Burdened with the dark, dangerous, and seemingly impossible task of locating and destroying Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes, Harry, feeling alone and uncertain about his future, struggles to find the inner strength he needs to follow the path set out before him.
And yet, when I picked it up, and felt its sheer heft, and looked at the familiar, gorgeous jacket, I felt a curious combination of excitement and regret. I'd been waiting for this moment for so long — years, in fact, all the years since I first finished Book One — and yet I almost didn't want the experience to be over, didn't want to know the outcome. Once I opened the book, though, and fastened my eyes on the familiar, beloved type of the first page, it was as if I'd been Imperiused. I literally couldn't stop reading.
From the outset we have death in mind, hanging over us like a shadow, thanks to the inclusion of themed quotes from Penn and Aeschylus. A haunting introduction to what we know is Harry's final battle, whatever the outcome may be. And the tone does not lighten for quite some time, brilliantly creating the air of tension and uncertainty which has been ever descending on this world for some time.
In Deathly Hallows, Harry gradually finds himself without several things he has previously believed he relied upon, the truth growing ever more apparent that his true magic is drawn from friendship, loyalty, protection, courage and the pursuit of what is right.
As always, Rowling's characters are three-dimensional, and cover the spectrum of humanity, representing every shade of the human condition. Harry, Ron and Hermione have grown into a perfect blend of different facets, which is beautifully demonstrated when each answers the same question at the same time but with different of three possible answers.
While the danger and conflict become ever more threatening, so the wizarding world is faced with new challenges, new levels of violence and new truths to discover about themselves and the world in which they live, not to mention old truths we would all rather not have to face - the loss of innocent lives during times of war, the stained pasts of those we count as heroes, and that to be selfless is sometimes the biggest challenge of all.
Amongst the destruction are moments of absolute joy - one of Rowlings indesputable strengths is her blend of humour amongst despair, sometimes uncomfortably married together, but always expertly placed, so that one can at once be crying and laughing, anxious and amused.
We will miss awaiting news of Harry's next adventures, indeed many of our questions over the last ten thrilling years have now been answered. We can however rest assured that this story will be visited over and over again, in the imaginations of children and adults alike. And of course, just because it's in our heads, doesn't make it any less real ;-)
Now that they've left school, Harry and his friends are free to move around the wizarding world. JKR takes full advantage of the multi-setting possibilities; we see tons of new places, as well as some old favourites, as the trio struggle to find the remaining Horcruxes and avoid detection.
Those who found the last two books a little slow will be glad to hear that this one is absolutely action-packed. There's always something happening, and it's usually something that involves a large-scale magical fight. And even when the physical action slows down a little, JKR works in enough of the usual puzzle pieces to keep readers devouring the book at a breathless rate. Many, many times, I found myself crowing with glee as a long-running plot point was summed up, or when one of my theories proved correct.
And man, does everything come together nicely! I'm leery of saying too much here, but I was very, very pleased with how all the little hints and tidbits that JKR planted in the first six volumes came together. Everything made sense, and nothing jumped out as being too simplistic.
On a different note, the character development continues to be wonderful, right up to the end. It was great to see Harry, Ron and Hermione grow throughout the course of the novel, and I really liked how we got some more insight into important secondary characters like Dumbledore and Snape.
But, enjoyment aside, the book isn't quite perfect. Since the trio are traveling alone, some characters don't get as much attention as they perhaps deserve. I would've liked a little more closure with the Dursleys, for example. It also would've been nice to see a little more of what was going on in the wizarding world while the trio were on the run; I'd especially have liked to see inside Hogwarts. And there's one particular plot device that occurs just a little too often, too; it's entertaining, but it would've been nice to see JKR try something different. There were also a couple of things that I thought were curiously absent from the epilogue.
Truthfully, though, I'm kind of searching for things to complain about. I'm sure problems will leap out at me after I've read this a few times, but for now I'm very, very happy with it. This was a great read. It was everything I was hoping for.
As Harry Potter gradually has to learn over the books and especially in this one that the dividing line between evil and good is empathy and choice, then my son has learned that fathers are flawed and fallible. And I that Son's walk their own path.
In Hogwarts we have the prefect plot device of showing how age enables wider choices and deeper struggles and it’s apt that the school is not central to the story this time reflecting that Harry has to grapple with adult life. The image of the school in the book has played a powerful part in my life as my son choose to go to a public school founded in the 16th century based in the country and with its own train station where the students wear cloaks and breeches and are divided into competing houses. As Harry as struggled to fit so my son has over the years; as Harry’s final struggle succeeds but in ways you don’t expect so my son has matured and succeeded in ways I didn’t expect.
So what will you find in this last book? Expect that the story and the consequences are darker. Discover that loose ends from the various stories are tied up. And that all that glitters is not gold. The pace is good and the need to give us information may slow the plot up at times but it’s not a major problem. And room for sequels? Not for the Harry Potter generation.
If you love the books and the way it has engaged children in their millions to read then you won’t be disappointed. I have yet to see an author who can draw 250,000 children, adults and families out on a cold and rainy evening in the UK. My son wanted to take part in the last Pottermaina so we went and in a most un-English way chatted to good nature strangers in the crowds. And had more conversation and fun with my son then in years- adolescent boy…you know what I mean. This for me answers those critics who carp from the Christian right or the Literary elite. Its fun and so its not gourmet writing, what’s wrong with writing that’s a good pizza with friends. It might not change your life but it’s what makes life worth living.
I came under the influence of Harry a little late, starting to read the series shortly after the publication of Goblet of Hire (HP 4) but the moment that I first stepped foot on Privet Drive and followed Harry to platform 9 3/4 I was hooked. Like so many others I was standing in line awaiting the midnight release of Deathly Hallows and after dropping off the friend who kept me company I eagerly began to read the final chapter of the Hogwarts world.
