Monday, May 12, 2008

Rowling conjures up a subtler piece of magic (An article)

The Dart Art

Rowling conjures up a subtler piece of magic

By Jerome Taylor / London

Whatever the critics say, the number themselves are sheer wizadary. Scholastic, the US publisher of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, announced that 6.9 million copies of J.K. Rowling’s latest work had been sold across America in the first 24 hours. Besides, 265 million copies of the first five books, published in 62 languages, have been sold in over 200 countries.
Thanks to her spellbinding imagination, Rowling is thought to have netted a personal fortune of around £500 million for her endeavours – enough gold galleons to fill half of Gringotts! As the series proceeded, however, Rowling has had to contend with progressively more unfavourable reviews.

Books four and five, The Goblet of Fire and The Order of the Phoenix, were criticized as lengthy, wordy and lacking gripping climaxes. There was a fear the magic was wearing off. Yet, the readers proved them wrong. More and more fans of all ages and countries immerse themselves in Harry’s adventures proving that Pottermania is inescapable.

So how does Harry’s new adventure compare with his previous escapades? There is an unmistakable darkness that runs throughout the course of this book. The Half-Blood Prince’s prequel had left Harry in a world that was fast unravelling. The dark wizard Voldemort and his Death Eaters were alive and causing more carnage than usual. In contrast, Harry had lost what little family he had left with the murder of his godfather, Sirius Black.

With just one book left to go, it is little surprise that much of the narrative of The Half-Blood Prince is spent preparing the reader for the final showdown between Harry and his arch enemy Voldemort. Many have found such preparation needlessly longwinded and lament the slow pace of beginning and the seeming lack of solid action. But this patient plot building adds yet more layers to an increasingly intricate narrative. It is the rich complexity of Rowling’s imagination and the intertwining histories of her characters that make Harry’s world so bewitching.

“You get a lot of answers in this book,” Rowling told reporters at the book’s launch in Edinburgh Castle, Scotland. Many of those nagging questions that kept fans guessing are answered in the 607 pages. None are more exciting than the chapters which explain who Voldemort is and why he is so evil. Rowling had ample time to expand the histories of Harry and friends but left his enemy unsatisfactorily underdeveloped. Voldemort’s history – an abused and neglected childhood coupled with a burning desire to prove himself and mixed with a large dose of narcissism – nourishes the reader’s understanding. We don’t sympathise with the mass murderer, but we see where he went wrong.
  • Rowling’s most admirable quality as a writer for children is her ability to educate her young readers about life. If The Half-Blood Prince teaches us about living, it also schools us in life’s black-hooded sister - death. Once again the climax of the narrative sees another of Harry’s closest friends killed by the forces he must one day defeat. Not only does this deepen our desire to see Harry victorious, but it also reminds us, and especially the young target audience, that the inevitability of death is only overcome by the deeds done when alive.
  • “Rowling’s success in detailing the precariousness of doing what is right and slipping into oblivion is what earns her the right to be called one of the great storytellers yet.” To the unstrained eye, the text verges on verbosity. But, for fans of Harry, each one of those words nourishes their fascination and feeds their imagination.
  • All good things come to those who wait. The Half-Blood Prince is just part of that process.

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