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What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Falls in Love, and How Will the Adventure Finally End?
By Ben Schoen Emerson Spartz Andy Gordon Gretchen Stull Jamie Lawrence Laura Thompson
Ulysses PressCopyright © 2006 Ben Schoen and Emerson Spartz
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBook 7 Basics
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
On December 21, 2006, after a year and a half of eager fan anticipation, J. K. Rowling finally released the official title of the seventh and final Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When MuggleNet.com first published this book (two months before J.K.R.'s announcement), we predicted that she might call Book 7 Harry Potter and the Hallows of Hogwarts. Though we weren't right on the money, we weren't far off. We'll give ourselves half a point for that one. But just what is J.K.R. referring to by the "Deathly Hallows," and what does this title mean for Book 7?
The moment J.K.R. disclosed the title, a million different theories sprang up on discussion forums worldwide as to what the Deathly Hallows could be. Within the maelstrom, one idea emerged that stands head and shoulders above the others. That theory concerns the Hallows of the Holy Grail, from the legend of King Arthur. In this story, the Grail (the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper) is one of the Four Hallows, which are all sacred holy relics. The Hallows are:
The Holy Grail The Broken Sword The Stone, or The Dish, or The PentacleThe Spear of Destiny
Arthur and his knights set out on a quest to find the Holy Grail and prove themselves worthy of it. One of his knights (Gawain, Perceval, or Galahad, depending on the version you read) finds it at a castle in the middle of a wasteland, guarded by a man known as the Fisher King, who also holds the other three Hallows. The Fisher King is chronically injured, and the legend states that when one worthy of the Grail arrives, his wounds would heal, and with him would heal the wasteland of his kingdom.
So how does all of this link into the final installment of the Harry Potter series? The theory runs that the Deathly Hallows are four relics synonymous with the Hallows of the Fisher King:
Hufflepuff's Cup represents The Holy Grail Gryffindor's Sword represents The Broken Sword Slytherin's Locket represents The Stone/Dish/Pentacle Ravenclaw's Wand represents The Spear of Destiny
Dumbledore told Harry that Voldemort sought out a relic from each of the Hogwarts founders to turn into Horcruxes [HBP, p. 505]. These are Voldemort's "Hallows," the items that are sacred to him. It seems that he didn't manage to get them all, as Dumbledore was confident that the Sword at least had remained untainted [HBP, p. 505]. The nature of Ravenclaw's relic is also unconfirmed, but if the Hallows theory is correct, the evidence points toward it being Rowena's wand that Voldemort obtained.
So these are the Hallows, but why are they Deathly? Simply because they contain pieces of Voldemort's soul, and it is Harry's task to destroy each of the Horcruxes. If Harry should succeed in his quest for the Hallows, then Voldemort will be mortal-and subject to the force of death-once again.
Another clue could come from the way J.K.R. chose to reveal Book 7's title-through a game of hangman on her website. Hanging symbolism crops up in several places throughout the series: villagers discussed the Riddle murders in The Hanged Man pub [GOF], the village itself was named Little Hangleton, the Weasley twins sold a hangman game in their shop. The real significance of this idea comes from the tarot. Each suit of the Minor Arcana (cups, swords, pentacles, and wands) derives from the Hallows, and one of the Major Arcana cards is the Hanged Man. One interpretation might be that someone sacrifices his position to gain insight, and risks becoming an outcast (perhaps a reference to Snape). The Hanged Man could also represent a hero so committed to his cause that he will die for it. The relationship of the card to other cards usually involves personal loss for a greater gain, and this could indicate Harry's fate.
All of this is only conjecture, of course, and it is based on nothing but a presumed link between existing legends and the title of Book 7. But it sounds pretty convincing to us. However it turns out, though, everything discussed above has a clear association with death, and we can safely assume that Deathly Hallows is not going to be a cheerful book.
How long will Deathly Hallows be?
