Dresden Files

The Heirs of Kemmler are the apprentices of the necromancer Heinrich Kemmler vying for power. They first appear in Dead Beat.


I was the only one of the three of us who thought you might succeed [in summoning the Erlking].
Harry Dresden
I don’t get it. I thought that you guys hated one another’s guts.
Oh, yes.
Harry Dresden
Then are you working together or trying to kill each other?
Why, yes.
[what sounded like a genuine laugh bubbled in his voice]
We smile at one another and play nicely all in the name of Kemmler’s greater glory, of course. But we are all planning on killing one another as soon as it’s convenient.
— Dresden and Cowl on the Heirs of Kemmler[1]

The Heirs of Kemmler were a group of wizards trained by and following Heinrich Kemmler. Their objective is to perform the Darkhallow, a rite of ascension that would transform at least one of them into an entity of tremendous power; acquiring and reading The Word of Kemmler and Die Lied der Erlking are two essential steps in this process.[2][1]

In the series[]

Dead Beat[]

In Dead Beat, Harry Dresden was given information, history and background on the Heirs of Kemmler. This includes Heinrich Kemmler, his publications and especially the Word of Kemmler and how dangerous it would be for the Heirs to get it.[2] At the Forensic Institute, Grevane and Quintus Cassius tried to kidnap Waldo Butters[3] seeking the Word.[4] Dresden told Butters about necromancy, the Heirs, zombies and magic to prepare him.[5] Because Grevane had the book Die Lied der Erlking, Dresden went to Bock Ordered Books to buy a copy.[6] There, he encountered Cowl and Kumori who demanded the Erlking book—they fight.[1] Mortimer Lindquist gets his ghosts to mark a map with red spots in places where necromancy has occurred, aiding Dresden to locate the Heirs.[7] Dresden follows the spots and one of them is the Field Museum of Natural History where Dr. Bartlesby was murdered which leads him to Alicia Nelson, a.k.a Corpsetaker and Li Xian with Henry Rawlins help.[8] Dresden returns to the morgue with Butters to find Bony Tony Mendoza has a jump drive hidden down in his body.[9] Back at Bock's Books, Dresden encounters Corpsetaker and Li Xian the ghouls where he barely got out alive rescued by Gard and Marcone.

Mab informed Dresden that the Heirs seek to summon the Erlking to raise powerful Specters. They need them to empower their to consume them during the Darkhallow spell on Halloween in order to gain god-like powers.[10] The Heirs were preparing the way by creating chaos, fear and helplessness by blacking out the entire city of Chicago.[11]

Dresden takes on each of the heirs. In the fight with Anastasia Luccio, Corpsetaker allowed the warden to run her though then jumped bodies with Anastasia in an attempt to trick the other Wardens. Dresden guessed that this had happened and shot the Corpsetaker point blank with his revolver.[12] Next Dresden fought Grevane, who was shot by Carlos Ramirez, and has not returned.[13]

Dresden then took on Cowl, but is overpowered. Kumori holds Dresden at knife point but does not kill him fearing his death curse. Dresden talks to Evil Bob reminding him that he gave him a name, and giveing him permission to leave his skull, Bob then possesses Sue the zombie T-rex and distracts Kumori, and Dresden smashes Cowl with his staff interumpting the Darkhallow. Dresden assumes that Cowl is dead.[13]

White Night[]

In White Night, Harry Dresden becomes convinced that Cowl survived when Dresden followed Grey Cloak to a meeting with him in Undertown with the aid of Little Chicago.[14]

Ghost Story[]

In Ghost Story the Corpsetaker returns as a spirit and attempts to posess a new corporeal form.[15]

Surviving Heirs[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Dead Beat, ch. 8
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dead Beat, ch. 3
  3. Dead Beat, ch. 4-5
  4. Dead Beat, ch. 14
  5. Dead Beat, ch. 6
  6. Dead Beat, ch. 7
  7. Dead Beat, ch. 10
  8. Dead Beat, ch. 13
  9. Dead Beat, ch. 14-15
  10. Dead Beat, ch. 21
  11. Dead Beat, ch. 23
  12. Dead Beat, ch. 39
  13. 13.0 13.1 Dead Beat, ch. 42
  14. White Night, ch. 15
  15. Ghost Story, ch. 29