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Farewell to Hogwarts?

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Spellbound Speculation is rife over the fate of Harry Potter and his friends as the final book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,’ hits the stands today
Spellbound Speculation is rife over the fate of Harry Potter and his friends as the final book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,’ hits the stands today

Liza George discovers that it is the curiosity to know what happens to Harry Potter and his friends that has fans wanting to read the final book

Who will win the battle? Will good triumph over evil? Awaiting these answers are hundreds of Muggles (as the non-magical folks are called) as the last of the Harry Potter series – ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ hits stands today. With over 2,000 copies of the book ordered in the city alone, the book stores in the city are expecting a long day ahead of them today.

With the books reaching by 5.30 a.m., a queue is expected outside bookstores by 5 a.m. However, the early bird does not get the worm here. “The books will be sold to customers only by 6.30 a.m. That has been the order by the book’s publishers. And we will entertain those who have a prior order of the book first,” says Biju of Paico Books.

Nevertheless, this piece of news does not dampen the spirit of those hooked to the series. Having booked her copy months ahead, Ruby Mathew, a CA student is all geared up, “I will be there by 5.30 a.m. I want to be the first in line to know what happens to Harry and his friends.”

Written by J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series traces the life of the protagonist Harry Potter. If for some it is the battle against good and evil that has them following Harry’s journey, for others it is the magical world she creates.

Says Sudheer of Modern Book Centre, “The series is a mix of fantasy and magic – a blend Indians love. Each book has a self-contained problem and task for the heroes to complete. And like a jigsaw puzzle, it also adds to the information about this wizarding world.”

The charming world of magic

Adds Daphne Gomez, Principal, L’ecole Chempaka, “Children, especially teenagers, are charmed by the idea of a school for wizards where children can learn and do magic. It lets their imagination run wild as anything is possible in Potter’s world.”

But not everyone buys the book for Harry alone. Hermione and Ron are popular characters as are the twins, Fred and George. Even Harry’s arch nemesis Voldemort seems to have a following. “Voldemort is so powerful. He’s pure evil,” says Aravind Senan, a class five student of Loyola, who is quick to add that he likes Harry too.

However more than anything, it’s the curiosity to know what happens to Harry and his friends that has the fans glued to the series. Having followed Harry Potter from his discovering that he is a wizard, to his battles against Voldemort, with speculations that Harry will be killed by Lord Voldemort, readers want to know the end.

“My friends and I are praying that Harry does not die in the battle against Voldemort,” says Nandan A.S., a class seven student of Christ Nagar, as Ruby adds, “I hope Hermione and Ron become a couple. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed about Snape being on the side of the good forces.”

To add hype to the release of the last of this series, book stores have decked their stores with festoons, banners and cut outs of characters from the book. Special discounts and free gifts are being offered too. If DC Books is offering two complimentary CDs, Paico has a gift coupon worth Rs. 150. Modern Book Centre has a special discount on the book and is conducting a special Harry Potter festival which features all the books in the series.

“Two of Potter related books –‘Quidditch Through the Ages’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ – will be part of a special display,” says Sudheer.

Whatever the reason for the interest in Potter books, book dealers, educators and even parents are all smiles, for the author, J.K. Rowling, has revived the reading interest in children.

Reprint of books

And it is not just the magical world of Hogwarts that she has opened. She has also opened the doors to yesteryear authors like J.R.R. Tolkien (‘Lord of the Rings’) and C.S. Lewis (‘The Chronicles of Narnia’). “Even out of print series like ‘The Little House on the Prairie’ for example is being reprinted due to the rising interest in such books. Earlier children’s books were priced based on pounds and dollars. Now as there is a demand for them, there’s a special pricing for India,” says Sudheer.

While Harry Potter books rule the roost, Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys are doing well. “But its stories on fantasy worlds and magical creatures that are selling like hot cakes. Readers are now hooked to Artemis Fowl and the adventures of Percy Jackson,” says Tomy Antony, D.C. Books.

Although most readers are disappointed that ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ marks the end of the Potter series, some are hopeful of Rowling coming out with more.

“How can she not? She will be breaking a lot of hearts if she doesn’t,” says an optimistic Ruby.

Potter mania

Anti-piracy cell

l Beginning July 21, call 011-26499936 or 098180 10044 to report pirated copies.

l Only J.K. Rowling and 20 others that include the book’s editors and illustrators know of Harry’s fate in the new book.

l According to The Sunday Telegraph, when the finished manuscript was taken by hand from London to New York, the lawyer for the American publisher, Scholastic, sat on it during the flight for better security.

l In Britain, a security operation costing 10 million pounds (guards, satellite tracking systems and legal contracts) are in place.

l German publishers barred their staff from using mobile phones at the printing press and the staff had to work in near-darkness to prevent them from reading the book.

l J.K Rowling has received several e-mails from readers urging her to reveal the end citing that one of their relatives is terminally ill and may not be alive till Saturday when the book is out.

l In Britain, the trucks that Bloomsbury will use to send the copies to retailers will be fitted with satellite tracking systems to detect the deviation of the trucks from their routes. The books are also sealed in palettes fitted with alarms!

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