Saturday, February 03, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - release date announced

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling - July 21, 2007I love the Harry Potter books. I still read a lot of classic (mainly English) chidren's literature that I loved when I was a kid - Swallows and Amazons, The Borrowers, The Secret Garden that kind of thing - and I think the quality of Jo Rowling's work is right up there with the best of them.

I love the fact that she never dumbs down her language or concepts in order to cater for kids - which is just as it should be. Kids get it! And stuff they don't get at first they will understand as they re-read favourite books over the years. I first read The Lord of The Rings when I was 11 and I've re-read it pretty much every year since then - and I still find new things I'd never noticed before.

It's the same with Harry Potter. I've read all 6 books more than once, and there's always new things to discover, and new clues to pick up along the way. So I'm completely thrilled to see that the release date for the final book - Book 7 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was announced yesterday. It's due out on 21 July 2007. Woohoo! At this precise moment (according to The Leaky Cauldron's countdown clock) there are 165 days, 8 hours, 8 minutes and 39 seconds left to wait. And there'll be somewhat fewer by the time you read this.

Time to start thinking about reading the whole series through again in preparation for Book 7. Let's see - a week or so for each book - say 2 weeks to be on the safe side, 6 books, that's 3 months. Hmmm. Not quite time to begin - but soon.

When I had finished reading book 6 I wrote the following piece for one of my message boards (hi CH literature thread!), and I thought it would be interesting to revisit it now that book 7 is nearly here. It lays out my theory about Snape's role in the books, and my answer to the famdom-dividing question of Snape: Good or Evil?

Warning: this piece is basically one big spoiler of book 6, so don't read any further if you haven't read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince yet (assuming there's anyone left on the planet who's still planning to read it but hasn't gotten around to it yet!)


Monday 25 July 2005

Oooh ohh! I just finished reading it last night! I cried at the end. I just didn't see that coming at all. Oh boy.

OK. Here are my thoughts. Apologies in advance at the length of them. Once I got started I just couldn't stop.... It's mostly about Snape 'cos I find him fascinating.... *g*

I don't think Snape is a Death Eater. I think he's DEEP under cover and he has to stay that way. Voldemort is the most powerful dark wizard ever. He's equal in power to Dumbledore - pure evil vs pure good. Dumbledore wouldn't have been able to defeat Voldemort - of course, that's Harry's job - but I also think that he decided long ago that a double agent - a hidden enemy - would be much more likely to be able to weaken Voldemort in some unexpected way than he (Dumbledore) ever could. Thereby allowing Harry to finish off Voldemort at the end of book 7.

Did you notice when Snape was talking to Bellatrix and Narcissa about Malfoy's task that he never actually said anything specific until they had already mentioned it? He talks in very general terms - or says nothing at all - and lets Narcissa spill (some of) the beans herself. This makes me think that he doesn't know what the plan is at that stage, but wants to find out - and needs to keep under cover, whatever the price. That's why he agrees to the Unbreakable Vow - and why he twitches his hand when Narcissa puts in the final bit about doing the job should Malfoy fail. Because obviously he doesn't want to agree to that, but has to, or his cover will be blown.

So throughout the book we have Snape trying to find out from Malfoy what his task is - and Malfoy refusing to tell, thinking that Snape wants all the glory for himself. Snape has figured out that Malfoy has to kill Dumbledore - Malfoy says that Snape guessed it was him with the necklace and was angry about the fact that it could have "blown everything". Dumbledore also tells Malfoy that he had figured out he was trying to kill him. But Snape doesn't know details, and I think it's these that he's been trying to get out of Malfoy.

I think that Snape and Dumbledore would have discussed it, thought through all the consequences of the Unbreakable Vow - and would have come up with a plan. The problem was, Malfoy never told Snape about the Vanishing Cabinets, and so Snape would have had no way of knowing that there would be other Death Eaters at the school that night - which kind of complicated things for him.

And once again Trelawney sees it coming in the cards. Cool.

OK. So they both know Malfoy has to kill Dumbledore. They both know that he may not be able to do it. In which case, Snape will have to do it for him. If he doesn't, his cover will be blown - oh, and he would die anyway, for breaking the Unbreakable Vow. Dumbledore believes that, in the end, Snape will be of more use to Harry than he (Dumbledore) could be. He's always looking at the bigger picture, and I reckon he knows he must sacrifice himself in order for ultimate good to triumph over ultimate evil.

