I should note clearly here I'm not trying to show how Harry is "bad" and everyone else is "good" — because I think all four of the heroines I'm discussing extensively are good reads. What I'm trying to do with them, however, is clearly demonstrate, through comparison and contrast, what is to me a new and somewhat interestingly tricky concept for my proposed Heroine's Journey. Further, I think I see some interesting differences between Harry and the three female heroines I so enjoy (Kitty, Mercy, & Cassie), which may better illuminate what I mean by "crafting community."

Take Harry Dresden: he's an enjoyable read because he's a classic "noir" genre private investigator in some ways — and that means he has certain weaknesses he may well never recover from. For example, he has powerful folks who are supposed to be his allies, but they're usually deliberately obstructive or angry with him — sometimes even murderous. He's always a day late and a dollar short, or he's injured, or he's under a killing deadline, and he never learns to fix that. More than once I have wished I could fondly grab him by the lapels and give him a good shake while yelling, "Harry — get a damned helmet!!" -or a daytimer, or a class in human communications, or whatever the issue-du-jour is at that point for the poor guy.

He means so well! Truly he does — he's just so… so clueless about managing his life sometimes. I guess that's what makes him a good read — he may be uber powerful, but he metaphorically still has to be reminded sometimes to tie his shoelaces — but I so wish he'd learn from previous life mistakes! I don't just mean crafting a bigger shield spell either. I mean, he tries to protect his friends and lovers, but he's not really very good at it — and so he sometimes hurts them through mistakenly trying to protect them by keeping them ignorant of danger, and sometimes they get harmed because he's not really a team player.

Harry's idea of a team, in fact, seems to be very much how he lives his life, now that I think about it: every man or woman for themselves as they all head in roughly the same direction for the (hopefully) same shared goal — while Harry himself dashes madly around getting even more damaged as he desperately patches up the tactical holes left in his plan — because he didn't bother to actually share it with anyone! Quite frankly, an organized team of opponents will defeat a group of individuals every time, regardless of how individually talented the group members are — just ask any good sports team coach. Harry's just lucky he's not come up against such a team so far.

The female heroines I'm discussing, on the other hand, may not have many allies, but those they have, they are powerfully committed to, and their allies are just as deeply true to the heroines — occasionally moreso than even the protagonists realize. Further, these three women do not confine themselves to "their kind" when they generously give aid, or when they're pulling together a team to rescue a friend. Nor do they feel they must lead any such team, and/or keep the overall plan secretively to themselves.

As an example, at one point Kitty finds herself in a strange city with a batch of needy people, both animal shifters and vampires. This is more than she can handle, and so she calls for help — first from the local ranking shifter, and later from the ranking local vampire. One of them (the male one, amusingly enough) is only willing to help "their kind," and so Kitty chooses to turn to the female vampire, even though she does not yet trust the woman and is wary of what favors the vampire will later demand of her — because to Kitty it is simply not right to stand by while those not like you die.

Kitty later goes out of her way, endangering herself to rescue the female vampire — despite the fact that it would have been easier to simply let the woman die. Again: the expedience of not acting was not the right thing to do, in Kitty's mind. It is actions like this which garner Kitty such loyal friends and lovers, to the extent that at one point, when it is she who is endangered, a truly unlikely team is pulled together to rescue her: a team consisting of shifters, vampires, the regular human police, and human magic users — none of whom really know, like, or trust each other.

It is Kitty's ability to be a good friend and to craft community, in fact, which causes one scene I remember with particular fondness: she is in Vegas with her fiancee (himself newly a werewolf) to get married. They're politely talking, albeit very warily, with two people her fiancee knows, who are monster hunters. They are trying to figure out if they need to kill Kitty for turning their friend into a werewolf (she had not), and then to kill her fiancee as well because he's supposedly now a "monster" himself.

Kitty's very normal mother — who knows nothing more than that her daughter is finally getting married, and is quite excited about it — sees them talking and comes over to remind Kitty about some of the wedding plans. Kitty's mother is friendly and polite, clearly delighted her daughter is marrying, and she happily invites the two monster hunters to the wedding! When she leaves shortly thereafter to continue preparations for the wedding, one of the monster hunters observes with chagrin that she can't kill Kitty now — because it will make that nice woman so unhappy!

Kitty's reaction is wonderful as well, of course, but what makes this scene marvelous to me (aside from the delightful humor) is that Kitty is, even if unwittingly, so adept at crafting community — because due to her behavior then, it is the pair of monster hunters who later, unasked, help Kitty out of a lethally tight spot.

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