Liveblogging Harry Potter (again), Part 3

I’m a little past the halfway point, so I figured I’d post some more thoughts. Again, many spoilers are likely, so I’m putting everything beneath the fold.

Update 9:30 pm: More comments added…

Update 10:15 pm: More additions…

Update 12:30 am: Last update for the night…

  • Part 1, covering initial thoughts and the first couple chapters.
  • Part 2, covering the next several chapters and some other thoughts.
  • Page 186: A ha! So R.A.B. was indeed a member of the Black family, as I’d speculated a few years ago (along with a few million other fans:P), though I had the name wrong. It’s Regulus Arcturus Black, and unfortunately, it seems that he’s only taken care of one of the Horcruxes (and not several, as I had speculated yesterday). Also, Kreacher becomes a more sympathetic character. That makes two previously stalwart anti-Potter factions that have made moves in the other direction (the other being Dudley Dursley’s surprising admission earlier in the book). Does this foreshadow Snape’s eventual redemption?
  • Page 284: One of the things I’m realizing is that the book seems to bog down a bit when it’s just Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Not that it gets bad or anything, but that things really only pick up when they venture out or talk to someone from the outside. Otherwise, they seem to just be sitting inside their tent, snapping at each other and whining about how Dumbledore didn’t tell them enough of his secrets (they seem to be doing this a lot, particularly Harry. This sort of thing has been my least favorite part of the series, especially in book 5, and it’s annoying that it’s reappeared after a blissful respite in book 6). Also, the wearing of the Horcrux seems to be a silly practice, as it appears to demonstrate One Ring of Power-like symptoms. The Lupin subplot is heating up, but I have no idea where it’s going. And finally, Ron is acting like a turd. Big shock. He never seems to play a real important role in the series…
  • Page 346: Nearing the halfway point, and we’re not much further into resolving the plot lines, though it appears that all the chess pieces are being put into place. Some mysteries have been revealed (R.A.B.), but some remain (Snape’s spy) and new ones have come up (who is Dumbledore’s blond friend?). Some of these action sequences are a little confusing, but somewhat short and effective. I think Rowling is actually going for a certain sense of disorientation, but it can be a little frustrating.
  • Page 362: There has been a lot of talk about the history of the Dumbledore family, particularly about Albus’ youth. Coming from a source like Rita Skeeter, I don’t believe the implications, though I’m betting there’s some nugget of truth to the revelations. Harry, on the other hand, immediately believes everything he hears. At first, I found this odd. Why would Harry be so insistent that Dumbledore wasn’t a great man? But then, I realized that this is something we deal with all the time. Hardly a national holiday goes by that we don’t hear some lecture about how such-and-such founding father was a good man, but that he owned slaves (or some other such observation)! Somehow, people seem to expect that great leaders are great because they’re perfect or something. But no one is perfect, and so even great men have their weak points. Harry is going through this realization now, I guess. Rowling is doing a pretty good job here though. By introducting these disturbing rumors early in the book thorugh the unreliable source of Rita Skeeter, she’s setting herself up so that she can reveal that Dumbledore was indeed not perfect, but nowhere near as evil as Skeeter is portraying him. Indeed, it seems like the Weasley’s aunt Miriam has tempered some of the rumors a bit (though they’re still a little strong). I’m betting that when we finally find out the truth, it won’t be anywhere near as bad as Skeeter portrays it…
  • Page 388: Finally, some progress. The sword found and the locket destroyed, and Ron has returned. And redeemed himself, I suppose. Again, I’m sensing a theme here. Wanna bet Lupin will redeem himself and return to his wife and child? Also, we find out that at least some of what Dumbledore left to the kids in his will is useful. And it helps explain how Ron was able to find Harry and Hermione (who’ve been hiding for the majority of the book).
  • Page 413: And so we find out what the Deathly Hallows are: another set of magical artifacts. Still, it shows promise, and suddenly the loss of Harry’s wand doesn’t seem so important. Incidentally, I’ve always wondered about the wands. They seem awfully flimsy, and it seems to be a blindingly obvious vulnerability. Of course, the last book introduced the concept of silent spellcasting, which perhaps doesn’t require a wand either (or am I remembering that wrong). In any case, Rowling seems to be increasing the number of things that need to be resolved, rather than resolving them. Our heros might have one of the Hallows already, but the other two?
  • I just had another thought. The Deathly Hallows were created by death, and supposedly, they represent death’s defeat (or something like that). Earlier in the book, we see James and Lily Potter’s tombstone, and there was an unusal inscription: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” The whole Hallows concept puts that in a different light…
  • Page 502: Now we’re getting somewhere. Another death has befallen us, the house elf Dobby has died, in the heroic act of saving Harry, Ron, Hermione and several other prisoners. Just how Dobby knew where they were is still a little unclear – Harry thinks it has something to do with the mirror fragment and Dumbledore, but I’m still not sure. In any case, some of the various plot lines are starting to converge and make more sense. Harry appears to have grasped the situation thoroughly and is acting with authority (for the first time in the book, really, and thankfully). Only 250 pages or so to go, but there’s still a lot of ground to cover.

