Because of the release of Deathly Hallows today, I had to catch up and read Half-Blood Prince. One of the reasons why I had decided to put off reading it was because everyone had ruined the “big surprise,” which was the death of Albus Dumbledore.
I suppose the death of the great wizard has been a staple of fantasy for quite a while now, at least ever since Gandalf the Grey plummeted into the trackless depths of Moria, and since Obi-Wan Kenobi met his end from the blade of his former apprentice. (In fact, I almost feel like every fantasy series that has hit the mainstream has been some bizarre hybrid of the ideas of J.R.R. Tolkien and George Lucas: an inconceivably powerful artifact that tethers the Dark Lord to existence in this material plane, a Chosen One meant to restore the balance. But I digress.)
I guess it’s probably just a function of when I read The Lord of the Rings. Even to this day, even though I know that Gandalf the White comes back, I always get a little misty eyed when I read about the Fellowship of the Ring traversing the orc-infested Mines of Moria. I used to feel a little pang of sadness when Obi-Wan Kenobi was cut down by Darth Vader, but unfortunately, George Lucas makes him look decidedly less regal in Episodes I-III that he sort of lost part of his mystique. But when Severus Snape blasts Dumbledore out of the tower, I don’t know, I guess it would’ve been better if I didn’t know.
Still, hands down, the part of The Lord of the Rings that really gets me right there is when Merry has just finished helping Éowyn kill the Witch King of Angmar, and no one seems to notice that he has been deathly injured until Pippin stumbles upon him, and he ends up trying to drag him to the Houses of Healing. Merry ends up asking him, “Are you going to bury me?” and if I’m in the right mood, I can get all teary-eyed.
And now, a spoiler: I just finished Deathly Hallows and Severus Snape’s part in the story was just, wow. He is now definitely my most favorite character in the series, and even though we all know that he’s not the one-dimensional villain that the characters want to believe he is, I was still surprised by how poignant the entirety of his tale is.