||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2012)|
|Cover artist||Lee MacLeod|
|Series||The Dresden Files|
|Genre||Science fiction, Fantasy novel|
|September 3, 2002|
|Media type||Print (Paperback) & AudioBook (Audio Cassette & Audio CD) (Future Hardcover)|
|Pages||371 pp (first edition, paperback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-451-45892-3 (first edition, paperback) (Future Hardcover 0-4514-6275-0)|
|LC Class||CPB Box no. 2028 vol. 14|
|Preceded by||Grave Peril|
|Followed by||Death Masks|
Summer Knight is a 2002 contemporary fantasy novel by author Jim Butcher. It is the fourth novel in The Dresden Files, which follows the character of Harry Dresden, present-day Chicago's only professional wizard.
It's two years after the events in Storm Front. Dresden, struggling with curing Susan of her vampirism infection, is approached by Mab, the Winter Queen. Mab purchased Dresden’s debt from his fairy godmother, Leanansidhe. Queen Mab tells Dresden he can pay off his debt by doing three favors. The first favor is for him to find the murderer of the Summer Knight Ronald Reuel and recover his stolen mantle, declaring Dresden her chosen Emissary. Dresden refuses her request, but is forced by the White Council to accept as his Trial, else be stripped of his title of wizard and handed over to the Red Court vampires as a peace offering.
Dresden finds Elaine, his former fellow apprentice and lover, who is the Emissary of the Summer Court and heavily indebted to Aurora, the Summer Lady. Dresden goes to Reuel’s funeral, looking for a group of teenage half-human/half-Fae changelings who were Reuel's friends, but they flee and attack, believing him to be in service to Winter. Dresden gets information and a guide to the Winter and Summer Ladies. Dresden’s interview with the sadistic Winter Lady, Maeve, convinces him that she did not kill the Summer Knight.
Approached by the changelings to find their friend Lily, after Dresden tells Meryl and Fix that he will look for Lily. Dresden discovers Elaine in the back seat of his car, dying of multiple stab wounds. He follows Elaine’s delirious advice to take her to the Summer Lady, Aurora. Aurora heals Elaine, and briefly comforts Dresden. She is not forthcoming with any details on Reuel’s murder or Lily’s disappearance. Instead, she explains that the death of the Summer Knight and the theft of his mantle of power shifted the power balance in favor of Winter. Summer must now attack Winter at Midsummer to maintain control over their remaining power.
Dresden heads north to an isolated spot on Lake Michigan and summons his fairy godmother, Leanansidhe. Dresden tells his godmother that he needs to see the Fae Queens and Mothers. Leanansidhe instead takes him transported to an ethereal Chicago-over-Chicago and a great Stone Table, the sacrificial stone that maintains the balance between the Winter and Summer Sidhe. The power of blood spilled upon that table will change the balance of power between the Courts. Leanansidhe says she can do no more for him and disappears.
Dresden still needs to speak with the Mothers of both Courts. He tracks Elaine to O'Hare International Airport and persuades her to call in some favors so he can get an invitation to see the Mothers. Rather than provide him with answers, they goad him into answering his own questions, that Aurora is the only Queen capable of stealing the Summer Knight's mantle, and therefore one of his killers. Lily captured the mantle, being the closest Summer fae at the time of his death, and was turned to stone by Aurora, which is why no one could find either Lily or the mantle. As a reward for his correct deductions, they give him a Cloth of Unraveling and their blessings.
Victorious at last, Dresden returns to Elaine and is ambushed. When Dresden regains consciousness, he is the prisoner of Aurora, the Winter Knight Lloyd Slate—and Elaine, who has been coerced into helping with the plot. Aurora explains that she plans to sacrifice Lily on the Table to give Winter the power of the Summer Knight, permanently destroying the balance and freeing humanity from the constant collateral damage of the eternal Faerie War. Elaine then binds Dresden and leaves him to drown. Recognizing the spell he and Elaine invented, Dresden easily escapes. Collecting his friends, they fight their way to the Stone Table and the Winter Queen, telling her of Aurora's plan. Dresden confronts Aurora and unleashes an army of pixies armed with steel-bladed box cutters—cold iron, which is deadly to the Fae.
After the pixies kill Aurora, Queen Mab congratulates Dresden on his success, and offers Dresden the mantle of the Winter Knight, which he refuses. Queen Mab grants safe passage to the White Council. Having passed his Trial, he retains his wizard accolades, and protection from the Red Court. The new Summer Lady, Lily, and her new Knight, Fix, pay Dresden a visit and grant him a favor of Summer in thanks for his services.
Plot points introduced
- Dresden's Debt to Mab: Debts can be purchased or transferred among the Fae. Queen Mab purchases Harry's debt to Leanansidhe and offers to cancel it once he has performed three favors for her. At the end of the book, he still owes her two.
- The Sidhe Court Political Structure: The Winter and Summer Courts each have a Mother, the Queen Who Was; a reigning Queen, the Queen Who Is; and a Lady, the Queen Who Is to Come. They are served by a mortal Knight, who is chosen to receive great power. Each Court rules for half the year. Since the beginning of time, the power alternates at Midsummer and Midwinter, maintaining the balance. However, any blood spilled on the Courts' Stone Table becomes power that is permanently transferred to the ruling Court at the time.
- Changelings: changelings are half mortal, half Fae children who must choose between their mortal or Fae heritage.
- Pizza Lord: Toot-toot's and his followers' name for Dresden.
- Queen Mab: The Queen of Air and Darkness; the monarch of the Court of the Winter Sidhe, the Unseelie Faeries.
- Queen Titania: The monarch of the Court of the Summer Sidhe, the Seelie Faeries.
- Maeve: The Winter Lady of the Sidhe.
- Aurora: The Summer Lady of the Sidhe.
- Mother Summer: A past queen of the Summer Sidhe.
- Mother Winter: A past queen of the Winter Sidhe.
- Lloyd Slate: The Winter Knight.
- Ronald Reuel (deceased): An artist; the Summer Knight.
- The White Council: The governing body of the wizarding community, which has the ultimate authority over human magic users. There is a Senior Council with exclusive voting privileges, and a supreme leader, the Merlin.
- The Merlin: The head of the White Council and the Senior Council.
- Ebenezar McCoy: Dresden’s mentor; a member of the White Council’s Senior Council.
- Rashid, the Gatekeeper: A member of the White Council’s Senior Council; Mab’s "old desert fox."
- Martha Liberty: A member of the White Council’s Senior Council.
- Listens-to-Wind: A member of the White Council’s Senior Council.
- Ancient Mai: A member of the White Council’s Senior Council.
- Elaine Mallory: Dresden's childhood girlfriend; the emissary of the Summer Sidhe.
- Lily: A statuesque Changeling, who becomes the new Summer Lady.
- Fix: A mechanic; a Changeling, who becomes the new Summer Knight.
- Meryl: A half-troll Changeling, who selects membership in the Winter Court; she dies heroically.
- Ace: A Changeling, one who has not selected membership in a Sidhe Court.
- The Brownies: A group of Summer Court faeries who run a cleaning service. They will only clean Harry's apartment when no one is in it, and they will stop doing it forever if he tells anyone about them.
Summer Knight in other media
- Summer Knight has been recorded as an audio book CD, narrated by James Marsters.
- This book is available as a Kindle book and a MP3 CD.
- A Hardcover Version set for release on July 7, 2009.
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- The first three chapters of the book are found on the author's official website.