That her storytelling is strong enough to overcome these significant flaws is a good sign. And Half Blood Prince kept me engaged, but I think it too suffered from a rush to production. The subplot with the emotional, moody Tonks went absolutely nowhere, and while I don't begrudge Remus Lupin from getting some action, the initial hints that Tonks had been Sirius Black's lover was much more poignant. Likewise the subplot between Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour. Sloppy and really, once you get right down to it, cut from whole cloth. Even the mystery of the "Half Blood Prince" was treated without urgency and seemed something of an afterthought. When it's finally revealed at the end of the book, the effect is anticlimactic since other events significantly overshadow it.
Once again, the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore keeps the story going, and is where most of the good bits can be found. But once again, much time is given to big infodumps via the magical pensieve which shows memories of events past. And once again, various parties' withholding of vital information from each other leads to painful and sometimes tragic complications. But that's to be expected. What wasn't expected is the direction Rowling seems to be taking the final book: Abandoning the one-year-at-Hogwarts formula and having Harry strike out on his own as an underage and undertrained wizard. It could be interesting, but I doubt that holds strictly true, since Rowling made it quite clear in the scenes with Harry and Dumbledore going after Voldemort's horcrux that Harry is nowhere near powerful or knowledgeable enough to accomplish his mission with his current abilities. The book does its job, positioning all the players on the stage for the final act. So here are my predictions for significant events in Deathly Hallows:
- Harry lives.
- Dumbledore lives.
- Snape is a good guy.
- Neville Longbottom plays a key, heroic role in defeating Voldemort, by virtue of his connection with the prophecy.
- Hermione's S.P.E.W. efforts finally pay off.
- Sirius comes back.
- Harry becomes the Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor at Hogwarts.
I believe Harry lives because, even though he's something of a tragic hero (or rather, a hero suffering through tragedy), he's been victimized his entire life. After banishing Voldemort, he deserves a reward of happiness, and with Rowling's fixation on love and loyalty in the sixth book, I believe she'll do good by the boy wizard. I also think killing him would be a betrayal of the young readers who've grown up reading the books, and identify with Harry and his friends. I also believe killing Harry would undermine the future commercial viability of the series, as well as the films. It's become big business, and there's a lot of pressure there on Rowling. Prediction 7 strikes me as symmetrical. Hogwarts is the only place Harry has ever felt at home. He's also got more experience than almost anyone else, and by banishing Voldemort, will have broken the curse set upon that position. Seems poetic. No. 6, admittedly is something of a reach. Rowling may fully intend for Sirius to be dead as can be, but his was such a abstract, pointless death in Order of the Phoenix that I can't help but think she's got some big reveal planned. But as for prognostications with more evidence to back them up, let's look at predictions nos. 2 and 3, shall we?
- Dumbledore's trust in Snape is absolute. Never doubt Dumbledore.
- In the climactic scene, Dumbledore tells Draco Malfoy something along the lines of "We can hide you so that Voldemort can never find you." If this isn't cryptic foreshadowing, I don't know what is.
- Snape is a master of occulmancy. This is the only way he could've survived so long as a double agent working against Voldemort.
- Supposedly killing Dumbledore eliminates the last doubts Voldemort may have regarding Snape's loyalty.
- In previous examples of the Avada Kedavra spell's use, the victim simply falls down dead. Why then is Dumbledore flung up in the air and off the Horwarts astronomy tower in dramatic, theatrical fashion?
- Snape doesn't kill Harry during his escape, although he has ample opportunity to do so. Yes, Voldemort has said "Potter is mine" but Snape showed a willingness to disobey orders by "killing" Dumbledore (remember, the other Deatheaters wouldn't strike at Dumbledore because Draco was the one supposed to do the deed). Moreover, Snape's duel with Harry takes on the surreal form of a classroom instruction, with Snape chastising, critiquing and offering advice (however snide it may be) about Harry's skills and technique. Snape refrains from even so much as hurting Harry during their fight, although it's clear Snape had complete advantage.
- Snape just about goes apeshit with fury when Harry calls him a coward. Of all the things going on right then in the battle between forces of dark and light, why would that relatively minor insult set him off? Because Snape is risking everything by playing the role of a double agent. Snape's afraid, and reveals as much in his earlier conversation with Dumbledore when he says he doesn't want to do it anymore.
- Snape hates Harry's father, James, but for the most part has been silent about Harry's mother, Lily. Via pensive flashbacks, it's shown that Lily showed the young Snape kindness while they were students at Hogwarts, even defending him from the bullying actions of James. This is very speculative here, but is it possible that Snape (a bachelor as far as we know) harbored a crush on Lily, and feels deep remorse for his role in her death? Those pensieve scenes were good character development, sure, but my gut tells me they've got more significance than merely fleshing out long-dead characters.
There are other bits and pieces here and there, but those are the main clues that come to mind. If I think of more, I'll post them here when I get a chance.
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