The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Friday, July 22, 2005

harry potter and the open thread

ok this is going to be full of spoilers, so anyone still reading the book, or anyone yet to read it, who doesn't want to know what happens stop reading this now. to further protect you i'm going to post my thoughts in the comments.

the point of this thread is basically for me and Mr The Red, and anyone else who wants to, to argue about certain parts of the latest book.

so go for it.

(as long as you don't mind outting yourself as a "child" in Apathy Jack's opinion. Personally I prefer "child-like" ;-) )

Update: DPF has finally finished reading and has some questions (warning, spoilers in that post too).

Update the second: And here are some comments from Make Tea regarding the writing.


span said...

Point the first - Snape as villain

I'm not convinced that Snape will ultimately turn out to be a villain in the last book.

Let's consider his actions at the end of the HBP. Yes he kills Dumbledore, but let's face it, one of those Death Eaters was going to kill Big D, and if not then he was probably going to die anyway as it seemed he felt that only Snape could heal him, and obviously that wasn't going to happen. Big D had to die for the narrative to work - at the end of it Harry is left alone (without adults) to face Voldemort. Anyway, Snape doesn't kill or even greatly harm Harry, despite ample opportunity, and it is well known that it is Harry who is the only one who can kill Voldemort, not Dumbledore. Snape also had the Unbreakable Vow to deal with - if he had broken it he would have died and then one of the other Death Eaters would have killed Dumbledore anyway and there would have been no one to make sure Harry didn't get killed when they were running away.

So my conjecture is this - Snape and Dumbledore had an agreement that if it came down to it and Snape had to kill him to protect the bigger plot then he could.

What say you Mr The Red?

Make Tea Not War said...

sorry for gatecrashing (not really) but I agree. Dumbledore was adamant all along that Snape could be trusted and I don't see why someone as smart as he supposedly is would be wrong about something so critical.

Notice also Hermoine said about the Half Blood Prince that she thought he had a nasty sense of humour but was not actually evil.

Also in terms of how Rowling likes to create twists the matter of fact, non dramtic way it came out Snape was allied with the Death Eaters was far too obvious. If he really was a bad 'un that would have been the climatic twist at the end.

And it doesn't at all bother me if people (*cough* elitist snobs *cough*) think I'm a child for reading the books. I spend most of my life being forced to be a grown up. In my pitifully small amount of discretionary relaxation time I shall do just as I please.

span said...

I'm sure Snape will be given a chance to redeem himself (or rather prove his loyalty to the Order) in the last book.

I was wondering how influenced by Pratchett the scene on the Astronomy Tower was - the stuff he wrote about in the Guards books, in terms of good men killing without all that gloating and explaining their nefarious plans (cf Draco going on and on and on).

Going Somewhere said...

Hi. I found you by hitting "next blog." I just finished the latest HP book myself, and I have to say that I will buy your theory. It never occured to me that Snape and Dumbledore could have had it all worked out. That would also explain why Snape made the Unbreakable Vow in the first place. Very interesting. Thanks for the insight.

span said...

no worries GS!

I'm not sure that they would have had it all worked out in detail, but i reckon they had an agreement regarding that kind of scenario. Snape didn't know that Draco was bringing the Death Eaters in or planning to attack, so he couldn't have forewarned Dumbledore. But I'm sure Snape would have told Big D about the Unbreakable Vow, which does make Dumbledore's "pleading" a bit strange. D would have known that Snape had to kill him. So perhaps he was pleading for a merciful death? Or else Dumbledore was going along with the general agreement not to blow Snape's cover.

Make Tea Not War said...

I think the pleading was Dumbledore pleading to Snape to go through with it and not to weaken. I didn't think the mechanics of the Unbreakable Vow were very clearly explained. Yes Snape had to kill Dumbledore if Draco failed but Draco had tried and failed before without Snape rushing in to intervene.

BTW as you probably know Civ 4 is coming out soon. But I'm going to try very hard to resist its call as I've only just managed to shake my World of Warcraft addiction

Bren said...

Make Tea Not War: At the time of the astronomy tower, Draco had a clear opportunity to kill Dumbledore, if he had failed then there would not have been any other opportunites and he would have been killed by Voldemort.

