Thursday, September 1, 2011

It's almost eleven o'clock


Don't forget to meet the Hogwarts Express today!

It's hard to believe it's been two entire years since I started this little project. Clearly things didn't finish up according to plan... but I have no regrets. The experiences of being in and designing costumes for The Final Battle at Infinitus (and again at Leaky Con 2011, in addition to designing for Warlock's Hairy Heart) are something I will always cherish, even if my lack of a Time Turner meant this project was shoved to the back burner.

Meanwhile, over at The Last Muggle, Jess is re-reading GoF and I highly recommend you join in if you're a-hankering for some re-read goodness.

What's next for the HP reread? I'm not sure! Someday I might resume the reading plan just for the heck of it, but for now I'll let it lie.

"Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban: Chapters 17 & 18

Wizard rock of the week: "Peter Pettigrew"by Hogwarts Trainwreck









By gum, I got it in just under the wire! It's still Tuesday! And so this post is only eight weeks late...

Darlings, as impossible as it might be to believe, I actually forgot about this little blogging adventure for a brief spell. So many other things have been capturing my time and attention for the past two months.

And here we are

(Shameless plug: The Final Battle is gonna be awesome. But we need.... um, money. Check it. Our Livestream show last month raised $1,500 but we still need another $1,500.

Update: Alan of YouTube/DFTBA fame shocked us all with his generosity. Thanks Alan! Wow! We're still looking for another $500, but we are getting so close!)

And because I cannot adequately express my sorrow about my lax blogging, I delegate that to Peter Cetara and the gang:



So without further ado, let's begin! This post will cover Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapters 17 and 18, in which we ride the backstory train and depart at Foreshadowing Station. (Obligatory warning for your own good: if you click the previous link you might never be seen again).


Chapter Seventeen: Cat, Rat, and Dog

What Happens:

In the aftermath of Buckbeak's execution the kids are in shock, especially Hermione. Devastated, they head back up toward the castle but Scabbers leaps out of Rons hands. Ron can't figure out why the rat is wigging, until Harry spots Crookshanks, about to pounce. Scabbers bites Ron to escape and tears off across the grounds. Ron runs after him in the darkness and Harry and Hermione follow. Before they get very far a giant black dog leaps out of nowhere and attacks Ron. It drags a very injured Ron toward the Whomping Willow and down into a secret passage below its roots.

Desperate to save Ron, Harry and Hermione fight their way through the Willow until Crookshanks returns. He touches the tree with his paws and the branches freeze, allowing the kids to get inside without losing any eyes. The tunnel is dark and dank, and not quite tall enough for Harry to stand in. They try to run down the passage but know that they dog is far ahead. Finally Harry sees light and they clamber up into a destroyed house: the Shrieking Shack. They hear movement in the upstairs and sneak up the hall, terrified.

Ron is okay, relatively; he's lying on one of the old bedrooms, injured but alive. He tries to warn them it's a trap but it's too late; the dog is gone, replaced by the gaunt, dirty form of Sirius Black.

A boiling hate erupted in Harry's chest, laving no place for fear. For the first time in his life, he wanted his wand back in his hand, not to defend himself, but to attack... to kill.

Harry lunges forward to attack him, but Hermione restrains him. She and Ron warn Black that he'll have to kill them too. Chaos ensues as they attack each other, but Harry ends up facing a wandless Black. He wants to kill him. He knows he has the perfect chance. But the seconds drag and Harry can't bring himself to do it. As he hesitates the kids hear someone below and Hermione screams for help. It's Lupin. He and Sirius have a strange conversation way over Harry's head, but it ends with the two adults embracing. Harry is shocked but Hermione is the one who screeches and accuses Lupin of treachery... and being a werewolf.

Lupin explains that all the staff knew about him, and that he knew Sirius was here tonight because of the Marauders' Map. Harry is incredulous that he knows how to use it, but as Lupin was one of its creators, he's familiar with it. Lupin and Sirius keep referring to a "he" who is with Ron, until they point at Scabbers and declare him to be not a rat but an Animagus named Peter Pettigrew.


Commentary:

Hoboy. Action chapter! And.... go!

