In Dead Beat, Dresden was telling Butters what could take down a necromancer's zombie. He said, "You'd have to ground them out. Running water is the best way, but there needs to be a lot of it. A small stream, at least. I could also probably trap one in a magic circle and cut off any energy from getting to it. Either way, they'd just fall over, plop."

Later in the story, Butters is now the heartbeat for Sue the T-rex. Butters gets attacked by ghosts, so he circles himself still beating away at his drum. Why didn't the circle stop the magic keeping Sue from falling over? I thought a circle would cut off all magic going out of it, so Sue should have either been freed or fall over, plop.

  • The magic is running from Dresden to Sue. There several mentions of Dresden using his will to give her directions. The drumbeat is necessary for the spell, but not magical in itself. That's how I understood it. – Radhil Aug 19 '17 at 17:30
  • Okay, it makes sense now. Dresden just needed Butters for the sound. since sound travels through a circle, Sue would still be under control. – Lawrence Reed Aug 19 '17 at 17:35

The magic link is running from Dresden to Sue. Dresden fed the energy that's not only controlling her but sustaining her mass. If either one is cut off from the other, there would be no more dinosaur - ectoplasm needs energy, so splat it goes, but the question is about the drumbeat...

The "heartbeat" drumming that's needed for all the controlling part of the necromancy is a component of the spell, but not magical in itself. As Dresden explains it, the necromancy links the drumming to the sound of the heartbeat. Orders come in from the necromancer linked to the drumbeat, so to the zombie it's like their heart is speaking to them. We see Dresden several times giving Sue directions with will alone, usually with a touch to aid him, and he's not doing it through the drum. There isn't any magic linked to the drum itself, or to Butters; the ghoul would make a horrible assistant drummer with no magic of his own, and honestly the necromancers seem to use anything at hand to get a beat going - Grevane is seen using both a drumming of a book against his leg and the bass of a car stereo as he chases Butters and Harry out of the morgue, as the control needed goes from short to long range, in one scene. Now that I think on that actually, linking a magic spell to a car stereo sounds like a really good way to fry the whole thing and have no beat, so there's further evidence there's no magic at the drum.

So it's just that the spell work responds to the sounds of the beat, not that the beat is magically infused. So Butters or any beat would do, so long as Sue was aware of it.

| improve this answer | |
  • There is definitely some magic between zombie and the drum. If I remember correctly Sue and Butters were, at some point, separated by miles of urban area. Harry even confirms that in one of the conversations (not sure if the same when he says beat cannot stop else Sue will slip his control). So there must be some magic involved. However, what kind? Elven magic does not interfere with electronics, neither was human magic before modern era. Harry said that in older times magic caused warts, now interference. Faith magic also works on different plane? Bob the Skull says there's difference, too. – AcePL Jul 19 '18 at 13:54
  • @AcePL - no, at the finale Harry, Sue, and Ramirez circle a block to come at the vortex from behind; the college campus involved is described as a handful of buildings with a courtyard and some benches, where Grevane & Co. set up shop. Miles not involved; Harry specifically tells Butters to stay put and that Sue should still be able to hear the drum at that distance. He ends up losing control of Sue anyway (she goes battle-rage on Grevane's zombies). Drummers would hardly have needed to accompany the necromancers through the entire book if the magic beat could be miles away. – Radhil Jul 19 '18 at 15:17
  • Had a run through the book, and you're correct: Make the beat stop or get the zombies out of earshot, and he loses control of them.. That's Harry explaining drumbeat to Butters. So it seems that the magic is involved in everything except the generation of the sound itself. Tricky. – AcePL Jul 19 '18 at 16:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.