|Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden|
|The Dresden Files character|
|First appearance||Restoration of Faith (chronological)
Storm Front (first novel)
|Last appearance||Skin Game|
|Created by||Jim Butcher|
|Title||Warden, Regional Commander
|Family||Malcolm Dresden (father) (deceased)
Margaret Gwendolyn LeFey (mother) (deceased)
Ebenezar McCoy (grandfather)
Thomas Raith (half-brother)
|Significant other(s)||Elaine Mallory (ex-girlfriend)
Susan Rodriguez (ex-girlfriend) (deceased)
Anastasia Luccio (ex-girlfriend)
|Children||Margaret Angelica Dresden Mendoza (daughter)|
Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a fictional detective and wizard. He was created by Jim Butcher and is the protagonist of the contemporary fantasy series The Dresden Files. The series blends magic and hardboiled detective fiction. In addition to the fifteen The Dresden Files novels, he has appeared in fifteen short stories, as well as a limited series comic and an unlimited series comic. He was also adapted into a character by the same name for the TV series version of the novel series, also called The Dresden Files.
Harry Dresden is a wizard who works as a supernatural private investigator in Chicago, dealing with paranormal crimes and consulting for the Chicago Police Department. He is named after three different stage magicians — Harry Houdini, Harry Blackstone, Sr., and David Copperfield. This name was given to him by his father, Malcolm Dresden, a stage magician with no genuine magical affinity. Malcolm raised Harry while performing all across the country, until he died of a brain aneurysm when Harry was six years old. The novels are written from Harry's perspective, in the style of hardboiled detective fiction.
Harry possesses significant magical strength in comparison to other wizards of his age, though he lacks the fine control and manipulation of magic displayed by some practitioners. He originally favors elemental fire and wind spells in battle, but in later books focuses more strongly on fire and kinetic force. He has also been known to use earth magic (It's My Birthday Too and Turn Coat), lightning (Small Favor and Turn Coat), and water (Turn Coat). In later novels, he comes to rely on ice and cold magic as well. He is also skilled with tracking spells, along with summoning and entrapment spells which allow him to consult with supernatural creatures, such as demons, faeries and various other types of magical entity. Due to his lack of finer control, Harry often relies on magical items to help focus and channel his magical energy, such as his staff, blasting rod, shield bracelet, and force rings. Early in the series, Harry has little skill with veils and concealment magic, but he later develops a better grounding in this skill as part of his tutoring of an apprentice.
Harry's equipment includes a duster (first a canvas model, later replaced with a leather one) enchanted with protective magic, a rune-carved staff, a 'blasting rod' (a wooden stick used to focus his evocation magic for offensive purposes), an enchanted bracelet used to project a physical and magical shield, a silver ring used to channel blasts of kinetic energy (originally just one, with more being added in later books), and his mother's silver pentacle amulet. He also usually carries a firearm - often a revolver, sometimes a shotgun.
Harry has many contacts in the different groups of the magical community. While many wizards are reluctant to interact with other types of magical being, Harry has gained respect and infamy among such groups, often allowing him to pursue options normally not available to wizards. Of particular relevance is the fact that Harry has met and has some level of interaction with all the Queens of the Summer and Winter Courts of Faerie.
Harry's mother, Margaret Gwendolyn LeFey, was a wizard herself, although Harry knew little of her prior to the events of White Night. He has since learned that he is not her only child, having an older half-brother - the White Court vampire Thomas Raith. After his father died, Harry spent some time as a ward of the state. At ten years old, soon after his magical powers began to manifest themselves, Harry was adopted by the dark wizard Justin DuMorne, a former Warden of the White Council. Justin trained Harry in the use of magic, but later tried to magically enthrall and enslave him. In the ensuing fight, Harry killed Justin with magic, breaking the White Council's First Law of Magic, a capital offense. The Council chose to spare Harry's life after an older wizard, Ebenezar McCoy, stood up for him at trial. Instead, he was placed under the Doom of Damocles, a strict probation in which McCoy was assigned to supervise him; if Harry broke the Laws of Magic again, both he and McCoy would be executed. McCoy mentored Harry and helped keep him out of trouble until Harry was old enough to support himself. As an adult, Harry learns that McCoy is his maternal grandfather.
- Harry is introduced as a wizard and a private investigator working in Chicago. He finds himself drawn into the case of an evil sorcerer who is murdering people with black magic. In the process Harry manages to pull himself out from under the Doom of Damocles.
- Harry is once again drawn into a police case; grisly murders committed by what seems to be a werewolf. Harry also meets the Alphas, with whom he will become allies and friends.
- Harry finds himself involved in the doings of the vampiric Red Court. During this novel, Harry's girlfriend is taken from him and turned into a half-vampire.
- Harry gets caught between the warring courts of the Summer and Winter Fae. He must find a way to correct a dangerous imbalance between them before the mortal world gets plunged into a new ice age.
- Harry goes up against the Order of the Blackened Denarius in order to prevent a plague capable of making the Black Death look like a case of the sniffles.
- Harry goes undercover on the set of a porn movie to solve a string of highly improbable deaths. While working this case, he learns that he has a half brother and ends up caring for a small puppy which may be quite a bit more than it seems.
- Necromancers converge on Chicago, intent on performing a ritual that will grant them god-like powers, and it's up to Harry to stop them, with a little help from a nerdy medical examiner, a fallen angel living in his head and a Tyrannosaurus.
- During the course of investigating the sudden and deadly appearance of a number of movie monsters, Harry gets sucked back into the intrigue of the Fae courts, kidnapped and auctioned on eBay and winds up with a new apprentice.
