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Complete, detailed, and amazing Reader's Guides
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Chapter One:
The Dark Lord Ascending

"News?"


Notes by Michele L. Worley and Steve Vander Ark
Page editor Belinda Hobbs

U.S. hardcover edition: pages 1 - 12
U.K. hardcover edition: pages pages pages 9 - 18
US audio edition CD 1 track 1

Timeframe: July, 1997


IN WHICH Snape reports to Voldemort the plans of the Order of the Phoenix to move Harry Potter from Number 4 Privet Drive, Voldemort takes Lucius Malfoy's wand, the Death Eaters gathered in Malfoy Manor make fun of Tonks' marriage to a werewolf, and Voldemort kills Charity Burbage, the erstwhile Hogwarts Muggle Studies teacher.

illustration by Mary Grandpré

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

a few yards apart

Again we see that there are pre-established locations where one apparates outside a Wizard residence. In chapter 29, Neville alerts Aberforth to the fact that people will be apparating directly into the Hog's Head because this would otherwise be considered a breach of etiquette.

raised their left arms in a kind of salute and passed straight through the dark metal

The Dark Mark allows them through, then. When non-Death Eaters arrive, the wrought iron gate twists into a face which challenges the visitors (DH23).

"He always did himself well, Lucius."

So we seem to be at Malfoy Manor. That's odd, when you think about it. Lucius is an escapee from Azkaban and his son is (or should be) wanted in connection with the death of Albus Dumbledore. Nevertheless, they've come to a meeting at home, and the Ministry still hasn't managed to catch them. There is no reference to any need to avoid Ministry people watching the house or anything of that sort.

peacocks

These are not just peacocks with white tail feathers; we learn in chapter 23 that they are albino peacocks.

“You are very nearly late.”

I love this. With Voldemort, you can be in trouble simply for being almost late.

“Severus, here,” said Voldemort, indication the seat on his immediate right.

The seat to the host's right is considered the place of highest honor. A most valued and trusted assistant is refered to as a "right-hand man". Note that Voldemort assigned Snape this seat at this moment. Apparently, you don't know where you will be sitting until you get there.

Snape, however, looked calmly back into Voldemort’s face and, after a moment or two. Voldemort’s lipless mouth curved into something like a smile.

Voldemort is using Legilimency to see if Snape is lying to him. Snape is an accomplished Occlumens, of course, but in this case he's telling the truth. Both Snape and the Dark Lork treat this exchange as if it's standard procedure for them

Potter will not be moved until the thirtieth

From the phrasing, the thirtieth sounds as though it is later than "Saturday next", which might help us narrow down the date of the current chapter's action.

It would not be the first time; he is known to be suseptible.

See, for instance, the events of "The Centaur and the Sneak" (OP27).

squat man sitting a short distance from Yaxley; he gave a wheezy giggle

Almost certainly this is Amycus Carrow. Carrow is described elsewhere as "hunched" (DH30) and as "lumpy-looking man" who "gave a wheezy giggle." (HBP27)

As long as our friend Thicknesse is not discovered before he has converted the rest.

As we found out during the Third Task and from Madam Rosmerta a few months before this, someone under the Imperius Curse can cast Unforgivable Curses, including the Cruciatus Curse (GF31) and the Imperius Curse (HBP27).

If Potter Apparates...we shall know immediately.

If this is so, why do Harry, Ron, and Hermione Apparate with impunity for the entire rest of this book? As many readers have pointed out, this is undoubtedly because what the Ministry would be tracking is not Apparition in general but an Apparition spell cast by someone who is underage. But this certainly doesn't apply to Side-Along Apparition, which is intended for use with people who either can't Apparate or who are too young to cast spells themselves. The Order should have been able to take Harry away using Side-Along Apparition and be undetected. So we're still in a bit of a muddle over this.

“I have been careless, and so have been thwarted by luck and chance, those wreckers of all but the best-laid plans.

Voldemort is being surprisingly candid here. He has learned a great lesson over the past few years. Unfortunately for him, he didn't learn it well enough. In the end, he still made the mistake of assuming someone was dead without checking. Both Snape, who in dying had time to pass along memories to Harry, and Harry himself, who was in fact quite alive after all, used Voldemort's arrogance to defeat him. It is true that Harry has survived more by dumb luck than anything else. Voldemort, however, has made some huge blunders, not the least of which was releasing Harry while in the graveyeard and forcing the boy to duel, thereby giving his enemy back his wand. In that situation, Voldemort had Harry trapped and helpless. He could have easily finished him off then. Voldemort would never get another chance like that.

a sudden wail sounded...Many of those at the table looked downward, startled, for the sound had seemed to issue from below their feet.

