EPS Review #161 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling, Arthur A Levine (Scholastic), 2007, 759pp.

Ross with Deathly Hallows fresh from the mailbox Griffin snatching a read I had pre-ordered the final Harry Potter book long ago in England, then realised we would be in the USA for the release date, so pre-ordered it there, too. Luckily the US mail came through, as the book arrived the day before all the boys went up fishing in Maine. Ross finished most of the tale on the long car ride. I read it next, and then Griffin had a few marathon days reading.

Meanwhile, among the toucans, in Potter-less Costa Rica, Claire was emailing imprecations against us giving anything away.

Ross kept totally mum, and when I finished I was not tempted to talk either. It was different with the previous volume, when you wanted to discuss theories. But at the end of this instalment, it is all over, everything tied up in a satisfactory manner, and I could not evade a slight feeling of, "well it was just a book after all". We had a decade where we all talked about it. It was the first book that our children read (I think). Every new release was a big event. Now the series takes its place with other children's books and will be judged by the ages.

The Amazon box warns muggles

Well, we have a couple more movies to look forward to. I really liked Umbridge and Lovegood in The Order of the Phoenix.

On the way down from Maine, we stopped in at the summer cottage of our friends John and Meg. John and I were ardent LOTR fans in our youth, and he thinks that Rowling, who apparently claims not to have finished reading Tolkien, owes him a debt greater than she admits. John chatted into the night, explaining how Shakespeare's plays are horcruxes, and other abstruse theories, until Meg burst into giggles at all the Potter jargon. She has not read any of the books -- it is surprising how many wonderful people have no inclination to do so. I suppose they are true grown-ups.

We lay Deathly Hallows by Claire's pillow for when she got back from Costa Rica at 2 a.m. But it turns out that she found a copy on the day they left, and finished it as the car drove up to her grandparents' house in the small hours.

And P finished it just today. The family judgement is that it was good, though the camping scenes went on too long. "And J. K. Rowling lied," added Claire. About who dies, she means. On TV we watched JK tell us even more.

P doesn't like the cover art, of either edition. Neither do I, much, though I think it matches the slight cartoonishness of the series. Claire, who is now listening to the CDs, says she prefers Stephen Fry to Jim Dale, whose adult voices tend to squeak.

One of the strongest themes of the series was love of family. Those charming Weasleys! Thanks for the ride, JK, and enjoy your billions.

Spoilers below

Maureen wrote: I, too, enjoyed the last book but felt that sadness at something wonderful ending. I went to see the last movie and bought the book on the same day and had a few days of immersion into the world of wizards. Rowling has done well by herself, that is for sure.

John wrote: I very much liked the fact that, at long last, Hermione and Ron were back in the story. And I was relieved that HP did not die (HP as Jesus I did not need).

Clive wrote: I've not read any of them either....but a 'true grown up' i don't think so.....

Mitch wrote: Nice pics man. Thank you for not giving up the ending. You're echoing what most people who liked the book say.... and no one seems to have the slightest inclination to give it away.

David wrote: I read your link to JK "telling us more", and I'm left again with the question: do people in the wizarding world have any goals other than to teach or work for the government? Hermione's a lawyer, Ron and Harry are in the DA office, Neville's a teacher.

That's why I always liked Fred and George. They had ambitions to actually create something, which they did. And of course their mother disapproved because they didn't want to join the government like their father. Sheesh.

I replied: Good insight -- they're positively French!

Fred and George are perhaps my favorite characters, and she goes and kills one of them off. I was hoping it was Hagrid who would would die messily.

David replied: I thought JK always secretly liked Fred and George, and was using them as a counterpoint to the idea that everyone has to join government service (contrasting them nicely with Percy.) So in the end, I was hoping she'd make Harry a private investigator or something, instead of an Auror, as he realized that government service was not all it's cracked up to be. Instead she kills off Fred (slightly randomly), removes George's ear and brings Percy back into the family fold. And she thinks her characters will reform the government because they're uncorruptible. Oh well.

Kjell wrote: Thanks for sending through. If you have not come across it yet, check out Shantaram, I am 2/3rds through (appr 900 pages) and it is simply awesome.

Tim wrote: You managed to make HP sound interesting. Maybe I should read one;)

Nori wrote: Pleasantly surprised to find out you're a fan too! I've just finished the Deathly Hallows - more satisfying (in that Harry didn't get as moody as the last book and there's always thefun of imagining him actually growing up, working - and becoming almost like us mere mortals).

Tom wrote: My problem with the books is that there is too much kiddie humor and kiddie dialog, which I find truly painful. This was not a issue, for example, in The Golden Compass, which I devoured.

I generally like the Potter films. Some annoying kiddie stuff, like Ron burping frogs, or that girl who lives in the toilet, but not enough to counteract the delight of such a visually engaging fantasy world. I didn't like the Phoenix movie that much, though -- I found the Umbridge stuff tedious.