||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (August 2011)|
|Series||The Dresden Files|
|Genre||Fantasy, Mystery novel|
|Publication date||April 6, 2010|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Preceded by||Turn Coat|
|Followed by||Ghost Story|
Changes is the 12th book in The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher's continuing series about wizard detective Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Changes was released on April 6, 2010, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best Sellers list, dropping to #3 in its second week on the list.
Susan Rodriguez contacts Dresden to tell him they have a daughter, Margaret Angelica, who has been kidnapped by the Red Court, eventually learning that Duchess Arianna, the widow of a Red Court duke that Dresden killed several years earlier, is behind the kidnapping.
Dresden goes to Edinburgh to seek help from the Council. However, upon his arrival, he discovers Arianna is there, hosting a peace conference with the rest of the Council. Dresden openly challenges Arianna to a duel to the death over his daughter's kidnapping, but is prevented from carrying it through by the other members of the Council. Infuriated, Dresden returns home.
Dresden learns from Karrin Murphy he is under investigation by the FBI, and hides a large portion of his possessions in the Nevernever before being arrested. After being released and receiving several gifts from his fairy godmother, Dresden is eventually directed to the Norse God Odin, who tells him The Red Court is going to use Margaret for a powerful blood curse that will kill everyone who shares a relation to Maggie, including Dresden.
Dresden decides to investigate Rudolph, the FBI agent who implicated him in the office explosion, realizing that he must have implicated Dresden because of pressure coming from the Red Court. Despite ambushing the vampires, Dresden is driven off and later attacked and crippled while escaping his apartment. With no remaining options, he calls upon Mab, the Winter Queen, and agrees to take on the mantle of the Winter Knight in exchange for resources and leave to save his daughter first.
The Leanansidhe, who has been assigned by Mab to ensure Harry's final quest is successful so he can take on the duties of the Winter Knight, transports Harry, Molly, Susan, Martin, Thomas and herself to the location where Harry can open the first of a set of Ways to get to Chichen Itza. Along the way, she enchants the clothes and weapons of Dresden and Susan to protect them and allow Susan to disappear completely. Lea also brings Dresden his bag of goodies that he had buried in the Nevernever including the two swords and Bob. Harry convinces Susan to take up Amoracchius, the sword of Love, and Murphy to take up Fidelacchius, the sword of Faith. Included in the bag is a sending stone he uses to communicate with Ebenezar, who has been trying to reach him. Ebenezar had already told him that the Grey Council couldn't help with his quest to save the girl, but Dresden finally tells Ebenezar that the girl is his daughter, causing Ebenezar to encourage Dresden to continue.
After having to save Susan from the FBI and another host of Red Court vampires, Dresdens godmother appears to support Dresden rescue effort. Confronting the Red Court, the Red King grants Harry an audience. Speaking through an interpreter, the Red King agrees to allow Dresden to duel Arianna in exchange for Maggie's life. After a protracted battle with Arianna, Dresden finally kills her. However, the Red King refuses to honor their agreement, claiming that because he never spoke a word to Dresden, the agreement was void.
Susan, Sanya and Murphy effectively wield the Swords against the most ancient vampires, the Lords of the Outer Night. The Lords have become much more than vampires thanks to the worship of the ancient Mayans, to whom they had posed as gods. Harry's group finally cuts its way to the temple. At a signal from the Leanansidhe, the Grey Council appears at Chichen Itza through a Way, and joins the battle.
At the battle's climax, Dresden rushes into the Sacrificial Room to stop the ritual, but is betrayed by Martin, who's then killed by an enraged Susan. As Martin dies, he and Dresden soulgaze. Dresden learns that all of Martin's actions have been to put someone in a position to destroy the entire Red Court in one blow, namely Susan. Dresden carries Susan to the altar and cuts her throat, unleashing the Bloodline Curse upon the Red Court and killing every last one, now that Susan had become the youngest vampire of the Red Court. The few half vampires who are not killed by the removal of their vampire halves, as well as the Red King's Mortal followers, are almost all destroyed by the angered captives the Red Court.
In the aftermath, Dresden realizes he can never provide the sort of home for Maggie he wants her to have and asks that she be placed in the safest possible place, and give her up to Father Forthill. Later, recovering on Thomas's boat the Water Beetle, Dresden goes onto the deck to get some air, only to be shot and fall into Lake Michigan.
