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Book Discussion: Harry Potter & THBP [Aug. 15th, 2005|06:42 am]
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[faramir_boromir]
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Apologies for those waiting for the book discussion to begin--honestly, I'd forgotten I nominated this one. Right! Onward! If you haven't read this, obviously, the post will contain spoilers. YHBW!



This is the sixth book in a series of seven planned stories by J.K. Rowling about the adventures of a teenage wizard named Harry Potter. The books chronicle his lifestory, his educational experiences at the magical school Hogwarts, his friendships, his budding romance(s), and his battles with Death Eaters, the wizards who are committed to supporting the evil Lord Voldemort (who just coincidentally killed Harry's parents when he was a baby).

In this installment, there are four major developments: Harry's two closest friends, Ron and Hermione, eventually fall for each other, while Harry comes to recognize that his feelings for Ron's sister Ginny are less than brotherly--though by the end of the book, Harry tells Ginny that he can't be with her because Voldemort would use that as a reason to kill Ginny. Harry becomes highly proficient at making potions using an old textbook edited by "the Half-Blood Prince", who, it turns out, was Snape, the Potions teacher at Hogwarts who has been given the new job of Defense against the Dark Arts, a post he long coveted. Headmaster Dumbledore teaches Harry about horcruxes, into which he says Voldemort has placed pieces of his soul. Only by eliminating the horcruxes can Voldemort be killed, and the search for them drives this book (as it will the last, presumptively). Dumbledore has found and destroyed several, and the end of the book sees Harry helping Dumbledore track down another horcrux, but in the process, Dumbledore has to drink what appears to be some sort of poison that weakens him at a critical moment when Hogwarts is invaded by the Death Eaters and there is a confrontation in which Dumbledore is killed by Severus Snape. Snape, the former (?) Death Eater who has held a long-simmering grudge against Harry, appears to have betrayed Dumbledore and killed him before fleeing with Draco Malfoy (another student, son of a Death Eater, and Harry's nemesis) to rejoin Lord Voldemort. The book concludes with Harry and his friends at the funeral for Dumbledore--where his familiar, the phoenix Fawkes, is seen flying off from the school--and Harry speculating that he won't be returning to school in the fall, since he must continue the search for the remaining horcruxes so that Voldemort can be destroyed.

Some questions to start off our discussion, then:

As with the last two books, there's another major character death, this time the surrogate father Dumbledore. Although we might speculate about whether Dumbledore did in fact die (as a former teacher of Transfiguration, he may have worked out a way to swap places with his familiar, the phoenix Fawkes, prior to being hit by the death-curse), I'm wondering: was it necessary for the figure with the strongest magical abilities in the series--the only wizard Voldemort apparently feared, which people say repeatedly about Dumbledore--to be killed, in order for Harry's heroism to come to the fore at the end of the series? Does this mean that in a coming-of-age tale like this one is, the young adult must be bereft of anyone who could 'save him' at the last moment (presumably, the confrontation with Voldemort that will happen in book seven), in order to show that the young adult hero can really face the world on his own, without help?

What is the limiting factor of "memorable characters" for a series of books? In each book, JKR has introduced new characters and fleshed out what was previously known about several more. By the sixth book in the series, there are several characters who previously played large roles that have been permanently sidelined (Dolores Umbridge, Gilderoy Lockhart, Wood the Quidditch captain of the Gryffindor), others who appeared in this book but who had a much smaller role than in earlier ones (Hagrid, Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, and Trelawny, the castle ghosts and Filch, Firenze the centaur, Luna Lovegood, Seamus and Neville, Crabbe and Goyle), and other characters who appeared in roughly the same proportion that they did before (the Weasleys, Ron, Hermione, and Harry himself). Without writing "War and Peace" is there an upper limit on the number of memorable characters that an author can keep in play over the length of a series? Has this angle been handled well by JKR?

