Proven Guilty (Dresden Files Series #8)

Proven Guilty (Dresden Files Series #8)

by Jim Butcher

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451461032
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/06/2007
Series: Dresden Files Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 31,874
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 7.56(h) x 1.23(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

A martial arts enthusiast whose résumé includes a long list of skills rendered obsolete at least two hundred years ago, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher turned to writing as a career because anything else probably would have driven him insane. He lives mostly inside his own head so that he can write down the conversation of his imaginary friends, but his head can generally be found in Independence, Missouri. Jim is the author of the Dresden Files, the Codex Alera novels, and the Cinder Spires series, which began with The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

Read an Excerpt


Blood leaves no stain on a Warden’s grey cloak.

I didn’t know that until the day I watched Morgan, second in command of the White Council’s Wardens, lift his sword over the kneel­ing form of a young man guilty of the practice of black magic. The boy, sixteen years old at the most, screamed and ranted in Korean underneath his black hood, his mouth spilling hatred and rage, convinced by his youth and power of his own immortality. He never knew it when the blade came down.

Which I guess was a small mercy. Microscopic, really.

His blood flew in a scarlet arc. I wasn’t ten feet away. I felt hot droplets strike one cheek, and more blood covered the left side of the cloak in blotches of angry red. The head fell to the ground, and I saw the cloth over it moving, as if the boy’s mouth were still screaming imprecations.

The body fell onto its side. One calf muscle twitched spasmodically and then stopped. After maybe five seconds, the head did too.
The covered head stopped its feeble movements. Morgan glanced up at the Merlin and nodded once. The Merlin returned the nod. “May he find peace.”

“Peace,” the Wardens all replied together.

Except me. I turned my back on them, and made it two steps away be­fore I threw up on the warehouse floor.

I stood there shaking for a moment, until I was sure I was finished, then straightened slowly. I felt a presence draw near me and looked up to see Ebenezar standing there.

He was an old man, bald but for wisps of white hair, short, stocky, his face half covered in a ferocious-looking grey beard. His nose and cheeks and bald scalp were all ruddy, except for a recent, purplish scar on his pate. Though he was centuries old he carried himself with vibrant energy, and his eyes were alert and pensive behind gold-rimmed spectacles. He wore the formal black robes of a meeting of the Council, along with the deep purple stole of a member of the Senior Council.

“Harry,” he said quietly. “You all right?”

“After that?” I snarled, loudly enough to make sure everyone there heard me. “No one in this damned building should be all right.”
“No they shouldn’t,” Ebenezar said. I saw him look back at the other wizards there, his jaw setting stubbornly.

The Merlin came over to us, also in his formal robes and stole. He looked like a wizard should look—tall, long white hair, long white beard, piercing blue eyes, his face seamed with age and wisdom.
“Warden Dresden,” he said. He had the sonorous voice of a trained speaker, and spoke English with a high-class British accent. “If you had some evidence that you felt would prove the boy’s innocence, you should have presented it during the trial.”

“I didn’t have anything like that, and you know it,” I replied.

“He was proven guilty,” the Merlin said. “I soulgazed him myself. I ex­amined more than two dozen mortals whose minds he had altered. Three of them might eventually recover their sanity. He forced four others to commit suicide, and had hidden nine corpses from the local authorities, as well. And every one of them was a blood relation.” The Merlin stepped toward me, and the air in the room suddenly felt hot. His eyes flashed with azure anger and his voice rumbled with deep, unyielding power. “The pow­ers he had used had already broken his mind. We did what was necessary.”

I turned and faced the Merlin. I didn’t push out my jaw and try to stare him down. I didn’t put anything belligerent or challenging into my pos­ture. I didn’t show any anger on my face, or slur any disrespect into my tone when I spoke. The past several months had taught me that the Mer­lin hadn’t gotten his job through an ad on a matchbook. He was, quite simply, the strongest wizard on the planet. And he had talent, skill, and ex­perience to go along with that strength. If I ever came to magical blows with him, there wouldn’t be enough left of me to fill a lunch sack. I did not want a fight.

But I didn’t back down, either.

“He was a kid,” I said. “We all have been. He made a mistake. We’ve all done that too.”

