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Pets in the Underworld

I’m a big fan of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. There are currently 17 novels in the series, each one narrated by Harry Dresden who is both a wizard and, at least to start with, also a private investigator. It’s contemporary fantasy with a large cast of faeries, demons, vampires and other monsters, and very easy to get stuck into reading. In each book Harry’s powers and contacts seem to increase in power, so by the 15th book Skin Game he is ordered by Mab, Queen of the Winter Sidhe, to take part in a heist to steal something from Hades – as in from the underworld as much as from the god himself.

However, Harry does meet Hades the god and they have a chat, and Hades pets his three-headed hellhound for most of their conversation. They discuss various plot points but also this:

“Do you know my dog’s name?”

“Cerberus,” I said promptly. “But everyone knows that.”

“Do you know what it means?”

I opened my mouth and closed it again. I shook my head.

“It is from an ancient word, Kerberos. It means spotted.”

I blinked.

“You’re a genuine Greek god, you’re the lord of the underworld, and you named your dog… Spot?”

“Who’s a good dog?” said Hades, scratching the third head behind the ears and making the beast’s mouth drop open in a doggy grin.

Isn’t it nice when a book covers something you’re interested in that you weren’t expecting it to? I’m a big fan of Greek mythology too so I did a bit of my own investigating…

…And it’s true. That probably is where the name comes from and what it means. I guess that’s a pretty good name for a literal-minded ancient Greek to give a guard dog who needs to spot intruders or would-be escapees, as well as it being quite amusing for modern day folk of any nationality.

As an aside, we tend to pronounce it ‘ser-ber-us’ but it was probably pronounced with a hard c, making his name more like ‘care-bear-us’, which is adorable. And I’m sure he was a very good dog.

Not read any of The Dresden Files? I’d recommend starting at the beginning with Storm Front – apparently the original proposed title for this was Semiautomagic, which I think would have been more appropriate. It gives you a better idea about what to expect – part fantasy, part hard-boiled detective fiction.

(Unless otherwise stated, I get a small commission if you buy through one of these links)

2 thoughts on “Pets in the Underworld

    1. I’d say the first two novels are quite good but not amazing, but I’d recommend reading them so you know what’s going on, and then the series gets really, really good! Let me know what you think if you decide to give them a go 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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