Book 7 opens like the previous 6, it is summer and Harry is at No. 4 Privet Drive with the Dursley's. Harry should be preparing to leave for his final year of Hogwarts and worrying about his upcoming NEWTs and what he wants to do after graduating. However, The Dark Lord has also risen and is swiftly taking back the power that he had prior to his run in with Lily and her year old baby. Also, this year Harry is just about to turn 17 and with his birthday marks the end of the protection given to him by his mother when she gave up her life to save his. Without this protection then if Harry is caught by the Dark Lord then it will almost certainly result in his death. So rather then return to Hogwarts, Harry goes on the run accompanied by his two best friends Ron and Hermione. Together the three of them must work together in order to follow the last task that Headmaster Dumbledore set for Harry. Find the remaining Horcruxes that Voldemort used to hide his soul and destroy them. For while they are intact Harry will have no chance in winning a battle with him.
What follows next is a fast paced journey in which Harry and his friends suffer many ups and downs while they search for the Horcruxes and at the same time avoid getting captured by the Death Eaters or Scavengers. The Death Eaters search for Harry in attempt to gain favor with the Dark Lord. Scavengers hunt for Harry and all wizards who are not of the pure blood in order to collect the reward money. And if Harry didn't have enough to worry about but Rita Skeeter is about to publish a book entitled The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore which causes him to begin to doubt the man that he loved and trusted as a mentor and father.
This book has it all love, loss, adventure and brings the reader to both laughter and tears. (Those who have finished the book know what I mean). Like all the books that came before it I was unable to put this book down and loved almost every word. My only disappointment came with the very end, the epilogue. To me the epilogue seemed a little hurried and the phrasing just didn't seem to mesh well with all that came before and while it answered some questions it also left many unanswered. As much as I want to know what happens to the surviving characters I feel that I think the better ending would have been to leave off the epilogue. Or at least leave off this epilogue.
Overall, I thoughly enjoyed this book and the series. I have loved getting to know Harry, Ron, Hermione, Sirius, Ginny, Neville, Fred, George, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Snape, Draco and all the other characters in this series. In turn they have all made me laugh, cry or gotten me so mad that I could spit. I am glad that I got to know them and while there may be no new adventures about Hogwarts these stories will always live on in my heart and I look forward to one day introducing the boy who lived to any kids and grandkids that I might have.
I came to this book very reluctantly-- has it really been ten years since I picked up that first one?
I can't say I'm a huge Potter fan, though I remember reading and re-reading and knowing every inflection in Jim Dale's voice (can't even imagine Stephen Fry reading it, much as I love him!), through the hazy mists of my own, ah, Pensieve.
This book in particular, seen in the cold light of post-almost-graduate eyes, suffers what all the later Potter books have suffered-- lots and lots of misery and tension, and less and less of the escapist magic. I remember the first books being tense (the second will always be my favorite-- such wonderful tensions and red herrings, a mystery that actually intrigued me), but there was always something to lighten the mood, always some innocence protecting Harry and the reader. And the mystery was there-- why this, why that, and I was intrigued enough to pick up the next, much more plot heavy and expository book. Much as I am a cynic, I certainly miss that shroud. The magic, if you will, surrounding Harry's world has perforce been removed. All the secrets are laid bare, and Rowling's central philosophy shows its true colors, for better or worse. And if I disagree with previous reviewers and say that it ties many knots and seems agreeable, there is still so much pain and doubt in the books (I am thinking most clearly of a scene at a graveyard) that for me, the logic and heart of the matter is illusory, or completely fogged. Rowling doesn't want this to be a grand Manichean vision, with dark and light sides, any yet there is only and always the fight between Harry and Voldemort-- and we are left with the doubt of who or what to trust, hanging in painful limbo in between.
In this climactic, even apocalyptic vision, Deathly Hallows follows Tolkien closely, even unironically. But Tolkien was the master of keeping evil offscreen, of letting it seep into the reader's mind slowly and take hold, rather than attacking the reader. This book is so violent, so numblingly despairing that I found myself longing to skip chapters and continue on to the next discovery.And when the next discovery led to yet another quest, I felt...tired, by that description, the need of the book to tell itself to death, but I understand this book is directed at younger audiences (though not with some of that language!), and as we are stuck with a late teens protagonist, a lot of explanation seems necessary.
On to the good things.
I loved any and all of Dumbledore's explanations-- that there is a space and a niche for magic even when lined up and compared with the 'muggle' world.
His character gained so much in this book, even when compared with Gandalf, and I appreciated so much complexity and failure in a mentor archetype. He is the only character who gains from mystery, and Rowling used him well. Snape, too, gained very much without explanations being too torturous-- I believed his story and his way of doing things without any trouble, which I wouldn't have believed after the last book.
The trio are wonderful-- Hermione's moments of utter bravery and fortitude are beautiful and heartbreakingly played- Ron's less so, probably because it's harder to break him out of the mold of bumbling-sidekick than Hermione, but he still manages his own panache and Ron-ness.
And Harry- oh man, what a perfect, transparent little protagonist he is. I'd read him anywhere (except in that conclusion...).
My faves also gained- Neville! Ginny! Even old standbys like Mrs. Weasley and Bellatrix surprised me (and confirmed old theories, much to my geeky satisfaction).
That said, between these gigantic polarities of elation and misery, there are some very odd moments. The fixation on Lily 'n' James and tha gang? Or how about the complete cock-up of Tonks and Lupin? Not what I wanted or expected for either of them, and every mention of them felt completely off the rails. I've still not found a solid death scene for Tonks, and I feel very, very cheated- but I guess by the end of the book, hearing about one more beloved character is too much.
That's what this book is, in the end-- too much. Too much market, too much money, too much philosophy, and too much gaudy grandeur and Zelda-esque puzzles. I think the sensation I come away with is something like being overwhelmed, overstimulated. And like Harry, I need a break.