- While tracking down a killer who has been targeting members of the occult community, Harry runs into an old flame and finds himself once again dealing with White Court intrigue.
- Fairies, fallen angels, gangsters and the magical repository of all human knowledge (a little girl named Ivy) all converge on Chicago,
- Donald Morgan -Harry's longtime persecutor- shows up on Harry's doorstep, begging for help. Harry must untangle a plot involving the White Council in order to save him.
- Harry discovers that he has a daughter, and the Red Court has taken her. He pulls out all the stops, marching to war with his friends at his side to get her back. He succeeds, but is killed by an unknown sniper soon after.
- Harry gets sent back as a ghost to solve his own murder. While doing so, he encounters a deadly threat from the past, witnesses the impact his death has had on the world and learns that not even dying will get him out of a deal he made to save his daughter.
- With his soul and his body reunited, Harry must learn to cope with his new position as the Winter Knight. Things take a turn for the worse when Mab gives him his first assignment: kill her immortal daughter, Maeve. He also learns that a parasite has been implanted in his head and will eventually burst out, killing him, unless it is removed.
- Harry is forced to repay a debt of Mab's by assisting a group led by his archenemy, Nicodemus, to recover the Holy Grail from a vault in Hades, realm of the Greek God of the Dead. The parasite in his head will kill him in three days, and Mab will only remove it once he finishes the job.
As of Small Favor, Harry has only had three romantic relationships. This scarcity may be due to the tragic ends of his first two love affairs, making him wary of getting involved with women. It may also have to do with his hectic, danger-filled lifestyle, which simply makes him too busy to date.
His first girlfriend and first love Elaine, who was also a fellow apprentice, lived with him and Justin DuMorne for several years, and as Harry puts it, they drove each other nuts and went through puberty together. She was enthralled (a magical mind control technique, deemed black magic by the Council) by DuMorne and attempted to kill Harry, and Harry believed she had betrayed him. When he killed DuMorne, he also thought (incorrectly) that Elaine was dead.
His only major girlfriend after that was Susan Rodriguez, whom Harry dated steadily for a few years but found himself unable to say "I love you" to. He finally said it when she was turned half-vampire, and proposed marriage soon afterwards, but Susan declined (due to the dangers from her recent vampire nature) and left the U.S. She later returned, and they resumed their sexual relationship briefly. Harry hasn't gotten over her loss yet, and as of White Night he reveals that he's been celibate ever since their last encounter. This has afforded him protection from the vampires of the White Court. In Changes, she reveals to Harry that she gave birth to their daughter, Margaret "Maggie" Angelica, sometime after. Despite continued mutual attraction, this rift in their relationship causes Harry to comment that their relationship is through. Susan agrees that, due to her keeping their daughter's existence from him, she knew this would be his reaction as soon as he found out. Despite increased sexual tension throughout the novel, her death at the end of Changes effectively ends any hope that they could work through their issues.
In Small Favor, Harry began a relationship with Anastasia Luccio, otherwise known as Captain Luccio, of the Wardens of the White Council. The relationship forms part of the backdrop for the short story "Day Off". It is revealed in Turn Coat that Luccio was being manipulated using mind magic to keep tabs on Harry, which she did by dating him.
Harry has also flirted with the idea of becoming involved with Karrin Murphy, but this never went anywhere. In addition, wizards tend to live much longer than non-wizards; Karrin would die of old age centuries before Harry. Despite this, their platonic friendship is often closer than that of lovers. In Changes, it seems Harry is well on his way to finally hooking up with Karrin, except, as his standard luck, he is shot and killed at the end of the book. At the end of the novel Skin Game, Harry and Karrin decide to rekindle their romantic relationship.
In Dead Beat, former Denarian Quintus Cassius is killed by Mouse and hits Harry with his death curse in which he screamed, "DIE ALONE". This caused Harry great concern throughout the novels up through Changes. He speculates that it is possible that it means that he will not only have an unsuccessful love life, but that all of his friends will either be dead or absent when his time to die arrives. At the end of Changes, following being shot, he hears the curse repeated when he is alone on a boat. However, upon hearing this Harry then hears a female voice telling someone to hush.
In Ghost Story, Molly Carpenter confronts Dresden about her feelings for him. After it is revealed that Dresden ordered his own death and then asked her to remove the memory of his doing so, Harry learns what broke her heart. She had been forced to carry the memory since then. Despite Dresden's discomfort, Molly bluntly points out she's now in her twenties, and similar to Dresden, she can't have a "normal" relationship with anyone else, as she will watch her entire family, and any love interest except Harry die of old age.
In Cold Days, Harry's relationship statuses are put on hold due to the hectic nature of the days of his return; however, at the end of the book, Harry and Karrin make an agreement to get together when this is all over.
In Skin Game, Harry has to deal with the return of a virtual lover in the Denarian Lasciel (and their offspring), and is indeed finally planning on getting serious with Karin. Most of his co-conspirators in the heist refer to Murphy as "his girlfriend"
Powers and abilities
As one of the most powerful younger wizards of the White Council, Harry has a large repertoire of magical powers. His skills at evocation, or ‘quick and dirty’ magic, aka "kaboom magic", aka "battle magic", lean toward large blasts of fire and force, sometimes using wind, and also has some skill with earth (usually manipulating gravity) and lightning magic. He has considerable magical brute strength, though his control is initially somewhat lacking - for example, while he could easily shatter a pair of handcuffs, he may also break the wrists of the person wearing them. For this reason, Harry is ofttimes referred to as a magical 'thug'. Later in the series, Harry is also shown to have tremendous power in ritual form battle magic, when he uses the energy of a ley line to concentrate gravity for several miles around into a small zone, and flattens hundreds of enemy combatants at once.