In September 2006, the Daily Mirror, a U.K. tabloid, reported that J.K.R. had written 750 pages and was only halfway through writing. J.K.R. later refuted the claim [J.K.R website, Rubbish Bin section], and we'll certainly take her word over that of some gossip rag. Besides, there's simply no way the book would be 1,500 pages long. J.K.R. has already said she thinks that Deathly Hallows will be shorter than Order of the Phoenix (though she wouldn't guarantee it) [ITV Report, 2005]. But assuming the book will be shorter than OOTP, which weighed in at a whopping 870 pages, she's still given herself room to write a respectable 869-page tome. And with all the loose ends she needs to wrap up, don't be surprised if Deathly Hallows comes in close to that length. After all, there are no more books for her to fix errors or include information she wished she had included before. So she will be checking this book twenty times over to make sure she has addressed every remaining issue.
When will Deathly Hallows finally hit the shelves?
Only J.K.R. and her publisher know the exact release date of Deathly Hallows. And they're not telling. If this information somehow got leaked, heads would roll. So for now, "mum" is the word. There are a few telling clues, however, that allow us to speculate on when we'll see Book 7 in the stores. One popular theory is that the book will be released on July 7, 2007, or 07/07/07. Seven is the most powerful and magical number in the Harry Potter series, after all, and Harry himself was born at the end of July, the seventh month. The last three Potter books have all been released on Saturdays (in order to allow fans to attend midnight releases the night before), and 07/07/07 conveniently happens to fall upon, you guessed it, a Saturday. Furthermore, all six previous Potter books have had their world premiere in the U.K. in either June or July. It certainly seems like all the stars have aligned for July 7, 2007.
But despite all of these clues, we find this publication date highly unlikely. Why? Because the Order of the Phoenix movie will be released on July 13, 2007. The Harry Potter films are big business for Warner Brothers and J. K. Rowling. Fans around the globe will be eagerly anticipating the release, and Warner Bros and J.K.R. won't want to divert the excitement for either the movie or the book by pitting one against the other. What's more, July 7, 2005, saw a vicious suicide bomb attack in London, the only such event that has ever occurred in the U.K. Fifty-two people were killed and over 800 injured, and it is unthinkable that the final Harry Potter book would be released on the anniversary of this atrocity. So we can say goodbye to the 07/07/07 theory.
The earliest release date we think is possible for Deathly Hallows will be late 2007 or early 2008. Many people assume that the announcement of the title of Book 7 means that a 2007 release is likely. We can't really glean too much from the timing of this announcement, however. While the title of HBP was revealed almost exactly a year in advance, the title of OOTP was made public in October 2000, and the book didn't see the light of day for nearly three years afterwards. By contrast, the title of GOF wasn't announced until just over a week before it came out. Therefore, just because we know the title doesn't mean we know when the book is coming out.
Late 2007 is always a possibility, but a summer 2008 release looks more likely for several reasons. J.K.R. revealed in August 2006 that she "wasn't even close to finishing" the book [J.K.R website, Rubbish Bin section]. Thus she still has an awful lot to write and finalize. Even after she finishes writing, she still has to send it off to her publisher for editing, promotion, and Americanizing, all of which can take six months to a year. Furthermore, every previous Harry Potter book has seen its world premiere in either June or July, and every previous Harry Potter book has been enormously successful. So if it ain't broke, why fix it? And since summer 2007 is out of the question, then summer 2008 seems like the clear choice.
But like everything in this book, these are merely educated predictions. Only J.K.R. knows the true answers and she is closely guarding all of her secrets. On a recent flight back from New York, increased airport security meant there was a risk that she would be parted from her manuscript. J.K.R. wouldn't be parted from it, however, and after much pleading, security allowed her to take it on. She mentioned that if they hadn't let her board, she would have probably jumped on a boat and sailed the entire way back home [J.K.R website, News section]. So rest assured, fellow Potterites, even though everything about Deathly Hallows is hush-hush, the manuscript safely remains in very good hands.
Excerpted from What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7 by Ben Schoen Emerson Spartz Andy Gordon Gretchen Stull Jamie Lawrence Laura Thompson Copyright © 2006 by Ben Schoen and Emerson Spartz. Excerpted by permission.
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