Friday, March 30, 2007

Cover art! Wheeee!

Thrilling, confounding, gorgeous cover art! Be sure you’re sitting down when you look. High-resolution artwork has been released today by Scholastic and Bloomsbury. [View the images at The Leaky Galleries]

Treasure! Patronus! Locket! Silver Hogwarts? Strange triangle/circle emblem! Veils? Hallows? We're trying not to hyperventilate.

The artist for the American editions is again Mary GrandPré, and the artist for the UK children’s edition is Jason Cockcroft.

We've included some AQ staffer commentary. You can see there is no one right answer!

Bloomsbury children's edition, images from left to right

1) Fanged snake in what appears to be a crystal ball or orb. Reflections in the glass appear to be either open doors or windows.
Lisa: I think this is a vision in a crystal ball of Nagini. Who is looking into it? Whose ball is it?
Julia: Is it a hint that Nagini is indeed a Horcrux? Has Nagini been trapped in glass for some reason? By Harry, his friends or the Order? Is Harry having more visions? Does this lead into the Harry= Horcrux idea? Another prophesy? Does the zoo Boa make another appearance?
2) Nighttime scene (full moon!) with a storm of some sort rolling in from the left. There is a castle with tree consistent with depictions of Hogwarts and the Whomping Willow, however the castle is either icy or silver, and the tree has no leaves. This is odd because the grass in front of the castle is green. All the windows are lit and a large doorway is open with warm yellow light shining through.
Lisa: I think Hogwarts is being attacked by Dementors and -- are those giants in the clouds? The full moon may mean that werewolves are about also.
Julia: Yet more proof that Hogwarts will feature in the final volume.
3) Equilateral triangle that appears to be carved into marble. The triangle contains a circle; both are bisected vertically.
Lisa: This looks to me like an alchemical symbol, though I can't find any that are perfect matches. I think it is something Jo made up for some purpose. Is it a monogram? A symbol for a secret society? The entrance to the treasure room?

Julia: "In essence divided"? Whatever it is, it is important just as the ring on the spine of HBP was important.
4) Stone arch the frames the trio and quite a lot of treasure. Harry, Ron and Hermione seem to be either jumping through the arch or being sucked into it; Harry is almost completely horizontal. Harry has wounds showing through his torn clothing; Hermione also has wounds on her arms. On Harry's back is a small, pale creature with long fingernails and pointed ears holding a dagger with a ruby pommel.

The trio all seem to be having different reactions. Ron (wearing embroidered green robes) is focused off to the left and has his mouth open as if surprised or frightened. Hermione (wearing purple embroidered robes) is focused off to the right and seems to be screaming or shouting. Harry (wearing a plain black t-shirt or sweater) appears to be speaking, his hands are in a warding or conjuring gesture. His eyes are focused straight ahead and something bright is reflected in his glasses. Golden treasure is all around: coins, gemstones (all rubies), silvery armor (snake on front? gryphon?), glass flagons or vials, plates, goblets, a ewer, a helmet with a dragon and rubies on it, and possibly a Celtic torc. No one is holding a wand.
Lisa: Due to all the rubies, I think this is mostly a Gryffindor treasure vault. I also think that Harry looks like he's seen something important and is casting a spell. Why the rich robes for Hermione and Ron? Has there been some sort of ceremony? Did they come here from a place that had cool robes they were trying on? And if that is Dobby on Harry's back, where are his clothes?