Harry's skill with battle magic has increased steadily and quickly. His shields are the most striking example, initially unable to deal with sufficiently strong attacks, and not warding away heat, such that his hand was almost burned off. Now, thanks to practice and improved foci, they can deal with significant attacks without a problem. While the head of the Wardens has sufficient focus to wield fire magic with a pinpoint laser-like effect that can cut a person in two, Harry has the power to take out a building, fry an I-beam, and has 'upgraded' to a blue-white shot of fire magic strong enough to bore through a Denarian. Harry is also using physics more, using his shields to turn enemies attacks back upon themselves or their allies, and ripping heat away from areas to create ice as well as power fire attacks simultaneously, and transforming himself (and a White Court vampire) into an explosion-powered cannonball.
Harry was frequently accused of a lack of subtlety in his magic until he began training Molly as his apprentice. Through teaching to her particular talents (especially for veiling) and weaknesses (concentration, less emphasis on violent magic), Harry gained a greater understanding and finer control over his talents and began using subtler versions of his own spells, such as tightly controlled wind gusts.
Changes shows Harry developing the following: much better control (he starts using illusions, veils, and Luccio's cutting fire beam, raising and lowering shields with great speed; and fine uses of soulfire), huge area effect spells; pure mental summoning of extremely powerful entities without a summoning circle; and using the fire and ice exchange trick in combat multiple times.
During the events of the novel Changes, Harry takes up the mantle of the Winter Knight. It is a position of incredible power, giving Harry access to the abilities of the Winter Sidhe, though ironically, he still complains of his aversion to cold, something the position failed to take away. This gives him substantially more stamina, speed, and strength in both the physical and magical sense, improved ability with "ice magic" which he either lacked or was reluctant to use prior to his appointment, and give him greater protection from physical attacks. It is presumed that Harry will hold the mantle of Winter Knight until he dies, as only with the death of the old knight can a new one be named (though Jim Butcher has stated that Harry is still the Winter Knight in the novel Ghost Story).
Harry was able to employ Hellfire while possessed by the Shadow of the Denarian Lasciel, a power that especially aided destructive spells and fire effects. He first experienced this power during the events of Blood Rites, noticing that his staff had begun to generate heat and smoke when he used it, and he realized that his brief exposure to Lasciel's coin had allowed him to tap into it involuntarily. After Harry lost that power, the Archangel Uriel awarded him the Angelic power of soulfire, which is used to make a sort of magical framework for the magic being used, turning, for instance, a straight force attack into an enduring silvery construct hand able to bash and batter repeatedly. The portion of the soul used in the soulfire returns over a period of days, enabling the wielder to get back to full strength; using all of one's soul is still fatal, however. Soulfire excels when used in creation magic, a notable example of which is illusions.
Magic itself has an innate power to disrupt technology in the Dresdenverse. A strong wizard's aura interferes with devices such as computers, airplane engines, and car motors, severely limiting his use of any modern/electronic gadgets. ("I can kill a copier at fifty paces," Harry remarks in Storm Front.) As a result, Harry becomes a potential safety risk whenever he visits places containing sophisticated equipment, such as hospitals in which patients are on life support. He prefers older, less refined technology when he has to deal with it; he drives a 1960s Volkswagen Beetle, knows a mechanic who can keep it running eight or nine days out of every ten, and favors revolvers over semiautomatic pistols when he needs to carry a firearm. Harry uses candles, a fireplace, a kerosene heater, and an icebox in his apartment and lab, and he keeps dozens of spare light bulbs in his office in case one burns out when he walks past it. He can deliberately cause widespread havoc around high-tech items just by drawing in his magic, a practice he refers to as "hexing."
Because of this technological stricture, many wizards employ the Nevernever to travel long distances. If a wizard knows the path, they can step into the Nevernever, walk a short distance, and emerge somewhere else far away, as distance and time function differently inside. Due to their difficulty in using advanced means of transportation, control of paths and locations in the Nevernever is of critical importance to wizards for getting around rapidly. Knowledge of access points to the Nevernever is among the more useful secrets in the Dresdenverse...and an important bargaining chip for the Faerie Courts, who control most of the Paths through them. Dresden's mother was one of the most knowledgeable of such travelers. According to Luccio she would breakfast in Prague, lunch in Rome, and be in Tibet by sundown, with a couple of stops for coffee along the way. Harry obtained a red crystal belonging to his mother in Changes, which contains his mother's knowledge of these paths, which vastly outweighs his own. He has become slowly better, faster, and neater about opening portals to the Nevernever…he even uses one as a shield in combat to absorb falling stalactites from a collapsing ceiling.
Harry also possesses great skill at thaumaturgy - he prefers it, since it gives him more structure and precision for his power. According to Harry, his skills lie in "redirecting energy, sending energy out into the world to resonate..." in White Night. He is particularly well-versed in spells that track and find others. Harry has summoned spirits across multiple mythos in his time, including faeries big and small, Voodoo loa spirits of knowledge, and actual demons, using this skill and thaumaturgic rituals. His first use of a ritual in battle is in Changes.
