The final Harry Potter novel is due out tomorrow, and most bookstores are treating that as one minute past midnight tonight. Our copy will be arriving by mail tomorrow, because we did the Amazon preorder deal, which should save us some money over buying it in a bookstore.
I thought I'd record some predictions as to what will happen in the seventh book before my predictions could be tainted by actually seeing the book. Since some may read this who haven't read through book six yet, I'll put the predictions in an extended entry to leave the front page free of spoilers for earlier books.
1: J.K. Rowling's Christianity is going to show its influence much more strongly in this book. It's become clear that death is a key theme in this series. Voldemort is trying to prevent his own death. That's his highest priority. Dumbledore insists that there are worse things than death, and Voldemort has done many of them in order to avoid dying. There's the veil Sirius Black fell through, which seems to have something to do with death. There's also an issue with why some people remain as ghosts, and others do not. Dumbledore really is dead, she says, but she also said that he was giving her trouble as she was writing. These are cryptic references mostly, but she has said that we'll find out more about all of those things. I don't think this means Harry will die, and I don't think it means he won't. I'm not actually going to predict that. I do expect that something in this book will reflect Rowling's Christian convictions, however, and I suspect one place will be with these death-related issues.
2. There's more to Snape than any of the three major theories would have it. I do think he's sincerely working with the Order of the Phoenix for the purposes of fighting Voldemort. I don't think he's primarily working for Voldemort. I don't think he's in it for himself as if he could beat Voldemort and then take over as the baddest bad guy. (I'm amazed that theory is so popular.) But I don't think this is the whole story. I'm not sure Dumbledore was aware of all Snape was up to, and I'm not sure Dumbledore planned for Snape to kill him, as some have thought.
Something else is going on, I suspect. I wonder if Snape didn't know Malfoy's task but had been bluffing when he made the unbreakable vow, and I wonder if he didn't tell Dumbledore. But maybe he did, and maybe he was under orders to kill Dumbledore. But something in that night's events surprised Dumbledore, and I think some of it may have been a surprise to Snape. But I don't think Snape is at root a Death Eater. We're too used to Harry seeing only the wrong information about Snape to think that's the whole story.
3. Wormtail will turn on Voldemort. Dumbledore predicted that Harry's sparing him from Sirius and Lupin would turn out to help Harry, and I suspect that was foreshadowing rather than a red herring. He serves Voldemort out of fear rather than genuine devotion, and if he sees a chance to rid the world of Voldemort he may well take it.
I suspect all of the people who in some sense "owe" Harry will end up helping him in the end. There have been suggestions that James Potter's saving of Snape's life have led him to protect Harry, and Dobby obviously owes Harry for his freedom. Kreacher will seek to undermine Harry somehow, but there will be some way his obligations to Harry as Sirius' heir will be important. As some have suggested, he may be hoarding a horcrux unawares.
4. If I had to guess on deaths, I would predict that Harry, Ron, and Hermione will all survive. I don't think it would be bad storytelling if any or all of them died, but I think she would spare all of them. That's my expectation. In an interview she said she'd want to have dinner with the three of them, and then she stopped and wouldn't name any others, saying she knows who survives, as if those three do survive and she couldn't name those who don't. That's not a compelling argument, but I think she slipped there.
Who do I think are likely candidates for dying? I think Hagrid will either die or marry his half-giant sweetheart. At least one of those indebted to Harry that I listed in #3 will die in sacrifice to prevent Harry's death, to help kill Voldemort, or to stop him from either doing something awful or attaining immorality. We'll probably have at least one gratuitous death of a somewhat major character, not ultimately serving any purpose in terms of stopping Voldemort. That should be the nature of a war like this.
5. Voldemort is going to come very close to winning, where winning is defined as some combination of the following: (a) attaining immorality, (b) becoming undiputable ruler over the magical world (and perhaps even the Muggle world), (c) killing almost all the main characters before they accomplish their objectives, (d) killing or enslaving all Muggles.
6. Grawp will serve some significant purpose. The giant's only purpose so far was to save them from the centaurs in book five and to keep Hagrid away from Umbridge most of the year. What little of him was in book six doesn't count for much.
7. Sirius' falling into the veil rather than dying in a normal way will be important, but I have no idea how.
8. We will see some Dumbledore, even though he is dead and even though he will not be pulling a Gandalf (as Rowling put it in an interview). This may be as simple as a portrait, but it may be because of some connection with the realm of the dead. I have no prediction how, but Dumbledore will play a role. His brother Aberforth will also play a role, this time no longer anonymously as the bartender at the Hog's Head.
9. Percy Weasley will finally do something good in service of the right cause. He would be my first prediction of a Weasley dying if any will, and if he does it would be to sacrifice his life to protect someone else, but I don't think that's what will happen. I do think he'll do something to help, and I do think he'll reconcile with his family.
10. Ginny Weasley will demonstrate her considerable power as the seventh child, which we've only seen mere hints of.
11. Draco Malfoy will end up helping the Order of the Phoenix against Voldemort. I suspect Snape will convince him that he isn't really the evil type that Voldemort wants him to be, even if he's not very nice. Keep in mind that most of the bad things we've seen him do aren't a whole lot worse than what Harry's dad and Sirius used to do to Snape. I think that theme in past books was deliberate to prepare us for Malfoy's rejection of evil.
12. Rowling said a non-magic character will use magic late in life in a desperate situation. We only know two Squibs, and she said it wasn't Mrs. Figg, and she said Harry's Aunt Petunia isn't a squib. I think it's Filch. It could technically be just a Muggle, but I doubt it. It should be someone with magic ancestry.
13. We will not find out how Fred and George figured out the exact words to activate and deactivate the Marauder's Map.
14. Rowling said we'll discover some secret Aunt Pentunia has been hiding all along, one that puts her in a better light. She's also suggested that Dumbledore had been corresponding with her earlier in her life. My suspcision is that she's been doing some of the things she's done to Harry for some purpose that we still don't understand. But I can't imagine what that is.
I suppose that should suffice. There are plenty of things people speculate about, but 14 is a good multiple of 7. We'll find out soon enough how much of this is right.