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Book #12 in The Dresden Files.
Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden's lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.
Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it-against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry's not fighting to save the world...
He's fighting to save his child.
Tropes associated with Changes:
- Always a Bigger Fish: Red Court vampire assassins and some kind of giant demon called an Ik'K'Kuox (Referred to as a "devourer") were on Harry's heels. To get away from them, he made a portal to the Nevernever... which , unfortunately, just happened to lead to the Erlking's banquet hall. The Erlking is as powerful as one of the faerie queens and has a personal grudge against Harry due to an insult in Dead Beat, and Harry is now within his very home at the source of his power.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Sanya and Murphy. Harry and DJ Molly C, too.
- Badass Abnormal: Murphy temporarily takes up one of the Swords. And the possibility of a permanent position is even more open than it was before...]] She defies the trope, though; there are job offers for a position of a Knight of the Cross and a Valkyrie, but she isn't enthusiastic about it.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Book Ends: Harry tells Martin at the beginning, "I have literally killed people I like better than you." At the end, he does just that to Susan.
- Break the Haughty: Arianna is reduced from Smug Snake to stammering wreck after Harry defeats her and sends her plans crashing into ruin.
- The Cavalry: The Grey Council, Ebenezer, and ODIN.
- Cavalry Betrayal: Martin manages to pull this off.
- Chekhov's Gun: Jim Butcher is really good at inverting the Gun with important things that are only noticeable by their absence. For example, that gap between Harry in the van after his house burns down and when he wakes back up? Something very important happens during that gap in the narration.
- The Chessmaster: Multiple, including Lara Raith and Martin.
- Clarke's Third Law: Harry enters the corporate headquarters of Monoc Securities and sees a pair of receptionists working at two computers whose monitors were composed of very fine mist that floated in the air as if a whispy illusion.
Sufficiently advanced technology, I suppose.
- Cliff Hanger: Harry is shot and is dying at the end. The opening chapter of Ghost Story more or less confirms that he is dead--but he is not quite out of the game yet.
- As of the end of Ghost Story, Harry's still alive, due to Mab, Demonreach, Uriel, and a certain "parasite" thwarting his suicide-by-Hellhound attempt, and therefore still the Winter Knight.
- Combat by Champion
- Cultural Posturing:
PS-Why, yes, I can in fact capitalize any words I desire. The language is English. I am English. Therefore mine is the opinion which matters, colonial heathen.
- Ironic, considering the fact that as an Englishman, it should be "capitalise".
- Deal with the Devil: The Knights of the Blackened Denarius play host to demons (fallen angels) in exchange for power, knowledge, and immortality. They have to willingly touch a cursed coin and let the Fallen in.
- Harry made a deal with Queen Mab. In fact, if she had turned him down, his next stop would have been to make an almost literal Deal with the Devil involving the Denarians.
Harry: Go Go Gadget Faustian Bargain!
- Deconstruction: As one would expect from the sheer GRIMDARK. Changes and Ghost Story seem to have taken it upon themselves to deconstruct as many of Harry's exploits as possible, with Harry's rap sheet catching up to him.
- Disappeared Dad: Harry becomes this to his own daughter due to his deadly lifestyle.
- Evil Power Vacuum: Harry kills almost every single Red Court Vampire in the world. Aftermath reveals that there are already creatures looking to take advantage of the fallout.
- Eye Scream: Harry turns his hand into an ice claw to stab into the Red King's eyes and then sends soulfire-enhanced fire into his head.