I'm just glad Harry isn't Headmaster, and I'm glad I got my ending (yes, I liked it). I'm going to slog through it all one more time to catch the details, and then let it rest.
Thanks for the great door you've opened, J.K., I can't imagine what the world would be without it.
I'm only giving this 3 stars, since this one didn't suck me in and keep me the way the rest of the series did (especially during Harry and Hermione and Ron's Tedious Adventure). That said, it was a perfectly pleasant way to spend seven or eight hours (if you don't count the Potter-induced sunburn!). Until the end. See below.
I loved that Mrs. Weasley got her warrior moment, that we got to know Dumbledore as a person, and that Neville came into his own. That the Malfoy's got to see what world they had been trying to birth when it bit them on their arses? Brilliant.
However, it's been two years since I spent a weekend reading a Harry Potter book, and expecting me to remember which spell did what, what a horocrux was, and keeping an ever growing cast of characters straight (many of whom were minor in Book 5 but important in Book 6, and the same for the Book 6 to 7 transition), well, I suspect that J.K. Rowling has been watching the sloppy success of the mediocre movies and letting it effect her writing.
My least favorite part of the book, though? The addendum. My first reaction was to feel the sickly sweetness of it in my gut, overwhelming the fantastic victory and all the interesting tidbits alluded to in the addendum.
Over the last two days, the postscript has not only failed to grow on me, but has increasingly irritated me. This is the last book in a children's series, and should tie everything up. On the surface, it looks like it did, and all the reviews seem to feel a sense of satisfaction from the tidy and sweet glimpse into a future where all is well. But I beg to differ.
So, how do we tie everything up? By revealing that all the grand adventures and dangers have really just been cloaking a romance. Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione all married their high school sweethearts, and that's really all that's important to know about them. We know that Hogwarts exists, because their children are off to school, with Professor Longbottom teaching there. We are to imply that Muggles and Witches live in some sort of harmony, since Ron had to pass a Muggle driving test (but, he's married to someone who grew up Muggle, and his father was fascinated with Muggle technology, so who can tell?)
The rebuilding -- of Wizarding society, or Hogwarts, or broken lives -- wasn't important. And neither, apparently, is knowing whether or not Harry finished school, or what any of them chose to do with the rest of their lives. As an engaged reader, I find that irritating. As a moral in a children's tale? I find it outrageous. (so much so, I just downgraded my rating). If I read through the six previous books (only peripherally about developing relationships) then it can be assumed that I care about these people, their strengths and weaknesses, their relationships and their world; don't I then deserve to know more about what becomes of them than that their relationships remained constant?
If I stop looking at morals and other weighty issues and look at the book as purely pleasure reading, I think my favorite part of the book, and the series as a whole, is that for one weekend a year or two, for 10 years, people stopped their lives and read a book. Even more magically, it was the same book. And of the first time in my almost-40 years on the planet, the buzz that *everyone* talked about was about a book, not a movie or a TV show. If the Harry Potter series could be compared with the Superbowl, then the Deathly Hallows compares with Michael Jordan's last game (and yes, I know they are different sports). And I think that's pretty damn cool
As I was waiting for the book, I started thinking about Margaret Mitchell and her experience after publishing Gone with the Wind. It was such a huge success: the hype lasted for years and was furthered, if not encompassed, by the film. But Mitchell never published another novel.
We don't really know why. The fame was overwhelming, of course. Fans were invasive. But couldn't the benefits act as balm? She had money, respect (GWTW won the Pulitzer in 1936) legions of fans and every reason to expect that her next book could be just as big. But-if I may speculate-when it came down to it being just her, writing alone in a room, with millions of readers looking over her shoulder, she couldn't do it. How many of us could?
Ms. Rowling has done it and deserves tremendous respect for completing the series. But this book, and its predecessor, is clearly the result of a writer feeling the effects of her earlier success.
There doesn't seem to be any fun left to be had. There are snarky remarks-courtesy of the best sidekick since Huckleberry Finn, Ronald Weasley-and some charming sets but not much else.
Three kids on the run in a magic tent without a plan followed by a sermon on the substance of the soul do not a good story make. As an ending to a good story, it does alright, but just alright. It is only satisfactory in that it is done. We have an end. We don't have to wonder.
And yet, I can't help but wonder. Why didn't we go back to Hogwarts earlier? How could we let dear Neville spend all term under torture? The Horcruxes were pretty boring, a new wizard sweet or a Fred and George novelty would have been loads more interesting surely? And the Deathly Hollows? Three devices, three brothers a controversial symbol and a Germanic villain? Pretty paltry if you ask me.
Wand lore comes out to be a snore. Dumbledore and the dead-but-not-dead Harry enjoying a friendly Q&A while ignoring a mewing scrap of entity in a celestial train station is even worse. (And that is not even touching on the racist Goblin depiction. Haven't we learned anything from Star Trek?)
The opportunity for the further development of Ron, Neville, the endlessly appealing Luna Lovegood, Colin Creevy-where has he been?- and the sadly one dimensional Ginny are never explored. And why is Draco allowed back to school when he let the Death Eaters in last year? These and a dozen other things make no sense to me.
But still, and still more, what I wouldn't give for another family meal at the Burrow with Mrs. Weasley's clock ticking in the background as dishes whiz overhead. Or to wake up again on Christmas morning at Hogwarts with a pile of presents at the foot of the bed. These are the things that make great literature and that none but the great writers can beget. Characters and plot (and controversial epilogues) now withstanding, those moments are what we remember and how a story becomes beloved.
I can still see the pine floors of Tara dotted by rag rugs, gleaming in the sunshine because Mitchell told me about them in such a way that I saw and felt and was there. Rowling has done the same again and again.
Bloom and Byatt may tell us that we are wrong; that what we think is great is not. That the structure of sentences is the thing and that imagery and allusion matter most. What do I say to that? If I may borrow from another Weasley, ignore them, they are pompous prats.
