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  • Lance Mannion
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Lance, I think I've been waiting for your post on the title of the last HP book since it was released a couple of weeks back. I agree with you with the lousy title. That being said, I did just pre-order my copy through Amazon. I can't wait.


One more reason everything was simpler back in Bossy's day. Are You There God It's Me Margaret contained all the answers in the universe.

Ken Muldrew

"Sorcerer's stone" makes no sense to me; surely that came from a marketer who thought American's were too dull to understand alchemists' ephemera. Upon hearing the latest title I assumed that the publisher nixed Rowling's own title and substituted another "sorcerer's stone". For some reason you think that "sorcerer's stone" is self explanatory though. Can you please explain it?

BTW, I always thought that Rowling's forte was tension and release rather than the story. Sort of like a great blues player who may be stuck in the same 12 bar pattern but nevertheless pulls stark emotions from the listener despite the constraints.

Mr. Shakes

Afternoon, Lance.

Yah - the title is just God awful. She must be damned stubborn, since I'm certain that almost everyone she knows has pointed this out to her. No way a regular non-billionaire type author could have gotten away with "Deathly Hallows." May as well have called it "Harry Potter and The Dyonisian Marshmallows," for all the sense it makes.

That said, I enjoyed installments 4, 5 & 6, and so I'm not perpared to be quite as pessimistic as you are, yet. But, yeah - this title is worrisome.


Lily and James Potter died in Godric's Hollow - perhaps there's a graveyard there?


and it was Philosopher's Stone in England and Canada.


Eh, doesn't bother me. Sounds vaguely like Halloween, and the word "Deathly" is even better than "Deadly."

One thing I would like to know, though - one of the best adventure series I read as a kid, if not THE best, was the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Not only were domestic attachments imporant to the story, they were a vital theme. The one character who was always trying to get away from them was seen as vaguely buffoonish. The "love interest" was all that and more - a major character whom Taran, the hero, loved so much that his hopes for their marriage was what set off the action in the fourth book. And the series climax wasn't success in the final battle, but rather the aftermath, where Taran's love of all the attachments he's developed over the years, romantic and otherwise, turn him from a hero to a HERO.

If you haven't read it, by all means, go! Now! (And avoid the Disney abomination at all cost).

If you have read it, then isn't it, according to your definition, not a "boy's adventure"? My question is, other than the domestic attachments, why?

If it's the lack of domestic attachments that defines whether it's a boy's adventure or not, isn't that kind of a tautology? I'm calling shenanigans.

Kevin Wolf

Not a fan of nor reader of HP so I had no real reaction to the title - but if what you say is true and the phrase Deathly Hallows has no known place in the HP universe, I guess I'd be worried too.

But you almost seem to have suggested a reason for the title: That any 10-year-old would just know what it means. (Or think they know.) It's merely suggestive - and aimed at young readers, not the adults who seem to have taken over the fan base.

In other words: Leave the poor woman alone!


I must be an oddball-- Order of the Phoenix was my favorite in the series. On a childish level, I loved the creepiness of Delores Umbridge, and on an adult level, I relished the depiction of academic repression. I rooted for the subversion of Dumbledore's Army, but yeah, the Harry-and-Cho subplot was a giant yawn. Harry and Ginny, likewise; I was always more interested in Ron and Hermione acknowledging the unthinkable, anyway. Thanks, Lance, for helping to clarify why.


Ken Muldreew: "Sorcerer's stone" makes no sense to me...For some reason you think that "sorcerer's stone" is self explanatory though. Can you please explain it?

Ken, I only meant that the other titles conjure up concrete thoughts. For instance, the average American fifth grader would know what a sorcerer is and could imagine that if the socercer has a stone it is very likely a magic stone and therefore a thing of mysterious interest---it's not what the book turns out to be about, exactly, but the Harry Potter world of magic and wizards and things with special powers is suggested by the title.

By the way, while there really is such a thing as a Philosopher's stone, average American fifth graders, if they can call up an image of a philosopher aren't going to picture anyone particularly magical, just some old fuddy duddy professor type, and if he has a stone then it's probably like the one grandpa had to pass.

Kevin, you may be right about Deathly Hallows and ten year olds, but the target audience is no longer ten year olds, it's high school students, and the one I know who is a devoted Potterite,Violet Mannion, is just as mystified as I am by what a deathly hallow might be.

SV, the only one of Alexander's series I read was The Black Cauldron, and I wouldn't call it a boys' adventure novel; even though it's about a boy who has an adventure, I think of it as a different kind of book. I need to think some more about your question though. I'm not sure how the escape from domesticity is merely tautological. But a boys' adventure novel takes the hero away from all demands that he or she grow up too, which means an escape from society as a whole, as well as from hearth and home. That's why Treasure Island is a boys' adventure novel and The Three Musketeers is not. Another factor is that in a boys' adventure novel nothing much more is at stake than the hero's own surival and apotheosis as a hero. But like I said, I'll think on it.

joanr and Mr Shakes, I liked Order of the Phoenix too. I just think it's not as well-crafted as the first four books and that's why it worried me. At the point where I expected Rowling to be tightening her grip, she seemed to have let it relax to the point of letting things go.


How about Harry Potter and the Sticky Horse for a title?

Mike Schilling

Harry's a Pothead and the Philosopher's Stoned

joel hanes

There's a bunch of us waiting, still hoping, but fearing that George R.R. Martin has now lost his passion for the Westeros cycle that he began in _A_Game_of_Thrones_ (which I cannot recommend too highly).