What does it mean to set a story in a school for magic, yet to show over several years that the girls are smarter than the boys, and that the two central male figures routinely don't even do their own schoolwork but copy from their best friend? Although this may parallel trends in education today, what does it do to the story that Harry's main adventures have less and less to do with schoolwork, books, and spells, even though in the end, his very life may depend upon how well he masters those spells in order to defeat the enemy, Voldemort? And is Hermione right to be angry with Harry about the edited Potions text by "the Half-Blood Prince", or is that just sour grapes that she's no longer number one in a class? After all, the last time a 'mysterious book' showed up (the diary of Tom Riddle), it was Mrs. Weasley who berated Ginny (who was possessed by the diary) for trusting an unusual or mysterious artifact. If Harry's book was better than Hermione's, wouldn't the rules of friendship suggest that he should have shared the spells with her and with Ron?

Draco, Harry's archenemy, is revealed at the moment of confrontation with Dumbledore to be unwilling to kill the headmaster. Even though he knows this action may lead to his death from Voldemort, he cannot kill--is this scene actually the moral center of the book, and not anything that Harry does himself? The supposedly 'bad kid' with the 'bad parents' has a redeemable nature?

The Order of the Phoenix, the band of good wizards that Dumbledore assembled to fight the Death Eaters, were at the center of the previous book's actions, with combat scenes and planning meetings that excluded Harry and his friends due to their age. Was it necessary to 'demote' them in order to put the action-focus back on Harry, for the good of the series?

New spells appear in each of JKR's books, allowing the reader to mirror Harry's learning process, and the spells then get used for good effect at a later point (lumos, accio, impedimenta, and so on). What is the most memorable spell learned in this book? I might argue for an unusual choice: in the peculiar chapter where the Black sisters go to meet Snape at his home, there is a binding, Unbreakable Vow made, in which Snape pledges to help Draco perform his task or die himself. For the purposes of the book's exposition, this spell isn't really necessary: Snape could show up and kill Dumbledore without that earlier scene. Is this binding spell perhaps the reason why Dumbledore has always had such unshakeable faith in Snape, even when others do not? Is Snape in fact still a double-agent against the Death Eaters who, despite having killed (?) Dumbledore, is still working for the side of good because of an Unbreakable Vow made long ago?

And just for speculative purposes, is Dumbledore really dead? Is Harry a horcrux himself? Is Regulas Black the R.A.B. who apparently stole one of the horcruxes? And if you were a werewolf like Remus Lupin, why wouldn't you learn how to make wolfsbane potion, even if you couldn't brew anything else?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: despotliz
2005-08-15 01:45 pm (UTC)
I think it is necessaszry for Dumbledore to die. He's been built up as a great wizard, Harry looks up to him and relies on him, and he's the only wizard Voldemort ever feared. I don't think he needed to be killed to prove Harry can be heroic, because he's proved that many times before. I think he needed to die because we need to know that when Voldemort and Harry do start their fight to the death he goes into it knowing that Dumbledore won't be along to save him, and that it's the turn of Ron, Harry and Hermione to win and not the older generation.

The characters you mention who have been sidelined had all served their purpose in the series, and there's no need to try and keep them in play. Personally I like having a recurring cast of background characters, and I don't think there's any problems with how JKR handles it.

I don't think the series shows girls are are smarter than the boys, it just shows Hermione is exceptionally good, and Harry and Ron are less good at the traditional schoolwork, but they make up for it in other ways. It's sour grapes on Hermione's part, and if he'd offered to share the spells she might not have taken them. Harry's mistake is in not just using the potions advice from the book, but stupidly testing a spell he had no idea about on Draco.

The Unbreakable Vow spell made me wonder why they didn't stick Peter Pettigrew under an unbreakable vow not to reveal the location of Harry's parents, but maybe I'm more cynical and they wouldn't make one of their friends do that. :)

I reckon Snape isn't really evil, and he killed Dumbledore because otherwise both he and Draco would have neded up dead. I hope Dumbledore is really dead, because I'm not a fan of killing major characters only to resurrect them in the next one. I'm pretty sure RAB is Regulus Black, and I'm told on of the horcruxes is mentioned in passing in Book 5 as one of the Black family heirlooms, but I don't have book 5 here to check.

