Half Blood Prince Discussion Chapters 1-5

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Half Blood Prince Discussion Chapters 1-5

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Maio 12, 2008, 8:17am

Okay, so before I attempt to catch up on what I missed this weekend, I thought I'd get this thread going. This week we started Half Blood Prince. We're doing 5 chapters a week with this book.

1. The Other Minister
2. Spinner's End
3. Will and Won't
4. Horace Slughorn
5. An Excess of Phlegm

I note on all these chapters: I love these opening chapters more than any of the previous 5 books' openings for the lack of angst, it's refreshing!

Maio 12, 2008, 8:22am

I'm going to try to spread my posts out more during the day in the hope that it'll create more discussion. I don't have much for Chapter 1, but here goes:

1. I don't really think JKR did the math on this one. I don't think Fudge has been Minister of Magic long enough to have introduced himself and the wizarding world to two P.M.s. How long are the P.M.'s terms in England?

2. "Is a man alive if he can't be killed?" An interesting question. Thoughts?

3. (I know this will shock everyone, I'm always sticking up for the editing choices!) As a whole, I don't think this chapter is all that necessary. We can, and do, get the information elsewhere, though it is interesting to get a non-Dursley, Muggle view of wizards.

Maio 12, 2008, 9:37am

*hangs head in shame* I haven't read the chapters yet. My books are still packed. I'll be catching up later this week. However, I did listen to HBP on audiobook just a couple of weeks ago, so I'll go ahead and read/respond to comments.

Bib, I have no idea about the PM question -- but how long has Fudge been in office? Does she say? (I could check the Lexicon, but am lazy/too busy.)

I also don't find this chapter necessary. Fudge gets a shot at being King of Exposition here, and it does set up what's changed since OotP, but on the whole, I think we get, or could get, the information elsewhere. I also feel like the chapter drags on, as there isn't much action to it. I mean, the entire chapter is basically two men sitting in an office and talking. I think that Spinner's End is a better "first" chapter. This book has three "first" chapters, which feels like a really long setup. I don't object to two, especially if you have an event that the reader needs to see, that's not from Harry's perspective (such as Voldemort killing the gardener in GoF, or Snape's Unbreakable Vow in this book), but three was too much.

Maio 12, 2008, 9:44am

I loved that first chapter and I was chuckling through the whole thing. And it shows us how the war with Voldemort is affecting the muggle world. After this the book stays within the wizarding world so I do think it was needed.

Editado: Maio 12, 2008, 9:51am

I hadn't thought to check the Lexicon but it says he came to power in 1990. And Wikipedia says that there is no set term, but they serve at the Queen's pleasure. We know this P.M. started sometime before the events of PoA in 1993, so I suppose there could have been a P.M. in 1990 or 1991 that the Queen wasn't pleased with for very long. (I can't believe I didn't think to look that up!)

That's exactly how I feel about this chapter foggi. Basically what do we learn in this chapter? The P.M. knows wizards exist, well that could already be inferred from PoA and it's interesting but not important. Scrimgeour is in, Fudge is out which we learn again in "Will and Won't" Madam Bones and Emmeline Vance were killed, giants are around, a bridge collapsed, all could easily be put into other conversations or the newspaper articles in "Will and Won't". There really is no reason for this chapter to be there. I think Spinner's End would have been much better.

ETA I didn't mean for that to sound argumentative jjwilson; I didn't read yours until after posting this one!

Maio 12, 2008, 10:21am

Personally, after staying so closely with Harry during OotP even though all the action was elsewhere I was kinda p*ssed that JKR chose to do 2 whole chapters before even introducing Harry in this book. It was kind of rubbing our noses in it.

First chapter is unnecessary. Spinner's End is masterful. Sets everything up and throws in all the right red herrings and confusions. This is really Snape's book, so it makes sense to show him working the other side.

As to Slughorn, I love the way JKR finds common human faults and failings and builds whole teachers around them. Synchophant Slughorn is another great teacher creation. Can't wait to see Jim Broadbent play him in the movie!

I'm glad that this book has a decidedly lighter tone than OotP. JKR dispenses with Harry's grief in a couple of pages and then it's back to the carefree times of high school--girlfriends, sports, rivalries, etc. Not very realistic, but I was glad about it.

