Thursday, April 8, 2021

On the Coffee Table: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: J.K. Rowling

via Amazon

It's Year 7 and Harry Potter is a hunted man.  Lord Voldemort's minions at the Ministry of Magic have declared Harry Undesirable No. 1.  As such, he can't even safely show his face at Hogwarts.  Fortunately, he has plenty to occupy his time.  Dumbledore, before his own passing, set Harry on a mission to find Horcruxes, objects in which Voldemort has implanted pieces of his own soul.  Unless they are all destroyed, the Dark Lord can never truly be killed.  Fortunately, Harry has help.  The ever faithful Hermione and Ron are both along for the adventure.

This seventh and final book in the series is different from all of the others in many respects.  For starters, a lot of characters die.  Harry has encountered death before: Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore, etc.  But in Year 7, no one is off limits.  From early in the story, it becomes clear that the body count will be high and the emotional wounds significant, for both Harry and the reader.  Perhaps even more importantly, relatively little of the story is spent at Hogwarts.  Since Harry, Ron and Hermione are all essentially PNGs on the grounds, they spend most of the book on the run.  As such, Deathly Hallows feels like a more traditional quest adventure tale than the previous installments.  And yet even that narrative is different from the usual - takes quite a while to gain traction.

And then there's the climactic scene...


Regular visitors may already be aware that I'm not a huge fan of resurrection narratives.  As such, Harry's whole dying but not really dying so Voldemort can finally die deal would not have been my first choice had I been the author.  However, there is a feeling of inevitability to it.  A simple duel wouldn't have been enough.  There had to be a catch.


Even in light of all this, I find the conclusion of the series to be satisfying.  There are moments of redemption for Dudley, Kreacher and even the Malfoys.  Neville finally comes into his own.  Everyone ends up pairing off appropriately.  And then there's Snape.

The Snape story is the hidden gem of the franchise and the primary failure of the movies is the fact that not enough was done with it.  Chapter 33, "The Prince's Tale" is worth the entire series and I don't say that lightly.  Snape was the main reason I knew I would eventually read all of the books over again when I first finished 14 years ago.  One does read Snape differently from the beginning when one knows what's coming.  It's still not easy to like him but it is easier to understand him.  

I have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this wonderful wizarding world.  I also enjoy the ever expanding media universe it has generated.  For me, I doubt anything will quite live up to these seven original books but I appreciate the fact Rowling has left so much room for others to explore her creation.


  1. You know, I've not read the Harry Potter books. As for resurrection narratives, you should like Mark's gospel with it's original ending best (I preached on it this past Sunday).

  2. The only one I read in one (long) sitting upon release. I’ve only reread the first one so far. Always so much to read!

  3. Replies
    1. Right? So unjust - the very embodiment of selfless devotion.

  4. I'm not big on fantasy novels. They just don't connect with me. But I'll have to make an exception with the Potter books.

    1. Well, if you must make an exception for one series, you really have to go with Lord of the Rings - though I'd be surprised if you hadn't read them already.

      I do love Harry Potter. The books are fun to read aloud. Perhaps a new hobby for you and your wife?