Don't judge a book by its cover — unless it's the last "Harry Potter" volume.
Three different covers for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" — one for the U.S., and adult and children's versions for the U.K. — were released Wednesday (March 28). They reveal a few things we knew — and a few we didn't — about what's to come in book seven (see "Final 'Harry Potter' Book's Release Set As Films' Star Fights Controversy"). We knew a confrontation was brewing between Harry and his nemesis, Lord Voldemort, but the cover art reveals the battle — and it's wand-less.
(See how fans are reacting to the new covers in this video this video; feast your eyes on all three "Deathly Hallows" covers or check out new photos from the "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" film.)
Fold together the full jacket to the U.S. version, and Harry and Voldemort are facing off in what appears to be a coliseum of sorts — if not the actual Quidditch Stadium — with wood beams broken around them. Curtains, for some unknown reason, are gathered off to the side, making their wizards' duel appear as if on a stage. The onlookers are also on the side, but only identified by their shadows. Harry, who is wearing an amulet or pouch around his neck, is looking skyward with his left arm outstretched, reaching up, while Voldemort's red snake eyes are pointed either at Harry or at what Harry might be summoning. Perhaps he's doing an "Accio" spell — calling for his broom, as he did in "Goblet of Fire" when facing a dragon — but whatever is coming his way, he doesn't seem afraid.
The wand wouldn't be the best option, considering Harry and Voldemort's face-off in "Goblet," when they discovered their wands were useless against each other. Their wands are, in a sense, brothers — claiming at their core a tail feather from the same phoenix, Fawkes, who only gave up two. When their wands last met, Harry saw the shadows of Voldemort's last kills, thanks to Priori Incantatem, a reversing-spell effect. If Harry has progressed in his magical education, he might be at the point where he can do more wand-less magic — so it's anyone's guess what magic, if any, he's using, and if he's using it to save himself or someone else. Same for what he's got around his neck — but our bet is that it contains a Horcrux.
As faithful readers of "Half-Blood Prince" will recall, Harry has vowed to find all the remaining Horcruxes, which Voldemort has used to house parts of his soul via a form of the darkest magic that has allowed him to be essentially immortal. The only way to truly vanquish Voldemort, then, is to locate and destroy the Horcruxes, an estimated six in all, to create seven pieces of soul. A few have already been destroyed — Tom Riddle's diary (in "Chamber of Secrets"), a ring — but the last one that Harry had found, an amulet, had been replaced by a fake. It could be telling, then, that the cover of the U.K. version of "Deathly Hallows" depicts an amulet — perhaps the very amulet that Harry desperately needs. Harry's task in "The Deathly Hallows" is to leave what should have been the safe places of his world — Privet Drive, the Burrow, even Hogwarts — and find the talismans before Voldemort or his supporters, the Death Eaters, do.
The cover of the U.K. children's version of "Deathly Hallows" reveals one more clue: that Harry's search won't be alone. On this cover, Harry is falling into — or out of — a treasure trove, along with Ron and Hermione. Jewels, coins and armor surround them, but they don't look happy to be there — and an unidentified house elf behind Harry is armed with a sword.
"We're seeing Harry in a very interesting situation," the book's editor, Arthur A. Levin, said on the "Today" show Wednesday. "Readers will find out exactly what the situation is. ... We do know that someone's going to die ... It is a very, very emotional book."
Check out everything we've got on "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
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