Thursday Jul 19, 2007

Dissecting the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Covers

In further anticipation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the cover art on the various editions can give us some clues about the plot.

  • The US Version. This image, which spans both the front and back cover, seems to show Harry and Voldemort in a coliseum-like location with onlookers in the background. A few comments and questions:
    • Is the coliseum supposed to imply a gladiator-like battle?
    • The rubble in the front of the image seems to imply that there was a battle, but in the picture Harry and Voldemort don’t seem to be actively fighting. Why not?
    • Instead, Harry and Voldemort both appear to be facing something or someone not shown instead of each other. Harry appears to be reaching out for it. Is Voldemort reaching for it also, or holding his hands out to block it? Could it be Fawkes the phoenix or the sword of Gryffindor to which Harry is reaching out? Or is it someone?
    • Why are neither Harry nor Voldemort holding a wand?
    • Why are there curtains on either side of the image? Could they be the veil in the department of mysteries behind which Sirius fell when he died? Could Harry and Voldemort actually be behind the veil fighting each other?
    • Who are the onlookers? If Harry and Voldemort are really behind the veil, perhaps they are dead people like Sirius and Harry’s parents?
    • In summary, this image basically shows us that Harry and Voldemort will be face-to-face at some point in the book, which I think most of us have already guessed.
  • The UK Version. This cover contains four images.
    • The large front-cover image shows Harry, Ron, and Hermione plunging through some sort of treasure-chamber. A small creature on Harry's back appears to be holding a sword, while Harry looks like he is diving for something. Are they in Gringott’s? Is the creature a house-elf (Dobby perhaps) or a goblin? Is it holding Gryffindor’s sword? Are they looking for a horcrux?
    • The smaller image on the front shows a white antlered animal, perhaps a white stag, which is Harry’s patronus. Does this mean that Harry’s patronus will be important to the plot of this book?
    • The large back-cover image shows Hogwarts, possibly with smoke behind it. Does this mean that Harry will go to Hogwarts at some point in the book, even if he doesn’t attend his complete seventh year?
    • The small image on the back shows a snake inside a glass ball. Is the snake Nagini (Voldemort’s snake, and possibly one of his horcruxes?)
  • The UK Adult Version. This cover shows JK Rowling on the back, and what I think is Slytherin’s locket on the front. As we already knew the locket would be important, I don’t think this image sheds much light on the plot.

Rank Ordering the Harry Potter Books

Continuing the Harry Potter theme this week, here is my rank ordering of the first six books in the series from favorite to least favorite.

  1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In addition to conveying key information about Voldemort and the over-arching plot, this book held together well, with good pacing. I also enjoyed seeing Harry’s maturing relationship with Dumbledore and the clues as to how much Dumbledore cared about and trusted Harry.
  2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I liked this book also for its revelations about the over-arching plot and about James, Lupin, Sirius, and Wormtail, as well as its good pacing.
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This first book in the series is difficult to compare to some of the later ones as it feels so light in comparison (and I don’t just mean physically!) However, the introduction to the wizarding world is unbeatable.
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I think the climax of this book, where Voldemort regains his full body and Harry escapes, is excellent. However, the book itself is I think a bit too long and bogs down in places. I also didn’t really like the whole impersonation plot point that much.
  5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I haven’t re-read this one recently, but I remember feeling somewhat dissatisfied after reading it. I didn’t really like the whole chamber of secrets and diary plot, though after reading later books I can see better how they relate to the larger plot.
  6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix. I felt that this book bogged down somewhat and didn’t really further the over-arching plot much. I finished the book feeling somewhat frustrated. But note that even as my least-favorite in the Harry Potter series, I’d rather read it than most other books around!

Where will Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows fall?

Monday Jul 16, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Predictions

In my previous post I listed some questions that I hope to find answered in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In this post, I’ll go a step further and make some predictions about the book. I’ve re-read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince between writing the previous post and this one, which has led me to think slightly differently about some of the questions I asked. Without further ado, here are the predictions.

