Category Archives: Book 7 Speculations

Deathly Hallows Week: Final Words

no-glasses.jpgThis is the last thing I’ll write before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (Since it’s been a picture day, which has been my way of keeping sane today amidst all the spoiler nonsense, I’ll give you two more in this post – again, click on them to see a larger image.)

It’s been fun, these past two years. Sword of Gryffindor has grown and expanded, the Hog’s Head PubCast has been a blast to do, and you, the readers and commenters, are to thank for that. Here’s an idea of where we’ve come: In November 2005, the first full month of SoG, this site had 3,993 “unique visitors” (Statcounter considers a unique visitor any new visitor or any return visitor who comes back to the site after a certain period of time). This week, we’ve gotten twice that many per day. So far this month, we’ve had 58,593 unique visitors. This month, of course, is obviously going to have more hits due to Book 7’s release, but even prior to that, we had 43,000+ in June and 35,000+ the two previous months. So, thank you all for coming!

A few final words about Deathly Hallows:

  • Disappear after reading this post: Seriously, protect yourself from spoilers. Decide to stay away for the last day. You’ll never forgive yourself!
  • Protect yourself from spoilers in line: If you’re planning to stand in line somewhere at midnight, like I am, do whatever it takes to protect yourself. There will be people who want to show up and ruin it for everyone, shouting out plot points and ruining the ending. I’ll have my iPod blaring in my ears. I’m not going to any release parties; just standing in line and getting back home as quickly as possible.
  • Let Rowling delight you: Sit back and enjoy the book, as much as possible, on your own terms and in your own time. Whether that’s over a long period of time, or with your children, or alone overnight, have fun with the book.
  • Hold loosely to your theories: This will be challenging for all of us! We’ve formed so many ideas about this final book based on what’s happened so far, that I fear some of us will be clinging so tightly to our notions about Book 7 that we’ll be disappointed. Determine now to hold very loosely to your ideas and let Rowling surprise you.
  • Come back here when you’re done: Of course. And please. I’ll be blogging and podcasting about Deathly Hallows by the end of the weekend. Take your time and finish before coming back, but come back! We’ll be discussing the series for quite some time, I’m sure, and you’ll also find great conversation and analysis at the many blogs I’ve linked from here over the past two years, which I’ll continue to note in “Around the Common Room” posts.

tnt2.jpgI want to say a special word of thanks to my wonderful wife, Tricia (the picture was taken on vacation two years ago at the French River in Canada). Like me, she was a former Harry Hater as well, and she broke much later than I did. In fact, I need to thank Sophia as well – it was all the time Tricia had at home with a newborn that finally drove her to the Harry Potter series, looking for something to maintain her sanity (new parents know this feeling well). In short, this project has been incredibly fun work because of Tricia’s support and insight into the series (“I’m going to go podcast now, honey.” “Ok, I’ll be asleep.”). Thanks, love. You’re the best.

Tricia, by the way, has an interesting theory on horcruxes that I should get on record before Deathly Hallows is out.  According to the HP Lexicon timeline, Voldemort graduated Hogwarts the same year Grindelwald was defeated by Dumbledore.  This would mean that Grindelwald would have been alive and active during the 7 years of Tom’s schooling.  One big question left unanswered from Half-Blood Prince is, “Where did Tom learn about horcruxes?”  Well, there’s another important question: “Where did Tom go during the summers?”  Put the two together: Perhaps he went off to meet Grindelwald one summer, maybe even the summer after talking with Slughorn.  So there’s the theory: Voldemort learned to make horcruxes from Grindelwald before Dumbledore took him down.  This doesn’t mean Grindelwald had necessarily made his own; just that he pointed young Riddle in the right direction and maybe taught him the spell Slughorn “didn’t know.”

Some have asked what I’ll do with this site when all the discussion about Book 7 has finally died down. I’m playing it by ear. One thing is certain – I’ve no intention of closing it down. I may end up expanding it to discuss a wide variety of literature, and I’ll always be looking for the way the Christ story is woven into the fabric of the universe, particularly in the tales we tell. And I’m certain all the commenters here, many of whom are far more intelligent than I, will be able to help me along in that process.