Dumbledore makes sure that he gets the whole story from Malfoy before he dies - and that Harry is forced to stay where he is so he hears it all too. There's obviously stuff in there which Harry will need to know in book 7. I think Dumbledore is telling the truth when he tells Malfoy that he couldn't have spoken to him about his task, in case Voldemort used Legilimancy on Malfoy. But I think that's as much to do with maintaining Snape's cover as protecting Malfoy.

Having said that, I think Dumbledore's very keen to "save" Malfoy - to bring him back from the dark side - which means ensuring that Malfoy does not kill him. I think this is partly because Dumbledore has an abiding ability to see the best in people and to believe the best of them - and also - from JK Rowling's point of view - because I think she actually wants Malfoy to redeem himself in book 7 - for her readers' sake maybe? Bad boy turns good - "hey kids, you can stop bullying your mates and be a good guy instead" kind of a thing. Maybe?

Dumblwdore's pleading with Snape just before Snape kills him wasn't to spare his life - it was to take it - something which Snape would have obviously not wanted to do (assuming I am right about Snape, of course! *g*). Snape's look of "revulsion and hatred" just before he does Avada Kedavra could be read as being towards Voldemort, and because of what he has to do, rather than towards Dumbledore.

I think it's also possible that Dumbledore either knew he was going to die soon anyway from having drunk the potion in the cave - or, that he knew if he stayed alive, there was something in the potion which would allow Voldemort to read his thoughts or something (remember how he tells Harry that he didn't think the potion would kill right away, because Voldemort would want to know who had drunk it and whether they knew about the horcruxes). So he has to die before Voldemort gets inside his head, otherwise Snape's cover will be blown - and Voldemort will know that Harry knows about the horcruxes.

It's interesting also that Snape could have killed Harry as they race for the front gates - but doesn't - and that he stops one of the other Death Eaters from doing it too. OK, he says it's because Harry needs to be saved for Voldemort - like a mouse for a cat to play with - but then why doesn't he take Harry with him right then? Or he could just have gone against Voldemort's orders and killed off the only real threat to Voldemort's power. End of problem, Voldemort rules the world. OK, he might be a bit pissed off that Snape spoiled his fun, but still, he'd rule the world....

Did you also notice that Snape stops Harry from doing the Cruciatus curse - that's one of the Unforgivable Curses - in fact he says that to Harry as he parries away the half-spoken curse. Is this because he needs to ensure that Harry stays "pure", stays "good" and isn't sullied by the speaking of a Dark curse? [It occurs to me that this might also be why he's so angry with Harry for using Sectumsempera (which he describes as being Dark Magic) on Malfoy - as well as, because, you know, he nearly sliced him open!]

And his mighty over-reaction in the chase to the school gates when Harry calls him a coward - he goes nuts! I think Snape truly dislikes Harry - he can't get over what Harry's dad and his mates did to him at school - so imagine how he would feel if this upstart kid - whom he has sworn to protect at all costs - including just murdering his good friend Dumbledore for the greater good - just called him a coward when actually he's nothing of the sort. No wonder he freaks out!

And I think Dumbledore is definitely dead (much as I'd like to think otherwise). The fact that the Freezing Charm lifted from Harry once Dumbledore fell, and that Fawkes sang the lament and then flew away, makes me think that. Although, Harry does think he sees a phoenix rising from Dumbledore's funeral pyre, so maybe........ we shall see. Maybe Nova's right and he will do a Gandalf....

I think from a plot/storyline point of view, Dumbledore had to die - it is the classic Merlin/Arthur, Gandalf/Frodo pattern, isn't it? Wizard/mentor/father-figure teaches star pupil all he can, and then has to die off so that the boy hero can become a man and fulfil his destiny. (As far as Frodo is concerned, Gandalf is dead, so that still fits, even though G is resurrected.) In the end, Harry has to do it by himself. The fact that (if I'm right) Snape will help him somehow, which slightly spoils the classic storyline, is mitigated by the fact that Snape and Harry truly dislike each other, and that Snape can in no way be seen to be playing the father-figure/mentor role.

Interesting that Hogwarts may close next year, which means that Ron and Hermione are free to go with Harry on his quest with no regrets (which Hermione might otherwise have had) and that we have no regrets about missing school either, because there is no school.