I was illin' this weekend with "women's complaints" so I spent all day yesterday reading HBP for comfort. I got to the Harry/Ginny kiss part. I'll have to go back and look over the early chapters at lunch time. I'll have more.

I love the Hermione & Ron antics in this book.

Maio 12, 2008, 10:26am

#6 -- "This is really Snape's book, so it makes sense to show him working the other side."

I knew there was a reason I liked this book so much!

Maio 12, 2008, 10:33am

I'm going to post my Chapter 2 notes now.

1. Poor Fox. I know it's not very deep but it had to be said.

2. I wonder what controls the volume of sound when apparating. Narcissa apparates with a faint pop, Bellatrix's is a slightly louder pop, Mundungus cracks in OotP, DD pops in SS/PS. I would say size but house-elves crack too, although maybe it's because they're magic is different. Is this a stupid thing to think about?

3. Suddenly the crush makes sense! "...the walls {of the sitting room} were completely covered in books" (I'm using {} as brackets () would normally be used, but it tried to touchstone when I did it the right way!)

4. Did Snape's info really lead to the capture and death of Emmeline Vance? If so was it pre-planned? Did Vance essentially sign up for a "suicide mission" to help Snape or was it a decoy Vance and she's now in hiding? I'm very troubled by this!

5. This is one of JKR's greatest misdirection (which is saying something!) To me it was always the twitch of his hand before the final vow that had me believing that such a thing had been discussed with DD already.

I'm not sure how much of that made sense, please ask for clarification if you need it!

Maio 12, 2008, 11:20am

I think Snape only made an Unbreakable Vow because he had already promised Dumbledore. Perfect setup for a double agent.

This seals the deal for poor Snape, tho. Now he can't go back on it. Does the fact that Hagrid sees DD & Snape arguing later in the book mean Snape was willing to die rather than kill DD? Or did I miss something?

I love Snape.

Maio 12, 2008, 11:34am

I wanted to join in on this but didn't get a chance to read because my 9 year old brother-in-law was staying with us for the weekend but i just want to say

I also love snape!

Maio 12, 2008, 11:45am

Try to read it tonight if you can Mands, we don't care if you join in late!

Yes, I believe Snape only made the Unbreakable Vow because he had promised DD too, it was the twitch of the hand that gave him away that he was truly on DD's side, for he could have made the promise to DD and been on LV's side too. As for what Hagrid overheard, I'll have to wait til we get there to comment.

Editado: Maio 12, 2008, 12:17pm

ok i'll try, don't say anything too interesting in the mean time guys ;) j/k

Maio 12, 2008, 12:50pm

So I wrote out all my Chapter 3 notes and then LT went down. Grrrrrr.....

1. I like this recap of OotP events more than most recaps. I liked the way she took us around the room, reading the various articles, it felt peaceful.

2. I'm having a hard time imagining Gambon doing most of this scene. To me, DD should be extremely calm in this scene, overly polite, I can't see Gambon doing that. I do think he'll do well with "You have not done as I asked..." and the ensuing speech, that should be downright scary to the Dursleys!

3. I like the phrase "blatant wizardishness of his appearance". Regardless of how much anyone knows of his sexuality, he's out and proud as a wizard!

4. "We have corresponded of course" We now know that he was likely not referring to the Howler as Harry thinks but to their much earlier correspondance when she was a girl. This is probably why Petunia reacts as she does.

5. I love Dumbledore. I actually said that out loud to my mother as I was reading this chapter, so I thought I should say it here as well!

6. I wonder if Dudley is frowning because he is trying to figure out when he was abused, as suggested, or if it's because he's been listening and is starting to figure out what's going on with Harry, which of course brings him to the point of that awesome scene in DH!

Maio 12, 2008, 1:59pm

All of this Snapey love! It warms my heart. Bib, your point about the books cracks me up.

I really like point 6 of post #13, as well, Bib. We see relatively little of Dudley, but his character development in the last three books is interesting to watch.

Maio 12, 2008, 2:39pm

I'll admit it, Snape's house sounds awesome! Granted we only saw the sitting room, but with a room like that, who needs anything else really?!

