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In the Dresden Files, there's an effort known as the Oblivion War, to sever the connection that old gods and their ilk have to the mortal world. The way to do this is to remove these gods from mortal memory, because the mortals are their conduit into the physical world. (This makes it an incredibly hard war to document.) One of the common tasks of the Venatori, humanity's champions in the Oblivion War, is to destroy ritual books so that no budding sorcerer can call upon that particular deity.

Fortunately, spirits' memories don't serve as conduits like mortals do - fortunate, because they all would live forever without outside interference, and mutually prevent each others' disappearance. This means that the Archive, the repository of all mortal knowledge ever written down, doesn't directly block their objective, because the Archive isn't a mortal.

But Archive's mortal host can! What if the host, in a moment of mortal danger, decided to access all of the memories of all of the routes to power ever written down? Does a mortal suddenly know the lost knowledge that the Venatori have destroyed? Does that reopen the conduits for those beings?

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  • I'm pretty sure there's no canon answer for this. You would probably be better of asking on the Jim Butcher web site. Jun 21, 2013 at 5:20
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    It's a fascinating point for debate but I have to VTC as non constructive as it's not really answerable.
    – user8416
    Jun 21, 2013 at 7:23
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    @ClaraOnager: Is it really unanswerable, though? Yes, it may require speculation, but there's an awful lot of material out there for the Dresdenverse. Just from the main novels I was able to put together a decent line of reasoning (see my answer) - I don't think it's unanswerable, though I agree Jim Butcher hasn't explicitly answered it (yet).
    – Jeff
    Jun 21, 2013 at 15:09
  • I meant not answerable in a way suitable for SE sites i.e. any answer will be almost entirely speculation and opinion and not fact. THe about page has the relevant point: 'Avoid questions that are primarily opinion-based, or that are likely to generate discussion rather than answers.'
    – user8416
    Jun 21, 2013 at 15:20
  • @Jeff I think Onager has the right of it.
    – rsegal
    Jun 21, 2013 at 15:53

4 Answers 4

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The Archive was created specifically to lead the Oblivion war. Ivy is the one giving Lara and an unknown number of other agents their orders.

Jim Butcher actually addressed this specifically on his forum.

This is a direct quote from Jim Butcher:

I'm pretty sure this will never make it into the actual Dresden Files since Harry has no idea the Oblivion War is happening, along with everyone else. So I'll share it here. :)

The Archive was constructed /for/ the Oblivion War. Specifically.

Yes, the Archive (and Ivy, the two aren't really divisible) know about these forgotten beings. The Archive is in essence the keeper of the dead, where they are concerned. Once the archive believes one of them has been consigned to oblivion, she holds on to the memory of that being briefly, for another thousand years or so, watching for any mention of that being in print in an effort to make sure that she is the /last/ person alive who remembers whichever hideous entity has been consigned.

And once the safety period has elapsed, and the Archive is confident that no one else remembers, she deletes the memory from the Archive. Bad guy, /gone/.

She also tries to keep track of the enemy players in the Oblivion War via watching for communications and so on. When she finds a trace of them, somewhere, she lets a cell of operatives (like Lara and Thomas) know what's up, through a blind drop, and sends them off to handle the problem.

The Oblivion War is a huge, /slow/ thing. Stuff happens every few decades, at most. That's why the Archive was created--to be an immortal awareness, something that could track and intelligently direct responses to the enemy in a war happening on an almost geological scale. All that other stuff she says the Archive is for? Smoke and mirrors. :)1

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  • mmmm, dat canon
    – rsegal
    Jul 11, 2013 at 1:44
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But Archive's mortal host can! What if the host, in a moment of mortal danger, decided to access all of the memories of all of the routes to power ever written down?

Ivy as The Archive actually does this in Small Favor:

Ivy has scheduled a meeting between Dresden and Nikodemus at the Shedd Aquarium. During the negotiations, Harry realizes the entire event is a charade to kidnap the Archive. Despite a concerted effort and the incredible spellcasting abilities of the Archive herself, the Archive is captured, though several Denarians are killed in the process.

It's not stated in the book which powers she accesses in this case but she could certainly use those that are unknown to all but her.

However, as the question points out, it would be incredibly foolish of Ivy to call upon those forgotten gods. Thus we can deduce that, since Ivy, by not using those powers, effectively allows herself to be captured rather than access those dangerous powers.

Much like Harry, in his moment of crisis in Changes, calls upon Mab rather than Lasciel to aid him. Both Harry and Ivy take the path of using the least amount of evil to accomplish their goals.

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I think your hypothesis is likely correct - the Archive, as a magical construct, can not give these old forgotten gods what they need.

I would question if Ivy, the Archive's current host, could. I suppose it depends on how the knowledge passes into her. It's obvious in many, many ways that Ivy can freely tap into the knowledge of the Archive, but it isn't obvious if Ivy actually learns and knows what the Archive gives her.

In my opinion, the Archive is almost certainly some form of intellectus - it's the only form of knowledge we have seen that fits what she can do. If this is the case, it's certainly possible for Ivy to remember the forgotten gods, as Harry remembers what he learns from Demonreach even after severing his connection.

I think you are, however, missing the most important point: the Archive knows what sort of trouble it can cause. I think it would be unable to reinvigorate one of the dead gods, just as it was unable to help Harry in Changes. The Archive is well versed in self-preservation, and can draw upon the entirety of human knowledge to keep itself safe. I would have to assume that Ivy could always call upon knowledge that would aid her better than the knowledge of those dead gods. Consider - these gods are shadows of their former selves. They are lesser beings now, especially after having been forgotten completely. The Lords of the Outer Night were Red Court vampires who Vadderdrung said could nearly equal his power. Odin still has worshippers in the modern world, and there were mortals with power that could almost equal his (albeit at their seat of power, where they are stronger and he is weaker).

What could Ivy possibly gain from the dead husk of an evil god that she couldn't get from the knowledge of, say, Merlin's journals? She could quote the Word of Kemmler, summon the Erlking, or unleash the ritual curse the White King had in his hip pocket. She doesn't need the help of the Ventatori's foes.

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  • That's a very good point!
    – rsegal
    Jun 21, 2013 at 15:03
  • Your "Archive=Intelectus" theory may be contradicted by her awareness of Harry's "We're coming to save you" note in ''Small Favour''. Unless she was actively monitoring for "stuff Harry is writing" for some reason, she wouldn't have known the note existed and thus wouldn't be able to ask the Archive construct about it to know the content of the note.
    – Compro01
    Jun 21, 2013 at 15:11
  • @Compro01: True, it isn't intellectus in the manner Demonreach has, which is why I say 'some form' - it's obviously different, but we can use it as a model to extrapolate possibilities.
    – Jeff
    Jun 21, 2013 at 15:13
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Ivy probably cannot provide what the old gods need. This is for several reasons...

  1. Ivy isn't a natural human, but a magical construct in human form that interbreeds with humans.
  2. A single worshipper is likely the worst possible case for an old god. If each worshiper is a source of power, then one is "survival rations," and a mere single person knowing about them is probably a hair's breadth from oblivion.
  3. Most of the Old Gods we do see are fighting to come in through Faerie... the others are literally walking the earth.

Ivy very clearly could, being the repository of all human knowledge, pick and choose which ones to restore and provide the needed information to others to make use of should she choose to.

It's unlikely she would choose to; her life could get very unpleasant if she did. Once she starts, pretty much everyone but the elder gods are going to try to end her.

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