The cover design for the deluxe edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released last Friday. Imagine my surprise and excitement as soon as I logged on and saw the news via Sword of Gryffindor. It was essentially the same reaction two years ago when I saw Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore walking in a forest in the deluxe cover for the sixth novel. This brilliant cover by Mary GrandPré raises a whole lot of questions; the main one concerning the dragon.
We have seen dragons before in the Harry Potter series especially with Norbert in PS/SS and explicitly in the second task in GOF. Since those are the first and fourth novels in the Septology, it was probably inevitable that we would see a dragon in the seventh novel. We just didn't see it coming. Is the dragon actually Norbert whisking Harry, Hermione, and Ron off to some horcrux hunting adventure? The old, torn wings suggest that this is an old dragon we are dealing with here and Norbert is only seven-years old. Dragons in myth and folklore tend to live a very long time so we can rule out Norbert. My guess was the Common Welsh Green. They are native to Wales and probably the only dragon species found in Great Britain. Where else would the Trio find a dragon? Through Charlie Weasley? We know he's an expert in dragons but what is the possibility that Ron's brother would just happen to have a dragon on him? I mean is Charlie going to give a dragon as a wedding present to Bill and Fleur? I highly doubt it. Perhaps they simply "borrowed" a dragon from Gringotts although I'm not sure how does one simply go up to a dragon and ride it. According to Ron in PS/SS, "you can’t tame dragons, it’s dangerous..." I suggested that maybe there is a way to gain a dragon's confidence like when you need to bow before a Hippogriff but there is no going around the fact that dragons are very dangerous creatures and the Trio's lack of experience with them.
One intriguing idea is that the dragon might be an animagus. Pat Henderson of Eeyore's Reflections has written that this cover reminds her of the third Narnia novel, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, "where Eustace turns into a dragon and then sheds the scales in his transformation into a new person, getting rid of the things that made him so horrid to others." Later on in her comments at Sword of Gryffindor, she makes the connection with Draco Malfoy because "Draco means dragon" and perhaps the cover shows "a transformed Draco, helping the trio to get somewhere?" Travis Prinzi reminds us that "Rowling has mentioned that Eustace is her favorite character from Narnia, which we covered here quite some time ago." The only drawback to all of this is that it's extremely difficult to become an animagus (the Marauders minus Remus Lupin all became animagi in their fifth year). Draco Malfoy does have exceptional magical ability. He created an enchanted coin using the difficult N.E.W.T. level Protean Charm to communicate with Madame Rosmerta in HBP and probably was responsible for the Imperius Curse on Rosmerta. He is also can do Occlumency, something that Harry never mastered. Draco certainly has the ability and since Draco failed to kill Dumbledore, he probably would think of some way to hide from Voldemort even if it is becoming an animagus. If true all this suggests a possible redemption for Draco Malfoy? JKR weighed in after her reading at Radio City Music Hall (August 1, 2006):
[T]here is the possibility of redemption for all of them. Draco, I think -- in Harry’s view, even given unlimited time, would not have killed (I assume all of you have finished the book? I don’t wish to deprive some kid who’s got 5 pages to go. They’ve been in a coma all this time.) Harry believes that Draco would not have murdered the person in question. What that means for Draco’s future? We’ll just have to wait and see.
I will find it interesting if JKR chooses to go there. But finally I want to move onto something I suggested in my comments at Sword of Gryffindor concerning dragon's blood. We all know from the chocolate frogs that Albus Dumbledore discovered the 12 uses of dragon's blood. JKR was asked by Kelsey Biggar (age 9) about the 12 uses and JKR answered, “I have a very good reason for not telling you — the movie script writer wants me to give him that information for the film. But I can say that the 12th use is oven cleaner” (Chonin, Neva. “Harry Potter’s Wizard: Creator of children’s book series tours Bay Area,” The San Francisco Chronicle, October 30, 1999). Based on this we can assume that dragon's blood will play a key role in DH including the potential that dragon’s blood can disarm a horcrux (of course if true this rules out my theory of Harry’s blood but we can’t know for sure until the book comes out). This could be interesting because in myth, dragon’s blood was known to be a poison, medicine, or acidic (check out the article on dragon’s blood at Wikipedia). In any case I find it interesting that back in 1999, JKR wasn’t answering any questions about dragon’s blood. Both Pat and NCMcGonagall mentioned that there was "an ornate crystal bottle with a large opal set into the stopper, full of what Harry was quite sure was blood" at Grimmauld Place in OOTP. The text doesn’t say it was dragon blood but given that dragon’s blood has 12 different uses and thereby making it valuable, we cannot rule out that possibility.
What village are they flying over? I tend to believe it is Godric's Hollow but there are other possibilities: Ottery St. Catchpole, Hogsmeade, or Little Hangleton. The sunset obviously indicates that it is late in the day and the evening is approaching. There is a cloudy mist and mountains and rivers surround the village. The cover is beautiful and harkens to some exciting moment in DH. This cover raises a great deal of questions and any attempt at deciphering the cover raises even more questions. If anything we will not know for sure until July 21, 2007. Only 40 days to go!