I also agree that Ginny isn't going to get pushed away quite so easily. It's a crap argument anyway – “I can't love you because then you'll be a target for Voldemort" I mean, Harry loves Ron and Hermione as much if not more as he cares for Ginny, so they'll be obvious targets anyway. Mind you, again going back to the "classic storyline" - the hero generally does have to kill the dragon before he wins the fair lady.... But I just think JK took care in this book to build Ginny up into a strong, no-nonsense kind of girl, who in the end won't allow the others to go off into danger without her.

And of course Ron and Hermione will get together. How could they not? Rowling's been building up to that one since book 1!

Ohohoho - and did you notice the veiled reference to possibly slightly more than snogging going on between Harry and Ginny???? When Romilda Vane asks Ginny whether Harry has a Hippogriff tattooed across his chest? Although Ginny reports that she made a joke of it and told Romilda it was a Hungarian Horntail, the fact that Romilda asks, and Ginny answers, and no-one's in the least bit surprised or shocked make me think that *gasp* Ginny has seen Harry with his shirt off. Oooh-er! Snigger.

So there you go. Did I fill a whole page???? I used to love English at school. I had a crush on my English teacher in fact. Sigh.

UPDATE 14/04/07: Since I write this post, the cover art for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been released. Here's my in-depth analysis of the cover art and what it might reveal of the storyline for book 7.

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Anonymous said...

Liked your page. Saw Roger in Melb 02/02 WOW. If you like Harry potter Try "The Bartimaeus Trilogy" by Jonathan Stroud or " Northern Lights" by Philip Pullman

webweaver said...

Thanks Eddie!

Wasn't Roger just INCREDIBLE??? Wish I could go to a whole bunch more concerts on the tour now - once is not enough!

I'll check out those books - they sound interesting. Ta!

Anonymous said...

Yea Roger blew me away literally and metaphorically. I actually felt the heat from the pyros especially in Perfect sense when the oil rig blew up. It is a once in a liftime experience to be able to hear,see and feel the music. Northern Lights takes a little getting into but its worth the effort.

Cheers Eddie

Anonymous said...

i love harry potter because of the way jk. writes it. she makes you feel like you are in the book. in the fifth book when they were at th ministry of magic, i thought i was going to get hit with a jinks or curse! and in the sixth book, i was so sad when dumbledore died that i almost cried. i hope that harry can live to see the end of the seventh book. don't you? even though i'm only eleven,i started to read harry potter 4 years ago and every time i finish one book, i can't wait to read the next one. can't wait to see what happens in the deathly hallows!

webweaver said...

Hi Harry Potter is cute!

Thanks so much for the comment! I absolutely agree with you - each time I finish one book I want to read the next one straight away. I DID cry when Dumbledore died at the end of book 6 - it was so sad!

I know that some people are going to die in book 7, and I have some ideas who it could be - but I'm hoping VERY much that Harry isn't one of them! I really hope he makes it through OK.

I'm so excited about Book 7. I can't wait to see what happens either! I'm not sure if I'm going to sit down and read it from cover to cover in one sitting the minute I get hold of it - or whether I'm going to take my time and really savour it - seeing as it's the last book!

I think I might just have to read it straight through really fast the first time - because I'm so eager to know what happens - and then read it through again straight away, taking my time and savouring every bit of it. That might be a good compromise.

How about you? How do you think you'll read it?

B.V.K. said...

Hey hey hey .. now another "Potter" fan.
Me too eagerly waiting for the 7th book to roll out. From the 3rd book, I have been reading the books in one go.. have been soo exciting and gripping, that one just can't stop reading :)
And yeah about the deaths, someone major is going to die.. just hope it's not harry!

webweaver said...

Me too, B.V.K.

I fear it might be Ginny and Neville.

I think Neville has an important role to play before the end, and I think he might end up sacrificing himself somehow for Harry.

I think Harry won't be able to finish off Voldemort without Neville's help, but I think Neville will die in the process.

...and I think Ginny might die tragically in Harry's arms. *sob*

B.V.K. said...

oooh.. it's so emotional even thinking about it, not sure how we are gonna take it.. but then the good can't be appreciated without the bad, and somehow i feel it's gonna b a happy ending though there are gonna be few drastic losses :(

chowie said...

Chanced upon your blog on an internet search engine. Very good analysis on the sixth book, and on Snape's character in particular. Let's wait and see what happens in the seventh!

webweaver said...

Hi Hazel!

Thanks heaps for your kind words. I'm counting down the hours until the 7th book - and hoping I can avoid finding out the ending before I get to read it myself...