Overall I did like Book 6, but I was struck with how much like fanfic bits of it felt, especially all the pairing-off. Book 7 will be interesting, and I want to see how well JKR manages to finish the series off without having the school year to structure it round.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 01:56 pm (UTC)
There was the "locket that could not be opened, no matter how hard anyone tried" or language like that in Book 5, when they were cleaning the Black mansion of all its clutter. Where it ended up, after Mrs. Weasley's efforts, is a good question: with Kreacher, who kept pulling items out of the trash as they were intended to be thrown away? Still in the house on a shelf? Filched by Mundungus?

And I agree with you--I didn't like this book as much as the earlier ones, though some new twists kept it interesting (the Luck potion, the burial of Aragog, Slughorn).
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[User Picture]From: despotliz
2005-08-15 02:40 pm (UTC)
I quite liked this one. Book 4 I liked, but it's spends far too long wrapping everything up in the end, and the whole plot is contrived to make Harry touch the Portkey cup - why couldn't they just enchant his toothbrush or something? Much easier. Book 5 was quite good, and pretty dark, but the final chase sequence through the Department of Mysteries is way too long. 6 is probably my favourite since 3.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 02:44 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. I didn't like this one as much as the last two. Still trying to figure out why. I think, perhaps, because I could see some of the plotpoints coming a mile away? Harry-Ginny was predictable from 2 books ago, but the culmination of that was so weakly done that I found it almost unbelievable.

Hadn't thought about the "enchant his toothbrush" idea. You're right, of course.
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[User Picture]From: ninebelow
2005-08-15 03:27 pm (UTC)
I didn't like this one as much as the last two. Still trying to figure out why.

Perhaps because very little happened? Whilst I was glad Rowling slimmed down the novel (a little) from last time round there is an awful lot of nothing much compared to the more action packed previous books. I didn't dislike it as much as the last book with all that nonsensical Umbridge stuff but it is rather dull.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 03:29 pm (UTC)
I suppose that's it. In the last book, there was the tension of learning in spite of his teacher fighting him, and preparation for the OWL exams, plus the growing nightmares that led to the Prophecy shoot-out. Here, the combat sequence with the Death Eaters happens while Harry isn't even THERE!
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[User Picture]From: chance88088
2005-08-15 04:04 pm (UTC)
and the whole plot is contrived to make Harry touch the Portkey cup - why couldn't they just enchant his toothbrush or something?

Exactly - and Rowling makes a huge point about how all those enchanments like apparating don't work at the school (and I presume on the grounds) - so how come the portkeys work?

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[User Picture]From: ninebelow
2005-08-15 02:29 pm (UTC)
it just shows Hermione is exceptionally good, and Harry and Ron are less good at the traditional schoolwork, but they make up for it in other ways.

Over the course of the novels Rowling shows the whole idea of Hogwarts as a boarding school to be pointless. Harry is a mediocre student but his inherently, genetically the greatest wizard in the world. Hermione is clever and studious but can't match him. This undercuts the "magic as psudeo-science" idea of the school.

One question I have: where is Rowling going with Percy? Surely there must be some point to it?
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 02:38 pm (UTC)
I have no idea about Percy. Frankly, I thought he was there to show that not everyone in the wizarding world gets along, not even in a family as relatively stress-free as the Weasleys. Will he end up as Minister of Magic? Probably the goal of his life, for sure. But in terms of plot structure of the series? I'm not certain why Percy has to go on being estranged, unless it's to demonstrate that those who are ambitious lose contact with their family.

And if Harry doesn't decide to go back to Hogwarts in the fall? A major loss? I think you're right: the last two books in particular have shown that the most important lessons are those learned outside the confines of a curriculum.
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[User Picture]From: chance88088
2005-08-15 04:20 pm (UTC)
I think he is going to go back - there's going to be a reason that'll drag him there, I think.
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[User Picture]From: rparvaaz
2005-08-15 01:57 pm (UTC)
JKR does seem hell bent on leaving Harry all alone. I found Sirius' death to be rather forced, and I felt the same way about Dumbledore's exit. Also couldn't figure out why Dumbledore had to drink all the potion - why he couldn't have shared it with Harry, or just had a bit and then drained the rest.

