Friday, February 02, 2007

Deaths in "Deathly Hallows"

I just have to make a comment about the press coverage that Jo has said there will be 2 deaths in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

It's not true.

What she said was that one person got a reprieve, she'd intended for them to die but changed her mind while writing it, and that two people she had not originally planned to die would in fact die. But that doesn't mean there aren't others who were always intended to die and still die as planned. And she might have decided more will die since the interview when she made these statements, which took place months ago, before she finished writing the book.

It must be kept in mind, too, that there was more than one death in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Several very minor named characters died and a whole slew of unnamed people also died, including a Death Eater who was killed at Hogwarts by a spell cast by another Death Eater that bounced off the wall and hit an unintended target.

So I guess it's clear the Deathly Hallows should live up to its name.

The mysterious potion

One of the mysteries raised in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince revolves around the mysterious phosphorescent potion in the stone basin at the middle of the underground lake. It's unclear how many layers of magic are surrounding the basin and its contents, but here's what we know:

  • Dumbledore and Harry are unable to touch it, as if an invisible barrier prevents them.
  • Dumbledore says he is unable to magically vanish, part, scoop up, siphon away, transfigure or charm it in any way, but he is able to easily fill a goblet with the potion and drink it.
  • Dumbledore's theory is that it will incapacitate him in some way so as to keep him from getting the Horcrux, but not immediately kill him.
  • Upon drinking it, it's not fully clear what Dumbledore experiences, but it's obviously not pleasant. He appears to be in pain and also to be talking to someone who Harry can't see, someone who is making him feel guilty about something. He says he wants to die. He actually does pass out.
  • Harry brings him round with the Rennervate spell, though he is still weak. The pressure of a dangerous situation at least twice seems to help bring him back to something close to normal.
  • He says to Harry, "that potion . . . was no health drink," and insists only Snape can help him.

Then comes the exchange on top of the tower between Dumbledore and Draco Malfoy. We get some more clues from what Dumbledore says. He's figured out that Rosmerta alerted Draco that Dumbledore had left the school.

"That's right," said Malfoy. "But she said you were just going for a drink, you'd be back. . . ."

"Well, I certainly did have a drink . . . and I came back . . . after a fashion," mumbled Dumbledore. "So you decided to spring a trap for me?"

"We decided to put the Dark Mark over the tower and get you to hurry up here, to see who'd been killed," said Malfoy. "And it worked!"

"Well . . . yes and no . . ." said Dumbledore. "

(emphasis mine)

So, Dumbledore came back "after a fashion". And does the yes and no mean that he didn't truly come back in all senses of the word, or that the trap hadn't worked? Either way, we're left with the feeling that there's more going on than we can understand on the face of it.

My first thought was that we should study potions, especially any potions mentioned in the Half-Blood Prince book. Our beloved author has surely left us a clue somewhere. I'm going to keep a notebook and write them all down when I read the book again, maybe I'll even do it for the whole series. This particular potion must be some complicated Dark Magic.

So what did it do? Did it kill him, and Harry managed to somehow bring him temporarily back to life? So that when Severus did the killing curse, he was only slightly hastening something that would already happen anyway? Interesting thought, but it doesn't sound quite right to me.

However, it seems clear that the potion caused some major change to come over Dumbledore. I really wonder what he meant by the remark that he only came back "after a fashion" -- how was he different, what did the potion do to him?

I guess we have less than 200 days to wait for the answer . . . .

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Day We've Been Waiting For!!!!

If you look back in my posts you'll notice that two of my predictions have come true. We've gotten the release date before Valentine's Day, and it's before Sept. 2007. I have marked my calendar for July 21 and I can't wait!

I did some research:

  • The release date for HBP was announced on Dec. 21, 2004.
  • On Jan 24, 2005, Scholastic announced that the hardcover edition of HBP would contain 672 pages.
  • On March 8, the cover art for the Scholastic edition was released -- shown first on the Today show (who this morning was not heard to make one peep about the news of the release date for DH).
  • On June 5th Scholastic released an article saying that the books were all printed.
  • Later on in June we began to see pictures of the books in various places.
  • The book was actually released to the public on July 16, 2005.

Just some dates to keep in mind as we try to figure out when we'll learn more about this last and most-anticipated Harry Potter novel. It's hard to tell what this means. The date was released over a month earlier than that of the DH, so that probably means we won't see a cover quite as early. But they may have kept the completion of the book under wraps a bit longer this time, who knows. I'd say we'll definitely have a cover by Easter. After the cover, other pictures started surfacing -- a deluxe edition that had more artwork, promotional artwork, etc. as well as the Bloomsbury cover of course, which I think was released the same week as the Scholastic cover.

I remember saving a photo of a stack of books being readied for shipping at Amazon -- I did that for both OoP and HBP. Seeing photos of the actual book, pages and all, as opposed to just the cover floating in air, somehow thrilled me more than I'd anticipated.

The Harry Potter sites are showing countdowns to the OoP movie, saying that there are 161 days left till that, which is essentially a week before the book comes out. That's not too long to wait, really.

I've been reading through the series again, and I'm just up to the part in HBP when they enter the cave with the lake. As soon as I'm done I'm going to pick up Book 1 and start over, hopefully to be done in time for the release of DH.