Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 18 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 18, Dumbledore returns, we find out about that wonderful sword, and we see who Dobby was working for all along. Let’s go!

As always, definite spoilers abound for later books in the series.

Especially in this particular chapter.

I have to admit, it’s hard to not get a bit emotional with the Weasley parents reuniting with Ginny. They thought she was dead. Their youngest and only daughter. I love the Weasley family so much. They really are just the best. Harry finally gets to tell his story (after being hugged by Mrs. Weasley) and . . . it’s a doozy. And he’s broken about a hundred school rules, according to McGonagall, which may or may not be an exaggeration.

But we have to worry about Ginny here. It’s clear now that she was involved, but without the diary, how do we prove her innocence? Fortunately for everyone, Dumbledore knows that it was actually Voldemort, working through Ginny, that did all these things.

Dumbledore took the diary from Harry and peered keenly down his long, crooked nose at its burnt and soggy pages.

“Brilliant,” he said softly. “Of course, he was probably the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen.”

I can’t remember from later books, but I think this was the first time Dumbledore suspected that Voldemort had made horcruxes. Him referring to Riddle as “brilliant” here takes on a double meaning: not only grudging admiration for a student turned bad, but the knowledge of how Voldemort survived the rebounding of the killing curse all those years ago. It also makes you wonder just how much good Riddle could have done with such a brilliant mind if he had stayed on the good side.

As a side note here, I don’t talk about it much, but I do occasionally enjoy reading Harry Potter fanfiction. My favorite character is Hermione, of course, and I always enjoy the stories that have her creeping closer and closer to that line between good and evil. I think when someone is as smart as she is (like Riddle was), that line can get blurred. It’s an interesting character study. The books talk about the similarities between Harry and Riddle, but I think Riddle and Hermione share quite a few as well. And EvilHermione is just plain fun. Let’s be honest – the boys would have been royally screwed if she wasn’t helping them all those years.

Ahem, back to the story.

Ginny is taken to the hospital wing, after being assured that there will be no punishment. I was glad of that. Sure, she was foolish in pouring herself into that diary, but surely she has suffered enough. Also not getting punished: Harry and Ron, since despite breaking all those rules, they also happen to have saved the day. But wait, we are forgetting something, aren’t we?

“Why so modest, Gilderoy?”

Yeah. Lockhart isn’t doing so well. He still doesn’t remember anything about anything and is taken to the hospital wing by Ron (and will eventually be committed to the wizarding hospital). This leaves Harry alone with Dumbledore, which is good, because there are a few things that need to be cleared up. Why did it seem like Harry was Slytherin’s heir? There was a ton of evidence: the Sorting Hat wanting him in Slytherin, the Parseltongue. Then we get this:

“You can speak Parseltongue, Harry,” said Dumbledore calmly, “because Lord Voldemort – who is the last remaining descendant of Salazar Slytherin – can speak Parseltongue. Unless I’m much mistaken, he transferred some of his own powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I’m sure . . .”

Whoa. Way to drop something heavy on the kid, Dumbledore! I remember the debates after book 6, going into book 7 about whether or not Harry was a horcrux, but this pretty much lays it out right here. I don’t know how Harry didn’t suspect it sooner when he went horcrux hunting with Dumbledore in book 6, when Dumbledore basically tells him that right here.

But back to this book. Harry laments that he should have been put in Slytherin, but Dumbledore points out that there’s a very good reason why he didn’t: Harry asked to be put in Gryffindor. And if Harry has any doubts, that magic sword that appeared is an artifact of Godric Gryffindor himself.

“Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that out of the hat, Harry,” said Dumbledore simply.

Well, there you go!

One last loose end to tie up. Dobby. Who arrives with his master, none other than . . . Lucius Malfoy. Turns out Malfoy had bullied the other school governors into suspending Dumbledore in the first place. Who here is surprised? Nope, me neither. We also find out that it was Mr. Malfoy who slipped Riddle’s diary to Ginny at Diagon Alley that day. As Malfoy leaves in a huff, Harry decides to do something for Dobby. He manages to trick Malfoy into throwing an old sock to Dobby, which frees him from his enslavement. Yeah, and once house elves are free, they happen to be pretty powerful, as Dobby is able to easily fend off a vengeful Malfoy from attacking Harry right there.

The rest of the book wraps up quite nicely. The petrified students are cured, including Hermione. Exams are cancelled. Mr. Malfoy is sacked as a school governor. Ginny recovers from her ordeal. And we find out that Percy has a girl friend, the Ravenclaw girl that had been attacked the same time Hermione was. Everyone gets on the Hogwarts Express and heads home.

And that’s the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! Hope everyone had a good time reading along with me. These chapter reviews are a bit more difficult, but I am really enjoying doing them. I will start reading Prisoner of Azkaban tomorrow – I need to figure out how strict a schedule I will need to keep for that one, since these books will start getting longer and longer. Eventually, one chapter a day won’t cut it if I want to finish each book in a month!

See you next time for Prisoner of Azkaban!

Books I've Read

Re-Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's DartTitle: Kushiel’s Dart

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Series: Phedré’s Trilogy #1

Edition: Paperback

Original Review: February 20, 2012

Blurb: The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good…and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission…and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair…and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart – a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.

Review: I’m going to start doing this more when I re-read a book, especially if it has been a while. I usually try to read new-to-me books so I have a good amount of review fodder, but that stops me from re-reading some favorites. Plus, it’s interesting to see how my thoughts about the book have changed.

I will say that I enjoyed the book a lot more this time around, probably because I knew what I was getting into from the beginning. Jacqueline Carey has a beautiful, flowing, poetic writing style that fits epic fantasy perfectly, but it can feel a bit dragging in places. This book is 900 pages long. That’s a lot. It’s a commitment for sure. This time around, I knew that and prepared myself to the long haul. When you do that, the writing is very enjoyable. Plus, now that I know where the story is going, I can appreciate the way the beginning (which I had originally said was hard for me to get into) really sets up these characters and the intrigue that binds them all together. This book is beautiful, though. It makes you want to visit the City of Eula, to roam the Court of Night Flowers.

I still stand by my statement that this book is not for everyone. It crosses the line into erotica many times, so if you are at all uncomfortable reading sex scenes, you may want to sit this one out. Some of them are graphic and a bit brutal too, given Phedré’s . . . abilities? Gifts? However you want to put it. They do not make up the bulk of the book, so you can skim them if you need to, but Phedré also uses these . . . visits to learn things about her clients. She is very much a spy for her master. So if you skim the sex scenes there is a chance you might miss something important that will come up later in the story.

When I read this the first time, I bought book 2, Kushiel’s Chosen, but never got around to reading it. It’s a bit shorter than book 1, but still a pretty good sized book. As I’ve said in my WWW posts, I am reading it right now. It’s on my list of series to try and finish this year, and since these are big books, I figured it was best to get started on them early!

GoodReads rating: 4 Stars