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Small Favor

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Small Favor cover, 2009 paperback edition.
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Small Favor is the tenth novel in the The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, published in 2008. It has forty-six chapters.

Blurb Edit

"No one's tried to kill Harry Dresden for almost an entire year, and his life finally seems to be calming down. For once, the future looks fairly bright. But the past casts one hell of a long shadow.

An old bargain has placed Harry in debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, the Queen of Air and Darkness-and she's calling in her marker. It's a small favor he can't refuse...one that will trap Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and one that will strain his skills-and loyalties-to their very limits.

It figures. Everything was going too well to last..." [1]

Plot Edit

One quiet year after the events of White Night, Harry is at the Carpenter home teaching Molly, his apprentice, to create shields while he and Molly's siblings throw snowballs at her, when they are attacked by gruffs, enforcers of the Summer court of faeries. While Harry is pondering why he would be attacked by Summer, an ally, Sergeant Murphy, calls him in on a case in which a building was almost totally destroyed by chaotic magic. He calls upon Toot-toot and the other fairies in the "'Za-Lord's Guard," but when Toot-toot returns, terrified, he urges Harry to run.

Ducking into an alley, Mab appears to Harry, though she can apparently only speak through Grimalkin. She propositions him again to become Winter's Knight, but he declines. She calls in one of the two favors that Harry still owes her, demanding that he be her Emissary. She shows him that the building he was investigating contained a panic room belonging to John Marcone, Chicago's greatest crime boss and long-time nemesis and wary ally of Harry's, and she tells him that he must protect Marcone or die. Harry protests that one of the conditions of their agreement was that he could chose to accept or refuse any of the favors she requested. Mab partially freezes the water in Harry's eyes, angrily declaring that he should not "question her given word."

However, Mab was not what Toot-toot was warning Harry about. Three gruffs, even bigger and meaner than the first ones, are pursuing him. He eventually escapes and is picked up by his half-brother Thomas, the White Court vampire. As they sit in Thomas's large SUV, Fix - a friend of Harry's and the Summer Knight's - comes up and points a shotgun at Harry's head, warning him not to take Mab's deal. Thomas pulls a gun on Fix, and Harry gets them both to lower their guns only to point Thomas's gun at Fix himself. Fix hints that he is being compelled, as fairies are forced to obey the letter of their orders, and tells Harry to "Remember the leaf Lily gave you". The leaf represents a boon owed to Harry by the Summer Court, and he soon realizes that this trinket has been what the gruffs have used to track him.

He goes home and works up a spell to link the leaf to his "Little Chicago" magical mock up of the city. Dangling it on a string with a pouch of catnip gets his cat Mister to bat it all over the city, leading the agents of Summer on a merry chase and buying Harry time.

Harry and Thomas go to Executive Priority, Marcone's exclusive fitness center/brothel, to which Marcone had given Harry a VIP membership. He asks to speak to Ms. Demeter, one of Marcone's lieutenants, but is told that she is not in until he has Thomas start displaying his strength to make the point that the two of them can wreck things pretty badly if they're not passed up the line. Harry gets in to meet Demeter, who is uncooperative. Another of Marcone's lieutenants, Torelli, brings along some goons to muscle Demeter out, but Harry and Thomas handle him and in exchange Demeter directs them to the safe house where Hendricks and Gard, who were with Marcone when he was taken, are hiding.

Harry and Thomas head over there, where eventually Harry is allowed to go upstairs to speak with Miss Gard, who is "a mess of blood". Their conversation is interrupted when the house is attacked by some of the Denarians. Harry parleys with one, whom he dubs Mantis Girl. She insists that this is a private affair between the Denarians and Marcone, who are both now signatories to the Unseelie Accords, and asks Dresden to stay out of it saying that if he does no harm will come to him. Harry counters by offering to let them leave town in one piece if they give back Marcone. Mantis Girl pretends to leave to consult with her partners, but immediately comes back to attack. Harry, expecting it, fends her off and he, Thomas, Hendricks, and Gard escape together.