Hence, Snape was under no obligation under the unbreakable vow to help him kill Dumbledore earlier in the year (though he did offer) since there was always going to be another opportunity.

Make Tea Not War said...

Bren- Hmm, perhaps you are right.

Johnny the Red said...

It's clear that JKR wanted to play with our expectations and set us up to expect that again Harry would be completely wrong about Snape ... but gosh darn it, the butler *did* do it for once.

Snape still a good guy? I wouldn't count on it. I'm betting on everything Snape said at the beginning of the book being 100% true - that essentially so far he has been just bidding his time. Snape's change of heart was never really convincing in hindsight - He pretty much seemed to hate everyone within the OotP and wasn't really that helpful most of the time. And aside from saving his own skin, what was his motivation for being in the OotP? Arguably most of the people in it and treated him like crap at one time or another ...

Of course this is mainly just a gut feeling - so feel free to pick detailed holes in it.

What's really interesting is what's going on with Draco - why does JKR want us to feel sympathy for him? Wild speculation time ... Draco starts turning good, but Harry has to choose whether to kill him because he is Voldamort's last Horcrux ... (after all the Horcrux doesn't have to be an inanimate object). There's a big objection to that wild speculation of course ...

span said...

good point about the pleading MTNW, and good point about the Astronomy Tower Bren.

Mr the Red, speculation that Draco is the last Horcrux! wow that's pretty wild!

Does anyone have any ideas about the identity of RAB? And wasn't the "cursed" necklace in Borgin and Burkes (sp) which was then used by Draco to try to kill D, but actually got Katie instead, the one that V's mother sold to them? I got a little confused about there being two necklaces, which seemed a bit clumsy of JKR.

span said...

Point the second: Is Sirius dead?
I've been holding out that he's not and he's going to come back at a pivotal juncture, but now I'm not so sure. All the stuff with Kreacher and the house recognised Harry as their owners tends to suggest he is well and truly gone. I liked Sirius. bah humbug for killing off good characters. If JKR had dealt to Hermione I was going to be very very angry indeed. Big D was not really a shock thank goodness.

span said...

Point the third: And what's with all the damn romance?
I found it a bit annoying the way people kept getting paired up. I mean Lupin and Tonks? Was there any back story for that? It all seemed a bit gratuitous to me. But then I suppose the audience might be looking for a bit of that. Maybe i'm just a love grump.

Anonymous said...

Well, ive started rereading the old books and I have a couple of questions from them. One of them is in the first book it is mentioned that James Potter saved Snape's life and therefore Snape has some sort of duty to protect Harry. Do we know how this happened? Has Snape fulfilled that debt?

With the necklaces, in OoTP they found a necklace when they were cleaning Grimmwald Place...

Also, as far as I can tell, there are only a couple of families with surnames beginning with B - the Blacks and the Bones. Sirius had a brother called Regelus - I wonder what his middle name was?

Bren said...

I'm pretty sure Snape fulfilled his debt to Harry in the first year. I'm also pretty sure that the reason for the debt was revealed in the Goblet of Fire, I think James Potter saved Snape from Werewolf Lupin... I'm not 100% sure about this though. So take everything I say here with a grain of salt, it's been a while since I read the older books.

The thing with Sirus's brother is interesting, does anyone know anymore info about him?

span said...

well Regulus was killed by the Death Eaters wasn't he? Like Sirius he pretended to be on their side but wasn't.

Ok I found this about Regulus:
"Regulus Black is the younger brother of Sirius Black. The Black family was a family of dark wizards. According to Sirius Black, his parents believed that to be Black made you practically royal and shared many of the Death Eaters' ideas about blood purity. Unlike his older brother Sirius, Regulus had a similar mentality to them, and for that reason it seems he was the favourite son of their mother.

When Lord Voldemort rose to power, Regulus joined him and his parents thought he was a little hero for becoming a Death Eater. When he had gotten in too far, and started to realize what was expected of him as a Death Eater, he began to panic and wanted to quit, but being a Death Eater is a lifelong service on pain of death. According to sources, Regulus was killed on Voldemort's orders."