  • Fawkes the Phoenix will adopt Harry. Now that Dumbledore, the previous owner of Fawkes, is dead (and yes, I believe he is truly dead and won’t return like Gandalf), I think there’s a good chance Harry could end up with a Phoenix as an animal companion.
  • Harry will kill Voldemort after finding and destroying the four remaining horcruxes. After re-reading the ending of Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, in which Dumbledore explains the prophecy, I don’t think there’s a chance that it could now refer to Neville.
  • Harry’s scar will disappear. The scar was the connection to Voldemort, so at the time of Voldemort’s death it will vanish.
  • Severus Snape will sacrifice himself to save Harry. After re-reading the Half-Blood Prince, I believe that Dumbledore was wrong that Snape was on his side. The fact that Dumbledore was somewhat incorrect about the Horcrux in the cave (he didn’t know it had been removed already) serves to underscore his fallibility, thus lending credence to the theory that he was also wrong about Snape. That said, I think that Snape, unlike Voldemort, has the capacity to love, and truly feels guilty about Lily Potter’s murder (though perhaps not James’). Therefore, he will redeem himself in the end by helping Harry.
  • Draco will help Harry in some way. By the end of the Half-Blood Prince Harry feels sorry for Draco, with his previous dislike of Draco pushed out of the way by his overwhelming hatred of Snape. Although they’re unlikely to become friends, I think (or maybe hope) that Draco will come to realize Voldemort’s fundamental evilness and will help Harry in his quest to defeat him.
  • Hagrid will die. Harry has now lost his parents, his godfather (Sirius Black), and his mentor and father-figure (Dumbledore). Hagrid’s the adult remaining alive to whom Harry is closest, so following the pattern, he may lose his life in the final book.
  • Percy Weasley will make up with his family. I can’t believe that, when push comes to shove, a member of the Weasley family won’t come through in the end.
  • We’ll discover that Harry is related to Godric Gryffindor. This connection would be parallel to Voldemort’s descent from Salazar Slytherin. There have been hints, such as Harry’s use of Godric’s sword in The Chamber of Secrets, and the name, Godric’s Hollow, where Harry’s parents died.
  • Neville will use his herbology skills to help Harry defeat Voldemort.
  • Petunia will help Harry in some way. This help will include more than just allowing Harry back into her house one last time.
  • We’ll learn more about Dumbledore and his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald. Maybe also about Dumbledore’s brother Ableforth.
  • We’ll learn more about James and Lily Potter. I realize this is a bit vague, but there’s got to be more to the fact that Harry has his mom’s eyes.
  • The house-elves, or at least Dobby, will help Harry, rewarding him and Hermione for their kindness toward them.
  • Wormtail will repay his life-debt to Harry.

Reading through the predictions, I can see that I’m pretty optimistic about the outcome: Both Snape and Draco redeem themselves, none of the kids die, and Voldemort is defeated. Let’s see if J.K. Rowling agrees!

Thursday Jul 12, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Top-Ten Questions

In anticipation of the imminent release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, here are the top ten questions for which I hope to find answers or resolution in the final book.

  1. Whose side is Snape on? Is he truly a follower of Voldemort, really a loyal member of the Order of the Pheonix, just out for himself, conflicted, or playing both sides? I believe that whatever loyalties he currently has or has had in the past, he will redeem himself in the end, possibly by saving Harry’s life and in the process sacrificing himself.
  2. Why did Dumbledore trust Snape? While related to the first question, this point was emphasized so much in the last book that I think it will be important in this one.
  3. What will Draco do? He proved in the climax to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that he wasn’t in his heart on the side of Voldemort. Will he redeem himself, as Dumbledore no doubt hoped?
  4. How will Wormtail repay his life-debt to Harry? Recall that Harry spared his life in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This debt has not yet been repaid.
  5. What is the meaning of Dumbledore’s "gleam of triumph"? Recall that this look occurred when Dumbledore discovered that Harry’s blood was used to resurrect Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  6. How will the prophecy be resolved? It states in part that, "…either must die at the hand of the other…" I think that Voldemort will be killed in the final book, but I’m not convinced that Harry will be the one to do it. Although not likely, I do think there’s a small chance the prophecy actually refers to Neville instead. Which brings me to…
  7. What will be Neville’s role? I think Neville will have a significant role to play in the final book – it will be interesting to see what it is.
  8. Who is R.A.B.? He claimed to have stolen one of the horcruxes. Speculation is that it’s Sirius’ brother.
  9. More information about Lily and the night of her murder? It seems like there are still some things we don’t know about that fateful night.
  10. Is there any more to Aunt Petunia? I suspect there are still a few things we don’t know about her.

About

Nick Solter is a software engineer and author living in Colorado.

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