Maio 12, 2008, 2:41pm

I like the first chapter. I don't think it is there so much for the information JKR gives us but rather to show us that Voldemort's influence and actions aren't confinded to the wizarding world. The muggles are affected just as much without the benefit of knowing why all of these things are happening. Even the PM only knows what is passed on to him by Fudge. That has to frustrating. I also think it shows that Fudge is returning to his normal self rather than the power-hungry, fear-driven madman he had become by OoP.

Maio 12, 2008, 2:42pm

#15 -- Good point. Snape's house is supposed to sound depressing, but I found it rather . . . intriguing. (I figured it was just me.) All of those books! This is really the only picture that we get of a Hogwarts teacher in the "off-season."

Maio 12, 2008, 2:43pm

I always thought it was sad that Snape ended up back at his childhood home. With Wormtail.

Maio 12, 2008, 2:45pm

I liked the first chapter. The book came out in 2005, shortly before Hurricane Katrina, and although JKR couldn't predit what would happen (that we know of), I remember re-reading the first chapter post-katrina and found so many parallels between the fiction and the events in N.O.

Maio 12, 2008, 2:46pm

#18 -- elle, you saw Sweeney Todd right? There's a scene where Rickman and whatshisname, the actor who plays Wormtail, are standing together in a library. When I saw that scene in the movie, I was strongly reminded of this scene in the books.

/topic derailment

Maio 12, 2008, 2:57pm

#16 & 19: I don't want it to sound like I don't like the chapter! I love everything JKR has written if for no other reason than that the more words she writes the longer I get to live in Harry's world. In the grand scheme of the books though, it's not necessary to have this chapter, the plot would hold up just fine without it. I do like this chapter though!

#17: The only thing wrong with it that I can see is there's not enough light, I'm a big fan of natural light, but hey, a door hidden behind a wall of books, that the dream!!!

Maio 12, 2008, 3:07pm

I love how good a student of human behaviour Dumbledore is. He knows that Slughorn will not be able to resist having taught the great Harry Potter on his resume. Also one of my fav lines in the series, being that I'm a knitter. "I love knitting patterns." btw, this is another of the many, many clues about DD's sexuality, imho. This book is full of them. "Nice suit, sir."

I was surprised anyone was surprised that DD is gay.

Maio 12, 2008, 3:14pm

Okay, I'm going to go ahead and post my Chapter 4 thoughts and then finish later tonight:

1. I wonder if you have to "deliberate" on the side-along person to avoid splinching them. I would think this would be more difficult than apparating alone.

2. I always assumed Madam Bones' locked door murder was Voldy apparating -- but surely she had anti-apparition charms in place....(and don't call me Shirley)

3. I love when we get little insights like DD's favoirte flavor jam. I like raspberry too.

4. I was thinking about the genius of JKR giving us so much DD in this book, so that the end really means something.

5. Does anyone else picture a Disney movie with the magical cleanup? Some sort of Magician's Apprentice, Sword in the Stone, Cinderella, Enchanted hybrid?

6. Interesting to me that Slughorn names the editor of the Daily Prophet as one of his "people". Obviously he doesn't put much stock into the DP since he's been on the run for a year and the DP has only been admitting that LV is back for a month or so at this point!

7. I wonder if DD wants Harry to keep the cloak on him in part b/c he might be worried about the Hallows after discovering the stone.

Maio 12, 2008, 3:19pm

#22 The knitting pattern thing was the impetous for me deciding to teach myself how to knit yesterday!

I wasn't surprised about DD either, I hadn't ever really thought about it one way or the other.

Maio 12, 2008, 3:40pm

Then again, finding "clues" is stereotyping. I really thought she was giving it away, tho.

Re: the cloak. I think you're right, bib, about why DD wants Harry to keep it close.

Maio 12, 2008, 4:32pm

I am another one who thoroughly enjoyed the first chapter, I feel that it began the book with a humourous touch that set the mood so we weren't already in suspense when we got to spinners end.

I was totally sick of Bellatrix by the end of this chapter and feeling a bit sorry for Narcissa, she seems almost human

I loved the picture of Harry sleeping against the window, altho I do think he should have been packed already...the paper articles were a good intro into what was happening
Then there is the appaearance of DD at the front door and the way the Dursleys react. I loved the way DD kept saying things like ....let us assume that you have invited me warmly into your home.....
I loved the glasses of mead knocking against their heads and most of all I loved DD finally telling the Dursleys off!

