Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Catching up with Harry, with Stephen Fry's help

I hadn't realized it has been so long since I've updated this blog. In with getting ready for Christmas, I spent time listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Goblet of Fire, while it is the middle book, is just not my favorite. There are some important things that we learn and clues that are the set-up for the rest of the books. But I'm just not that fond of all the action stuff. And that's a good portion of the book.

The parts that did interest me, especially in the way that Rowling presents it, have to do with all the information about Tom Riddle as Lord Voldemort. I remember when we waited at the midnight release to get Goblet of Fire - it's hard to believe it was really over nine years ago. Laura started reading it on the way home. But we couldn't remember who Tom Riddle was. We had to start back through all the books to refresh our memories to make that crucial connection.

The Yule Ball was a nice distraction from all the action. (And I love the dance lessons added into the movie - some of my favorite scenes.) Moaning Myrtle is priceless as well.

The part that I did like about the three tasks was that Harry showed that he cared more about others than about winning. He was competitive, but not when it came to the safety of others, even those he didn't know. And while being fair to Cedric didn't work the way he thought it would, Harry still made the right choice by recognizing that he couldn't have gotten to the goal without help. It was his sense of fairness that I admired.

This was the only book that gave me nightmares after I read it. I remember dreaming once aobut the scene with Voldemort's rebirth in the graveyard, and was sure that I'd been reading way too much Potter. But more than that, it was that scene that showed that Rowling was really telling a story that was more on young adult or adult level than the children's story that was being marketed.

It was a powerful book, and it still is whether I'm reading it or listening to Stephen Fry read it. The images are intense and lasting. It's this book that tells the reader to prepare for anything to happen. And that might mean the ending of the series won't be as happy as we all thought when we read the first couple of books.

It was nice to be able to go right from book 4 to book 5. Three years was a long time to wait when the books were new. I think that was part of the problem with the reception of Order of the Phoenix when it was released. Readers had waited so long and they had found plenty of forums to discuss any and all theories, not to mention that three years was plenty of time for all the would-be writers to try their hand at adding to the story or writing their own version.

By the time the book came out, readers had a pretty clear idea of where they thought the story was going. And Rowling didn't go there. One aspect of Order of the Phoenix that I particularly like is all the time we spent in Harry's mind. What did he think about Voldemort's return? Why hadn't anyone (Dumbledore) told him what was going on? Why could he see and feel the things that were in Voldemort's mind? Why wouldn't Dumbledore look at him?

Did I like a yelling Harry? No, not really. But I kept feeling that it was the right time for him to finally ask all those questions about his parents and his past. Not getting answers after so many years would make anyone angry - especially a fifteen year old. Stephen Fry's reading of this book brings out all the emotion that is in it - the anger, frustation, infatuation with Cho, tenuous trust with Harry's friends, his grief over Sirius.

And then there is Snape. There is always Snape. But it is this book that gives us more than a two-dimensional look at the man who will be so much a part of Harry at the end. It was rereading and discussing all the bits about Snape that gave so many their first clue that he wasn't the rotten git we were told he was. I wonder if we could have gone from this book to the next, without a break, if we would have figured any of it out. Maybe it was the time lag that allowed us to see through Rowling's clever portrayal of Snape, to see that there was some truth in what he told Harry about his father, and that Dumbledore did have a reason to trust him with his own life and Harry's life.

This book was the longest, and the criticism is always that it needed tighter editing. But what would I want left out? Perhaps the details of "Grawp's Tale", but nothing more. I love all the rest of it.

Now, time to start listening to Half-Blood Prince, if I can get my mp3 player to work. It's been a frustrating day, with one of them dying completely, and the other one just being weird. It shows that there are files taking up space but says everythign is empty. Last time I checked, it would show the files on the external card. I hope that still works, or I'm going to be very unhappy.



phoenixweasley said...

I love re-reading the Harry Potter books. I've done it several times with The Lord of the Rings as well.

Eeyore, you may be interested in this new discussion group: Please come by and feel free to comment.

phoenixweasley said...

I love re-reading the Harry Potter books too. I have read them several times. I also like to re-read The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books.

There is a new discussion group may be of interest to you. Please visit and comment if you wish. :)

Eeyore said...

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out. Your screen name seems familiar. Do I know you from another site?