Summary of changes in Harry's life
- Susan Rodriguez reveals the last sexual tryst between her and Harry yielded a daughter Susan named Margaret, named after Dresden's mother.
- Mac makes a long speech to Harry regarding Harry's future and his path.
- Harry's office building is revealed to be owned by The Red Court of Vampires, that building is summarily destroyed by C-4.
- The White Council and a majority of the Wardens are either struck with a mysterious illness or arrested by Cristos.
- Harry receives his mother's (Margaret LaFey) collected knowledge of "The Ways."
- Several of Harry's friends shock him by revealing Molly has fallen in love with him.
- Harry's car, "The Blue Beetle," is crushed by "The Ick" into a ball with Thomas' car.
- It is revealed that Harry's mentor Ebenezar McCoy is in fact his maternal grandfather.
- Harry's oak staff (made from an oak tree on McCoy's farm) is destroyed along with the Beetle.
- Harry's apartment and the entire boarding house where he lives is burned to the ground along with all his possessions.
- Harry accepts the Mantle of "Winter Knight" from Queen Mab to heal himself and save Maggie from the Red Court.
- Susan becomes a full Red Court Vampire when she murders Martin during his reveal of working for the Red King.
- Harry kills Susan as she completes her Red Court transformation enacting the blood curse and destroying the entire court.
- Murphy apparently loses her job due to Rudolph's continued political maneuvering.
- Harry is shot and dies at the end of the book.
Plot points introduced
The White Council: Tensions increase in the White Council as Gregori Cristos garners more influence among the members. Cristos has had several members of the Wardens arrested, including Carlos Ramirez. In addition, about 40% of the Senior Wardens have gone missing including Captain Anastasia Luccio. A large portion of the Council has become sick with a mysterious illness, believed to have been spread by Arianna Ortega when she visits as an 'ambassador'. This includes Injun Joe, the Council's best healer. The Senior Council is backing away from Cristos, giving him room to hang himself.
The Grey Council: The Grey Council makes their first appearance outside of Harry and Ebenezar to help in the battle against the Red Court. Donar Vadderung, CEO of Monoc Securities, actually the Norse god Odin, is revealed to be a member.
Dresden's family: Harry has a daughter. Relations between Harry and Thomas have improved somewhat since Thomas decided to go back to his predatory ways. However, this improvement is slight, as Dresden says before taking Thomas' help to save Maggie they have only spoken for minutes since the end of the prior novel.
Soulfire: Harry has a tough time controlling his use of Soulfire when in the heat of battle often drawing a significant amount and wearing himself down rapidly. However, he does use it frequently in combat conditions.
Winter Court of the Fae: The old Winter Knight Lloyd Slate dies at Harry's hands in the Valley of the Stone Table. Harry and Mab then went through the induction ceremony for Harry to become the Winter Knight on the condition that Harry could save his child first. The ceremony is magical 'intercourse' on the Stone Table with Mab, though as Harry puts it, "You don't have sex with a thunderstorm." Harry's fairy General Toot-toot can speak Russian.
Dresden's Mysterious Past: Dresden's mother is actually a McCoy and is Ebenezar's daughter, thus making Ebenezar Dresden's maternal grandfather. Margaret LeFay left a powerful gift with the Leanansidhe, a gem which fits into his pentacle, containing her extensive knowledge of all the methods to navigate the Ways. We also learn that the entity on the other side of the Nevernever from Harry's house is the Leanansidhe, and she has been protecting him from those who would try to attack him from the Nevernever for a very long time.
Dresden's Mysterious Future: Throughout the course of the book, Harry occasionally hears Cassius's voice saying "Die Alone." In reference to the curse he laid on Harry during the events of Dead Beat. At the end of the book a female's voice is heard telling the voice to "Hush now".
The Knights of the Cross: Michael Carpenter is still retired. Susan and Murphy temporarily take up the Swords during the battle against the Reds. Harry offered Murphy the full-time position of wielding Fidelacchius once more, but she is undecided.
The War: No longer enjoying a lull. Harry's actions during the course of the battle against the Red Court ultimately resulted in the complete and utter destruction of every Red Court Vampire in existence. Half-vampires lost their half-vampire side and powers, becoming fully human again. As a result, every former half-vampire became their true age again, killing off many of the older half-vampires and withering many who had been alive for a long time but not long enough to expire in human years.