A power that all true wizards have is The Sight, or the Third Eye. Using this power is one of the earmarks of wizardry. It allows a wizard to see the world as it truly is, on a magical and spiritual level, bypassing all veils and illusions and showing people and things as they truly are. Anything that is witnessed under the Third Eye is remembered perfectly, forever, which leads to reluctance to employ it, as it is often called on in situations to reveal evil, horrible supernatural harm, and the like, and the weight of such memories can cause significant mental stress over time. Harry's first use of the Sight was on a tree, and he can perfectly picture the gnome-like spirit within it to this day. His use of Sight on the Skinwalker (in Turn Coat) nearly drove him mad with fear and terror at the depth of the evil, cruelty and anathema he witnessed within the creature. It is noteworthy he has never used True Sight on a true Denarian, although he has witnessed the conflict of the Fey Courts using this ability...which completely turned his estimation of the power of Mab on its ear in his awe (and fear). (In Book One of the Dresden Files, the 'drug' being manufactured by the antagonist is actually an alchemical potion allowing normal mortals to use True Sight, an experience few are ready for.)
Yet another power that all wizards have is the soulgaze, a meeting of the eyes that transforms into a highly personalized and revealing look at the other person's psyche and soul, and one of the reasons why people instinctively don't look deep into another's eyes. It is an immediate way to identify someone or something flawlessly. It is notably something he has never shared with Murphy, although he has with Susan. Harry has no idea how people perceive him, although those who have Gazed him tend to have their opinion and respect for him taken up several notches after it happens, as they realize the true nature of who they are dealing with. The crime lord Marcone, for instance, evidences a remarkable amount of respect for Harry after sharing a soulgaze, and a young wizard who shared a soulgaze with him said that Harry was gentle, kind, and alone. However, in the few instances when Harry has Gazed an enemy during a confrontation, they generally have had a horrified reaction (one even gasped that he "[didn't] believe in hell").
On a more mundane level, wizards like Harry are also capable of slowly 'healing perfectly' from injuries, leaving no scars or breaks. For example, his broken bones will seal and leave no mark behind, and he is slowly regaining use of his flame-seared left hand, damaged so severely the normal doctors recommended it to be amputated. This characteristic is the probable reason for the exceptionally long lifespan of wizards. It has limits...a wizard might take 40–50 years to heal the broken back Harry suffers in Changes. Luckily for him, his back problem was fixed instantly when he became the Winter Knight. This is conditional; when he once considered defying Winter's Law, he momentarily lost control of his legs, giving him a moment to reconsider.
Harry's 'final' ability possessed by all wizards is that of the death curse. While it is typically targeted at the being that kills them, it may be employed upon anyone within line of sight (such as when Harry was readying to send the Death Curse at one of the Necromancers in Dead Beat when he anticipated Morgan's attack), and the wizard must have time to use it (a few seconds). Death curses can be incredibly powerful. Harry believes that the force of his curse could wipe every living thing off the island of Demonreach, and others agree. His mother's Curse completely blocked the ability of the King of the White Court of Vampires to feed, a creature that was otherwise immune to magic. He himself has been the target of a Death Curse, although the lesser power of the caster left it open-ended and of vague purpose.
Starting with his first exposure to the island of Demonreach, it also appears that Harry is starting to develop foresight, a characteristic seemingly common to all wizards as they get older (and are not warned about ahead of time to stop them from wondering if this or that event was foreseen).
Additionally, after bonding with the native spirit of Demonreach in Turn Coat, Harry is able to link in with the spirit's intellectus ability concerning itself and all upon the island, enabling him perfect knowledge of Demonreach and its denizens, and natural harmony with the creatures dwelling there, giving Harry an incredible tactical advantage while he is present.
It seems that by the timing of Harry's conception and birth, he has some form of power over Outsiders, such as He Who Walks Behind, resulting in his astonishing ability to overcome a major Outsider while still a teenager after his master had sent it after him, and actually surviving an Entropy Curse (a lethally malevolent form of bad luck). This theory is strengthened in Cold Days, when Harry realizes that his birthday on Halloween also coincides with a time when immortals are vulnerable, though they can also gain or lose magical power, hence the origin of trick or treating and wearing masks on Halloween. It is yet to be seen whether Harry's raw magical potential and success against powerful adversaries are directly related to this fact and how much of a hand his mother had in it
Harry has a fairly uncommon magical power he has developed with time and experience, the ability to Listen. This is more akin to a clairaudience effect of limited range then merely enhanced hearing, but the sensitivity of it has risen with time, to the point where Harry can even filter out and discern different heartbeats around corners and in rooms close by. Although it can be stopped by a Veil, it provides an excellent tactical edge against many opponents for him.
Unlike some of the other magic users in the series, Harry shouts foreign languages and faux Latin commands to perform spells. For example, Harry lights candles in his apartment by muttering "Fliccum Biccus," an allusion to the "Flick your Bic" lighter advertising campaign. When Harry utters this phrase and infuses the spell with a minor effort of his will, his candles light up or the fire in his fireplace comes to life. He often uses "Fuego!" (Spanish for fire) when using fire magic and "Forzare!" (Italian for force) with kinetic magic. He explained that most magic users use some language they're not familiar with for their incantations, to provide a bit of magical insulation to the user's mind from the forces they are channeling and avoid accidentally casting a spell by uttering a common phrase in a language they're used to. His ex-lover Elaine uses Egyptian.
Ghost Story drops Harry into the life of being a spirit/ghost, and a whole new set of magic. We learn that ghosts can 'vanish', like a short-range teleport, they hurt one another with strong memories, can consume other ghosts for their memories, are destroyed if caught outside a sanctum by the morning light, and can wield magic once again by calling up memories of having used magic before. However, casting magic is fueled by the essence of the spirit itself, much like soulfire, and can consume them entirely if not watched for. Ghosts can manifest physically by use of extreme willpower, as well.
