Saturday, February 03, 2007

Harry Potter 7

Yes, I pre-ordered it from Amazon. I swore I never would buy a Harry Potter book new again, after the disappointment of volume 5, but volume 6 turned out to be quite good and exciting, so now I'm back in line with everyone else, waiting to see how the whole story ends.

I should really re-read HP and the Half-Blood Prince again, just to remind me where everything was at the end. I can skip over the tiresome "empowered Ginny" stuff; the Great Romance doesn't do a thing for me. For what it's worth, here was the one theory I was able to come up with for that book, regarding the Horcrux in the cave.

I don't believe the locket was ever the Horcrux - it was just there as bait. The actual Horcrux was the potion. The only way to get through it to the locket was to drink it, but that would have the effect of the drinker taking into himself the Horcrux; in effect becoming the Horcrux. From Voldemort's point of view, this would be a very clever manoeuvre. He imagines that everyone else shares his passion for "self-continuation" at all costs. So even if the other person realized what had happened, he'd be stuck; there would be no way to destroy the Horcrux without destroying himself, and to Voldemort, that would be unthinkable. Also, it's possible that the Horcrux, once absorbed, would start to take over the host body, and so Voldemort's own will to survive would overpower the original person's will, and he'd become like another Voldemort.

Dumbledore, however, was fully aware of all this, and intended all along to sacrifice his own life to destroy this Horcrux. Snape was his confederate, because his strength was failing, and they both knew he might not be strong enough to hold out against Voldemort and go the last step himself. So up on the Tower, when Harry was horrified to hear Dumbledore pleading with Snape, it's not that he was pleading for his life - he was pleading for death. And it was hard for Snape to do; Dumbledore was reminding him of their plan, so he wouldn't weaken at the crucial moment. It was a way of saying, "We discussed this, remember? We agreed, that if it came right down to it, you'd kill me if I couldn't do it myself." The way Dumbledore's body went flying over the parapet after the AK was weird; maybe it indicates that it wasn't really anymore a normal "live" person. Perhaps Dumbledore's spirit had already left after that last message to Snape, and all that was there was his body, possessed by Voldemort. So Snape was killing Dumbledore's body, but not him.

I haven't figured out exactly what's up with that locket, though. I'll think about it some more, after I've re-read the book (but right now I'm re-reading 'The Lord of the Rings', so it'll have to wait a little). Just one thing struck me about that message. Everyone figures that R.A.B. are a person's initials (Regulus Black). But I checked through all the other books, and no message anywhere is formatted the way this one is. The R.A.B. is centered on the bottom line - that's not the way a signature is done in any of JKR's other notes or messages. I think those letters don't stand for a name - they're some kind of acronym or message. Like "R.I.P." Maybe it's Latin, but it would be something Voldemort would recognize. And who knows just when it was put there? But the note was addressed to Voldemort, not to "To Whom It May Concern", and Voldemort would not likely go digging up his old Horcruxes to look at them again. So I suspect that Voldemort put the locket there not knowing it had already been tampered with.

Hogwarts Professor has an interesting theory about how Voldemort and Harry are linked through the "regeneration" spell that took place at the end of Book 5. When I re-read Half-Blood Prince, I'll try out his theory that Voldemort is listening in to everything that happens to Harry. So Dumbledore and Snape are feeding misinformation to him all the time they're talking to Harry.
If you re-read Phoenix and Prince with the idea in mind that Dumbledore and Snape know they are talking to Voldemort whenever they talk to Harry (and whenever Harry speaks in all-caps, Voldemort is learning how to use his new scar-o-scope, an effect he is able to mute by the beginning of Prince), I think you’ll be astonished at the “narrative misdirection” drama they are writing to deceive the Dark Lord about their progress with respect to Horcruxes.
If that's the case, maybe that explains a little better Snape's fury when Harry looked into the Pensieve and saw his memories. It's not that he was so upset that Harry saw THAT particular painful memory; he was terrified at what Harry MIGHT have seen, and revealed to Voldemort - that he and Dumbledore were aware of the link and were using it to deceive Voldemort.


Blogger Ellie M said...