With this last and final book, I think JK Rowling has done us proud. Without giving away any spoilers, let's just say, that after hours of reading, with plenty of laughing, crying, suspense, relief and mystery to fill those hours to brimming, I can honestly say that this last book lives up to its anticipation.
I found myself genuinely concerned about the characters, about their outcomes in the story, and to me, that is a testament to JK Rowling and her story-telling ability. It has felt almost like a privilege to have been able to follow her books and watch her writing ability grow right along with the characters that she so lovingly created. I found I needed to remind myself that these are fictional characters, I would be so caught up in the story, wondering what would happen next.
A part of me is sad that it's all over, that we have reached Harry Potter's seventh and final year at Hogwart's, but there is also a part of me that is glad that it's done, before it gets too big, too much. I think Rowling has ended it well, with the right balance of good vs evil, without taking it too over the top. It's a good place for it to end. I hope she doesn't come back to Harry. Let the story be what it is. The consolation is knowing that whenever I feel a need for a little magic, I know I can always turn to my bookshelf and be whizzing away on the Hogwart's Express in no time.
Just like the other Harry Potter books this one also affect us personally: we're brought into the world of wizardry, we're there fighting the Dark Lord with Harry, Ron and Hermione. Their fear, happiness, sadness, desperation and hope become ours too.
This book that ends the series and determine the fates of the main characters is by far the darkest and the heaviest. The atmosphere is heavy even from the beginning. The tempo is fast at the beginning with scary situation after scary situation coming about. Then, the tempo slowed as the characters were lost and fell into despair, and we faced doom and gloom, not knowing if everything will end like we want it to end.
Even though spoilers were available in the internet even before the book came out, I refused to peek. I refused to speculate or hope. As a result I was brought up and down with the emotion of Harry and the whole magical community, and got surprises after surprises. Some nice, some nasty. But it was a really an exhilarating experience. Plus it wasn't all gloomy, Rowling still managed to bring quite a few chuckles out of readers; and the world of young adults (good food, fun, friends, love) also appears from time to time to lighten our minds. It's like showing off human at its best - stoically facing doom with humour.
Following Harry Potter books from the first when Harry was eleven to the seventh when he's seventeen we are brought gradually from the world of carefree kids to worrying adults. This brings to mind the experiences reading Tolkien's book - from light teenagey The Hobbit to heavy and adult The Lord of the Rings.
Another Tolkien analogy can be derived here. Just like reading the last chapters of the Lord of the Rings, reading the last chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows also brings about sadness. It doesn't matter whether the end is happy or sad, whether the heroes live or die. The prospect of living without anymore Harry Potter stories seems so gloomy. We are forced to go back to the dreary and boring real world, with nothing more out of the magical world to hope for. Nooooooo!!!!!! Bring me back to Hogwarts please!!!!
That said, it is also an emotional roller coaster ride, as Harry, Hermione, Ron and many of our other series-long heroes get caught in life-threatening situations with Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort. It is a darker book than 'The Half-Blood Prince', but the reader should be ready for this, as it is the end of the series and everything has prepared us for the final battle of good against evil. Even so, I couldn't help shedding a few tears at one point in the book. The thing that I really enjoyed about this conclusion is Rowling's moral consistency. Some will find the end of the series unsatisfying, but I imagine these people are mostly adults, and this is a book for children, and those young at heart. I revel in a book that is not afraid to dare the reader to take the high road. There is nothing childish about that.
Gladly, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (nee Philosopher's) Stone was J.K. Rowlings first novel, and Hogwarts and its associated magical countries were her first shared creation. As Rowling continued to write, her writing continuously improved. Like an almost perfect opposite to the belief that sequels are each exponentially worse than the book that came before, Rowling's Harry Potter books (minus her second offering, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) each got exponentially better.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the best of them all.
In Deathly Hallows, for the first time in the series, we get a glimpse of a world beyond Harry, with other well-developed characters—a world before Harry, and before Voldemort (whose life and works are so inextricably linked to Harry that, for his character, anything that came before is only introduction), that does not need Harry in order to operate. Though everything is eventually tied together, for the first time the reader has the impression that things in the Harry Potter world can happen WITHOUT Harry Potter—that before he appeared, other people did things beyond simply preparing for his arrival.
This is because of the magnificent story, finally told, of Dumbledore's origins and early experiences. The stories of the life and times of Albus Dumbledore are exceptional. Rowling's exploration of the Dumbledore character is thoughtful and supremely satisfying, and the reader is surprised and delighted (while Harry is confused and chagrined) to encounter a story that is not about him. Others have complained the the background story of Dumbledore and the Deathly Hallows is hardly foreshadowed in the other, Harry-centric books, that it "comes out of nowhere" in its relation to Harry. But this is the best thing about it! For once, Harry must learn about someone else, and become a part of something that does not begin and end with him. Other characters are also filled out, and their histories enriched beyond their simple involvement with the title character, and these are some of the best parts of the book and in fact the entire series.
In addition to all this, the book is a well-written and complete end to the story of Harry Potter and Voldemort that, once picked up, is difficult to put down. Loose ends are tied (though sometimes in ways fans will not be happy with). References made and stories relayed in the earlier books are made clearer. Foreshadowed events come to pass, and the truth about just about everything is finally revealed. Harry Potter grows up and comes into his own as an adult and a person, understanding and interacting with others in ways that were quite impossible for him as a young wizard. In the first five books, Harry guessed and assumed, and was almost always wrong about other people and their motivations. In the sixth book, Harry began to guess things right, and to understand the motivations of others. In Deathly Hallows Harry actively strives to understand the world around him, and to make the right decisions, and begins to become the kind of caring, thinking, slightly inscrutable wizard that his hero, Dumbledore, exemplifies. The evolution of Harry's character is the main reason we are all here, and this book does not disappoint in showing his growth and maturation.
