Sunday, July 22, 2007


Did you see Joanne Rowling on THE JONATHAN ROSS SHOW a couple of weeks back? She wasn't lying - it's a bloodbath. I read the first few chapters at work yesterday, and kept 'hilariously' updating my workmates in the style of the BIG BROTHER voice-over man. "Chapter one, and already another member of staff from Hogwart's is dead", I'd intone in a grave Geordie accent. "Chapter two, and it looks like Harry's owl has taking a rather explosive turn for the worse". Poor old Hedwig. She never really seemed content with her lot in life. And Dobby! Poor, poor, Dobby. I never thought I'd be so moved by some unwanted comic relief taking a knife to the chest. When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to have some masked cartoon bandito gut Scrappy Doo. But not Dobby!

Well, that's the last HARRY POTTER out of the way, then. Long-time readers will remember that I was one of the first advocates of the "Harry is a Horcrux" theory, but I won't crow about it. They'll also know that the complaint I've made about these books since the end of GOBLET OF FIRE is that Rowling should have abandoned her set-in-stone formula right then, with the resurrection of Voldemort. Instead she kept the formula going for two more novels, only really knocking it on the head with this one. Even then, one still sees something of the skeleton of her previous set-in-stone structures: the scene with the Dursleys, the passing of the seasons, the Christie-like mysteries, a scene near the climax where Dumbledore shows up and explains everything, equal parts Gandalf and Poirot (this time, in a rather David Lynchian afterworld). That said, the all-out war I wanted to see erupt in book five of the Potter books only comes in the last hundred pages or so of this one, but when it does arrive, it is immensely satisfying. The problem with these books (since the books started becoming unwieldy with Goblet..., anyway) has been that Rowling has had problems balancing her great set-pieces with unwanted, prolonged, expository sequences of utter tedium. It's the same story for this book, for the first half, at least. She finally strikes the right tone again here, from Harry, Ron & Hermione's return to Hogwart's, and onwards. It's her most sustained period of good writing in any of this series.

Plus, being a puerile twit, I loved Ron's potty mouth (this has been something I've watched develop with each book - it culminates suitably and trimphantly with his use of "effing" and "two-faced bastard", though he fails to drop the c-bomb on Voldemort, dammit), lashings of under-age drinking, and rather liberal wand-based innuendo from Rowling. Good girl!


Kerry said...

I am with you on Scrappy-Doo. Annoying wee bastard. Almost as bad as Captain Caveman. Even as a small child, I could see that valuable seconds were being lost while he guldered his catchphrase, apparently ignorant to the fact that the baddies were getting away.

Mark said...

This is why Joanne Rowling is better than George Lucas. Lucas didn't let anyone behead Jar Jar Binks with a lightsaber.

saudade said...

Snape. :(

geoff said...

saw you in tut courier the day with rowling kids.

Mark said...

Yeah, I was in The Tyrone Times with them, too. We'd organised a Harry Potter quiz at the end of last term between two local primary schools. Both teams were brilliant, and everyone involved got a copy of THE DEATHLY HOLLOWS on Saturday morning.

And yeah, I thought Snape went out a bit too easily, but the chapter devoted to telling his back story, A Prince's Tale, was great.