Sunday, May 5, 2019

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling is the seventh and final book in the series.  I found it to be a fitting end to the Harry Potter saga. This entry is an exciting climax to the story. Rowling continues to weave a strong and exciting plot and entertaining characters into some interesting themes. It all wraps up very nicely. 

This book breaks the plot pattern that was established in previous entries. In the earlier books we had the inevitable summer adventures of Harry and his friends, followed by a trip to Hogwarts followed by the day to day occurrences at the magical school. Instead, in the early pages of this book, the evil Lord Voldemort has taken over the Ministry of Magic and most of the power in the wizarding world. Harry and his friends, Hermione and Ron, do not go to back school. Instead, they set off on a quest-like mission to destroy Voldemort’s power by finding and destroying dark magical objects know as Horcruxes. The trio travel the forests and towns of England, encountering friends and enemies along the way, as they fight evil wizards and creatures.

The last fifth of the book involves both Harry and his allies fighting Voldemort and his Death Eaters at Hogwarts itself in a final, spectacular and violent magical battle. The author puts all sorts of interesting elements into the finale. Rowling also shows that she is indeed an author who is a cut above the average fantasy writer.

 A tendency that has been building up throughout the series is that the magical violence and combat is very real and that it involves death, maiming and real brutality.  As mentioned above, Rowling’s attention to detail is impressive.  For instance, even brave characters often experience realistic fear before battle. They are often depicted as trembling. They are often traumatized after magical combat. 

Well established characters die or are physically scarred for life. Ron Weasley’s large family has been close to Harry throughout the books. They all are devastated as one son, Fred, a popular character, is killed in the midst of the Battle of Hogwarts. Other allies, including the married couple Tonks and Lupin, are also killed in the battle. 

At one point, Harry, Hermione and Ron survey the physical and emotional devastation and casualties,

Ron led the way to the Great Hall. Harry stopped in the doorway. The house tables were gone and the room was crowded. The survivors stood in groups, their arms around each other’s necks. The injured were being treated up on the raised platform by Madam Pomfrey and a group of helpers. Firenze was amongst the injured; his flank poured blood and he shook where he lay, unable to stand. 

The dead lay in a row in the middle of the hall. Harry could not see Fred’s body, because his family surrounded him. George was kneeling at his head; Mrs Weasley was lying across Fred’s chest, her body shaking, Mr Weasley stroking her hair while tears cascaded down his cheeks…. 

Harry had a clear view of the bodies lying next to Fred: Remus and Tonks, pale and still and peaceful-looking, apparently asleep beneath the dark, enchanted ceiling. 
The Great Hall seemed to fly away, become smaller, shrink, as Harry reeled backwards from the doorway. He could not draw breath. He could not bear to look at any of the other bodies, to see who else had died for him. He could not bear to join the Weasleys, could not look into their eyes…

He turned away and ran up the marble staircase. Lupin, Tonks ... he yearned not to feel ... he wished he could rip out his heart, his innards, everything that was screaming inside him. 

Rowling has managed to weave together exciting magical battle passages with effective descriptions of the aftermath of violence. Other fantasy writers, such as J.R.R.  Tolkien, have done this before, but Rowling’s technique seems different. I find it effective and believable. 

The character of Severus Snape is also brought to an interesting conclusion here. Throughout the series, the Hogwarts teacher has bullied and even verbally abused Harry. He was known to be a former servant of Voldemort who had switched sides and was allied to Dumbledore in the fight against Voldemort. In the previous book, Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, Snape seemed to switch sides again and join Voldemort. In this book it is revealed that he has stayed loyal to the anti-Voldemort cause. His entire story is also revealed to Harry. He had grown up with Harry’s mother Lilly. Years ago, the two attended Hogwarts together. As Snape was drawn to the side of the growing power of Voldemort, Lilly and he became estranged despite the fact that Snape was in love with her. Lilly eventually marries Harry’s father James, who Snape hated. Though Snape tried to prevent it, Voldemort murdered Lilly along with James. At that point, Snape began working with Dumbledore against Voldemort to honor Lilly’s memory. He also pledged to protect Harry as he grew up. Despite the fact that he never waivered in his fight against Dumbledore and that he showed great bravery, Snape stayed an angry bitter bully who still did not like Harry. He still harbored a rancorous resentment aimed at Harry’s deceased father James. All of this adds up to him being a complex character. He was on the side of virtue while being a thoroughly dislikeable person.  His motivation for opposing Voldemort was almost entirely motivated for his love of the deceased Lilly and not inspired by other altruistic reasons. 

I quibble that the book is a little too long. The middle part seems to meander. I think that Rowling could have used a more effective editor.

I would not read this book without reading what has happened before. It does not work as a standalone. This series works best as a whole. 

This book is an excellent conclusion to the series. It ties the plot, character and themes that Rowling had previously developed to great effect. This is a satisfying wrap up of the series. My favorite book of the bunch was the first, this one being my second or third.  In the end, I am glad that I finally gave this series a go. 

31 comments:

mudpuddle said...

congratulations! i don't know if i want to experience that sort of angst... and if i started the series i'd want to finish it... your posts have been really enlightening; tx for detailing the highlights and critiquing the presentation...

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Muddpuddle. It hasn’t been too bad in terms of trying reading. I’m reading Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain right now, it’s a roughed climb getting through this one book then it was to get to the entire Harry Potter series!

mudpuddle said...

haha, i know what you mean! i think it took me a month to read it... although it was a slog, it was pretty interesting also, i thought at the time...

