Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows

...and 759 pages and roughly 24 hours later, it ends.

I had a hard time putting this one down!

(be warned! spoilerish observations to follow...I will assume you have read the previous six books...)

With the seventh and final book in the "Harry Potter" saga, J.K. Rowling brings the epic saga of the Boy-Who-Lived to a rollicking close. At last, we learn (most of) the truths behind Harry's past, Voldemort's schemes, Snape's uncertain loyalties, and Dumbledore's secret plans.

For the most part, all of these plot threads play out nicely, with all of the big reveals coming at a breathless pace as the pages fly quickly by. Harry, at last fully freed from the fetters of childhood, is able to confront his nemesis on his own terms and fulfill the destiny he's long been seeking. Ron and Hermione are his constant companions in the final journey, staying one step ahead of Voldemort and his minions (including a corrupted Ministry of Magic) as they try and complete the mission Dumbledore had given them before his death--to find and destroy Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes and finally, the Dark Lord himself.

The narrative sticks with Harry, Hermione, and Ron, cut off from most of their old allies and friends. Many of our favorite characters appear only briefly, or as subjects of overheard gossip and rumor, and you can't help but feel the same isolation and abandonment that Harry and his best friends endure. Of course, this is rather the point, and it only serves to heighten the tension leading to the final showdown.

And when that showdown comes, it's BIG. I won't spoil too much here, but I will say that the visual effects supervisors are probably already goggle-eyed planning the vfx budget for the inevitable film.

The quality of Rowling's writing has been criticized in the past, but "Hallows" is some of her best. Her characters, always her strong suit, are particularly compelling. The plot moves along briskly, though there are sections of the middle that in my opinion, could have been tighter.

Overall, I found "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" to be a satisfying conclusion to the saga. Rowling has certainly created a body of work that will endure. I know she'll need a nice long break, but there's certainly room for other stories set in the Wizarding World!

My buddy at The Rude Morgue gas a great review here. (and he gets a little more in depth than I do)

A few more observations--


This is your LAST CHANCE!

I was pretty satisfied with the ending of the series, and was generally glad to see that "all was well" nineteen years later. But mostly I was thinking, "What else happened in those nineteen years?!" There's so much left out. I guess there wasn't any point to prolonging the story overmuch, but I felt like it was a bit too easy of a "wrap-up."

I really liked getting to know more about Dumbledore's past. it's nice to see he was as flawed as anyone else, rather than an omniscient all-knowing busybody!

I was also glad to get Snape's redemption, even if it came with strings attached in a very expository chapter. I would have liked to have seen more clues of Snape's past (and Dumbledore's as well) sprinkled throughout the whole series. (And maybe there were, and I just didn't pick up on them!) I agree with Morgue here, I would have liked to have a scene or two where Harry and Snape interacted more.

The middle of the book, with so many scenes of our heroes on the lam, seemed to lose the heady momentum of the first third of the book-- but that is a minor quibble considering how bogged down I got in "Order of the Phoenix."

I didn't have a problem with the many deaths contained in the book, but I do wish that some of them (esp. Tonks & Lupin) had happened more on camera. It felt sort of lacking not to know what exactly happened. I did like to see Mrs. Weasly kicking Bellatrix's a--, and Kreacher leading an army of house elves against the Death Eaters!

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