So, the last Harry Potter is released tomorrow. I have it on order, and Amazon Japan have apparently already shipped it, so I should get it tomorrow. I will read it fairly quickly, for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s a pretty good series, and I’d like to know how it finishes. I’d like to find out by reading the book, though, which means I’ll have to read it pretty quickly after it comes out; avoiding spoilers is likely to be impossible.
From a different perspective, Harry Potter is fantasy fiction, and that’s the field I work in. It’s not really a good idea to be ignorant of the largest phenomenon in your professional field. Yes, Harry Potter is work, too.
Before it comes out, I’m going to put my speculations on record. J. K. Rowling has said that two important characters die in the book. I reckon it’s Harry and Voldemort.
Second one first. Yes, Voldemort is an important character. What else would you call him? I am pretty sure he’s going to be defeated in the final book.
And then, Harry. There are three reasons for this. First, the sympathetic characters killed off in books four, five, and six have got steadily more central, thus preparing the audience for the death of a truly central character. More central than Dumbledore means one of the three children. Second, the discussion of Horcruxes in the sixth book sets up the possibility that Voldemort cannot truly be killed unless Harry is, because Harry is actually one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes.
Third, Rowling has always emphasised that death is final in the Harry Potter universe, so if she kills him off, she can’t be asked to write sequels. This will allow her to go off and try writing other things, which will almost certainly be criticised as “not as good as Harry Potter”, or to do something else. After all, she doesn’t exactly need to continue working for a living. (I don’t think this will actually work as a way of stopping fans demanding more, though, and I doubt Rowling thinks so, either. It might make refusing easier, though.)
Of course, good authors (and Rowling is a good author, despite some carping from critics) try to set up false leads in their books, as well as genuine ones. That way they can surprise readers. So maybe I’ve just fallen for all of her traps.
So, my alternative prediction: Harry and Ron die, betrayed and killed by Hermione as she turns to evil and joins Lord Voldemort to bring the entire world under the Dark Lord’s sway.