The Merlin regarded me with an expression somewhere between irritation and contempt. “You know what the use of black magic can do to a person,” he said. Marvelously subtle shading and emphasis over his words added in a perfectly clear, unspoken thought: You know it because you’ve done it. Sooner or later, you’ll slip up, and then it will be your turn. “One use leads to another. And another.”
He lifted a hand, and the simple gesture had such absolute authority to it that I stopped to let him speak. “The point you are missing, Warden Dresden,” he said, “is that the boy who made that foolish mistake died long before we discovered the damage he’d done. What was left of him was nothing more nor less than a monster who would have spent his life in­flicting horror and death on anyone near him.”

“I know that,” I said, and I couldn’t keep the anger and frustration out of my voice. “And I know what had to be done. I know it was the only mea­sure that could stop him.” I thought I was going to throw up again, and I closed my eyes and leaned on the solid oak length of my carved staff. I got my stomach under control and opened my eyes to face the Merlin. “But it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve just murdered a boy who probably never knew enough to understand what was happening to him.”

“Accusing someone else of murder is hardly a stone you are in a posi­tion to cast, Warden Dresden.” The Merlin arched a silver brow at me. “Did you not discharge a firearm into the back of the head of a woman you merely believed to be the Corpsetaker from a distance of a few feet away, fa­tally wounding her?”

I swallowed. I sure as hell had, last year. It had been one of the bigger coin tosses of my life. Had I incorrectly judged that a body-transferring wizard known as the Corpsetaker had jumped into the original body of Warden Luccio, I would have murdered an innocent woman and a law-enforcing member of the White Council.

I hadn’t been wrong—but I’d never . . . never just killed anyone before. I’ve killed things in the heat of battle, yes. I’ve killed people by less direct means. But Corpsetaker’s death had been intimate and coldly calculated and not at all indirect. Just me, the gun, and the limp corpse. I could still vividly remember the decision to shoot, the feel of the cold metal in my hands, the stiff pull of my revolver’s trigger, the thunder of the gun’s re­port, and the way the body had settled into a limp bundle of limbs on the ground, the motion somehow too simple for the horrible significance of the event.

I’d killed. Deliberately, rationally ended another’s life.

And it still haunted my dreams at night.

I’d had little choice. Given the smallest amount of time, the Corpse-taker could have called up lethal magic, and the best I could have hoped for was a death curse that killed me as I struck down the necromancer. It had been a bad day or two, and I was pretty strung out. Even if I hadn’t been, I had a feeling that Corpsetaker could have taken me in a fair fight. So I hadn’t given Corpsetaker anything like a fair fight. I shot the necro­mancer in the back of the head because the Corpsetaker had to be stopped, and I’d had no other option.

I had executed her on suspicion.

No trial. No soulgaze. No judgment from a dispassionate arbiter. Hell, I hadn’t even taken the chance to get in a good insult. Bang. Thump. One live wizard, one dead bad guy.

I’d done it to prevent future harm to myself and others. It hadn’t been the best solution—but it had been the only solution. I hadn’t hesitated for a heartbeat. I’d done it, no questions, and gone on to face the further per­ils of that night.

Just like a Warden is supposed to do. Sorta took the wind out of my holier-than-thou sails.

Bottomless blue eyes watched my face and he nodded slowly. “You ex­ecuted her,” the Merlin said quietly. “Because it was necessary.”
“Indeed. Your action required far deeper commitment. It was dark, cold, and you were alone. The suspect was a great deal stronger than you. Had you struck and missed, you would have died. Yet you did what had to be done.”

“Necessary isn’t the same as right,” I said.

“Perhaps not,” he said. “But the Laws of Magic are all that prevent wizards from abusing their power over mortals. There is no room for com­promise. You are a Warden now, Dresden. You must focus on your duty to both mortals and the Council.”

“Which sometimes means killing children?” This time I didn’t hide the contempt, but there wasn’t much life to it.

“Which means always enforcing the Laws,” the Merlin said, and his eyes bored into mine, flickering with sparks of rigid anger. “It is your duty. Now more than ever.”

I broke the stare first, looking away before anything bad could happen. Ebenezar stood a couple of steps from me, studying my expression.

“Granted that you’ve seen much for a man your age,” the Merlin said, and there was a slight softening in his tone. “But you haven’t seen how hor­rible such things can become. Not nearly. The Laws exist for a reason. They must stand as written.”