Editado: Maio 12, 2008, 7:33pm

I am going to post my thoughts and then go back and read the others. Sorry if I repeat anything

Chapter One: The Other Minister

I think this is a good introduction to the book, but I remember during the first read I just wanted the main story to start.

In my head I never see Tony Blair or the new guy as the minister, I see Hugh Grant! He could play the part in the movie, but I bet it gets cut.

I really didn’t see the sacking of Fudge coming, but the last movie alluded to it in the newspapers at the end.

Good quote: “But for heavens sake – you’re wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out – well – anything!” “The trouble is, the other side can do magic too, Prime Minister.”

Chapter Two: Spinner’s End

The description of Spinner’s End really reminded me of Dickens’ novels.

This chapter just goes to show that Draco is a boy that only a mother could love :)

I would love to see Rickman and Carter go at it in the movie, but this will probably be cut out, too. Maybe not, because the oath really sheds some doubt on Snape.

First time I read this I also felt “get on with the story JKR!” Much more enjoyable the second time around.

Maio 12, 2008, 7:32pm

Chapter Three: Will and Won’t

Newspapers: nice setting up the story, but a little redundant?

Why wouldn’t Harry pack? He was afraid Dumbledore wouldn’t come, but has he ever been stood up before when it came to leaving the Dursley’s?

Dumbledore is great here, “Let’s assume you have invited me in,” zooming the couch forward, the goblets bouncing off their heads!

Great part when the Dursley’s try and figure out how Dudley has been mistreated.

Chapter Four: Horace Slughorn

Pretty clever of Harry to convince Slughorn that Hogwarts was the safest place to be. Is this a forshadowing of how Dumbledore uses Harry as a means to and end.

Slughorn is hard to figure out. I am never sure if I like him or not. I guess it goes with the old saying that there are not just good people and deatheaters.

When Dumbledore showed up to take Harry from Dursley’s I figured he would be the one to die in this book. Once he offered private lessons, I knew it. Before that I always thought Dumbledore would die in the last book.

Chapter Five: An Excess of Phlegm

Ever since Harry pulled her sister out of the lake, I have really liked Fleur. I think she gets a bad rap from the other women in the book. Maybe I would feel different if I had to be around her and see the reactions of all the guys.

Glad they got their OWLs! I had been dying to know their scores. I am such a geek!

Maio 12, 2008, 7:38pm

#28 I think that Harry is really worried that Dumbledore will still be cold to him. He just spent an entire year being avoided by Dumbledore, what's there to change the reception other than DD's word? I do think that he's really stupid not to pack, but I'm the exact same way when I'm going somewhere I really want to.


Maio 12, 2008, 7:51pm

#28: You are not a geek! I was dying to know their scores, too! After they were such a big part of OoP, I would have thrown the book across the room if JKR hadn't included them.

Editado: Maio 12, 2008, 7:59pm

1:Bib - Maybe that's why I enjoyed these chapters! No angst!

2:Bib - 1.I think British Prime Ministers can stay in office indefinitely. 2.I guess we now know that he can be killed.

6:LG - That was cool seeing Snape "working the other side." He was a genius!

8:Bib - 3.What crush? Snape's for Lily? Because he was well read? Maybe it is all our crushes on Snape? :)

9:LG - Is that what happens when you break an unbreakable curse? You die? I thought maybe your body just went through with it, or something, even if you didn't want to.

10:Mandy - Your sister married a nine-year-old!

13:Bib - 6.I thought that, too, and maybe that Dudley was finally getting a clue!

17:Foggi - I was surprised he had a house. They are at Hogwarts for 10 months teaching. I always figured they lived there in the summer, too.

18:El - Good point. There can't be very many happy memories there, and who would want to spend time with Wormtail!

20:Foggi - Rickman is in Sweeny Todd? I might have to see it after all. I haven't because gore really isn't my thing.

23:Bib - 7.I wondered about DD telling Harry to always carry the cloak. Did he intend it for Harry's protection? It just seemed to get him into more danger. In just the next chapter he goes off following Draco into Knockturn Alley.

26:Polly - I felt sorry for Narcissa, too. I was surprised how she acted in the forrest at the end of DH, but I had forgotten about this chapter. It makes her actions more understandable. She doesn't just live for Voldemort like Bellatrix.

