tailor-made. His hair is neatly cut and he wore a well-trimmed beard. He had more confidence, raw knowledge and strength. The Double says he's partly Harry's intuition.[10]

Inspiration for Harry Edit

"Who did you base Harry Dresden, the urban wizard who lives in Chicago, on?"

The Bruce Willis character in the Die Hard film series. I wanted a very different type of hero. I wanted my hero to be more like a blue collar type guy like him, not a Superman. He’s the kind of character I wanted to set up and now I get to dream up bad things that can happen to him. [39]

Files are told in a very pulp-crime manner - the protagonist, Harry, even has an archetypal trench coat - do you think this is a necessary counterbalance to the supernatural nature of the plot or do you just enjoy writing a character with such an endearing wise guy attitude?

"Yes. The whole concept of the Dresden Files, for me, was about taking the archetypical, classic PI and blending him with the archetypical, classical wizard. I think the two archetypes are really much more similar than one would at first suspect. Both tend to operate alone. Both, in general, tend to face forces and powers far beyond their own. Both operate to protect and guide those weaker than themselves. Both draw their true strengths from having and seeking knowledge. Both spend their time confronting some of the darkest aspects of their worlds. Harry is intended to be as much Sherlock Holmes as Gandalf, as much Columbo as Merlin. That attitude of defiance of greater powers is a hallmark of both archetypes, and for Harry to be what I wanted him to be, he has to be willing to confront those who clearly outclass him - whether they be towering, flame-wrapped demons or cynical agents of the F.B.I. His wiseguy attitude is a part of that. Plus, it's really fun to write."[39]

"When you were first doing this in the class, how did you decide it was going to be Harry? That is was going to be the character you were going to be with for the whole series?"

"Well, remember the only reason I wrote my first book was to prove to my writing teacher how wrong she was about writing stuff. That said, the way I put it together is I scrapped all my favorite wizards and private eyes and made a Frankenstein out of their parts, and that’s where it came from. I said, okay I’m going to Gandalf’s temper, Merlin’s meddling, Sherlock’s chassis and three-quarters of his brain. I'll take Travis McGee’s testicles just for the pure fortitude, and Spencer’s mouth, although I never really out-Spencer’ed Parker, or at least I haven’t so far. And that’s how I put him together. It was a very artificial process." [39]

"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." [40]

How Jim came up with the name "Harry Dresden"

"Harry Dresden, the name itself, I had just watched a videotape of one of my favorite movies at the time, which was Cast a Deadly Spell, and the tape would stop, and I would rewind it and try to play past it and it wouldn’t go past, but at this part in that movie where the main character, Fred Ward’s character, H. Philip Lovecraft shows up at the gangster bar, and the gangster’s henchman comes walking up to him and says, ‘(sneering voice) Harry wants to see you.’ And Fred Ward goes, ‘Oh. Harry wants to see me.’ ‘Harry wants to see you now.’ And what I got to hear about six times as I tried to fast forward past the stuck part of the tape was ‘Harry wants to see me. Harry wants to see me. Harry wants to see’ like that. And then I said, ‘Okay, the heck with that, I’m going to try and find something on normal television, which I hate, because there’s commercials. And, so I’m skipping through channels, it’s like eleven thirty on a Friday night in Kansas City, and I actually find a channel that’s showing reruns of Babylon 5. So it’s like, ‘Okay, acceptable.’ And I’m watching the episode of Amazon 5 (sic), with this ‘Harry wants to see…’ stuck in my head, and then Boxleitner is on there playing his character with (deep voice) the gravelly Boxleitner voice, and he’s there talking about various military attacks that have happened throughout history, and one of the attacks that he mentions is (deep voice) 'Dresden'. ‘Harry wants to’ Dresden, it’s just stuck in my head. ‘Harry wants’ Dresden, okay fine, Harry Dresden, character name, get out of my head. And that’s where the name came from."[39]

References Edit

  1. Storm Front, ch. 18
  2. 2.0 2.1 Proven Guilty, ch. 41: "My first time [...] was maybe two weeks before Justin adopted me," I said. "I was in school, and small. All elbows and ears. Hadn't hit my growth spurt yet, and it was spring, and we were having this school Olympics. Field day, you know? And I was entered in the running long jump." I grinned. "Man, I wanted to win it. I'd lost every other event to a couple of guys who liked to give me a hard time. So I ran down the blacktop and jumped as hard as I could, yelling the whole time." I shook my head. "Must have looked silly. But when I shouted and jumped, some of the power rolled out of me and threw me about ten feet farther than I should have been able to jump. I landed badly, of course. Sprained my wrist. But I won this little blue ribbon. I still have it back at home."
  3. Small Favor, ch. 01
  4. Storm Front, ch. 7
  5. Summer Knight, ch. 4
  6. Death Masks, ch. 19
  7. "Restoration of Faith"
  8. Turn Coat, ch. 47
  9. Storm Front, ch. 27
  10. 10.0 10.1 Fool Moon, ch. 20
  11. Dead Beat, ch. 38
  12. Changes, ch. 02
  13. 13.0 13.1 White Night, ch. 3: “When it comes to magic, I’m not much for delicate. [...] Finding things. Following things. Blowing things up, mostly,” I said. “I’m good at those. Redirecting energy, sending energy out into the world to resonate with the energy of what I’m trying to find. Moving energy around or redirecting it or storing it up to use later.”
  14. Summer Knight, ch. 4: "Whatever veil had been used, it was beyond anything I could have even attempted. I'm not exactly a neurosurgeon when it comes to magic. I've had my moments, but mostly I muddle through by shoving a lot of energy into my spells until it doesn't matter if half of it is slopping out. Magically speaking, I'm a brawny thug, and noisy as hell."
  15. White Night, ch. 3: “I’ve practiced enough to handle a lot of different kinds of delicate magic,” I said. “But . . . it’s the difference between me strumming power chords on a guitar and me playing a complex classical Spanish piece.”
  16. Changes, ch. 03
  17. 17.0 17.1 Grave Peril, ch. 1
  18. Fool Moon, ch. 27
  19. Blood Rites, ch. 1
  20. Blood Rites, ch. 2
  21. Turn Coat, ch. 26
  22. Blood Rites, ch. 20
  23. Fool Moon, ch. 33
  24. Changes, ch. 15-16
  25. Turn Coat, ch. 23
  26. Grave Peril, ch. 4 and 15
  27. Death Masks, ch. 26
  28. Changes, ch. 19
  29. Death Masks, ch. 15
  30. Proven Guilty, ch. 15
  31. Changes, ch. 29
  32. Death Masks, ch. 4
  33. Changes, ch. 23
  34. Small Favor, ch. 46
  35. Storm Front, ch. 13
  36. Grave Peril, ch. 9
  37. Changes, ch. 32
  38. Cold Days, ch. 15
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3,21772.msg947687.html#msg947687

See also Edit

External links Edit

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki