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Friday, June 10, 2016

What did we learn today?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 4
Class, let's review what we learned today from this chapter:

  • Apparating is physically uncomfortable until you get used to it. (Still wish it was possible for Muggles like me. Sure would save a lot of time and money.)
  • Voldemort is using occlumency to hide his thoughts and whereabouts from Harry. (Presumably he's much better at it than Harry. But is it really a good idea for Voldemort. I thought you were supposed to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.)
  • Voldemort kills so he can use the corpses as soldiers called Inferi. (How perfectly horrible. This is why evildoers can be so difficult to defeat. They will use anything to help their cause no matter how awful or creepy.)
  • Harry is going to get private magic lessons from Sir Albus. (Pretty sure Harry will enjoy these lessons more than the occlumency ones with Snape.)
Horace "The Chairman" Slughorn is an odd fellow with an odd name. (Of course odd names are nothing new in the magical world. Interesting that Harry has a rather common name.) Seems like Slughorn will be one of the more popular Hogwarts profs. And even though he doesn't look like much, the fact that he is able to move each week and stay a step or two ahead of the Death Eaters proves he's got the kind of creative CIA skills the Order of the Phoenix could use.

Dumbledore is more cautious than ever. He feels Harry will be safer with the Weasleys, and he has heightened the security at the burrow. And he instructed Harry to take the invisibility cloak with him everywhere he goes. There must be a lot of chatter out there about what the Death Eaters might be up to.

This story is starting to take shape. I have decided not to try to figure out the significance and identity of the Half-Blood Prince. I really want to apparate ahead to chapter nine and find out, but I will exercise patience for a few more days.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

An uninvited guest

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 3
Nothing like making the Dursleys as uncomfortable as possible by casually performing magic tricks in their living room. The sight of those glasses knocking against their heads must have been fun to see. I wonder if they even felt it through their thick noggins.

Doubtful. When they were reminded of their mistreatment of Harry they were surely clueless. And they are even more so in their lack of understanding of their rotten spoiling of Dudders. Still, nice to see somebody tell them the truth.

So Sir Albus Dumbledore (don't you think he's met the queen and that she's probably knighted him by now because he's probably prevented some grand catastrophe or two) comes to rescue Harry from another summer of discontent. An adventure of some kind surely awaits on the trip to the burrow or when he gets there.

We get more caught up on what's been happening since the end of the last book through newspaper clippings and via news from Sir Albus. Not surprising that Harry doesn't want two key pieces of his inheritance. I doubt I would want to return to number twelve, Grimmauld Place given all that's happened. And I wouldn't want Kreacher either. As handy as it might sound to have a house elf do your bidding, who could put up with the attitude.

And it's off to the burrow with the invisibility cloak in hand. One should never go out in these times without one of those.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Double-agent man

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 2
Is it coincidence that Snape rhymes with snake?

Or that he has a greasy, slick appearance?

Not if we buy what the author is selling in this chapter. She would have us believe that Snape is a spy for Voldemort. Even more than that, she says he is a most-trusted advisor to the Dark Lord.

This chapter forces us to decide if Snape is for good or for evil. There have been hints all along that his death-eating ways are not behind him. Is Snape the proverbial red herring?

What's a blogger to do?

I must choose, and I must choose wisely. I must weigh the evidence. But who's got time for that? I don't. So I'll go with my gut.

And my gut says Snape is reformed. He's on Dumbledore's side. If there's a spy in the Hogwarts camp, it's someone else. Someone we'd never suspect, but upon finding out will wonder how we missed it. Kind of like watching "The Sixth Sense."

Now, there is this thing about the Unbreakable Vow. And that did cause me to hesitate. But I choose not to be as gullible as Bellatrix apparently is. Remember the unbreakable comb? I've seen those break. There's always a counter-curse or counter-spell. And he could've crossed his toes or his ankles behind him.

I just don't think Dumbledore can be fooled. Voldemort, on the other wand, is proud enough to be fooled. You know, that whole truth about pride going before the fall. That's Voldemort. It's what all the bad guys do. They don't kill the good guy when they have the chance and it costs them.

So while Snape isn't particularly likable, I deem him trustworthy.

Of course I could be completely wrong. Either way, being a double-agent is a pretty good way to get yourself killed.

I won't tell you what draconian deed I think Draco has been asked to do.

I gotta have some secrets too.

Ministers and more Ministers

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 1
As promised, summer is here and so is my determination to finish the Harry Potter series before the end of time. I can't just wave a wand, mutter something like Readus Blogus! and be done.

I wish.

I actually have to read and write a chapter at a time. Don't get me wrong. It's been a fun journey. But compared to how most people have read this series, it's been like the difference between hiking the Appalachian Trail and apparating to anywhere in the world. And you thought Dumbledore's beard took a long time to grow.

But I press on.

My first question: Does the Prime Minister have a book of secrets like the one in the second National Treasure movie? My second: Does the Queen also get magical visits at Buckingham Palace? My Third: What did the Minister of Magic tell Churchill?

Crikey!

If nothing else, Fudge has caught us up on where things stand in the wizarding war of the worlds. Voldemort and his legions are making magical mayhem. And the poor Prime Minister now knows the cause, but he can't tell anyone. Nobody said it would be an easy job.

Now that the Prime Minister of not-so-jolly-old England is in the story I wonder what his role will be.

And what about this new no-nonsense Minister of Magic. Can we trust him? Is he up to the job? And how do you even pronounce Scrimgeour? I'm gonna call him Scrim for short.

And I'm going to stay the course of this long journey. Just gonna take it one chapter at a time.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Off to war

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixChapter 38
The news, or at least the Daily Prophet's interpretation of such, is out.

Harry and Dumbledore have their good names back and their standings in magical society have been restored. And all are healed or healing from their run-in with the Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort.

And Umbridge is gone. (Can I get an Amen.)

But not all is right with Harry. He continues to mourn Sirius. I don't think this is a loss he will ever fully resolve his guilt over. It will haunt him, but not in the way he was hoping. Sirius will not be a ghost roaming the halls of Grimmauld Place. He is gone.

But just when we're at our lowest, that's when friends pick us up. A book full of angst, hard truths and loss had a happy ending when the Order told the Dursley's to treat Harry well or else. I'm pretty sure Uncle Vernon doesn't want to find out what or else means. But his temper could cost him one day this summer.

So this is the end of the book. The stage is set for a second war against Voldemort's desire to reign over the magical world. I'm confident the good guys will win but not before suffering more casualties. I have a million questions. Who lives and who dies? What is Snape's role? What character(s) will play a bigger role than expected? I just hope it doesn't come down to the fate of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack. That would be disappointing.

It will be a grim undertaking this vanquishing of Voldemort. I am eager to see how it ends. But school is about to start again for me, so the final two books will probably have to wait until summer.

See you then.

The rest of the story

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixChapter 37
Dumbledore sure knows how to make a short story as long as his prodigious beard. But I suppose that's part of his charm.

And I'm glad to see Dumbledore agrees with me that he should have enlightened Harry years ago about all of this Voldemort business. But I suppose it would have made for a dull plot line.

Apparently, I'm told, if I had been paying closer attention and not taken so long to finish this book, I would have known by the label on the jar that Dumbledore gave the prophecy. Fortunately, Voldemort doesn't know the full prophecy.

So, we learn that Harry, and Harry alone, has the power to vanquish Voldemort. Not surprising because of all that's happened. Therefore, Dumbledore knew Voldemort would return because Harry wasn't the one to supposedly vanquish him the first time.

But wait.

Is it Harry or is it Neville Longbottom? It has to be Harry, doesn't it? Or this would be the Neville Longbottom series. Apologies to Longbottoms everywhere, but that has absolutely no rhythm to it. And the prophecy says he would be marked and Harry was.

Harry now knows his destiny is to vanquish Voldemort or be the vanquishee. I like Harry's chances, but I'm sure it will be long and twisted journey. But first we must start the second war before we move on to the final two books.

By the way, I meant to comment previously on the news that Voldmort is a half-blood like Harry. My understanding is that I could've known that before according to a Harry Potter expert in my household. So I asked whether half-blood prince refers to Harry or Voldemort.

I didn't get a straight answer.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Another Harry situation

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixChapter 36
Another action-packed chapter for us to digest and consider the outcomes.

We know Dumbledore can stand toe-to-toe with Voldemort.

We know how utterly scared Voldemort's minions are of him.

We know Harry is this nemesis of Voldemort's that he just can't conquer.

And we know Voldemort is positively angry over what transpired at the Ministry of Magic.

  • He didn't get the prophecy.
  • He knows the opposition is committed to his demise.
  • And he knows his return is no longer a secret.

What's a mean, old, Grinch-of-a-wizard to do?

Retreat, regroup and adjust to the new reality. The full force of the Ministry will be against him. Hopefully his spies will all be rooted out and sent to Azkaban or into hiding.

For the Order, they will mourn Sirius, wonder about the prophecy and also adjust to the new reality. At least Dumbledore, Harry, the Order and the DA will have Hogwarts as a safehouse.

And while Fudge still has the title, it's clear Dumbledore is in charge of the good guys. And Umbridge will get stuck behind a desk somewhere out of the way. It was a pretty good day when you think about it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

More than expected

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixChapter 35
Reporting back as promised.

So Dumbledore reappears and Sirius disappears (Lupin says he's dead) in the span of seven paragraphs? Are you kidding me? I read 805 pages that build to those two big-dealios on the same page?

Good stuff.

If Sirius is truly gone and not protected by some charm or spell, all the Death Eaters have accomplished is to make the Order really angry. It's no-spells-barred time.

So what happens next? The Order can't exactly report this to the Ministry. Fudge, etc., would only charge them with harboring a fugitive and maybe more. And they don't seem ready to believe (or admit) the Death Eaters are active. Time to call in the crime scene unit to the Department of Mysteries and gather forensic evidence. Wait, they probably don't do that there. Guess it will remain a mystery (pun intended).

Backing up, I was surprised to learn that this was all about a prophecy. Didn't see that coming (another pun intended). Of all the names, however, that ran through my head at the end of the previous chapter, Lucius Malfoy was near the top of the list.

And now it's clear why the Order wanted the Occlumency lessons for Harry to continue. He was being played by Voldemort all along. I still say they should have told him why. All are at fault.

To top it off, the prophecy was given and no one heard it as far as we know.

Here's my prophecy: This battle of wands and spells was only a warmup. An all-out war is coming. But you probably know that.

Jarring turn of events

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixChapter 34
I don't know about the rest of you, but flying horses sounds like a fun way to fly. Half airplane, half roller coaster and full-on thrill ride. They should create a ride based on it at one of the Harry Potter theme parks at Universal Studios in Orlando. Half merry-go-round, half roller coaster high above the park and only after dark.

But hunting around in the creepy Department of Mysteries I will leave to our fictional characters. So back to them and the quest to find Sirius.

Oops, no Sirius. What a letdown for Harry and for us. All this excitement of getting away from Umbridge and riding the skies for nothing? Maybe not.

What is this jar that Ron has found with the Harry's name on it and the words Dark Lord? And why a question mark?

And who is this person who has sneaked up behind them and asked for the jar? The person called him Potter, which all of the unfriendly adults and some professors do throughout the books. That's as far as I will guess. It took all my strength not to peek ahead to the next page and see who it was.

But I will now and report back soon.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Busting out

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixChapter 33
Does this mean The Dunderheaded Secretary and High Instigator is out of the story? Has she been carried off to Centaur-land forever? We can only hope. Although, I do enjoy musing about her.

Props to Hermione for leading Umbridge into the forest. My first thought was that she was headed to Grawp. I was kind of half right because his appearance allowed them to break free. Now it's time to fly to the Department of Mysteries and save Sirius.

That is the next question. Can this top-ranking platoon of the DA save Padfoot from Voldemort? I have no idea. I've heard some characters begin to die. Is this the beginning of that? Or does Sirius survive?

I do suggest getting out of the forest and staying out. The Centaurs (I'm even afraid to call them half-breeds) would not be happy to see them.

So from here, it's save Sirius, reassemble the Order and, I suppose, find a way to convince the Ministry that Voldemort is alive. I'm guessing at some point that will happen and all magical people not aligned with Voldemort will live in fear again.

Enjoy the flight.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Busted

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixChapter 32
If I hadn't been taking such long breaks in my reading, I would have known better what to expect in this chapter. Historically, when Harry sees through what passes for Voldemort's eyes he is seeing it in real time. It's like live-streaming video on the web. It's not a vision of past or future. It's now.

So I should have guessed that Harry would be hot to go rescue Sirius with or without a plan.

As Harry and his crew were making plans to get into the High Instigator's office, I thought of the difference between his world and the real world. Outside the magical world there would be surveillance cameras. And a lesser character in our story would be a skilled hacker, fake out the cameras and they would break into the office unnoticed. Or Harry could just use a burner phone and call Sirius. But spells and floo powder and fireplaces are more magical. At least we find out that Sirius has indeed left the safehouse.

Alas, the old bat fooled even me with her spells and caught them in the act. And she gets more psycho by the chapter. Admitting to sending dementors after Harry and ready to Crucio! him, is, I'm quite sure, beyond normal disciplinary measures in the Ministry's or Hogwarts' student handbooks.

In the midst of this terrifying situation, Hermione thinks quickly on her feet. Is she stalling or does she have a real plan related to this story about Dumbledore's secret weapon? She told Umbridge what Umbridge wanted to hear.

So off we go into the final chapters. Fire up your Firebolt and come along for the ride.