Grave Peril, the third Dresden Files book, opens with Harry and Michael working together to exorcise a malicious ghost. Harry carries with him some "ghost dust", containing depleted uranium as a principal ingredient.

Suspension of disbelief is definitely necessary in a fantasy story, and I can accept the fantastic elements when they remain relatively consistent, but this one trips me up because it belongs to the real world.

"Depleted" just means that the uranium has had most of the fissionable U-235 processed out of it. It's still radioactive, and it's still highly toxic (in the biochemical sense, completely aside from the radioactivity.) Not the sort of thing that governments want falling into civilian hands, I'd imagine! And given that Harry is consistently portrayed, particularly in the early books, as being perpetually broke or near-broke, where in the world did he obtain a bunch of powdered depleted uranium? Has this ever been explained?

  • 2
    He bought some uranium ore on Amazon for $40 (amzn.com/B000796XXM).
    – Liesmith
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 9:08
  • Ore is not the same as highly processed purified uranium, and Harry has a lot of trouble using computers. Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 9:15
  • @Liesmith I lolled! Specially at the customer rewiew anserrs 1 and 2!! +1 for finding this gem!! :-)
    – Cherubel
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 9:17
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    It's something that is available in non-Amazon ways. You'll find them in various labs, and there are even a type of ammunition using depleted uranium cores. It's not like all uranium is locked up in vaults.
    – Vogie
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 13:44
  • Got it from inside an Iraqi tank that had been ripped to bits by an A-10 Warthog? Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 14:42

1 Answer 1


Specifically, no. Harry's source or funding for obtaining the depleted uranium is never explained.

In more general terms, Harry does know more than his fair share of shady dealers, and supernatural movers of both information and materials. Depleted uranium is not solely a military controlled resource; it has some civilian applications as well, usually due to it's density. It might be a controlled substance (don't have time to look up real world regs at the moment) but that just gives black markets an excuse to find some. It's not entirely out of line that he could find this stuff, once he figured out he needed it, and the plot of that book starts in media res and implies he's had time to put together the ghost dust.

Finally... you question his ability to pay, but forget that Harry is a mega-geek for anything magic. This is a man who shredded a not-small bill for a love potion he didn't even want to make in the first book. His perpetual brokenness isn't because he can't get money - he has small odd jobs between major cases, and the police consulting usually pays the bills. It's because given the chance he invests any extra he can scrounge into things like this, that not only help him save lives, but let him get his magic geek on. This continues even past the point in the series where he gets regular income.

Not to mention, the fact that he has it does come up later and bite him in the rear when he has to deal with some feds.

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