Yeah, BATTLE GROUND isn’t out yet. So I can’t spoiler it.

So, obviously, Jim Butcher has a lot of fans, and I have gotten more hits off my last Jim Butcher post about my theories of what’s really going on in PEACE TALKS and I think I’ve figured out something.

If you go back and read my last post, you’ll know that my major theory is that Justine is a lot more than she appears to be in the story. Even Harry notices that Justine’s first question is not about Thomas, but about what Lara knows. Add to that that she is pregnant, which she really shouldn’t be. But mostly, there’s Thomas’s repeated attempts to say something that sounds like “Justine,” and each time, Harry takes it as a plea for him to help Justine. Each time he does this, Thomas breaks down.

And the whole theme of the story is misdirection: Harry is warned repeatedly, even by himself, that he is being betrayed. And yet, by the end, no betrayals have happened. Eithniu’s appearance unites the Accorded Nations. Not even the ghouls dare betray it. So where is the betrayal coming from? The only betrayal we see is Thomas’s attack on Etri, which apparently fails, and before that, Thomas says to Harry that he has “a solution in mind.”

I have already theorized that Thomas is trying to warn Harry about Justine, not ask him to protect her. So who could imitate Justine so well that it would fool Thomas, and possibly become pregnant all at the same time? Where have we seen an enemy that can imitate others at will, down to the smallest detail? Who is expert at offering the solution to impossible problems? And who has a great interest in hurting Harry?

I suggest that “Justine” is Hannah Ascher and Lasciel. She, possibly at the bidding of the now-discredited Nicodemus, possibly as part of a bid to replace Anduriel as Captain of the Fallen, has replaced Justine and seduced Thomas into impregnating her, possibly using her powers to ensure a viable pregnancy. Presumably, Lasciel would be able to ensure that Hannah lived through the pregnancy.

There are now two possibilities that explain Thomas’s “attack” on Etri, the details of which we know very little: only that he “entered under false pretenses” (Evanna) and was caught “on camera” (Lara).

  1. Thomas tried to get help from the svartalves, possibly seeking to pay them with the “third favor” that Mab had already done for Lara. We know faerie favors can be held and traded. Lara may have “spent” it by giving it to Thomas. “Justine” accompanied him, but veiled herself to everyone else. She then attacked Etri, and Thomas tried to defend him. To Etri and everyone else, it would have appeared that Thomas launched an attack.
  2. Alternatively, “Justine” may have exposed Thomas to a coin (maybe even her own), in which case he has a piece of a Fallen, like Harry did with Lasciel. Lasciel in that state projected herself into Harry’s mind and made him believe he was talking to someone who wasn’t there. This fragment may have imitated “Justine” and taken him to the svartalves and launched an illusory attack, with the same results as above.

Either way, Thomas now knows what “Justine” is, and wants to warn Harry, but can’t. And Justine is now guarded by the FBI, cops, Goodman Grey, and Lara, a seemingly helpless, loyal spider at the heart of the White Court, defended by the very people she is plotting to destroy.

Let me know what you think, readers and fans!

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