Julia: The location could be in a number of places: Gringotts, the Room of Requirement, at the house of some collector like Hepzibah Smith, the ministry (they must have a treasury), Mundungus's lair, a goblin armoury/workshop, trophy room in Hogwarts or Borgin and Burke's.
The red light in the arch may be fire, an explosion or curse, so it makes sense that the figures are diving away from it. Harry is definitely diving. Ron is also jumping away, somewhat awkwardly and Hermione is also diving a bit awkwardly. They don't have Harry's Quidditch reflexes, you see.
Dobby is clutching tightly to Harry, but the way he is holding the sword is like a call to arms, even though his eyes are squeezed tightly shut.
Clothing: Ron and Hermione have just been at some kind of party or formal occasion as the clothes they are wearing are rich in detail and like dress robes. This scene looks kinda climactic so I don't think is is immediately after Bill and Fleur's wedding. Harry is wearing plainer clothes but the right arm of his clothes looks a bit ornate or else badly worn. It's kinda blurred. They have just been in a fight.
5) Silvery stag consistent with descriptions of Harry's Patronus. It is lifting its head up and almost looks like it is smiling.
Lisa: for me, this is a symbol of hope that Harry will survive.
Bloomsbury adult edition
An oval gold locket laying on a background of dark stone. The locket has an engraved "S" that is studded with small cabochon green stones.
Julia: Last time (HBP) it was perplexing, but this time it is a real no-brainer. It shows Slytherin’s locket against a stone backdrop. The most perplexing thing about this is the backdrop as it may hint the location of the locket. I like the detail on the locket also. The emeralds make you think of the emeralds that were on the columns in the chamber of secrets, so it is definitely THE locket. What does the Adult UK cover tell us? The locket may mot be in any of the places that we have being speculating about
Lisa: Yes, I agree that it is definitely the Slytherin locket, although the stones look like turquoises to me. Something that seems odd to me is that if the Slytherin locket is the same locket found at 12 Grimmauld Place, why didn't Harry notice the big "S?" All we know about the Grimmauld locket is that it is heavy gold and that no one could open it.
Scholastic edition
Harry and Voldemort are in a ruined arena (colosseum? amphitheater?) open to a fiery sunset sky, wearing brown robes with their hands outstretched. Tattered rust-colored curtains frame the picture on both sides, and quite a few people appear to be watching. Both Voldemort and Harry are gazing up at the same point off to the upper right. Their hands are outstretched; Voldemort looks like he is warding something off and Harry looks like he is calling it to him. Neither one has a wand. Broken and possibly burned wooden beams are in the foreground. Harry is wearing something around his neck (detail below).

Description from David Saylor, Scholastic's art director: “The front cover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows features a dramatic sky of oranges and golds. It depicts 17-year-old Harry with arm outstretched, reaching upward. The structures around Harry show evident destruction and in the shadows behind him, we see outlines of other people. For the first time the cover is a wrap-around. On the back cover spidery hands are outstretched towards Harry. Only when the book is opened does one see a powerful image of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, his glowing red eyes peering out from his hood.” (Scholastic press release)

Lisa: I think that the "Deathly Hallows" is a place and that this is what it looks like. Harry and Voldemort are being tested and are not fighting each other. I would really love to know how Grindelwald died. The shadows watching are shadows of the dead, like a ghostly Wizengamot. The rubble is there simply because it is an ancient building.

I like the way Mary GranPré has depicted Harry. It’s a vast improvement on her earlier covers, bar OOTP, which is my now my second favorite of the US editions. He looks more manly than he did on the HBP cover.

The curtains: Although Mary GranPré has used curtains as a motif on earlier covers (PS/SS, fittingly enough!), I think it means more here. This is the last book, so it is figuratively and literally showing the final curtain or close of the series. It may show beyond the veil (see explanation below). This impression is heightened by the colour scheme which is like a sunset but also like some representations of the afterlife.

The rubble: An indication that a battle has just taken place. The final battle? Or it may refer to the wreckage of some familiar building such as Godric’s Hollow or Hogwarts, which would bring the story full circle.

The structure in the background: It looks like the railway bridge that is often shown in the films but it also looks like an arena of the Colosseum in Rome. Its classical looking anyway - and old - there is a large fissure running down it on one side.

The two main figures: What is interesting, considering that it is Voldemort & Harry, is that it is not very confrontational. Neither is holding a wand and they are both facing towards something outside of the scene and not each other.

Harry: Harry is half facing Voldemort, but it is evident that he is showing Voldemort something. Harry has a very focused look, like he is concentrating a bit, but it is evident from his face and his gesture that he welcomes whatever it is that he is showing Voldemort.

Voldemort: Voldemort is almost exactly the reverse. He has his arms and hands outstretched too, but he seems to be almost backing away from whatever it is and he seems to be fending it from himself = logical conclusion, it is either love or death, or something associated with an afterlife such as the departed. After all, you only have to look at LV’s reaction to priori incantatem to know that he would not welcome the reappearance of those he has killed.

More light on the title?: If I am right, the Scholastic cover shows the Deathly Hallows = the afterlife. The vague other figures in the background could therefore be those that have already died. Or they could be a collective crowd of whatever remains of the Death Eaters and the Order – but that is a more prosaic idea.

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