I turned my head and stared at the small pool of scarlet on the ware­house floor beside the kid’s corpse. I hadn’t been told his name before they’d ended his life.

“Right,” I said tiredly, and wiped a clean corner of the grey cloak over my blood-sprinkled face. “I can see what they’re written in.”


Excerpted from "Proven Guilty"
by .
Copyright © 2007 Jim Butcher.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A fast and furious adventure. (Entertainment Weekly)

What would you get if you crossed Spencer with Merlin? Probably you would come up with someone very like Harry Dresden, wizard, tough guy and star of [The Dresden Files]. (Washington Times)

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Proven Guilty (Dresden Files Series #8) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 470 reviews.
onix7cv More than 1 year ago
This is the first and only book I have ever read by Jim Butcher to date and I loved it. The story was funny, dark yet positive, and overall very intelligently put together. One of the most captivating things about this book/author is that scenes, people, and objects are laid it in such smart detail that it felt as if I was watching a movie of the book in HD with special effects and all. I could literally visualize ever magical event with no difficulty as I read. Excellent story to match too! I really think this book should be made into movies for an adult "Harry Potter" like series; it would be much better. Bucher made a fan out of me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the only series that I look forward to the next book, and it can never come fast enough.
vikingsbride More than 1 year ago
Just as fun, action and humour ridden as so many others in this series. If you love magic, suspense, underdogs, movie monsters, detectives or just a well written tale, this is a great series for you to read. Each book stands strong on its own, but as a series it shines!
Anonymous 3 months ago
So nail-biting!!
lewispike on LibraryThing 7 months ago
It's been a while since I've read the earlier books, which is a shame, because there's enough back story that I half remember to be just annoying.That said, I think it would stand alone well, or if I remembered more clearly it would work well too.Harry has two, not obviously linked, things going on. Firstly there's a vague warning about a black magician in Chicago that he looks into, secondly, a horror con gets attacked by supernatural critters. There is a link, and just for fun the link leads back to the centre of the Winter Court of Faerie.Oh, and the war with the Red Council is still going strong, but in the background. Lots of nice little twists and turns, a few genuine shockers.The niggles about back story will just make me read the books when the "to read" pile is under control.
reading_fox on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Another fascinating romp through Chicargo's under and overworld. The White Council are in town again, and Harry is charged with gaining assistance from the Faere in the Council's ongoing battle with the Red Court. In addition dark magic is being practised and as a Warden Harry's job is to stamp it out - vigourously. However the practitioner turns out to be a young pretty girl - always Harry's weak point - and even worse the daughter of the Knight of the Cross and Harry's best friend. Harry calls in a few favours - hard earnt during the last seven books he doesn't have many left now? - and raids the Winter Faere Wellhead. Someone must be smiling on Harry because he is the least physically damaged in this story. There is a fascinating subplot as to whether or not Harry will turn to God or fall into Lasciels clutches.... and who is the traitor on the White Council?Although each book is well written - only one minor plot hole in this one (Molly didn't react to Harry's cold shower) the best part is the underlying back story that is perpetuated thorugh the series. Another gripping installment.After re-read: the subtext of discussion about Faith, the power of God and whether or not Harry will fall to Lasciel really make this one of the best of the series. The downside is the mixed up plot, there are three very loosely connected plots all running sequentially. Also there is a lot of repitition of information from all the previous works, that is just redundent now. Overall gripping part of a series, showing that these aren't just isolated facets in Harry's life but the JB has a continued plan and over-arching backstory. Still a quick enjoyable read.
Pheonix on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I really enjoyed reading book 8 of the Dresden Files. If you've not read it yet then you may want to skip on this review as there are spoilers.I enjoyed the story arcs leading to a strengthening bond between Harry and the Carpenter family. Seeing him taking on more duties both official and unofficial for the White council. Balancing his business with a new role as a Warden of the White Council. The ending was also well done and leads into the future books and lines of loyalty. I look forward to continue reading the series.A fantastic moving read.
Jenson_AKA_DL on LibraryThing 8 months ago
When Harry is called in to help out the daughter of an old friend it leads him to a horror convention where the monsters have come to life.This is another great read of this compulsively addictive series. Harry has certainly become one of my favorite literary heroes ever, a character even more compelling because he's not perfect and makes mistakes. In this entry Harry discovers hidden depths in a person he formally avoided and learns that one of his companions is apparently more than he seems to be (wag, wag). As always, I'm thrilled with any story that both Murphy and Thomas participate in. I'm really looking forward to the next adventure!