- Gambit Pileup: The events in Changes have several gambits slamming into one another. Both the Red King and Arianna are plotting against one another, with Arianna kidnapping Harry's daughter to use her to kill Ebenezar and the Red King dispatching assassins to kill Harry to subvert the entire plot. Then it slams into Mab's long gambit to get Harry to become the Winter Knight and to get payback for the chaos caused in the Winter Court when Bianca gave Lea that cursed knife. At the same time, there's Vadderung and the Grey Council's gambit to help Harry, and a strong indication that at least one archangel is throwing in on the whole affair when Murphy pronounces judgment on the entire Red Court. And topping it all is the gambit set up by Harry, Kincaid, and Molly to con Mab out of her Winter Knight, except that said gambit was plotted out by one of the Fallen, possibly Lasciel herself, to get Harry to kill himself and take him out of the picture. If your head is hurting trying to figure the whole thing out, then Butcher was successful.
- Genre Savvy: The team Harry assembles to save his daughter spend a few moments trying to figure out which member of the Fellowship they are. This also turns out to be Foreshadowing, if you pay attention.
- Guilt Complex: After Harry breaks his back and thus can't come to his daughter's rescue. He is so desperate and wracked with guilt that he decides to make a deal with Mab to become the Winter Knight to fix it and gain the magical edge he needs. Though we find out in Ghost Story that he was manipulated into making that choice by a demon whispering in his ear.
- Guilt-Free Extermination War: The war between the Red Court of vampires and the White Council. Harry ends up winning it singlehandedly...but he is still guilty because of how he had to win it.
- Heroic BSOD: After having to kill Susan, the woman he had loved and mother of his child.
- Heroic Fire Rescue: How Harry breaks his back. He has a severe case of Chronic Hero Syndrome after all.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Martin orchestrated this this when he seemingly betrayed Harry and Susan only to let Susan kill him and thus turn into the youngest Red Court vampire.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Red Court, after capturing Dresden's daughter, creates a spell that kills every older member of the target's family. Dresden and Susan rescue their daughter, but Susan kills someone in the process, and becomes a Red Court vampire. In a tear jerker moment, Dresden uses the prepared spell on her, killing her and the entire Red Court
- Hollywood Silencer: Averted. A crowd fails to realize someone just tried to kill Dresden, but then the characters discuss just why it worked (subsonic ammo, the shooter fired from inside a vehicle to hide the barrel and muffle the sound, etc.)
- Hope Spot: It briefly seems like the group will be allowed to leave with Maggie unmolested should Harry beat Arianna in single combat. Harry wins the battle, but the Red King promptly double crosses him by pointing out that since the promise was made through a translator he does not owe Harry anything, as well as that he only promised that the kid wouldn't be harmed until after the fight was over. Now that the duel's over, he can do whatever he wants.
- Human Sacrifice: Used more than once. The plot is saving Maggie before she can be sacrificed. Harry is able to successfully rescue her, but only by sacrificing Susan in her place.
- I Did What I Had to Do:
Harry: I used the knife. I saved a child. I won a war. God forgive me.
- Kill It with Fire: Harry's combat choice du jour. Pointed out by Lea:
Lea: Honestly, child, there are elements other than fire, you know.
- Arianna actually specifically prepares for fire by using water spells. Unfortunately for her, Harry had recently added ice to his repertoire.
- Locked Into Strangeness: Lea.
- Long-Lost Relative: Harry's daughter and grandfather, revealed in Changes.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: It is revealed Ebenezer McCoy is Harry's maternal grandfather.
- Magical Defibrillator: Immediately after becoming the Winter Knight, Harry's heart stops, and his friends attempt to revive him with a defibrillator. Because of magic, Harry was never in any danger, so the trope is technically averted. It's played straight in spirit, though, as Butters says using the defibrillator was "what any good mortician would do."
- Mama Bear: Susan, with ultimately tragic consequences.
- Memory Gambit: Harry himself pulled this in Changes, although it's not revealed to the reader until Ghost Story. He'd need the help of Mab or someone equally powerful to rescue his daughter. In return for helping him, Mab would demand his service in morally wrong ways. To avoid that, Harry hired an assassin to kill himself after the mission was over. But he could never trick Mab if he knew this was coming, so he had his apprentice erase his own memory of calling the assassin. All this only becomes clear after Harry's death.
