Two weeks to go!
Alright, I admit, it took me longer to read this one than Philosopher’s Stone. I actually finished it on Wednesday, but things have been so busy that I didn’t have a chance to write about it until now. I also read this book with particular care, since Rowling has repeatedly said that it has a large number of important clues. She also said it was her favourite, at one point, but that was before Half Blood Prince, so that might have changed. At any rate, I went through it with a fine toothed comb, looking for anything and everything which might be relevant.
To begin with, Harry is definitely a Horcrux, as indicated by this scene:
“…transferred some of his own powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I’m sure…”
“Voldemort put a bit of himself in me?” Harry said, thunderstruck.
“It certainly seems so.”
I also noted that Dumbledore seemed to understand what the diary was almost immediately. He talks about the diary being “brilliant,” and adds that Voldemort was “the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen.” It sounds like Dumbledore has awe and appreciation for Voldemort, as well as some sadness about how evil Voldemort became. It’s important to remember that the books deal with the corruption of innocence, not just brave Harry against an evil adversary. Alas, I think it is too late for Voldemort to redeem himself, because he has become so much less than human.
Also, Dobby may know about the Horcruxes. He talks about it when he first comes to visit Harry on Privet Drive, saying that Voldemort has powers “no decent wizard” has. Since house elves are marginalized as worthless and they are skilled at coming and going without being seen, is it possible that Dobby has seen Voldemort making or talking about Horcruxes? The house elves may yet have an important role to play.
When Dumbledore is suspended by the governors, he says that he will have only truly left the school when no one there is loyal to him. In the context of the book, this means that Harry is able to get assistance from Fawkes by demonstrating his loyalty to Dumbledore. But…remember at the end of Half Blood Prince, when Harry says that he is “Dumbledore’s man,” even though Dumbledore is dead? Look, I realize it’s wishful thinking to believe that he’s still alive, but…I think that Dumbledore will be playing a role in book seven, if people go back to Hogwarts. This why I think it is important for everyone to go back to school. (Well, that, and I have a hard time with the idea of glorifying school drop outs.)
Speaking of Dumbledore, how about that ability to see through invisibility cloaks? And his ability to become invisible, as demonstrated in Philosopher’s Stone? And why would he have James’ invisibility cloak when James died if he can become invisible, anyway? Or did someone else pass the cloak on to Dumbledore…someone like…Snape?
I also think that one of the important themes in the book is the similarity between Harry and Voldemort. The book also has this big theme of personal choice, which Harry and Voldemort illustrate so beautifully. But I think it’s very telling that Voldemort picked Harry out as “the one,” rather than Neville, the child of pure-blood families. Voldemort himself is half blooded, a source of great irritation to him. But he finds commonality in Harry, perhaps seeing Harry as more of a potential threat than Neville would be.
Oh, the choices we make!
Furthermore, how magical is Hagrid, exactly? I mean, we know he was expelled from Hogwarts because he was raising an Acromantula in the castle. However, we know that he retained his wand, inside his pink flowery umbrella. And it occurs to me that he attempts a tricky bit of Transfiguration in Philosopher’s Stone, when he tried to turn Dudley into a pig. I am curious to know how Hagrid stacks up against fully trained witches and wizards…
Also, a shout out to Cheshire Books, the independent bookstore in Fort Bragg…which is, apparently, having a midnight release party, although they have not deigned to post signage about it anywhere. For those of us too lazy to go to Mendocino, this is good news. Cheshire Books is owned by an awesome lady who does a lot of really cool things for the community, so I am stoked to hear that they are celebrating the release in style…with a replica of Diagon Alley! Pretty awesome! They are happy to take your pre-orders at 964-5918.
[Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets]