He who must not be spoilt

Tuesday, 12 July 2005 — 9:22am | Harry Potter, Literature

Now that the summer movie season has been over for almost two weeks, with Spielberg’s War of the Worlds being the last major release of any significance, and the next (Gilliam’s Brothers Grimm) not arriving until late August, it is time to turn back to literary pursuits encoded in language alone.

If you’ve been paying any attention to things that matter, you are already aware that this is the week that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is being released. I, for one, will welcome our new half-blood overlord at the stroke of midnight that bridges Friday and Saturday at the Strathcona Chapters on Whyte Avenue. All are welcome, as if it were at all my authority to decide such things.

And so here we are, at much the same position as two years and a month ago, wondering what to expect from Jo Rowling before she beaned us all with the 700-page curveball that was The Order of the Phoenix. We have before us three questions of identity that may not be answerable: the major death, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor and the titular royal (assuming Rowling hasn’t been pulling our leg and it was actually You-Know-Who all along). After a lot of thought, if I were at all a betting man, I would think it most probable the second and third are new characters, perhaps the same character. I would also conjecturally doubt that the Half-Blood Prince is a student.

As for who croaks in this one, it’s much easier to take a stand on who won’t. I don’t believe it will be Dumbledore, though I’m fully aware I could be eating my words half a week from now. While the cover art alone implies he’ll be playing a bigger role in this one, whereas one of the big mysteries posed and answered in Phoenix was why he was hardly onstage, I get the sense that he still has a lot to do in the seventh book as the conclusion approaches, not least because he is and always has been Harry’s most direct source of testimonial exposition.

If you’ve read much Potter discussion online you are probably familiar with the Lexicon by now, as it remains the best repository of known knowns, known unknowns and a few unknown knowns for good measure. I’ve also found an excellent collection of essays on the Potterverse here, which delve into the kind of detail I endorse and would have engaged in myself did I have the time or the dedication. The writer is knee-deep in the convolutions of the online Potter community and its wildflowers of rampant fanfiction good and ill that flourish around Rowling’s canon and threaten its boundaries with myriad assumptions, and the Potterverse is honestly a lot more straightforward than he makes it out to be, but the site makes for an interesting read if you want to get those speculative juices flowing.

This is a very exciting time.

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