Friday, June 27, 2003

Last night saw me curled up rereading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban while I wait for Order of the Phoenix to come in. (Yes, I've become one of them.) Just a few thoughts on the ending:

Dumbledore's conversation with Harry about his decision to save Peter Pettigrew was so similar to Gandalf's conversation with Frodo about Bilbo's sparing Gollum it almost seemed like Rowling was actually forcing herself to write it differently. It seems fairly obvious that Peter will have an important role to play in defeating Voldemort, as well as bringing him back. (And by the way, did we ever find out Professor Trelawney's first correct prediction and I just missed it?)

According to Jordan, Rowling has said that in her books, dead characters stay dead. This statement seems to require a "but," as we see a number of examples of dead characters continuing to affect the world of the living in one way or another. The end of Goblet of Fire is one clear example, aided by the magic that pulled them out of Voldemort's wand. In Prisoner of Azkaban, it is strongly implied that Harry's father took a direct hand in helping Harry drive off the Dementors. The ghosts, of course, I will acknowledge but leave in a separate category. It seems accurate to say that death is permanent, yet also a barrier that can be crossed. The most powerful forces in the series are the connections between people, expressed magically in everything from the circumstances of Voldemort's initial defeat to Harry's relationship with Pettigrew. How than angle of things plays out remains to be seen.

Those of you who have read Order of the Phoenix may now laugh at me: I've been crunching some thoughts about who is going to die. If this were a David Eddings book, I'd say either Arthur Weasley or Hagrid is toast, but it isn't. Given the usual plot structure of the book, it looks like if the death takes place near the end it pretty much has to be someone associated with Hogwarts. Some have suggested Fred or George Weasley, because of the way their mother worries about them. It has to be someone whose death will affect us more than Cedric Diggory. However, in reading some notes on the Babylon 5 episode where Kosh dies, and JMS pointed out that that the mentor-figure always has to die so that the other characters can make Big Decisions. This isn't always true, but is definitely common. Professor Dumbledore is becoming an increasingly important figure in the resistance to Voldemort - I suspect the name of the new book refers to his phoenix in some way - and Rowling will have to be careful to let Harry have room to be the hero and not just Dumbledore's agent. This can be done with Dumbledore still in the picture, as in the Garion-Belgarath relationship (though even after Garion has a kid in the next series I still see him as young because of his attachment to Belgarath), but it would be far more convention to somehow great space between Harry and Dumbledore, and if they're both at Hogwarts, that will be difficult. But, of course, Rowling might be developing things in an entirely different way entirely, with Harry as a permanent "mentored hero," since he will be only 18 at the end. Stay tuned...


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