Hermione's reaction struck me as more of a resistance to not being the best than genuine worry about the harm that could be caused by the book. She is certainly resourceful enough to bring the point home to Harry if she had been really worried. Actually, I think JKR forgot all about Mrs. Weasly's concerns. Or she just ignored that angle because the plot demanded it. I dunno. I was rather taken aback by Harry's lack of suspicion. I do seem to recall Harry offering Ron and Hermione his book at one point. Also, the very first time Harry follows the instructions handwritten in the book, he tells Hermione exactly where he deviated from the standard text.

Snape would turn out to be a double-agent, methinks. And Harry can't be a horcrux. If that is the case, then he'd have to kill himself to kill Voldemort, and that would be *so* politically incorrect in today's day and age. :)
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 02:30 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I saw that suggestion (Harry=horcrux) on a list somewhere, and thought WTF? But it seemed like it was worth raising here, since the death of Harry's parents is right about the time he'd been making horcruxes. Can you imagine the screeching if Harry committed suicide in order to off Voldemort? OY. Fandom go esplody.

I had forgotten about Harry offering his friends access to the book--all I could recall was Hermione's snooty attitude about the thing, where 2 or 3 books back she was upset about an innocent broom he got as a present, and everyone was upset about the Riddle diary. Perhaps since it came from a cupboard of school supplies, no one was particularly concerned about it being malign.

Why did Dumbledore have to drink it all? No idea.

I have to agree with you about the death of Sirius--though someone needed to die in that battle. There were simply too many people casting hexes and death curses for somebody not to take the hit. What IS it with her and character death? The whole series starts with his parents dead, and Neville's parents dead. Wasn't being orphaned enough? Or is that part of the point: that growing up means growing old, and losing people?
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[User Picture]From: fba
2005-08-15 02:38 pm (UTC)
Can you imagine the screeching if Harry committed suicide in order to off Voldemort?

Not having read any Rowling (yay me!) would the idea of Vodlemort killing Harry then dieing himself because he'd destroyed the wassit be the kind of thing she would write? I quite like that Mexican standoff where the only way for either of them to win is for both of them to loose....
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 02:42 pm (UTC)
Can she write that ending (meaning, does she have the guts or ability)? Sure, probably. Will she write it? No chance in a million. I can't imagine that at the end of book 7, Harry and Ginny don't ride their brooms off together into the sunset: this series has happy ending written all over it.

Actually, the ending I forecast is that Harry ends up becoming the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts (he never has to outgrow or leave school, ever), and Hermione ends up with the choice of what subject she wants to teach the most (probably Ancient Runes, since she keeps going on about those in a vague way). So neither Harry nor his pals ever really leave their school days behind.
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[User Picture]From: ninebelow
2005-08-15 02:50 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine that at the end of book 7, Harry and Ginny don't ride their brooms off together into the sunset: this series has happy ending written all over it.

I'm not sure. Though I don't have much respect for Rowling as writer I can easily imagine a noble sacrifice death for Harry in order to defeat Voldemort, possibly tempered with an epilogue of Ron and Hermione living happily ever after. In a world without Voldemort what is the point of Harry Potter?
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 03:03 pm (UTC)
In a world without Voldemort what is the point of Harry Potter?

Great question. Indeed, Dumbledore took great pains in the book to establish that Voldemort "made" Harry, but that Harry does not have to accept the responsibility thrust on him. Why would she keep Harry alive? I think the answer/problem is, the focus on family and love--Harry has done without both for a long time, only getting a sort of "second hand" love and family through the Weasleys. Without the culmination of a book 7 romance-repaired-with-Ginny theme, I think we would be left with a boy who never finds his way to home and family. Which would sort of undermine the whole point of the series.

But hell, maybe you're right. And I stand by that earlier statement: if JKR kills Harry off at the end of book 7, watch Fandom Go Esplody!
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[User Picture]From: despotliz
2005-08-15 03:05 pm (UTC)
I watched fandom go Explodey! because Blaise Zabini finally got a desription, so I am prepared for teh internets to IMPLODE if Harry dies.

