Saturday, July 16, 2005

Who is the Half-Blood Prince? [for Harry Potter readers]

It's 12:53 p.m., and I've been reading since 9 this morning. (Went at midnight to buy the book; braved the long lines in the hot store with screaming girls counting down the seconds to midnight and chanting "Harry Potter [clap clap clap clap clap]" over and over and over. Around 1:00 a.m. they called the number for my wristband and I bought the book and went home. Read for about an hour then crashed, exhausted. So altogether I've been reading almost 5 hours now. Page 348. I have been sure for about 200 pages that I know who the Half-Blood Prince is, mostly because all you need to do is think who the most unlikely person would be. It's a ten-letter name, beginning with D and ending with e.

Have you who read the Harry Potter books stopped to speculate, as I have, upon the possible clues evinced by the etymologies of the Latinate names that Rowling assigns her characters? "Voldemort" is French (kind of) for "Flight of/from death". So whoever Voldemort is must have something about fleeing or literally flying from death happen to him, just as "Malfoy" is French for "Bad faith" and all the incantations are thinly disguised altered Latin verbs. Perhaps D********e attempted to kill Harry and succeeded in killing his parents, and then had to flee the scene. Or something like that.

This is how a grown 43-year-old man of reasonable intelligence wastes his time...

UPDATE: OK, page 441, and D********e is talking to Voldemort, so they aren't the same person. So is Voldemort Snapes?
And the Half-Blood Prince: I have thought for a couple of books now that it is Ron. Or Neville.

SECOND UPDATE: Page 604, 7:55 p.m. Argh. Just....argh.

THIRD AND FINAL UPDATE: 8:15 p.m. Finished. Read from 1:15 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., then from 9:15 a.m. to 12:53 p.m., then from 1:55 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., then from 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. for a total of 6 hours and 28 minutes.

Although every action taken by Snapes leaves open the possibility of at least two interpretations as to his loyalty to the Dark Lord, it seems pretty clear that he is not, as has been implied, a mole who ultimately serves the good side, but rather is firmly on the side of the Dark Lord. This is sad for me, because all through the first six books I derived some comfort from Snapes seeming to be evil but always turning out to be a force for good. Of course, we haven't heard the last of Snapes: clearly he will figure in the seventh book. Perhpas he will turn out to be good after all. I find myself hoping so.

The funeral was interesting: usually funerals involve some sort of religious activity, and that has been a bit of a bone of contention among certain overly-religious people who feel threatened by the Harry Potter books. No priest-like figure was portrayed in the funeral. Another interesting religion-related factor is the inclusion of a recurring character named Patil, whom Rowling has put in several (all?) of the first six books: is she Muslim? It's never said. And only in the first few books is Christmas mentioned. Someone could wring a thesis out of "Religion and Cultural Stereotypical Behavior in the Harry Potter Books". I should patent it, or whatever it is one does with ideas for theses...probably I'd have to actually write it.

Also: no pooftahs anywhere in these books, although with each new volume, sex and adolescence figure more and more in the plot. I wonder about that; Rowling is clearly concerned with the politics of the marginalized, and much of what happens in the books are thinly veiled commentaries on things like Guantanamo Bay and the War on Terror and post-9/11 heightened security and the concomitant loss of freedoms. Maybe she'll bite the gay bullet in the seventh book.

Can anyone believe that the seventh book will be the last? Even if Rowling sticks by her resolution not to write more than seven (she would be passing up on a lot of money if she did), others will no doubt attempt to write sequels exploring the adult life of Harry Potter. Boy, that seventh book has to do a lot of wrapping up...

Except for a few pages of too-hastily contrived dialog in which characters breathlessly narrate what has just happened in some battle scene in a very unrealistic and deus-ex-machina way, this book was quite good IMO. Much of what makes the whole series worthwhile is the moral and ethical decisions made by the characters. The series is sort of a boiled-down look at how different people grow up differently, and that is one of the most worthwhile things Rowling has contributed to the world. Some of the writing is quite empathetic about oddballs and misfits, while never losing sight of the feelings and complicated motivations of the gifted and privileged, which is what Harry and Hermione are. I eagerly await the next installment.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince gets an 8.5 on the Tomometer.


Blogger The Blah Brain said...

I found a site while searching google and the site gives you previews of I found previews for the NEW - NEXT Harry Potter book 8, the book AFTER the half blood prince, it's insane... i have no idea how they got the previews maybe they know J.K. Rowling..

7:49 AM  
Blogger superclosetnerd said...

i was out looking for harry potter sites to get ideas for mine... and somehow landed here. still haven't figured out the search engines. anyway... looks good.
harry potter merchandise

11:58 PM  
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