Okay, so I know Jim Butcher’s latest installment of The Dresden Files came out only yesterday, but I devoured the whole thing by this morning, and I really want to talk about it, so in case the HUGE CAPITAL LETTERS weren’t enough, I want to make it really clear to everyone choosing to read further that there will be HUGE AMOUNTS of spoilers below.

Okay, if you’ve got this far and haven’t chosen to turn back…

Too late, here they come.

All right, so what I suspected about this “book:” since seeing that we were getting two of them this year was correct: PEACE TALKS is not a book. It’s the first half of a book. At best, we get the second half in BATTLE GROUND later this year. At worst, of course, we get part two of three or more. But Butcher is a good guy and hasn’t left us with that kind of cliffhanger since the end of CHANGES.

So, there are a LOT of questions unanswered here, and the biggest one is this: Why did Thomas Raith decide to attack King Etri of the Svartalves, causing a lot of trouble for Harry and Mab? This question is unanswered in the book, a lingering mystery.

First of all, what are the possible reasons?

It is heavily implied, and Harry acts on the assumption, that Thomas was being blackmailed into the attack on Etri by someone who could credibly threaten the love of his life, Justine. This is made more serious by the fact that Justine is revealed in the opening chapter to be — very improbably — pregnant.

But there’s a few serious problems with that. Firstly, who would want Etri dead and have the ability to threaten Thomas to the point of making him carry out a near-suicidal attack? White Court vampires aren’t supposed to operate that way even if they are good at it. Furthermore, Justine is guarded by several formidable security teams. Harry’s hiring of Goodman Grey is very nearly redundant. Thomas had to know Justine was guarded by the full force of the White Court. But she’s also being watched by hired Monoc Securities guys, the cops, Feds, Goodman Grey and Paranoid Gary. And Thomas, whose brother is Harry Dresden and the Winter Knight, didn’t go to him or his sister, the White Court ruler, for help? Especially if Harry is right about his supposition that Justine is being threatened by one of her “guards?” The only credible threats of those mentioned (against Thomas) are the White Court and Monoc. Neither have an interest in killing Etri OR destabilizing the Accords.
That’s dumb.
Secondly, what was the effect of the attack? Who benefited from it?
Well, you could argue that no one did, because the attack failed. Okay, sometimes the bad guys fail. But Etri’s death has no obvious consequences besides making the svartalves even more angry with the White Court.
Very well, was that the goal? If so, the Fomor and the Outsiders — who are obviously working together — are the obvious suspects. There’s only one problem with that: it didn’t work. By betraying the peace talks, the Fomor and their patron Titan simply forced the svartalves and the White Court to work together in spite of their issues. That’s also dumb.
So, if that makes no sense, why else would Thomas attack the svartalf king? Were the svartalves threatening Justine? Why? It would be utterly out of character for them to attack or threaten a guest.

No, there’s a much more sinister plot that’s possible here. The person who was influencing Thomas to attack the svartalves was… Justine herself. Or, more accurately, something pretending to be Justine.

Consider these hints:

  1. Justine should not be pregnant. Thomas and Justine can barely touch, they’re using contraceptives, and White Court vampires are almost infertile.
  2. Justine surprises Harry by her reaction to the news of Thomas’s attack and capture. Rather than falling apart, she asks if Lara knows. Her first reaction is to seek intelligence on Harry’s actions and Lara’s knowledge.
  3. Thomas is conveniently unable to talk to Harry after the attack. He manages two words: Harry’s name, and then, three attempts at a word starting with ‘J.’ Harry assumes he is trying to say “Justine” and means, “Protect Justine, Harry.” Each time Harry promises to, though, Thomas breaks down crying. Harry thinks he’s desperate to protect Justine. But what if Thomas is trying to protect Harry by warning him about Justine? Thomas says “Junghg. S’Jnngh.” Suppose what he was trying to say was “Justine. It’s Justine?” He cries because not only is the real Justine in danger, but now so are Harry, Lara, and everyone else who believes they are guarding the real Justine.
  4. The one player we haven’t seen in PEACE TALKS is The Black Council, whose man Cristos they elevated to the Senior Council back in TURN COAT. The Black Council is known to be able to exercise mind control powers, and the Outsiders are known to be able to infect humans and fae with a seemingly unbeatable mind-control effect.
  5. Finally, Harry orders up and uses an ability to cast a doppelganger that fools even Blackstaff McCoy.

So, taking all these things together, I hypothesize the following:

The Black Council has taken the real Justine and done something to her. Possibly they are simply holding her under threat, and possibly she is taken by the Outsiders’ mind control. In either case, they simulated her pregnancy and are continuing to simulate her. Sometime after Thomas revealed Justine’s “pregnancy” to Harry, she revealed her true nature and demanded that Thomas attack Etri and the svartalves. The goal of the attack was to get Thomas out of the way and distract Harry Dresden. Which means that something happened while Harry was away from the Peace Talks or on his way to the island, and that Justine is an entirely new front of the Black Council/Fomor/Outsider alliance, ready to strike at either the White Court, Monoc, the svartalves as a false flag, or Harry himself or any combination as opportunity presents itself. The worst thing would be if it could similarly infect others.

Okay, once you’ve read the book and this, explain to me why I’m wrong.