The fourth volume, _A_Feast_For_Crows_, was an extended tease: like watching the gaffers erect the scenery for the next act, in place of watching the next act itself.
But I still have hope.

Another wonderful boys' book series is
Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books. Look for them
wherever genre sci-fi is sold by those who care.
And, of course, at B&N and Amazon.

joel hanes

Oh, BTW: a _hallows_ is a numinous but elegiac place:
like the tomb of one's ancestors, or royal
tombs of mythological kings, or a dale in
which great events now legendary once transpired
and in remembrance of which all doff their hats
or observe a solemn reverence.

I don't find it confusing a bit.

kara McNair

I'm afraid that I give credence to those who substitute 'hallow' for 'hollow' as in Godric's

Personally, I've never been so fussed about the actual writing as compared to the story, which, despite a few egregious cockups (hm, so Lily & James were "Head Boy & Girl in their year" as per Hagrid in the first book but "his dad hadn't been a prefect either" in the 5th book) I find the story of each to be very .... consistent.

I've got my own predictions about the final book, and I must admit that I don't care about the actual literacy aspect of it as much as I do the . puzzler/logician aspect

Who will die? Who's to be married to whom? Who faked death & who will betray his 'master'? I know why Dumbledore trusted Snape (accurately), do you?

(tis easy - Slughorn gave it away. "I don't know anyone who knew her who wouldn't have liked/loved her"...)


it's a pretty awful title, but not much worse than some of the others. i suppose from a purely utilitarian point of view "the chamber of secrets" might be better, but its a shit-awful title from any other perspective. if its a choice between "dull but descriptive" and "half-arsed attempt to be evocative and mysterious" im almost tempted to plump for the latter. it's a shame her names are usually so blah. i'd have thought the name'd be the easiest part. if you've written a 900 page book it can't be too much extra effort to spend ten minutes coming up with a decent title. maybe it is just fatigue and a lack of interest. i remember in the Barry Trotter parody it said something like "there were worries that Rollins had become disenchanted with the books and was losing interest, a suspicion confirmed when the sixth book 'Barry Trotter and The Scary Magical Whatever' was released." It's not that far off.
I think the main problem with order of the phoenix was her original decision to make each book last a whole school year. it might have worked earlier on, but it's really dragging the story down now. the end of book 4 was very dramatic, it seemed as if everything had suddenly moved up a gear, becoming more urgent, as well as a lot darker, but then nothing happens. Both Harry and Voldemort spend a year twatting about doing nothing, and the atmosphere's ruined. same with book six. how interesting can it be to have harry tailing malfoy for six months while making really good potions?

i did find it strange that you use Pratchett as a counterexample to authors who get bogged down in 26 book epics and lose interest halfway. Pratchett seems like a case study of getting stuck in ever-decreasing circles. Having several series with recurring characters (witches book followed by death book followed by rincewind book followed by guards books followed by witches book...)isn't really much better than a single 26 book cycle, especially as he's constantly reusing plots and his characters never seem to grow or progress much(they get married and get older and all that, but they never seem to change as people). By now nine times out of ten you can work out in advance what someone'll do or say. Even the stand alone books are getting dragged into this, all of the characters now seem to speak an interchangeable low-vocab language called "Pratchettese" and spout cliches so much they're almost impossible to tell apart, (not to mention the constant cameos from the guards, the wizards, the beggars uncle tom cobbleigh and all) I dunno why all his characters and sets seem so cardboard these days, but it's mibbe because he had such a recognizable style when he started, that(like harold pinter)the more he repeats it the more he reads like a bad parody of himself. still as long as his next book isn't called "Rincewind and the Breathy Mallows" i can't complain that much


sorry, i should have proofread that. that's some pretty awful writing there


we all know what's gonna happen....

Ken Houghton

Think "Hallow'd be thy name..." Or All Hallow's Eve. Deathly Spirits, or Deathly Souls. (Think Gogol, as it were.)

I think it's the perfect title, given that the objective in this book is for the other six parts of Tom Riddle's Soul. (Not to mention the no-longer-dead Regulus [REB] has to appear.)

I do note that, unlike the other six covers--and it may be that the artwork isn't done, but I doubt it--this one is just a black cover with the title, author, and "Year 7"; it needs a different type of title, since it's not an adventure book, even in the tradition of (to continue SV's reverence for Lloyd Alexander, above) The High King. (You're wrong about Goblet, by the way; it serves the same function as Taran Wanderer in that connections were made that will be needed in the Final Battle, so the others [e.g., Krum, Fleur] had to actually see Harry in action—especially if the wedding that will open this book goes as I expect. Which is not to say that Books Four and Five weren't bloated.)


My predictions/responses/hopes..

Snape's motivation was NOT tru luv for Lily Evans, or at least not entirely. (If Rowling has become lazy enough to go that route, I'll be pissed..)

It's very possible that Dumbledore is still alive.

RAB was indeed Regulus Black, but he really is dead, and won't appear in the story. (There's no need for him to appear; if you read OotP carefully, there's already another locket floating around that can serve as the Horcrux, and in HBP we learn who probably has it now...)

The Deathly Hallows are whatever lie on the other side of that Mysterious Evil Curtain in the Ministry of Magic. Harry's gonna go through that thing, one way or another, and get help from Sirius, which is why Sirius was killed in the first place.

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