There are two things that leap out right away about this chapter: a huge step forward in Harry's self-awareness and character development and how very close it came to all ending very badly. Or ending worse, rather, since at this point things are still pretty dicey.

The quote above- about Harry's blood rage-- is a big deal. Harry's harmed people before with magic , but it's always been in self-defense (or for fun & profit; ie making fun of Malfoy) and never very seriously. Here he contemplates murder, and contemplates it seriously. He himself is aware of the difference and it doesn't scare him. But, thankfully, when he does get the chance a few moments later, he can't bring himself to do it.

A hero who can't actually bring himself to end anther's life -- even one who might actually deserve it -- is incredibly common in fiction. After all, we're supposed to root for this guy, right? And if he ends another life- even a guilty one -- he drops a few pegs on the integrity ladder. But also, remember that Harry is only thirteen, and it would have been horrible had he gone through with it. The real story would've come out eventually, so had he actually killed Sirius the guilt would have likely driven him round the twist.

{This situation is a rather good example why the death penalty is a horrible idea; ie, the System found Sirius guilty and all the evidence pointed at him. But we don't really ever know the whole story, do we? And you can release a prisoner if his name is cleared, but no spell can reawaken the dead.} *Steps off soapbox*

To wrap up this very long point: Harry's tendency to hesitate killing people might seem like a weakness now, and will again, especially in DH, but in the end, it's usually the right choice. Especially knowing what we know about Horcruxes and how they're made, Harry can't ever kill someone if he's supposed to be the opposite of Voldemort, who kills entirely without remorse.

Also, let's take a second to appreciate Mr. Ronald Bilius Weasley, who, at this point in the story, has endured terrible things all for the sake of protecting his silly pet rat. Even knowing what we know about that rat, it's kind of adorable.

Chapter Eighteen: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs

What Happens:

Harry protests: Scabbers can't be Pettigrew, because, as everyone knows, Black killed Pettigrew in front of dozens of Muggles twelve years ago. Black wants to kills Pettigrew straight away, but Lupin insists they wait and explain everything to the kids first.

Lupin explains that Sirius didn't kill Peter, but he meant to: at the last second Peter transformed into a rat and escaped, framing Sirius. Hermione cuts in, retorting that Peter couldn't have been an Animagus because all known Animagi are registered at the Ministry so they can be checked on. Lupin agrees with her, except that the Ministry never knew about three teenaged Animagi that used to run wild at Hogwarts about twenty-five years ago.

As Lupin continues his story they all hear something creak in the house. Ron insists the Shack is haunted, but Lupin denies it. He was the reason the house is so feared. As a small child Lupin was bitten by a werewolf. Under normal circumstances he could never have come to school, but Dumbledore made special arrangements, including a place Lupin could come every month and transform, safely away from other students.

Lupin's life was hardly rosy thanks to his condition, but at school he made three wonderful friends- Sirius, James Potter, and Peter Pettigrew. Eventually they figured out why he disappeared every month, and rather than be repulsed they took it upon themselves to study extra Transfiguration and become Animagi to keep him company during his transformations. They had all sorts of escapades while disguised as animals, and their wanderings led them to create the Marauders' Map.

Remus explains that he felt terribly guilty for the risks they were taking, but always squashed the guilt as he and his mates planned their next month's activities. Lupin mentions that Snape fought particularly hard against Lupin's employment at Hogwarts. Sirius is disgusted; he hadn't known Snape was a Hogwarts teacher, too. Snape was in the same year as the Marauders at school, and always tried to figure out where they went. He disliked all four of them, but especially James. One month Sirius tricked Snape into approaching the Willow, and it could have resulted in Snape's death or a werewolf attack. James, however, prevented Snape from reaching Lupin and saved his life.

And speak of the devil, Snape walks in, pointing his wand at the wandless Lupin.


Commentary:

Oh man, I loves me some backstory. This chapter is probably why Prisoner of Azkaban is like #3 on my "Let's Rank the Potter Books" list (behind #1 GoF and #2 HBP, in case you were wondering).

If you weren't already on Lupin's team (what's wrong with you?) this chapter has got to clinch it. Just the sympathy vote alone is enough to melt anyone's heart. Poor Lupin. He's subjected to a horrible circumstance, but rather than become bitter or angry, he's just happy to have friends. And even fifteen/sixteen year-old Lupin feels guilty about the more questionable things he and his buddies do.