I think it could go either way, but I lean towards the "happy ending" theory. An ending where Harry dies seems a little too bleak.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 03:10 pm (UTC)
I've been able to ride this one out and not go beserk because I'm not on any of the lists or groups or comms for HP, I don't read HP stories, and about half of my flist doesn't read the books. But the news has made Fandom_Wank every single day for nearly a month. *reaches for Excedrin*
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[User Picture]From: rparvaaz
2005-08-15 03:12 pm (UTC)
Can you imagine the screeching if Harry committed suicide in order to off Voldemort? OY.

*lol*

The Pope would have to wait his turn to condemn the books.

What IS it with her and character death? The whole series starts with his parents dead, and Neville's parents dead. Wasn't being orphaned enough? Or is that part of the point: that growing up means growing old, and losing people?

My [admittedly uncharitable] opinion is that she is killing off her characters in order to claim that she is writing a series which doesn't treat the children as idiots/doesn't feed them fantasies about 'happily ever after'. The basic reason I feel that way is that neither of the later deaths strike me as being a necessary part of the story. All I got was the sense that she is comes close to finishing a book and then thinks, 'Oh, I forgot to kill one of the nice guys!' So she just goes ahead and kills the nearest 'important' character. It makes for good shock value.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 03:27 pm (UTC)
Aside from death, it seems that there aren't a lot of other "life lessons" she can reach for, that would happen to many normal teens but can't happen to Harry or his lot: parents get transferred/move away, younger/older sibling has a rivalry relationship, family has no money/sudden windfall of wealth, and so on. A lot of the things that might happen in a standard family book are denied to Harry, simply because he starts off an orphan with no siblings. So they happen to the Weasleys instead.

*checks under carpet for Princess Leia-lookalike* At least, I **think** he doesn't have any siblings.
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[User Picture]From: chance88088
2005-08-15 04:34 pm (UTC)
Well he does get the sudden money windfall actually, when he finds out about Hogwarts and the gold his parents left him.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 06:06 pm (UTC)
True. I suppose I meant changes that make a dramatic turn in a family's life fortunes--the Weasley's win a lottery and go to tour Egypt, for example, and that has a huge effect on Ron and the whole family. The money never seems to make a difference for Harry, except that he never seems to run out of money to buy things (handy, that), and it creates the potential for class conflict with Ron.
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[User Picture]From: chance88088
2005-08-15 06:33 pm (UTC)
Actually I think it's pretty dramatic for Harry - it gives him a level of independence he never had before that - he was always accepting the scraps from the Dursley's lives and now he doesn't really need them any more.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 06:48 pm (UTC)
I suppose that the money transformation, for me, happens so early in book one that I don't see it as having an impact after that--so it is something of a given in his life, as you say. I was thinking more in terms of changes that happen while the books are developing through the series arc: since he doesn't have parents, there can't be many changes that occur due to parental upheaval (money, loss of job, sibling troubles, divorce, adultery) that might naturally happen if his folks were both still alive.
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[User Picture]From: chance88088
2005-08-15 04:27 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with you about the death of Sirius--though someone needed to die in that battle.

Though the battle was completely unnecessay - why didn't Harry use the magic mirror thing to talk to Sirius? It seems far too conveniently forgetful for him to not remember it for months and months until after Sirius was dead.
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[User Picture]From: veggiesu
2005-08-15 06:02 pm (UTC)
Can you imagine the screeching if Harry committed suicide in order to off Voldemort? OY. Fandom go esplody.

I'd quite like to see that :-) Actually, here's a thought - wasn't Neville the other contender for "chosen one"? Maybe he's the horcrux - self-sacrifice is easy compared to sacrificing a friend, after all :-p
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 06:15 pm (UTC)
Even better: Neville's pet frog Trevor is the horcrux!
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 06:03 pm (UTC)
Agreed. That's just teenage angst talking.
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[User Picture]From: communicator
2005-08-15 05:41 pm (UTC)
What does it mean to set a story in a school for magic, yet to show over several years that the girls are smarter than the boys, and that the two central male figures routinely don't even do their own schoolwork but copy from their best friend?

