Sunday, April 12, 2009

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

Guest Review by Kit Bradley
April 12, 2009

Well, it took awhile to get to it, but we finally read J. K. Rowling’s final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I read it aloud to my wife, one chapter an evening. It was quite an experience trying to imitate all the voices and moods, which swung from dull to intensely exciting, and back again.

So, finally after six years we find out – will Harry Potter overcome Lord Voldemort, or, heaven forbid, not? “Neither can live while the other survives.” Harry is strongly challenged numerous times through this story, and things don’t always work out as planned.

There are a lot of questions that weren’t completely resolved in the previous six Harry Potter books, and a few more come up in this book, in particular the question of Severus Snape’s loyalties. As the story unfolds, this and many other questions are answered, and I no longer have to toss and turn at night pondering.

Two central concerns in this final volume are Horcruxes and the Deathly Hallows. A Horcrux is an object in which a person, in this case Lord Voldemort, has concealed a part of his soul. The Deathly Hallows are objects that have something to do with defeating death. Both of these might be used in alternate strategies to overcome Lord Voldemort.

Throughout this book Harry and his close friends Ron and Hermione take on the search for Horcruxes and the Deathly Hallows. Finding them and doing exactly the right things with them requires intuition, quick thinking, and perhaps a lot of luck.

As the story starts, Lord Voldemort’s allies have taken over the Ministry of Magic and control most of the wizarding community. Harry and his two friends are forced to live on the run, and they travel throughout England in their searches. It seems like most of the time they are aimlessly wandering, searching for some clue that will lead them to the next object in their search. These times get a little boring as we listen to the heroes arguing with each other and getting nowhere. But on the next page something drastic happens, like being unexpectedly discovered by Death Eaters, and the story jumps into high-speed action, with a particularly strong climax at the end. Not surprisingly, it reads like a movie script.

Up through the final events, Harry (and we) gradually learn Professor Dumbledore’s complex strategy for prevailing over Lord Voldemort. Harry is frustrated that Dumbledore didn’t just tell him all this directly, but perhaps that couldn’t be. Harry’s parents and most of the friends and enemies in their generation of wizards all play roles in the great unfolding. There are a bunch of heroes and a similar number of villains, and both the good and the bad have plenty of successes.

There are numerous sad parts to this book, and not everyone survives. I was very sad when the Death Eaters killed some of my favorites. By the end of the story things are resolved, and we know whether the wizarding world is going to be run by good or evil witches and wizards. Now I don’t have to lie in bed at night wondering about it.

Sigh, the end.

No comments: