Did you know that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is being published in 90 countries? Yeah, I’m one of the kazillion people anxiously waiting for this weekend and the final installment in JK Rowling’s fantasy series. Will good crush evil? Will Dumbledore’s Army find the remaining horcruxes before the Death Eaters gain strength? Will Harry discover that HE is a horcrux (that scar, that scar!)? Will he survive his final confrontation with Voldemort? Who will die?
Mostly, I’m just holding my breath, hoping Rowling will tie everything up in a way worthy of the legacy she’s created, while fearing she might not (I’m still remembering Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass). Please, no gnarty personality twists in order to move from plot point S to Z. No dismissing reader expectations in the 11th hour and opting for mediocre wrap-ups. And no senseless deaths.
I’ve been keeping up with books and business news (see the Google notebook HERE), but I have to tell you: Just about everyone is focused on Harry right now. Headlines about Harry Potter orders breaking records; how rich Rowling’s agent must be; whether or not the series counts as literature; what will happen to book sales after it’s all over; kids who’ve already started camping out in front of their fave bookstore to wait for their fave book; how Rowling is using the book to help search for a missing child; who’s going to skip to the end of the book when they crack its cover, and which news agency won’t report on it. And, of course, how well the movie’s done this past week. (Kath and I are going to talk about that and more next Monday and Tuesday.)
My favorite news blip, however, reveals the first few lines of the latest book. Wanna know what they are? Of course you do! This from The Observer: In a trailer for the forthcoming ITV documentary, A Year in the Life… J K Rowling, the camera lingers long enough on a printed manuscript of the novel, dated 23 October 2006, to make the opening visible to the eagle eyed. It reads:
The Dark Lord Ascending.
The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane. For a second they stood quite still, wands pointing at each other’s chests: then, recognising each other, they stowed their wands beneath their cloaks and set off, side by side, in the same direction.
“News?”, asked the taller of the two.
“The best,” replied Snape.
Oh, Snape. If you’re not a triple-agent in truth, I will be utterly disappointed.
I’ve really enjoyed Rowling’s series. Oh, sure, we could point to faults, but why? On the whole, the story has been fun, hugely imaginative, at times gripping and heart-wrenching, but mostly it’s been, for me, a study in actualizing a dream. Once upon a time there was a writer with a concept, who took pen to napkin and forged an industry. She lives in a castle now, richer than the queen, her life filled to the brim with characters, real and imagined…
Congratulations, JK Rowling; and thank you for providing such a rich microcosm for me and my family to visit these many years, for the ride you’ve taken us on. I, for one, will be sorry when the car finally slows and then stops, and we all have to get off and leave the park.
I will keep my fingers crossed about the rest.
Write on, all!