Ghost Story also introduces us to the mechanics of mental assault and defense in the Dresdenverse, the uses of advanced illusions via Molly Carpenter's burgeoning ability, and the rather spookily powerful abilities of ectomancers, the people who can speak with and control ghosts (a very separate line of study from necromancy). Harry's mental ability is noted as being incredibly obdurate on defense, and blundering tough on offense. Molly is noted as being swarmingly effective on offense and elusive and hard to find on defense.
In Cold Days, we get a much better idea of Harry's abilities as a Winter Knight. Losing all of his equipment at the end of Changes, Harry is forced to learn to fight without using foci or charms; this means his barriers are now only forward facing and his attacks are less focused. In return, the boost from his new station gives him access to much more mental power to cast from, and he can perform ice spells with ease, including freezing a virtual iceberg to save him and his friends from drowning in the cold waters. He is immune to cold, can manifest icy claws from his hands, and when fully drawing on the Knight's power, displays the strength to jump fifty feet through the air and bench-press almost nine hundred pounds, coupled with incredible endurance and the ability to ignore pain and heal more quickly then a normal man. The power of the Winter Knight is also incredibly savage, even predatory, and Harry has to constantly be on guard against its influences (and comes to know how his brother Thomas sees the world). Finally, the mantle has raised his threshold to pain; he has several wounds stitched up without any anesthesia, remarking that he was aware of the sensation and it was not pleasant, but it did not hurt. This last is almost as much curse as boon, as he can become critically injured and not even realize it is happening.
This latest set of abilities does come at a cost. As a thrall of Winter, he is now bound by the codes of Queen Mab's Winter Court; any attempt to violate them deactivates his Winter Knight abilities, including his healed spinal injury. Also, any contact with iron or steel weakens him greatly, as he discovers after being shot with a nail gun and stabbed with fish hooks.
He also temporarily becomes a member of the Wild Hunt. This effect cloaks him in shadowy power, turns mundane weapons into powerful magical killing tools, lets a motorcycle ride across Lake Michigan, and hides the identity of those under its influence behind masks of ancient hunters, even supplying mounts for those without them (Karrin's motorcycle becomes a huge shadowy cat). By defeating the leaders of the Hunt, he takes command of the entire pack to lead the defense against an Outsider assault on Demonreach Island.
In Skin Game, Harry's magical abilities are not on as much display. It's alluded that he has managed to find out much more about the powers the Warden of Demonreach possesses, but they are not described. The force energy that used to be stored in his rings he has instead moved into his staff, as he has not had time to make rings, and he has a new trick for getting around things immune to magic: condensing a steel hard ball of ice into existence and propelling it with force magic like a cannonball, to great effect. He is also shown redirecting a blast of Hellfire with a cyclone of air. In addition, Harry discovers that his Mantle of the Winter Knight has allowed him to push and train his body to its peak ability, and now has strength, speed, agility, and endurance as good as the world's top athletes, even without the aid of magic. It is also revealed that Harry's spinal injury has been healing, and he can move freely even if stripped of his Winter powers.
Mundane (non-magical) skills
When the entity Lasciel/Lash was a part of Dresden he was able to understand and speak a variety of ancient languages with Lash translating for him. Since her apparent death in "White Night" Harry no longer possesses this ability. He can understand spoken Latin, the language of the wizard world, but his own attempts to speak it are initially poor. Harry has some ability with staff and sword work (rapier/fencing style), which he has been slowly improving by working out with Murphy. His athletic regimen consists of something akin to a boxer's training: hitting a bag (and charging up his kinetic rings) and doing lots and lots of running. His fighting style emphasizes the fact he is tall (approximately 6' 9", over two meters), with a long reach to go with it.
Lash's influence has given him a degree of ability with playing the guitar. He is proficient with firearms, preferring revolvers to avoid the misfire chances associated with magic and automatics, and also uses shotguns as needed. Uriel's influence may have granted him some manner of enhanced coordination with his hands, judging by events in Small Favor.
Contact with Lash also exposed Harry to some of the more esoteric mental discipline/possibilities that the Dresdenverse draws freely from. He has learned how to stretch his bones and muscles in wildly inappropriate ways, as if he were a master Yoga practitioner (except, of course, it hurts a lot more), and he learned mental disciplines that enable him to shut off pain completely, allowing him to function even when he should be completely incapacitated — for a time.
He also has the appropriate hard-boiled detective's aptitude for grunt detective work, sources to call on, and the ability to put disparate pieces together into a recognizable plan to figure out what is actually going on, a use of intellect he is constantly being underestimated on. He also has the standard noir hero ability of being able to survive a lot of personal punishment and keep on trucking.
Although Harry has been enlisted as a Warden and has helped train aspiring Wardens, he has never been through Warden training himself, nor has he been gifted with a Warden sword that can slice enchantments and wards (this is due to the maker of the swords seemingly losing her talent for making them.)
One of Harry's latent, if not more useless, talents is his wit and the ability to use that wit infused with pop culture references. Most times Harry can insult a more powerful being and be long gone before the being realizes it's been insulted. He often lays sarcasm on thickly when dealing with people whom he does not like, such as Marcone. Harry seems to enjoy using Bugs Bunny and Yoda lines in particular.