Rowling has made so much money from the Harry Potter series, its related books, and its movie counterparts that, really, she never needs to work again. But I hope that she does—because, as she has shown with the Harry Potter books, her writing improves with practice.
In this book, Harry tries to complete the mission Dumbledore bestowed upon him—which is to find and destroy the horcruxes. While doing this, he has to overcome his doubts about himself and about his hero, Albus Dumbledore. Meanwhile, Voldemort is gaining power and control and takes charge of the wizarding world. As the books that came before it, Deathly Hallows is about courage, friendship, and love.
Many of us will mourn the deaths of favorite characters, but this book draws the Harry Potter series to a satisfactory end. Loose ends are tied, and questions many of us have asked are answered. It is a good read, and very suspenseful. I wasn’t able to put it down until I finished it. It is the end we have all been waiting for—and the last chapter Rowling added is a special treat that I never expected.
Characters: It's the side characters who carry the book. Harry is annoyingly distracted and whiny at times and indecisive at others, and tends to lack chemistry with other characters. A good bit of character development happens with Ron and Hermione, who get to act like responsible adults. Minor characters too are permitted to show some depth to their personality.
Style: Simple and unchallenging style, but it's not as awkward anymore as some earlier books in the series. The balance is off - the first half gets too much attention with too little plot, while at the end too many things are crammed into too few pages and small events are easily missed. It's a little like ticking off boxes. Far too many WW2 references, so many that it gets tedious at the fifth parallel to concentration camps and singling out those who are different. There is no sense of the passage of time - seasons seem to change from one chapter to the other, and either babies develop a lot faster when the parents are wizards or nine months were lost somewhere along the way.
Plus: It's a lot better than Half-Blood Prince and the most adult book, with plenty of dark scenes. The second half is well-paced and has some very interesting scenes and thoughts. Some character twists are nicely done and move the book away from the clear division of good and evil.
Minus: The last chapter and the epilogue. Harry constantly losing sight of his objectives and getting angry when he's reminded of them. Deaths happen in half-sentences and get no further mention. Plotholes are big enough to drop dinosaurs through them.
Summary: It's a good ending for the series, but it passes up a lot of the impact it could have had.
Mrs. Clark Evans
August 27, 2007
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
I waited in line for the seventh Harry Potter book until two in the morning and then read for the next eight hours. Then, for the next week, I waited impatiently for my friends to finish so that I could discuss it with them. While I had several good conversations discussing Snape’s loyalty, the Horcruxes and Hallows, to my astonishment, I found the most widely debated and most often brought up topic was the epilogue. It seemed a large division has formed between those who loved it and those who were very disappointed with it. Many believed it was too “corny” and that the name Albus Severus Potter was “silly”. Other felt that having all the couples at Kings Crossing was too “soppy”. Still others felt that it was a huge let down because it was not suspenseful or action packed. However, I disagreed with all these points. I loved the epilogue and believe J.K. Rowling ended the series perfectly with this coda.
I needed several important factors to be addressed in the epilogue for me to be satisfied. Most important was the issue of family. Harry never had a family for long because they were always killed; father, mother, godfather, grandfatherly mentor, Albus Dumbledore, and avuncular characters, Mad-Eye Moody and Lupin. Death took them away from him and left him alone in the world. However, in the epilogue it is revealed that Harry finally has the family he never had as a child. First, he is married to Ginny Weasley. This is significant because through this marriage Harry is now part of the Weasley family which is portrayed as the family everyone wants to be in. He is also now a brother-in-law to his best friend Ron and thus is, by extension, related to his other best friend Hermione, Ron’s wife. Furthermore, Harry names his children James, Lily, and Albus Severus. This is a unique factor in the book because it shows that through love, Harry can still have what death stole. By naming his children after his father, his mother, his mentor Albus Dumbledore, and even his potions teacher Severus Snape (whom he hated), it shows that death can be conquered by love. In loving his children James and Lily, he gets to love his parents. In loving his younger son who most closely resembles himself, he honors both Dumbledore and Snape. This is powerful because, after having hated Snape so much, bringing him into his family in this way is an amazing testament to love’s power. Other lost friends that are restored in a new generation include: Remus Lupin and Tonks through Teddy Lupin, Harry’s godson and almost adopted son, and Fred Weasley through James’ love for practical jokes. In the epilogue Harry is in the midst of all his family, past, present, and future, all united. This is the perfect example of one of Rowling’s themes; that love defeats death and mends even the greatest hatred between two people.
From the epilogue I also wanted an assurance that everything was good in the world. This is made apparent in several ways. The two arch enemies, Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter, have settled their differences to some degree and go so far as to nod at each other in greeting. Also, it mentions in passing that one of the secondary characters, Neville Longbottom, has become a Herbology teacher at Hogwarts, a position to which he was well suited because of his love for plants. The two major romances also worked out: Harry and Ginny married, as did Hermione and Ron. I think J. K. Rowling intended the ending of the series to give readers assurance that everything worked out well for Harry. She did not want to leave Harry all worn out, “I have had enough trouble for a lifetime.” (pg 749), so she gave him vitality throughout the epilogue. Lastly, the final sentence itself confirms what readers have been wanting all along, proof that The Dark Lord Voldemort had been utterly defeated and Harry is at last free and happy. She concludes, “All was well.”
Finally, I liked that J. K. Rowling set the epilogue back at Platform Nine and Three Quarters, with young, inexperienced and nervous children getting on a train that would take them to a magical place. For Harry, this was the departure he never had as a child. It was one filled with family and loved ones. As the train slid away from the station, it did my heart good to know that there will still be adventures at Hogwarts, even if I am not there.