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Brian,

Well, thanks to you I feel as though I've read the Harry Potter series, at least the Cliff Notes version. :)

I also have Mann's the Magic Mountain on my TBR pile. I remember enjoying Buddenbrooks, although it was several years ago. I don't know when I'll start Magic Mountain.

Have a great week!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Sharon - I made it.

The Magic Mountain is interesting so far. I will eventually post a blog on it.

thecuecard said...

Congrats on finishing the series! I always think Rowling writes too long, even in her mysteries. I liked the first Harry Potter the best, and only read that one too. I felt I didn't need or want to go further but I enjoyed Harry in Book One.

Suko said...

Brian Joseph,
I'm glad you found this to be an excellent concluding novel to the series. Terrific review!

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Suko!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Susan - The first book is my favorite. With that, some very interesting themes were developed and explored in the later books.

The Liberty Belle said...

I enjoyed your review. Have you listened to Jim Dale narrate the books? Every now and then, I listen to the series via audiobook as I do chores or find myself stuck in traffic. I become so engrossed in the magical tales that, before I know it, the chores are done or traffic isn't quite so bad.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Belle. I have heard that the Jim Dale narration was outstanding.maybe I will give the series a go a second time that way.

Kathy's Corner said...

Hi Brian, congratulations on finishing the Harry Potter series. Your reviews of these books make me want to try the first book for sure. Sounds like J K Rowling understood that though she could have continued writing new books in this series, it would have been a mistake. A great series knows when to call it quits and my guess Harry Potter in terms of fantasy will be read and loved one hundred years from now.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Well done for getting through the lot, Brian, and I do agree this is the most powerful of the series. The books start as children’s books and grow up with the readers(though now they will all be on the school libraries’ shelves at once!).

I’ve only read Thomas Mann’s Joseph And His Brothers and a novella in the anthology The Ten Commandments, and I have to say, they were both very entertaining and funny. Joseph was four volumes long and I binged on the lot in a very short time. The other was a quirky version of the story of Moses.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Kathy. I agree that there were enough books and that more would have been too many. But I wonder if some fans would have liked more books.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Sue. My favorite book in the series was actually the first. Despite being a children’s book I thought that it showed more originality then any of the others. I also thought that it showed a unique charm.

The Magic Mountain is actually my first Mann. I am enjoying it but it is very dense and slow going.

James said...

congratulations! i may put this series on my to read list. there is always room for more books even if there is not enough time. Glad to see you are delving into the world of Thomas Mann. The Magic Mountain is one of those great novels that rewards the reader in proportion to the difficulty that it presents. I expect that you will finish the book with the desire to return to Hans and the rarified air of the mountain sanitarium.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks James. Though I had hesitations about reading this series I am glad that I took the plunge.

Though I seem to be progressing slowly. I am loving the mountain sanitarium.

Caroline said...

I’m very glad to hear the boo’ has such a satisfying ending. It’s terrible to be let down by the last book or episode in a series.
I can imagine they don’t work as standalones.
During Easter I found a complete set of hardback copies in a German translation on the street. Mint condition. I won’t read them (I don’t like to read in translation) but I know a few people who’ll be glad to have them.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Caroline- Indeed, a not so satisfying ending would have marred the entire series.

Very cool regarding the German translations.

Judy Krueger said...

You did it! I did not read your review in full because I want to read the book first. I will come back after I have.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Judy. Enjoy the book. I will be curious to read what you think about it.

Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins said...

I've so enjoyed reading your thoughts on these books, Brian - you nail it every time! It always bothered me how neatly Snape's arc was wrapped up, and how quickly. But I think he (and Dolores Umbridge) served the a really important purpose, in showing kids that there is no "good" sides and "bad" sides, there can be good and bad people on either side of a political or cultural divide. Great work, Brian, thank you!

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Sharee - Indeed. It is one of the less of this book. There are bad people on all sides. I think that there is a disagreement as to Snape’s true character among readers. At the very least he showed a lot of very bad traits.

Tracy Terry said...

A series I really must read again. I'm glad you found this a satisfactory ending.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Tracy- I thought that the series ended strongly.

Paula Vince said...

I agree that the Battle of Hogwarts was a very satisfying conclusion. The casualties were all varied, and very touching. And JKR sure did keep working on character depth, especially of the Golden Trio, while keeping the danger real. A great wrap-up and hard-won victory.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Paula - The battle was so well done. As I understand it, fans did not really know which if any of the main characters were going to die so she really kept the danger real.

Whispering Gums said...

That's fascinating that your favourite book was the first. As you know I only read two and a half because I lost interest, but I will never forget the first. It's memorable.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi WG - I often find the first book in a series to be my favorite. I did think the last three for better from the middle books.

The Bookworm said...

ugh! This last book was a favorite in the series. It was exciting and sad and a great way to wrap everything up. Lupin! And Fred Weasley. I read somewhere that Rowling said there's no way the entire Weasley family could have all made it so she had to do that. She also said she cried while writing certain scenes which just made me love her writing even more, that she was so invested in these characters. Molly Weasely was pretty awesome at the Battle of Hogwarts also, I was cheering for her.
I'm glad you enjoyed the series :) Great posts!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Nadia - This was one of my favorites. I did not know that about Rowling and her comments about the Wesley’s. It makes sense. I sensed the need in her writing to show the effects of the war and the sacrifices involved.

Molly was an interesting character throughout the series.