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July 22, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

No spoilers

As the first signed copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince arrived in New York by armoured truck some folks already thought they knew how the story would end. One of them decided to casually mention the rumour they had heard to me some time ago and I am afraid that purported knowledge, thankfully innacurate as it turned out, coloured my reading of the book. Reports of Harry Potter spoiler related suicide are only a slight exaggeration. So, for heaven's sake, if you have not read the latest Harry Potter do not read the rest of this post let alone follow the links!

Spoilers follow:

Some have expressed the wishful view that in her latest book J.K. Rowling has taken a rhetorical stand against the "war on terror". Slate quotes Darren Cahr's reading of the novel, finding in it "a terror campaign that disrupts the lives of ordinary people and results in the deaths of innocents."

This much is true but Mr. Cahr has nevertheless missed the point. It is entirely possible, reasonable, even at times important to be skeptical of specific actions, policies or motivations of the Ministry of Magic or indeed of any government no matter how representative. Anyone who imagines a perfect bureaucracy really is living in a world of fantasy. It is another thing entirely to imagine this excuses the actions of Voldemort and his followers let alone pretend some finger-pointing at wizarding authorities substitutes for the need to confront and defeat evil directly. The Ministry of Magic may be handling the fight badly but at no point does Rowling suggest the real fight is with the Ministry rather than the Death Eaters. Quite the opposite. Slate's readership imagine itself to be too sophisticated to believe in good and evil. Fortunately, Rowling's readership is capable of grasping the simple moral fact of evil and the duty to challenge it. I am delighted a generation of children are being raised under her tutelage.

Though Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released only a few short days ago, Wikipedia is already listing continuity errors. But not everyone is content to enjoy the book. This drive-by Harry Potter spoiler video shows the depths to which some will sink to have fun at the expense of other people. The spoiler has morphed with lightning speed, a sure sign of this publishing event's place in the culture.

Update: Speculation about the identity of R.A.B. leads some to suggest Sirius Black's brother, Regulus Black.

Near the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a message is signed with the initials R.A.B., and some have interpreted it to mean Regulus A. Black. (The "A." is not given by Rowling but could stand for "Alphard," uncle to Regulus and Sirius.) This would indicate that the locket Horcrux was stolen by Regulus and possibly destroyed. Page 116 of The Order of the Phoenix mentions a similar locket stashed at 12 Grimmauld Place, the Black household.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 22, 2005 07:45 AM

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