Suspecting that St. Mary of the Angels church will be watched, Harry takes Marcone's henchmen to the Carpenter house as they try to figure out what to do. It turns out that Thomas has killed one of the Denarians and taken the coin, though he fortunately had gloves on, and that Sanya, one of Michael's fellow Knights, was passing through town and is stuck there by the winter storm. Harry thinks initially that the Denarians want to kill Marcone because they see him as an upstart, a mere mortal signing into the Unseelie Accords, but he soon decides instead that they want to recruit Marcone with one of the coins. Harry decides to try setting up a talk with the Denarians. Gard had already asked him, under the Unseelie Accords, to get the White Council to object to the abduction of one signatory by another, and Harry runs with this plan. He calls Luccio and, without quite lying, suggests that Mab wants the White Council to intervene, and, since she has given the White Council right-of-way through the Winter portions of Faerie, Luccio cannot afford to lose one of the few advantages they've gained against the Red Court vampires so she agrees to set it up, bringing in the Archive as a neutral party.

Harry is late for a meeting with Murphy at Mac's. He tells her most of what's going on and asks her to leave it to the supernatural powers to handle the situation for now. She insists that Chicago's police be involved, but Harry gets her to back off, at least temporarily. While they are talking, an even bigger, stronger gruff enters to speak to Harry about his younger brothers. Upset that Harry has burned them with steel while working on behalf of Winter, he demands satisfaction from Harry. Harry is saved when Murphy insists that she would have to become involved in such a circumstance, as the gruff is threatening a citizen of her city. Her threat to shoot him with steel-jacketed rounds gets the gruff to back off for the time being.

Harry brings his friends together for a "war council", in which much of what is known about the Denarians is rehashed. Harry uses magic to make Thomas look like him, as well as giving Thomas his leather duster and staff to distract Summer's agents and free Harry himself to do some investigating. Harry, Murphy, Molly, and Mouse head back to the Carpenters' house, but as they arrive they are attacked by two thugs sent by Torelli. Murphy is shot, but Harry manages to shoot one in the knee and pumps the other for information. He finds that Torelli had been planning to move against Marcone for some time, but the first gunman gets back up and Harry is only saved by Mouse's quick attack. Harry and company flee the scene as the police arrive. Murphy is okay, her bullet-proof vest having taken the bullet.

Harry argues with Michael over their approach to the Denarians, with Michael insisting that the Denarians must be given a chance to repent rather than be struck hard preemptively. Harry confronts Gard privately, insisting that she must have a cache of blood and/or hair samples of Torrelli and Marcone for magical purposes, which he wants her to give him so that he can track them down. When he swears by his power that he will use only those two samples and use neither of them for harm she agrees, telling him that the case containing them is in a locker in Union Station.

Harry and Michael take Michael's truck (with Mouse in the back) to Union Station, with Mouse posing as a service dog. While there, a magical darkness envelopes everyone. Harry's magic cannot penetrate it, but Michael's sword does, albeit incompletely. Thick, squat creatures which Harry identifies as hobs come pouring into the station under the cover of this magical darkness, later identified as myrk. Backed into an office with some civilians, Harry conceives of a way to dispel the myrk and take away the hobs' advantage. Using a heating spell, he activates Union Station's fire sprinkler system and the running water eventually breaks the magical energy supporting the myrk. Michael's sword blazes to its full brightness and the Hobs lack their protective darkness, so the Knight is able to carve his way through them with relative ease. Harry follows in his wake but soon is separated from him, and the big brother gruff arrives to attack him.

Using momentum and the creature's great mass against it, Harry is able to knock it down and get the Hobs to swarm it, weakening the gruff and buying himself some time. In desperate inspiration, Harry is able to get to Gard's locker, which contains a powerful ward, and open it just as the gruff comes in front of it, with spectacular results. The gruff concedes defeat and asks to be killed cleanly. Harry shows mercy and the gruff leaves, promising to leave off attacking Harry, though he warns that his elder brother will kill Harry.