Comments are still open on all posts, but I will not even be looking at them to moderate them until I’m finished with Deathly Hallows. Once again, thank you all, and I’ll see you again after this weekend.

Deathly Hallows Week, Day 2: Will Voldemort Die?

voldemort_1.jpgOne question I’ve never explored here is simply this: Will Voldemort Die? Some have argued that if Harry kills Voldemort, it will go against everything Rowling has written about Love’s victory, the evil of murder, and the importance of self-sacrifice.

I disagree. I think Harry will kill Voldemort, and that it will be the right thing to do. We’ll look at this from canon and then from an ethical standpoint. Continue reading

Hog’s Head PubCast #31: SybillCast

hogshead.jpgRapid-fire predictions. Thanks to commenter Reyhan for providing the list, which you will find below.  It’s called “SybillCast” because this is your opportunity to be better at predictions than Trelawney (I know…shouldn’t be too difficult).

Please forgive the abysmal state of this podcast. I was hurrying to get it done, as I’ve been in the hospital wing for the past two days with some sort of stomach bug.

This week will be Deathly Hallows Week at SoG! Continue reading

Hog’s Head PubCast #30

hogshead.jpgDumbledore as Fabius Maximus; M. Scott Peck; How should we prepare our kids to read Harry Potter?

This is (most likely) the second to last episode before the release of Deathly Hallows! Remember that you can subscribe through iTunes.

Pub Menu:

Snape in Love

The whole of fandom has been round and round about whether or not Snape has ever been in love, and usually Lily and Narcissa are given as possibilities.  I’m not going to venture any more guesses about that.  But tonight, listening to some interviews with Rowling, I came across a few quotes that have been widely analyzed in fandom, and it struck me that I’ve never read them analyzed properly (unless I missed it, which is possible).  You can listen to the audio here.

Let’s set the context for the comments.  Rowling is taking questions from fans.  The interviewer, Christopher Lyden, follows up fan questions with some of his own comments after Rowling has answered.  Now observe this dialogue:

Lydon: Er – one of our connec- … one of our internet correspondents wondered if Snape is going to fall in love?

JKR: Yeah? Who on earth would want Snape in love with them, that is a very horrible idea. Erm …

Lydon: But you’d get an important kind of redemptive pattern to Snape

JKR: It is, isn’t it … I got … There’s so much I wish I could say to you, and I can’t because it’d ruin … I promise you … whoever asked that question, can I just say to you that I’m – I’m slightly stunned that you’ve said that – erm – and you’ll find out why I’m so stunned if you read book 7. And that’s all I’m going to say.

Every time I’ve seen this quote analyzed, it’s been assumed that Rowling’s statement, “I’m slightly stunned that you’ve said that,” refers to Lydon’s statement about there being a redemptive pattern to Snape.  But that’s not what Rowling was responding to.  She was addressing “whoever asked that question,” and the question was, “Is Snape going to fall in love?”

She obviously tried to skirt the question at first, but eventually admitted to being “slightly stunned” that the question had been asked, and pointed to Book 7 for the answer.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but this looks to me to be pretty near confirmation that Snape was, indeed, in love at some point, and that it’s crucial to Book 7’s plot.

[For what it’s worth, this is also where she calls Snape “sadistic,” something we’ve discussed at length here previously].

Hog’s Head PubCast #29

hogshead.jpgSnape, Wormtail, and Draco; Lily as Christ figure; “Close to the Dead” – what does it mean?; E-Owls

Some sound issues with this one, mainly my voice getting louder and softer, depending on where/when I was recording. Next podcast, I’ll be trying a new mic set-up, and if it works, sound should be crystal clear with no background noise.

Pub Menu

“Close to the Dead” – The Veil AND Stoppered Death

Ever since the discovery of the 2000 Rowling quote about getting “close to the dead,” two primary trajectories of speculation have been on the table: (1) that she was referring to the veil (2) that it’s a reference to Cathy Liesner’s “Stoppered Death” theory.

What if it’s both?

