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Harry Potter mania grips twin cities

ISLAMABAD, July 20: Like any other capital and major city in the world, Islamabad and Rawalpindi are also under the spell of the Harry Potter magic and waiting crazily for the last book of the series that would tell which of the characters in the story dies.

As the countdown begins, this well-kept secret will be known when the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows hit bookshelves on Saturday.

Pakistan's older generation may have been charmed by the fantasies of Sinbad and Ali Baba of the Arabian Nights, but the new generation is mad about Harry Potter.

It's become such a literary sensation, in a country like Pakistan where political biographies attain the proportions of popularity, that for the first time we see a book widely believed to be a children's fairy tale literally casting a magical spell on hundreds of readers of all ages.

The scale of bookings may not be as high as in the US and UK - over 620,000 and 250,000, respectively - but by Pakistani standards of book reading and buying, readers in the twin cities have also queued up to reserve their copies in hundreds with several big stores.

As the excitement builds up, kids and adults are so impatient as to what will happen next in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that some of them have even gone back to reading the sixth edition to get into the rhythm of the enchanting magical experience.

After staging the death of Dumbledore, the principal of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft Wizardry (one of the lead characters), and Harry Potter a step away from killing Voldermort, the teacher of dark arts in the last part "The Half- Blood Prince", a wave of anticipation has gripped fans as the final part of the magical sensation is a day away from launch.

The supernatural emphasis by JK Rowling, who dreamed up Harry Potter series, has captured and triggered their imaginations. Carried into a magical universe, it's become a guessing game as they search the net for clues and read reviews to come across hints to predict their own endings.

A 'huge' fan of Harry Potter, Dr Rubia, admiring the poster of the final chapter glued to the entrance of a book store, said, "I think Harry Potter will also die after he killed the evil Voldermorts. Its author JK Rowling is too possessive about her books and the movies that she would not want anybody else to write or film its continuation."

Fakhria Saeed got a gift voucher for the new book on her birthday and was very excited. She believed that Harry Potter would not die but go on to become the principal of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after he killed Voldermort - as evil as ever.

Although Zara didn't like any of the Harry Potter movies but she is also eagerly waiting for the last book. "I don't think Harry Potter will die. He might be Voldemorts' son, the evil who wants to kill him but doesn't know."

Nimra Asad and Sana are also Harry Potter fans who don't think that the Deathly Hallows was the final chapter, adding, "We don't want the series to end."

Maryam, not a huge fan, expressed that one had to have a rich and fertile imagination and the ability to be child-like to enjoy it and enter the realms of the magical world. "It appeals to the child inside you and that's why it's so popular."

The final chapter has received such a wide interest that there are posters hanging from the roofs and stuck at entrances of several book stores announcing discount offers on advance bookings.

Ahmad Saeed, the owner of Saeed Books in Jinnah Super claimed to have ordered some 2,000 copies for the readers in Islamabad. He said he would decorate the new books at the entrance like a Christmas tree on Friday night, adding, "I might even start selling before its official launch. It's been recommended to children for summer reading. There are over 700 advance bookings," he said.

Laik Ahmad at the London Book Company in Kohsar Market complained about the high price. "This is the subsidised price but still out of the reach of a lot of children. I have ordered about 100 copies. People have been asking about it for almost a year now. But in the last 15 days they have booked in advance.

Yousuf, the owner of Mr Books in Super Market, said he had ordered 200 copies of the top selling Deathly Hallows. But its price - Rs1,595 - was too high. He would even sell the pirated copies to make sure all children read it despite pre-emptive action in Pakistan against piracy - a one page document that all distributors are being asked to sign. Dawn
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