Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’: Chapter 1
In the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the journey towards the inevitable SHIT IS SO REAL moment has begun. Also: albino peacocks. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 1: THE DARK LORD ASCENDING
I guess this is the beginning of the end.
I’ve been both excited and reluctant to start this. I spent yesterday grazing through my reviews of Sorcerer’s Stone and thinking how stupid I sounded and how little I anticipated from these books. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would grow to love Harry Potter, faults and all, and never would I have thought about how much this series has profoundly affected my life.
And it’s definitely because I came from Twilight. I don’t think that I expected Harry Potter to be the same so much as that I was just used to…lots of anger and hatred? No, seriously, I am occasionally reminded that I once willingly read Breaking Dawn. And those reviews showed how I dealt with such shittery with humor, but the truth is that I was fucking miserable reading those books. I think you can see that in that first review of Sorcerer’s Stone. I was so preoccupied (and terrified, honestly) with making sure I didn’t lose that audience by outright loving the series that I probably discounted a lot of stuff that was unnecessary.
So here I am, over three million pageviews later, and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be reading this book and how sad I am that it’s all ending. And even though there will be many more reviews in the future and I’ll have the joy of Harry Potter with me for the rest of my life, I’ll never get to experience these books like this again. And that’s kind of depressing to me.
I’m entering Deathly Hallows with a fresh start. I don’t know a single spoiler from this book. So when it starts off with a quote from Aeschylus and William Penn, I had a feeling that this book is nothing but SHIT GETS REAL.
(Note: I really adored the dedication. Omg Harry’s scar ::sadfaces forever:J
I couldn’t believe that, right off the bat, we start a scene with Snape. Obviously, the events of the last book sort of make him the most interesting character pretty much ever, but Rowling has a way of making us wait for that sort of stuff, especially when we want it most. But no, here’s Snape (with someone named Yaxley?), being all mysterious and evil and shit.
It was pretty obvious to me that they were at the Malfoy residence and I was excited to find the first instance of complete absurdity:
- There was a rustle somewhere to their right: Yaxley drew his wand again, pointing it over his companion’s head, but the source of the noise proved to be nothing more than a pure-white peacock, strutting majestically along the top of the hedge.
NO, SERIOUSLY GUYS. A PURE-WHITE PEACOCK. Do you get it? IT TOTALLY STANDS FOR WHITE POWER AND STUFF.
I laughed. Sorry Rowling. I get the point, but this image was just too silly for me.
Unlike in Half-Blood Prince, where Voldemort never showed up (in real-time) in the narrative once, here he appears on page three. A lot of what takes place here is the same reveal, in a way, as the second chapter of the last book. We see the villains in a meeting and a plan is discussed that puts the entire book in a specific context. Here, however, there’s no surprise in the participating parties, since now we know Snape is working with the Death Eaters. The way Rowling builds suspense, though, is by giving us this information at the beginning so she can craft a complex narrative and, hopefully, distract us with a literary sleight of hand.
So what are they planning this time? Snape brings news to Voldemort that Harry Potter is being moved from his safe haven. Oh, and THERE IS A BODY BEING FLOATED ABOVE THE TABLE. Yeah. Forgot about that.
Harry is (apparently) going to be hidden at the home of another member of the Order (the Weasleys?). Except then Voldemort drops a bomb:
- ”Well, Yaxley?” Voldemort called down the table, the firelight glinting strangley in his red eyes. “Will the Ministry have fallen by next Saturday?”
I wasn’t surprised by the news that the Death Eaters had spies in the Ministry, but a complete downfall? WHAT???
Turns out there’s a member of the Ministry (Pius Thicknesse) who’s been put under the Imperius Curse:
- ”It is a start,” said Voldemort. “But Thicknesse is only one man. Scrimgeour must be surrounded by our people before I act. One failed attempt on the Minister’s life will set me back a long way.”
Oh jesus, he’s going to try to murder Scrimgeour? What else? I have a feeling he’ll succeed, too, because, while Harry usually “wins” by the end, he tends to lose quite a bit in the process.
But the murder of Scrimgeour isn’t the only thing planned. Voldemort is planning at least the kidnapping of Harry and possibly even his murder while he is being transported.
- Again, Voldemort looked up at the slowly revolving body as he went on, “I shall attend to the boy in person. There have been too many mistakes where Harry Potter is concerned. Some of them have been my own. That Potter lives is due more to my errors than to his triumphs.”