Let’s revisit the quote again:

“That’s a given. Without it [the irreversible nature of death] the plot would fall apart, though in Book Seven you’ll see just how close you can get to the dead. You can be brought back from being petrified and from injuries that in the real world are mortal, depending on the degree of skill that a particular wizard possesses. You can’t go to any wizard and say ‘Will you cure my terminally ill relative?’ It’s a mirror image of the real world in that sense.”

Getting “close to the dead” certainly sounds a lot more like the veil theories – actual proximity to dead people. But the follow-up explanatory statement doesn’t fit that, does it? The immediately subsequent statement is clearly a reference to Dumbledore’s state in HBP (so we know she had that part planned out way back in 2000!).

A couple points to mention:

  • Dumbledore is “definitely dead;” He won’t “do a Gandalf.” I still think this is pretty strong evidence of no Dumbledore return for DH.
  • Dumbledore was giving Rowling trouble in the writing of Deathly Hallows – which means Book 7 will contain some crucial Dumbledore elements, even though he will not personally show up in the book as a living character.

What if being in a Stoppered Death state allows one some level of access to the dead that other people don’t have? I mean, getting “close to the dead” is no big deal in the Harry Potter world: there are ghosts everywhere. Everyone gets “close to the dead” at some point. But with Rowling’s follow-up statement that most certainly seems to be evidence for a Stoppered Death, there may be a link between being in that state of existence and getting “close to the dead.”

Now: Aside from looking for the Cave, we don’t know for certain where Dumbledore went during his long departures from the school. Dumbledore can become invisible without a cloak, which means he can easily slip in and out of the Ministry undetected. What if being in a Stoppered Death state allowed Dumbledore the ability to pass through the veil and return?

It would fit the thematic elements of the story, as well as the parallels to Greek mythology (the trio’s descent past Fluffy/Cerberus in Book 1, for example). Think Odysseus, of course. What if Dumbledore is the one character in the series who, while not being able to be resurrected from the dead, was temporarily in a state in which he could pass in and out of “the Underworld” without harm?  What if Dumbledore, at some point during the goings-on of HBP, made a mythological journey to the Underworld through the veil?

This could have a lot of implications for what kinds of memories and information Dumbledore has gathered and has left for Harry.


Note: I addressed this quote in the pubcast, which will be uploaded tonight, but I didn’t have this idea about it being both until after I had finished recording.

Close to Death?

Those who have envisioned a scenario in which Harry passes through the veil and returns in Deathly Hallows (and I post this because I know we’ve got a few commenters here who have proposed that), as well as believers in the “Stoppered Death” theory, need to check out John Granger’s recent post, in which he ponders a fascinating quote from Rowling in 2000 as reported by Anne Johnstone:

Will Harry survive in the final book, due out on July 21? Your guess is as good as mine, but it’s worth remembering something Joanne said in 2000 when we were discussing the importance for the dramatic tension in her books of there being limits to what is susceptible to magic. One fundamental is that you can’t reverse death. “That’s a given,” she said, “though in book seven you’ll see just how close you can get.”

John goes on to explain why he thinks this is support for a Dumbledore return, a theory I still believe Rowling shot out of the water last year, but there are a few other theories proposed in the post that I think are quite interesting fodder for speculation.

Here’s what I’m wondering: Does Rowling’s quote “just how close you can get” refer to just how close you can get to death without dying (which would fit Stoppered Death or the use of the Draught of Living Death), or does it refer to just how close you can come to reversing death (which might also fit Stoppered Death, but might also fit a veil theory)?


Update:  Here is the full text of the quote, and it makes quite a difference:

“That’s a given. Without it the plot would fall apart, though in Book Seven you’ll see just how close you can get to the dead. You can be brought back from being petrified and from injuries that in the real world are mortal, depending on the degree of skill that a particular wizard possesses. You can’t go to any wizard and say ‘Will you cure my terminally ill relative?’ It’s a mirror image of the real world in that sense.”

So…”how close you can get to the dead” definitely makes it sound like some close interaction with dead people, which would point us toward some theory about the veil.  However, she follows that statement up with a few comments that sound a whole lot like “Stoppered Death.”  These comments might be some of the only evidence we’ve had for “Stoppered Death” straight from the lips of Rowling herself.