I think a key critical mistake made by readers of the Harry Potter books (not you f_b) is to think that Rowling is attempting to portray the wizarding world as an ideal or even good society, in any way better than our world. A lot of books are like that, using the 'magic' utopia to show up the defects of our world. And the personal improvement in Harry's lot between the two worlds makes you think the story is going that way. He sees the best bits of the world - Diagon Alley before Knock-Turn Alley - and then the baddies are shown as intruders on that world, not integral to it.

But in reality I think the wizarding world is shit, and it's supposed to be shit. It's got slavery, and corruption and racism and gulags and torture. It's attempted to clean itself up over the years, but it's still a bad place.

Hogwarts is just another example. Under Dumbledore - an enightened man - it is a kind of oasis, but its basic principles are, as you say, not very enlightened at all. Why does cheating beat hard work? Because that's how things are. Why is Hermione denigrated as a clever girl? Because that's what that world is like.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 06:10 pm (UTC)
I suppose then that Rowling may in fact be simply showing that a wizarding school is no different, at root, from a typical boarding school. Kids will be kids, wherever they go, or some such.

You're right, about the wizarding world having as many problems and failings as the Muggle world. Harry certainly becomes aware of more of those failings as he ages. What I think is possible is that he will grow enough as a character for his own views on how to go about making changes alters as he grows up and forms his own opinions: what he ridicules as a boy (Hermione's idealistic SPEW chapter, to end house-elf slavery) he might not be so quick to ridicule as an adult.
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[User Picture]From: frandowdsofa
2005-08-15 05:59 pm (UTC)
This book annoyed me profoundly. It seemed to have no plot of its own, but to be a transition from book 5 to seven. There was space for Harry to take on some of the aspects of a genuine teenager (the worst ones), but this is only emphasising the very unreal nature of their lives. Hogwarts is a mixed school, Harry and his crew are now in the lower sixth, which makes them about 17. Romance in the form of snogging has made itself felt, which should more realistically have happened about four to six years ago. There is no sex, no drugs, which considering the amount of potions there are lying about has always struck me as rather odd. And apart from a half-hearted attempt a few books back there as been no attempt to show very much interest in rock 'n' roll.

When these were straightforward fantasies for children these problems didn't really arise, but now that some reality is creeping in, with Harry's snarling sulks being familiar to anyone who's recently dealt with a teenage boy, you start wanting more reality, and you're not getting it.

I hope Dumbledore is really dead (my new voice recognition software translates that as "I hope tumble Tories really dead"). I don't think that Draco is redeemable, I think he's just a coward. And I have a horrible fear that she did that quite deliberately as part of the stand she's always taken against bullying. I hadn't thought of Harry being a horcrux, I don't think he is himself, but I've had a nagging suspicion that the scar might be.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 06:14 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Interesting. I wonder if the scar could be detached, and then obliterated?

Of course, you're right that if she were going for verisimilitude, a real boarding school with teens 14-17 would have seen the pairing off/snogging phenomenon long ago. Thank goodness JKR decided not to go in for describing teen pregnancies and underage teen boozing. *shudders*

I'm still trying to figure out why I didn't care for this book as much as the last two. You may have put your finger on the button: it seemed like prologue to book 7, rather than an entertaining book in its own right.
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[User Picture]From: frandowdsofa
2005-08-15 08:22 pm (UTC)
Book 7-Harry dies in the fight with Voldemort, leaving a weeping widow in the form of a pregnant Ginny. Ron, unable to cope with the shame of being unable to save Harry, descends into a butter beer addiction from which Hermione cannot save him. She eventually marries Percy, and becomes the headmistress of Hogwarts, while he becomes Minister of Magic. Draco becomes the defence against the dark arts master, Hagrid is exiled, Snape (seemingly reformed), takes Ginny and her baby to live with him, on Harry's money.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 08:39 pm (UTC)
No no no no no. Hagrid and Draco set up a love nest in the forest among Aragog's children. Snape and Trelawny are last seen setting off in a fog of smoke and fumes for the Continent on an absinthe bender. Ginny and Harry have a quickie divorce, she takes him to the cleaners, and she goes off to live with Neville, setting them both up on Harry's alimony payments; Harry ends up lonely, miserable, and broke, sleeping in the broomstick outhouse of the Weasleys' home, with only spiders keeping him company. Percy needs to have a fling with Fleur, or Madam Beauxbatons, take your pick. Hermione ends up as Kingsley Shacklebolt's bit on the side!
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[User Picture]From: frandowdsofa
2005-08-15 10:20 pm (UTC)
Percy needs something of that nature, that's quite clear.
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[User Picture]From: faramir_boromir
2005-08-15 11:33 pm (UTC)
Tonks is spoken for, so I'm not sure who's still available in roughly his age range...assuming Fred and George aren't into three-ways.
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[User Picture]From: chance88088
2005-08-15 09:00 pm (UTC)
and Ginny and Snape have hundreds of fat children.

