So, I'm just re-reading Summer Knight after a bit of a break. It appears in this story that her whole gambit was intended:

To cause an imbalance in Summer and Winter by giving Winter more power, thus causing the downfall of both Courts

But in Cold Days (if memory serves), we learn

That Winter is already vastly more powerful than Summer, and that the forces are mostly used to combat the Outsiders, keeping our reality safe.

Given that the whole point of her gambit is voided by this information, the easy answer says that Aurora didn't know what we learn as readers in Cold Days, however

She's 'infected' by the Outsiders, who surely do know that Winter has a ton of forces at the Outer Gates already, and would therefore steer her to a different plan, I would have thought.

Is this the inconsistency that it appears to be to me right now, or am I forgetting some key piece of the puzzle? Am I missing something?

I know it's been a few years since either book was published, but I don't know the statue of limitations on spoilers, so please feel free to obfuscate answers as well.

  • 2
    Don't forget that other high-ranking Winter members were also infected at the same time; maybe the Outsiders were planning to subvert Winter completely?
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 20:25

3 Answers 3


Winter has vastly more forces, but they're mostly all at the Gates. Mab cannot employ them without 'forfeiting reality.' As said in Cold Days, Winter protects us from the Outsiders, and Summer protects us from Winter.

If Aurora had succeeded, Summer would not have been able to protect us from Winter's non-gate forces; Mab could have done whatever she wanted without 'forfeiting reality.'

  • 1
    That's a fair point, but how does that benefit the Outsiders? Ultimately, and we're getting into spoiler territory but I don't know how to despoilerize comments, Aurora was their pawn, and a strong Mab doesn't help them even if she hoses up humanity.
    – Paul
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 18:21
  • 3
    @Paul: The Outsiders seem to be deliberately instigating mass destruction and chaos. Dresden says that the result of the war between Winter and Summer would be 'vast and violent' for much of North America, same as releasing the Banefire would be in Cold Days.
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 23:30
  • @Paul as I recall it's mentioned that if the plan worked Summer would likely declare war on Winter immediately, since Summer was at it's strongest point in the year and Summer hoped the power from the time of the year would help in the war. Thus the plan could actually weaken winter, which likely was the ultimate goal. It would start with Winter gaining a slight power boost, but be immediately followed by a war that would exhaust all of winter's resources and cost it far more then the original minor gain.
    – dsollen
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 16:54

In the short term? Nothing. Nothing about this benefits the Outsiders. Mab is immediately stronger. Mab's forces man the gates. Mab wins.

So maybe we need to think longer term.

Mab might be the big winner from Aurora's plan, but destroying the balance would have wide ranging effects. As pointed out in Harry Johnstons answer, the relationship between the Fae and everything else is more complicated than the first books portray.

So, since speculation is required to get somewhere here, past the immediate short term, what might've happened? Summer and Winter would have kept on fighting on the battlefield of the Stone Table. Despite Winter now being stronger, the outcome isn't certain. First lets presume balance wins eventually... both Courts would have had to fight for a long time and kill off enough of each other to nullify Mab's new advantage and for balance to resume, making both courts vastly weaker. Weak enough to weaken the defenses at the Gates, or weak enough for Lea to take over (remember, Aurora is not the only infected agent, as KutuluMike points out). Either way, Outsiders win.

Let's take the other side of the guessing game - balance destroyed, Summer gone, Mab wins and rules all Fae. This doesn't seem good for the Outsiders, but consider what happens to Earth, the real(ish) world, in this scenario. Without Summer to counter Winter, a new ice age is here. Human civilization would probably go bye-bye. Humanity in general surviving would be a bit of a question mark. What we then need to consider is - what would that then do to the spirit world and the Fae? They're connected, after all. The Nevernever is half-formed from human perception. Gods have been destroyed simply by ensuring that they were forgotten. What happens when no one is left to remember the Fae? Even best case, Mab would eventually be greatly weakened. Middle case, what's left of humanity would rebuilt and create new legends, who end up manning the Outer Gates. Either of these would create an opening the Outsiders could exploit... and that's not considering the worst case, where nothing is left, and they can just walk in.

Bottom line it, anything that causes enough of a destabilization in the status quo could possibly benefit the Outsiders. As Cold Days shows, they are pushing hard now, and any weakness they can create, they will try to exploit. They've been doing this for a long time, and some of them are crafty enough to wait for a long string of dominos to fall.

  • 1
    Had this as a comment, then was talking enough to figure I really should just post it.
    – Radhil
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 12:41
  • Would Mab let humanity forget the Fae, if she could do a perma-winter? Granted, there might be a lot less humans around... Also, it's not clear that the elder-gods were "destroyed" by the ~Oblivion war~ their forgetting, so much as having their connection to Earth, lost. Winter would probably still exist in the Nevernever, just not able to reach Earth.
    – John C
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 19:36

In Cold Days we discover that the balance between Winter and Summer is more complicated than we might have originally supposed, but that doesn't mean that it isn't important or even essential. Had Aurora succeeded, the war between Winter and Summer would have continued indefinitely, until such time as the balance could be restored:

'Bob, what happens if this imbalance between the Courts continues?'

'Bad things,' Bob said. 'It will mess around with weather patterns, cause aberrant behavior in plants and animals, and sooner or later the Sidhe Courts will go to war with one another.'


'Because, Harry. When the balance is destroyed, the only thing the Queens can do is blow everything to flinders and let it settle out into a natural distribution again.'

(Summer Knight, Chapter 10 - emphasis mine.)

In addition to the disastrous impact this would have on the mortal world, it would undoubtedly weaken Winter's defense at the Gates, if only by distracting Mab's attention. Under normal circumstances Winter might be able to hold the Gates anyway, but these are not normal times:

"An immune system ... What happens if it .. you know, if it breaks down for a bit?"

"Most years, it would post no major difficulty," he said.

"What about this year?"

"This year," he said, "it could be problematic."

(Cold Days, Chapter 34 - abridged.)

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