In the past two weeks, everyone from Harold Bloom to Jay Leno has had a chance to talk about J.K. Rowling’s new book, the 752-page “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” But while discussion has ranged from the literary merits of the book to how Scholastic was able to pull off an astounding 3.8 million-copy print run in nearly absolute secrecy, a handful of fans have noticed what may or may not be a slip on Rowling’s part.
One of the most highly praised features of the Harry Potter series has been the detailed history of the world that surrounds its orphaned hero. But during the climactic confrontation at the conclusion of “Goblet of Fire,” the very order in which Harry’s parents were murdered by the evil Lord Voldemort seems to be brought into question. During the high-stakes battle between Voldemort and Harry, as a result of complications in the wands that they both use, Harry forces the ghosts of all those whom Voldemort has killed with his wand to eject themselves momentarily into the living world.
The book specifically notes that they emerge in the reverse of the order in which they were killed. First comes Cedric, the popular Hogwarts Quidditch player, who was most recently killed by Voldemort, then the groundskeeper of the Riddle Estate (whose murder was excerpted in Newsweek), then “missing” witch Bertha Jorkins, followed by Harry’s parents. Here is where fans of the series are scratching their heads. Margo Alexandra, a student at the University of Chicago, was one of many who noticed that “Harry’s parents come out in the wrong order.”
Rowling’s previous books have indicated that Harry’s father died first, in an attempt to protect his wife and child, and that only after his failure was Harry’s mother killed, while placing a spell over her son that granted him some form of protection from Voldemort. But when the ghosts start coming out of Voldemort’s wand, Harry’s dad comes out first, with his mother close behind.
Was the discrepancy a mistake? A slip-up? Or something more? What other plot twists might J.K. Rowling have up her sleeve? The only thing her fans can do is sit back, maybe reread the first book or two, gripe about the upcoming movie and wait for “Harry Potter V.”