- Now You Tell Me: In the opening chapters of Changes, Susan tells Harry that A) They have a daughter and B) Duchess Arianna purchased the building his office is in eight years ago and has been jacking up his rent ever since. The maintenance crew also came a while previously to "remove asbestos." Take a guess how that one turned out.
- Oh Crap: The tagline for Changes can pretty much be summed up as this, considering the number of times Harry actually thinks or says it.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: "Fuck subtle." The context?
Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. Tolkien had that one mostly right.
Red King: Bow. Down. Mortal.
Harry: Bite. Me. Asshole.
- Rabid Cop: Attempted by Rudolph as a technique to use on Harry. It failed epically, and only resulted in Harry laughing his arse off because of how hard Rudolph failed.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Basically Changes is entirely this.
- Shoot the Dog: The end of Changes. Martin provokes Susan into killing him with her teeth, which turns her into a full vampire, and then leaves Harry to cut out his child's mother's heart with a ritual-charged knife, wiping out the Red Court completely in the process.
- Shoulders of Doom: "This is ridiculous. I look like the Games Workshop version of a Jedi Knight."
- Spanner in the Works: Harry is able to find out that Maggie is in Mexico because the minions in charge of shipping the ritual gear got careless and forgot to send everything. As such they had to send another shipment and keep the records for a checkup; As such Harry was thus able to find the records for the second shipment and narrow it down, which ultimately contributed to his reaching Maggie in time to stop the sacrifice.
- Stealth Pun / Visual Pun: Harry sees pretty much the entire Red Court standing on a ziggurat, with higher ranking vampires on each level. After a bit of explanation on how their promotion system works and how they trick mortals into thinking they are gods, the reader realizes he is being shown a Pyramid Scheme.
- Trauma Conga Line: Harry learns he has a daughter and that she has been kidnapped by the Red Court. Within the first four chapters, Harry's office gets blown up. In the rest of the book, his car gets crushed, his house gets burned down, his back gets broken when he falls off a ladder trying to get his neighbors out, he is so desperate for a way to help his daughter that he finally accepts the mantle of the Winter Knight, he is forced to kill Susan with his bare hands, Murphy loses her job because she had been helping him, and at the end of the book he gets shot and apparently killed.
- Trial by Combat: When Harry and Susan are pursued by the Eebs and their vampire hit-squad into the Nevernever, they end up in the Erlking's lair. Due to competing claims by Harry and the Eebs the Erlking challenges them to a trial by combat to determine who is right. Harry wins, and the Eebs and their hit-squad are devoured pretty much on the spot by the Erlking's minions. Also, Harry duels Duchess Ariana Ortega in an example of this trope in order to retrieve his kidnapped daughter. Because both have equally legitimate claims for collecting blood debts the Red King opts to do the option that will potentially allow both to try to settle their claim.
- Unholy Nuke: The Bloodline ritual, which takes out everyone related to a sacrificial victim. Harry uses it to take out the entire Red Court.
- Watching Troy Burn: In Changes, both Harry's office and apartment are destroyed by Red Court terrorists. In both cases, the vampires used incendiary explosives from a distance, leaving Harry nothing to do but rescue the inhabitants in the buildings and watch them turn to ash.
- Wham! Episode: Changes. Let's just say it lives up to its name.
- Wham! Line: The first line of Changes is "I answered the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, 'They’ve taken our daughter.'" .
- What You Are in the Dark: Harry has moments like these in the series, but it is most exemplified here, where several characters tell Harry that the current crisis will "show him who he really is."
- Yank the Dog's Chain: At the end of Changes, it is strongly implied that Murphy and Harry were finally going to resolve their UST, and then we get the ending. In the same book, Lea hints that she, and by extension other Sidhe, could remove the vampirism from Susan Rodriguez and other half-turned people. This gives Harry some hope that she could be cured. In the end, Harry does end up curing all the half-turned vampires...by sacrificing freshly fully-turned Susan.