Well, at least Voldemort is…honest? LOOK I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY HE IS AN EVIL, MURDERING BIGOT. You’re basically evil for complimenting him.
- ”As I was saying,” continued Voldemort, looking again at the tense faces of his followers. “I understand better now. I shall need, for instance, to borrow a wand from one of you before I go to kill Potter.”
The faces around him displayed nothing but shock; he might have announced that he wanted to borrow one of their arms.
“No volunteers?” said Voldemort. “Let’s see…Lucius, I see no reason for you to have a wand anymore.”
Well, I’m not shocked by this. I imagined that Voldemort would be able to get Lucius out of prison and, in his eyes, Lucius also royally blundered his task inside the Department of Mysteries. What did interest me, though, was the brief interaction with Narcissa:
- Malfoy glanced sideways at his wife. She was staring straight ahead, quite as pale as he was, her long blonde hair handing down her back, but beneath the table her slim fingers closed briefly on his wrist. At her touch, Malfoy put his hand into his robes, withdrew a wand, and passed it along to Voldemort, who held it up in front of his red eyes, examining it closely.
WHOA. That is a change in the dynamics of their relationship. The last time we saw Narcissa, she was begging Snape to protect her son. Now she’s the one giving her husband permission or blessing? I am INTRIGUED.
Talking about relationships, there’s also another particularly fantastic character development in this chapter. When Voldemort begins to challenge Lucius’ feelings about him using the Malfoy residence for his headquarters, Bellatrix interrupts to assure the Dark Lord that he brings nothing but honor to the household.
- ”No higher pleasure…even compared with the happy event that, I hear, has taken place in your family this week?”
She stared at him, her lips parted, evidently confused.
“I don’t know what you mean, My Lord.”
“I’m talking about your niece, Bellatrix. And yours, Lucius and Narcissa. She has just married the werewolf, Remus Lupin. You must be proud.”
HOLY SHIT FUCK YES!!! Oh, you cannot ruin this moment with the bigotry that follows, Voldemort, because the two greatest characters ARE NOW HAPPILY MARRIED. AND I DON’T EVEN LIKE MARRIAGE THIS IS HOW FANTASTIC THIS IS.
- ”Many of our oldest family trees become a little diseased over time,” he said as Bellatrix gazed at him, breathless and imploring. “You must prune yours, must you not, to keep it healthy? Cut away those parts that threaten the health of the rest.”
I take it back. YOU SCOUNDREL. You leave my Tonks and Lupin alone. 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁
As for the body in the room, WHICH HAS BEEN IGNORED FOR ELEVEN PAGES SO FAR, it’s finally revealed who this is:
- ”But you would not have taken her classes,” said Voldemort. “For those of you who do not know, we are joined here tonight by Charity Burbage, who, until recently, taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
There were small noises of comprehension around the table. A broad, hunched woman with pointed teeth cackled.
“Yes…Professor Burbage taught the children of witches and wizards all about Muggles…how they are not so different from us….”
WHO IS THIS. I DO NOT RECOGNIZE THIS NAME. Unless Hogwarts has summer school?
- “Not content with corrupting and polluting the minds of wizarding children, last week Professor Burbage wrote an impassioned defense of Mudbloods in the Daily Prophet. Wizards, she says, must accept these thieves of their knowledge and magic. The dwindling of the purebloods is, says Professor Burbage, a most desirable circumstance….She would have us all mate with Muggles…or, no doubt, werewolves….”
Oh god. Oh god this is not good. The parallel to racism or sexism or transphobia or ageism…you can literally substitute any of these into here and it works. Oh god, whyyyyyyy is he doing this.
- For the third time, Charity Burbage revolved to face Snape. Tears were pouring from her eyes into her hair. Snape looked back at her, quite impassive, as she turned slowly away from him again.
The flash of green light illuminated every corner of the room. Charity fell, with a resounding crash, onto the table below, which trembled and creaked. Several of the Death Eaters leapt back in their chairs. Draco fell out of his onto the floor.
“Dinner, Nagini,” said Voldemort softly, and the great snake swayed and slithered from his shoulders onto the polished wood.
WHAT THE FUCK!!!!
Oh fuck, it’s starting. FUCK.