If you haven't yet read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and don't want to know what happens, stop reading this post right now. It is full of spoilers and speculation on the last book. Consider yourself warned!
So yes, I'm entirely too into Harry Potter for someone my age. But I have to admit, I love the books. Took me a long time to get around to reading the first one, but when I finally did I got addicted. So last Friday night I was at the SAVI Ranch Borders with Barbara, waiting for midnight and the release of book six. Unfortunately, we didn't get there until after 11, and the number I was issued was 355. We hung around until almost one, but didn't think they'd get to my number within the next hour or so, so we left. I went back the next morning and picked up my copy, and began reading almost immediately. I finished it earlier today, which is no small feat considering I've got a four month old baby who demands almost constant attention. In some ways the things in this book were a complete surprise, in other ways they were expected... so here are my observations and speculations for the seventh book. Last chance to stop reading if you don't want to know....
1. Least surprising: Dumbledore's death. I saw it coming before I'd even seen the book. Rowling said a major character was going to die, and it stands to reason that it wouldn't be Ron or Hermione. Their talents work together with Harry's, and he couldn't continue to be victorious without both of them.
2. Most surprising: Snape killed Dumbledore! I always hated Snape, but since Dumbledore trusted him I figured he was okay. However, I think he only did it because he made the unbreakable vow to Narcissa, Draco's mother, saying he'd fulfill Draco's task (killing Dumbledore) if Draco couldn't do it. Snape may still turn out to be a reliable member of the Order, but no one will ever trust him again. I think he might redeem himself in some spectacular way in book seven, maybe by dying to save Harry. He wouldn't allow Harry to be killed at the end of book six, and wouldn't kill him even when he had the chance.
3. Draco's a death eater. Not too surprising, but I don't think it'll last. Harry finds him crying in a bathroom and saying that he can't do "it," which is killing Dumbledore. He is only carrying out Voldemort's instructions under the threat of death, and when he faces Dumbledore and has the chance to kill him he can't do it, even though he knows it's Dumbledore's life or his. Dumbledore tells Draco he's not a killer, and Dumbledore is usually right about people. I think Draco's another person who will redeem himself in the end. Interestingly enough, this twist was predicted in a lot of fan fictions. However, Rowling has said that Draco and Hermione will never be together, so there goes my pet theory.
4. Somewhere in the last couple of chapters, after Dumbledore dies, Harry goes back to his office, which is now McGonagall's office. He sees that Dumbledore's portrait is now among the other portraits of past headmasters. In other books, we've seen the portraits talk and move and be aware of current events. They travel between locations, and carry messages, and even give advice to the current headmaster. So, does this mean that Harry will still be able to communicate with Dumbledore? It'll almost be like he's not even gone, if that's the case. I read someone else's theory that Harry will eventually get Dean Thomas (who has artistic talent) to draw portraits of Sirius and his parents so that he can talk to them. This makes sense to me, and seems like Harry should've thought of it earlier.
5. Hogwarts closing? No seventh year? Even if it stays open, Harry says at the end of the book that he won't be returning. Ron and Hermione are determined to stick with him, so I guess we won't be seeing much of Hogwarts in the seventh book.
6. Lily. She keeps coming up, and Rowling has said that her past is hugely important in understanding the whole story. What's the deal with her? I have no idea. She was from a muggle family, so I would think that Harry's dad's past would be the one to look at. There's such an emphasis on how Harry looks like Tom Riddle. Were his dad and the Riddles related? But there's also something important about Harry having Lily's eyes. Weird.
7. And last. Who took the Horcrux that Harry and Dumbledore went to find? His initials are RAB. If this person is someone who's already been mentioned, and it probably is, the only person I can come up with is Regulus Black, Sirius's brother. He's mentioned in book five when they're looking at the Black family tree. He was a Death Eater at one time, but then changed his mind and was killed by Voldemort or someone acting under his orders. I think he was trying to hunt down Horcruxes before he was killed. Regulus is a star in the lion constellation, and lions symbolize the pure of heart. Incidentally, what was Dumbledore seeing in his head when he was drinking whatever it was that was in that stone basin?
Okay, that's enough for one night. I know I'm a big Harry Potter nerd. Good book, but it raises so many questions! I can't wait to see the seventh book, and see how Rowling ties everything together. I think there's going to be a lot going on in the seventh book. And she hasn't even started writing it yet! We may have to wait for a long time. I almost wish I hadn't started reading the books until they were all written...