Wednesday, November 18, 2015

From the Flames; Brief Re-Read of Harry Potter Part 2

So Dumbledore on Phoenixes:

Phoenixes burst into flame when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes...
Fascinating creatures phoenixes. They can carry immensely heavy loads, their tears have healing properties and they make highly faithful pets.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 12 The Polyjuice Potion. Italics in the original.

Dumbledore, as will be revealed later, called his cabal/guerrilla army/superteam the Order of the Phoenix. Die and reborn from the ashes, carry immensely heavy loads and of course, being highly faithful are themes we'll see coming up. Tears for healing I'm not so sure about; that may be plot-relevant rather than thematic. Maybe we'll see later!

Both Harry Potter and Voldemort had phoenix feather cores to their wands, of course.

Tom Riddle of course makes his appearance. Possibly the most brilliant student ever at Hogwarts Dumbledore says. As well he might; frankly most of the wizards we see in the books are distinctly average. This, I assume, is a side effect of the size of the talent pool. Estimates differ but the number of wizards and witches in the British Isles is in the thousands to tens of thousand range; medium sized town to large town numbers spread out over the country. Who do we see who is actually brilliant? So far just Dumbledore. Maybe Hermione, although she's mostly great at finding out what's in the library. Anyway I've got distracted: more on Tom Riddle and what the numbers of wizards in the country mean for Voldermort's plans later.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Return to Hogwarts; Brief Re-Read of Harry Potter Part 1

Previously I have published a post called The Last Thing I Have To Say About Harry Potter (which was not the last thing I had to say about Harry Potter). But having watched all eight films in seven days maybe it's time for a re-read and a re-examination. Here's what may be the turning point in Philosopher's Stone at the end of Chapter 10: Hallowe'en:
There are some things you can't share without liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.
It is shared experiences that bind people together and it's the events here, where Ron and Harry accidentally lock Hermione in the toilet with a troll, then go in to rescue her, following which she has the presence of mind to take all the blame on herself, that begins their friendship.

(This, incidentally, is why I accept the canonical Ron-Hermione relationship lasting. Not because they're well matched; they're not. But they both know the other one is always there for them no matter what.)

Dumbledore of course is brilliant and terrible. When he declares that all he sees in the Mirror of Erised is himself holding some socks,
...it struck Harry that Dumbledore might not have been quite truthful.
Well yes. He's protecting Harry, teaching him the skills he needs to survive and also positioning him as the back-up plan if he, Dumbledore, fails to stop Voldemort. He suspects, but is not sure, that Harry is protected. It is, of course, Harry's best hope if Dumbledore can't stop him. Yet if your plan involves setting an eleven year old boy in the path of a terrifying Dark Wizard, I really hope your deepest desire is for more than socks.