That would be the perfect happy ending.
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[User Picture]From: flickgc
2005-08-17 09:47 am (UTC)
Oh, I think I've read that fan fic....
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[User Picture]From: brixtonbrood
2005-08-15 11:15 pm (UTC)

Miscellaneous I'm afraid

I don't think what I have to say will fit neatly into threads, so I'll have to do a long rambling mishmash I'm afraid.

I think that this book suffers significantly from a split personality, due to its place in the series. The contractually obliged Hogwarty bits, exemplified by Luna Lovegood commenting on the Quidditch match (which I did love)and Ron4Lavender (less so) seemed a bit forced, and the change in mood between them and the Pensieve and cave scenes was just too jarring. I think that may be why they will quit Hogwarts for the last book - can you really imagine them competing for House points (which seem to have been ditched for HBP already), NEWTs and the Quidditch cup under the circumstances? JKR does have a bit of a readership problem here - people love the plotting, but they love the humour and the routine as well. On the other hand, she's had heaven knows how long to plan it out, and she's shown considerable ingenuity in achieving reasonable Quidditch levels (roughly one match per book since book 1, rather than the three you would normally fear) so she may well be able to pull it off, either through sheer force of plotting of a deeply dark book crammed with shock twists, or through psychologically convincing lighter moments - both not a little tricky.

Her other serious structural problem was Dumbledore. Much as Pratchett in the Vimes novels needs to keep the Patrician out of the way, JKR was becoming increasingly desperate to keep Dumbledore inaccessible - in the earlier books the stakes were sufficiently low to make it kind of realistic that lowly 11 year olds wouldn't go to him, but by book five it was getting very silly. I think we all knew he had to go, how can you have a proper climactic battle if our hero outguns the bad guy from the start? Even so, I was surprised by how moved I was by the scene in the cave - I don't know if it just pressed my buttons, but I found it really disturbing.

Re characters, I agree with despotliz, she gets it pretty much right. Of a huge cast of characters in the series, we're all flinging around character names with gay abandon, and I've always taken that to be a sign that an author is doing something right. Even where the characterisation of the minor characters is fairly flimsy (asian names, twins, silly in a girly way; girl, very silly indeed) they stick in your mind, and many of the characters who get full fledged supporting roles in individual books (Luna, Lockhart, Slughorn) are immensely enjoyable. The only character that I can think of who I'm not at all convinced by is the sexy barmaid, but since she's under the Imperius curse that could be intentional.

Last thought before I sleep. A lot of people, me included, are desperate to get a happy ending for Snape (including the Lupin slash theory), however unlikely this may seem. Is this a) because they love Alan Rickman or b) because they were greasy-haired, slightly too smart, whipping boys/girls themselves at school and empathise?
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[User Picture]From: veggiesu
2005-08-16 07:45 pm (UTC)

Re: Miscellaneous I'm afraid

I'd like a sort-of happy ending for Snape, just becuase it's too easy to make all the unpleasant people EVIL and all the nice people GOOD. I'm enjoying seeing a thouroughly nasty, unpleasant, spiteful man possibly being on the side of the good guys. And, BTW, this was why I quite liked the Draco scene - it underlines the fact that, the evil that Harry et al are battling isn't childish, or bullying, or nasty - it's murderous and without mercy. Far too many book,s including those written for adults, are afraid to have truly unlikeable good guys.
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[User Picture]From: i_ate_my_crusts
2005-08-16 10:08 am (UTC)
The thing that interested me the most was the books focus on Malfoy. Harry was constantly looking for and judging Malfoy, and yet both Dumbledore and Snape save Malfoy. Snape takes the unbreakable vow, and then kills Dumbledore so that Malfoy won't have to - there's a redemption left open for Malfoy, and the last book has to include some progress towards Snape enabling Harry to see Malfoy as not evil ...

