Saturday, June 9, 2007

Deathly Hallows Deluxe Cover Art

Wow, more cover art from Mary GrandPre--and it's fantastic, and baffling. Travis at Sword of Gryffindor posted something and there are quite a few comments there. I wanted to put my comments here as well, and will edit them as I have time to think more about the dragon, the trio and where they might be.

Absolutely amazing! It's beautiful, and curious, and I can't wait for the book. Apparently Arthur Levine (Scholastic) asked for this particular scene on the deluxe cover because he liked the scene so much. Levine said that this scene is at sunset, but I don't think that particularly tells us anything.

I was looking in Fantastic Beasts, which is where the quote about the Opaleye comes from. This seems to be the only dragon that wouldn't readily devour humans.

And I agree with others--could be Ottery St. Catchpole (and they are fleeing from a disastrous wedding at the Burrow), Godric's Hollow, Little Hangleton, or just the countryside as they leave the castle.

That last could have something that ties back to the school motto, which was never in the books, beyond a stray comment or two (that Harry would rather poke a dragon in the eye than to get caught stealing supplies from Snape's stores). The general translation, since I can't remember the Latin, is "Never tickle a sleeping dragon". And then I thought of the title of the second book--Chamber of Secrets". As others have pointed out on numerous forums, we only saw one secret, and if the basilisk was the only secret, then why was it plural? I've always wondered if one of the other secrets was a dragon.

And why are Ron and Hermione wearing robes, as they would at school, but Harry is not? Harry also seems to be looking straight ahead, with a determined, concentrated expression, while Hermione is looking up and is fearful. Of course, that could be because she doesn't like flying, as well as whatever they are fleeing. At first, I thought that Ron also was looking up, but then I couldn't tell.

Or instead of fleeing, they could be going towards something--though the tattered robes look more like leaving a bad situation.

I know that Rowling has recently tried to distance herself from C.S. Lewis, but I'm also reminded of the part of "Voyage of the Dawntreader", where Eustace turns into a dragon and then sheds the scales in his transformation into a new person, getting rid of the things that made him so horrid to others.

And there is something about the face of the dragon, with the little beard that also makes me think of the movie my girls loved when they were younger--"The Neverending Story--the one where they ride on a large dog-like creature (apparently just a movie thing), but whose face reminded me very much of this dragon, minus the horns.

Rowling has done such a good job of always setting up characters and beasts and events, so I imagine that the clue for this one has been right in front of us, and we've apparently all missed, or dismissed it, as one of those charming details that makes the story more interesting but isn't something we need to think about much.

Johnny, over at Sword of Gryffindor, beat me to this reference. I thought of the 12 uses of dragon’s blood last night as I was going to bed–which was very late. Also, there was the dragon’s blood that Slughorn spattered on his walls when he was hiding at the beginning of HBP. Clearly, Rowling hasn’t wanted us to forget about dragons, but all the comments have been so random and seemingly unimportant.

Was there also dragon’s blood in one of the crystal vials in the cabinet they were cleaning at twelve, Grimmauld Place? And they wear dragon-hide gloves in Herbology, and Fred and George have dragon skin boots or jackets once they have their joke shop going and are making money at it.

I think dragon references are everywhere. I can’t see how this fits in though, from a Christian pov, as dragons are usually associated with serpents. Not a particularly positive rescuer, if that’s what the dragon is doing. So maybe it’s not, and the dragon is strictly from the mythic themes of the books.

Oh, one more thing–Draco means dragon. Hmmm–a transformed Draco, helping the trio to get somewhere? Not likely, but…..


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Deathly Hallows UK cover art

I'm not terribly fond of the UK cover art. It's very busy, and the front looks too..... cartoonish to me. The whole thing just feels like, instead of trying to convey something about an important or crucial part of the story, the artist was trying to tell the whole story on the cover.

However, I like have the Bloomsbury Harry Potter screen saver on my lap top. My desktop is something from the Order of the Phoenix movie, or it's the Mary GrandPre cover for Deathly Hallows, depending on my mood for the day. So the children's UK screen saver gives me a chance to look at all the UK covers and think about all the books. Well, it did, until I saw the new one. Instead of having the art work from all the previous six books, then adding the art work from the seventh, this one just has art work from Deathly Hallows. And actually, it has extended art work for the back cover.

My original thoughts about the UK cover art was that the trio was going into a vault, which might have belonged to any number of people--Dumbledore, Godric Gryffindor, another vault that Harry's parents had--hard to say really. However, as I said, the new Bloomsbury children's screen saver has changed my thinking entirely. I'm still not sure what to make of some of the images, like the bisected circle inside the triangle or the snake inside what could be a prophecy orb or it could be one of Trelawney's crystal balls.

So, if you haven't seen the children's screen saver--and you'd have to download it to see it, I'll try to give a quick description. One of the things that makes this really odd is that the art work in the screen saver shows only the images on the back and the end flaps, but not from the front, as I said above.

It starts with a black screen and glowing stars. Then it has a circular stone something or other that floats in from one corner and stops in the center. It is red inside, first showing a glimmer of the circle/triangle that's on the spine, then it opens to a view of the moon, the turrets of the castle, with light coming from every window; it pans down across the tree and grounds, back across the lake (that's the part that isn't on the book cover). It shows a look at the open door of the castle (also with light spilling out), and back up to the turrets. The sky is a dark blue (as if it's night) with some clouds in the sky. Then the scene quickly goes to the Forbidden Forest, or some forest--which has trees with no leaves, but an image of a stag hiding there appears. From there it goes up to the full moon again, but passes something (from the forest up to the moon) that looks more like smoke rising from the denuded forest than clouds. It finishes with the moon and the image of the snake. Once all that is done, the stone circle, again red inside, floats off in another direction and it shows the covers of all the books.

The screen saver art work for the seventh book ends witht he words "Seven Books, One Story", and then all seven covers are shown together, except that Deathly Hallows is in the fore front and in the center. It just occurred to me that this may be some sort of tie in with all the alchemical references--that all the books complete the alchemical work, and that's the reason for showing images of the castle and grounds that possibly covers all the books, not just the last one.

So, I thought--what's with that departure? What's with not focusing on the front cover--all the other UK screen savers showed mainly the front cover art. Well, possibly because the front cover isn't the most important thing in the book, or at least, not the only important thing. The front cover, it seems to me could very well depict the trio, not entering a vault, but falling into the Pensieve--the stone circle on the screen saver--of which we only see a part on the book cover. And so I'm still left wondering why those particular images are shown on the book, as well as on the screen saver. I'm not the only person to notice that they seem to be falling into whatever it is. And falling into the Pensieve makes more sense than falling into a vault. In fact, now that I've looked at the screen saver quite a few times, that arch on the front cover is too curved to be just an arch of a door way--it is part of a circle, if you look carefully.

Is all of this view of the castle, with the night sky and the lights all shining, intended to remind us of all that has happened in the castle? Dumbledore's fall? The whomping willow? The lake? What's significant about the lake, apart from Goblet of Fire and the second task? Or is that to remind us that Sirius and Harry nearly died by the lake?

Hagrid's cabin was burned in Half-Blood Prince, but was part of the Forbidden Forest burned as well? It didn't seem like it when they had Dumbledore's funeral, but perhaps this is another part. And why is Harry's Patronus there in the ruins of the Forest? To protect him from dementors--or is it something to do with his father always being with him? And then there are the spine symbols and the snake in the orb that's shown on the back cover flap.

Anyway, as art work, I still prefer the US one, but I'm finding the UK one so enigmatic that I'll be taking a much harder look at it before the book comes out, I'm sure.