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The seventh Harry Potter: A fan's questions

By Sumit Bhattacharya
Last updated on: December 22, 2006 16:26 IST
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I just spent 15 minutes trying to unlock the door on author J K Rowling's official site. I couldn't, despite having the instructions from

All the steps worked, except that when I clicked the fourth chime on the window, the key did not come out as it was supposed to.

Maybe Rowling, a master of teasing her fans, has shut the door, I thought, because the purpose of opening it -- to reveal the title of the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series -- has been served.

The world now knows about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The world now knows that she posted the title in an elaborate treasure hunt on her site, in which certain sections open only at certain times, only on going through a certain combination of clicks.

I went back to her homepage. I had clicked on what was labelled 'Enter Accessibility Enabled Version.' I clicked on the regular English version. Voila, I got the key and the hangman game that reveals the title.

If all this has left you wondering, you are a confirmed muggle -- you wouldn't know a house elf if it danced in a tea cosy in front of you.

But if you, like me and millions of other not so young and young fans, are a Pottermaniac, by now you have put your wizard's hats on.

As an addict of Rowling's series -- that has made her, a former waitress, richer than the queen of England -- I too have a few theories and expectations from the seventh saga of the Boy Who Lived.

First of all, there are the questions. Some crucial ones, in my humble opinion. (In a not so humble way, let me tell you I had guessed there was some prophecy saying Harry would be Voldemort's nemesis and that was why Voldemort had tried to kill Harry as a child, right after reading the third book.)

  • What is aunt Petunia's secret? Is she a key character?
  • What are the powers that the Dark Lord doesn't have that Harry has, according to the prophecy?
  • Does Wormtail have a role to play in the end, like Gollum did in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy?
  • Why did Dumbledore smile when he learnt that Voldemort had used Harry's blood to regain his body and that He Who Must Not Be Named could now touch Harry?
  • How did Dumbledore's arm get injured in Half-Blood Prince?
  • Who is R A B? Is he Sirius's brother Regulus Black?
  • Is Snape evil?
  • How many of the questions above are red herrings? Rowling is a master at them – like the 'Enter Accessibility Enabled Version.'

None of the questions above are insights into Deathly Hallows. And maybe all of them are.

Reports say it took the keenest Pottermaniacs 40 minutes to unlock the door on her web site. The Internet is buzzing with speculation. Why 'deathly' hallows and not 'deadly' hallows? Are 'hallows' a reference to Halloween, when Voldemort murdered Harry's parents? Links are flying on the forums and message boards. How Rowling said, 'no comment' when asked if anyone else was present when Voldemort killed Harry's parents and tried to kill the boy wizard. How R A B, the initials of the mysterious character who is also hunting the Dark Lord's soul secrets, changed in the Dutch translation of the novel, where Regulus Black is called Regulus Zwarts and the initials read R A Z. In the Norwegian edition, apparently, Regulus has the surname Svaart, and the initials R A S. In the Finnish translation, I can tell you with knowledge gleaned from wikipedia, Regulus Black is called Regulus Musta, and the initials are R A M.

That is the magic of the Potter books. They create a parallel universe, every detail of which might be a portkey to a dark, deep secret. Where every little nugget might lead to revelations.

Take the titles: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone referred to the climax, but it was not something you could have cracked because a philosopher's stone is a Rowling creation. Even if you knew what Chamber of Secrets meant, it wouldn't have been a spoiler to the second book. Ditto for Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix. Half-blood Prince, however, held out who the key character in the book is.

For fellow Pottermaniacs, my half-bit is that Deathly Hallows is more a teaser -- we all want to know if Harry dies, don't we? -- than a clue.

My bet -- like most realistic fans' -- is on death for Harry, even as he kills Voldemort. But it will be the run-up to that do-or-die battle that will unravel the hundreds of little questions Rowling has sprinkled in her six books so far. She has said she knew the end before she started writing the series.

But now I must throw the hall open to you, to dissect, analyse and speculate about Jo's -- as Rowling is to Pottermaniacs -- newest teaser, the title of the seventh Potter book.

Meanwhile, let me go and dream of devouring the seventh book, though I know I will be heartbroken at the end, because the series will be over.

I will, by the way, buy two copies of Deathly Hallows, like I did for Half-Blood Prince. I don't want Lord Voldemort's evil shadow over my married life -- my wife can read her own copy.

And let me thank you Jo, for the magic.

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Sumit Bhattacharya