Bren said...

Well, that rules him out.


Regulus escaped from Voldemort and the Death Eaters and had his death faked. He stole the horocux as his final act of defiance against Voldemort before going off to hide in Switzerland.

span said...

Regulus could also have stolen the horcrux before he died. The note said:

To the Dark Lord,
I know I will be dead long before you read this [tick for Regulus]
but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret. I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can. I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more.

Good thinking about the necklace in Grimmauld Pl. Otherwise it is going to be impossible to find.

Craig Ranapia said...

Serious question: Does it get better past the hundred page mark? I don't exactly expect Henry James-like prose or Hemmingway's gem-like concision, but really... after the rather nifty first chapter with the 'Other Minister' the clunky writing was more engaging (and not in a good way) than the actual story.

OK, perhaps I'm biased after seeing Hayo Miazaki's sublime 'Howl's Moving Castle' and re-reading the even better source novel by Diana Wynne-Jones. But if a writer of Margaret Mahy's stature and talent welcomes the attentions of a good editor, bloody Rowling can get over herself.

span said...

unfortunately Craig I don't think JKR has been seriously edited since Book 4. who would dare? (not to say that someone shouldn't)

I did find this one a bit slow starting though. And a bit slow ending too. But the middle is reasonably cracking ;-)

span said...

oops sorry that should be since Book 3. length is not always a good thing in a book.

Craig Ranapia said...

Well, that's true enough - it's what I call Tom Clancy-itis. Who's going to say to their most profitable writer, "Jesus, Tom/Stephen/Joanne, you've some nerve handing this crap in"?

The most frustrating thing about the recent Harry Potter books is that J.K. Rowling isn't a no-talent hackette. But the niceties of narrative structure, pacing and simple declarative English prose aren't her strong point.

Since #3, there's been pretty decent 200-250 page books inside all the bloat - and the more glaring defects of her pudding batter writing are so easily avoidable. But I don't know if she can't refine her work any further or won't let anyone near her manuscript - either way, it ends up feeling disrespectful of the reader. And other writers who place the work above their ego.

span said...

by Stephen I assume you mean King - I had to read one of his books to review for Craccum and it was desperately in need of a good editor. And it was quite a short book. Basically it was a short story that got stretched to get maximum dollars for minimum effort.

so did you pick HPATHBP up off the floor and finish it Craig?

Craig Ranapia said...

Hummm... well, I've had to hand the booty over to my partner's grand-neice (who I brought it for in the first place) but will get it back at some point. I guess I'll have to hack it so we have something to talk about, but will do so with little enthusiasm.

Her eight year old brother is much simpler: Anything with knights, dinosaurs or goblins (go figure) and he's happy as the proverbial pig in shit. Keeps bugging me to read him the particularly bloody bits from Homer, which is a concern.

span said...

Maybe you could wait until the Stephen Fry narrated audio version comes out and then slowly get through it on the car radio? That's bound to be a more pleasant experience if the lack of editing bugs you.

Rover said...

Dumbeldoor made a plan to make snape kill him. He wanted snape on the inside. and decided to sacrafice him self in order to make this happen

Thats why at the end of the book Dumbledore pleads with snape... he is pleadinng with snape to kill him and complete the plan.

This is also why Snape made the plan to protect malfoy, he knew malfoy was going to try and kill dumbeldoor and the spell would make sure he stayed close by so he could make sure he was the one to complete the plan.

im not sure if dumbledore is gone for good he might do a gandelf and be back.

span said...

Nope I reckon he is gone for good. It all fits with the kids now needing to stand alone (mostly Harry) - all of the people who could have stood between Harry and Voldemort are now gone (Sirius last book, Dumbledore this book).

The funeral was very final and I think any attempt to raise him from the dead in book 7, in anything other than a Return of the Jedi way, would fall very flat.

HORansome said...

I finished the book last night and wasn't that impressed by it.

But I've been thinking...

We had a lot of focus in this book on unspoken magic. Is it possible for a well-trained wizard to cast a spell but make it look like another? I.e. did Snape case the Avada Kedrava curse after all?

span said...

hmmm good point HORansome - Snape was particularly good at non-verbal spells, and creating spells, we know from the HBP Potions book and the way he thwarted Harry at the end when Snape and Malfoy were escaping...