Someone is being held captive in the cellar under the main floor. Harry, Ron, Dean, and Griphook are brought to this cellar the following spring and find two prisoners: Luna Lovegood and Mr Ollivander. Luna doesn't arrive until just before the Christmas break. Presumably, then, the wail comes from Ollivander.

he might have announced that he wanted to borrow one of their arms

In this book, we are to learn much about wandlore. Our first lesson is happening now. Wands are not just the property of a witch and wizard any more than their arms or legs are. A wand and its master have a curious, mutual relationship. Voldemort is about to take Malfoy's wand. The manner of which he takes it--without offering anything in return, we notice--suggests that Voldemort is now the rightful owner of the wand.

Lucius, I see no reason for you to have a wand anymore

Voldemort is making the worst possible insult here. Lucius becomes "wandless," which in the New Order means a Mudblood who has no "right" to have magical ability and who is assumed to have stolen their powers from a "true" wizard. Travers, for example, refered to the beggers in Diagon Alley in this way:

"Some of these wandless can be troublesome,” said Travers. “While they do nothing but beg I have no objection..." (DH26)

skin appeared yellowish and waxy in the firelight, and his eyes were sunken and shadowed

What happened to Lucius Malfoy? Certainly Azkaban has taken its toll. However, it is likely that he was tortured by Voldemort as punishment for his failures.

her slim fingers closed briefly on his wrist

Narcissa is now controlling the family. In a moment, Voldemort proceeds to mock Narcissa's family. This drives crazed Bellatrix to distraction but sets Narcissa's heart against him. Voldemort is failing in the same way that Sirius failed with Kreacher. He is treating those below him with contempt, and eventually they will turn on him.

Draco, we learn a little further on in this chapter, also looks to his mother in this terrifying situation:

The hilarity mounted; Draco Malfoy looked in terror at his father, who was staring down into his own lap, then caught his mother’s eye. She shook her head almost imperceptibly, then resumed her own deadpan stare at the opposite wall.

the happy event that, I hear, has taken place in your family this week?

So the wedding of Tonks and Lupin took place prior to this meeting, but within the same week. If we can date one event, we can get an approximate date for the other.

since she married the Mudblood

Andromeda married Ted Tonks, a Muggle-born. Her name was blasted off the Black Family Tree for this reason, according to Sirius. We learn from him that Andromeda is the middle sister of the three: Narcissa, Andromeda, and Bellatrix:

He pointed to another small round burn mark between two names, Bellatrix and Narcissa.
'Andromeda's sisters are still here because they made lovely, respectable pure-blood marriages, but Andromeda married a Muggle-born, Ted Tonks, so -' (OP6)

babysit the cubs

Evidently referring to werewolves' children as "cubs" is some long-standing habit of Voldything's; as diary-Riddle, he made a similar remark (CS17).

we shall cut away the canker that infects us until only those of the true blood remain

Notice that Voldemort doesn't say "pure blood." Considering that Voldemort himself is not a Pure-Blood, this is perhaps an intentional turn of the phrase. Of course, he has successfully kept that detail of his past a secret. At the point of reconisdering the safety of his horcruxes, Voldemort will realise that Dumbledore might have cottened on to the details of his birth, but for now he thinks his secret is safe.

"Severus! Help me!"

Huh. So Professor Burbage is willing to put some trust in Snape, despite the events of the previous book.

A broad, hunched woman with pointed teeth cackled

We might guess that this is Alecto Carrow, who is described elsewhere as "hunched" and "slope-figured". She, like her brother, is mentioned as having a "wheezy giggle."

“Dinner, Nagini"

Imagine -- or don't -- the horror of this scene. Poor Draco is sitting there watching a huge snake ingest the body of one of the Hogwarts teachers. It takes quite a while for a snake to do this, by the way. According to experts, it took a 12-foot ball python six hours to swallow an electric blanket by mistake.

And how does it do it? Here's an explanation from an article in "Science World" (Klein, Andrew; 11 December 2006):

But how does a slim snake fit a big animal...into its mouth? Flexible rubber-band-like ligaments connect its jawbones together. By stretching these ligaments, the python can open its mouth wide enough to swallow animals bigger than itself. Then, it uses its curved teeth like a shovel to push the animal down its throat. The python moves its powerful body muscles in a wavelike motion to guide the food down into its stomach.

This is happening in the middle of the table, in front of all of the Death Eaters.

Okay, let's move on...

Characters introduced in this chapter:

Characters returning in this chapter:

Characters mentioned in this chapter:

Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:

  • Malfoy Manor
    • a narrow, moonlit lane
    • gravel drive
    • hallway
    • drawing room

Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:

Exceptional character moments:

  • Still to come....

Spells:

Links and Resources:

Memorable lines:

  • "I have been careless, and so have been thwarted by luck and chance, those wreckers of all but the best laid plans."
  • "Many of our oldest family trees become a little diseased over time."

Strictly British:

  • (none)

Timelines/Calendar:

Notes: After the marriage of Tonks and Lupin.

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