Wova4 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Proven Guilty eschews the past tendency of the Dresden Files series to focus on single-volume storytelling. Instead, Butcher presents a transitional novel which focuses on the series-spanning story lines rather than the current whodunit. Surprisingly mirthless, considering the excellent preceding volume Dead Beat, this novel expands upon politics within the White Council, unnecessarily probes into the Mulder/Skully dynamic between Dresden and Murphy, and ends up saddling Harry with an goth-glam apprentice. Kudos to Butcher for allowing Rawlings to survive the novel--like most beat cops in Dresden's Chicago, he was marked for a nasty, gruesome end. The answers at the end of the story are few and far between, and as I near the end of the in-print run I'm afraid we'll be years from seeing them resolved. I'm also concerned that the weight of accumulated series-scale story lines will strangle plot momentum in later volumes.
Aeyan on LibraryThing 8 months ago
B-movie monsters (the A-listers were all booked) get fleshed, run amok, cause fear, get blasted by Harry, who, since he is now all official and Warden-cloaked, has even more impetus than his own over-large sense of nobility and do-gooderness to save the day. And at the end of this one, Harry gets a big ol' bonus - the kind that entails lots or responsibility and effort, not unlike a previous ending bonus, but less evil, hopefully.
etimme on LibraryThing 8 months ago
For me this was the first Dresden Files book that really made apparent the passage of time between books. For all practical purposes both Harry and his brother Thomas are immortal, and through the entirety of the series Murphy has been at the prime of her life. So, seeing a grown up Molly was a nice thing to add.I personally did not care for the overarching plot as much as the previous books - anything involving Summer and Winter are always layers on layers on layers. The reader has very little hope of figuring out what is going on, which is frustrating.However, the action was interesting, Harry continues to be a fun protagonist, and Butcher does a good job of both bringing the wizard's life full circle and using the powers vested in him as a Warden for good purposes.One thing that is really striking is Harry's attachment to the hapless teenagers who find their new gifts blossoming and being sentenced to death as a result of breaking laws they don't know exist - people like himself. The White Council is overextended and lacking allies. Their enforcement arm - the Wardens - have been reduced to almost nothing through the war with the Red Court. Yet, they continue to execute practitioners without consideration of the gravity of their crimes.Something has to come to a head with this.
leahsimone on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Now a Warden for the White Counsel, Harry Dresden is officially responsible for any violations of the Laws of Magic within Chicago. His mentor and friend has asked him to find out why the Fey Summer Court will not aid the Counsel in the war against the Red Court Vampires. Then he receives a message from an enigmatic senior counsel wizard that alerts him to the practice of black magic taking place in the city. Add to this vicious attacks at a theater and a horror convention and Harry finds himself buried in responsibility that will force him into political maneuvering with some of the scariest denizens of the Nevernever.One thing about this series that has impressed me is Butcher¿s ability to continually deliver a really good story. He weaves his plot elements together skillfully with lots of action, humor and pathos. He¿s made Harry Dresden one of my favorite heroes in urban fantasy. Despite being an extraordinary wizard, Harry is easy to relate to, likable and laugh out loud funny. All Butcher¿s characters are interesting and constantly evolving. Every time I finish the last page of one of his books, I can¿t wait to start the next one. It just keeps getting better and better. Highly recommended.
Unreachableshelf on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Proven Guilty outdoes all the previous editions of The Dresden Files. With the phobophage/black magic plot that forms the center of the novel, Harry also continues to fight his inner demons- literally- and we gain new insight into the Carpenter family. As if that weren't enough, we also have glimpses of the ongoing stories of Thomas and Murphy, and more questions raised by the end of the book ranging from the fate of the Sword to the question of whether or not there could be one entity manipulating the various supernatural attacks in the series so far.
teharhynn on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Another great development for Dresden's character. I love that all the characters throughout this book are doing new and extraordinary things that you wouldn't have thought possible when you open the book. The new array of depth to Michael's family is phenomenal.
burningtodd on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is the eighth book of Jim Butcher¿s Dresden Files, and it is a scorcher. Someone is performing black magic in Chicago and it is up to Harry to find out who and stop them. This magic is dangerous though, it is calling in Fetch¿s from faerie and they are taking the guise of Horror movie villains before feeding on the fear of their victims. Harry must find out who is doing this, travel to faerie to fight the Fetches on their on turf and save the life of a dear friend. This is an exciting book with non-stop action from cover to cover.
