sdddThe final Harry Potter book should be headed our way some time in 2007, it seems. JK Rowling has announced that she’s about to start writing it. "For 2006 will be the year when I write the final book in the Harry Potter series," she says on her website. "I contemplate the task with mingled feelings of excitement and dread, because I can’t wait to get started, to tell the final part of the story and, at last, to answer all the questions (will I ever answer all of the questions? Let’s aim for most of the questions); and yet it will all be over at last and I can’t quite imagine life without Harry."

Two years isn’t a bad gap in the series, all things considered (it was three or four maddening years between books four and five), although books two and three came out months apart.

"I have been fine-tuning the fine-tuned plan of seven during the past few weeks so that I can really set to work in January. Reading through the plan is like contemplating the map of an unknown country in which I will soon find myself. Sometimes, even at this stage, you can see trouble looming; nearly all of the six published books have had Chapters of Doom. The quintessential, never, I hope, to be beaten Chapter That Nearly Broke My Will To Go On was chapter nine, ‘Goblet of Fire’ (appropriately enough, ‘The Dark Mark’.)"

So what happens in book seven? She hasn’t even revealed the title yet, and secrecy is a big thing with this series, so don’t expect many revelations. There’s a lot of speculation on where things might go – I sort of believe that Hogwarts will be the final Horcrux and need to be destroyed (or is that too much like the last episode of Little House on the Prairie?) – and as to who will survive. Rowling is adamant that the series ends with book seven, leading some to think that Harry might not make it out alive. After all, as long as Harry is alive and there’s magic in the world, why not continue the tales? I can’t imagine she’d kill her hero at the end – I think the decision to end the series with the seventh book is just a sign of Rowling’s ability to refrain from dead horse beating.