The final instalment in the Harry Potter saga was unexpectedly pacy, with the action beginning in the first chapter and keeping our family of devotees on the edges of our seats until the end. However, it was not the pace alone that made this a thrilling and fulfilling conclusion to the story. As the story progressed it became increasingly clear that this was a whole story released in instalments rather than a series made up as she went along. Much as the Two Towers cannot be seen as a sequel to Fellowship of the Ring, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is clearly the final book in a single story. Seemingly peripheral or secondary elements (such as the state of elf rights, goblin-wizard relations and the status of other non-human creatures designated by wizarding culture to be of ‘near-human intelligence’) that have provided richness to the narrative since the first books of the series, played a crucial role in the final downfall of Voldemort. The deft interweaving of these elements gave complexity, depth and plausibility to the concluding climax and allowed Rowling to reflect and comment on issues of injustice in our own society.
In the best traditions of fantasy Deathly Hallows tackles themes such as sacrifice, redemption and the blindness of the single-minded. Sacrifice is a central theme of the series and as such is well represented in its finale. The sacrifices of James Potter, Lilly Potter , Harry, Dobby, Dumbledore and Snape are all critical as are those of minor characters. I suspect most readers grieved as much or more for Dobby than any other character. I know we did. The redemption of Kreacher was also a highlight and was an effective vehicle to illustrate the lasting impacts of small acts of kindness or cruelty. This was not a tale of a single hero. Despite his status as ‘the boy who lived’ the reader is left with no doubt that Harry’s contribution alone could never defeat Voldemort and the evil he represents. We see that Harry was not the only person who could pull something special out of the hat. The ongoing juxtaposition of Harry and Neville both of whom could have been the prophesied saviour resists the temptation to make only one of them special. Not only different characters but different species with their varying levels of prominence in the story, as well as in the wizarding world, each play an essential role. This is foreshadowed in the first book when Harry, Ron and Hermione each make their own unique and essential contribution to overcoming the obstacles protecting the Philosopher’s stone. As their world gets larger so more people and types of people are involved in overcoming the larger obstacles they face. Hermione (is it just a coincidence her name is Greek?) demonstrates the value of knowledge throughout the series and characters such as Neville, Luna and Colin Creevy illustrate that no-one can be casually dismissed without loss no matter how brave, clever or popular you might be. The vital role played by very minor characters such as Regulus Black who we never really meet adds to the sense of a larger, more complex world than that of an 11 year old in which the series begins. Gone is the wonder and delight of the scenes such as the arrival of Hagrid in the first book replaced with broader and ultimately deeper themes.
Not only does the Deathly Hallows provide a thrilling conclusion to the series it also beautifully resolves concepts and issues raised throughout the series. Rowling resists the temptation to patronise her young readers. Like the best fiction writing it can be engaged with at a variety of levels.
I almost dreaded reading this, as it means an end to a story I have enjoyed following for so long. I'd avoided speculating on the outcome of the final battle between Harry and Voldemort.
While I felt the first two thirds of the story meandered and flopped about, the deaths of several characters early in the piece kept me turning pages fearfully. Until Harry returned to Hogwarts, everything I was reading made me a deep sadness.
I did feel a bit confused at the references to Tonks and Remus' relationship - it didn't seem to add anything to the story, and I was sorry that Tonks was almost entirely off stage, like a TV character sent to Europe for a season while the actress is pregnant.
But Snape's final revelations fit well with the history, and I found his story sad but satisfying. I am sorry that the three main friends did not enter the final confrontation together, but I was happy with the resolution of Harry and Voldemarot's conflict.
And as for 19 Years Later? I wil pretend that I did not read it, and hopefully forget it as soon as possible.
I've just finished my second reading, and yes, it's still as great the second time, when I wasn't racing to get to the end to see what happened. I even shed a tear or two. "Look....at.....me....."
Sure, there are one or two plot holes, a bit too much camping, one or two deaths I find unforgivable, and a few things I might have chosen to do differently (can you say Ginny), but in the main, DH is thrilling, shocking and emotionally wrenching. It's the best of the series by far.
Even though I had figured out most of the main plot points already, there were plenty of new ideas to chew on and things we could never have forseen, especially in regards to Dumbledore. This made for a delicious blend of "aha! I knew it" spiced with "I never saw that coming!"
Favourite bits: everything Snape (I knew it!), especially the relationship between Snape and Dumbledore; Dumbledore's backstory; Ron & Hermione; Luna's and Neville's and Mrs. Weasley's big moments.
One of the oft repeated themes of the Harry Potter series is that love is a magic unique and most powerful. Ms. Rowling has proved that to us with her own love--for her carefully crafted world, for her multi-layered characters, for her readers. Thank you, Jo, thank you so much.
I don't even really know how to leave this all behind.
I enjoyed this book. I savored each chapter (I read one chapter at a time, leaving no less than two hours between chapters) over about a week.
What made me laugh:
Fred and George, when they drink the polyjuice and become Harry: "We're IDENTICAL!!"
Snape going through the window and leaving a Snape-shaped hole. LOL!!!!
Ron was freaking HILARIOUS. Just about everything that came out of his mouth was funny. "Oh, a basilisk fang? Yeah, I've got one right here."
Potterwatch. I wish we'd heard more episodes.
What made me cry:
Hermione putting the charm on her parents so that they move to Australia and forget about her.
Harry using the stone to bring up the spirits of his dead friends and family, once he realizes his fate. Asking about dying - "Will it hurt?" and asking his family to "stay close to him" as he goes to face Voldemort.
Ron leaving. I thought back to the first day on Hogwarts Express and how he and Harry and Hermione had stuck together since then...and he abandoned them.
Fred. Oh, why did it have to be FRED? Probably because JKR knew it would hurt us the most.
Realizing that Luna isn't there and at first thinking that her father had just gone batty with grief. (Turns out he wasn't, but that doesn't matter).
Dumbledore's sister, imperfections, and humanity. Wah!
The trip to Godric Hollow, and what they found there.
