Welcome back, Potter 

The boy wizard's story is coming to an end. But how?

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Ten years ago, give or take, I graduated from college, got married and accepted my first real job.

I also became a Muggle.

In 1998, a friend recommended a new kids' book she'd just read. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was light, entertaining and, surprisingly, quite enjoyable.

It also was the beginning of what was to become the Potter phenomenon a series of novels that sucked up tweens, teens and adults into its magical world of witches and wizards and Muggles (the non-magical population). It excited and enraged. It got kids who hated reading to read. It gave parents and their children something to enjoy together. And thanks to its fantastical focus, it topped banned-books lists alongside the likes of classics Catcher in the Rye and Of Mice and Men.

This week brings J.K. Rowling's seventh and final novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which will be released at midnight July 21. As of today, more than 1.6 million copies of this installment have been pre-ordered on amazon.com alone. Add those and other bookstores' sales to the approximate 121.5 million books already sold in the series, and the total sales for the Harry Potter series, when it's all said and done, will likely top the number of Americans who watched Super Bowl XL in 2006.

In anticipation of the impending conclusion, I decided three weeks ago it was time to revisit the series. And today after taking 35 hours to read the 3,341 pages of the series to date, I'm hooked all over again.

The first four books are all about the magic and fancy. The reader jumps on the back of Harry's broomstick and is swept along for the ride to Hogwarts. They are true children's stories, full of whimsy and world-building.

By book five, the tone changes; Harry is growing up. He's got the basics down, and what he learns now is deeper and darker. He struggles with the whole "coming-of-age" thing, and the reader cringes with him through his experiences. In book six, the fight between good and evil becomes even more pronounced, and Harry's future turns scarier.

So where does that leave us for book seven? You've likely heard the predictions: Harry dies; Harry lives; Voldemort dies; Voldemort lives; Harry's a horcrux (if you don't what this is, you're way behind); Harry and Voldemort are each other's horcruxes. The list goes on and on.

My prediction, having reread all six books? I don't have one. A cop-out? Perhaps.

I won't deny that I've got my thoughts on what I'd like to see happen, but Rowling sums it up best on her Web site:

"I want the readers who have, in many instances, grown up with Harry, to embark on the last adventure they will share with him without knowing where they are going."

Where does that leave us? Who knows? But, if the seventh book is as good as her first six, when the world reaches the final page, there will be a large, collective, 10-years-in-the-making sigh.

And that's all we Muggles can hope for. kakens@csindy.com

Harry Potter parties

Books go on sale at all locations at midnight.

Costumes encouraged. All events are free.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers Midnight Magic Party

1565 Briargate Blvd., 266-9960

795 Citadel Drive East, 637-8282

Friday, July 20, 7 p.m.

Black Cat Books Release Party

720 Manitou Ave., 685-1589

Friday, July 20, 10 p.m.

Borders Books & Music Grand Hallows Ball

1710 Briargate Blvd., 266-1600

2120 Southgate Road, 632-6611

Friday, July 20, 9:30 p.m.

Poor Richard's Bookstore Release Party

320 N. Tejon St., 578-0012

Friday, July 20, 11 p.m.

The Colorado College Bookstore Midnight Release Party

902 N. Cascade Ave., 389-6391

Friday, July 20, 9 p.m.

"I stayed up all night to read Harry Potter" Brunch

East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd., 531-6333

Saturday, July 21, 10-11 a.m.


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