We get a small glimpse into Snape's history here too, and a much clearer explanation of the "James saved Snape's life" incident to which Dumbledore alluded back at the end of Sorcerer's Stone. Also, I totally didn't pick up on this the first time, but Lupin notes that Snape had a particular hatred for James, guessing it had something to do with James' Quidditch skills and popularity. Guess again, buddy.

And - yay for Hermione being smart, as usual. That's our girl! But one piece of her information is a little unnerving; after all, I can kind of understand why the Ministry wants a record of Animagi. As Lupin explains, the transformation can go horribly wrong, so maybe it's like Apparation (ie you need a license because it's tricky). But it's still freaking me out a little bit.


With that, I'm out! Time to keep sewing! See y'all soon. Hopefully next week. *crosses fingers*

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban: Chapters 15 & 16

Wizard rock of the week: "I Don't Need Divination" by Riddle TM








No time for a witty intro! There's a post to be had. Fancy that!

Chapter Fifteen: The Quidditch Final

What Happens:

When we last left our Heroes (over a month ago!) Buckbeak was condemned to execution and Harry had a narrow escape from Snape's justice. Hagrid is miserable about Buckbeak and the kids try to cheer him up, promising to help with the appeal. Hermione displays a nice bit of backbone and slaps Malfoy when he makes fun of Hagrid's anguish. Ron is rather shocked and impressed with her badass behavior, but both he and Harry are mystified when Hermione disappears once again on their way to class.

In Divination, Hermione's bad day continues. She finally explodes about the ridiculousness of the subject matter and Trelawney's dire predictions and drops the class. Easter break (how timely for us!) isn't at all relaxing, since exams are coming up. The Trio are also trying to research for Buckbeak's appeal and Harry is facing the additional pressure of the final Quidditch match. Harry is troubled by nightmares and thinks he's seen a Grim again.

The match, against Slytherin, is fully of fouls, cheats, and anger on both sides. Harry nearly loses the Snitch to Malfoy, but the Firebolt's superior speed prevails and the Gryffindors claim the cup.

Commentary:

It's nice for the kids to have something to celebrate amid all this drama, eh?

Notice, here, the appearance of a Flint. The Flint, in fact, for which all others are named. Marcus Flint, if you recall, was a sixth year Captain back in Philosopher's Stone. His presence here, two years later, indicates either that 1) he failed a year, as Jo explained or 2) without the careful watching of Hottt Cheryl Klein, continuity editor extraordinaire (who didn't come on board until the editing of GoF), Jo made a mistake (gasp!) The choice is yours, I suppose. :-)

It's nice to see the Gang back together. They really miss each other when someone's not there.

And off to the next!

Chapter Sixteen: Professor Trelawney's Prediction

What Happens:

It's exam time, and everyone is nervous. Even Fred and George! Harry and Ron stay puzzled about Hermione's impossible schedule, but she never explains. Harry does as expected on his exams and is particularly proud of doing well in Defense Against the Dark Arts. His last exam is Divination, and he climbs up to Trelawney's overheated tower just ready to be done. He doesn't do very well, and just as he's about to leave Trelawney's demeanor changes. She makes an odd set of statements, oblivious to Harry's presence, and can't remember them afterwards.

"It will happen tonight. The Dark Lord lies alone and friendless, abandoned by his followers. His servant has been chained these twelve years. Tonight, before midnight... the servant will break free and set out to rejoin his master. The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant's aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was. Tonight... before midnight... the servant... will set out... to rejoin... his master..."

More on that later.

Harry hardly has time to process this, since Ron tells him that Buckbeak lost the appeal and the execution is already set for sunset. They all want to visit Hagrid, but without the Cloak it'll be impossible. Hermione volunteers to go get it (still stashed inside the passageway to Honeydukes), and off they go.

Hagrid is a mess and the kids try their best to cheer him up. Most importantly, though, Ron finds Scabbers hiding in Hagrid's house. He grabs the rat just as Hagrid sees Fudge and the Committee approaching to carry out the execution order. The kids run out the back and a few minutes later hear the unmistakable thud of a falling axe.