Harry is an accomplished ballroom dancer, having worked professionally as a dance partner for retirees. He uses this ability in Death Masks, dancing with Susan Rodriguez. He is much less comfortable with other forms of dance.
In Skin Game, Harry has been shown to have been practicing parkour, a skill he uses to great effect throughout the novel. He is also shown to be able to keep track of dozens of moving blocks of ice well enough to distinguish a pattern in the movements.
Harry channels his magic through several items. The first are his silver rings (formerly ring) worn on both hands that store physical force, and release it in a linear attack. They are charged by movements of his arms and hands, siphoning small portions of kinetic energy off to be released later. He sometimes charges them by hitting a punching bag, but says that it doesn't charge them fully.
The second is his blasting rod, which gives him much finer control over evocations in general and fire in particular (his preferred form of attack), such that he can chew a ray of fire through a steel beam. It can be physically broken, as in Blood Rites, and it can disintegrate if he channels too much power through it, as in Changes.
The third normal item is his oaken wizard's staff, which helps him in wielding other forms of energy, particularly air and subtler force effects. He has also used it as a support and a close-combat weapon when necessary. Up through the end of Changes, his staves have all been carved from the oak of a lightning-struck tree on the farm of his mentor, Ebenezar McCoy. At the end of Cold Days, he cuts a branch from the oldest oak tree on Demonreach Island to use for making a new staff. It is visibly (and magically) different from his previous staffs in Skin Game.
The fourth item is his shield bracelet on his left wrist, allowing him to quickly assemble and disperse defensive force fields. This magic initially served to deflect projectiles and blunt-force attacks, but was useless against heat, as Harry discovered in Blood Rites when a flamethrower attack left his hand horribly burned. He subsequently began to use a new bracelet made from several different metals; its shields have proven effective against a much wider range of attacks, including the detonation of large quantities of C-4 explosive at close range. However, his duel against Thorned Namshiel in Small Favor revealed that there were still some holes in his defense.
The silver pentacle amulet he wears about his neck serves as an impromptu magical focus and often a divination aid to find his brother Thomas, his dog Mouse, or whoever else he might be looking for. This amulet has been enhanced with a pentagonal ruby gifted to him by his mother, held in trust by the Leanansidhe, granting him access to his mother’s knowledge of the Ways through the Nevernever.
The leather duster he wears has been charged and strengthened by Harry to be able to ward off even military grade gunfire; it also stops combat energy-based magic fairly effectively, while being waterproof and stain-proof. He originally wore a canvas duster, but discarded it after Susan Rodriguez gave him the leather one as a present in Fool Moon. In Changes, his faerie godmother temporarily transforms it into an ornate suit of armor prior to his battle against the Red Court. Once it reverts to its original form at noon the next day, it falls apart from all the damage it has taken, and Harry throws the scraps into Lake Michigan while on his brother's houseboat. It is finally replaced near the end of Cold Days, and by the time of Skin Game it has been magically enhanced like its predecessor.
For mundane weapon backup, Harry started off with a Smith and Wesson .38 Chief's Special revolver, upgraded to an unknown .357 revolver, and his most recent firearm is a Smith and Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver. He also keeps a sawed-off pump shotgun in the trunk of his car.
In Blood Rites, Harry uses a magical belt buckle in the shape of a standing bear that temporarily restores energy and magical strength to him while exhausted. The buckle does not appear to be mentioned in any of the other books.
Harry has also set up a laboratory in the sub-basement beneath his own living room. Here he keeps his own collection of magical tomes and lore, along with an extensive and eclectic collection of bric-a-brac useful in making potions. This laboratory has a strong summoning circle in the corner, under which the Blackened Denarius of Lasciel was buried for a time.
Starting with Proven Guilty, he sets up a detailed scale model of Chicago in the lab to use in focusing spells and rituals, while at the same time protecting him from counterattacks through the spells. "Little Chicago" incorporates bits of material from the locations it depicts (stone chips from buildings, bark from trees, etc.), and is destroyed during Changes.
Harry can make various alchemical potions to imbue himself with various powers or one-shot effects, though he heavily relies on Bob's knowledge to make them. He uses them often in the first novels, but less and less frequently as time goes on. He likes to put them in plastic sports bottles to better disguise their nature.
Although he has misused one before, Harry nevertheless ends up as the guardian of two of the holy Swords of the Cross, waiting for their new bearers. He offers Karrin Murphy the chance to take up one of them at the end of Small Favor, but she turns him down. As of Cold Days, she has taken custody of the two Swords and refused to tell Harry where they are, no longer trusting him to be able to properly look after them. In Skin Game he is again the caretaker of Amoracchius, and has assigned Fidelacchius to Waldo Butters as the newest Knight.
As Harry's house is attacked several times during the series, he steadily fortifies its defenses, which come to include a reinforced steel door, wards designed to obliterate would-be intruders, and a set of magic candles that indicate when an unwelcome guest is getting close to his door. He lives in the basement of a three-level boarding house until it is burned down during Changes, and rescues his landlady when this happens.
Harry prefers to drive his Volkswagen Beetle because the simple technology powering it makes it less likely to abruptly die on him, and it can be fixed easily. He refers to it as the "Blue Beetle" due to its original color, though damage by supernatural creatures has forced him to replace several pieces of the bodywork in different colors. During Changes, it is crushed beyond repair when a demon slams his brother Thomas' car down on top of it.
Harry supports himself with the fees he earns from small jobs for private clients and his consulting work for the Chicago police. When he becomes a Warden, the White Council begins to pay him wages that provide a needed boost to his finances. It is intimated that the Council has enormous financial power due to the longevity of its members. Harry never has much money to spare, spending most of what he earns on magical upgrades, car repairs, and everyday expenses and trying not to fall too far behind on his rent.
