I'll most likely be adding to this post later tonight, so stay tuned...
Update 9:30 pm: Added some more thoughts
Update 10:00 pm: More thoughts added... (last update for the night) About a hundred pages in, and it looks like those quotes at the beginning of the book were accurate. That's all I'll say for now.
- Liveblogging Harry Potter (again), Part 1 - Initial thoughts and first two chapters...
- Chapter 3: The Dursley's Departing - The Dursleys make their first (and possibly last) appearance, and we get some surprising reactions, especially from Dudley, who seems to have appreciated what Harry did for him a few books ago (Harry saved him from dementors).
- Chapter 4: The Seven Potters - The Order of the Phoenix appears, and they're attempting to help Harry escape from the Dursley's house. We know from earlier in the book that Voldemort knows their plans, but the paranoid Mad Eye Moody has anticipated this and called a change in plans. Many familiar characters show up to enact the plan, which, of course, doesn't go as planned. It's a little unnerving to have a major battle sequence, complete with a Voldemort showdown, this early in the book. Rowling is wasting no time, it seems. Also, our first death of what appears to be many (I guess those quotes a the beginning of the book weren't just for show), Hedwig the owl dies.
- Chapter 5: Fallen Warrior - Well, color me surprised. Another major character is down, and one injured. A lot of speculation about who betrayed the Order. We learned earlier in the book from Snape that it's from "... the source we discussed." which could be just about anyone. At the time, I had my money on Kreacher (the surly house elf of the Black family), but at this point I have no idea. So we can add that mystery to the R.A.B. mystery heldover from the previous book. Another mystery is why Harry's wand seemingly acted of it's own accord - Genevieve, from the Onion A.V. Club (who was liveblogging last night, along with Tasha), thinks it's possible that Dumbledore is acting through Harry somehow. I'm not sure, but if it is, then it fits in line with what I said before about Dumbledore. While the book started a bit slow for my tastes, I have to admit that I'm right in the thick of things right now. Rowling's got a lot of loose ends to tie up and only 600 pages or so to do it!
- Chapter 6: The Ghoul in Pajamas - I always forget the details of the previous books by the time I start reading the next book. As such, the first hundred pages or so always make me wonder various things, but eventually I manage to clear out all the cobwebs. I'm getting to the point now where I'm pretty much up to speed with everything and am really getting into the spirit of things. There are a lot of loose ends that Rowling needs to tie up in this book, chief among them are the Horcruxes. There are apparently 4 of them left, and they're apparently not so easy to destroy. Plus, no one knows where they are and then you've still got Voldemort himself to deal with. The only thing I can think of is that this R.A.B. fellow has actually taken care of a few of these Horcruxes in addition to the one we know about.
The other thing that struck me in this chapter was that Ron actually seemed to be mildy competent with magic. This is one of the things that always bothered me about the series - Hermione appears to be the only student at Hogwarts who takes her studies seriously. Harry and Ron have always been serious slackers. This was particularly bothersome during the 5th book, when Harry started teaching everyone defense against the dark arts. Aside from the Patronus charm which Lupin taught him, where did Harry get all this knowledge from? I guess there's a bit of sly commentary about the usefulness of school (I certainly don't use a lot of what I was taught in school out here in the real world) here, but at the same time, how did Harry and Ron get good at magic? A lot of the time, they seem like they just get lucky. All of this is, of course, just a nitpick. But still, it always seemed like they should be a little more knowledgeable if they're every going to defeat Voldemort.
- Page 130: Excuse me while I abandon the concept of chapter-by-chapter commentary. This is something I kept forgetting to mention: The entire wizarding world seems to be dependant on a single newspaper, The Daily Prophet. Much has been made in this book about how the Prophet isn't reporting high profile news items like the havoc wreaked by Death Eaters, or a mass breakout at Azkaban prison, or the death of a powerful Auror. Don't wizards have some sort of competitive market for newspapers? Do they have some sort of First Amendment type protections? At the very least, they could use more newspapers. They could also probably use the wizarding equivalent to the internet and blogs. If I were a student at Hogwards, I'd read Harry Potter's blog. I bet Hermione would make a great blogger. Ron's would suck though. His brothers, on the other hand... Hell, I bet Voldemort's blog would be interesting, if a little scary (he'd probably try to infect you with the wizarding equivalent to spyware though. Unless you're using the wizarding equivalent to Opera. Then you'd probably be safe, because even Voldemort wouldn't develop his software to work on that browser. He probably uses an unpatched version of IE 6.) Again, I nitpick. I should stop with the nitpicking. But wizard blogs would be cool, wouldn't they?
- Part 3 is up, with lots of spoilers.