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Book #8 in The Dresden Files.
Dark magic is afoot in Chicago. Harry Dresden, now a Warden of the White Council, finds himself dealing with the politics of the magical world, learning where the mercurian White Court stands in the war between the White Council and the vampires, and investigating a series of attacks by creatures that feed on fear.
Needless to say, this is a really, really bad time for him to take on an apprentice.
Tropes associated with Proven Guilty:
- Always a Bigger Fish: After escaping being sold on eBay by Madrigal Raith, Harry corners Madrigal and severely wounds his jann lackey with some help from Thomas and Mouse. Then Madrigal's lackey is dragged off and devoured by the really Big Bad of the book, an elder fetch.
- Badass Normal: Charity Carpenter is a really good swordfighter. Who do you think Michael’s been practicing against all these years?
- Batman Cold Open: The book begins with the execution of a warlock, and much of the plot of the story is about how to handle another warlock.
- Batman Gambit: It is never truly said whether The Gatekeeper Rashid, Faery Queens Lily and Maeve or Mab, or God, started the events in motion to help save Molly, Harry, and the members of the Senior Council but the plan works out perfectly in the end. See Gambit Pileup for more.
- Can Not Tell a Lie: The Faery Queens Maeve and Lily. This doesn't stop them from manuvering things to not only help save Molly's life but many other in-training wizards and members of the Senior Council. And Lily telling the Merlin facts which are true From a Certain Point of View.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Committed by Harry on a pair of ghouls after they kill two sixteen year old wizards in New Mexico. He lights all the fat on one's body on fire, and then throws the other into a sandy crater, turns the sand into glass, and then pours orange juice all over him for the ants to eat him alive. After pleading from Carlos he gives in and shoots the second one in the head.
- Contrived Coincidence: Basically a superpower of the Knights of the Cross. Harry invokes it intentionally to try and save Molly's life. It works.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
Harry: "...you're going to do everything in your power to be the most respectful, loving, respectful, considerate and respectful daughter in the whole wide world."
- Distracted From Death: Harry's trying to save a girl from a phobophage, but gets carried away attacking it and, when he turns round to check on the girl, she's bled to death.
- Gambit Pileup: The plot is initially presented as an investigation by Harry into attacks by the phages against the horror movie convention, but it rapidly becomes much more complex when Thomas starts acting secretive and tails Harry around town, then the Sidhe Ladies start plucking strings, and it gets even muddier when Madrigal Raith gets involved, planning to sell Harry on Ebay for profit. By the end of the book, it looks like Lily manipulates Harry into going into Arctis Tor, while Maeve manipulated Harry into Arctis Tor and slowed down time in the region to trap the armies of Winter so Summer could attack, and it is hinted that the entire thing might have been arranged by Mab, and then at the trial at the very end of the book it appears the entire bloody thing was planned by the Gatekeeper. And to top it all off, at the very, very end of the trial, Michael shows up, having saved Luccio, Ebenazar, and the rest of the Senior Council, alongside the Summer Court intervening in a battle between the Council and the Red Court, saving the day, which may mean that everything was planned by God. And the Black Council was apparently involved at one level or another, somewhere. Just as planned.
- Groin Attack: Harry makes up for his lack of real skill with a sword by stabbing an ogre "in the danglies." The rest of the ogres wisely back off at the prospect of getting cold iron in their privates.
- Harry still uses it.
- Hellfire was also used in a major assault against Arctis Tor.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Some phobophages take the shape of horror movie monsters to inspire fear. Harry ends up fighting an unnamed creature which drools heavily and has acid for blood. Harry obviously recognizes it as a Xenomorph, as he spends the rest of the fight using quotes from the movies as one-liners, while very carefully not mentioning its name.
Harry: Get away from her, you bitch!
- While storming the base of the villains, Harry faces "Bucky the Murder Doll" and states that he could never understand how anybody found it scary.
- Like Parent, Like Spouse: Harry attributes Molly's infatuation with him to this.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Inverted. Charity has the deep dark secret. No one else knows but Harry after figuring it out on his own.
- Mama Bear: Charity Carpenter more than fits this trope. She storms the gates of Faerie itself to get her daughter back.
- My God, What Have I Done?: There is the famous instance where Harry fights a xenomorph, including quoting from the movie with "Get away from her, you bitch!" as he proceeds to roast and smash the beast repeatedly until it is turned into chunky salsa. Moments later, however, he learns the "her" he was rescuing has bled out and died, and he is left to wonder if he wasted the chance to save her because he was indulging in blasting the monster repeatedly instead, and in turn whether that enjoyment had something to do with Lasciel's coin's influence on him.
- Oh Crap: Harry learns that every fae in Winter is coming to kill him. Personally.
- He has another one later in the same book, when he realizes that his out maneuvering of the Merlin in trying to save Molly's life has actually resulted in forcing the Merlin to have her KILLED, both because the Council can't have one of its regional commanders kept busy with an apprentice during a war, and to show that he still has more power than one young upstart wizard/warden.
- A third time for Harry would occur when Michael admits, while he has known about Luciel being inside Harry since the night of the infection, if Michael believes Harry is going to embrace the Fallen, he will end Harry. After a moment of thinking on it, Harry is happpy and would want that as well.
- Shout-Out: A few.
Harry: Get away from her, you bitch!
- Deliberately invoked by Harry wielding Summer-Fire against a Scarecrow-like Fetch:
I started to get annoyed, but was struck by the disturbing thought that if I did, I would be coming down on the same side of the situation as Charity, which might be one of the signs of the apocalypse.
"That was Bucky the Murder Doll."
"Kind of a wimp."
"Must have been the runt of the litter."
"Personally. I never understood how anyone could have found that thing frightening to begin with."
- What You Are in the Dark: During Molly's trial at the end of the book the Senior Council has voted unanimously for a "guilty" verdict and immediate execution. However, it's pointed out that the Gatekeeper, who usually abstains, has not yet cast his vote, and he spends many minutes contemplating how to act. Multiple characters point out that it does not matter how he votes, since his one vote will not overrule the other six votes that have already been cast, but he points out that, even if it bares no influence on the outcome of the trial, it is still his responsibility to give the situation his most serious judgement. It's heavily implied that he had used his Seer powers and was stalling for time until several members of the Senior Council arrived whose votes had been cast by proxy.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Two examples of untrained practitioners whose minds are tainted and warped by Dark Magic. The Korean boy in the start of the book and Molly Carpenter who must fight against those urges from now on.