Commentary:

Ho boy. LOTS to talk about here! Let's see.

Part I: The Prediction:

There. Is. So. Much. Packed. Into. That. Little. Paragraph. Let's go line by line.

(a) It will happen tonight. Something is brewing, coming tonight. Okay.

(b) The Dark Lord lies alone and friendless, abandoned by his followers.
This jives with what we know already (and what Harry knows too, though probably not many others aside from Dumbledore) . He's still out there. He's not "gone." And he was indeed abandoned at his downfall.

(c) His servant has been chained these twelve years.
One of Voldemort's minions has been "chained" these twelve years. Now, this seems to imply one specific person, but I will claim that it applies to two, not just one, of his servants.

(d) Tonight, before midnight... the servant will break free and set out to rejoin his master. "It" has now been defined. A servant will break free and begin a journey back to Voldemort.

(e) The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant's aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was. Voldemort, powerful as he is, needs the aid of another. But when he does return as the prophecy promises, it'll be even worse than before.

(f) Tonight... before midnight... the servant... will set out... to rejoin... his master..."
In case you weren't paying attention, it's tonight. And it's not good.

I want to mostly closely look at lines (c) and (d). In the context of this book, and GoF too, for that matter, the most obvious answer for the Servant's identity is Peter Pettigrew. And that certainly makes sense. He's been hidden for twelve years, under the guise of a rat. He will resume human form (well, temporarily) and thereby "break free" from his Animagus prison. He will escape Ron's control and run away to find Voldemort. It all checks out.

But there's more, I think. I am convinced (and you're welcome to disagree) that this prophecy also refers to Barty Crouch, Jr. We'll learn at the end of the Goblet of Fire that Croach escaped Azkaban and went to live, hidden, with his father and Winky. Then, he overtook his father and met up with Voldemort, readying himself to impersonate Moody. While Wormtail's actions are certainly important and do directly lead to Voldemort's restoration a year later, Barty Croach's presence at Hogwarts was equally important. And he, arguably, fits the prophecy better, because his break out from Azkaban more literally fits with the "chained for twelve years" line. I don't have proof, of course, and we never know a specific date of his escape. But I don't think it's out of line to assume that the prophecy refers to both men. Crouch, as well, is far more "official" in his capacity as Voldemort's servant. I could be wrong on this too, but Croach Jr. was an official Death Eater long before Wormtail was. Can anyone corroborate or refute that?

(d) and (f)'s references to Midnight are, I believe, a benchmark for us to use; a concrete time to cling too. That will sure be nice in a few chapters when things get really ridiculous with time (enough to give me a headache the first time I read it).

Part II: Fun with Time Travel, the Prologue. Or, Jo Uses Clever Tricks to Create a Twist Ending.

From here on out, I'm going to try and recap the parallel storylines, because once Hermione and Harry go 'three hours back' from the hospital wing, there are two Harrys and Hermiones. Right now our "present" Harry and Ron and Hermione are leaving Hagrid's, trying to avoid the Minister & Co. noticing them. They've just reclaimed Scabbers and are on their way back up to school. Future Harry and Future Hermione are in the woods behind Hagrid's house, avoiding both the Minister and their past selves.

Thinking too much about time travel makes my head hurt, but there are some good points that Hermione makes later. Because our actions are so determined by our assumptions, it's a darn good thing that we can't time travel in Real Life. Because, of course, if present-Harry and friends had known that Buckbeak wasn't really dead, or that Scabbers was going to escape, or that Black was going to show up..... yeah, you get the idea. I certainly don't envy Hermione's job of keeping all that straight for an entire year without even talking it out to someone out loud. No wonder she was so stressed all year.

Concerning predictions. Trelawney has now made two "real" predictions that we know of, claims Dumbledore. Since there isn't another Seer in the books, is her behavior typical? Do prophets usually recall their predictions, or not? Without any eyewitnesses, how would people ever know predictions happened if the person who gives them can't recall? Are all the little crystal balls in the Department of Mysteries made of the memories of bystanders, or from the Seers themselves? Or does Trelawney have prediction amnesia because she's not a very able Seer?

Alright, friends, all these questions are hurting my little brain. Off to work, then off to read some more!