27+28: You made some really good points! Oh, wait, that is me ;)

Maio 12, 2008, 8:27pm

#27 I do think Spinner's End will be in the movie, it's needed for the misdirection. Hugh Grant would be great as the P.M., do you think they could some how slip him dancing to the Pointer Sisters in there somehow?

#31 I was talking specifically about foggi's Snape crush, but yeah, everyone's various Snape crushes in general.

Maio 12, 2008, 8:30pm

Okay, here are my Chapter 5 notes:

1. Mr. Weasley is so cute.

2. Ginny is so awesome!

3. I start tearing up when Harry tells Hermione and Ron about the prophecy, I'd have loved to have friends like that in High School.

4. I remember how surprised I was to discover that T was actually a grade and not a joke!

Sorry, this wasn't exactly the most in depth note taking I've done, there really wasn't much to this chapter!

Maio 12, 2008, 8:55pm

I think it's nicely done how Harry's feelings for Ginny kind of sneak up on him. In chpt 5 she's always around being funny. *Sudden rage at how she was given short shrift in DH* Oops, sorry.

Editado: Maio 12, 2008, 9:31pm

Not to mention in the last movie, LG. She should have had some great lines in there. All the Weasleys got shorted.

Maio 12, 2008, 9:35pm

Totally! I really hope Bonnie gets what she deserves in the movie! BTW, I was surfing this weekend and found some "Behind the Scenes" HBP stuff that had a tiny snippet just before the kiss!

Maio 13, 2008, 1:28pm

#33.4 -- Have I already ranted about "T" being an actual grade? I can see it being included as one of the twins' jokes, but having it as a grade is just stupid. I mean, I can see "t" standing for "Terrible" and the twins telling them that it's for "Troll," but having "Troll" as an actual grade just doesn't work for me. Organizations that do standardized tests, even in the wizarding world, do not have a sense of humor.

Maio 13, 2008, 1:39pm

Wouldn't it be great if they did though? I agree, T standing for "Terrible" would have made more sense.

Maio 13, 2008, 4:01pm

#38 -- Like the line from Men in Black: "We at the FBI do not have a sense of humor that we are aware of, ma'am."

Maio 13, 2008, 8:34pm

I liked Kreacher lying on his back giving Harry a look of deepest loathing, reminds me of a toddler having a tantrum

Maio 13, 2008, 10:20pm

I always like that part too. The Kreacher that lives in my head is cuter than the movie Kreacher, which makes it even better.

Maio 15, 2008, 3:37pm

agreed, most of the characters in my head are cuter then the movie ones

Maio 15, 2008, 3:44pm

This begins a whole 'nother rant about the CG characters from the movies. So let's take the high road and not descend into griping about things we cant change :).

I don't really have any other insights to add, other than that I love the scene with Dumbledore and the Dursleys. It just the epitome of the Dursleys' feelings toward wizards. They don't want to admit that magic exists even when shown blatant truth. Priceless.

Jun 18, 2008, 2:53pm

I am determined to finish my reread, with notes, and post on these threads! I like this book too much to let it slip through the cracks in my own reread!

So, here are my notes. Sorry if some of them are redundant.

Chapter 1

1) I feel a twinge of pity for the Muggle Prime Minister here. He knows that he's being blamed for stuff that's not his fault, but if he tells anyone the truth, they'd have him committed.

2) I wonder why Fudge doesn't apparate into the PM's office? Maybe they have muggle governmental buildings protected from apparition (as Hogwarts is) to keep dark wizards from taking over the Muggle world?

3) How did Fudge know about Sirius' murder? The witnesses were either Order of the Phoenix or Death Eaters -- does Fudge know about the Order? Or is he just taking Dumbledore's word for everything now?

4) Couldn't they have kept the Bones and Vance murders out of the news? Did the Muggle police get to the crime scenes before wizarding authorities?

Chapter 2

1) We really get a sense of Narcissa and Bellatrix as sisters here, which I kind of like.

2) Snape's hair is often described as hanging around his face "like curtains" -- I think this is particularly apt, as Snape is a very private person, and as he is good at hiding his emotions (usually).

3) For some reason, I just love the line, "He has lately taken to listening at doors, I don't know what he means by it."

