Thursday, February 01, 2007


A Date For Harry Potter

No, not an opportunity opening up for all those who suddenly claim to be disturbed and titillated by Daniel Radcliffe having grown up (find your own link to the pictures all over the net advertising his play)… JK Rowling has announced that the seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is to be published on Saturday the 21st of July. For many of us, that will no doubt mean midnight on the night of Friday the 20th – expect more big queues at bookshops and supermarkets, and more sudden back trouble for post deliverers.

Which two ‘major characters’ will die? Well, there are two very obvious candidates, but the only time I went around loudly guessing about a character death was two books ago and though I was impeccably logical I was of course completely wrong. So this time I’ll just read it instead, and confine myself to speculating on the book’s tone. Will it be as bright and witty as the first couple, as dark and scary as the next couple, or as depressing a doorstopper as the last two? I suspect the end, at least, will be surprisingly uplifting, though the title doesn’t inspire confidence: I like my titles cheesily traditional, like the intriguing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but ‘Deathly Hallows’ definitely sounds like it’s trying to be serious rather than fun. Here’s hoping…

This launch date is particularly well-chosen: it’ll be just one week after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix hits cinema screens (with high hopes, after the last couple of films were such a huge improvement on the earlier ones); and it’s three weeks, by my best guess, after the new series of Doctor Who is due to finish – so, something colourful and imaginative to keep everyone happy going into the summer. And perfectly timed to give Ms Rowling the opportunity to write a story for the 2008 series of Doctor Who?

With the spoilers already flying thick and fast for the forthcoming 2007 series of Doctor Who (I don’t want to know until I see it on the telly!), for once there’s something I’ll be trying to avoid details of with even greater desperation. Let’s hope The Sun doesn’t get hold of any advance copies. As long as people don’t break the story before the day, Richard and I plan to batten down the hatches a little before 1am and not emerge until we’ve read the whole thing – just like we did the last few times. I suspect we may go that little bit further again and join the midnight queues at Ottakar’s Waterstone’s in Greenwich or Books Etc, Canary Wharf: when we were at Canary Wharf two or three books back, there was a great party atmosphere, with DLRs done up as ghost trains, staff in costume, sticky things to eat and all manner of fun. Last time, we just went to our local ASDA, advertising a midnight ‘event’ within walking distance of home. What we got was a winding snake of a queue stuck away from the main shop (even though it was almost empty), ‘organised’ by one excited staff member loving their wizard costume and two bored ones (one hating their costume and the other plainly having refused to put one on in the first place). Midnight came… And the ill-organised ‘queue’ instantly dissolved into an unedifying free-for-all. OK, we got our early books, but it wasn’t exactly a thrilling spirit of community. This time we’ll be off to someone who makes an effort again.

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