Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fingers Cross: Deathly Hallows

This will be my last post before I go incommunicado in the next three days. I just want to spend a good weekend to relax and ease pressure.

If there's one thing that still keeps the tension on everyone in there is the release of the final Harry Potter book entitled The Deathly Hallows. Never before that when I read such news as this, the tension can be as intense as watching an European Cup final match.

At this time of writing, it is only 7 hours away before the books are officially released worldwide, 2400 GMT time. In the last few days, the tension and the hype surrounding the book is quite high since it is tightly guarded in boxes marked "Do not open until July 21 2007". As for in Malaysia, Kinokuniya Kuala Lumpur is giving 20 percent off on all the Potter stuff and 30 percent discount tomorrow for the new book.

Of course the tension is there since Joanne Rowling mentioned that there are at least two main characters that will be killed off at the end of the book. Most importantly, will Harry Potter die together fighting against his mortal enemy Voldemort? But the tension is spoiled when New York Times published a review that mentioned that it got a copy legitimately from a New York store.

Saying goodbye is difficult especially when the character originated from a ride from London to Manchester in 1990. After 17 years, everything comes to an end. Her famous line of appeal:

"I am incredibly grateful to all those newspapers, booksellers and others who have chosen not to attempt to spoil Harry's last adventure for fans,"
Elsewhere in Malaysia, there is a price war between bookstores and hypermarkets when top chains like Tesco and Carrefour are selling the British Kids cover edition of the book at the price of mere $19.99 instead of the recommended retail price of $32.25 (or shall I say as RM 70 compared to RM 110) here.

Update 0115 GMT 21 July

In an unexpected move, the top four bookstores in Malaysia, MPH (Malaysia Publication House), Popular, Times and Harris had decided to withhold all sales of the books in protest against the indiscriminate price of the books sold at hypermarkets. Only those pre-ordered books can be obtained today.

In the perspective of hypermarkets, quote from Tesco:
“We are popular for selling products at a lower price and books are no exception. The other retailers have their own marketing strategies by providing freebies and other promotions ... this is our way of pleasing our customers,'
Comment Part 1

After watching Schindler's List with my friend yesterday, I felt that the music piece by John Williams with violinist Itzhak Perlman's strong tones resonate in my heart and mind. The kind of sadness portrayed for the Jews massacre mirrored to what fans will feel when we are seeing the end of the series.

Everyone's fear is what will happen to the boy.

Among the three covers shown, the US cover is the best of all three.

This was not the only thing yet to be mentioned. More at below.

What was mentioned and found:

I've done some digging around the Internet over the period of one month to understand the situation where our boy wizard got thrust into. So far, among the prominent questions and information pieces mentioned that I've got are:

  1. The sixth horcrux is either a founder's treasure or Harry himself.
  2. R.A.B - the initials seen in the fake locket - the third horcrux - is definitely Sirius Black's brother Regulus.
  3. Is Deathly Hallows a place or something else?
  4. The Lovegoods (Luna and her father) are featuring in a prominent role here.
  5. All Death Eaters - followers of Voldemort are either captured or killed.
  6. The Weasleys (red-head family) are in Mortal Peril - but I can't think beyond one person.
  7. Is Snape a double-agent?
  8. There is a 7-page epilogue after the last chapter. It's said that it tells of what happens to our characters 20 years after that.
  9. There's of course one chapter on Bill and Fleur's marriage and a visit at Harry's old house in Bristol.
The Bloomsbury kid's cover has a drawing of a 'horcrux tracker' which tracks Voldemort's soul pieces hidden around. Also the cover of our trio in Gringott's bank seems to provide a hint that they are looking for the sixth horcrux. So I ruled out that there is no living horcrux except for Voldemort's pet snake Nagini. The US cover provides a hint that Deathly Hallows is a place only for two to fight - horcrux perhaps?

Comment Part 2.

Judging the character progression of Harry, he is somewhat similar to the character progression of as mentioned in the legend of King Arthur. Parallels are, that he has the strong potential to become something great in years to come; he has an old wizard to guide him along the path to manhood. Of course he must face his biggest challenge. Finally, he will have the hand of Guinevere.

Interesting though that Ginevra Weasley (simply called as Ginny) is called Guinevere in Italian hence the parallel. With reference to the above, I don't think he will die at the end and he has Ginny at last. To kill him off especially if a boy loses everything from the beginning, suffers more than a normal person is to say that to treat a character like a rabid dog as if he is to be hated.

Just to say that John Irving and Stephen King both had the same opinion about that. No wonder they beg Rowling not to kill him off.

If there's an epilogue describing what happens after 20 years, it means that one event alters all. It doesn't show the dualism - the good and the bad, the light and the dark. Though it ties everything up neatly, I think it is best to leave the ending open, just to let people guess or make inferences to what happens next. I would say that it kills what was well structured from head to leg.

I refer to the epilogue comment in regarding the Future Coda ending of Terminator 2:

...A definitive, happy ending had a tone that was somewhat incongruous to the rest of the film; on a visual level, the sunny park in Washington and the futuristic buildings felt again out of place against the dark and gritty two hours preceding it; on a pseudo-narrative level, this ending effectively negated the storylines of both the first film and the first sequence in the second, raising to question the "grandfather paradox" of time-travel stories without the proper time to address it; and on a perceptual level of the characters, it was difficult to accept Sarah as a contented old observer after seeing her throughout the film as an intense, athletic heroine. (And then there was the small matter of how a juvenile delinquent like John, linked to a massive spree of destruction at age ten, could become a Senator...) The decision to maintain a sense of narrative ambiguity --to leave the future open-ended-- felt more in keeping with the tone of the film.

This is indeed paralleling what is in the novel.

Who Bites The Dust?

As I've mentioned that there are at least two characters that are to be killed off here.

My bets are on:

1. Ron - I actually re-watched the first movie - The Sorcerer's Stone particularly in the Minerva's Game setpiece which is largely a wizard chess. Remember that Ron sacrificed his knight in order for the king to checkmate the opponent and win the stunt. In this, I can guess that Ron gets killed by someone and saving Harry or Hermione in process. He is the shadow of Harry and this would be a good time to have a one last fling.

2. Remus - the old werewolf is likely the only one who can take on Fenrir Greyback and save many innocent people from being 'contaminated'. But Fenrir's more savage than he is and I find that both will be killed in one shot. Also, I think that since the Marauders represents the past, it is time for the group to step aside and let the new generation of people that represents their principles take over.

3. Percy - The estranged Weasley son is most probably the weakest link in the family. Maybe this would be to give a bad sign to the wedding.

Okay...let's get our fingers crossed and see what happens after the next few days.

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