What made me angry:
WTF about Neville. Okay, so he gets the sword and hacks off Nangini's head, killing the last bit of Voldemort's horcruxed soul. But I was reeeeeeeeeally hoping for more of Neville. I wanted him to be the star, I wanted him and Harry to stand together and oh! I don't know. I got about 2/3 of the way through the book before meeting up with him in the pub...wondering if JKR had forgotten about him.
Freaking Grawp. I didn't like him in book 5 and I still don't like him.
I don't think she made it clear how Neville got the Sword of Gryffindor. I was confused by all that - didn't the goblin steal it? - but eventually (with the help of the internetz) remembered that the Sword of Gryffindor reveals itself to those who are worthy of it. So, he's worthy. He's got the sword, and he's sick of muthafucking snakes in his muthafucking Hogwarts.
Ginny and Harry didn't have much quality time together. I wasn't looking for the wocka wocka or anything, but it did make it kind of hard to believe that they got together at the end and had babies with strange names.
Other random thoughts:
I was saddened(?) that Slughorn didn't come into this at all. I mentioned during my review of Half Blood Prince that Slughorn was the wimpiest of the DADA professors and I hoped that he had a role in this book to justify his inclusion in the last one. He didn't.
All of the wandering around in the tent got kind of dull.
I WANT HERMIONE'S BEADED EVENING BAG. Can you imagine how helpful that would be for camping?
I totally knew that Harry would wind up saving Malfoy's life. So that he can grow up to have a receding hairline and a kid named Scorpius.
I really wanted Neville to kill Bellatrix, but Molly was a fine choice as well.
Remus and Tonks: dead off-screen, no explantion, no nothing. I know that JKR was trying to create a parallel between Teddy and Harry, but I thought that the unceremonious offing of Remus and Tonks was a disappointing way to end their characters.
Speaking of endings, about that epilogue: I liked it. I wonder if she wrote it before she wrote the book itself - I've read that she had the ending all penned out way back when she was writing the first few books of the series. It had a more simplistic style than the rest of the book.
I liked hearing that they lived happily ever after, and that JKR isn't leaving room for "Harry Potter and the Mid-Life Crisis". I thought it was corny that the crew's romantic adventures never went past Hogwarts, but imagining Ron and Hermione finally together and Harry being a completely ordinary dad watching his kids go off to school...it provided closure that I needed.
SO why do I feel so empty about all of this? I haven't felt this way since I finished "Return of the King" and Annie found me wailing on the floor of our apartment. I guess it's just the end of something good. I feel kind of deflated but resolved as well. It's all good. Thanks, JKR for so much fun these last 6 or so years!
All was well.
Book Seven of the Harry Potter series starts off with two quotes steeped in death, friendship and redemption. These quotes set the tone for the book remarkably well. No longer are Harry and his friends living in the whimsical days of their early years at Hogwarts. There is no longer room for the playful stylings of books 1-3, where spells gone awry lead to humorous results and one of the greatest dreads of The Boy Who Lived was whether he would catch a golden snitch in Quidditch. Our protagonists are now older, more mature and certainly far more wizened wizards and witches. The foe that has been held at bay for six books must now be faced with finality and drops of the wand are now deadly, not delightful.
From the first chapter, it is obvious this is no wearying “History of Magic” lecture we’ve wandered into. Emotion runs high and it is just a few pages before the death toll starts to rise. You realize with a shock that no one is safe and characters you loved may not make it to the end.
Let me confirm something you were probably expecting. The Deathly Hallows will occasionally make you laugh, but it will also make you cry. At one point, I was sobbing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath and almost made that “Mwaaaah,” sound of utter anguish. No matter the heartbreak, you must keep reading! This speaks volumes about how invested you will be in the story, and in turn, what a brilliant storyteller Rowling has become, over the course of seven books.
After leaving the Dursley’s one final – and surprisingly touching – time, Harry, Ron and Hermione set out on their own to find and destroy the remaining horcruxes – objects where Voldemort has stashed bits of his soul to ensure his survival. In the process, they also discover a new quest, for the mysterious “Deathly Hallows” of the book’s namesake.
Here is where my main criticism with the Deathly Hallows emerges. Harry and his friends are initially clueless as to where to find any of the horcruxes or hallows. For several chapters they wander aimlessly up and down the country, hiding out in the smelly magical tent from Goblet of Fire, trying to puzzle out locations while dealing with cold, hunger and isolation. Long periods of relative inactivity are punctuated with too-short times of intense action.
As they wander, the book wanders as well, leading me to wonder if quite a few pages couldn’t have been edited out. Several times I felt tempted to yell “Get on with it!” as they argued over who should be cooking camp grub With her psychological acuity, was this a literary device of Rowling’s? Were we meant to feel irritated by the meanderings, just as the characters were irritated by their initially fruitless and discouraging quest? Or, was this simply a case of poor editing?
The climax of The Deathly Hallows, and perhaps the entire series, is the battle for Hogwarts. The chapters encompassing this epic fight are some of the most enjoyable I have ever read. Hope and humor, bravery and valor beam from these pages like phoenix fire. Every character you ever loved – or hated – steps up to make their mark for good or evil. There are more deaths, no battle was fought without bloodshed, but they add poignancy and reality. And I must add, Mrs. Weasley performance proves she is an inspiration for mothers everywhere, wizard and muggle alike!
Is Snape evil or a hero? Predictions abound, but when you look into the past with his eyes, it is revelatory. You finally understand his motivation throughout the entire series and wonder how you could have ever questioned where his loyalties lay.
And then the prophecy comes to fruition. Over 4,000 pages since we first met Harry Potter in the cupboard under the stairs and the final face off takes place. The manner is most unexpected and we discover that sometimes it takes more courage to not draw a weapon than to fight.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ends. It has to. A wild ride like this couldn’t go on forever. I have heard the epilogue called “trite,” and “vague,” and even “exasperating.” When I first read it, I too craved more knowledge about Harry’s future than what was shared. That very vagueness however gives the book a sense of continuity, that even though you are closing the book, the characters really are living on within the covers.