I wonder who Snape would now be passing information to, with Dumbledore gone. Or if he is just supposed to be in place for later when he might be needed to bring Voldemort down.

Erin said...

so someone please explain why some wizzards can talk through portraits after they are dead, and some even come back as ghosts but not once has anyone of importence in harry's life ie. his parents or sirius come back to talk to him??? I don't get this oversight. Maybe I'm missing something. Is Dumbledore going to atleast talk to him through the portrait in his old office?? Why don't all wizards have portraits made if thats the case. I find this a serious authors flaw. Please Respond

HORansome said...

I always got the impression that the portraits are only rough simulcra of their original personas; if Dumbledore does speak to Harry through its portrait it really is only the very surface characteristics of Dumbledore (i.e. wizard art is just like classical portraiture; you try to get the best likeness of the person but you are only looking at an image of the person rather than the person themself).

Make Tea Not War said...

I also have been thinking that part of Harry's growing up process in the final book might be accepting that Snape is not evil. Just as in the final confrontation with Dumbledore Harry manages to feel some compassion for Draco, a spoilt bully yes, but not necessarily deserving as being demonised as a pure evil child nemesis. The same process of realising inherent humanity despite differences happened with the fat son (can't remember name) of the Dursley's. Snape is a nasty, sarcastic teacher who picks on Harry but this doesn't mean he is necessarily allied to all that is evil.

And amen to the comments about bloated ego writers who are too precious to allow their work to be edited. Neale Stephenson is a classic example of this.

span said...

over on DPF's thread someone has suggested that Harry himself might be the last Horcrux...

I imagine there must be some kind of very complex spell that turns something into a horcrux, and Harry couldn't have undergone it without knowing. Although it would explain the link between them in the earlier books, eg the scar hurting etc.

Also it would be a nice tidy way to end the books - I really think JKR is going to have to kill Harry off to avoid the constant pressure for more books - especially as she has always been adamant there would only be 7.

kathyt said...

has anyone noticed that jk setsup each book with info for future use? has anyone thought about the reason for introducing silent spells AND the fact that snape the hbp can invent his own spells in book 6? snape the GOOD guy says avada kedavra but thinks his own silent spell which looks similar
ok ok you want proof ok
note that dd wants only snape not pomfrey the doc
note that dd tells draco we can hide you as dead
note that every avada kedavra victim slumps but dd flies up and out of sight
note that harry sees a phoenix rise from dd fire tomb
there are lots more snape lying to narccisa, snape blocking harry not hurting him, snape angry bout being refered to as a coward
read the boook again with this in mind and you'll see

kathyt said...

of course harry scar is a horcrux
oh ya snape was NOT the the only one to hear trelawney
read the book again

span said...

kathy, i agree that snape is a good guy, but i do think Big D is dead as a dodo. He has to be for the narrative - the kids have to be left alone to grow up and succeed, rather than helping an adult. Just like Obi-wan (and Yoda now that I think about it) had to go in Star Wars, DD had to go in HBP.

I suppose Harry's scar could also be a Horcrux because it is something of Gryffindor's too, as in HP is in that house.

Commie Mutant Traitor said...

Dumbledore has to be dead because of the Unbreakable Vow - or if he has survived, it must have been without Snape's help. But if anyone does return from the dead, I'd rather it was Sirius, since there's more unfinished business with him.

Harry would have become a horcrux as a baby, so wouldn't remember anything about it. Voldemort would have been sacrificing him in order to turn something else in to a horcrux, but Harry's survival at the critical point would have disrupted the horcrux spell with unexpected results.

Anonymous said...

You are missing out on some major literary clues that explain alot.

Anonymous said...

May i just say about the Necklace Horcrux, i believe that Regulas DID take it, and he kept safe at his house.
If thats the case, then did Kreacher take it? and did he give it back to Snape when they were in the castle, after all, harry did order him to go work in hogwarts.
is it the trash, and were will it end up? who knows..

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Anonymous said...

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