8 thoughts on “PEACE TALKS Theories: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!!

  1. I can’t dispute any of your points, but I have a theory of my own. Blackstaff McCoy was behind the attack. I don’t think that it was done by threatening Justine, I think it was done by pure power, controlling Thomas like a puppet. McCoy has experience violating the laws of magic that no one else has. I think that the overt goal was to prevent a vampire alliance with the svartalves, but McCoy had a secondary goal, to break the hold that he suspected Thomas has over Harry. Butcher is pretty clearly telegraphing a heel turn for McCoy. I don’t think it will be revealed that McCoy is actively working for the Black Council (I’m not ruling it out, either) I think that the point will be more that McCoy has spent too long fighting monsters and has become a monster. Also, Butcher is setting up Listens To Wind and River Shoulders to take over the mentor role for Harry, which also points to McCoy being at least a secondary boss in Battle Ground.

    • Maybe. Or maybe the whole thing is a fake-out and McCoy really is going to change his attitude once he realizes that he’s dealing with his own grandson and great-grandson.

      Hard to tell with this author.

  2. Interesting theory!
    Not sure you are wrong, however, it seemed as if Thomas relaxed when Harry promised to look after Justine, not got more upset. So, that would work against your idea. But…I might have read that into it.

    I don’t think anyone was trying to get Etri. My guess is the villain in this is the Black Court and they were trying to get Harry to do something stupid to get more votes against him to throw him out of the White Council–so they threatened Justine or offered Thomas a way to save Justine if he did X. But I realize this is just an idea. I don’t have any particular proof for it.

    I think Black Staff’s comments about someone betraying is crucial. He might have tried to get rid of Thomas to get him out of Harry’s life, but otherwise, I don’t think it was him. I don’t think he would have attacked so openly and not mentioned it.

    I think one crucial point is: who hurt Carlos? When he reacted negatively to Harry’s light comment about pretty women was that just because he couldn’t dance? Or was it because a woman had hurt him? If so, who? Lara? If so, he might have gone after Thomas. Carlos could have turned on Harry due to some bad thing that happened to him.

    I keep hoping that Battle Grounds includes Thomas restoring his strength by vampirizing the Titan.

    • Carlos got hurt in Brief Cases.


      He and Molly hook up, and she nearly murders him due to Winter Law and her role as Winter Lady.

    • Carlos was hurt in Brief Cases

      ***SPOILER*** He and Molly hooked up, and she nearly killed him due to here role as Winter Lady.

  3. I think Thoms went after Etri for a simple reason: Etri is the father of Justine’s child, not Thomas.

    Harry is told that to svartalfs, monogamy is largely a foreign concept.
    Svartalfs can also disguise themselves as humans.
    Etri and Justine hooked up, but I can’t say it was voluntary or not, or whether or not Etri used glamer to disguise himself as Thomas…

  4. I was hoping to find a post like this! I read some interesting theories here that I hadn’t thought of, and figured I’d add one of my own. I just finished Peace Talks and one thing that bothered me was, what was Thomas trying to say?! I spent some time thinking about it and I don’t think Thomas is trying to say Justine at all, I think he is trying to say Genoskwa. which is why Thomas seems to breakdown every time Harry assumes he’s trying to say Justine. Sure, they’re spelled differently but I listen to the audiobooks and the pronunciation is similar. But we know from River shoulders that “Blood on His Soul” somehow survived and we definitely know that he probably wants to murder Harry’s face off. Buuuut since that didn’t go so well last time, He’s probably looking for some other way to destroy him. We also know he is exceptionally good at vailing himself so I think it’s totally possible that the Genoskwa has been following Harry, looking for a way to do just that.
    At the very beginning of the book, after Harry and Thomas talk to Carlos on the beach, Harry sees some huge foot prints. I think it’s possible that those were the Genoskwa’s and if they were, he would have overheard Harry and Thomas talking about Justine being pregnant. So I think Blood on his Soul threatened to do some obscenely gruesome things to Justine to get Thomas to attempt to assassinate Etri. In doing so he pretty much assures that Harry will either lose his only brother or essentially commit suicide trying to free him. I also think this explains Justine’s response when Harry tells her what happened to Thomas, she already knew what was happening and she might even be responding that way in an attempt to clue Harry in. And if the Genoskwa is actually in the room under a vail while they are talking about this, it makes sense that Justine wouldn’t be able to say anything directly. But she does make a point to say “why would Thomas do this?” which is what first gets Harry thinking about possible reasons for Thomas to try and Kill Etri. And as we all know, the only thing that could possibly do it was if Justine was in danger. And since it’s not exactly uncharacteristic for these books to present Harry with multiple, unrelated enemies, I think it’s entirely possible that the Genoskwa doesn’t really have anything to do with everything else that’s going on and is just out for revenge.
    All this might be way off, and I might be reaching a lot here. But I think at the end of the day, I just want to see River Shoulders and Blood on his Soul throw down.

    • Hmm. Interesting. Combine our theories: The Genoskwa IS Justine, and Thomas knows it. He’s under a doppelganger veil. I’d assumed that “Genoskwa” was pronounced with a hard g sound, but I haven’t listened to audiobooks.
      I’d assumed that the huge footprints on the beach were Eithne’s.

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