Back to school again, at Hogwarts

Opinion

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By CHRIS STACH

Unless you have been living in a dark cave, cut off from what is euphemistically called "civilization," you are probably aware that the sixth book in the Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," has finally been released into the hands of both the muggle and wizarding population as of July 16.

I have finished reading "Prince," and let me tell you, this book is loaded with surprises and revelations. I could tell you, right here and now, the name of the main character who dies, and who kills this person, and who falls in deeply love with whom (snogging, the characters call it,) and the resulting score in a very important Quidditch game.

The really astonishing, most horrible thing happens on page number ... no, I can't tell you. You'd be too tempted to have an advance look. It would ruin the previous story chapters for you.

Make no mistake, this is a very dark book, but it has its share of lighter moments, too, such as when Draco Malfoy's bodyguards, Crabbe and Goyle, are disguised as ... but no, I can't tell. Unless you can prove to me that you've already read all of the book, I am under the Unbreakable Vow not to reveal any of its secrets. Sorry.

Getting back to the who the character is who dies, why, I never saw it coming! I was so sure that person would somehow survive, but no! And do you want to know who the Half-Blood Prince is? Uh, uh. Find out for yourself. But you probably won't be able to guess it in advance.

During the course of my reading, which lasted from July 16 to July 18, I located several little clues about what is yet to come in the final, seventh book. These I could tell you, maybe. No, on second thought, some of them have to do with others who die.

What I can tell you is my belief that the main character who dies is not completely gone at all, but is already back in one form, and may soon be back in a second form, as well. What are these forms? Once again, if I find out that you have read the book, I will be glad to tell you. We'll find out more about all this in book No. 7, which, in all probability, is crammed chock-full of even more surprises than the sixth.

For those of you who hunger to know some new magic words of the Wizarding World, well, "levicorpus" will have you head over heels in excitement. To become unexcited, you will have to say "liberacorpus." And whatever you do, don't try out "sectumsempra" on any of your friends, okay?

Speaking of magic words, back in the early 1980s, when I was creating my own witch character, Shelly Shudders, I gave her a four-word magic phrase to speak. Curiously, the first word of it, "abraxas," just happens to be the first name of Draco Malfoy's grandfather. What's up with that? What am I, the victim of an obliviation spell?

Before the June 21, 2003 publishing date of the previous book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the author, J.K. Rowling revealed some of the sentences in that book. Now that the sixth book is out, I will give you, free of charge, the first word of the first chapter (which is "It") and the last word of the last chapter (which is "Hermione"). Note well that both words are capitalized at the first letter! Could this be a clue to the seventh, last book in the series?

Around the world, many festive events were planned to celebrate the release of the latest book. The Riverside Library had one, the Brookfield Library had one, and the nearest book store to Brookfield, Border's on LaGrange Road made a big evening of it, trotting out the first book, opened from a sealed box, at precisely 12 midnight ... the witching hour. (By the way, when is the "wizarding" hour? That's what I'd like to know. Also, why doesn't Brookfield have a book store?)

The book's price is officially pegged at $29.99, but I don't know of anyone who has actually paid that amount. The book can be gotten from a number of sources, both book store and online, for about little more than half the book stated price. I got mine for $16.99 from Marshall Field's in Chicago, during their book release celebration on the fifth floor. I also got a free lime green carrying bag for it (which may be the exact shade of the new Minister's bowler hat. Trust me, it's in the book).

So Harry Potter once again has returned to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and you are invited along to see what troubles beset the Wizarding World. Oddly enough, they somewhat mirror the troubles occurring in our own true world. But I've said enough. It's up to you to do the rest. The author is expecting you.

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