He rents out an office for his detective business, storing his files and some non-magical equipment here; the location serves as a place for him to meet clients and pick up his mail. At the start of Changes, he learns that the Red Court secretly bought the building nearly eight years earlier and suddenly increased his rent just to toy with him. They have also planted enough explosives around his office to destroy the whole building, and they set these off in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Harry after a botched burglary.
Many of these items and locations are destroyed in Changes. Harry’s house burns down in a firebomb attack, leaving many of his possessions destroyed; while the current status of the laboratory has not been addressed directly, it is likely that the majority of it was lost in the fire as well. However, the fire did not occur until after he had moved several important items, including the Swords and Bob's skull, out to keep the Chicago police and FBI from finding them. Some of the items he was unable to move out include the summoning circle, the Chicago model, documents on the occult, and Bob's romance novels. Also the Blue Beetle has been crushed, his staff is broken, his blasting rod has disintegrated, his office has been blown up, his duster has fallen apart, and in general the majority of his material goods are gone.
In Cold Days, Harry's revival via Mab has left him with none of his previous equipment, except for his pentacle amulet. Harry is forced to learn to fight without them for the entire book, having to rely on the power boost from being the Winter Knight instead. Thomas lends him a lever-action Winchester rifle, and he receives a new, unmodified duster from Molly Carpenter as a present.
As of Skin Game, Harry has carved a new staff and enchanted his new duster with the same protective spells as his previous one. Additionally, the new staff has the same spell as his lost silver rings to store kinetic energy, but carved seventy-seven times into the wood. This gives only one charge of force energy to release, but it is far more substantial than the force from the rings. Karrin lends him a Smith & Wesson Model 500 revolver, chambered in .500 S&W Magnum. By the end of the novel, he comes into possession of a substantial quantity of diamonds, as well as four items from Hades' underworld vault that have not yet been specifically identified: a wooden placard, a circlet woven from tiny branches, a folded cloth, and a knife. Harry realizes that these items, which were stored alongside the Holy Grail, may hold a formidable power.
Associates, friends, followers
While it isn't stated among his magical powers, perhaps Harry's greatest asset compared to many of his peers are his non-wizardly friends and allies that he can call upon. From giving the Archive a name (Ivy), to working with the crime lord of Chicago, adopting a Foo Dog, forming rescued pixies into a support team, having a (friendly) White Court vampire half-brother (Thomas Raith), having a strong link with Chicago's Police Department via Karrin Murphy, a personal connection with a pack of (good) werewolves, the Alphas, and all of the Knights of the Cross (and particularly Michael Carpenter and his family), Harry's allies and alliances have in many ways proven more powerful than his magical talents. His knack for making friends out of enemies even managed to convert the shadow of the Denarian Lasciel to his side, as awarding her a name (Lash) showed her that she was every bit as entitled to her freedom of will, as the fallen angel that had spawned her was entitled to be independent of God.
Harry's first and primary magical associate is Bob, a spirit of knowledge, the equivalent of a magical encyclopedia. Bob supplies Harry magical knowledge, analysis, experience, and note-taking. Bob resides in a centuries old skull enchanted to protect the fragile spirit from the debilitating effects of sunlight, and has been passed from wizard to wizard. He was most recently owned by the necromancer Kemmler, and then by Justin DuMorne. He was thought to be destroyed at the time of Kemmler's death, but DuMorne stole him away against Council orders. Bob is also capable of possessing non-sentients, up to and including animated tyrannosaurs. He is also capable of some nasty magic himself, if reverted to older incarnations, and can spin complex magic very quickly, or control existing magic much faster than Harry (he can take down the wards on Harry’s house faster than Harry can, for example). Bob lives in a skull down in Harry’s lab. As of Ghost Story, it is revealed that Bob has graduated from reading novels to having open access to the Internet which he can access from inside his skull. He is living with Butters, who loves having a nerdy roommate around, taking on some of Butters' personality traits, and Butters is plumbing the depths of Bob's knowledge for remarkably innovative advances in magical tech and gear. Bob also does not lose information, unless he chooses to forget. Having had access to the internet, he may be far more advanced with non-magical knowledge than previously, although he was shown using it to watch porn. He has also completely severed that part of himself that used to serve Heinrich Kemmler, and it has gained a life of its own.
Harry's Foo Dog, Mouse, is a character of his own, possessed of roughly human intelligence, able to detect supernatural evil, battle straight up with supernaturally tough and strong opponents, and voice a bark that can be heard for miles or throughout a burning hotel. His collar has one of the miniature shields from Harry's bracelet attached to it as a way for Harry to find him. Complementing Mouse is Harry's crew of loyal, pizza-bribed pixies, serving as scouts and spies and informers and keeping the mice out of his home, under the leadership of the empowered pixie Major General Toot-toot. As of Changes, Mouse is tasked by Harry with guarding his apprentice after she is injured in the battle at Chichen Itza, and afterward serves as the guardian of his daughter, Maggie. Mouse is called a 'little brother' by Uriel himself, a clear indication of his celestial background.
