In a little over a month, the sixth Harry Potter book will come out. I know what I'll be doing the day after - don't expect me to get any work (or even blogging) done.
The big deal this time around is that JK Rowlings is going to kill (another) major character in Book VI and nobody knows who that will be. Here are my thoughts and my prognosis. I am trying to think like an author writing a 6th volume of a 7-part series.
What should happen in the last volume? I think it is inevitable that the last volume will be centered on the final battle between Harry and Voldemort (which Harry should win, and Voldemort should finally die). Furthermore, the final battle should also demonstrate that Harry has grown in maturity and strength. Thus, he has to fight this battle completely alone. He should receive no help. And the readers should not expect Harry to get any last-minute help either. So, my thinking goes, JK Rownlings needs to eliminate a character who could be expected, by readers, to help Harry and be able to help Harry.
Let's go down the list of possible characters that JKR may kill in volume #6. Remember, it is a "major" character and there is a lot of hype about it.
1) Harry Potter. No way. The series is named after him. He is the main hero. Nobody would buy book #7 if there was no Harry in it. The movie #7 would never be made. Scratch that one out.
2) Valdemort. No. If Voldemort dies in #6 what would Harry do in #7? Vacation in Cancun? Taste his first margarita? Get fat?
3) Prof. McGonnagall. No. She is not "major" enough. She is not powerful enough to help Harry in his final battle, yet she is wise enough to know she should stay away. She does not need to be dead in order to sit this battle out. And after all the hype, if she died in #6, most readers would just shrug and read on.
4) Severus Snape. No. Similarly to McGonnagall, he is not "major" enough. He can sit the battle out for a number of reasons without any readers wondering why he's not helping. Although he has repeatedly shown to be on the right side and has helped Harry on number of occasions, Snape is not a well-liked character and many readers would be completely fine with his death.
5) Ron Weasley No. Nobody expects him to be able to help Harry in the final battle. Everybody would be majorly pissed at JKR if she decided to kill Ron. Also, Ron is needed to keep Hermione busy. The two of them will be all starry-eyed, in throes of their newly-found love, too much lost in their own bliss to be of any help to Harry. Yes, I know, most of you want Harry and Hermione to get together in the end but that would be soooo cheesy...and anyway, Harry has more important things to do, e.g., to save the world from Valdemort.
6) Hermione Grainger. No way! If JKR kills Hermione, some nut-head will try to kill JKR! She needs to stay alive so the series does not loose readers (and the movie viewers). Everybody is in love with her - she has to live.
7) Hagrid. Maybe... this is my #2 bet. I only believe it will not happen because I believe that my #1 choice is correct. He is not powerful enough to help, so he can sit back and watch the big battle and nobody will take that against him.
8) Albus Dumbledore. Yes, that's the one. He has to die in #6 so nobody expects him to help Harry in #7. Even if JKR lets him travel far away, readers will expect him to come back in the nick of time. Even if JKR makes Dumbledore old, sick and out of his mind, the readers would expect him to get sane, strong and healthy enough to help Harry. Old Albus has to go. I'll be mad and sad when it happens, but I cannot see how else can JKR go on to finish the series otherwise (except perhaps kill Dumbledore at the BEGINNING of #7 which is the same thing in a sense).
Post your bets in the comments, please.
Update: Orac agrees and goes further in this post.
And Archy plays the Devil's advocate.