More commentary on the way…

8 thoughts on “Liveblogging Harry Potter (again), Part 3”

  1. Your page references are different to the Australian edition, and you’ve probably realised this by now, but you’re just about at the part where all sorts of unholy arse kicking ensues (unholy in the awesomest possible way, of course). I’m talking narratively, not literally.

  2. Yeah, I think I just passed that asskickery. The only thing that bothered me was that, well, the whole situation started with Harry doing something really, really stupid. Still, I like the way Rowling got them out of it. Hehe.

  3. Please, he’s Harry Potter! How can you not expect him to engineer a totally hubristic situation! Thenceforth you’ve got a little more downtime, then you’ve got UNRELENTING GREATNESS for the rest of the book.

    Your mileage may vary.

    (PS. Tears rolled down my cheeks at 2AM at the death of Dobby, and I was never really even attached to him … damn you, JK Rowling!)

  4. Oh, yeah, the death of Dobbie was well played. For all that I found him sort of annoying in a not quite as bad as JarJar sort of way, the death was… well… surprisingly sad.

    Regarding Magic and Wands: I’m pretty sure that you have to have a wand to perform magic, in the Potterverse. You can use other forms of magic- potions or magical creatures, etc, without a wand, but to cast a spell, you need a wand. My suspicion is that most of the wands are probably protected by certains spells, as well, and that it was because Hermione cast a particularly powerful spell, and because Harry wasn’t holding his wand at the time, that it was damaged. But, yeah, the wands are particularly important- that’s why one of the major defensive spells they’re taught is how to knock a wizard’s wand away.

  5. Except they had lessons on wandless magic in book six, and adult wizards and witches have performed wandless magic all throughout the series.

    The wand focuses the magic, perhaps makes it stronger.

  6. Wait… what?

    I don’t remember them taking classes on magic without wands- only without speech. Magic can definitely be performed without speaking, but there’s not really that much wandless magic being performed by wizards in the books that I can remember.

    Most of the time, the wandless magic is accidental and undirected- like Harry’s mishaps in the early books, and I definitely can’t think of any powerful spells that were performed without the aid of a wand. Even when they’re doing rather mundane tasks with magic, they still use their wands- like when they’re cleaning dirt off of an object, or when Mrs. Weasley is making dinner.

  7. I thought they received lessons on wordless AND wandless magic, but when I looked up “wandless magic Harry Potter” in Google I didn’t find much.

    So my memory failed me on that one.

    I do distinctly remember Dumbledore doing wandless magic; I believe he’s been described as just flicking his hand at something to start a fire. But then, he is very powerful. And perhaps he actually had his wand in his hand even then.

  8. Too bad neither Ron, Harry nor Hermione knew that all Harry had to do was call Kreacher anytime he was in trouble. If Kreacher could disapparte into and out of Vodermorts cave, he could have gone in and out of their tents even with all of the charms in place. Brought them food and stuff.

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