Dresden Files

Little Chicago

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2-LAB-early experiments by captain brushpen-d4drxgs

Little Chicago after it melted White Night

Little Chicago is a model of the city Chicago, made and owned by Harry Dresden. It is first seen in Proven Guilty.

Description Edit

It is described as a scaled model of the heart of almost two miles from Burnham Harbor in every direction, about eight feet long and a foot high. It is a meticulously detailed and accurate in its representation of everything, and is thaumaturgically connected to the city via pieces of real buildings, trees, etc. that have been placed on it. He also included miniture versions of the ley lines going through the city. It is used by him for various magical purposes.

In some ways the model can be used like a focus, assisting tracking spells. But it also allows a sort of remote viewing where the user is spiritually placed in the actual city. He is able to move around, track people, and listen to conversations, but is unable to physically affect the city in any considerable way.

After using it, Harry gets really exhausted.[1]

It is possible for him to be sensed while in spirit form.[2] Also, Harry is not in touch with his body when he does it, and cannot tell when he is getting exhausted.[3] He can not cross thresholds.[4]

The model can also protect the user from a psychic backlash: when the necromancer Cowl discovered that he was being spied upon, the backlash he created burned a hole through the model instead of Harry's head.[5] Harry mentions that he uses jeweler's tools to adjust the model.[6]

In the seriesEdit

Proven GuiltyEdit

Main article: Proven Guilty

In Proven Guilty, Harry began building it between Dead Beat and Proven Guilty, when he started to have extra money from his new Warden's salary. According to Bob, he worked on it every day for six months before it was ready for a test run. Harry was hesitant to try it out, because it contained a massive amount of energy, and could possibly blow up if there was a flaw anywhere in the design.[7] Harry spends four hours of ritual preparation before his first attempt at using the model when the phone rings and interrupts him—it's Molly Carpenter wanting to get bailed out of jail. [8]

Before Harry finally attempted to use it in order to track Molly, Lasciel tried to stop him, terrified it would kill Harry and therefore herself. Harry actually gave some thought to digging of the coin for protection but rejected it. The model worked, but the spell was unsuccessful.[1] It turned out that the hair sample Harry used for the tracking spell was from when Molly was a baby bering little connection to Molly as she is now. At Murphy's suggestion, they used some of Charity's blood to track her daughter using Little Chicago, which worked on the second try.[9] At the end, Bob said that it should have blown Harry's head off but someone had fixed it—not him.[10]

White NightEdit

Main article: White Night

In White Night, Harry uses Little Chicago to track and Listen to Grey Cloak (Vittorio Malvora). He follows him to a meeting with Madrigal Raith (Harry later learns). He then follows Grey Cloak down into Undertown, where he encounters the necromancer Cowl. Cowl, who senses his presence, lashes out with his power. Little Chicago gets a large melted hole in it—instead of in Harry's head.[4]

Small FavorEdit

Main article: Small Favor

In Small Favor, Little Chicago is fixed again. Harry puts his Order of Silver Oak pin (which allowed the summer fae Gruffs to track him) inside of a bag of catnip, suspends the bag over the model, and allows Mister to play with it. Whenever the bag touches a part of the model, it sends out a corresponding tracking signal, forcing the Gruffs to run all over Chicago. This frees Harry to do his job.[11]


Main article: Changes

In Changes, the model was destroyed with Harry Dresden's apartment by a Molotov cocktail thrown by the Eebs, a Red Court field team determined to kill Harry and stop him from saving his daughter, Maggie.[12][13]

Mysteries Edit

Who fixed it? Edit

I was working in my lab the next day, trying to make notes of all that had happened so that I wouldn't forget anything. Bob sat on the table next to me, helping me with the details.
“Oh,” he said. “I found something wrong with Little Chicago’s design.”
I swallowed. “Oh. Wow. Bad?”
“Extremely. We missed a transition coupling in the power flow. The stored energy was all going to the same spot.”
I frowned. “That’s… like a surge of electricity going through a circuit breaker, right? Or a fuse box.”
“Exactly like that,” Bob said. “Except that you were the fuse. That much energy in one spot will blow your head off your shoulders.”
“But it didn’t,” I said.
“But it didn’t,” Bob agreed.
“How is that possible?”
“It isn’t,” he said. “Someone fixed it.”
“What? Are you sure?”
“It didn’t fix itself,” Bob said. “When I looked at it a few nights ago, the flawed section was in plain sight, even if I didn’t recognize it at the time. When I looked again tonight, it was different. Someone changed it.”
“In my lab? Under my house? Which is behind my wards? That’s impossible.”
“No it isn’t,” Bob said. “Just really, really, really, really, really, really difficult. And unlikely. He would have had to know that you had a lab down here. And he would have had to know how to get around your wards.”
“Plus intimate knowledge of the design to tinker with it like that,” I said. “To say nothing of the fact that he would have to know it existed at all, and no one does.”
“Really, really unlikely,” Bob agreed.
“Hey, I thought you loved a good mystery, Harry.”[10]

(General discussion and popular theories about this are to be found here.)

Why is there a tarp? Edit

A long table in the middle of the room was currently covered by a canvas tarp.[14]

There is no given explanation for why there is suddenly a tarp on the model in Turn Coat, which is strange because there isn't one in Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, or even later on in Changes. It is pointed out that Little Chicago could have been used to find Thomas, in the same book, yet was not mentioned even in passing (though one could also argue that it was implied).

As Harry describes his blasting rod in Small Favor as being "like a shape covered by some heavy tarp" when he tries to think of it,[15] and also mentions having painful migraines in chapter one of Turn Coat, it is posited that someone mentally compelled Harry to forget about its existence, briefly, for some unknown purpose—whitch is later explained that Mab blocked his memory of his Blasting Rod and his fire magic to keep the Summer Court agents from locating Harry by its use.

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Proven Guilty, ch. 33
  2. White Night, ch. 14 & 15
  3. White Night, ch. 15
  4. 4.0 4.1 White Night, ch. 14
  5. White Night, ch. 15-16
  6. Changes, ch. 16
  7. Proven Guilty, ch. 6
  8. Proven Guilty, ch. 7
  9. Proven Guilty, ch. 34
  10. 10.0 10.1 Proven Guilty, ch. 47
  11. Small Favor, ch. 10
  12. Jim Butcher per Bitten by Books Q&A post #330
  13. Changes, ch. 29
  14. Turn Coat
  15. Small Favor, ch. 38

See also Edit

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