Rejoining Michael, the two realize that the hobs were clustered around another part of the station, where a train was arriving - a train bearing Ivy, the Archive, her bodyguard Kincaid, and Luccio, Harry's commander in the White Council. The hobs, agents of Winter, were apparently sent to attack the Archive.

Ivy has scheduled a meeting between Dresden and Nikodemus at the Shedd Aquarium. During the negotiations, Harry realizes the entire event is a charade to kidnap the Archive. Despite a concerted effort and the incredible spellcasting abilities of the Archive herself, the Archive is captured, though several Denarians are killed in the process. Harry realizes that he now possesses a new magical ability which has devastating effects on demons.

Deducing that Nicodemus's plan is to torture Ivy into accepting one of the remaining Denarian coins, Harry makes an offer too good to pass up: every coin that the Knights of the Cross have collected, eleven in all, and a holy sword, in exchange for the Archive. In response to Michael's outraged protests, Harry counters that if he is successful, they'll wipe out the remaining Denarians. Thunderstruck, Michael quietly voices the dream that he could finally be a carpenter and nothing more. Before Harry's meeting with Nicodemus, Michael confronts Harry about his blasting rod; Harry, unable to recall where it is or what happened to it, has a seizure. Harry realizes he lost it following his meeting with Mab, though he can not explain why.

Harry meets Nicodemus on a deserted island, where he is ambushed by the two Knights of the Cross; Michael is badly injured, dropping his sword, which Harry collects. Harry further spoils the exchange by carrying the token of Summer, drawing out the eldest gruff brother who is revealed to be little over four feet tall, though he possesses three purple shrouds, cloaks of elder Council wizards slain in combat. The eldest gruff obliterates a Denarian, and confronts Harry. After attempting to convince the gruff to let him pass, and comparing the gruffs to the troll in their attempt to murder Harry, the gruff, obviously conflicted, reveals that he has also been compelled and says that the best he can offer is a painless death. Harry counters with his token of Summer, claiming that he has the right to a boon, to which the gruff agrees after revealing that with Marcone and the Archive free, Harry simply needs to re-enter Chicago city limits and Summer's hunt of him will end. Harry demands a doughnut, freshly made from a Chicago bakery, to which the gruff replies that it will take some time to find and then departs. Harry attempts to flee on a boat when he is caught by Nicodemus. From him, Harry learns that Thorned Namshiel picked Harry's pocket while strangling him, presumably passing the stolen coins to either Tessa or Rosana. After playing dead when Nicodemus invokes Lasciel, the demon who until recently had possessed Dresden, Harry strangles Nicodemus with the noose of Judas before being attacked by Deirdre and her followers before escaping across the lake. Deirdre pursues him, then Thomas appears with the rescue boat. Murphy, waiting with Thomas, seizes the hilt of Shiro's sword, which blazes with light and drives off the demon.

Returning to Chicago, Harry finds Michael in critical condition in hospital. Harry visits the hospital chapel, angrily speaking his mind to God about the situation. He is interrupted by a janitor, Jake, who talks to him, but suddenly vanishes, leaving behind a marked copy of The Two Towers. Queen Mab appears with Grimalkin, revealing the identity of the previous visitor as the angel Uriel, and returning Harry's blasting rod (explaining that had he had it earlier, he would've been killed in an attempt to rescue his friends), before leaving again.

Harry is also presented with Amoracchius, Michael's sword, and instructed to pass it on when the time is right.

Plot points introduced Edit

  • Harry Dresden is gifted the ability of Soulfire by the angel Uriel.
  • Harry completes his second task for Mab. He only has one more task left by the end of the book before he is free of Mab.
  • Michael retires from the Knights of the Cross and gives his sword to Harry for safekeeping, much as Shiro did in Death Masks. This leaves Sanya as the only active Knight in the world.

References Edit

  1. Butcher, Jim. "Small Favor", back cover.

External links Edit


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