In addition, Harry keeps a large gray cat named Mister as a pet. He found Mister in a garbage can three years prior to the events of Storm Front, with his tail torn off - either by a dog or a car, Harry assumed. Mister hates both and will either attack or flee from them on sight. He weighs over 30 pounds, due to sheer size rather than fat (Harry notes that he is larger than some dogs), and has a fondness for Coca-Cola and food from McAnally's, Harry's favorite pub. Mister often acts as a vehicle for Bob when Harry sends him out to do surveillance, since Bob cannot tolerate sunlight. Mister is uniquely described as the only living thing that appears exactly the same viewed normally or with Harry's Wizard's Sight.
Harry is a member of the White Council as a full Wizard, and has also been drafted into the Wardens, the combat-capable members of the Council, after their losses fighting the Red Court. He thus has potential access to the knowledge and power of the Senior Council, especially his mentor Ebenezar McCoy. He is also a member of the Grey Council, set up by McCoy to face the rise of the secretive Black Council which seems to be pulling strings throughout all the books. He has excellent relations with the younger Wardens, who rather idolize him, as well as the Captain of the Wardens.
Harry’s apprentice Molly Carpenter complements him well. She is naturally adept at fine sensory magic, mental magic, illusions, veils, and subtle control. Teaching her has forced Harry to acquire more control over his own magic than he had in the past. She has little combat magic, but serves excellently in an auxiliary role as a 'battlefield controller'. In Ghost Story, she has been taken under the tutelage of the Leanansidhe, and has improved her abilities remarkably as a result. In her role as 'the Ragged Lady', she has used illusions to arrange for the deaths of at least 17 people or beings since Harry died, although due to the Leanansidhe sharing the role it is unclear exactly how many fatalities she is personally responsible for.
Last and most formidable of his particular circle of magical associates is his Fairy Godmother, the Leanansidhe. Considered the most powerful vassal of the Winter Court, she has been tasked with protecting Harry and takes the job very seriously. In Changes, it is revealed that she has been watching over Harry for most of his life, to the extent that she has picked up and moved her own domicile to the part of the NeverNever that links with his own residence, to protect him from attack in that direction. Of course, having a massively powerful Fey watching over you is very much the mixed blessing, as she has interpreted 'protecting him' as 'turning him into one of her hounds so she can guard him more easily' in the past. His appointment as the Winter Knight seems to have stopped at least some of the more 'overprotective' of her tendencies. In Ghost Story, she has taken over his job of teaching Molly Carpenter with Fey enthusiasm for the task. It is also revealed that she is Mab's vassal by force, not choice.
As of Cold Days, it is revealed that the Leanansidhe's education of Molly was a scheme to cement her as a de facto vassal of the Winter Court. When Maeve is shot and killed by Karrin Murphy, Molly was hidden under a veil close by, and, as the only eligible de facto Fey vassal close by, is endowed as the new Winter Lady.
As of the end of Skin Game, Harry has 'given birth' to a spirit of intellect, formed from the power of Lash's death and himself. She takes the form in the real world as a greenish light (as opposed to Bob's orange) and has taken up residence in a wooden skull Harry had carved earlier in the novel intended to give Bob an extra 'home'. In Harry's mental plane, she takes the form of a twelve year-old girl, with facial features a mixture of Harry's, Lash's, and other important people in Harry's life.
Adaptations and influence
Debuting on January 21, 2007, the Sci Fi Channel TV adaptation starred Paul Blackthorne as the eponymous wizard. Harry's history in the series differed from that of the novels in several significant ways; his father, Malcolm Dresden, did not die from an aneurysm, but was instead murdered by Justin (named Morningway rather than DuMorne, and Harry's biological uncle). Bob is the spirit of a medieval wizard who, in punishment for using black magic to resurrect his life's love, is doomed to spend eternity inside his skull; he can manifest a human appearance outside the skull - but only within a short radius of the skull itself - and must return to the skull when ordered. In "What About Bob?", it is revealed he was also Dresden's primary magical teacher as a child.
Harry wears a magical "shield-bracelet" (and he also has the pentacle necklace, which makes an appearance in flashback scenes from "Bad Blood") that once belonged to his mother, and was given to him by his father. As a private investigator, Harry drives a Korean-war-era military Jeep instead of the infamous "Blue Beetle" VW Beetle of the novels (a change made based on actor Blackthorne's height and the difficulty of filming inside a VW Beetle, as well as the fact it would look more like a 'clown car' on video than a serious vehicle).
According to "Bad Blood," Harry was around 31 when he killed Justin, instead of 16 as in the novels; a Red Court vampire, Bianca, protected Harry while the High Council investigated Morningway's death. The two had a sexual relationship that does not exist in the books.
In the episode "What About Bob?", the events surrounding Justin's death at Dresden's hands are fully revealed: Only five years prior to the series Dresden discovered that Justin, using black magic, was responsible for the death of his father. Justin said that he did not kill Harry's mother, but he died before the truth could be divined. Dresden used thaumaturgy - in this case, a voodoo doll of sorts - to attack Justin, who fought back using his own magical ability. In the scuffle, Harry accidentally crushed the voodoo doll, causing Justin to die with a "circle-shaped crushing wound" around his heart.
The series was canceled by the SciFi Channel in August 2007. Efforts by fans still exist to bring the show back or find it a new home.
In spring 2008, Dabel Brothers comic book publisher launched a comic book adaptation of The Dresden Files, along with two other major properties. They were distributed by Del Rey Books in the summer/fall of 2008.
As a possible gag or tribute, he is also listed as one of the magicians on the same bill as Alfred Borden in the movie The Prestige.
In the novel Fated, the first Alex Verus book by Benedict Jacka, Verus comments, "I've even heard of one guy in Chicago who advertises in the phone book under "Wizard," though that's probably an urban legend."
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