The Erlking, or Lord Herne,[1] is a wyldfae.[2] He is the Lord of the goblins, and a peer to the Faerie Queens. He first appears in Dead Beat.


The Erlking is sort of the Hunter King. He is associated with the summer season and is thus considered a Summer King, despite being independent of the queens and their courts.[3]

A giant, nine feet tall at least, with a lean, athletic look, the Erlking holds dominion over the spirits of fallen hunters, the energy of the hunt: excitement, hunger and bloodlust.[4][5]

In the seriesEdit

The Erlking has an ambivalent relationship with Harry Dresden, seeing him as a prey of sorts,[6] but also respecting him for his power and honor.[7][8]


The lore about him was compiled into the book Die Lied der Erlking by Wizard Peabody. It is a collection of essays, stories, songs, lectures, accountings, sketches and poetry about him.[9]

When Harry Dresden meets the Erlking again at court, we find out his name is Lord Herne. Herne the Hunter is a well-known figure in English folklore, appearing as an antlered man said to haunt and hunt in Windsor Great Park, which surrounds Windsor Castle; this is also a reflection of the Welsh Gwyn ap Nudd, who is lord of the goblins and of the Welsh Wild Hunt. The English name "Erlking" derives from the German "Erlkönig" ("Alder King"); the latter in turn was mistranslated from a Danish name meaning "Elfking".[1]

The attributes of Butcher's Erlking strikingly echo those of Jareth, the Goblin King from the 1986 Jim Henson movie "Labyrinth." He is called the lord of goblins and even Goblin King on occasion; in myth, though not in Butcher's books, he is concerned, as is Jareth, with stealing away children. However, the Erlking's facial appearance reflects the asymmetry of his subjects, though it is said to have a "roguish charm"; while Jareth (played in the movie by David Bowie) is hauntingly beautiful, with long blond hair and mismatched eyes.(reference needed)


The Erlking
You are poor game at the moment. Because of that, and because you pleased me with your calling of the old hunter, this night you may go free. But beware, mortal. The next time our paths cross, it shall be my very great pleasure to run you down.
The Erlking
Well. Well, well, well. Isn’t this interesting.
The Erlking
I do not indulge in courtesy as do the Sidhe. Such matters delight them. I find that they pall swiftly.
The Erlking
Nay, nay. The Knight caught my words fairly. Guests they are, Lord Ordulaka, and I will not cheapen my honor by betraying that ancient compact.
— Quotes by the Erlking himself.[10][11]
Harry Dresden
I do thank thee for the compliment, O King. Though it is chance, not design, that brought me hither, I am humbled by thy generosity in accepting us into thine home as guests. Mine host.
The Erlking
Ah. Caught out by mine own words, ’twould seem. Courtesy is not a close companion unto me, so perhaps it is meet that in a duel of manners, thou wouldst have the advantage. And this hall honors cleverness and wisdom as much as strength.
— Dresden using the laws of hospitality to save himself from the Erlking.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cold Days, ch. 5
  2. Word of Jim
  3. Jim Butcher, Dragon-Con Q&A
  4. Dead Beat, ch. 21
  5. Changes, ch. 35
  6. Changes, ch. 36-37
  7. Cold Days, ch. 44
  8. Cold Days, ch. 53
  9. Dead Beat, ch. 20
  10. Dead Beat, ch. 43
  11. 11.0 11.1 Changes, ch. 36

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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