Warning - this question contains significant spoilers from "Changes" and "Ghost Story".

In "Changes", a wounded Dresden is forced to ask Queen Mab for help. She is a bit worried that Harry will try to cheat her out of the deal:

[Mab] paused and murmured, “But you have proven willing to destroy yourself in the past. You won your last confrontation with my handmaiden in just such a fashion, by partaking of the death angel. What prevents you from taking a similar action to cheat me of my prize?” “My word,” I said quietly. “I know I can’t bluff you. I won’t suicide. I’m here to deal in good faith.”

But we know that Harry is not too honest in his promise, as the climax of both books says that

Dresden hired Kincaid to shoot him and asked Molly to hide this memory.

It's almost certain that Mab knows what has happened (Leanansidhe knew but Demonreach forbade that she say it.), yet she seems more worried than angry. And the fate of Lloyd Slate shows that she can hold a grudge.

So why hasn't she punished Harry for this misdeed?

2 Answers 2


He beat her at her own game, and she can respect that. So she's waiting to play the game back.

Every time there are dealings with the Faerie Courts, we're reminded that the Fae are uber-lawyers -- if there's a loophole in an agreement, they will find it and take advantage of it.

He didn't suicide, someone else shot him. He did follow his word by the letter, just not the spirit. Course, only the letter matters to the Fae, so it works out. He'll just have to be very careful with any future agreements he makes with Mab, because she'll want to get back at him.

  • 1
    Why I do agree, its up to interpretation was it or not a suicide... But I guess you are right, faeries love such gray areas
    – Yasskier
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 19:58
  • 1
    +1 for spot on, but I think there's more to it, added my own answer.
    – Radhil
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 23:14
  • I agree with the spirit of this answer, but it's not giving dresden enough credit by implying he was just playing with exact phrasing of the words. I'm pretty sure Dresden promised more then to just 'not suicide', Mab wouldn't allow an obvious loophole, and if would rule out what happened. Harry had already made his arrangements by this time. The real trick was how he he could have made those arrangements and and also say 100% honestly that he wouldn't/hadn't done such a thing, but since I can't spoiler comments I'll just leave it as an exerciser to reader how he managed that.
    – dsollen
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 16:22

Technically, when he made this vow, no word he spoke was untrue. He intended to uphold what he said, at the time he said it.

Of course, the only reason that works is because he'd already created the out, and erased it from his mind. As in John Robinson's earlier answer, he'd beaten her at her own game, mostly. It required her direct intervention and further bargains to make sure he didn't completely succeed. And so far in the series since, he has had to keep that word, so she won in the long run.

As for punishment... well, if she did punish him for that defiance like she punished Lloyd Slate, she'd no longer have a Knight. The kicker here though is that Slate betrayed Mab, and while Dresden may fight her tooth and nail, he holds no illusions what Mab would do once he crossed a line. Mab needs him, not only to fulfill his function as Knight, but that defiance against all takers (even her) is precisely what makes him far more dangerous and powerful. Mab needs that will, precisely as he pointed out to her under Demonreach, and breaking him completely will only erode that strength.

Torturing him in smaller moments though, she can savor.

Just to toss one speculative statement out there - there's hints that Mab actually appreciates the fact that he considers her a hostile ally, and is willing to pull such stunts. His defiance of her keeps him sharp, and may even keep Mab herself on her toes. Both angles would keep Winter strong.

  • 2
    +1, this is the correct answer - at the time he made the bargain, he didn't even remember setting up a countermeasure.
    – John C
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 0:37
  • @JohnC - But it's still in the "intent" category. That he did not remember does not change the fact in Mab's eyes. So While I agree with the answer in general, the fact remains that he cheated. I believe that the way he cheated was firstly greatly appreciated by the Winter Queen, but secondly - and more importantly - it could not be seen as a breaking of a bargain if it employed a loophole. Witness Harry's bargain with Lea in Grave Peril where she said "You have made bargain with me tonight. I will not seek you. But you have made no such bargain with others.(...)Many there are who owe me"
    – AcePL
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 12:36

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