Sigh. I just can't get into this Pottermania thing at all. I had to read one of the books for a course and I thought the writing was awful. And the entire premise was lifted from a much better book series, Jill Murphy's "Worst Witch" (it's about a secret school for young witches that's held in an old gothic castle: sound familiar?) And the claim that Potter is "making kids read" was actually debunked years ago:,6109,710189,00.html

The final straw for me was when the last book came out, and a bookstore accidentally-on-purpose sold a few copies of it a few days before they were supposed to. Rowling and her team of high-priced lawyers not only demanded the purchasers bring the books back -- books they had BOUGHT in good faith -- but proceeded to demand a gag order so they could not talk about the story with anyone. Forget free speech and the Charter of Rights. Rowling was prepared to jail any of her readers who disobeyed the injunction. This is what I can't get over. She was prepared to JAIL HER READERS.

Conservative blogger Colby Cosh, a former admirer of hers, wrote an article on his blog at the time entitled "J.K. Rowling: Fascist Creep." And Kate Macmillan said she'd challenge the injunction by posting the plot of the verboten book on her blog.

Good for them.

10:58 am  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Oh, well, I don't share the Rowlings-worship that often goes along with the books, and the drama of the midnight release, gag orders and all that is just marketing, no doubt about it. (And don't even get me started on Yahoo discussion groups; I've never seen people so anal about "SPOILERS!!!!! - and make sure you leave 20 blank lines so the idiot who doesn't want to know anything but comes to discussion forums anyway can preserve her ignorance unspotted!") But the books have the same pull as Agatha Christie novels - nobody really thinks about the quality of the WRITING, you just want to get to the end to see what happens!

11:54 am  
Blogger Mark Windsor said...

I think the thing that bugs me most about the Potter books is the cult status they've achieved. The writing in the first couple of books was ok at best, but I think she lost her editor somewhere along the line. The later books were much longer than they needed to be and the writing went to the dogs. Rowling kept up with her plot points, but she didn't keep up with any other details in the stories at all.

Six months ago I got absolutly ripped by Mark Shea's readers when I said I didn't like the writing and thought the series over-rated. It was as if I had dared to criticize the greatest living writer ever.

But, having said that, I'll feed the beast when this one comes out. I've read all the others, so I might as well read this too.

Have you ever read the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, by any chance? Stephen Donaldson did six books in this series. The first three were good, but the last three were dreadful. All the charm and newness of the first three was lost in the last three, and the writing went to pot in general. Same kinda thing with Rowling. Maybe it's common in anything more than a trilogy.

9:13 am  
Blogger Ellie M said...

Mark, that bugs me too. It's not just that the books are over-hyped, it's the almost religious fanaticism they engender in their followers. A dissenting opinion not only isn't tolerated, it usually results in screams of outrage. When A.S. Byatt and Harold Bloom and other literary worthies have criticized Potter, they've been absolutely deluged with hate mail.

I'm not trying to censor anyone's reading, I'm just so tired of hearing how Harry Potter and Philip Pullman and Eragon and Captain Underpants and the rest of these fad books are somehow making kids more literate, when in fact they're doing no such thing. (A claim Dr Mabuse hasn't made, I hasten to add.)

It's like hearing that reading the Da Vinci Code has enhanced people's knowledge of Christianity.

1:52 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

I don't believe that the Potter books are very important, and I don't believe the hype about "getting kids to read". That's more a reflection on how dull most children's literature is; when they can find something interesting, kids will read. Who wouldn't enjoy a good adventure yarn rather than wade through Judy Blume's dramatics?

But sure, they're poorly written. Usually, when I read, I retain a lot of quotes in my mind. Most of the time when I write something and I quote single lines from books, I'm doing it from memory. I can't recall one single memorable quote from any of the 6 Harry Potter books I've read. I can maybe remember a line or two from the movies, but that's because I've got the visual to help fix it in my memory. And Mark is completely right - Rowling got too big and important, so no editor dared to take the red pencil to her books. They've become stupidly inflated; the last one could have been a third shorter.

I just enjoy them for fun. She's good at constructing puzzles, putting in red herrings, using misdirection, and keeping the reader guessing until the end.

6:18 pm  
Blogger Mark Windsor said...

Ok, now that we've done away with JK, who's up for a discussion of Jorge Luis Borges?!

Oh, come on, at least Flannery.

But, ya know, we shouldn't expect much of literature, film, TV or any other entertainment anymore. Fox news just ran a story about a website called Cheddar Vision. It's a website with live shots of...cheese. Oh, how low we have sunk!

1:34 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Heehee - with guest spots by Wallace and Gromit?

2:37 pm  

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