From the moment he looked in the Mirror of Erised in the Sorcerer’s Stone, the only thing Harry wanted was a calm life, a normal life and a family. Being The Boy Who Lived was a responsibility thrust upon him and while some readers may feel he should be destined for greater things than fatherhood and cart full of owls at platform 9 and ¾, that was Harry’s ideal, his greatest desire. If you love Harry, how could you wish him any ending but this?
The book starts fast and doesn't slow down. Take a deep breath before you start reading. Harry is a fugitive on a path that must lead to his final confrontation, but he must also face up to a few truths about his mentor. With Dumbledore dead, people begin to say things about him they would never have dared say while he lived.
JK does a tremendous job in this book. With all the chaos she depicts, the point of view stays solidly on Harry throughout. The result is a very strong story, even though there are scenes where Harry simply catches up on who has died since he last surfaced.
The seventh and final part of the tale weaves a tapestry so great even mighty Hogwarts is reduced to mere backdrop. Luckily the characters are big enough to fill the space. Any temptation to avoid resolution at the end of this tale is avoided as almost all strands are neatly tied.
My only lingering question - but what about the goblin?
This book is, like the most recent few before it, a monstrous one. I mean that both in the sense of its literal size as well as the enormous amount of information that gets thrown at the reader. I found myself needing to constantly reference the previous volumes in order to glean the full meanings behind some of the statements and conversations. Perhaps that isn't a problem for the hardcore Harry readers who are endlessly re-reading the books, but for even the slightly more casual Potter fan it ultimately results in book 7 being a whole lot less accessible than the other books in this (or for that matter, almost any other sci-fi/fantasy) series.
The dedication at the beginning of the book -- a nod to the hardcore fans -- foreshadows the lacking accessibility. You really need to (re)read all of the books fairly near prior to picking up "Hallows" (and then keep them close by your side during) or there's no way you'll catch all the references and exquisite details. It can be frustrating to consider that some of the overarching themes are kept simple and cliche (have hope, keep the faith, don't underestimate the power of love, etc.) to make them easier to understand for the younger readers while at the same time cramming in so many names, locations, and criss-crossing web of complicated connections and side stories that clearly do not cater to younger or otherwise inexperienced readers. I think the book stumbles a little bit in this area, having difficulty finding a toe-hold as to whether it is looking for an adult philosophy or trying to cultivate a child's innocence. The story tries too hard to grow up without gaining any true cynicism; it is a goal that I think is rather impossible in either literature or life, but perhaps I'm only saying that because of my own experiences.
In addition to being the least accessible of the books in the series, I also think that it's the most modern. There are references to modern governments of the world (especially those of the west), complete with thinly veiled criticisms of the dangers of not sharing intelligence. In fact, virtually everything that goes wrong for either the good guys or the bad guys throughout involves trouble communicating or just general lack of information. There are also references to the corporate world, with a nod (I believe) to the RIAA via a password-protected rebel radio station.
But despite all that, it seems like it takes forever for anything to happen. Wait, strike that. Let me rephrase. A lot happens, but not a lot seems to get accomplished for the first half of the book. Lots of talking, planning, debating, etc. When something does seem to happen, if you think about it you'll realize that it's really more that there was the THREAT of something getting ready to happen. There are about a million close-calls and narrow escapes and eventually it just makes you hungry for something truly substantial to happen that will blow your hair back like with the book 2 surprise of Ginny opening the chamber or the book 3 revelation of Sirius as Harry's godfather.
Even though it takes a while in book 7 to get to anything that is quite that substantial, you've got to give J.K. Rowling credit when it finally does. And it does indeed get there eventually. I'm sure it was a challenge after 6 previous books of revelations and surprises to just keep pulling things out of her literary hat. Nobody else would've been up to the challenge of putting the finishing touches on this masterpiece series but the woman herself.
It's hard to resist the urge to be uber-critical of "Hallows," as Rowling had a huge task ahead of her. Firstly, it would be impossible, I think, to wrap up something this large and culturally significant in a way that would or even could satisfy everyone. Secondly, there's already a predisposed disappointment just that it's ending. The worst part of a vacation is, after all, the end.
But despite my critiques, I loved this book. As I indeed loved all the others. I have little doubt that I'll pass my volumes on to my yet-unborn kids. I will use Harry Potter shamelessly as a way to introduce them to other reading worlds like Middle Earth, Redwall Abbey, and of course my favorite place to eat: Milliways. (Bonus points if you get the reference.)
I know that some of my critiques here inevitably sound a little pompous, but these are the honest thoughts streaming from my head immediately after I closed the back cover. Don't let any criticisms (mine or anyone else's) deter you, though. I give a large and elaborate review because this book is a monumental end to a larger-than-life series and thus, I think, deserves more than me saying that I merely enjoyed it or didn't. I offer a big review as a show of both gratitude and humility for this book and the whole series for helping me realize how much I truly love to read. I think I was 21 when I first read Harry Potter. Up until that point I read maybe 5 books or less a year. I'm now 26 and my pace is closer to 30 books a year. I owe a lot of that to Harry Potter.
You have to read this book if for no other reason than that it means you'll have to read the other 6 first. Then turn the last page of "Deathly Hallows" and make that sound that millions of Potter fans have made in the past week and will be making every time they re-read it in the future: a deep sigh of both relief, joy, and utter sadness all at the same time. For all the comments or complaints that may arise about the conclusion, I'm sure that there's not a soul alive -- either here or at Hogwarts -- that us Muggles would've had so trusted and loved this great story with but J. K. Rowling. Thank you for sharing your imagination with the rest of us, Joanne.