The Fellowship of St. Giles: The Fellowship and its support structure are supposedly almost completely wiped out by the Red Court due to Martin's treachery. In addition, the vampiric portions of the remaining Fellowship members are wiped away, leaving the survivors whole and human; however, the survivors also aged accordingly. This means that anyone who had been a partial Red Court Vampire for more than their natural lifespan aged and died quickly after the ritual was completed.
The Blue Beetle: Harry's Volkswagen Beetle is totally destroyed. Also, his home is completely destroyed by arson. Harry breaks his back escaping the fire; it is this injury that causes him to take up the mantle of the Winter Knight.
List of characters
- Margaret Angelica Dresden: eight-year-old daughter of Harry and Susan. Raised by a family in Guatemala, kidnapped by the Red Court, and nearly killed. Entrusted to Father Forthill by Harry to hide.
- Agent Tilly: FBI agent investigating Harry, disbelieves Harry when he, Murphy, and Susan explain the Red Court to him, but sees the attack on the FBI's building in Chicago. Harry calls him "Slim".
- Donar Vadderung: the one-eyed CEO of Monoc Securities. Revealed as Odin (was hinted at being him several times in past stories). Also believes in foresight, which enabled him to find where the ritual was being held, as well as the details. Also a member of the Grey Council.
- The Eebs: Esteban and Esmeralda Batiste, a husband and wife team of Red Court vampires used by the Red King for assassinations. Torn to shreds by goblins after Harry and Susan proved their claim in a trial by combat. Deceased.
- Steven Douglas: "Stevie D", hitman, hired to kill Dresden by the Eebs.
- Arianna Ortega: Previously mentioned in Proven Guilty, Arianna is the widow of Paolo Ortega, who was killed by Ebeneezer after Paolo tried to murder Harry. She found out about Maggie from Martin and had her kidnapped, planning to use her as a human sacrifice to wipe out the Dresden bloodline. She also laced the Council headquarters with a virus and crippled many wizards. Ultimately Harry's arrival gave her father the Red King the chance to give Harry an opening to kill her in a battle to the death. Despite her confidence that she would win the duel she was ultimately bested by Harry, her final words dumbly referring to him as cattle.
- The Red King: The head of the Red Court. Despite being extremely short the Red King was the deadliest vampire in the entire court. What's more he also laid out the details of the Red Court meaning that all of their crimes could be traced back to him. Although he covertly helped Harry by agreeing to accept his petition to fight Arianna (delaying the sacrifice so that the duel could occur) and choosing a weapon that would give Harry a fighting chance he ultimately double crossed him once Harry destroyed Arianna. He tried to hijack the ritual himself to gain the prestige Arianna would have gained, but Martin's calculated gambit to have Susan kill him gave Harry and Lea an opening to destroy the prison created by the Lords of the Outer Night. Harry then overpowered the Red King by impaling his eyes, setting them on fire, and shattering his right forearm. At this point, the Red King called his soldiers to kill Harry, forcing Harry to sacrifice Susan to destroy the Red Court forever.
Aftermath, Ghost Story and beyond
The story continues in Aftermath, told from Karrin Murphy's point of view and running from roughly forty five minutes after the end of Changes. The story was released as part of Side Jobs, an October 2010 anthology of Dresden short stories and focuses on Murphy's efforts following Dresden's apparent death.
The next novel in the series, the thirteenth Dresden novel, is titled Ghost Story. Author Jim Butcher's publishers wouldn't let him call it the more prosaic Dead. He has also confirmed that Changes marks the midpoint of Harry's story and there will be at least 7 more books, possibly 10, to finish Harry's story. In addition, despite the previous books playing out in more or less real time, with the elapsed time between books approximately equaling the time between their release dates, Ghost Story has been confirmed as taking place immediately after the conclusion of Changes, though Butcher has also equated the immediate jump to Ghost Story as being akin to the Back to the Future series time jumps, implying that what seems to be happening within moments of the end of Changes may actually be happening over a much longer timespan.
- "Amazon.com: Changes (Dresden Files, Book 12) (9780451463173): Jim Butcher: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
- "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction". New York Times. April 15, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction". New York Times. April 23, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
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- The first five chapters of the book are found on the author's official website.