hoosgracie on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Excellent book in the series. Harry becomes more and more well rounded with each book. The character development and action really made this book. We also found out some answers to a few mysteries, which made it fun.
Kassilem on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It almost seemed like there were two stories in this one book. The first half deals with Harry looking into movie monsters coming out of the production screen and the second half deals with the Sidhe and the White Council. The latter was much more serious and thought provoking. It was tons better than the first half. It seemed like Butcher got halfway through and then pulled a sharp turn. One thing I really like about Butcher as a writer is that he brings back issues from previous books, some from the very first books, and incorporates them, reminds us that they're still there. He doesn't leave many loose ends to be tripped over. The book left me with a sense of suspense and dread and excitement and calculation all at once for the next installment. Things are bound to come to a head sooner or later and I'm thinking that when it does Butcher is going to connect everything. And I mean everything. All eight plus books. I'm looking forward to it.
MrsLee on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Jim Butcher has me again. Dresden is the kind of lead I like. He is fully human, mistakes, misjudgements and all, yet he continues doing his best to the bitter end if it must be. I am also completely enamored with Michael, the Knight of the Cross. A true friend indeed, as well as a man of God with good character. What a pleasant surprise to find such a character in this series. Dresden faces down some of his own demons in this story, as he tries to save his good friend's daughter from the fate which awaits her. He also stands up to the White Council and lives to tell the tail. Packed with action as always, this is one of the more compelling books in the series for character development.
391 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The basic premise in this one is that Dresden is now a full Warden, and has been asked (unofficially) to look in to some spooky happenings in Chicago and the Nevernever - specifically, some black magic goings on and the Faerie hesitation in the ongoing war with the Red Court. The baddies in this book pop up as horror movie villains at a fan convention, giving Butcher's passion for pop culture references a chance to shine (I'm pretty certain the ONLY reason the boss villain at the end of the battle sequence was the Scarecrow was to be able to use that Wizard of Oz line. I mean, you really can't waste an opportunity like that after all.) And of course there are battles and sarcasm and deux ex machinas to save the day. Towards the end of the book we find out a bit more about internal politics and sabotage that rather superficially bind the books together. The further along we get, the less you should attempt to read them out of order; Proven Guilty definitely needs a thorough understanding of its predecessors to be able to follow along plotwise. I'm even having a bit of difficulty because I space the books out over a few months, and have a hard time recalling what happened the last time we left our hero. The series is really starting to improve as the books go on. They still tend to end on either depressing or melodramatic notes as the world grows darker and darker, but that's as much a fault of the noir genre as anything else.
lithicbee on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A very fast-paced addition to the series, with plenty of twists and turns and still more big revelations and new mysteries to keep the reader interested. This time around, Harry Dresden has to protect his friend's daughter from fear-seeking monsters, search for black magic in Chicago, battle with his own White Council, and deal with the ongoing war with the Red Court. This series could go on forever at this rate, and that would not be a bad thing.
thesecretllama on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Though not as good as some previous Dresden novels, this one allows for future development. Butcher adds a new evil organization to the mix to keep the reader guessing. Some of the story was convoluted and perhaps not as necessary as offered, but fun nonetheless. The wizardly action is as good as is in any Dresden book and Hellfire is called upon more and more. The Fallen are coming into play in an increasing fashion. I still look forward to each additional installment.
TomWheaton on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Another good read from the Dresden Files stories. I really enjoy the mixture of magic, fantasy & mystery that the author mangaes to combine in all of the Dresden Files stories that I have read so far. I alos like the returning characters from book-to-book and also the introduction of new characters that I expect will appear in one or more of the next books.
JoAnnSmithAinsworth on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Terrific book from the first word to the last.
tinLizzy on LibraryThing 8 months ago
See review of book #1 the series - Storm Front.
Storeetllr on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Harry Dresden's finally starting to come into his own. In this one, black magic is stalking Chicago and causing terror and death at a horror convention, and the family of his good friend Michael is deeply involved. I liked this one a lot.