I think Malfoy not killing Dumbledore was the pivotal moment for me, also Harry following Dumbeldores orders, despite it killing Dumbledore (even indiretly, I suspect that potion may have killed him anyway.) It's an interesting comparison: Harry follows orders, even if it means the death of his mentor/master, while Malfoy, at the crunch, can't follow the orders he's been given by his master/mentor. It outlines the difference between them, but both of them become more morally ambiguous as a result of it.

Snape, of course, I really don't have a doubt of his goodness, and I like the way he was very carefully drawn in this book to leave readers wondering. We have our main character lens (Harry) being suspicious of him the entire time, which adds ambiguity to Snape which isn't really there, despite him killing Dumbledore, with all the facts that we the readr have to hand. And yet many people would still have a question in thier minds at the end.

I'm rambling.
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[User Picture]From: andrewducker
2005-08-16 10:29 pm (UTC)
I think Malfoy not killing Dumbledore was the pivotal moment for me

Agreed. That, along with Voldemort's back-story was really what made the book for me.
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[User Picture]From: chance88088
2005-08-16 10:52 pm (UTC)
I think it's really a bit of a protagonist switch there - Malfoy is the one who makes a choice. Harry Potter doesn't do much in this book other than observe the things that happen to other people.
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[User Picture]From: rparvaaz
2005-08-17 10:59 am (UTC)
Hey, I have been told that Harry makes a very important moral point for children by asking Luna out for that party given by Whatsisname. That would, obviously, tell all the school kids that they have to reach out to those who are not privileged/popular/goodlooking/elite.
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[User Picture]From: chance88088
2005-08-17 11:24 am (UTC)
That would, obviously, tell all the school kids that they have to reach out to those who are not privileged/popular/goodlooking/elite.

Yes, it's a good moral lesson that you should befiend the weird when it will keep others from annoying you. ;)
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[User Picture]From: rparvaaz
2005-08-17 11:26 am (UTC)
Heh. That is much better than my response which basically said 'convenience'. :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-07-01 10:43 am (UTC)

Subtle Hints

I am surprised how many people have independantly come to the same conclusions; Harry or his scar being a Horcrux, Dumbledore not being dead, and the locket being in the Black house/taken my Mundungus/Kreacher.
Many people believe Snape is actually good for a number of reasons, the main one being that Dumbledore trusts him, and throughout the books, we are led to believe and trust in the wisdom of Dumbledore. Also, my friends and I have discussed that Snape is in love with Narcissa (in the first chapter of the sixth, there is mention of physical contact etc) and that may be the reason he made the Unbreakable Vow with her.

Other theories we have come up with include;
The room in ministry of magic that contains love is opened and somehow fixes the problem, although this may be a rather weak ending,
Harry is a desendant of Godric Gryffindor, through his fathers side, although would probably not be a significant part of the plot,
Crookshanks was very suspicious in the third book, so he may be an Animagus or somehow significant,
and that Ron ends up being the hero.

I really enjoyed this book, jsut because it made me laugh on many, many occasions, and nothing the characters do seems unnatural - it almost seems like a magical version of a normal world, if that makes sense; it features a mother not liking her sons choice of wife (Mrs Weasley and Fleur) jealousy on numerous occasions, greed on Slughorn's part, Luna being bullied, there is a perfect range of characters.

Also, it is ingenius how, if you read through the books from number one, the number of references that join up in later books, and how absolutely everything fits together; everything is always explained in a really brilliant way, and when you read back you wonder why you didn't guess what was going to happen.

The Harry Potter books are brilliant, and we are all queueing up at midnight!
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