4) I also love Snape twitting Bellatrix with Azkaban and the Ministry fiasco -- words are his weapon of choice, and he uses them well.

5) Both sides know that Snape is a double agent -- it all comes down to trust. Really, I'm surprised that Voldy trusts Snape; I didn't think that Voldy trusted anyone. DD's trust, on the other hand, does not surprise me.

6) Bellatrix accuses Snape of avoiding action -- I just thought that was interesting, since it's basically the same thing Snape taunted Sirius with in OotP.

7) The purpose of this entire chapter (this entire book?) is to build ambiguity about Snape.

More notes later!

Jun 18, 2008, 6:20pm

Fudge has Death Eaters as prisoners now, a little Veritaserum and he'd know that what DD told him about Sirius was true.

Chap 2.3 I agree, great line. I hope Rickman gets to say it!

Jun 18, 2008, 6:27pm

Notes, continued . . .

Chapter 3

1) Neville's Gran is prouder of him than he supposes.

2) Like Espy, I understand Harry's packing procrastination better than I would like to!

3) This whole scene with DD and the Dursleys is my favorite Dumbledore scene ever! Soooooo many good lines!

4) "We have corresponded" -- there is so much more history there than Harry knows!

5) I was a bit surprised that DD gave Harry a glass of mead -- after all, Harry is still underage, even for a wizard.

6) Like others, I love Kreacher's "one upside-down look of deepest loathing" -- Kreacher has spunk, for a house-elf!

7) I wonder why JKR decided upon 17 as "of age" for wizards? Of course, "coming of age" is such a fluid concept anyway that any number people attempt to attach to it is pretty arbitrary.

Jun 18, 2008, 6:32pm

#46.5: Remember it's England where you can drink in your own home under adult supervision much earlier than here. Harry's 16, it would be quite normal there! Same goes for later when Slughorn gives them the mead (although I would think maybe a little weirder being at school...)

Jun 18, 2008, 6:42pm

Chapter 4

1) Love the line "You are with me," and the way it is echoed at the end of the book.

2) Apparition: yet another un-enjoyable Wizard travel experience. You'd think they'd find a comfortable way to get from here to there, but either you're freezing your tush on a broomstick, getting whirled around in Floo Powder, getting thrown around on the Knight Bus, getting a hook around your stomach with a portkey, or getting squeezed through an inner tube with apparition! I think I'll walk, thanks.

3) Why doesn't DD just give a brief explanation of what happened to his arm? "Oh, I was handling a cursed object, and I wasn't careful enough," would be close enough to the truth. Maybe he likes preserving that air of mystery?

4) DD says that the first time Voldy was in power, he killed enough people to make "an army of Inferi" -- who? Just wizards? Wizards and Muggles? Is this hyperbole on DD's part? I mean, we do see them later, in the lake -- I guess I never realized the scope of Voldy's earlier killings before.

5) Slughnorn's Intruder Charm -- how did it know they were coming 2-3 minutes before they arrived? Does it sense anyone apparating in that part of the town? Are there no other wizards around? Wouldn't it be going off all the time?

6) I'm still not sure why DD wants Harry to always carry his Invisibility Cloak. Of course, Harry doesn't do a great job of following this advice, anyhow.

Chapter 5

1) Poor Tonks! I know just how she feels. (All of the lovelorn have my sympathy, in any book I read.)

2) Poor Mollywobbles! ;-) And in front of Harry, too! If I were either of them, I would have been beet red.

3) The clock, like any Dark Detector, has its limitations -- sounds like it was overloaded with all of the dangers facing the wizarding community.

4) As I was reading this chapter, I think that I felt sorry for everyone, with the possible exception of Fleur, at one point or another!

5) I love how JKR has the kids jump to the wrong conclusions about why Molly is inviting Tonks to dinner, and about why Tonks is depressed -- it sets up that subplot extremely well.

6) Hermione should have known better than to mess with Gred and Forge's merchandise.

7) It bears repeating: I hate that "Troll" is a grade.

Yaaayyyyy! I'm that much closer to being caught up!

Jun 18, 2008, 6:43pm

#47 -- Good point. I guess the weirdness, for me, was more about DD being Harry's headmaster. I guess he was, in a sense, his guardian, but the relationship has never been quite that informal. Maybe this sets up the fact that DD and Harry are going to be on different terms in this book.