Friday, August 26, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I'll hazard that most of you have completed the book by now. I'll also hazard that some of you are anxious to find out what will happen in the next book — which happens to be the last, pivotal chapter of Harry's life. I am the same way, but given the traumatic events that have occurred in the previous book, I am prepared to give my thoughts on the book itself and what I expect to happen in the final book.

First: I'll review what's going on at the moment: Voldemort's return has finally gone public, after the Ministry of Magic tried to cover it up for a year, and because of the ensuing trauma and the public now frowning upon the Ministry because of these lies, Cornelius Fudge has been impeached. Once again, the Ministry is in disarray, and everyone is scrambling to hide. Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, is dead, as is Auror Emmeline Vance. At the end of the book, Snape reveals himself as a Death Eater who had managed to fool Dumbledore — and finished Draco Malfoy's mission of murdering Dumbledore himself. Now that Dumbledore is gone, Harry is left alone to get the Horcruxes himself, risking his life at every turn.

The death of Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore, coupled with Lucius Malfot's imprisonment, winds the battlefield down slowly to Harry and Lord Voldemort. Now the question is, who, in keeping with the prophecy, will die and allow the other to live on? Neither can lave while the other survives, and the outlook is that Harry is going to die. But what is the most probable thing that will happen? Let's have a look at each individual character:

The Good Side

Albus Dumbledore: Dumbledore, having been killed with Snape's Avada Kedavra, is effectively out of the action. However, there remains the possibility that he will remain as a ghost, but given his views on death this is very unlikely. And since Dumbledore is dead, his phoenix won't be there to help.

Rubeus Hagrid: If Dumbledore's wisdom is gone, Hagrid can help beat down foes as he did whilst fending off Umbridge in the previous book. However, he has affinities with several magical creatures that pose threats to normal humans, so I can see him succumbing to them in the near future.

The Dursleys: The Freezing Charm Dumbledore set on that turret of Hogwarts was dispelled by Dumbledore's death. Since Dumbledore invoked a spell that would prevent Harry from being harmed at number four, Privet Drive, this spell has almost certainly dispelled as well. Even if it hasn't, it would have dispelled when Harry turned seventeen, which he will in the next book. Not only does this leave Harry as open as ever to attack, but the Dursleys are also as vulnerable — either they will use this as an excuse to throw Harry out of the house once and for all, or they'll be killed first. Since the battlefield is, as I say, winding down, the prospect that they'll be killed is very high.

Ron and Hermione: From year one they've stayed by Harry's side, and at many times they've been very useful to him as they fought off foes, especially at the Ministry siege. It seems unlikely that they will die, but if they do, Ron will be murdered along with his entire family — they are ostracised as 'blood traitors' — and Hermione will be murdered because of her parentage. If not, they'll be by Harry's side as he ticks off the last of the Horcruxes.

Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour: We learned that the Triwizard Tournament finalist from Beauxbatons and Ron's eldest brother are marrying, so the seventh book will lead off with that. However, Fenrir Greyback bit Bill in a clear sky, so Bill will not be a werewolf, but the chances that he'll survive are about the same for someone bit in the full moon. As stated for Ron and Hermione, however, the chances that Bill and Fleur will die, if ever they do, with his family are higher than him dying from Fenrir's bite.

Rufus Scrimgeour: He's not faring as well as Fudge. The public will soon realise that he's just trying to use Harry as a poster boy for the Ministry and he will be impeached as well.

Minerva McGonagall: She succeeded Dumbledore as head of Hogwarts. Will her firmness and straightforward attitude be of use to Harry as he moves on to the final battle? Or will Hogwarts, as vulnerable as ever, not prove enough to protect her from Voldemort?

The Dark Side

Severus Snape: After he killed Dumbledore and revealed himself as the Half-Blood Prince, he fled, leaving the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher position vacant once again. In Half-Blood Prince, Snape was shunted into the position when Horace Slughorn was put back in Dumbledore's employ. Because of the murder, and because of his position in getting his parents killed, Harry will hate him more than ever — maybe even enough to kill him. Chances are very high that Snape will die in book seven.

Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy: Bellatrix is the only Lestrange that evaded prison after the siege — and she was angry at Snape for being out of the action for so long. But that's not where we're concerned — when Sirius died, his will effected Harry's claims to Kreacher the house-elf and number twelve, Grimmauld Place, which still can only be reached if the Secret-Keeper tells you. If Harry forgoes the will, everything would go to Bellatrix — and kreacher would reveal everything about the order to Bellatrix if there wasn't enough exposed already. As for Narcissa, she has become very close to Bellatrix over the years, and she has tried to help Malfoy kill Dumbledore. The prospect that she and Lucius will reunite, however, is extremely faint — we learned that Lucius was busted at the siege and thrown in Azkaban, and Voldemort was extremely angry at him for getting one of his Horcruxes (the diary that Harry destroyed in Chamber of Secrets) destroyed and for botching up the siege that was intended to obtain the Ministry's copy of the prophecy — so the two may die together, if ever they do.

Peter 'Wormtail' Pettigrew: Wormtail has been rather quiet in the past years, but it is possible that he will surface again to help his master in some way other than reviving him and getting him drinks.

The Battlefield

If the battle winds down correctly, Harry and Lord Voldemort will be at each other's front, one ready to die and one ready to kill. There is speculation, however, that Harry will die in the seventh book, and given the circumstances the prospect for that is as high as ever. Yet will J.K. Rowling allow the world to be consumed by darkness forever? Probably not, so to uphold the speculation we can conclude that both Harry and Voldemort will die, but not necessarily kill each other.

We learned that Voldemort killed people to make six Horcruxes for a seven-part soul, as he believed that seven was the most powerful magic number, in order to achieve the equivalent of immortality, and he assembled Death Eaters just to ensure that no one got in his way. Each time he said 'Avada Kedavra!', his soul would be cut apart. Now if Harry kills Voldemort — which we are hoping for — his soul will be cut, and since he is not yet a fully grown wizard this could be fatal to him. If he kills Snape first and then goes on to kill Voldemort, his chances of dying from the soul split are even higher. It seems most likely that he will kill Snape and be severely wounded from the soul split, unable to make a Horcrux himself, and then die from the following split resulting from Voldemort's death.

It's probably a pipe dream, but who knows what Rowling has up her sleeve?

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